2. United Kingdom

Crossing the Isle of Man was a one-day affair. Crossing the UK was the first real challenge.

Arriving on April 2nd and leaving May 16th I ended up covering just short of 500 miles (800 km) there.

My route took me through Lancaster, Blackburn (my home town), Bolton, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, Northampton, Milton Keynes, St Albans, London and Dover.

When I was cycling in the past Britain was that boring bit of the tour you had to get over with before the fun stuff started. What surprised me most was that this wasn’t the case this time.

For one, the weather was almost faultless, and then there was the lovely rural footpaths that are hidden from cyclists. But the thing that will stick with me the longest will be the kindness.

Existing friends met up with me and bought me lunch or paid for hotels. But there was also massive kindness from complete strangers: rooms and meals offered. And in each case I feel like that complete stranger is now a friend I will see again in the future.

Britian is expensive and maintaining the lowly daily budget proved difficult, but kindly folks contributed using Kofi or Patreon and made everything a little easier.

I won’t forget the walk over the Pennines from Manchester to Penistone (or the amazing bacon and sausage sandwich I had when I arrived there) or the many hours beside the Grand Union Canal or the lovely North Downs Way through Kent. And I won’t forget the friends I made.

Escaping Britain was trickier than it should have been. I arrived at Dover docks to be told that no foot passengers were allowed despite this being an online option only a few days earlier. In the end an old friend I hadn’t seen since the mid-noughties lived 20 minutes away and had a rusty old bicycle to donate to me. See what I mean about kindness!

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