Tuesday, 31 August 2010

ANNECY - Tuesday 31st August

I am relocated to Annecy. I arrived yesterday on the train from Chamonix routed via St Gervais and La Roche. I will pass a good number of days here so I hope I grow to like it. First impressions are good. Discounting the first task of lugging my backpack to the Municipal Camping 2 or 3kms from the train station. I can now clearly see that it would have been a beast of a job to carry all this stuff to the Hornli Hut. The Municipal Camping is fine. The weather is good too.

I have become a temporary member of the Public Library in Annecy. It is free to do so.

I have a couple of books still to read. One is a collection of newspaper articles by Jeremy Clarkson. It is good easy and enjoyable reading. The other book is called 'Sapphire' by that renowned and brilliant 'author' Katie Price. I found this unread paperback book on a train a few weeks ago, where someone had forgotten it, or accidentally forgot it on purpose.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

STILL IN CHAMONIX & THINGS - 28th August 2010

I am still staying in Chamonix to no clear purpose except waiting. The weather has been poor last couple of days. Thank goodness for the Public Library in Chamonix which opens at 3:00pm each day except Sundays. Yesterday was the Northface Tour Du Mont Blanc Ultra Race beginning in town, 160kms. It started at 6:00pm last evening. This morning I learned that a landslip at some point had created an obstacle on the route and coupled with wet weather this caused the event to be suspended and then cancelled. It must be a bit demoralising to train for such a grand event and then to meet with a disappointing outcome.

I have received news of a letter at home. The letter comes from the family of a fellow called Godfrey Runyard with news of his sad death at the great age of 105. Mr Runyard was laterly of Hemet in California and orginally was from Dorset in the UK. His renown was the fact that he was deemed to be the oldest man alive to have personally known T E Lawrence or T E Shaw as he was then known. Mr Runyard actually helped to lay Lawrence in to his coffin after he died from his injuries in the motorcycle accident of May 1935. I corresponded briefly with Mr Runyard and his wife Cindy so I have a treasured letter, postcard and photos. I will write to Cindy at her new address when I get home from this trip.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


I am staying in the familiar suroundings of the Ski Chalet Refuge at the base of the Telecabin de Planpraz in Chamonix. The Rufuge is unchanged since I was last here in 2003. Everything that is except the price which has jumped from 8 Euros to 14.5 Euros per night. This morning I took the 8:15am bus from the campsite in Argentiere. Maybe it wont be so lonesome at the Refuge when compared with the campsite. This is unlike a bicycle trip, when usually I am never lonely. Bicycling is my prefered modus operandi. I have checked into the Refuge for three nights but may stay longer. My schedule is now only dictated by a date of the 7th September when I will meet up with a friend, Lilu, from grape picking last year. I will meet Lilu in Annecy.
In Argentiere I made the strenuous hike up to the Argentiere Glacier view point. I am far from fit. I had a slightly wheezy chest and a bad stomach. But along with the weather my condition has perked up.

It is unlikely that I will be able to upload any photos during the course of this trip. I have joined the public library in Chamonix but uploading photos is not possible.

Friday, 20 August 2010

European Expedition is under way

I have just reached London on route to Lyon in France. It was just 4 and half hours on the bus. Now I face a four hour wait before the bus leaves London for Lyon. I am looking forward to finding a good camp ground, wild or not, and to meeting familiar faces at the grape picking. Grape picking is scheduled to egin on the 10th September. Rather a late start when compared to last year when the picking began on the 26th August. I will probably only be able to pck for a few days because I have to reach Oxford on the 16th September. Will see.
I have a mountain of luggage with me, but the weight will go down because there is a lot of food in my bags.
Catch you in Lyon.

Saturday 21st August,
Have reached Lyon by bus. Will now travel to Chamonix by train. Hopefully at the campsite in Argentiere by late this afternoon.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


NORTHERN IRELAND – ‘A well kept secret’ by Andrew Wright

Thanks to the Good Friday Agreement of the 10th April 1998, and the intervening years of relative peace, bicycle touring in Northern Ireland is these days a safe and enjoyable undertaking. The recent past can not be ignored however and any visitor must take it into account. This land was once blighted and scarred by the turmoil which was known widely as ‘The Troubles’. The roots of which are sunk deep into history and in modern times were reignited by the spark which was the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s and early 70s. Mayhem and chaos came to reign with the re-emergence of the IRA and their counterparts on the Loyalist side. The stories of that time of good and evil, courage and cowardice will ripple through the ages.

I decided to make a diversion in to Northern Ireland as part of a longer six week John O’Groats to Lands End charity bicycle journey. My trip caught the splendid rain free weather that was the early summer of 2010. The P & O Irish Sea ferry took me from Troon, in Ayrshire, to the port of Larne, the gateway to the famous Antrim coast. The ferry arrived at 10:20pm but fortunately it was only a half mile to a campsite. I enjoyed a supper of a tin of chicken korma followed by milky coffee.

I was on the road at 7:30am to pick up the ‘Causeway Coastal Route’ heading north. There was a fine sunrise to admire. Antrim is a beautiful County with much to explore if time avails. I passed by the renowned beautiful nine Glens of Antrim which radiate inland from the Coastal Route.

In the Rough Guide to Ireland I read that in the village of Carnlough is a hotel called the ‘Londonderry Arms Hotel’, which has the distinction of once being owned by Sir Winston Churchill. Sir Winston inherited the hotel from a second cousin. At the Hotel there is the Churchill Lounge devoted to memorabilia of the great man. I took photos and revelled in this snippet of history.

The Causeway Coastal Route took me over high ground of moor land and forest, stopping briefly for lunch by the road side. A sweeping freewheel down into the seaside town of Ballycastle was quite exhilarating. Arriving in time at a bar to watch England vs Germany in the World Cup, my spirits were dampened by the dismal result, a good reminder to me not to put too much store in the game of Football. Ballycastle has a beautiful beach backed up by rising and undulating grassy dunes. I found a small area of flat ground amongst the dunes and pitched my tent with a fine view over the beach from my door. From Ballycastle it is possible to take a ferry excursion to the small craggy island of Rathlin where Robert the Bruce gained inspiration from a determined spider to “try, try and try again”.

Another early start of 7:00am helped me to reach the Carrick-a-reed rope bridge before it opened and before any large tour parties arrived. The rope bridge is run by the National Trust and there is an admission charge of £4.90. The rope bridge is strung 25 metres above the sea and spans 18 metres. It is an experience to cross the bridge as it wobbles, bucks and springs. Not an experience for the nervous. On the cliffs near to the bridge seabirds can be viewed nesting, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Razorbills and Guillemots.

I had tea and a scone at the National trust café before pushing on towards the Giant’s Causeway. It is seven miles to the Giant’s Causeway, a journey made special by a meeting with a fellow cyclist called Ian Campbell. We cycled together and chatted. I found out that Ian is in training for an event called ‘Race Around Ireland 2010’. At our meeting he was in the middle of a 300 mile, not stop, training ride from his home in Newcastle, south of Belfast. The remarkable thing is that he is 64 years old and recovering from prostate cancer. He is an endurance cyclist extraordinaire.

I parted from Ian at the Giant’s Causeway car park. The Causeway’s funding clearly relies on the excessive car parking charges for visitors. Cyclists are not charged for their visit. I locked the bike at the Visitor’s Centre and walked the half mile down to the Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is worth all the effort to reach. It is rather special and magical to clamber amongst the 60 million year old geological formations. A visit to Northern Ireland would not be complete without seeing this spectacle.

After the Causeway I cycled on to Portrush where the weather turned to drizzling fine rain. I did my e-mail at the public library, had some fish and chips and stocked up on supplies ready for a wild camp on the road to Coleraine.

I was on the road at 2:30 am for a spot of night riding. I reached Londonderry via the Foyal Bridge, longest in Ireland, after 60 kms. A fine full cooked breakfast at the Caife Failte was my reward. Londonderry to the Protestants, Derry to the Catholics and Maiden City to the politically impartial is a fascinating place to spend a couple of days.

The Derry City Independent Hostel at £13 for a dorm bed, including breakfast and free internet, is a bargain place in which to set up base. I immersed my self into the political history of Derry with a visit to the ‘Free Derry Museum’ and a tour of the Bogside political murals. The Free Derry Museum details the history of the ‘Troubles’ with particular emphasis on the Bloody Sunday disaster of 1072. The guardian of the museum is the brother of one of the protesters killed on Bloody Sunday. Derry is a fine place to savour the ‘craic’ in the traditional pubs of the city.

