Review of ‘Follow the Yellow Gorse Road’, by John Hopkins

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 20th November 2006, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by John Hopkins
Printed by Northend of Sheffield
ISBN 0-901100-68-4 (2006)

John Hopkins, who has lived on the doorstep of the Peak District almost all his life, is a sexagenarian cyclist who in 2004 completed a ride from Land's End to John o'Groats. He took just a fortnight to think about it, testing his fitness with strenuous rides into the hills of the Peak. During preparations his thoughts turned to sponsorship; £8,000 was promised even before he settled in the saddle and headed north. His constant wayside companion was the gorse of the title.

A friend who set off with him was unable to complete the journey but several of his photographs appear in the book along with many superb full-colour images taken by Gordon Leadbeater.

John's declared delights are talking to people from all walks of life and discovering 'things unusual'. Hence the contagious fascination of a 'milestone feast' scattered throughout the book and what he calls 'one or two quirks to highlight my own eccentric range of interests, which include spotting walled Edward VII letterboxes'. These are so few and far between that I know of only one within easy reach of the Peak Park.

John Hopkins is modest about his achievement, even to convincing himself that his was a 'net downhill' journey with a difference between start and finish of around 120 feet. At the end of what he calls 'the big ride' his mileometer showed 992 miles; his overall cycling time at 91 hrs 17 mins gave an average speed of 10.86 mph - less than four days in the saddle.

At John o'Groats he rewarded himself with a celebratory hug from his wife, a beer and a knickerbocker glory. Net proceeds from this captivating book will provide a further sum to his chosen charities.

Review by Julie Bunting

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