Michael Drawbridge at the end of his epic ride’s mainland UK section at John O’Groats before heading to Orkney. Photos Michael Drawbridge

Joining a historic wave of returning Kiwi expats amid the global pandemic, Waiheke’s Michael Drawbridge has packed up his life in London to come home – but not before a goodbye cycle trip the length of Great Britain and beyond.

Going the distance on his bike from Land’s End to John O’Groats, Michael finished up cycling around Orkney and Shetland islands, off the top of Scotland – 4000km over 56 days, pitching his one-man tent for rest along the way.

He says he came away from the trip as a fish-and-chips connoisseur determining the famous Whitby fish and chips was top of the list and a close second was the UK’s most northerly chippie, Frankie’s in Shetland.

“I should have started a fish-and-chips blog, that made up most of my diet.” 

All those calories were easily burned off though, in a trip with more than 39,000 vertical metres of climbing. The mainland route was a mix of the classic Land’s End to John O’Groats, taking in a south-to-north, coast-to-coast trip through Wales and the famous North Coast 500 route along the north-west coast of Scotland. This was before catching a 90-minute ferry to Orkney, and then an overnight ferry to the Shetland Islands.

Great Britain experienced a record-breaking heatwave this summer, so conditions through most of the trip were ideal.

“It was only at the very end, wild camping in Shetland, that conditions started to turn with increased wind and rain and I decided it was time to return.”

Cycling during the pandemic, Michael took care to limit contact with others and most time was spent camping alone in remote areas.

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