Musician and novice cyclist Iona Hassan, from Pewsey, has successfully completed the first leg of her bid to bike 17,000 miles for charity.

In just 25 days Ms Hassan peddled more than 1600 miles across Europe, beginning in Roscoff, France and travelling to Venice, Italy.

Alone with her bike, four panniers and a tent, she planned, navigated and cycled the trip single-handedly, staying with locals and meeting other passionate cyclists along the way.

Training has now begun for her next trip which will see her travel from Cape Town to Kenya and then Kathmandu, Nepal, to Mandalay, Myanmar next summer. In 2019 she will complete her final bike rides by riding across Australia and the USA.

Describing her gruelling ride through France and into Italy, the musician and violin teacher said: “The most testing aspects were being on my own for long periods of time, sometimes when quite tired and hungry when I didn’t fuel myself well enough early on in the tour.

“The cycling was easily the most enjoyable part of my trip which people often assume will be the hardest part.

“Cycling up the famous Gotthard Pass in the Alps near Andermatt was a real cycling highlight and one I will never forget.”

She is raising funds for charity ‘Inspire Malawi’ which builds classrooms for children in the African country.

Born in Aberdeenshire, 38 year old Ms Hassan decided to complete the fundraising challenge after volunteering with the charity, despite friends and family calling her bonkers for undertaking the two year mission.

She continued: “I witnessed first-hand the amazing impact that having an inspiring learning environment was having on the children there.

“A new Year 5 and 6 block has just been completed but the younger pupils still learn in small, ramshackle huts with little or no resources which is heart-breaking to see.

“Most people do this when they are retired but there is no time like the present. I am seizing the day.”

Her route took her along the Brest to Nantes canal, down the banks of the Loire then across the Alps to the River Po in Italy.

To find out more about her journey visit: