Lighthouse NEWS


Premier Member
I posted this report on the old Forum at the end of last year, just before we moved to the new forum.

Last year (2014) in October half term I attempted what
was intended to be a new ride. My aim was to visit the
four lighthouses at the extremities of the UK mainland.
These being Dunnet Head in the north, Lizard in the
south, Lowestoft in the east and Neist Point on Skye
in the west ( I figured if the Americans can have Key
West we can have Skye, as its now linked to the
mainland by a bridge). I ran my plan past El
Presidente and got the green light. The Lighthouses
had to be visited in a specific order North, East,
West and then South. So the ride would be a Lighthouse
NEWS. The overall mileage was about 2000 miles, so
sticking to the national limits 48 hours would be a
good starting estimate for the time to be allowed for
the ride.

It was necessary to use a form of photo verification,
due to the remote locations of some of the
lighthouses. The time from a receipt and odo reading
from the location it was obtained was to be written on
a card with the time and odo reading at the lighthouse
being photographed (similar system to the Irish IBA
Governments Ride). As this was the first time the ride
was to be attempted I would also submit my Spot trace.

I rode from Romford to Thurso on Saturday, the day
before I intended to start the ride, had a good meal,
got my witness forms signed and off to bed at 20:00

I was up at 03:30 and out by 04:00, keys left on the
bed as requested by reception as the night porter was
likely to be otherwise engaged. The ride started badly
and got worse. It was a Sunday and the day the clocks
had been put back an hour.....

I couldn't get a receipt at Thurso, all the ATMs were
down and the one auto fuel pump was also down. I
assumed the banks were updating their systems.

I decided to try Tesco's at Wick for fuel, arriving
just before 5. All the pumps were down and the store
was closed. I inserted my card again and gave it
another 3 goes..... On the stroke of 5am the pumps
sprang to life. I filled the tank and obtained my
receipt, off to Dunnet Head. It felt like 40mph winds,
gusting even stronger. There was no chance of using
the tripod to get a long exposure photo of the
lighthouse. I tried to take a photo with the Dunnet
Head location stone as a background. No chance too
windy. Eventually I attempted a photo with the sheet
of information on the RSPB Dunnet Head Display in
front of the Lighthouse, YES at last a good photo.

I returned to my bike and popped everything in the top
box, remembering to lock it. Where had I wedged my
gloves? Usual place between the headstock and
instruments. The wind had obviously thought they were
a nice pair of gloves and whisked them away. Spare
pair from the top box, again remembering to lock it.

I was now 1 hour 50 minutes behind schedule and I'd
only just started.

I made my way down to Lowestoft via the A9, M74, M6,
A66, A1, A17, A47 and A12, a good ride arriving at

I obtained a receipt at the BP garage opposite the
lighthouse and then made my way to the Lowestoft
Maritime Museum. As the sun had gone down I took a
photo of the Museum. During daylight the lighthouse
will be visible in the background.

Off to Fort William, my planned rest stop. Oh did I
mention the high winds in Scotland and horizontal
rain. The wind was so strong it literally wrenched my
helmet round on several occasions, I felt like I'd
been used as a punch bag. As I rode alongside Loch
Lomond the road resembled a river with 6 inch deep
water running along it, but I digress.

I arrived in Ballachulish (end of Glen Coe), at about
02:45 just 18 miles from my hotel bed at The Premier
Inn in Fort William, when I was stopped by a troll on
the Bridge. Well a Highway's bod, in a nice new, warm,
dry van- he should have been a troll. "You can't cross
the bridge", "Why?" was my obvious response. I
expected him to say "It will cost you a gold piece"
But he actually said (which was worse) "There's been a
landslide and the roads blocked. Actually there's been
three." I said, "Diversion?" He said, "Have you got a
tent?" looking at my bike " You could wait to see if
they put the ferry back on." At this point I
remembered seeing the large signs at the side of the
road, about diversions for traffic that wanted to use
the ferry, which was out of service. "Can I drive
round?" "Aye, I thought you might ask that. You'll not
be happy. You have to go back to Perth and out from
there. It's a fair bit though, over a hundred miles."
MapSource shows it as 154 miles.......

