8 October - Janaki Chati 11 km, on foot
We have walked and scrambled from Hanuman Chati, two days by bus north from Delhi, ascending to Janaki Chati at 2,500 metres. At the end of the walk the valley opened out to a magnificent panorama of snow-peaks. Now the stars carpet the sky, twinkling and pulsating. Against them the snows glow soft and luminous on the peaks we approach tomorrow.
9 October - Janaki Chati 6 km up, 6 kilometres down, on foot
Today we climbed a path which, at times, was a mere gash in vertical cliffs with thundering waters hundreds of feet below. The path we followed has been trod by pilgrims for thousand of years, during which time little has changed. After three hours we reached Yamunotri at over 3,000 metres, a group of huts nestled around two temples built into the rockface. Behind them the Yamuna cascaded down from the snows above. A thin pall of steam hung over the place, rising from its hot springs. We soaked up to our necks in the hot springs, then skipped straight into the icy torrent of the Yamuna. Later we sat in a big circle beside the rushing waters to perform Yamuna puja and ask for blessings for our expedition.
10 October - Sayana Chati 11 km on foot, 8 km cycling
Today began with a pleasant walk down from Janaki Chati to Hanuman Chati. After much tinkering with our new Indian bikes, we set off downhill from Hanuman Chati for a short and enjoyable ride to Sayana Chati, where we stayed in the tourist guest house.
11 October - Barkot 35 km
I am sitting in the shade of a mountain ash, cooled by breezes, 5 kilometres short of Barkot, where we will spend the night. I hear the sound of rushing waters, the crickets and the high-pitched call of the birds. Everywhere are butterflies - yellow, white, orange, black and red. It's strange to be so far from home with so few possessions, and yet to feel so secure and at peace.
12 October - Nainbag 51 km
Our first three kilometres was a fantastic off-road stretch down 400 feet to cross the Yamuna. Then on to a stopping place where we photographed ourselves beside the Yamuna, with a last view of snow-capped peaks behind. We passed through awesome landscape, the broad sweep of the road visible for miles ahead and behind, cutting along the edge of vast rocky mountains plunging down to a flat valley bed far below, with the ever-present Yamuna, turquoise blue, curving round cultivated fields. One or two cyclists were strung out behind me, distant specks, otherwise no one in sight, and very little traffic. The only sound was the river, the wind, the birdcalls, and the friction of my tyres.
13 October - Dakpatara 50 km
Today's route was rough-going with huge potholes and piles of stones most of the way. We descended out of the hills to join the Yamuna for an invigorating swim. At our hotel we celebrated Navaratri with arti and dancing. Outside my window is the Yamuna barrage where her waters are diverted into two huge canals, the East and the West Yamuna Canals.
14 October - Yamunanagar 90 km
We are now on the plains and it is hot and the air is still. We followed the canal from the barrage as the foothills receded into the haze behind us and we entered the dust and heat. We threaded our way along narrow tracks through villages and a series of barrages and dikes. We stopped for lunch beneath a spreading Imli tree next to a huge sluice dam where the river plunged into a whirling pool. We ventured in and found it quite safe. It was like being in a giant Jacuzzi, and the best swim of my life.
15 October - Karnal 70 km
The day's cycling covered flat country roads meandering from village to village. The midday temperature was 35°C. Most of the way there was some tree cover and we had a comfortable stay at Karnal Lakeside Resort Motel.
16 October - Sankalpar 90 km
We headed off cross-country, zigzagging through the fields and villages. As we snaked through sand, mud, ruts and stones the sun rose higher and with it the temperature. We found a shaded patch of dusty road where we stopped for lunch. A farmer turned on his pump and a torrent of water began gushing out. Some of us jumped in with all our clothes on. Never before did water feel so refreshing!
17 October - Delhi 80 km
We battled down the highway to reach the Gandhi Peace Foundation, passing the city tip which prepared us for the environmental disaster which is modern Delhi. We were exhausted and grateful for a day of rest.
19 October - Palwal 72 km
After lunch we cycled along some lovely shaded roads through villages and settlements which began to take on the flavour of Vrindavan. We stayed in a simple but clean pilgrim hostel. Tomorrow we will camp by the Yamuna at Chir Ghat, where Krishna stole the gopis' clothes while they were bathing.
20 October - Chir Ghat 90 km
We came to a fascinating spot beside a former canal lock, reminiscent of Liverpool docks and dated 1871. Water plunged over a double weir and filled the air with positive ions. A fisherman and his son were throwing their net repeatedly into the swirling current below without success. Beside the lock was a sheltered grove of mature trees full of wildlife. We waited here while several punctures were fixed, then pressed on along the canal path. After various adventures we were overtaken by darkness for the final eight kilometres to Chir Ghat, by the light of the rising moon. We all arrived safely at the campsite, where a team of helpers awaited us. On the bank of the Yamuna we ate in rows on the sand from leaf plates and bedded down in one large tent.
21 October - Vrindavan 30 km
We were greeted as we entered Vrindavan, with garlands and a group of singers, at 12 noon. We consumed cold drinks and phoned home, then went to Jayasingh Ghera, where we stayed for three days.