Thursday, July 25, 2024

Phil goes from John O’Groats to Lands End

Phil Lisgarten of Grays Baptist Church has achieved what some of us may occasionally think of doing but quickly discard as a mad idea – ride by bicycle the entire length of the British mainland – all for charity!

Phil is seen here at Land’s End at the start of his ride.

Phil agreed to be interviewed by Transformation Thurrock (and so did his wife Judith!).

TT: Why did you decide to do this cycle ride? Who were you raising money for?

PL: Early in the year I decided I was going to have to do something to raise money for helping water projects in developing countries. I had tried to set up a ride between all the Essex Baptist Churches but I was getting nowhere so came up with this plan.

TT: What was the route and how long us it?

PL: The route was mainly up the West coast, across Wales into Hertfordshire, up to Carlisle and then diagonally across Scotland.

TT: When did the ride take place?

PL: The ride started on 30th August and finished on 12th September.

TT: Who else were you riding with?

PL: I went with with an organisation called Discover Adventure who organise the trips, but allow all the participants to raise money for any charity. In fact you can go on the ride by just paying and not raise any money at all. I went with 37 other people.

TT: What was a typical day?

PL: We got up at 6.30 had breakfast, and then a briefing. We aimed to be on the road by 7.50. Our first stop for refreshments came after about 30 miles cycling. We stopped for lunch after another 30 miles, then again for an afternoon break, ending up at the hotel after about 90 miles cycling by 5. We had an evening meal at about 7, and were all in bed by about 10!

TT: What was Land’s End like? Was the weather good?

PL: We had lots of photographs taken before we started. There was a cafe and souvenir shop, and small hotel, but not a lot else, except amazing scenery. You had to pay £10 to stand next to the signpost and get your photograph taken!

TT: What bits of the ride were your favourite? Were there any particular sights that impressed you?

PL: My favourite bits were when I was in the countryside and seeing all the varied scenery. The mountains with all their streams in Scotland were the most amazing, and I saw Buzzards and Llamas. Buzzards are really rare, and I had never seen a Llama in a field before!

TT: How was the weather for you as you cycled the length of Britain?

PL: Overall the weather was good, and most the rain happened in Scotland, but I never really bothered because the views were so amazing, and even though the rain was heavy it wasn’t driving. Also I was so pleased that my new waterproof coat did actually work!

TT: What is John O’Groats like? What was the weather like there? Were the team elated?

PL: John O Groats was very bleak, but I was thrilled to see it after 1000 miles! There was one cafe and a car park. Even the sign had been stolen that said “John O Groats” ! Everyone was thrilled to be there, and we had really supported each other to achieve our ambitions so there were even more photographs taken there!

TT: Did anything funny happen on your way, and if so, what?

PL: One man got jolted and slid down a mud slope while his mate laughed at him! I stayed up playing Monopoly until late one night, went up to the room which was pitch black and could not find the ladder to climb into my top bunk. I had to feel my way for a few minutes to even get into bed!

TT: How did Judith and the family cope while you were away? What part did your faith play in the whole adventure?

Phil’s wife Judith says: Philip was so happy every time I spoke to him I was just pleased that it had all worked out, and it made it much easier, although I missed him terribly. One of the men took photographs of him and put them on Facebook for me, so I could see how he was, that helped loads.

PL: My faith gave me the confidence to know that I was doing the right thing, so I wasn’t worried it would go wrong, I knew that God was behind it all, and I felt so strongly that God had placed the burden of Tearfund on me, that it was just a case of getting on with it, and not worrying about how it would work out!

TT: How much money was raised? Can anyone reading this still sponsor you? If so, how?

PL: So far we have got over £3000, we are still waiting to hear how much more is added to our offline sponsors because their donations were Gift Aided. If anyone wants to sponsor me still the site is still open on We have all been overwhelmed with the generosity of people and the love and support we felt from everyone around us. This has been a real time of encouragement and we have been really blessed by everyone’s interest and support- so thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

TT: Thank you Phil – and congratulations on completing your epic adventure!

If you’ve just read this and feel inspired, either sponsor Phil now – or get get on your bike!


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