Tackling John O' Groats to Lands End

Peter and Andrew cycling

A huge well done to Peter David and Dr Andrew Heath who recently completed the John O’ Groats to Lands End cycle challenge to raise money for Solace, an organisation that provides psychotherapy and counselling for survivors of persecution and exile now living in Yorkshire.

Peter from the Financial Support Team in Student Services and Andrew from the Department of History, cycled the length of Britain in nine days, starting in the north-east of Scotland on 24 June.

Peter said: “Andrew and I both turn 40 this year, and in true mid-life crisis style, we wanted to set ourselves a big challenge. We're both keen cyclists, and after getting more into long-distance riding, we decided it was time for a big one - the length of Britain!”

We caught up with Peter following the challenge, to find out how their journey went:

How long did it the journey take?
It took nine days in total. We were weren't going a direct route so we covered around 1650 km (about 1025 miles) in total. Typically, we set off at 07.30, and most days we arrived around 19.00, so a full day in the saddle. We had a few hours in the evening to get showered, fed, and prepared for the next day.

How are you feeling after the challenge?
Fantastic! It was such a joy to be on the bike for nine days straight, and to be able to see so much of our beautiful country. The landscape changes frequently, from the bleak summits of the North Pennines, to the lush greenery of the Yorkshire Dales to the bumpy coastal lanes of Cornwall. The most encouraging aspect is that I felt stronger with each day, so by the end of it I felt as strong and fit as I ever have. Also, on our way up to John O' Groats, we heard about the 81-year-old woman who had just completed the journey - that put it in perspective!

What was the biggest challenge on the ride?
I was lucky enough to avoid injury or any serious mechanical issues with the bike. A little neck pain, but nothing serious. I'd say the high temperatures on day six slowed me down, and I had a few more stops than usual for ice lollies! Staying in the moment, and not thinking too much about the destination was something I had to come back to. You can cause yourself a lot of anxiety thinking about your time, but worrying about it doesn't solve much. So my advice would be to get as zen as possible! You'll arrive when you arrive.

How did you celebrate afterwards?
Two pints of Cornish beer, and a burger! Had a walk along the beautiful Sennen beach in the evening, and watched the second half of the England-USA game.

How much have you raised so far?
Along with donations from our office, it's now over £1,000, which is double our original target! We're going to leave the page open for a little while longer for anyone who wants to continue to donate. Solace is a small charity who are doing life-changing work, and I want us to be able to raise as much as possible.

Any other words?
I'd encourage anyone to attempt end to end on a bike, no matter how long it takes. It's an inspiring journey, and there's a great deal of satisfaction in completing it. I enjoyed every minute of it, so do give it a go!

I also recorded a few video updates and posted them on Twitter, so if anyone wants to see the highlights, please do take a look.

Peter's Twitter account

About Solace Surviving Persecution and Exile

Solace is a charity which provides free counselling, psychotherapy and advocacy in the Yorkshire and Humber region to the survivors of persecution and exile, many of whom have been traumatised by torture, rape, the death or disappearance of loved ones and often combinations of all of these and other atrocities.

Peter and Andrew’s JustGiving page