So for this helping, we will first tick off some of those I visited for the first time (on a bike) during my Grail Quest Tour of 2012:
Triumph Tiger 1050 and Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral
At Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island
Actually that wasn't my first experience of biking in Northumberland, that had come two weeks earlier when I rode the Keilder K2 Rally but I'm not sure it counts (even if they are my rules) as I trailered the bike (my CCM) there?
Durham Cathedral, an interesting ride as the road up to it is very steep, cobbled and on this day it was hammering down with rain.
This was supposed to be a photo of my bike with Wakefield Cathedral, you can just about make out the spire above the screen of the bike. The Cathedral sits in a pedestrianised area so is very difficult to get close to. Although I did manage a better shot than this one:
And a few more Counties that I had definitely visited before but never took photos at the time, or if I did I have misplaced them, so all these were taken more recently!
I rode through the Peak District and therefore Derbyshire for the first time on a Navigation event in February 1988. Run by the BMW Club, this was the annual Alpine Rally which was often graced by snow, although on this occasion we were lucky and just had rain and sleet to contend with and managed to take second place. I returned a few months later on the National Road Rally, when I recall a checkpoint in Ashbourne. This photo is from the Grail Quest in 2012 at Derby Cathedral:
My first ever visit by bike was in March of 1987 after on a climbing trip to Scotland in the February of that year I had tripped and fallen and badly sprained my ankle. However I had already booked onto my climbing club's annual dinner to be held at the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater only a couple of weeks later. So unable to walk very far and certainly not able to climb, I was wondering what to for the weekend, when I had the idea of riding up on my bike, in those days a BMW R80GS, this photo was actually taken in Hertfordshire the same year, I did take photos on my trip to the Lake District but have been unable to find them:
I didn't return to the Lakes on a bike until March of 2011 when I had a long weekend in the Lakes and decided to go by bike, ironically enough once again on a BMW 800, this time on my F800GS This photo was taken near Blea Tarn on the road from Great Langdale to Little Langdale, the mountains in the background are Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.
On this trip I decided against taking the obvious route up the M1 and M6 as it was so windy, so instead followed the A6 for most of the route. This took me through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire (see Part 4), then into:
OK this wasn't my first visit as I've ridden through Leicestershire time and time again on the M1 but the only one where I took a photo, here at a fuel stop in Market Harborough:
I first ticked this one off on the Grail Quest in June 2012, riding down a very wet and windy A1(M) but didn't stop anywhere and certainly didn't take any photos! So here's one from a month later when I competed in the Ryedale Rally (near Malton), that's Dave on the left and me on the right, in case you can't tell the difference between a Yamaha Tenere and the CCM.
SHROPSHIRE & HEREFORDSHIRE
I've included both despite this photograph being in Shropshire, in fact on top of the Long Myndd, as we had just ridden through Herefordshire on the way there. This was in August 2011, on a long weekend trip to Rhayader in mid Wales. At actually about the last time the CCM was riden on supermoto wheels. A month later I started Rally Racing and it's been on trail wheels ever since.
So how is progress going to my target of having ridden in every County in England? This is what the map looks like now with 31 completed: