While the rest of the UK was gearing up for the Tour of Britain race, one solo cyclist set off on his Specialized Tricross bicycle on a very different kind of tour.

Andrew Bibby, writer and cyclist, spent eight days pedalling 430 miles through “middle England” from the Dorset coast to the south shore of the Humber.

This was his route that follows the line of Jurassic oolite limestone from Burton Bradstock to the village of Winteringham.

Fascinated by the history and geology of the “Jurassic” area Mr Bibby devised a line which, as far as he knows, has not been tackled as a challenge, on a bike.

What he saw along the way, and what he learned about the landscape and the land and the people who’ve worked on it, is now published in a fascinating new book, Back Roads through Middle England.

He had no idea what to expect, but his observations and detailed research offer an extended exploration of the state of rural England today.

He said: “Middle England, you may feel, is a place out of touch with the artistic, intellectual and social buzz of metropolitan life. It’s probably a place of sleepy conformity, almost certainly of unthinking nimbyism and quite possibly of political prejudice.

“The notion is that Middle England is locked in the past, at a time when the country needs to engage with the present. But my Middle England turns out to be an altogether more complicated, and more contested, terrain.

"Middle England is not a place of homogeneity, it is where people live and work and argue, a place where things change and don’t change, where some are inspired with a hope to make their lives and their communities different.”

The characters he meets along the way people this account with colour and life. In Somerset he visited the little village of East Coker, immortalised in poetry by TS Eliot. He gave the village’s name to the second of his Four Quartets, meditations on human existence, religious faith and the nature of time which were written over a six year period just before and during the Second World War.

And he discovered the reminiscences of George Mitchell and Francis George Heath who both recorded details of life in and around Montacute, particularly the plight of agricultural labourers, in the 19th century.

Mr Bibby added: “I found that a bicycle is an ideal mode of transport if you’re not in a hurry and can choose the quiet roads. I enjoyed the way that, day by day, my bike and I began to work together as a team. I saw whole areas of England that I’d never before visited. I saw the landscape change. I’d seen the houses and churches built of oolite limestone stay more or less the same.”

Back Roads Through Middle England is published by Gritstone, £13.95

Andrew Bibby is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Observer, The Independent, The Guardian and other national papers. He has written widely on the countryside and the outdoors, including the Backbone of England on northern landscapes. This book offers his insights into southern and mid-counties English landscapes.