John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Monday 2nd June 2008

Today's challenge – 59 miles fom Leyburn to Kiln Pit Hill west of Consett.
Weather cloudy and a mist over high ground.

An excellent breakfast was served at 8.00 am by Mike and Paula, ably assisted by their friends Moira and Peter. Fellow guests comprised a group of Americans on a photography tour of Yorkshire who didn't seem to be phased by the gloomy weather conditions and who had impressively been on the odd 5.00 am assignment. John, their tour leader, gave a good plug for the bike ride.

I headed off at 9.15 am furnished with a sizeable chunk of Paula's apple cake. The road to Richmond was reasonably easy, following a valley which brought me in from the west side.
A quick visit to Tourist Information before heading north on the B6274. After an initial pull up to Gilling, the road was really pleasant and relatively flat so good progress made through Forcett and Winston.

After a tea stop at Staindrop, the terrain ahead looked decidedly more hilly from Egglestone so took a lunch break here and interested a number of customers in sponsorship, including one who turned out to be Lord Strathmore. I was sent rather over encouragingly on my way which led me to realise that this was not a route for a heavily laden bicycle. I was about to climb Middleton Moor and the start of the north Pennines. A tough climb to White Hill, followed by a wonderful if dangerously steep descent to Stanhope and a cruel hill at Crawleyside which forced me off the saddle. There's a certain indignity about dismounting on a hill, not least when a young fit lad sails past (unladen!) cutting up the gradient with astonishing energy. I knew my place. Once past the worst bit, it was a hard but tolerable route past Scaylock Hill and Cross Rigg with some fabulous views across these bleak moors.

At Edmundbuyers, beside Derwent Reservoir I rang Tom Miller to arrange a Rendezvous near his Farm at Kiln Pit Hill. By this time there were 54 miles on the clock but there was a sting in the tail with a push up to the A68 before meeting Tom at the pre-arranged junction. Another tough day but thankfully escaping the rain.

I had met Tom and his wife Ann briefly at the L'Arche Regional Gathering in Durham and they gave me a really warm welcome. Longstanding friends of Judith and Martin Ellis, they have been farming here for nearly 40 years, mainly arable now. Tom's a wheelchair user but his is no ordinary wheelchair. You might describe it as a turbo charged all terrain model with 6 wheels - amazing. After a delicious supper and a photo for the Hexham Courant, it was good to share stories with Tom and Peter, a friend of the family who is helping out on the farm.

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