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03 Aug 2021

Peel L&P’s James Whittaker completes Cycle Blighty challenge for WaterAid

After cycling 3,500 miles, consuming and burning almost 250,000 calories and raising over £52,000 for WaterAid, James Whittaker, Peel L&P’s Strategic Development Director, completed his Cycle Blighty Challenge on Friday, 30 July - 31 days after he set off on his herculean mission to cycle the entire coast of Britain.

To date, over 300 individuals including a significant number of businesses within Greater Manchester have given to the Cycle Blighty fund which has meant James has more than doubled his original target of £25,000. Due to the generous giving from so many, including the main sponsor The Morson Group who have given over £10,000, the funds will go even further to provide clean water to African communities who need it the most.

Two years of dedicated training which has seen James cycle an average of 15 hours a week, paid off when he crossed the end point of his challenge, close to the famous 18th hole at St Andrews Golf Course, in Scotland, where he was cheered by family and friends who created an arch, aptly from golf clubs, for him to pass through.

James completed the adventure with just a few minor injuries after crashing into a wall to avoid a car after skidding down a steep hill during a heavy downpour in Devon and being pushed into the pavement by a car.

Plotting the complex on-off road route over a number of months, which entailed cycling at least 115 miles a day - first took him down the East coast, over the Forth Bridge in Edinburgh and through the rugged coastal landscapes of Northumberland, Lincolnshire’s seaside town Skegness and down to the Norfolk Broads before calling in to Peel L&P’s Chatham Waters for a work related photocall!

The dramatic Jurassic Coast beckoned with lively encounters with cattle as he passed through fields and random paths to get as close to the coastline as possible. By the time he reached Falmouth he had to contend with apocalyptic rain but unfazed he ploughed on to the iconic Land’s End signpost.

As he headed up the West Coast he stopped at Bristol, crossing the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge before travelling along the Mumbles in South Wales, eventually reaching North Wales where a large group of family and friends greeted him in Rhosneigr, Anglesey.

Heading up North he pulled in a visit to two of Peel L&P’s largest regeneration projects Wirral and Liverpool Waters – just some of the developments he oversees in his day job, before cycling through the Lakes, eventually reaching Scotland, where over 10 days he navigated himself through the most remote areas of the United Kingdom with the support of brother, Mark Whittaker and friends Bryn Clement and Gary Shaw using a borrowed motorhome which Bryn drove as a base to eat and sleep.

A number of colleagues from Peel L&P supported him with brother Mark Whittaker, sister Kate Holland, Chris Capes, Richard Mawdsley and members of the Northstone team Jon England, James Forrington and Steve Pownall all joining him for various stints of the journey.

James said: “This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have been absolutely bowled over by people’s generosity and kindness while I’ve been on this incredible journey. From friends allowing me to stay and feeding me up in the evening, to my cycle buddies who kept me going on tough days and the friends who followed me in their cars and camper vans to make sure I ate properly and had a place to stay at night.

“I can’t thank people enough for their generous giving not only to the fund but in their unconditional support.

“We live in an incredible country and I feel so fortunate to have seen all of its beauty. I hope it inspires to get others on their bikes and explore more of the UK – even if it’s just for a coastal walk.”