Harry delivered, finishing his Great British Lifeboat Cycle for the RNLI
So, what did you do last month?
Well, Harry Lidgley completed a challenge he dubbed The Great British Lifeboat Cycle, cycling around the coastline of mainland Great Britain, and visiting 168 lifeboat stations along the way to raise funds for the RNLI. His final total was 6550km (4000 miles), or the equivalent of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats five times, back to back.
Harry set off from the RNLI headquarters in Poole on the 1st May, along with his friend Oli Dawe – Lane, who joined Harry for the first five days. They stopped off at Poole lifeboat station, then every station en route to Exmouth - this was their first day of riding! That is certainly some starter, and Harry’s daily average across the whole expedition was some 192km (120 miles).
Harry headed clockwise around the country, and arrived back at Poole on Thursday June 4th at 5pm.
Harry took a photo of himself outside each lifeboat station to prove that he had visited, and at some stations he did get the opportunity to meet some crew members, who in typical RNLI fashion offered him tea – it’s just unfortunate Harry doesn’t drink tea!
Harry is no stranger to endurance challenges, having been one of the crew members in an epic row around mainland Britain in 2020, part of the GB Row Challenge. The team, called Exe Endurow and made up of four university students, won the world record for becoming the youngest team to ever complete the circumnavigation. While on the adventure, Harry said he felt reassured by the presence of the RNLI:
“We fortunately didn’t have to call on the RNLI, but there were times when we were rowing through very remote and quite dangerous stretches of water, so knowing the RNLI crews were on hand was hugely reassuring. We were in contact with a few crews too, who shared their local knowledge and occasionally came out to see us to give us encouragement.”
“All the volunteers do a fantastic job - I am from a sailing family, and we always respect the water, but conditions can still catch you out so the work of the charity should never be underestimated. The generosity of the crews I experienced first hand from the rowing challenge, as well as my general impression of the charity, made the RNLI the perfect choice for my next endurance challenge.”
With the row completed in the summer of 2020 in 42 days, Harry (23) in his gap year after studying, devised another challenge, to cycle around the UK and visiting all 168 lifeboat stations on the British mainland. As part of his training, Harry worked for six months as a Deliveroo cyclist.
Many have circumnavigated the British Isles, but adding the lifeboat stations as a checklist took Harry to some pretty remote spots. Necessarily sticking closely to the coastline added significant distance, and dropping down to sea-level to reach the stations, often several times a day, added a lot of elevation – almost 7 Everest’s worth of climbing, at over 58,000m in total.
Harry said that the worst hills were the relentless, short and sharp climbs in Devon and Cornwall. Wales proved to be, conventionally, very wet, with a couple of tough days riding through the rain. Cycling through Scotland, though, was a particular highlight: when the rest of the country was being battered by gales and wet weather, Harry was up in the western isles, where the weather was kind and the scenery was stunning. Some of the climbs in the far north west were very memorable, if for the wrong reasons: pedalling hard into strong headwinds, he had to grit his teeth and dig deep. Harry enjoyed riding along the flat eastern seaboard, including going to the very remote lifeboat station on Spurn Head.
Happy to report that he did not encounter any punctures, he did however have a couple of broken spokes, including in remote west Scotland; fortunately for him, someone in the next village, who happened to have a spare wheel, helped him out. The good Samaritan even let Harry camp in his garden!
Harry carried his tent and equipment, and was wild camping where he could. Sometimes, to escape the weather, he and took refuge in some unusual spots, including church porches, a snuggly sheep pen, and a garden shed – whatever he could find!
When he made it back round to the lifeboat college in Poole, he looked remarkably fresh. Harry is very grateful for the support he received from the lifeboat stations he called in at en route, and he enjoyed meeting some of the crews and hearing about their experiences.
A remarkable feat by a remarkable modest man, who no doubt will be already scheming his next challenge.
To date Harry has raised over £ 5,900, which is a fantastic amount and will go towards equipping the lifeboat volunteer crews and boats, ultimately helping us to save lives at sea.
From all the 168 stations that you visited, we applaud and salute you Harry, what an inspiration, you are truly amazing: thank you for raising such an amazing amount.
If you would like to donate to Harry’s fundraiser for the RNLI, please visit: GB Lifeboat Cycle
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.