IN THE last year, they’ve battled blistering heat, civil war, homesickness and fatigue.

But an Oxfordshire couple celebrated as their 12,000-mile cycle from London to Cape Town finally came to an end on Tuesday.

Loretta White, a doctor at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital , and her husband Craig Pollard, spent exactly a year cycling through Europe and Africa to raise money for African street children – a cause for which they have now raised more than £30,000.

Mr Pollard, 35, said: “It is amazing. It is something we have been planning for such a long time and we’ve been cycling every day for a year.

“So to arrive was so exciting. It is a beautiful city and a fantastic place to finish our journey.”

The couple from Waterperry travelled across Europe to Turkey, into the Middle East and through Africa into Cape Town. Their journey took them through Egypt and Syria at the height of civil unrest and they spent 10 days cycling through the Nubian Desert in 50C heat.

Mr Pollard, a charity fundraiser, said: “Every single country has been really different. People have such negative opinions of places, saying ‘don’t go there’ but the people have been friendly in every place.

“South Africa has been so surprising. We’ve found the last month the most difficult part, but families have cheered us on and taken us into their homes.

“We never thought it would be this exhausting. But it has been a mindblowing year.”

The couple travelled up to 100 miles each day, also battling illness, dozens of punctures, storms and nights out in the open.

They will now spend 10 days resting in Cape Town before returning to their Waterperry home and the lives they left behind.

The couple created a charity, Cycle Africa, for the challenge.

Mr Pollard added: “A real privilege was being shown around the city of Durban by the four- and five-year-olds who lived on the streets there.

“That was quite an eye-opener.”

Dr White, 31, said: “Climbing the last hill before Cape Town and seeing the city lying in front of us was incredibly emotional. I don’t think it will sink in for a few days.

“We have seen some incredible sights – Petra in Jordan, the Pyramids in Egypt.

“But it is the small things which will stay with us – like visiting villages who have never seen a tourist and having them cheer us along or welcome us in.

“It has been amazing.”

The couple now hope to reach their £50,000 target to help some of the poorest communities in Africa.

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