Author: snailcycle

Back to the mainland

24th May 2016

Return to Penzance today.

Sunny but windy and cold. Packed, all very organised as the bags always are at the beginning of trips. Visited the beautiful health centre to acquire a stock of Sturgeron for the boat journey, the waiting room has a picture window with an amazing view. The staff were enthusiastic about our project and have put leaflets up for us

Then to the Scillies museum where we read about all the things we have seen. An old fashioned, cluttered museum, stuffed with things: Mesolithic axe heads, neolithic arrows and brooches and pottery, civil war soldiers pipes, relics from wrecks and then historyies of the schools, football clubs boats and people. We learnt that the islands were much bigger in Neolithic times with many of the islands joined together to form a single bigger landmass. Then rising sealevels divided them and the current coastline dates from medieval times. We also learnt that they were held by Royalists in the civil war long after Cromwell’s troops had won on the mainland and that all the Civil war fortifications we have seen were due to Cromwell taking the islands , fearing the French would use them as a base to invade.

We learnt that there 700 recorded wrecks but in reality many more and they contributed greatly to the islands economy as ships needed pilots and then often rescue and salvage, and then inevitably the islanders profited from goods coming ashore as well as a spot of smuggling. The islanders were hostile to Her Majesty’s Customs establishing an office there and the Customs ruled that the local boats, or gigs, would be restricted to 6 oars to prevent them being able to go faster than the Customs boats.

All fascinating stuff

After that we bought food, posted postcards and wandered down ot the pier.


Scilly post office







Waiting for the ferry

On the way over, we had been horrified to find that the bikes had been unsecured in a container and had been crashing and sliding around all journey so this time we made a fuss about seeing them well secured. The sea is much calmer and I am sitting writing this in the sun on the back deck in relative comfort.


Unloading a racing skiff from the ferry, if it fits they will take it


Mooring at Penzance Quay

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Its all North from here

Horse Point- the most Southerly point of the British isles,

Horse Point- the most Southerly point of the British isles,

Today we started the trip for real- took the small boat over to St Agnes- the most southerly of the inhabited Scillies and walked to Horse Point the most southerly tip where we scrambled along the rocky promentary to the high water mark . We took the obligatory picture with our banner and then enjoyed the remarkable views over the western rocks out towards Bishops Rock lighthouse.

On our boat trip we met a nice couple from Matlock and another GP who trained in Chesterfield- a small world.


Rock formations on St Agnes

We didnt take our bikes as they cant manage them on the small boat, and anyway we could have only have cycled about 200m on the island before the road turns into sandy footpath.

Why not the Channel Islands as the most southerly point I hear you ask? Well we felt that as they have a different government and you need a permit to live there they are really another country


Bishops Rock Lighthouse on the Western Rocks

St Agnes was just delightful remote ,  gentle but with sculptural rock formations.  There have been lots of shipwrecks on the Western Rocks  through the years, Tresco holds a fine collection of  ship figureheads retrieved  over the 1800s

Agriculture is flowers in fields between high hedges to shelter from the sea winds








The Scillies have the smallest football league, 2 clubs, we cross their field to get to the campsite


2 clubs: Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers

Back in the campsite it is cold as soon as the sun goes down … we got into sleeping bags fully dressed until we warmed up. The blackbird hops right into the tent now to look for food

Tomorrow we catch the Scillonian back to Penzance and the day after start the proper pedalling


Martin tinkering with his bike


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Tourists on Tresco

22d May 2016

Sunny today but windy and chilly. This campsite has lots of birds, and they clearly make a living from campers. A large gull and a family of blackbirds stole a box of 6 eggs, we returned to find just the shells… Sparrows blackbirds and even thrushes come to see what might be on offer, here is a very handsome character cosying up to Martin!


Blackbird eying up Martin’s muesli

We couldn’t come to the Scillies without being tourists. We went to Tresco today, beautiful gardens and coastline. Castles from the civil war with graffiti from Cromwell’s forces still clearly visible in the cement rendering. Red squirrels. The whole island is like an enormous garden, lovingly looked after .


Red Squirrel in the Abbey Gardens









Cromwell’s Castle.








We go to St Agnes tomorrow, the most southerly inhabited British Island (we are not counting the Channel islands, separate administration) We can’t take the bikes there, the boat is too small so we will walk the 2 miles to the southerly tip with our banner.

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Off to the Scillies


Drizzle on the way to catch the ferry in Penzance

Early start this morning from Penzance youth hostel. .(no we don’t think we are either but we weren’t the oldest there by a long way )

Luckily the early start to catch the ferry to the Scilly Isles precluded the good value YHA breakfast including a full English (more of that later), heavy rain eased off to drizzle and mist as we set off.

