Rodger (R.J.) Arneil (EA 1957-62)
John O’Groats to Land’s End
We arrived safely at Land’s End on the 28th May after an epic journey from John O 'Groats lasting the 18 days. It was an Odyssey to be remembered.
The generosity of the people who sponsored us and those we met was amazing. The total trip raised more than £300k for charity which has left us with a feeling that it has "done good" for somebody. Not bad for eight 60+ year olds!
Everyone was so generous - older ladies in tea shops, shopkeepers and even people on the street. The scenery we passed through was spectacular and took us to places we would otherwise never have seen. Being on bicycles also meant we saw a plethora of wildlife and we were never on main roads for long which was a major blessing
The scents of wild thyme and marjoram refreshed our heaving lungs and Scotland was truly beautiful and rugged. I had not appreciated the breathtaking landscapes we would pass through in the country where I was brought up. The painful climbs over endless hills, be they Scottish Highland, Pennine, Dartmoor or Mendip, are all composed of the rocks that make up the ages of the planet earth. It made no difference to the pain of climbing them whether they were composed of the Archean rock of 4 billion years ago, or of the more recent 280 million year old granite of Dartmoor.
The wonderful downhill ride down the Cheddar Gorge was the only time I fell off the bike - having lost concentration, and the villages through Yorkshire, Cheshire, Herefordshire, Devon and Cornwell took us all by surprise for their architecture and rural settings. They were so "off track" we would have otherwise never have come across them.
Yes there were days when the weather was "biblical", but it was all part of the experience, especially over Dartmoor, and looking back I enjoyed the hailstones and wind and wet as well as the sunnier days. And whilst I like such challenges there was always the prospect of a warm bath at the end of it followed by a hearty supper!
The headwinds in Scotland were no less than massive and so were the hills. One learned that the top of these hills never came quickly and often went up again around the corner. They say a hill cannot be considered steep until a less steep hill has been experienced - on some of these hills a ladder would have been welcome!
The guys I had the pleasure to travel with were great and are now all my "new best friends".
We fashioned a strong team from a disparate group and I am sure lasting bonds have been developed.
I would like to say many, many thanks to all of you who have donated; it was extremely kind and generous and was most appreciated. And if anyone else is foolish enough to want to undertake such a trip I have a few tips which I would be pleased to pass on.
With best wishes and thanks,