Every year I am trying to do a cycling challenge and this year's challenge is to ride the Coast to Coast route across Britain, following the Reivers Route, starting at Whitehaven and eventually ending up at Teignmouth.
The word Reiver means plunderer and the route is named after the murdering bandits who ran a medieval equivalent of the Costa Nostra. This area of Britain was the Chicago or Sicily of its time, when marauding clans terrorized both the English and Scottish sides of the Border for 350 years. They lived by castle rustling, kidnapping, extortion, arson and murder. The route passes many castles like Bew Castle as well as a number of fortified farmhouses like Askerton Castle, all of which reveal the defensive needs of the area as well as its rich heritage. The word 'blackmail ' comes from the Reivers: a farmer paid 'blackmail' - rent in the form of cattle instead of the legal 'whitemail' , which was paid in silver, to a powerful Reiver who would give him protection in return.
I am hoping my journey will be somewhat less fraught!
This will be my first venture into Cycling Touring and so the next few days will be devoted to getting the Mercian ready for the trip.
Unlike last year when my Challenge was to complete the London 100 inside the cut -off time, this year is planned to be much more leisurely and so I hope to be able to document my journey.