Land's End to John O' Groats cycle trip for Tony Rathbone

Tony Rathbone Tony Rathbone aims to cycle the length of the country at the tender age of 81

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An 81-year-old man is getting ready to cycle the length of the country, from Lands End in Cornwall to John O' Groats in north-east Scotland.

Tony Rathbone, from Keswick in Cumbria, is taking on the challenge to raise money for three charities.

He will cycle about 950 miles (1,530km) and climb about 50,000ft (15,240m) - on aggregate - over two weeks.

The retired businessman said he was "a bit apprehensive" about the journey but was confident after doing training.

He decided to do the so-called "end-to-end" cycle ride, which will start on 7 May, because it was "one of those things I fancied doing".

Asked what appealed to him about it, he said: "The distance, the challenge and seeing parts of England and Scotland I wouldn't normally see."

He said people had called him "mad" and "crazy" when they heard what he was doing.

'Shy character'

Mr Rathbone's friend Bill Skipper, 54, who will be cycling alongside him, described the octogenarian as "a bit of a character".

Mr Skipper, who is from South Shields, said his friend's fitness was "perfect".

"His mindset is right. He's really focussed; he's not concentrating on anything else at the moment," he said.

So far they have raised about £700 and they ultimately hope to raise up to £4,000 for their chosen charities.

Mr Rathbone said: "I'm rather shy and don't like asking people for money, but I do think what these charities are doing is worthwhile and should be supported."

The charities they are backing include the Friends of Mary Hewetson Cottage Hospital in Keswick, Macmillan Cancer Support and St Clare's Hospice in Jarrow, South Tyneside.

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