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Ed Peppitt (aka The Beacon Bike)

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100 days 3,500 miles 327 lighthouses

The Beacon Bike – Day by Day

Read about every day of the Beacon Bike expedition – the lighthouses visited, both onshore and offshore, and the friends and supporters I met along the way.

The peerless Thorn Nomad

Week Fourteen

A week which featured the A13, a Thames lighthouse never used for navigation, the Saxon shore, a miniature Monte Carlo, a Twitter spat at Dover Castle, a rhinoceros and a reunion.

The days that followed: Postscript

The days that followed: Postscript

Postscript It seems strange to be writing these words now that I am home. I made this journey a couple of summers ago, and only started writing about it during some fairly lean working months during the pandemic. Since my return we have lost, or...

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Week Thirteen

A week which featured an argument about cushions in Boston, a huge charity cheque like the ones on TV, Joy at Happisburgh followed by sorrow at Orford, Simon’s lucky hotel booking, and meeting a former keeper in Harwich.

Day 87: Wells-next-the-Sea to Cromer

Day 87: Wells-next-the-Sea to Cromer

I left Wells-next-the-Sea feeling anxious and apprehensive, and I knew perfectly well why. I had planned on cycling just twenty miles today, and seeing only the lighthouse at Cromer, so it was hardly likely to be a demanding undertaking. But I was...

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Week Twelve

A week which featured cycle shop heroes, a Marks & Spencer lighthouse, a racist pensioner, the sinking sand at Spurn, a time-warp at Nettleton, and old friends at Flamborough and Immingham.

Day 80: Redcar to Scarborough via Whitby

Day 80: Redcar to Scarborough via Whitby

It was only when I planned my route for the day that I realised that at some stage yesterday I had crossed the county border into North Yorkshire. I got chatting to a group of women in a cafe on the Esplanade, who seemed less convinced. As far as...

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Day 79: Sunderland to Redcar

Day 79: Sunderland to Redcar

My bike had been safely secured in a sort of underground vault at the Travelodge overnight, but when I retrieved it I discovered that my front tyre was punctured. It wasn’t that I was unwilling to fix it myself, especially now that I was...

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Week Eleven

A week which featured fog in Blackpool, placards at St Bees, a hotel frequented by Wordsworth and Dickens, my first views of Scotland, a locked Ladies lavatory in Carlisle, and the cupboard under the stairs.

Day 75: Maryport to Carlisle via Silloth

Day 75: Maryport to Carlisle via Silloth

My final stretch of the west coast. It felt strange knowing that, after tomorrow, every mile I cycled would, in theory, take me closer to home. Only the last two lighthouses at Silloth stood in my way. The fifteen miles from Maryport followed the...

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Day 73: Barrow-in-Furness to Kirksanton

Day 73: Barrow-in-Furness to Kirksanton

Walney island Barrow-in-Furness may only be separated from Walney Island by the narrowest of channels, but it’s hard to think of two places less alike. I’m not suggesting that Barrow is an unattractive town, just that it is a working,...

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Day 72: Morecambe to Barrow-in-Furness

Day 72: Morecambe to Barrow-in-Furness

A hill start An hour or so beyond Morecambe, I realised that I’d had it pretty easy since my final day in Wales. Any suggestion that my increasing daily mileage was down to improved fitness was soon dismissed the moment I left the shore surrounding...

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Day 71: Lytham St Annes to Morecambe

Day 71: Lytham St Annes to Morecambe

A missing tower? The thirteen or so miles to Fleetwood the following morning were among the wettest of my journey so far. Other than weaving a path alongside a golf course before Blackpool, I followed the seafront the whole way. I had been looking...

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Week Ten

A week which featured a race against the tide, a new sponsor, a condemned curry house, a night in a lighthouse nowhere near the sea, Mad Dave the Brickie, Another Place, and a pathetic attempt to mend a puncture.

Day 70: Knowsley to Lytham St Annes

Day 70: Knowsley to Lytham St Annes

Another Place There were once lighthouses at Formby, Bootle and Crosby, although all have been demolished and no traces remain of any of them. I had a different motive for making a detour to Crosby, however. Since driving past the Angel of the...

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Day 69: Bidston Hill to Knowsley

Day 69: Bidston Hill to Knowsley

A bit of a wrench It was a wrench to leave in the morning. I think if Mandy or Stephen had suggested a day or two’s rest there I would have taken it like a shot. But I had five lighthouses I wanted to reach that day, as well as my coffee...

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Day 68: Rhyl to Bidston Hill

Day 68: Rhyl to Bidston Hill

A hangover I deserved I awoke in Rhyl with the headache I deserved, but I was grateful that at breakfast there was no evidence I had caused lasting offence to my host as a result of the Derek Acorah comparison. I left the town a day ahead of the...

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Day 67: Bangor to Rhyl

Day 67: Bangor to Rhyl

A new sponsor Overnight I had acquired a new sponsor! During dinner with Paul and Marian, I had mentioned that money was looking a bit tight, and that I needed to rein in my spending to be sure of making it back home without interruption. Before...

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Day 65: More Anglesey Lighthouses

Day 65: More Anglesey Lighthouses

Dark clouds I guess if I’d really wanted to, I could just about have circled the Anglesey coastline in a single day, and conquered another eight lighthouses. For the first time in nearly a month, however, I awoke without the fog of my dark...

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Day 64: Exploring Anglesey Lighthouses

Day 64: Exploring Anglesey Lighthouses

If I could have stretched my daily budget, I would gladly have stayed at The Bulkeley Hotel for the rest of the summer. Judging by the number of elderly ladies looking settled at breakfast, many had clearly decided to do just that. However, I...

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Week Nine

A week which featured a rescheduled boat to Smalls, fear and panic after losing my medication, an online protest, an island where Bear Grylls was not at home, a family affair on Bardsey Island, and some helpful Victorian plumbing.

Day 62: Boat Trip to Bardsey Island

Day 62: Boat Trip to Bardsey Island

A lucky break I was up early, and followed the Wales Coast Path to a slipway about a mile beyond the village. There was a boat trip bound for Bardsey Island scheduled for 9.30, and I had the last ticket. As well as having a splendid lighthouse,...

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Days 60 & 61: Barmouth to Aberdaron

Days 60 & 61: Barmouth to Aberdaron

Days Sixty and Sixty-One Teva were true to their word, and clearly keen to prove themselves the saviours of my expedition. I was still eating breakfast (which I remembered to call a ‘Full Welsh’ this time) when a motorbike pulled up in...

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Day 59: Aberystwyth to Barmouth

Day 59: Aberystwyth to Barmouth

Day Fifty-Nine If there was a single day of this journey that I could erase from my memory, it would be this one. It started off well enough. I didn’t let the lengthy stretch of the A487 get me down, and when I turned onto a single-track lane...

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Week Eight

A week which featured memories of a beach warning of unexploded ordnance, an abandoned boat trip to Smalls, a male voice choir, some frighteningly expensive chocolate, and the beginnings of a breakdown.

Day 52: Tenby, Caldey Island and Dale

Day 52: Tenby, Caldey Island and Dale

A good night’s sleep raised my spirits a little, but sharing the crossing from Tenby Harbour across to Caldey Island with twenty or more happy and carefree couples and families didn’t help. The lighthouse on Caldey Island was one I had...

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Day 51: Kidwelly to Tenby

Day 51: Kidwelly to Tenby

Tenors and tears in Tenby My hosts reappeared at breakfast time, but were as keen to be up and out as I was. So with breakfast served, they asked me to pack up and leave at my leisure, and to post my key through their letterbox when I did so. I...

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Day 50: Llanmadoc to Kidwelly

Day 50: Llanmadoc to Kidwelly

Whiteford woes When I came to Llanmadoc as a child, there were three pubs in the village, as well as a post office and village store. For such a small community, it isn’t surprising that The Britannia is the only surviving pub, but it was...

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Week Seven

A week which featured road rage at Yatton, cheating at Goldcliff, too many Avon and Severn lights, evading the Dalek at West Usk, an interrupted wedding ceremony at Nash Point, and a RIB ride better suited to Alton Towers.

Day 49: Laleston to Llanmadoc

Day 49: Laleston to Llanmadoc

Ready to Mumble? Breakfast at The Great House involved a number of courses, and was as memorable as dinner. I wanted to reach the farthest point on the Gower Peninsular before the end of the day, a distance of nearly fifty miles, but I felt a stone...

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Day 48: Cardiff to Laleston

Day 48: Cardiff to Laleston

Too noisy at Nash I planned to cover the twenty miles from Penarth to Nash Point along the smallest roads on the map, but they turned out to be pretty busy nonetheless. I circled Cardiff Airport, and then a substantial Ministry of Defence site at...

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Day 47: Barry Island and Cardiff Bay

Day 47: Barry Island and Cardiff Bay

What's occurring? I left John and Judy early to head to Barry Island, where there’s a lighthouse at the end of the dock’s breakwater. It has always been popular with tourists – the town, not the lighthouse – but these days it is also held in...

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Day 46: Newport to Cardiff

Day 46: Newport to Cardiff

Back to Goldcliff and on to Cardiff I didn’t risk breakfast in the hotel. In fact, looking at the contents of a vending machine by the lift, I wasn’t entirely certain that breakfast was even an option. Instead, I decided to find a cafe in the city,...

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Day 45: Chepstow to Newport

Day 45: Chepstow to Newport

River Severn and army rifles I woke up early in Chepstow with two questions on my mind: ‘How quickly could I knock off the remaining River Severn lights?’ and ‘How long would it be before I saw a proper lighthouse again?’ This second question was...

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Day 44: Portishead to Chepstow

Day 44: Portishead to Chepstow

The Avon, Severn and into Wales My original plan for the day was to cross the Avonmouth Bridge, using the dedicated cycle track that runs alongside the M5 motorway, and then head down to the docks to track down the North and South Pierhead Lights....

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Day 43: Bridgewater to Portishead

Day 43: Bridgewater to Portishead

A warm Thorn welcome I couldn’t stay overnight in Bridgewater without stopping by the Thorn cycle workshop to say hello. I was very glad that I did. Not only was Dave Whittle happy to see me, but while I drank coffee he serviced my brakes, adjusted...

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Week Six

A week which featured the cheapest seaside town in Britain, avoiding the mermaid’s curse in Padstow, meeting Betty Stogs in Boscastle, a return to my wedding island, and making it to a business meeting with minutes to spare.

Day 42: Ilfracombe to Bridgewater

Day 42: Ilfracombe to Bridgewater

Return to Ilfracombe After a second night in Taunton, Allan returned me to Ilfracombe for the third time in the week. He needed to be back in Oxford by lunchtime, so it was still dark when we pulled into the car park alongside the seafood...

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Day 41: Lundy Island

Day 41: Lundy Island

A joyous return We left Taunton at dawn to be sure of being back in Ilfracombe in good time for the crossing to Lundy Island, which lies in the Bristol Channel about twelve miles off the North Devon coast. We had good reason for feeling extremely...

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Day 40: Business and Pleasure in Clevedon

Day 40: Business and Pleasure in Clevedon

A suit and tie With Allan’s help I made my meeting in Clevedon with time to spare, and even managed to look respectable with the clean shirt and tie he had packed for me. I had worked with the Commonwealth Education Trust for a few months, helping...

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Day 39: Hartland to Ilfracombe

Day 39: Hartland to Ilfracombe

A second professional commitment When I had set out from home more than a month ago, I only had two commitments in my diary. The first was the Bournemouth University publishing awards presentation in mid-May, which I had safely accomplished. The...

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Day 38: Boscastle to Hartland Point

Day 38: Boscastle to Hartland Point

An uphill start When you spend a whole night worrying about something, you often find that things don’t turn out quite as bad as you imagined. By the time I was packed and saddled up after breakfast, I was certain I would still be pushing my bike...

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Day 37: Newquay to Boscastle

Day 37: Newquay to Boscastle

Colourful Cornwall I have nothing against Newquay, but I was not sorry to leave the town either. I never did establish quite why it has such a draw, and I was happy to leave it to the surfers and the stag and hen weekenders. I had a reasonably...

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Day 36: St Ives to Newquay

Day 36: St Ives to Newquay

Hayle Heritage Seven miles out of St Ives, the harbour town of Hayle has a rich industrial heritage, having exported Cornwall’s coal, copper, tin and iron over several centuries. At one stage, rival iron foundries were built at either end of the...

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Week Five

A week which featured a breakdown in communications, despairing at the middle classes, intercepting a shipment of drugs, learning a whole new pub etiquette, and finding the last (and best) room on the Isles of Scilly.

Day 35: Penzance to St Ives

Day 35: Penzance to St Ives

Lamorna Cove The road from Penzance to Mouseholes follows the cliff road, and is part of National Cycle Route 3, ultimately connecting Land’s End with Bristol. I was bound for Lamorna Cove, the nearest point to Tater Du lighthouse, which my...

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Day 32: To the Isles of Scilly

Day 32: To the Isles of Scilly

Class warfare At eight o’clock in the morning I was back at the harbour in a long queue waiting to board the Scillonian III, the ferry that has made the crossing between Penzance and St Mary’s, on the Isles of Scilly, for more than forty years. I...

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Day 31: Falmouth to Penzance

Day 31: Falmouth to Penzance

A new frame of mind I left Falmouth in an altogether more positive mental state than the one in which I had arrived. After a day of recuperation, and with clean clothes and a working phone, I felt renewed and full of energy for the thirty miles to...

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Day 30: Staying put in Falmouth

Day 30: Staying put in Falmouth

Late night into Falmouth. Driving winds & rain. Phone wet & dead. May need a day to dry out body, soul and contents of panniers! #beaconbike— Edward Peppitt (@thebeaconbike) June 2, 2015 Drying out However much I was ready to throw in...

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Week Four

A week which featured an offer of a lifetime, unmasking a bully, taking a short break with the family, joining a fishing party off Plymouth, meeting up with an old friend and rediscovering the hostels of my youth.

Day 28: Looe, Polperro and Fowey

Day 28: Looe, Polperro and Fowey

Narrow lanes to Looe Looe is only eight miles from the White Hart, but the route for cyclists was not an easy one. I opted for a B road, via Bylane End and Morval, which was reasonably quiet but so narrow that I frequently held up the traffic. The...

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Day 27: Eddystone

Day 27: Eddystone

Back in Plymouth I was up at dawn, because I had been granted passage on a fishing trip that was about to set off from Cattewater harbour. It was a six-hour round trip, which would get me up close to the Plymouth Breakwater lighthouse, and should...

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Days 23 to 26: Holiday at The Lizard

Days 23 to 26: Holiday at The Lizard

A few days of parenthood Half-term week at The Lizard was very special. At Emma’s recommendation, we walked over the cliffs to Kynance Cove, where we spent a windy few hours on the beach, alternating between homemade pasties and flapjacks from the...

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Week Three

A week which featured a publishing awards ceremony, bagging a dubious lighthouse, being held up at Portland prison, encountering a saucy French maid and Her Majesty the Queen, hooking up with friends from Kent, and failing to leave the Needles lighthouse behind.

Day 21: Stoke Fleming to Plymouth

Day 21: Stoke Fleming to Plymouth

Cycling on a tight budget I set off from Stoke Fleming determined to make it the fifty or so miles to Plymouth, and after last night’s extravagance, just as determined to survive on snacks from my panniers alone. The early morning began with a...

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Day 16: Weymouth to Portland Bill and back

Day 16: Weymouth to Portland Bill and back

Cyclists unwelcome Weymouth’s splendid esplanade of Georgian terraces is very pleasing on the eye, but the town’s treatment of its cyclists is simply shocking. Where Brighton’s promenade accommodates pedestrians and cyclists harmoniously, Weymouth...

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Day 15: Poole to Weymouth via Anvil Point

Day 15: Poole to Weymouth via Anvil Point

Studland Bay I was given the same room at the Riviera Hotel which I had stayed in a few nights earlier, only this time the view across to the Isle of Wight only heightened my sense of anxiety about the progress I was making. I may have clocked up...

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Week Two

A week which featured a meeting with fellow lighthouse fanatics, my lack of fitness laid bare on Jersey, five-star treatment on Guernsey, and a double-page spread in the Sunday Telegraph.

Day 11: The remaining Jersey lighthouses

Day 11: The remaining Jersey lighthouses

Six lights in three hours I woke early to heavy rain and a gale that rattled the French windows in the drawing room below me. The forecast showed it clearing by mid-morning, so I took the opportunity to soak in a deep, very hot bath. There were...

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Day 9: Staying put in Sandbanks

Day 9: Staying put in Sandbanks

Sunshine in Sandbanks After the fog of the previous afternoon, the glorious heat and sunshine on the south coast the following morning was unexpected, though extremely welcome. After crossing the River Stour at Iford, my route took me back to the...

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Week One

A week which featured a late start, discovering selfies, invading an ice cream seller’s personal space, being outpaced by a bin, stopped at gunpoint, pampered in Shanklin and taken for a pint to the pub where I was once the landlord.

Day 7: Isle of Wight & Southampton

Day 7: Isle of Wight & Southampton

Making up for lost time With so much left undone from the day before, I needed to be up and out early if I stood a chance of seeing the remaining three Isle of Wight lights and still catch a ferry across to Southampton before dark. After such...

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Day 6: Around the Isle of Wight

Day 6: Around the Isle of Wight

Several false starts With Chris’s help the following morning, I devised a perfect route for the day. I would return to Sandown via the coastal route I had taken the day before, then follow another section of the Red Squirrel trail to Newport right...

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Day 5: Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight

Day 5: Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight

Stubbornness at Spitbank I was up and off the next morning, excited at the prospect of organising a boat trip out to the Palmerston forts, a series of four nineteenth-century structures in The Solent, all of which originally housed lighthouse...

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Days 3 & 4: Brighton to Portsmouth

Days 3 & 4: Brighton to Portsmouth

A town built for cyclists As I made my way back to the seafront the next morning, I was struck by how well Brighton caters for its cyclists. Almost every road in the city centre has a dedicated cycle lane, many with its own set of lights and right...

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Day 2: Eastbourne to Brighton

Day 2: Eastbourne to Brighton

A bracing start I was up early to hear that gales were forecast across the country. Adrian is a keen cyclist himself, and he advised me to get up onto Beachy Head via Duke’s Hill, rather than the route along the main road that I had planned....

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Day 1: Dungeness to Eastbourne

Day 1: Dungeness to Eastbourne

A late start The plan was to set off at ten o’clock and cycle the five miles from home to the lighthouse and cafe at Dungeness, where my family and a few friends would raise a toast and send me on my way. But at nine I was still working on a piece...

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Planning & Preparation

My childhood dream; Lighthouse holidays; Life getting in the way; Selling maps and books at Stanfords; Multiple Sclerosis; My dreams dashed; A new opportunity; Making it happen. 

A glimmer of light

A glimmer of light

A glimmer of light It was my friend Jason who managed to rekindle my belief that the trip was still possible. Around ten years earlier, he had realised his own dream by visiting every UK pleasure pier using only public buses. He had always fancied...

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From darkness to renewal

From darkness to renewal

Into the dark Fast forward to March 2008. I am lying flat out on the kitchen floor, dizzy with fear, coming round from having fainted. We have just returned from a weeklong family holiday in Belgium. At the start of the week I felt absolutely fine,...

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From degree to darkness

From degree to darkness

The Stanfords years After completing a degree at Southampton, I joined up with a number of other slightly rudderless would-be travellers by getting a job at Stanfords, the map and travel bookshop in Covent Garden in London. Here the staff were...

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My love of lighthouses

My love of lighthouses

Seeing the light When I was a kid, a part of each school holiday was spent at my Granny’s house in New Romney, on Romney Marsh in Kent. It was about half a mile from the sea, a house divided into two – she had bought a large town house after the...

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