I'm a double cancer survivor, cyclist and walker who does various challenges for different charities, mainly cancer-related.

In 2016 I climbed every single 'Birkett' in the Lake District - all 542 fells over 1,000' within the National Park, including all 214 Wainwrights. I've also done a three-week cycle tour of Tasmania in February 2015 and amongst other things, I've cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats (2003), Rotterdam to Lemvig (Denmark) (2005), walked the Pennine Way (2008) completed (my first) ascent of all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District in only 55 days (2009), cycled 4,500 miles around the coast of Great Britain (2011), cycled all 42 of the accessible Western Isles of Scotland in under a month (2012), twice abseiled 230 ft from the top of The Big One in Blackpool, cycled the WWI Western Front from London to Compiegne via Ypres and Arras (2014), cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014), done a bit of sky-diving and cycled Australia's Great Ocean Road - just before lockdown in 2020.

Altogether I've raised over £120,000 for my charities including The Christie, Cancer Research UK, the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and ABF (The Soldiers' Charity) and I was mightily chuffed to receive the British Empire Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.

I'm a Rotarian and give illustrated talks about my adventures in exchange for a donation to charity, so if you're looking for a speaker leave me a message. I am also Event Organiser for the Ribble Valley Ride Cycle Sportive, to be held this year on Sunday 5 September 2021 - more details at www.ribblevalleyride.org

You can also follow me on Twitter - @CancerBikeMan and on Facebook - just search for Bill Honeywell

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, whilst The Rosemere does fantastic work for patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cycling the Hebrides 2012 – Day 1

Wemyss Bay Station

You’ve probably already read some of me blogs, but whether you have or not, I should say by way of a brief introduction that this is an account of 26 or so days cycling to all the reasonably accessible islands off the west coast of Scotland.  The aim was to set foot on 43, and as you’ll find out later, we almost did it. One island eluded us, and I’ll tell you why later.

Us by the way means me, Bill Honeywell (more information at the top of this blog), and Richard Dugdale, also from Clitheroe. Richard has his own blog which you can get to by following the link on this page.  We were cycling to raise money and awareness for Cancer Research UK and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, so if at any time you feel the urge to make a donation – and I hope you do – then again, just follow the links given on this page.

I tried to update the blog as the ride progressed but I didn’t manage to give you much information as it all had to be done on an iPhone, and the photos were also only those taken on the phone. Now I’m home I can post some better pictures, taken on a Panasonic ‘bridge’ camera which was new for the ride and worked very well.

So, without further ado…  the story so far.

On Saturday 28 April we cycled from home to Preston station, caught the train up to Glasgow and booked in at the Travelodge on Paisley Road.  This is perhaps not the best location in the city – there was a security guard on the car park and before we’d been there an hour people were tweeting me to ‘be careful out there’!

The Bute Ferry

First thing Sunday morning we returned to Glasgow Central Station and caught a train to Wemyss (pronounced ‘Wimz’) Bay to get the Calmac ferry across to island no 1, The Isle of Bute, lying in the Firth of Clyde west of Glasgow.  The weather was glorious and the station at Wemyss Bay is a fine example of Victorian architecture.  It was a bit breezy on the crossing and we opted to stay inside the ferry and just look out of the windows!  There was another group of cyclists who were on a day trip to the island.

A Royal Navy destroyer anchored off the island

We decided to do a roughly clockwise tour of Bute so turned left off the ferry in Rothesay and… stopped at the first café on the edge of the town for the obligatory coffee and cake.  Then off along green lanes with birds singing and the sun shining, until we reached the ancient ruin of St Blane’s Church near the southern tip of the island. We left the bikes, walked to what is left of the church, and found a group of archaeologists doing a geophysical survey. No sign of Tony Robinson or the Time Team, however.  It’s a really pleasant, tranquil site where you feel you could sit down and put your feet up for a few hours.

St Blane's Church

But of course we headed back for the bikes and set off again on our tour, past the lovely Scalpsie Bay on the west coast and then past another roof-less church to Ettrick Bay and another café stop.  From here, with the sun still shining, we headed back to the east coast and then north along a long cul-de-sac by the Kyles of Bute to Rhubodach where another ferry makes the short crossing to Colintrave on the Cowal peninsula.  We saw Eider ducks in the sea here, and there were also Gannets, Common Sandpipers, Oystercatchers and Swallows.

Ettrick Bay

View from the Kyles of Bute

A pair of Eider Ducks

Then back to Rothesay where, at 5.50, we called at one of Zavaronis’ cafés, but were told he was about to shut, so we got a coffee ‘to go’ and then did a tour of the town.  On our way back past the café at 6.30 he was still open… hmph! 

Rothesay Castle

Our night’s lodgingw were to be with Frank Ledwith via warmshowers.org, a site which enables touring cyclists to provide accommodation on a reciprocal basis.  Frank had been in Lancaster all day and didn’t return till just after 7pm, but gave us a warm welcome and a warm meal too!

So ended our first day – the first of many – with one island and just under 40 miles in the bag.  Tomorrow we would add another two – Great Cumbrae and Arran – and a fellow tweep, Tommy Gribbon, had promised to join us on part of the cycle.

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