Philanthropic former Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies (BCHS) employee, Ernest Craske, has been far from relaxing in his retirement – choosing instead to hop on his bike and take on the famous ‘End-to-End’ challenge, from John O’Groats to Land’s End, to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Ernest blog post - Start

He wasn’t alone in his adventure as joining Ernest in the 1000-mile trip, which was completed over fourteen days, were Ernest’s very good friend, Paul Hirst of Kimberly-Clark, as well as various friends and family members in the Bunzl support vehicle.

Through their collective pedal power the team raised almost £8000 for their chosen charity, which is close to the hearts of all four team members for various reasons, but how did they find the journey itself? Ernest diligently kept a blog of their progress each day, so let’s re-cap the highlights of their two-wheeled tour.

The End(-to-End) is Nigh

Choosing to travel south during the trip, the two teammates headed to John O’Groats on Saturday 9th May to rest and recuperate before their ride began the following day and were delighted to see that the Scottish sun was shining. Unfortunately as they embarked on Day One of their journey, on which they covered 81.97 miles and arrived in Crask (which Ernest believes to be his spiritual home), they didn’t carry the sun with them as they battled with icy-cold rain when making the ascents up the many hills they encountered.

Day Two was not much better for the team weather-wise, as the old Scottish saying that ‘you can experience all four seasons in a single day in Scotland’ unfortunately was proved true as the foursome pedalled the 81.7 miles from Crask to Dores in just under seven hours. The cold and rainy theme continued over most of Day Three’s venture for 76 miles from Dores to Glencoe, but the stunning scenery more than made up for it as Ernest and Paul passed by the legendary Loch Ness.

Ernest blog post - day four

The sun finally made its appearance for Ernest and his teammates for Day Four’s 69.9-mile journey from Glencoe to Balloch, just in time for their ascent of 4133ft into Crianlarich – and the inevitable downhill descent to Loch Lomond that followed. Unfortunately Paul’s knee problems also made themselves known too, but there was some comic relief as Ernest inadvertently cycled through a very fresh pile of excrement!

The fifth day of the End-to-End trip allowed the team to take in the sights of Glasgow, thanks to the city’s comprehensive cycle track network, but Ernest’s bad luck continued as he hit a kerb at Hamilton Race Track and was thrown over the handlebars, though mercifully his bicycle suffered far more damage than he did.

Ernest blog post - bike shop

But thanks to Kenny Campbell, co-owner of the Caledonian Bicycle Company, Ernest was back on the road to Land’s End within the hour, and Stephen Henley from Kimberly-Clark joined them on his own bike for the rest of the day’s 87-mile journey to the village of Moffatt.

On to England

Before finally crossing the border into England on Day Six, the gentlemen made a stop at the famous Gretna Green, but rather than love there was a smell of farmyards in the air so the stop was made very brief. Much of the 80-mile slog to Keswick also entailed dodging large lorries on the Carlisle bypass, so when the team arrived at their destination seven hours and 45 minutes after leaving Moffatt, there’s little wonder that a drink or five were on the cards.

Ernest blog post - England arrival

Unsurprisingly Ernest and his compatriots were nursing hangovers as they reached the mid-point of their End-to-End cycle ride on Day Seven, but were joined by Stephen from the Carlisle branch of BCHS for a little moral support as they made their way through the most magnificent areas of the Lake District. 59 miles later they arrived in Condor Green, from where they cycled to Runcorn on Day Eight, and then on to Clun to conclude the ninth day of arduous (and almost entirely uphill) travelling.

The Final Leg

Over the course of Day Ten the team passed through Hereford, where they met up with Eric Wright, who recently retired from his role of Purchasing Manager at BCHS, for a much-needed pub lunch refuel.

Ernest blog post - with Eric

However the 59-mile trip to Monmouth was dwarfed by the following day’s 82.6-mile slog to the town of Glastonbury, for which they were waved off by another familiar face in the form of Procurement Director for Mitie, Scott Jameson.

Dodging deer, sheep, smug professional cyclists and hair-raising inclines over the course of Day Twelve’s 77-mile trip, Ernest and Paul arrived safely in Newton Tracey to rest before the penultimate day on the road. The thirteenth day of riding brought the team sailing into Cornwall, where Ernest lives, and they were all greeted by more than 30 friends and family members offering their support ahead of the final day!

Fourteen days after leaving John O’Groats, on the 23rd May the team finally made their way to Land’s End, and were cheered by an even bigger crowd as they passed through Penzance. Ernest cooled off ahead of the final ten miles by taking a dip in the water at Penzance Battery Rocks, and with a brief but well-deserved stop in a pub before the very last mile, they whizzed into Land’s End where their welcoming committee had the champagne flowing to toast their hard work and fundraising efforts.

Ernest blog post - The End

All of us at BCHS would like to say a warm ‘well done’ to Ernest and Paul for their dedication to the training and journey itself. If you’d like to make a contribution to their fundraising, their JustGiving page is still open and accepting donations here.

Good work, team!