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Around the edge in 80 days — cycling the coastline of Britain

Alice Baddeley

Around the edge in 80 days — cycling the coastline of Britain

Bike Touring Collection by Alice Baddeley



563:19 h

4,826 mi

229,300 ft

As the country celebrated the late Queen's Platinum Jubilee, I was preparing to embark on the most ambitious journey of my life.

My combined love of cycle touring and sea swimming fuelled the desire to circumnavigate the British coastline by bike. On June 7th 2022, I set off from Brighton with the sea to my left. 80 days later I arrived back at the same spot having cycled 4,826 miles (7,767 km) around the edge of Britain.

I coined the tagline 'Around the edge in 80 days' to structure my trip around a catchy-sounding time parameter. I spent days meticulously planning the route then used Komoot's multi-day planner to divide the circuit into 80 stages. I then adjusted each Tour to finish at a suitable overnight stop. Part of my challenge was to spend every single day cycling but I ensured that some stages were much shorter than others. These would be my ‘rest days’.

My route was planned to follow the coastline as closely as possible using roads, traffic-free cycle routes and any well surfaced off-road terrain that permitted cycling. Where possible, I incorporated ferries to avoid making inland diversions around estuaries, rivers, and creeks. I decided to stick to the British mainland and only cycle around islands if they were bridged, such as Skye, Sheppey and Anglesey. I chose to travel in a clockwise direction to be on the same side of the road as the sea. It also meant that I would tackle the most physically challenging section; Devon and Cornwall, at the beginning when I had the most hours of daylight.

The British coastline is made up of islands, bays, headlands, and peninsulas with such varied and spectacular terrain. My coastal journey took in charming fishing villages, thriving harbour towns, sandy seaside resorts, cultural cities, impressive bridges, steep cliff edges, industrial ports, colourful beach huts, pleasure arcades, Victorian piers, cylindrical lighthouses, ancient castles, nature reserves, military bases and airfields. I met numerous locals and British holidaymakers, characterised by their friendly charm, polite humour, fascination with the weather and distinct regional accents.

Every section of the coastline offered something unique, and I was rewarded with dramatic views each day. Highlights included the turquoise seas and white sandy beaches of Devon, Cornwall, Pembrokeshire and the Scottish Highlands, the Valley of Rocks in Exmoor, the rugged and mountainous Llyn Peninsula and Isle of Anglesey in Wales, the remote southern tip of the Kintyre Peninsula, sea lochs and forests of Argyllshire’s ‘secret coastline’, Bealach na Ba pass on the west coast of Scotland, the scenic ‘North Coast 500’ coast road in the far north, Suffolk’s sandy heathlands, and Kent’s long distance traffic-free coastal path.

Most of my route was served by excellent cycle paths and quiet lanes, with only a small number of busy coastal roads to contend with. I rode an aluminium-framed 15-year-old Kona bike, loaded with a set of rear panniers. With a demanding daily schedule, I rewarded myself with mostly indoor accommodation which I booked in advance to keep me on track and minimise costs. I packed a lightweight bivvy bag for the few nights where I’d booked a campsite. This was also intended to serve as emergency accommodation should I not reach a destination on time.

Every year a handful of people complete this epic loop. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with five of this year’s cohort. Most people allow three to five months, and often bring a tent for greater flexibility. In general, the coastline is very well served with accommodation options. The northwest corner of Scotland is particularly remote, but the country’s Land Reform Act of 2003 means that it is legal to wild camp almost anywhere. There are nearly 400 train stations dotted around the coastline, which makes it entirely possible to complete the trip in sections over a longer period.

Limiting the trip to 80 days was a fantastic opportunity to test my physical limits and planning skills. Although it felt relatively rushed, I’ve acquired a valuable snapshot memory of Britain’s coastline, reinforced by photos and video footage. I intend to revisit many of the unforgettable places I saw, and perhaps one day I’ll do it all over again in the reverse direction.

On The Map


Tours & Highlights

  • Day 1: Brighton to Swanwick — Brighton2Brighton

    98.7 mi
    11.0 mph
    975 ft
    875 ft

    I'd been waiting for this day for years and it had finally arrived. I had visioned starting off in sunshine but the reality was endless drizzle and grey sky. The day started with my usual Tuesday sea swim with friends in Brighton next to the West Pier. This had been part of my routine for the past two

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 07:18
    70.5 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,825 ft
    1,950 ft

    After a big breakfast I was waved off and headed towards Southampton. I soon arrived at a bright pink ferry shelter in Warsash and it was not long until 'The Pink Ferry' pulled up to sail me across the River Hamble.


    After passing through the quaint village and sailing mecca of Hamble-le-Rice there was

    by Alice Baddeley

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  • 09:21
    76.0 mi
    8.1 mph
    5,200 ft
    5,250 ft

    Today was my first full stage of rolling hills with steep gradients so I knew I was in for a long day.


    After breakfast on Swanage seafront I set off with Alice towards Corfe Castle, which was bustling with cars and tourists. We discovered that the road running through Lulworth Range was closed due to

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 05:44
    38.0 mi
    6.6 mph
    4,350 ft
    4,000 ft

    I felt relieved knowing that today was a relatively short distance, but I knew I was in for some serious hills. Dorset’s Jurassic coastline is certainly better for hiking than cycling, as once again, I spent the first ten miles on fairly uninteresting inland roads and even got caught in a traffic jam

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 04:31
    33.0 mi
    7.3 mph
    2,525 ft
    2,825 ft

    The day began with a welcome descent into Exmouth where I cycled along the long curved traffic-free esplanade to the marina. I waited for the ferry which would take me across the mouth of the River Exe to Starcross. Other ferry passengers began to arrive including a friendly woman who asked if I was

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 07:49
    55.5 mi
    7.1 mph
    5,500 ft
    5,475 ft

    I set off mid-morning after my usual black coffees and shortly arrived in Brixham, a quirky fishing town with colourful houses surrounding the harbour bowl. In keeping with my self-imposed rule of following the coastline at all times where possible, I found myself at Berry Head, a nature reserve headland

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 10:55
    78.1 mi
    7.2 mph
    7,575 ft
    7,675 ft

    I had a long, hilly day ahead of me so I set off at sunrise around 5am. Instead of taking the direct road to Plymouth, I weaved around the large peninsulas carved by the rivers Erne and Yealm, passing through the villages of Newton Ferrers and Wembury.


    Eventually I reached the City of Plymouth and snaked

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:29
    46.1 mi
    7.1 mph
    4,550 ft
    4,375 ft

    I began the day on the steep coastal road out of Mevagissey which provided great views of the pretty harbourside village with its pastel coloured houses at varying heights from the waters edge. As I made my way around the coastline, the landscape consisted of small tucked away sandy beaches and lush

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 09:06
    73.3 mi
    8.0 mph
    5,000 ft
    4,925 ft

    I woke up early after a relatively good night's sleep in my bivvy bag, although it had become soaked with condensation overnight. The sun was just starting to rise as I set off across the Lizard Peninsula. The sky was a beautiful pink colour which contrasted perfectly with the long green grass either

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:14
    51.5 mi
    8.3 mph
    4,000 ft
    4,175 ft

    After a leisurely breakfast with my Auntie I set off from Carbis Bay, passing through Lelant, Hayle and Portreath. This coastline is dotted with huge sandy beaches with clear sea water and is a popular region for surfers.


    Just after the village of St Agnes I found myself whizzing down a steep scenic

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:10
    46.0 mi
    7.5 mph
    5,050 ft
    4,875 ft

    After a short cycle from the hotel I arrived in Padstow, a popular, charming fishing town famous for Rick Stein’s highly rated seafood restaurant. I cycled through the busy High Street to the harbour where I caught a ferry over to Rock across the clear blue waters of the Camel Estuary.


    After a series

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 09:54
    73.3 mi
    7.4 mph
    5,825 ft
    5,950 ft

    After a long spell of sunny weather I woke up to drizzly rain. I set off early and headed northwards across the border to Devon. Completing Cornwall felt like an important milestone. Along with Argyllshire, it is the county with the longest stretch of coastline to cycle.


    I entered a particularly remote

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:54
    48.3 mi
    7.0 mph
    5,500 ft
    5,675 ft

    I made my way out of Ilfracombe via a quick detour around the harbour to look at the Damian Hirst sculpture, Verity. It is a giant stainless steel and bronze construction of a pregnant woman holding a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books.


    I took the main road

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 07:35
    75.7 mi
    10.0 mph
    2,800 ft
    2,500 ft

    I woke up feeling a huge sense of achievement that the hilliest section of my trip was over. I knew that Devon and Cornwall would be the toughest part of the journey and I now felt more confident about my 80 day target.


    I headed east towards Bridgwater where I was diverted inland around the River Parratt

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:32
    62.9 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,300 ft
    1,500 ft

    From Leigh Woods I dropped down onto the cycle path which ran next to the River Avon. I cycled under the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge, which looked so high up from water level. I came off the cycle path at Pill, joining a shared path along the M5 and over the River Avon to the industrial port

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 08:45
    75.1 mi
    8.6 mph
    2,775 ft
    2,800 ft

    I cycled into Cardiff and headed to Cardiff Bay, a vibrant regenerated area on the waterfront with excellent cycling infrastructure. I shortly arrived at Penarth, an elegant coastal suburb of south Cardiff with a Victorian Pier and Art Deco Pavilion. I stopped at the pier to fill my fork mounted bottles

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 08:54
    78.2 mi
    8.8 mph
    3,650 ft
    3,600 ft

    The day started with a lovely traffic-free cycle along Swansea Bay to Mumbles, known as the 'Mumbles Mile'. I edged around the undulating Gower Peninsula admiring the beautiful sandy beaches dotted below the cliff edges.


    Today two friends were joining me for three days of cycling. I met them in Llanelli

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:42
    51.6 mi
    7.7 mph
    4,125 ft
    4,125 ft

    We started the day by cycling around another estuary off Carmarthen Bay, where the River Taf meets the sea. We stopped for coffee at the charming town of Laugharne, set on the river with castle ruins.


    Finally at Pendine we were reunited with the coastline. It boasted a huge 7 mile sandy beach called

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 06:32
    55.6 mi
    8.5 mph
    4,225 ft
    4,225 ft

    After a short cycle out of Castlemartin we were greeted by a beautiful rugged sandy beach at Freshwater West. The skinny road weaved through wild grassy dunes collecting fine sand at the edges. In contrast, just around the corner was Pembroke Oil Refinery based on the edge of Rhoscrowther. There was

    by Alice Baddeley

  • 05:21
    40.9 mi
    7.6 mph
    3,800 ft
    3,750 ft

    After a series of unpredictable rain showers, we set off along narrow country lanes, occasionally hitting quiet rugged coastal coves. We approached Goodwick and Fishguard, twin towns wrapped around Fishguard Bay. Access between each town involved some steep climbs, so we were ready for a decent lunch

    by Alice Baddeley

  • More Tours & Highlights

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    4,826 mi
  • Duration
    563:19 h
  • Elevation
    229,300 ft

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