Cardinal Spins

A New Adventure

2024 has been a strange and at times frustrating year so far. We spent most of the winter and spring at home while my wife, Jenni, recovered from an accident that landed her in a major trauma ward with a broken neck (amongst other things) and required two operations. She is thankfully recovering well – she looks deceptively normal now (although she didn’t for many weeks!) – and the time finally seems right to set off again on a new cycling adventure: “Cardinal Spins”.

For a long time our intention had been to do something together this year. The accident made that a little more challenging; but (as time went by) not quite impossible. For the time being, I’ll be doing all the cycling; but we have conceived a way to involve both of us throughout. The idea presented itself when I realised I needed a challenge that would, by its very nature, bring me back home frequently. Since we live in a place that is pretty central in Britain – about as far as you can get from the coast – it makes a decent hub for a journey that heads out in all directions. A bit like spokes on a bicycle wheel – or the points on a compass.

The more I toyed with this idea, the better it seemed. I drew straight lines on a map heading north to south, and east to west, across Britain, intersecting at my home. Then I added NE to SW and NW to SE. I was liking what I saw. The extremities it joined together looked like excellent and meaningful end points to fine journeys. But there was room for more. Adding in the lines in between (variously joining NNE, ENE, ESE, SSE, SSW, WSW, WNW and NNW) gave me some of the longest straight lines you can have on a map of Britain, stretching right up to Cape Wrath, and excitingly across the Isle of Man and beyond across Northern Ireland as well! I added it all up: about 4,000 miles of wiggly riding along 16 separate straight lines to the cardinal points of the compass, all from home. Perfect.

Hathersage – the view from my home and starting point for all 16 cardinal spins

I live in the village of Hathersage in the Peak District National Park. Like in my 2022 OS Maps adventure, Cardinal Spins will take me to all parts of the Britain. That time, I was away from home – often far away – for weeks at a time. This time I will never be more than a few days away. In fact, I will return no fewer than fifteen times. I have calculated that I might be away from home for a little under 3 months if you add it all together; but it will be more like 4 months of elapsed time. Probably.

To add to the excitement, I have made a special spinner that will dictate the order in which these rides occur. I will spin it before each stage of the adventure and ride wherever it tells me to go next!

The final tweak – to make it feel more inclusive – was to plan that at the end of the first day of each ride, we would find a place to meet and stay over for a couple of nights. That way, we both get to see new and interesting places not so very far from home, and Jenni can be more a part of things in person, and less abandoned at home; but without an excessive amount of driving to do. That seemed both manageable and worthwhile in current circumstances. And – perhaps in a change to previous adventures – a chance to see just a little bit more of the places I am passing through, which I seldom had time to do previously.

In 2022 I was relentlessly cycling from west to east to accumulate all my official miles as I entered and left each of the 204 OS Landranger maps in numerical order. This time – on the same bike – I will be doing something quite different: intersecting many times with the lines of my previous journey; but taking many new and different routes and directions to see even more of this country than before! Will it take me to every OS map this time? No. But I will keep a count and see how many I visit. Let the adventure begin!

All 204 OS Landranger 1:50,000 maps – a gift to me from the Ordnance Survey in 2022