I now needed to make my way in the general direction of Belfast to catch the ferry to Liverpool and so onto my continued route towards Lands End. I decided to cut south of Lough Neagh. The route crossed the beautiful and wild Sperrin mountains, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Sperrins are wild and bleak, comparable to the northern fells of the Lake District. All day I had been expecting forecast rain, but it did not materialise. I wild camped on the lower ground in a secluded spot behind a stone wall.
After a breakfast of porridge and toast at a café in Cookstown I pushed on in the rain to reach Dungannon, in County Tyrone. At the library in Dungannon fate set me a course of events that would lead me to the heights of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont itself. While asking directions from the librarian I was told that on my route was the ancestral home of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, the great Confederate American Civil War general. So I went in search of the blue memorial plaque to Jackson in the village of Birches. It was in Birches that I stopped to ask of the whereabouts of the plaque and fate put me in the hands of a woman called Stephanie. We chatted and she helped get me a place at the Cottage Country House B & B at a discount because of my charitable endeavours. Stephanie also introduced my to a fellow called John Tate of Birches, who is the Secretary of the ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Society. I spent a good half hour taking with John. He gave me a Confederate three bullet from the Civil War. Stephanie also made for me an introduction to Stephen Moutray, Mayor of Craigavon and Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. I made an appointment with Stephen at Stormont.

I was on the road at 5:30am to make my appointment at Stormont. At 11:00am I met Stephen Mountray and he gave me an interesting tour of the Stormont Parliament building. It was a little unusually being in such a grand place dressed in my travelling clothes and meeting with such a distinguished man.

In Belfast I checked into the Vagabonds Travellers Hostel. In the evening I went to Sandy Row to witness an Orange Order parade. It is a great spectacle to see the stirring banners and rousing pipe and drum bands.

Next morning, my last in Northern Ireland, I cycled up the Falls Road to visit Milltown cemetery where the Republican Nationalists, including Bobby Sands, are buried.

All in all my six day tour of Northern Ireland was a fascinating, enjoyable and rewarding experience. It was also a quite unique detour from a long JOG-LE ride.

Flights go to Belfast International Airport with easyjet from Liverpool, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. www.easyjet.com

Norfolkline Irish Sea ferries sail from Birkenhead to Belfast twice daily. www.norfolkline.com

P & O Irish Sea ferries sail from Troon, in Scotland, to Larne in Northern Ireland. Bikes go free. www.poirishsea.com

Map: Michelin Ireland No. 405 (scale 1 cm : 4 km).

Guidebook: The Rough Guide to Ireland by Paul Gray and Geoff Wallis.

Background research: ‘A Place Apart’ (1978) by Dervla Murphy

By Andrew Wright


The 'Six Shropshire Summits Challenge Walk' is a classic event. It is a tough event. I entered in year 2000 and managed to complete the route.


Ever since my initiation to the world of Long Distance Challenge Walking in 1994 I have sought to collect (participate in) the great classic events. The Cleveland Classic is one such event. The Cleveland Classic is now sadly discontinued. My desire is to do the classic events just once only. I entered the Cleveland Classic is September 1996 and completed the 56 miles in a time of 20 hours and 39 minuets.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY - Just joined (August 2010)

AW letter of welcome from 'The Churchill Society'. (Double click to enlarge for reading)

I first found out about 'The Churchill Society' a year or two ago. I have just sent in my membership fee and joined. This is a young society and is at the moment principally web based. There are no regular meeting or events and no newsletter. So at the moment it will not overshadow my interest in the TEL Society. Will see what happens.

T. E. LAWRENCE SOCIETY - Symposium in September

The T. E. Lawrence Society leaflet. (Double click to enlarge for reading).
The T. E. Lawrence Society leaflet. (Double click to enlarge for reading)

The T. E. Lawrence Society Newsletter. (Double click to enlarge for reading)

Newsletter contents page.

TEL Society 2010 Syposium schedule, page 1. (Double click on page to enlarge for reading)
TEL Society 2010 Symposium schedule, page 2.
TEL Society Symposium schedule, page 3.
TEL Society Symposium schedule, page 4.
TEL Society 2010 Symposium, page 5.
The T. E. Lawrence Society is an educational charity devoted to the study of the life, works and times of T. E. Lawrence. It has approximately 600 members throughout the UK and overseas. I joined the Society when I discovered its existence in 2007. It is a great pleasure to be a member of such a worthwhile and well ordered organisation. On September 16th I will travel to Oxford to attend the Society's bi-annual Symposium at St John's College. The Symposium for me will consist of visits to the Ashmoleum museum and Jesus College for guided tours and over the three days a series of lectures and talks on Lawrence related matters.
The Society website address is: www.telsociety.org.uk

LIMITED EDITION - First Feature - Sept 2008

This article in a local magazine called 'Limited Edition' published in September 2008 was the first feature in which my adventures were outlined. Sadly the magazine no longer exists.
(Double click to enlarge for reading.)


