This was the plan: at each destination on his travels, he needed to find an opponent to play him at chess. After the game, this opponent would choose the next destination of around 30 miles distance. He would make his way there, find a new opponent who after the game will choose the next destination and the process would be repeated. He played 14 games of chess and travelled 420 miles, his daily journey dictated by others, the daily journey dictated by others.
The book comprises descriptions of the games plus the peripatetic impressions of people and places encountered en route from the north of Scotland to his home on Tyneside. It is a sideways look at the contemporary UK from a journey dictated by chess and by other people.
As it turned out, he managed to play 14 games of chess, travelled 370 miles on the journey back from Lossiemouth and cycled the last 30 mile leg from Hexham in Northumberland to Cullercoats, following the final game played against Sara Jane Palmer. The weather varied between baking hot and very cold mist and rain on the wild Scottish moors (and crossing the border at Carter Bar). Peter Mortimer won 11 games, drew two and lost one, though he came to realise that most chess players are only occasional participants and the single really dedicated chess player he came up against, beat him.
Tiring, often lonely, but never uninteresting, the 19 day adventure brought him into contact with a whole variety of places and people never previously encountered and he wrote a 30,000 word first draft of the book while on the road. More than 90 per cent of the journey was on the bike. On three occasions, necessity dictated he take a car lift – all explained in the book!