The Nepal Earthquake in April 2015 killed almost 9,000 people. That combined with my friend and Everest Sherpa, Dorje Khatri, dying in an avalanche on Everest in 2014 has made me a supporter of the excellent charity, Community Action Nepal (CAN), which was founded by British climbing legend, Doug Scott.
After the earthquake, I wanted to raise funds for CAN and took on a challenge to facilitate that. At two weeks’ notice, Harry was the only man foolhardy enough to join me cycling over 1,000 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats with negligible training. A friend of ours said, “Impossible. That route in that timeframe with no training is stupid. You can’t do it.” We cracked on regardless.
We set off from the coast in jovial spirits through a deceptively hilly Cornwall and Devon and made it to Okehampton after 112 miles and over 10,000 ft of ascent.
The aim was to complete the challenge in a given time but also to explore the British countryside, avoid main roads and enjoy it. Day Two, the “Farmyard Classique” as we named it, had us meandering through Devon and into Hampshire. Hedgerow lined single-track roads, tractors and stops for scones and cappuccinos were the order of the day.
A 144 miles ride to Hampshire was a long one – a cycling PB for us both – before we moved north. On days three, four and five we covered 293 miles and made it to the new regimental home of the Light Dragoons in Catterick, North Yorkshire. From Yorkshire, we were welcomed to Scotland with vicious crosswinds, driving rain and a suitably undulating route but made it to St Andrews a few days later.
A daunting 155 mile 10,000ft of ascent day was ahead taking us over the Cairngorms National Park. Stunning landscape, fiendishly steep hills and variable weather conditions came together to provide a lethargic arrival to Inverness.
The final day was excellent as we crossed a few bridges and counted down the mileage for John O’Groats. We reached the famous signpost, sprayed some bubbly around, had a few drinks and had a well deserved lie-in.
It was a wonderful journey from start to finish and I could not have found a better partner. We covered over 1,100 miles, explored some stunning scenery, ate well and had time to appreciate it.