Highlands & Islands

Galloway grandmother Mavis Paterson finishes 960-mile cycle challenge

Mavis Paterson and her cycling partner Image copyright Mavis Paterson
Image caption Mavis Paterson and her cycling partner Heather Curley completed their cycle on Saturday

An 81-year-old from Dumfries and Galloway has become the oldest woman to cycle the 960 miles (1,540km) from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Mavis Paterson, of Glenluce, took up the challenge in memory of her three children who all died within four years of one another.

She set off on 30 May and finished her epic journey on Saturday afternoon.

The Guinness Book of Records previously confirmed that on completion she would be the oldest woman to cycle the route.

She has raised more than £60,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity she has been supporting since her mother and sister died from the disease.

Mrs Paterson said she took up the challenge as the "unbearable grief" she felt when sitting at home with nothing to focus on was too much.

Her son Sandy died of a heart attack in 2012, daughter Katie after suffering viral pneumonia in 2013, and son Bob in an accident in 2016. All were in their 40s.

"I always set myself a goal and a challenge and it takes my mind off the grief that I suffer with losing my children," she said.

'What now?'

Speaking to the BBC Scotland news website after finishing her cycle, she said she was "very tired".

"Quite a crowd" arrived to cheer her over the finish line, with one well-wisher even presenting her with a bottle of whisky.

"I feel now it's all over I'm like 'what now?'

"The whole journey was very difficult for me. It was hard, but I've got his fire in my belly, and I keep pressing on."

Image copyright Macmillan Cancer Support
Image caption Mavis Paterson has raised £60,000 for charity

She thanked her supporters in a post on Facebook, writing that it was "hard to find the words" to describe her "utterly unforgettable journey".

She added that she was "so very, very grateful for all the support, the fun, friendships, cyclists who joined for a few miles".

Cycling break after gruelling training

Ms Paterson, who took up cycling in 1991, said her training regime involved a trip to Australia.

Earlier this year she went there to visit her niece and trained on the hills from 05:00 every morning, until it got too hot - by 09:00, she said, it was between 30-40C.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Mavis Paterson was given support by Macmillan staff and volunteers and her cycling companion Heather Curley

But there will be no more big cycles for a while.

When Ms Paterson get home to Galloway, she said she would be going into hospital for hip and knee replacements.

While her osteoarthritis causes her pain when she walks, she said she feels none while cycling.

Macmillan staff and volunteers joined her and cycling companion Heather Curley for parts of the ride.

Ms Paterson is no stranger to such challenges - when she was 70, she cycled across Canada. For her 80th birthday last year, she cycled for 24 hours.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites