The Andrew Grounsell Challenge is now underway, with Luke Westoe and Darren Purvis cycling to and from, as well as  climbing the Three Peaks to raise funds for us and Maggie’s Newcastle.

It’s all in memory of their friend and colleague, Andrew Grounsell, who sadly died from bowel cancer last year aged just 54.

Darren has been keeping us up-to-date with their travels and, as you will see from his diary and pics below, it’s been both fun and very hard work so far.

Our thanks to Darren and Luke – and to everyone supporting them. If you would like to sponsor them, you can do so here.

DAY 1:

After leaving Space at noon on 25th, we visited Maggies before heading to the Sir Bobby Robson statue at St. James Park. Great photos with all.

The cycle south through Gateshead, heading in to Durham so us joined by Keith in our office. The company was great, although we could not persuade him to cycle the remainder of the 920 miles ahead!

We cycled on through Bishop Auckland, Richmond and in to Leyburn.

Our stop for the night was a campsite near Ketterwell. Have to say the shower block got the thumbs up from us all as we were desperate to be cleaned up.

The tents went up in the dark, Andrew sleeping in the van and Luke and I in tents.

We slept well, until alarms rang out at 6.30am.

Day 2:

Early start with a 6am wake up shake of the tent.

Most of the day was off road away from traffic, some detours with the Garman taking us on some magical tracks; scenic tracks along the Leeds to Liverpool canal, disused railways, some serious off road sections which you would never tackle on a road bike, but once your descending its a climb back up so you just keep going down.

Managed to miss the first refuelling stop? Not sure how but once we reached stop 2 we were ready to eat.

Bolton was a difficult bit to navigate. We passed near Bury and then on towards Chester.

Mold was our last English town before we crossed the border to Wales were the hills began and the legs started to feel the pressure.

There were some impressive climbs with the last 30 mile or so providing the last 3500 ft of climbing. All in all we climbed 7300ft.

Arrived at the campsite in the dark.

After inspecting the shower block, it was deemed a health hazard to enter……but as we had cycled 130 mile we needed to get as clean as possible.

Spent the next hour boiling pasta on the stove and chucking in and chicken, creating cuisine for three. Food was good and the sky being so clear, gave us the best display of satellites flying across the star lit galaxy above.

A second night camping, with the tend and sleeping bad still wet from the dampness the night before. The tent taking is dew did not help either, but nothing matters when you so exhausted. So climbing in a soggy sleeping bag did not bother anyone.

We slept well, apart from the odd cow in the field next door.

Day 3 Sunday, the ‘day of rest’…

An early start with another 6am rise and shine. First ones up on the campsite. Woke up the my feet being wet from the dew collecting on the outside of the tent, dripping in to the tent on to the sleeping bag. Nice.

After the success of cooking tea on the gas stove we had brought along, Andrew and I decided to go all out and have beans on toast for lunch. Made a change to the corn beef pie from the morning before!

Beans on toast outside was great! Just the warm start that the damp morning needed. Jackets and hats on and we were off, leaving Andrew to wash the dirties in the shower (the only area he could find to wash up).

The ride to Snowdon was about 20 miles and we left the campsite at 7am. Lots of great descents, but some awesome climbs to get to the area where we would tackle the mountain.

When we arrived Andrew struggled to get parked as it looked like everyone in Wales had decided to climb Snowdon with us.

The weather was now hotting up (24o) and we began the ascent at 9am via Pyg pass. The climb was tough, more so from the many tourists attempting to climb with little gear and footwear not far from flip flops!

We reached the summit at 11.20am and joined the other few thousand people queuing to get right on the top peak. Managing to get a signal finally, meant we learnt that Andrew had been unable to get the train to the top to meet us, due to the tickets being sold out. We were gutted for him as we knew he was keen to walk part of the route with us.

After a bit lunch and a few calls to family, we headed down the mountain to Llanberis to meet Andrew.

The last section of the day involved a ride towards Bangor, a short stint back on the bike riding just 10 miles to our next stop for the night.

A quick clean up, van emptied, all our kit on charge, we headed out on a mission to find a fish and chip shop. Happy to report we accomplished the mission!