A SAILMAKER who took up cycling less than a year ago has completed a gruelling 3,600 mile bike ride the length of Europe.

Harry Whiles, 22, cycled from the northernmost point in Europe, Nordknapp, in Norway to Europe's southernmost point Tarifa in Spain in 36 days.

He achieved the feat on his own without any back up support, overcoming illness en route and at times relying upon the kindness of strangers.

Passionate about reducing plastic pollution, Harry raised £2,800 for marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage.

The former All Saints School student said: "If you had asked me this time last year about how good I am at cycling, my answer would have been that I wouldn't have been able to cycle from Weymouth to Dorchester!"

Inspired by the cycling exploits of his boss at Moatt Sails on Osprey Quay, Portland, Harry bought a bike in January of this year and started training for the challenge by building up his cycling distances over weekends. He set out on his challenge on August 14 after flying his bike to Norway.

"On day three my knee was hurting really badly. I thought I would have to come home. I took a lot of paracetamol and luckily I was able to carry on," he said.

There were other challenges along the way for Harry, including a bike problem that necessitated a six mile walk to Copenhagen for essential repairs, battling extreme weather and even wild dog attacks.

But it was the kindness of strangers that kept Harry's challenge on course.

"A French family took me in when I was ill and took me to the doctors and the pharmacist and cooked me soup. There was also a man in Spain who took me to the bike shop when I had a puncture," he said.

Luckily Harry was able to use Google translate to communicate with people.

Harry's route, which he planned out himself, took in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain. On average he cycled 100 miles a days and would either wild camp, stay at a campsite or sleep wherever he could find accommodation.

The first thing he felt when he crossed the finish line was 'relief'.

"It was 38c in Spain and I felt so relieved to finish. I felt relaxed and happy but also a little bit sad," he said.

Harry will soon be looking for another challenge to do. You can still donate to his fund at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harry-whiles