On the 8th May 1990 I flew to Toronto to begin a marathon whistle stop tour of American and Canada using a Greyhound Ameripass. The Ameripass is an invitation to masochists. Try riding 48 hours on a cross country bus. Still saying that it a fine way to see the country and people. My route was as follows:
1. Toronto.
2. Flagstaff for Grand Canyon.
3. San Francisco.
4. Seattle.
5. Vancouver.
6. Denver.
7. Washington.
8. Philadelphia.
9. New York.
10. Montreal.
11. Quebec.
13. Kingston.
14. Niagara Falls.
15. Toronto.
It is okay to do a trip like this once when you are young. But not again. The long bus journeys are too much. High lights of the trip:
A. Grand Canyon.
B. San Francisco: Cable Cars; Alcatraz; Crossing golden Gate Bridge listening to the Beach Boys.
C. Bar in Seattle.
D. Visiting sister of friend in Vancouver.
E. The cool hostel in Denver.
F. The museums in Washington.
G. Liberty Bell, Philadelphia.
H. Niagara Falls.

RAGBRAI 2012 Project - map of IOWA

The Project here is to enter and take part in the 2012 Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) in the company of my friends Randy Castle (USA), Wai Sing Lee (Toronto & Singapore) and Wai Sing's friend Sandrine. The map above indicates the state of Iowa, related to gateway airports of Chicago and Minneapolis. Still a lot of research to do.

REG HOLMES - A friend of Lawrence! - investigation

Knutsford Guardian article reporting the passing of Reg Holmes. (Double click on article to enlarge for reading.)
Reg Holmes was a stalwart member of the Northwich Folk Club.

Tributes by members of the Northwich Folk Club. (Double click on pages to enlarge for reading).

Regular readers may recall the post reporting the local newspaper articles recording the passing of Reg Holmes and his friendship with T. E. Lawrence. Last Friday I attended an event of the Northwich Folk Club. Reg Holmes was a stalward and popular member of the Club. I met Reg's friends at the Club seeking further information and leads to try to discover more details of his friendship with Lawrence. I got hold of the Folk Club's Summer 2010 newsletter containing tributes to Reg Holmes by his friends.
Also I have written to the Executors of Reg Holmes Estate, Rowlinsons Solicitors of Frodsham, to see if they come across any Lawrence related letters, photographs or artifacts which survive. Will see.

ROMAN GASK PROJECT - Archaeology summer 2006

Roman Gask Project team. AW third from Left, Dr Woolliscroft lying on the ground, Dr Hoffman just to the right of the flag.

In the summer of 2006 I took a one-way flight to Edinburgh with my bicycle. I had made arrangments to join the 'Roman Gask Project' archaeological dig near to Stirling as a volunteer digger. The Roman Gask Project is overseen by Dr David Woolliscroft and Dr Birgitta Hoffman of the University of liverpool.

I was with the dig for five days. We camped at a farm near to the dig site. I spent my time labouring in a long trench revealing the profile of a Roman defensive ditch. A the end of the dig we all went to an Indian Restaurant in Stirling for a buffet meal.

I then cycled home to Cheshire over 10 days.


The 'Fellsman Hike' is a classic event in the endurance walking calender. It is organised by the Keighley Scouts, and it is well organised at that. I have only ever taken part in one Fellsman Hike, in 1998. It is a tough event and a nice trophy to have under my belt. I may not enter the LDWA 100 in 2012 or 2013 because they are too distant from home and are logistically difficult so instead I may try another Fellsman

SHROPSHIRE 100 - 1995 a one & only completion

The Shropshire Hundred of May 1995 was my first LDWA 100 and my only completion to date. I was inspired, encouraged and driven along by my walking companion of the day, Jim Strother of Ambleside. Jim was over 65 years old, or so, at the time. It was a punishing walk of 44 and a half hours, including the passage of two full nights of walking. At times when tiredness lay at its worse I was almost asleep on my feet. I walked with terrible blisters, some of which were broken and raw. I dont think I could face such pain again. I was a cripple for about two weeks before recovering. (Double click on the certificate to enlarge for reading.)

Other 100 results:

Mid Wales 100 (2007) : Retired 57 miles, blisters & exhaustion.
Yoredale 100 (2008): Retired 90 miles, timed out & exhausted.
Wessex 100 (2009): Retired 94 miles, totally exhausted.
Heart of Scotland 100 (2010): Retired 76 miles, arrived too late at checkpoint to allow for recovery time.

Monday, 16 August 2010


The Yoredale 100, May 2008. This was my third LDWA hundred. After Shropshire in 1995 and Mid Wales in 1997.
Yoredale 100 results sheet. I was forced to retire at 90 mile checkpoint. I was timed out but really could not have gone on anyway. (Double click on page to enlarge for reading).

The Wessex 100 of May 2009, my fourth hundred.

Results sheet for the Wessex 100. (Double click to enlarge for reading).

The next 100 will be in May 2011 and is called the 'Housman 100'. These events are in my blood. I am not fast, I am not assured to finish. I take my pleasure in grasping the challenge and sharing the experience and fellowship with the other walkers and the check point marshalls.

Meeting Martin Bell OBE - 15th March 2000

AW in group of UKIP supporters meeting Martin Bell, serving MP for Tatton, on the 15th March 2000.
AW at home having tea on the Terrace of Parliament with Westminster Bridge and the 'London Eye' in the background.
On the 15th March in year 2000 I was a member of small group of Tatton UK Independence Party supporters who tavelled to London to meet Martin Bell. To younger or foreign readers Martin Bell won renown as a foreign and war correspondent with the BBC. In the 1997 general election he stood for Parliament as an Independent anti-sleaze candidate in the constituency of Tatton. He won, but regretably made an honourable pledge to serve just one term as MP.

Friday, 13 August 2010

LAWRENCE BOOKS Collection bourgeoning

I have started to become a quite serious collector of Lawrence literature of one kind or another. The above books are recent acquisitions. I will work on this collection to build it. I need more book shelves at home to contain and display them.

POPE JOHN PAUL II - a hero to me

My regard for Pope John Paul II is, as is the world's, great. On a trip to Rome in February 2005 I saw Pope John Paul II give his usual sunday sermon from the balcony of the Vatican in St Peter's Square. He was very ill at that time and spoke haltingly and croakily, a heroic effort. He died a matter of weeks later on 2nd April 2005.
In the summer of 2006 I visited Poland for the second time. I made my way by bus to the town of Wadowice where I visited Pope John Paul II's childhood home, now set up as a museum.

More about Poland at a future date.

ARABIA headline block framed on my wall

BUNGEE JUMPING - October 12th 1996

On the 12th October 1996 I did a bungee jump, in Frodsham, from a platform hoisted up on a crane. The height might have 150ft to 200ft, I cant recall which. Either way it was not as spectacular as the jumping you see in New Zealand or at the Victoria Fall. The bungee cord was attached at the back, not at the feet as you see in the spectacular jumps. I closed my eyes jumped and thought of England. I dont think I care to repeat it.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

LAWRENCE OURTOWN - headline block

This is the headline block from the Lawrence article in the latest issue of 'Ourtown'. It has been printed out in A4 and I will frame it and put it on my wall.


After gaining my Mountain Group Leader Award (ML) the other week, I have recently submitted an application to Ramblers Worldwide Holidays to get on their leaders panel. Will see.
(Double click on the pages above to enlarge for reading.)

Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) - an idea

My friend Wai Sing, sometime resident of Toronto and Singapore, has proposed an excellent idea. It is to make a team entry in to the great bicycle event know as RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI stands for 'Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa'. It involves 10,000 cyclists riding almost 500 miles in a week across the state of Iowa, visiting host communities along the way. Wai Sing has suggested that my friend Randy Castle, veteran of a number of RAGBRAI in the past, may like to join us. This proposed idea will be to enter for the event in 2012 or 2013.
(Double click on the information pages above to enlarge for reading)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

SINAI PHOTO - Circa year 2000

This photo of AW was taken on the Egypt expedition of year 2000. It is in the middle of the Sinai desert on the road between Dahab and St Katherines Monastery. I made a good wild camp at this spot, sleeping in my bivi bag. A print of the photo has a place on my shelf at home. More about Egypt at a future date.

ALPINE Photo - circa 1995

This photo has been hanging around in my files. It is AW and was taken by self timer at a wild camp above the Chamonix Valley circa 1995 or so.