Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle

This year I’m cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats self-supported along with my dad, who is 69. For this 1000-mile and more ride I’m hoping to raise some much-needed money for the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where both my daughters were cared for after they were born between eight and nine weeks prematurely. Please click below to donate, and read on below to hear more about my story and our LeJoG adventure:

Total raised so far: £5

Getting some early training in with my dad last year on the Black Isle
Getting some early training in with my dad last year on the Black Isle

SCBU and beyond
Our two daughters were both born prematurely, which came as a massive surprise – especially the first time. It was the middle of the night after we’d arrived back from the rather remote Isle of Coll when the waters broke. We rushed to hospital in a panic, unsure what it would all lead to. As soon as little Clara was born, she was checked over and taken straight to SCBU; it was hours before we were able to go up and see her. When we first went into the unit, it was a scary experience, with beeps and buzzers going off left, right and centre. We didn’t know what any of them meant and how our little girl was going to be.

Clara in SCBU
Clara in SCBU

The staff at SCBU were amazing, looking after her day and night from intensive care through to the day when we were finally allowed to take her home – a long and exhausting six weeks later.

When Jennifer arrived even earlier than her big sister, we were surprised but by now ready for anything. This time I was able to go up to see her just an hour after the birth – and the first thing the nurse, Alan, said to me as I walked in was: “Oh, you’re back are you? Couldn’t stay away?” It immediately made me feel comfortable and at home despite the emotional and exhausting night we’d just had. Jennifer also stayed in SCBU for six weeks where she also received excellent care from the staff, many of whom feel like part of the family after all that time.

Jennifer in SCBU
Jennifer in SCBU

I often bump into some of the staff in and around Inverness, and they are always interested to hear how the girls are doing. Both of them (now aged four and two) are doing well and are not suffering any ill effects from their prematurity (we know we are among the lucky ones) and now we want to help give something back to the unit and its dedicated team of staff. Riding Land’s End to John O’Groats will be tough but it’s nothing compared to what they deal with.

Clara and Jennifer

We’re planning to take a quiet scenic route from Land’s End to John O’Groats, following minor roads, cycle tracks and B roads where possible. The ‘Plan A’ route is a sketchy 1025 miles, though with plenty of room for error! The ride will be self-supported, so we’re loading the panniers with camping gear and maps and taking it easy, covering an average of 60 miles a day over around two-and-a-half weeks.

Please comment below or via Twitter to wish us luck or give us encouragement!

Keep up to date with our progress on Twitter @BL6John and #BL6lejog

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John Davidson, author and journalist, shares his love of the great outdoors from Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland