Stuart Johnson


Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. We’ve saved millions of lives by discovering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, and survival has doubled over the past 40 years. We fund research into more than 200 types of cancer from the most common, such as breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancers, to rare types of tumours and children’s cancers, we support groundbreaking science that benefits everyone.

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Stuart Johnson's Fundraising Page

Stuart Johnson

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A new word (v & n); circum-pedal-alba; to cycle around the perimeter of Scotland.

In June 2012 and May & June 2013 I managed to do just that and raise £5174.50 including Gift Aid for Cancer Research UK  in the process. This sponsorship page is now closed, but you can read about the ride on the blog.  Heartfelt thanks to the very many people who supported me in such generous and different ways, and to Virgin for providing such an excellent facility, without which the sum raised would have been considerably less. Sponsors and supporters are acknowledged all over the place on the blog, and in person below. This page will remain on the web as a record of all contributions.

Although the project which gave rise to this website is now complete, I’m keeping the blog running, and the silly name. Writing it has become a habit. It’ll remain as an occasional  chronicle of cycling and other outdoor japes, leavened by a random mixture of observation, rant & whimsy.

For the big ride, I was on a road bike for 25 days, solo and unsupported save for the last two days when my lovely wife Avril drove up to shadow me in the car and bring me home. I was travelling extremely light to maximise daily mileage.  Overnight stops used hostels and bunkhouses where they existed, otherwise B & B or with friends. My natural inclination would have been be to camp every night, but I knew that carrying the gear would have cut both my daily range and speed by 30% at least, and I didn’t have that much time. I don’t like riding a heavily-encumbered bike over long distances anyway. Over any distances, in fact.

My route attempted, generally successfully, to stick as close to the mainland coast as I could throughout, visiting the various mulls, points, capes, heads, nesses & rubhas accessible by road, with the occasional island and inland forays to get past the bits where there are no roads.

Several people have asked me if this has ever been done before. Well, yes and no; plenty of folk have done much more ambitious projects, like taking several months (or years!) to circumnavigate the entire British Isles on a bike (or by walking, running, kayaking;  you name it). Some of these trips are fascinatingly documented on the web and elsewhere – follow the FAQ link above for more.  The Scottish variant is, I think, well-travelled, but as far as I’ve been able to discover, no-one has done my precise route or in the same manner. Unsurprisingly, I guess.  Do add a comment if you know something I don’t.

Scotland has nearly 12000 miles of coast, but that includes 800 islands. The mainland coastline is  4174 miles (6718km) . My route was originally planned to be clockwise for just under 2000 miles, the approximate length of the roads which keep closest to the shore and border. That’s more than twice Land’s End to John O’Groats, or roughly equivalent to cycling from home to Athens. Technically,  it started and finished in Gretna on the English border,  thus involving a non-coastal section from the North Sea to the Solway Firth to complete the circle. In fact, it started at my home in Cumbria, some 35 miles south of the Border.  In February 2013 the sequencing for the second and third parts of the route changed from the original plan. (See here.).  It was far from direct; just look at the map and you’ll see what I mean; on some occasions I covered almost 100 miles and ended up close to the day’s starting point,  and in one case only 7 miles away as the crow flies!

This was a big project, for me at least, and I didn’t have enough time to do all of it in the two weeks available in 2012 without cycling 150 miles every day. That’s a Tour-de-France schedule for professional athletes a third of my age.  I aimed to average 70-80 miles a day in order to be able to enjoy the trip and sustain momentum. In the end the journey took 25 days, the exact number I originally estimated, and totalled 1775 miles (2857km), an average of 71 miles (114km) a day. Three stages were over 90 miles and seven over 80, balanced by four under 60. I promised myself not to make any stage longer than 100 miles, or to be in the saddle for more than 8 hours on any day,  and  just managed it,  with the longest stage being 94.93 miles and the longest riding time (as opposed to journey time including breaks) 7hrs 48 minutes.  The weather was for the most part atrocious, the roads for the most part hilly.  Neither will surprise anyone who knows Scotland. The intention was to split the project into two or three sections over two summers. That’s what happened – the word ‘summer’ being used here with some irony -  though not quite as originally planned, as the Blog reveals.

The Blog page tells you how I got on during Part 1 in June 2012 , Part 2 in May 2013, and Part 3 in June 2013. The Route page sets out the schedule and tabulates stage distances. The whole ride was completed on time on June 27th, 2013.

The Facebook link is here . This page remains live.

I hit the £3000 target on the donation site in 2012. This, for example, is enough to cover the costs for one patient to take part in a trial to improve treatment for a type of head and neck cancer. The trial is exploring whether a new way of delivering radiotherapy can help reduce hearing loss, which is a common side effect of treatment. If I passed £4000, this could buy a -80 degree C freezer, essential for the long-term storage of vital biological samples used in research.

As you’ll see, thanks to fantastic support from all quarters, 2012′s part of the ride did indeed raise over £4000 including Gift Aid. The aim in 2013 was to try to reach £6000; twice the original target. I got reasonably close :). Cancer Research UK recently contacted me to arrange the customary handing-over-of-large-cardboard-cheque for local press photographers. There’ll be an image on the blog when it happens

I was nearly 59 when this started, nearly 60 now it’s finished, and it would be disingenuous to suggest that I did it just to raise money for a supremely worthy cause; I had a good and injury-free time, amid some of the planet’s most beautiful – and my favourite – landscapes, and celebrated the fact that I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity and, still, the physical capacity to attempt this kind of thing when so many can’t because of illness visited on them through no fault of their own. Hence the sponsorship appeal; there but for grace and good fortune.

If you have been, thanks for reading, commenting, supporting and encouraging. There are a lot of you out there to thank for this.

In peace,

Stuart Johnson

Full details of the route and pretty much everything else can be found at;

And you can join the Facebook page at;

Offline Contributors

Heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed by other means, both in cash & in kind;

Dodd Murray Ltd, Independent Financial Advisors, Carlisle. £250

Vivien & Frank Cairns. £30

Ian & Pat Parker. £25

Jill & Roger Hackney. £5

Judith & Stan Foster. £25

Diane & Mike Maiden: £15 (+£10 online)

Gerry & Jane Richardson: £30

Barbara Neville & Tim Franks: £20

Kathryn & Willy Jackson: £20

Anonymous: £32.50

Derek Ballantyne: £10

Judith & Peter Gregson: £200

Anonymous: £7.50

Barry Thomas: £20

Glynis Watts: £40

Derek Hook: £20

Sue Ashmore: £20

Reg Parker: £10

Margaret &  Alastair Macdonald at Seaview Farmhouse B & B, Hill of Forss, Thurso: £5

George Heggarty & David McKellar, fellow cyclists at Durness: £20

Judy from Bridlington, fellow guest at Scourie Guest House B & B: £5

Mrs Atkinson, fellow rain-shelterer at Bridge Cottage Cafe, Poolewe: £5

Staff at The Glenuig Inn, Glenuig: £5

Staff at The Starfish Restaurant, Tarbert, Kintyre: £10

Revd Tom & Mrs Kim Davidson-Kelly, fellow guests at The Knap B & B, Tarbert, Kintyre. £10

Dorothy & Graham Smith: £10. In addition to their online contribution made in February 2012, Dorothy and Graham gave £10 on July 24th, 2012 to take the grand total (with Gift Aid) through the £4000 barrier. Fantastic!

From the proceeds of a raffle in March 2013, heartfelt thanks to members of the following organisations; Morpeth Tangent; Houghton-le-Spring Tangent; Sunderland Tangent; Whitley Bay Tangent; Morpeth Soroptimists; Morpeth Inner Wheel; Felton WI. £115.

Arragon's Cycles, Penrith. £5. Like most good cycle stores, Arragon's don't sponsor charity japes direct; if they did they'd be inundated. Having said that, they often offer prizes for fundraising raffles. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found my pre-2013 ride service bill discounted as a contribution. Thanks, especially to Rich, Phil & Sarah.See FAQ page on Blog.

Professor David Clark, Dr Fiona Graham, Marilyn Burns & Janet Fletcher for  accommodation, 2012. See Blog.

Christine & Trevor Brewis, 2013. See Blog.

Richard Ingham & Margaret Douglass for lunch and laughs. See Blog.

Fellow-cyclist Wilf for the unexpired CalMac Rover ticket! See Blog.

Derek Ballantyne, Brian Anderson & Robert (you know who you are!) for the emergency lifts in Cowal & Kintyre. See Blog

Kevin Haldane at Crinan Cycles, Lochgilphead, for the emergency repair. And for the headlamp replacement second time through! See Blog.

Receptionist Anne at the Dundonnell Hotel for the towel and general thawing-out assistance, and Carol & Alan Wright for the coffee :) See Blog.

Anonymous (below, six times & two cash donations, above). Thanks very much for your support which, of course, I haven't been able to acknowledge with a personal message, unless I've managed to figure out who you are which, cunningly, I have in some cases. :)

Cheques; Please note

If you're making a contribution by cheque, please make it payable to Cancer Research UK and post or give it to me. I'll be sending all offline contributions (cash & cheques) to CRUK in one package when the ride is finished, so don't be concerned if your cheque doesn't clear before then; it's much simpler, both for me and for charity administrators, to submit everything on a single offline sponsorship form than to post cheques piecemeal as they come in - each one would then require a separate form. Having said that, if you'd like your cheque clearing sooner, just let me know.

Recent donors

09.09.13 All that suffering has got to be worth another £20!

27.08.13 Well done Stu - inspiring stuff. You are a real star!

04.08.13 Well done Stuart. Great achievement!

30.07.13 Ny Swan

18.07.13 Well done, Stuart, best wishes, Nita & John (at the top of the village)

15.07.13 Well done, Stuart. With love, Mum x.

03.07.13 Absolutely brilliant achievement. Well done Stuart

02.07.13 Bravo mon vieux! As before, just full of admiration for your imagination, guts and determination. A great achievement.

29.06.13 Congratulations Stuart on completing your tour of Scotland. Well done.

25.06.13 Dear Stuart. well done on the battle with howling winds, driving rain and horrendous boggy lanes. You are a mountain of a man. Love Sarah

17.06.13 Buena suerte, mi veijo amigo! Next challenge, the Liathach ridge... All the best, Woz

16.05.13 Good meeting you on the road to Queensferry and the Forth bridge. Enjoy the ride!


05.03.13 Amazing amount you have raised already. Good luck with the rest of the cycling.

28.02.13 Great thing to be doing Stuart. All the best.

26.02.13 The road to the Isles is hard and long But we're sure you'll celebrate with a song... (Or 15 choruses on the tenor..)

24.02.13 Safe journey, with you all the way in spirit. Lots of Love Mac and Chris McGxx

11.02.13 Good luck to Stuart on his cycle run

22.11.12 I'd have donated more if you'd promised to play your sax all the way round!


19.07.12 Mr Persig eat your heart out. Hope the weather fairs up for the rest of the trip.

01.07.12 Congrat - you will get the rest next year!! But well done - what was the weather like?

26.06.12 Johnson! We love you! Go go go!

25.06.12 Rotten luck, Stu! We're sure it will be better next time. Bonne chance!

19.06.12 Stuart, not sure where you are, but we've been thinking of you - in awe!


Running total

Total raised incl. Gift Aid:
Total donors:
Last donor:
laurie & deb grey
Offline fundraising: