On Friday I safely returned from my joyous little adventure around the British Isles. In 19 days I cycled 750 miles on a folding bicycle, climbed the 'Six Peaks' (the highest mountain in each of the six major regions) and saw some of the most beautiful parts of our wonderful islands.
Not everything went to plan; in fact, very little went to plan at all. I had planned to carry a backpack on the bike when cycling, and then carry the bike on the backpack when hiking. This turned out to be much harder than first thought! Nevertheless, the theory was just about workable with a little creative thinking (and no small amount of having to settle for looking ridiculous) and subsequently the jaunt turned into one of the most fun trips I've been on in quite some time.
I saw 5 of the 6 Peaks in glorious sunshine, which was most unexpected in a British Summer. Only Ben Nevis retained it's reputation as a windy, foggy, cold and wet rock...but even it was enjoyable!
The folding bike (a Dahon Mu N360, amusing branded as an Urban Performance bicycle) performed outstandingly. Let's be clear - folding bicycles are not really designed to travel hundreds of miles, climb 18% gradients and go up mountains strapped to a rucksack. Comfort and efficiency were certainly compromised, yet the bike still did all that was asked of it without complaint. When I wasn't climbing scree slopes or sweating my way into a Highland headwind the riding was enjoyable, fast and really not all that different from sitting on a touring bike. All the difficulties I faced were created by my own questionable combinations of cycling and hill climbing.
This adventure felt (and looked) quite silly quite a lot of the time. And I loved it. If you can't be silly on an adventure, when can you be? I stood at the highest point in each of the 6 major regions of the British Isles and enjoyed some of the best cycling of my life (Snowdonia, the Highlands, County Kerry, the Yorkshire Dales, the list goes on...)
Summer has arrived in the UK and Ireland, and it's glorious. Get your bike or your boots and make the most of our trails, paths, roads, mountains, lakes, coasts, forests...I promise you won't regret it. Adventure does not require you to go to the far side of the world, nor to be an athlete. It doesn't need the best or most suitable equipment (this journey cost a little over £500, including flights and travel connections across the water etc.) You do not, as proven by this case in point, even need very much common sense.
All that is required for an adventure is the determination to go, and the promise not to come back until you've seen it through. Grab the tools closest to hand, use whatever time and money are available to you and set forth with an open mind!
I'll be writing in more detail about this trip for some newspaper and magazine articles very soon, so stay posted for more info on this Six Peaks adventure.