We were somewhat surprised that the  Scillonian ferry was smaller than we imagined, no cars just passengers and our bikes loaded into a container and lifted aboard by crane. We were told that the Scillonian has to be very shallow draught and has no stabilisers due to the shallow waters when arriving in the Scillies, also that because of this it is notorious for the corkscrew motion it acquires in heavy seas (you can see where this is going)

So we set off on the three hour trip and soon there were lots of pale looking people with their little white bags all over the ship. Gayle was particularly impressed by a lady in the loos with serious sounding neurological symptoms, unable to feel her legs – but the pragmatic crew member announced that it was clearly just sea sickness and was clearly correct as she walked off unaided onto the Scillies.


Green passengers on the ferry

Suffice it to say that Martins bacon sandwich was somewhat wasted , Gayle looked smug having sensibly taken a tablet, but on arriving in the Scillies the sun came out, we cycled to the idylic Garrison campsite and then around the island (St Marys), visiting an iron age village and neolithic tomb- stunningly beatiful positions


Garrison campsite, St Marys


Scillonian returning to Penzance in better weather

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Off to Penzance

We left home today about 2.15 . We had a last cup of tea with James. Viv , bless her , came to see us off and then we pedalled off. Pen was at the station to say goodbye and then the train came and we were gone. It is a long journey from Chesterfield to Penzance and the train was packed until Bristol. Almost everyone gets off at Birmingham but then so many other people get on that it is full again. Beautiful stretch along the sea after Exeter. Rainy and misty as we crossed the Tamar at Plymouth.

At Liskeard a drunk lad refused to show his ticket leading to a loud standoff between him and the guard. The crew announced to all the passengers that the train was held up because this gentleman was refusing to show his ticket or get off, to which a helpful lad shouted: ”I’d sort him for you but I’m on bail … ” Eventually he got off and we were on our way again.

Pouring in Penzance so we got ourselves sorted under cover for a short but wet ride up the hill in the dark and got to the YHA just before the doors closed. No room in the bike shed so the dromedaries are out in the rain but we are in the dry after a cup of tea (green much to Martin’s disgust as I brought the wrong teabags)

Up early for the Scillonian in the morning.

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Final preparations


Last minute

We leave tomorrow,  the usual last minute deciding what we can manage without,  weight is the enemy on every uphill section so we tend to be pretty ruthless

We are both doing some last minute work related things to be sure we can leave everything finished

Gayle working on some of her voluntary work,  Martin is off to resuscitation update,  hopefully never to be used

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packWe are sitting going through our route plans and changing some of the days we had planned depending on where there are campsites – although we may wild camp some days in Scotland .

It feels rather bizarre that we can look on google streetview and see what it will be like before we even leave home, although on Shetland Google cannot give you the full effect of the wind

We have booked some campsites and people have been very welcoming

There are piles of STUFF on the carpet and six rather small panniers that it all needs to go into, endless decisions about how many warm clothes to take and whether we take one spoon or two- cycle camping makes you very aware of how much things weigh and whether really you could manage without

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We have made a Facebook page for our trip on Gayle’s Facebook profile,  yesterday she recommended this on Facebook and within minutes we were receiving supportive messages and justgiving had some very generous donations,

although we have tended to avoid social media because of the work we both did it is hugely effective at contacting people and we are so touched by people’s generosity and the supportive comments,  and we haven’t cycled a mile yet.

Thank you to all those friends and colleagues that have been so generous,  including one anonymous donor with a very substantial amount,  a mystery but thank you

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Getting close

On Wednesday  a photographer came to take some photos for a short piece in the Derbyshire times- really helpful
As we were out with our new banner we took some pictures as well
We are hoping for a piece in the local S40 magazine as well, the editor Paul has been very helpful

Celebrity (???) shot for the media

Celebrity (???) shot for the media

We have been sorting out work and other things to free up time for our trip so have been pretty busy, the cycling preparation has suffered but we had a trip out with the Spire club yesterday going to Buxton. 55 miles felt fairly tiring even without luggage but then the Peak District is pretty hilly. Anyway we had a great day with good company (and the first ice cream of the year)

We have started letting people know about the trip and we have already have had some donations , people have been very generous and we are really touched. We weren’t sure how many people were aware of the work of MSF but so many people have told us how in awe they are of the bravery of the MSF staff working in war zones- not just doctors but also nurses, other health professionals and also engineers and logisticians.
Gayle walked down Chatsworth Road today asking shops if they would take a flyer to put up, we rather expected that only a few people would but in fact virtually everyone did, particularly because Ashgate Hospice is so well known for the work that they do in Chesterfield

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Ashgate Hospice Fundraising Team







Went to see the fundraising team at Ashgate Hospice today- Lyn Jones and Jack their media expert, really helpful for us  social media novices and talked about the best way of helping raise cash for this fantastic cause.


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