I first fell in love with touring by bicycle when I went on a two week cycling trip through the Peak District in the U.K before starting my M.Sc. at Sheffield. As luck would have it, the Peak District provided an endless supply of geological sites, in a short two weeks I visited such sites as Thor’s Cave, The National Stone Center, Arbor Low, The Roaches, The Peak District Mining Museum, the Monsal Geotrail and the Pooles, Peak and Speedwell Caverns. These two weeks left me wanting more, but unfortunately I had to pack it in as classes were starting, but I knew there would be one day where I would continue my cycle tour, though the next time would be much longer than two weeks!
While my tour of the Peak District had been at random, choosing my direction day by day and seeing where the path would take me, I knew that for a longer cycle tour I was going to need some type of general direction or I might never get out of one county! I had originally planned to do the Land’s End to John O’ Groats route, but a) this didn’t seem like a sufficiently long enough journey and, b) this route had been done and documented to excess. I knew I needed a cycle journey with purpose, yet was a journey that was completely original.
Anytime I have traveled, it has always been a journey towards personal or professional development. From completing my yoga teacher instructor certification in India to volunteering as a soil scientist for a sustainable rural development program in Ecuador, taking “holidays” of the beaches and cocktail variety is not something I do. I knew that this bike trip would be no different, if I was just cycling from point to point I would grow bored. I needed a route that was original, but also one that included learning something new along the way.
Being a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, I had came across the 100 Great Geosites of the U.K and Ireland on the Society’s website a while back. In conjunction with Earth Science Week in 2014, the Geological Society had launched a list of the U.K and Ireland’s most significant geological sites; from the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland to Stonehenge in Southern England, the 100 Great Geosites encompasses an array of landscapes, formations, and historically significant and unique geological sites. Turns out the perfect cycle tour was right under my nose. Though by looking at the map (right), one can see that the location of the sites were not quite chosen with a cyclist in mind!
An interactive map of the 100 Great Geosites can be found here.