One woman's charity cycle trip in search of places called Hope

Jane Dunford
·3 min read

It’s been a tough year for the travel industry, but one cycle tour leader decided not to let 2020 get her down – by riding 1,000 miles around the UK in search of Hope.

Helen Proudfoot, who works for adventure company Active England Tours, planned a route seeking out villages and hamlets called Hope after work dried up during the pandemic – and raised money for The Bike Project, a charity that donates refurbished bikes to refugees, while doing so.

“People were feeling lost and afraid – I wanted to do something positive,” said the 35-year-old. “The idea was sparked by a question in a Zoom pub quiz about how many stations were called Hope in the UK. I soon found myself buried in maps, scouring them to work out how I could fit in as much Hope as possible on a cycling trip.”

With just a bike, a tarpaulin, sleeping bag and one change of clothes, Proudfoot hit the road in August for a two-week journey from Hope Bridge in Scotland to Hope Cove on the Devon coast, wild camping or staying at hostels and with friends along the way. The route included villages called Hope in the Peak District and near Wrexham, with visits to mountains and lochs named Hope as well.

“I plotted 10 villages or hamlets called Hope – which sometimes have associated moors, mountains or valleys – but as I rode I started seeing Hope everywhere: on noticeboards, road names, car number plates, it’s all over for those who care to look.”

A quick stop was made at Hope Street in Glasgow, as well as Hope Square and Chapel in Bristol. Among scenic highlights was Scotland’s Great Glen Way, which takes in mountains, lochs and ancient woods, while eating a cheese toastie in the sunshine outside the Grasshoper Cafe in Hope, Derbyshire, was a favourite moment. The adventure ended with a celebratory cup of tea and a pasty on the beach at Hope Cove in south Devon.

“It was tough in parts, but people were so lovely: one retired couple gave me their last sandwich, people bought me ice-cream or suggested places to visit on Instagram.”

As well as raising money for charity, Helen hopes her trip will encourage people to get outside when they can and celebrate the UK.

“The are so many incredible places to visit in Britain and being on a bike gives you a different perspective. I’m feeling hopeful for 2021. When people start travelling again I think they will be wanting to be outdoors more, to explore what we have and not take things for granted. We’ve all been through a tough year but as I’ve found out, there is always hope!”

So far, Helen has raised more than £1,600 for The Bike Project. The charity provides refugees with refurbished bikes and accessories so they have a free mode of transport to access food banks, legal advice, healthcare and education. It is currently doubling any donations made as part of its Christmas Appeal.
• To donate visit refugee-routes.thebikeproject.co.uk