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Timmy Mallett aims to inspire others after Caithness visit during 4500-mile cycle journey

By John Davidson

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Timmy with one of his watercolours at Dunnet Head.
Timmy with one of his watercolours at Dunnet Head.

A famous children's TV broadcaster turned artist is hoping to inspire other people to explore the coast after cycling through Caithness last summer.

Timmy Mallett stayed in Wick during a 4500-mile e-bike tour of the coast of mainland Britain, when he visited many sites in the far north.

Now he has teamed up with Ordnance Survey (OS) to publish an interactive digital map showing his incredible bike journey around the country.

The online map includes clips from a series of social media videos Timmy posted during his epic journey – including from Dunnet Head, Gills Bay, Castle of Mey, John O'Groats, Thrumster railway station, several sites in Wick – including the shortest street where he stayed in Mackay's Hotel – Lybster and Badbea Clearance village.

While staying in Wick, he painted the Black Stairs, which were made famous in the LS Lowry painting that sold for £900,000 a decade ago, among other scenes.

Timmy Mallett's painting of the Black Stairs in Wick.
Timmy Mallett's painting of the Black Stairs in Wick.

Timmy said during his cycle trip: "Wick is one of my favourite places in the far north. There’s so much to explore and paint and the people are welcoming, smiling and full of stories.

"It’s one of my favourite places in the far north and I found lots to inspire me. I loved my stay at Mackay’s Hotel."

Timmy Mallett was a presenter of children's TV programmes in the 1980s such as Wide Awake Club and Wacaday, but today it is his art which is his passion.

Last year he set out to attempt his journey circumnavigating Britain on his bike that took four and half months to complete, from March to August.

Starting from Paddington station in London he headed clockwise around the coast – a journey Timmy describes as being from nowhere to nowhere via everywhere in between!

A renowned painter in oils and watercolour, Timmy was inspired by great British artists to capture the endless breathtaking landscapes Britain has to offer. His mission was to follow in the footsteps of great British artists JMW Turner, Constable, LS Lowry, and many others.

He recreated sketches and paintings in the same locations as Turner painted over 200 years ago, and sought out and discovered the vistas that have been the inspiration for artists over the centuries.

The result is a gathering of outstanding artworks that Timmy created around the British coast, depicting as well as the Black Stairs in Wick, the Seven Sisters in East Sussex, St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, Donkey Rock in Gower, South Wales, Harlech Castle, Fingal’s Cave in the Inner Hebrides, and the Humber Bridge in East Riding of Yorkshire.

Many of these paintings and prints are available to buy through his art shop, Mallett Fine Art.

Timmy said: “I’ve always been fascinated how artists have delighted in the Great British landscape, and to find their inspirations is a thrill. Whether it’s the great skies of East Anglia, the jagged cliffs that define our shores or the wild British weather, there’s a subject for Mallett’s Pallette wherever I cycle.”

Timmy Mallett at John O'Groats during his 4500-mile tour of the British coast.
Timmy Mallett at John O'Groats during his 4500-mile tour of the British coast.

As Timmy toured the country, climbing the great coastal roads – 10 times the equivalent height of Everest – map makers at OS charted his progress.

And now OS has published a digital interactive map called Timmy Mallett’s Utterly Brilliant Cycling Circumnavigation of Great Britain showing the exact route Timmy took.

Users can delve into the locations and click on the paintings he created there. These are accompanied by video clips recorded by Timmy whenever he stopped. They show the stories, histories, exchanges with the public, tales of bike breakdowns and pictures of his incredible experiences throughout the solo journey.

Timmy expects the map – which contains more than 1000 uploaded items – to be a starting point to inspire people to get out and about exploring.

“Everyone has a favourite beach or family place in Britain that they love. Chances are I’ve cycled there, been inspired and painted there, maybe I’ve recorded a story of somewhere dear to your heart.”

He added: “Britain is stunning; we are blessed with a world-class coastline and to be able to share my cycle route on this map and share it as a resource through Ordnance Survey is utterly brilliant.

“Being curious can take you on an incredible journey. I’d love people to explore the map and let it spark their curiosity to visit these magical places themselves.”

  • You can find Timmy Mallett’s Utterly Brilliant Cycling Circumnavigation of Great Britain on www.getoutside.uk

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