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

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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.

Helen Proudfoot’s bicycle at Hope-under-Dinmore village hall, Herefordshire.

“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.”

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