An intrepid adventurer

P1030762After arriving at Pajala and setting up camp, Oli and I explored the campsite.  We were mulling over the difficulty of the crazy golf course when the cyclist we passed on the way in to town arrived at reception.  He looked slightly bemused as the guy running the camp site was nowhere to be seen.  He wasn’t around either when we arrived, appearing out of thin air  like a latter day Mr Ben to check us in. I waved to him and pointed to reception to let him know he had another visitor and gave the cyclist the thumbs up, to let him know assistance was on its way.

We continued our exploration, discovering a tributary of the Toureålven through the woods at the bottom of the site.  There was a suspended walk way crossing this smaller river on which we had ten minutes of scary, bouncy fun, trying to tip each other in to the river some   ten meters below.  When we got back to camp the cyclist had pitched nearby to us.  He struck up conversation, in English; he must have seen Big Blue’s number plate.  He was from the UK himself, from the north of Scotland.  His name was Paul and I guessed he was in his late fifties.

We talked about our journeys, me feeling quite proud of the fact that I managed to get myself and my eleven year-old son to the Arctic in and eight year old Land Rover.  I assumed that Paul had flown to Sweden and then hired his bicycle to tour the region.  Then he told me had cycled all the way.  Again, I assumed that he meant from Scotland and began thinking what an amazing achievement that was.  It had taken us four days to get here by car, god knows how long Paul had taken!  So I asked him when he had set off.  He said that his journey began in March.  From Cape St Vincent.  In Portugal.  And he had cycled every inch of the way!  I don’t even know how far that is, but it is a huge distance.

Then Paul explained his route.  Not only had he set off from the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe, he decided to go the long way!  He came up through Portugal and Spain, telling me how fabulous the city of Cordoba was and also the small town in Spain where the roads are made of sand because there are no cars, only horses.  He told me of his struggle through the south of France, cycling in to the Mistral and only managing 20k a day.  Not only had Paul crossed the Pyranees, he had crossed the Alps in to Switzerland, where he spent some time in the mountains with his wife.

His journey then took him through Germany, at the time of the torrential rains and flooding, and then on through Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland and back to Germany to get the ferry to Denmark and on to Sweden.  His destination, like ours, is Nordkapp, the most northerly point on mainland Europe; the end of the continent.  Where the midnight sun gives way to winter ice and the raw power of nature.

Paul, you are a true adventurer. You have dreams and you make them happen.  You have made me realise that this is how life is meant to be.  Dreams are OK, but no matter how big or small they are, you have to make them live.  I hope I meet you on the road again and we can tell each other what happened with our dreams.

I salute you, intrepid adventurer. Travel safely, dream big. And do it!


14 thoughts on “An intrepid adventurer

  1. Mandy P says:


    I think this journey is going to be the making of us all.


  2. The Ebdons says:

    How amazing to meet Paul, i think journeys always have people who inspire or give you something you need , sometimes your too busy to notice , but sometimes your open to it and you reap loads. Wonder who you or what you will meet or see next?enjoy enjoy x

  3. Sally Phillips says:

    Hello, I am Sally, Paul’s wife, really nice to read what you have written about my husband. I know he has had some hard times on this trip but meeting people like yourself is always encouraging for a lone traveller. And yes follow your dreams before it is to late. Paul is in fact 64 ….
    Hope the rest of your trip goes well.
    What an adventure for you both!

  4. Steve Dales says:

    Proud to call Paul one of my oldest friends. Good luck on your adventure.

  5. Alan Lewis says:

    Inspirational! 😉

  6. Bridie Pursey says:

    it’s great to be able to hear how Paul is doing. Thanks for giving us some insight, we follow through fb, but he is modest in his tellings!
    There is a concertina-type mobile cinema in the Highlands called the screen machine. On it’s side it says “unfold your imagination”. This is what Paul does! you should see his beautiful drawings, and travel logs!
    Amazing guy, yes….amazing friend!
    have a wonderful journey’s the process that matters, isn’t it? take care, Bridie X

    • b1gblue says:

      Thanks Bridie, for giving some insight in to Paul. He was very modest in the short time we spent with him, but it was immediately apparent that he was a special kind of person. We shared a huge amount of conversation – I think Paul was grateful to speak English! – more than I could record on the blog, and to share that short time with him was a enlightening. Yes, you are right, it is the process that matters, and it is Paul’s gift to me that he was part of my process.

      We haven’t seen him on the road since he left, but we have taken a different route. We will be in Nordkapp tomorrow, so we should pass him on the way back home some time in the afternoon.

  7. Gillian Needham says:

    Thanks for including Paul in your blog – his journey is epic and David (my partner) shared a tiny fragment of it with Paul. Hope your journey is as epic in some special way…….and go Paul – only 600K now. Lots of love, Gxx

    • b1gblue says:

      Thank you Gillian. Paul was too special not to include! Like David, we only shared a tiny fragment, but I think Paul will have left a life long impression on my son and myself. We are looking out for him, but we have taken a different route. Hopefully we shall see him again tomorrow as our paths cross on our journey south. Graeme xx

  8. Tina Hennessy says:

    Just catching up on your blog – what an incredible journey! You do know your lives will never be the same…. 🙂

  9. b1gblue says:

    To Sally and all of Paul’s friends. We made it to Nordkapp on Tuesday, but we didn’t see Paul on the way, but that’s because we went a different way. We met a German cyclist called Hans, who said he had met Paul on route 93 south of Alta in Norway. Hans said that Paul was doing well and taking it easy so as not to be back down too early for his flight. We hope he makes it to the Cape in the glorious sunshine that we were lucky enough to get. It will be a fitting end to his journey. Much love to you all. Graeme and Oli x

    • Sally Phillips says:

      Graeme and Oli
      Thank you for taking the time to send us a post. It sounds like you have had quite an adventure, some of it quite unexpected. Hope you make the ferry OK. Paul will probably make the Cape in a couple of days. He has plenty of time to spare. I know he was pleased to meet you and grateful for some friendly company and encouragement. Take care you two and remember there will always be a welcome for you here on Skye. It could be your next trip – though it wouldn’t quite match what you have just done.
      Love and best wishes
      Sally x

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