Around the world by penny farthing

PUBLISHED: 15:02 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 25 August 2010

MARATHON TRIP: Joff Sumerfield at the Taj Mahal.

MARATHON TRIP: Joff Sumerfield at the Taj Mahal.

AN ECCENTIC traveller has completed a two-and-a-half year trip around the globe on a penny farthing.

AN ECCENTIC traveller has completed a two-and-a-half year trip around the globe on a penny farthing.

Joff Summerfield, an engineer formerly of Tarves Way, Greenwich, peddled onto the cobbles of Greenwich Market to complete his circumnavigation of the world last Sunday.

The adventurer, who turns 41 this Saturday, left Greenwich Market on May 1, 2006 and has since cycled through 23 countries, living off £5 a day.

Mr Summerfield said: "It was hard work, but I travelled really light. The mountains were especially tough but you get used to anything. It was brilliant fun.

"I wanted to see the world, but I wanted the trip to be strange. I'm eccentric.

"It is great to be home, the more I have travelled, the more I have appreciated England.

"But it might take a few weeks to get used to not having to move on each morning."

Once a Formula One mechanic, Mr Summerfield changed to the slow lane when he moved to Greenwich before the millennium to sell penny farthings he made at a stall in Greenwich Market.

He then decided to use the iconic Victorian bike to circumnavigate the world, and claims he is the first to do so since Thomas Stevens in 1887.

He said: "I wanted to experience life slowly for a change. It was a complete break from the world of race engines."

Tibet was the hardest stretch for the traveller because he had to enter illegally, found there was no tarmac on the roads and got caught in a landslide.

Mr Summerfield also broke his wrist in New Zealand when a truck hit him and said he was frequently bitten by dogs.

Currently living with a friend, he hopes to write a book about his experience and to return to his work as a race engine mechanic.

Last October Jason Lewis, from Devon, completed a 13-year circumnavigation of the globe.

The 40-year-old used human power alone to make the odyssey, even fashioning his own peddle-powered boat to cross the seas.

On his return to the Old Royal Observatory, in Greenwich Park, he said he had never seen the Millennium Dome before.

To read Mr Summerfield's journals, visit

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bexley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bexley Times