At this point 22 hours in, with potentially another 4
hours to get to Fort William and then on to Skye I
called it a day. I had 2 hours in the car park at
Glencoe and returned home. Wetter, colder, windswept
but wiser. Always put an elasticated cargo net over
your rear seat so you can tuck your gloves under it.

At this point I put the ride to bed for a year.

Having missed out on most of the European RTEs in 2015
I had to make do with a Fool's Gold and GN72; my
thoughts then returned to Lighthouse NEWS. I changed
the route requirements so that a receipt was needed
from Inverness on the way to and from Neist Point on
Skye. This ensured the shortest route was via the Skye
Bridge and not the ferry. It also bumped the minimum
mileage over 2200 miles. This enabled me to suggest a
50 hour time limit for the ride (similar ride distance
as the American CC50), which would make it a named
Extreme Ride. The first in the UK. Phil OK'd this in

Remembering the problems caused by the changing of the
clocks from summertime (in 2014); I decided to ride up
to Thurso on Sunday 25th October, the day the clocks
changed. I would start my ride on the Monday. As I
rode up the A9 I noted the locations of the numerous
road works, temporary speed limits and additional
average speed cameras that had been installed as a
result. All good.

On arrival at The Weigh Inn I purchased my meal and
got my witness forms signed. As I was not staying for
breakfast the hotel provided me with a packed lunch
instead, all for the princely sum of £30. In bed for

I obtained an ATM receipt from the Bank of Scotland at
04:08 (SPOT 04:10). I was off. Dunnet Head no high
winds, no rain, no lighting..... Timed exposure photo
taken of Lighthouse with RSPB board in foreground. Off
and running. The time was now 04:47.

As I rode down the A9 I encountered my first problem.
The road works now had traffic lights with alternate
traffic flow; controlled by convoy systems. By the
time I reached Perth I had lost an hour. No serious
problems after that as I repeated my route of the
previous year to Lowestoft. The photo at Lowestoft
was taken in daylight, this time, at 16:47. However, I
was running late and was apprehensive of not being
able to beat the scheduled 20:00 hour closure of the
A1, on the approach to Scotch Corner. Sure enough I
arrived at 20:30 and the diversion was in. I was sent
across to the A19. OK I'll divert through the Tyne
Tunnel and up to Berwick-on-Tweed; I had considered
this as part of my original route. I was soon informed
by roadside matrix signs that the Tyne Tunnel was
closed overnight and traffic was diverted back to the
A1(M). Back on the A1 I arrived at Newcastle to be
greeted by cones across it and a diversion through the
City Centre, more time wasted. OK..... Burger and
Coffee at McD at Berwick, the time was now 23:30. If
I'd been on schedule I should have been on the A9 less
than an hour from Inverness and my bed. I reconciled
myself to the fact I was behind my planned schedule
but my bed was waiting. There were various road works
on the A1 up to Edinburgh which cost me even more
time. The final straw was the closure of the A1/A720
ring road junction and yet another diversion, this
time through Edinburgh City Centre. However, the M90
and Forth Road Bridge were open, unlike the previous
day when I had ridden up to Thurso.

I eventually checked in to the Premier Inn in
Inverness at 03:30. Nearly 24 hours after I had set
off from Thurso and 3 hours 30 minutes later than I
had planned. Still rest in a proper bed . I decided to
regain some of the time I had lost by shortening my
sleep break to just over 5 hours. I knew this length
of rest would be OK for me. I also had a cereal bar
for breakfast rather than the full cooked breakfast I
had been promising myself (more miffed at this than
the shorter sleep break). This approach would
safeguard the rest (contingency) time I had allowed
for later if I needed it. At 09:06 I was back on the
bike, 09:15 refueled at Tesco and off to Skye via the
A835and A890. This was the reason I had wanted to
overnight at Inverness. The prospect of 5 or 6 hours
riding to and from Skye after a good night's rest.
Beautiful roads (mainly single track with passing
places) through the wilds of Scotland and little, to
no traffic. As I committed to the A890 and its single
track nature I saw a 38 tonne articulated lorry ahead.
I had visions of a slow follow across the wild
landscape. Well I'd have plenty of time to flower
sniff. But no, the driver pulled into a passing place
and with a wave of thanks I was away. Signs for
lambs but otherwise empty roads. Then onto Skye and
more single track roads. Arriving at Neist Point I had
already mentally prepared myself for the half mile
walk to the ridge on the headland, from where I could
take the photo of the Lighthouse. A short break from
riding and the opportunity have something to eat and
stretch my legs. Arriving at 12:30, I had an easy shot
with the card showing the odo reading and time from
the receipt I had obtained from the village store in
Dunvegan, on my way in. I now had 850 miles and 17
hours to get to the Lizard. But first the half mile
hike back to my bike. The return to Inverness was via
a different route, the A82 and A87. More beautiful
scenery. It was 15:44 when I refueled at Tesco. I was
back where I had been at 09:15 that morning. Six and a
half hours elapsed and I was back in the same
place......But with a mile wide grin, having ridden
some of the most scenic roads in the UK.

This stop was followed by another tortuous trip down
the A9, through the road works. The fourth time in 3
days I had ridden it. Still on towards The Lizard and
my final destination. As I approached Gordano
services, at midnight, I decided I would have a short
nap after refueling. However, the overhead signs
indicated that the M5 was closed at J23 and the A30
was closed after the M5. More good news. Still I
needed 20 minutes. Having refueled I had a quick nap
on the bike and set off refreshed for the last leg.
The M5 was closed just prior to Bridgewater, so yes
the promised diversion and lost time. Off again and on
to the A30, sure enough at Oakhampton (01:55) there
was a local diversion through the town, narrow streets
and HGV's, which ate even more time. I had 90 miles
and 2 hours left to make the ride inside 48 hours.
Temporary road matrix signs informed me that the A39
was closed. I continued on the A30 and cut across
country on the B3297, nice and twisty, a good biking
road. But not what I needed after 18 hours of riding.
Now for my final receipt at the 24 hour Tesco fuel
station in Helston. No it's shut! Road works in the
town centre meant another 20 minutes searching for a
route to an ATM. Then on to the Lizard Lighthouse for
my photo at 04:16 hours, A grand total of 48 hours and
8 minutes; total distance of about 2250 miles - of
which approximately 1250 were non motorway. Then it
was back to Lizard and wait for witnesses. 06:30 cold,
wet and miserable (not me) that was the first
inhabitant who I saw out walking his dogs and asked to
sign my witness form. So that was a no. A few minutes
later a man carrying bin bags clad in shreddies and a
T-shirt emerged from a holiday cottage. Of course I'll
sign your form and I'll get my wife to sign as well.
Come inside, take your jacket off, get a warm and have
a cup of tea. What a welcome..... But not from a
local, It was a man from Bristol who just happened to
be there on holiday.... His kids couldn't believe I
had just ridden down from Skye. My thoughts turned to
another man from the Bristol Area and how he would
view the ride......

A warm, a hot tea and half an hour later I set off
home, arriving at 13:15 hours. 77 hours and some 3300
miles after leaving home I was back. Now for the

Wot's next.........

Spotwalla Link

Arriving home from holiday today I had this certificate waiting for me. Brought back all the aches but also the feeling of achievement. (Thanks to Ziggy for designing the certificate)

El Presidente (and Mr Kneebone) have agreed to two classes of ride. Standard ride to be completed in 55 hours (therefore a qualifying for mileater at the higher level ride) and Gold standard if completed within 48 hours.
The rules will be published shortly.
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IBA Member
Good ride Gordon although i am a bit puzzled why you would ride to Lowestoft from Dunnet head then back to Skye then to Lizard point?


Premier Member
i am a bit puzzled why you would ride to Lowestoft from Dunnet head then back to Skye then to Lizard point?
John, The points have to be visited North, East, West, South (N-E-W-S) the route also requires receipts from Inverness on the way to and from Skye. This ensures that the shortest distance does not include ferries and the distance covered is sufficient to justify the time allowed. Unfortunately this sceptred isle we live on is (for us anyway) quite small and longer rides are challenging to devise (without riding obvious loops). In this ride I wanted to include a significant proportion of non motorway riding.

Would I do it again? Yes but I have one or two other rides to do first....
Fantastic ride Gordon and excellent ride report to boot. Well done. Seems el presidente's mantra "plan the ride and ride the plan" went tits up on both occasions but liked the way you planned on the hoof. Better man than me but you know, and so do most others, know that already.

Be lucky, Iain