LEJOG week three wrap-up
This week has seen me travel from the metropolis of Manchester to the Lancashire hills, through the grand scenery of the Lake District and onwards to the flood plains around the Solway Firth. I’ve crossed the border into Scotland and now I’m in the bustling city of Glasgow. The cycling is getting easier (or I’m getting fitter) and the weather has, yet again, held up so, while my friends back in London have been suffering in a downpour, I’ve been riding through the sunshine in my T shirt.
I’ve given talks to 70 people, sold 42 books, camped twice, cycled 200 miles and taken the train once (shh!). Find out why here.
The week began with an event at Popup Bikes, Manchester, a little coffee shop and bike store hidden away under the railway arches near Victoria Station. While in Manchester I called into both Waterstones stores to sign copies of the book and I was greeted at the Deansgate store with a stack of 11 books and a cup of tea while I signed them.
My Lancaster event was fab – armed only with a microphone (no projector to rely on) I spoke to a crowd who listened intently as I told the story of my round-Britain ride and read three short passages from the book. It’s always a challenge to rely only on my words, but I feel I’m developing as a story teller the more talks I give (and I hope the audience agrees!)
From there it was on to Kendal and the Lake District, a ride I’ve described here, overcome with the poetry of the area. It was in the Lake District that the book had been born: I took a ten day holiday back in 2012 to begin the process of turning my blog into a book, thinking that I would be done within a year. It wasn’t until three years later that the manuscript was finally finished and I was ready to publish. Photographs from that trip are on my Flickr page.
From Kendal I rode to Keswick, really enjoying being back in the Lake District; the scenery is breathtaking, the peaks are awesome, and the cycling is not as challenging as the terrain suggests, the roads following the banks of the lakes for much of the time with the occasional pass thrown in. From Bassenthwaite Lake it was an ascent of several hours to the Uldale Commons, that wild, rugged landscape where the wind roams freely and sheep wander across the path. There followed a ten mile descent towards Carlisle, the final stopping point before crossing into Scotland.
My first stop in Scotland was in Moffat, where the Moffat Bookshop had arranged for me to speak at the Baccleuch Hotel. A small crowd filled the small room, and I didn’t realise until halfway through that among them were Alec and Anne, who hosted me in Dumfries on my round-Britain trip! Alec is mentioned in the book – in fact, in the very passage I was reading out (thank goodness I didn’t attempt to put on his accent). It was fabulous to see them again as I remain indebted to the folk who offered me food and shelter on that trip.
I’m now in Glasgow where I’ll give a talk tonight at Tiso Outdoor Experience before setting off for Tyndrum tomorrow. My final event is in Inverness on Thursday, then it’s the last big push to reach John o’ Groats, which I hope to do on Saturday.