“England, of course, resembles a pig, with something on its back. Look at it. It is a hurrying pig; its snout is the south-west in Wales, and its reaching trotters are Cornwall, and its rump is East Anglia. The whole of Britain looks like a witch riding on a pig, and these contours – rump and snout and bonnet, and the scowling face of Western Scotland – were my route.”
Paul Theroux The Kingdom by the Sea 1983.
In 1999, MM and I attempted the most clichéd journey in Britain – the End-to-End. We started at the ‘wrong’ end, John O’ Groats, planning to cycle to Cornwall in time for the Total Eclipse on August 11.
I say ‘planning’, but in reality, our plans were rather poor. I injured my knee on the first day, but we stupidly continued, making it worse day-by-day, until we had to bail out and take the train for large chunks of the route. We did get to see the Eclipse – well, as far as that was possible through the thick black clouds – but have always planned to go back and do the trip ‘properly’.
So ten years on, we’re giving it another bash – starting at Land’s End this time. We haven’t got a date yet, and we’re yet to figure out routes, distances, time-frames etc, but it’ll almost certainly be soon after the end of MM’s summer term.
One thing is certain, we both need to get fit and make some proper weekend cycle trips before then.