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Snapshots from the Ride Across Britain part I: Land's End to Ludlow

10 Sep 2019

Pictures snatched from the roadside during the 2019 Deloitte Ride Across Britain 
(lead image from a previous edition of the Ride Across Britain)

Words and photography Joseph Delves  
Part I: Land's End to Ludlow | Part II: Ludlow to Edinburgh | Part III: Edinburgh to John O’Groats

Our regular contributor Joseph Delves is currently heading up the country on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. Aiming to make it from Land's End to John O'Groats over the next nine days, in his frame bag, along with a multi-pack of Snickers, is an Instax camera. Taking photos to put together a scrapbook covering the ride, below is the first instalment.

Day 1, Land’s End to Okehampton - 169km, 2510m

Starting from the southernmost point of the UK mainland at Land’s End, the cliffs below our first campsite have broken ships snagged in their teeth. Rolling north-east, an infinite number of punchy Cornish climbs seem similarly disinclined to let cyclists escape.

Past St Michael’s Mount out in the Channel, before pushing inland, from here views snatched between the hedgerows show rolling fields all heading into autumn.

Eventually, the farmland runs out as we climb up to Bodmin Moor. Wild and exposed, abandoned tin mines sit like huge, bleak houses. Finally skirting Dartmoor, day one has been a tough intro. With the last third refusing to go down, I finish dog-tired.

By the day’s end the dot on my phone seems to have barely moved.

Day 2, Okehampton to Bath - 177km, 2088m

Unzipping my tent, the near-freezing air sets me worrying what the temperatures will be further north. Although the unexpectedly fresh state of my legs has me fairly confident I'll make it far enough to find out.

Soon sweltering, having yesterday crossed Cornwall and Devon, this morning takes us into Somerset. Past wind farms, then high into the Quantocks via Cothelstone Hill, it's rarely flat. Up through Cheddar Gorge, boy racers and holidaymakers are both trying to make the most of one last summer Sunday as we snake our way through.

Emerging out the far end and onto quieter roads, finally, we’re deposited outside the Georgian spa town of Bath. With just enough time to dash in and see the park and Royal Crescent, bed for the night is in the university halls rather than a tent.

Day 3, Bath to Ludlow - 177km, 1813m

Leaving the relative comfort of the campus, no one is in a hurry to head into the sopping wet morning. A few hours braving the rain take us onto the Severn Bridge, with the river below it looking bleak and imposing in the mist.

A stretch further and we’re into Chepstow. Overlooked by its gothic castle, from here we head over the River Wye and into Wales. With water all around, across Offa’s dyke and through steaming woods, we race along the river’s eastern side on deserted roads.

Still raining, the spray leaves riders inclined to ride at their own pace rather than in close formation. Over a last bridge, the medieval crossing at Ludlow, I finally flop soggily into my tent beside the finishing straight of the town’s famous race course.

Deloitte Ride Across Britain takes place from 7th to 15thSeptember, for more information visit the Ride Across Britain website.