How we are already in our 6th year of this rather mad and slightly odd challenge, we have no idea. Today we set off on the penultimate leg of our RNLI Tour of Britain. Time has flown, and rather a lot has changed since we set off from London, in 2010!
Most notably, we now both have wives and two young children! Any father out there will appreciate that leaving a wife and two young children at home, whilst going for a boys trip for a week is an extremely big ask, and we are both incredibly grateful to our amazing wives for letting us do this year after year. As Rad rightly says, this is perhaps the most generous 'donation' to our cause yet! This post is dedicated to these to our fab gals, and their incredible parents who are helping with the little ones in our absence.
And so, another year has passed and I find myself on in the fantastic and exceptionally organised Macduff RNLI station (our home for the night) reflecting on the past 24 hours....
Following Rad's nightmare train journey yesterday afternoon from Salcombe, involving a taxi from Reading to London (due to signal failure- good old National Rail!) we met at Euston with 10 minutes to spare to board the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness.
Something of an old relic, the train which had been in service since 1968 was starting to show it's age! This was most notable to us in the fact that the air cooling system in our carriage was broken, making our 'cosy bunk cabin' hotter than the sun!! Literally... If anyone is keen on a 12 hour Bikram Yoga session in a very confined space, bunk room 22 in carriage P of the Caledonian Express, comes highly recommended! We ended up eating our baguette supper on the floor in the corridor, next to the only window we could open before enduring a night in the tropics.
Following a night of somewhat broken sleep, we arrived in Inverness at 8.30am.
Ready to go, or so I thought... an hour and a half of faffing by Rad including visiting two Bike shops, emptying his panniers several times looking for various objects and tending to his new hair style (see above), finally we were underway.
Our route took us eastward from Inverness via Nairn and Elgin, crossing several stunning river estuaries including the Findhorn and the Spey, and passing numerous distilleries.
At last, a day of dry, sunny intervals and a cross/tail wind. Things were looking up.
Our first stop was at Buckie RNLI, where the crew welcomed us and very kindly gave us a cuppa whilst we rested our legs momentarily. Then on, eastward..
Our chief orienteerer (Rad) who has done a phenomenal job of route planning over the years, did take us on some rather interesting off road routes along the way, but we took in some beautiful scenery with it...
Eventually, having cycled through Banff, we arrived in Macduff.
We were given an extremely warm welcome by the crew, and inparticular by Chassey and his wife who gave us a tour of the station and got us settled in, before giving us a lift down to the Banff Springs Restaurant. A huge thank you to Chassey and the team for their amazing hospitality and incredible generosity.
Following a delicious dinner, we made a few last minute repairs to the bikes, alongside the phenomenally clean and well maintained Macduff Lifeboat (the best we've seen yet, before bed.