Other Peoples Experiences

This page contains feedback I get from visitors to the site who have already done Land's End to John o'Groats or have useful tips about touring. Hopefully it will be of use to anyone thinking of doing the trip or cycle touring in general.

If you want to email me some words to paste onto this page, please let me know if you want me to add your first name only, full name, or no name, and whether or not you want your email address included in case people might like to email you direct.

My address is  lejogDELETE@waitrose.com  (please remove the word DELETE from the address first)

You might also want to send details of different routes or sections of route and any useful advice found from experience of the trip. I would start more pages if this one gets full or needs breaking into different subjects. If you've got your own webpage about the trip or cycle touring I'd be happy to add a link as well.

 

Feedback to date (most recent first):

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10/02/04 -
After speaking to Scotrail I now have the answer about bike reservations!
BOOK ALL YOUR TRAIN TICKETS OVER THE PHONE AND GET THE RESERVATIONS AT THE SAME TIME.
If you do it on-line, or in any other way, and then try to get your bike reservations after you've booked your train ticket, they can't give you a bike reservation ticket. The only way you can get a bike reservation ticket is if you get it at exactly the same time as your travel tickets, so ALWAYS book by phone or in person at the station and make sure you get the reservation there and then!

Ian Walker

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07/11/05 -
Hello Ian

Just thought I would look at your web site again after a couple of years, the numbers are growing. My entry was No 63. "14 days in 20 years" by Tony Wallis. The reason I am writing is that last year I was considering doing the US coast to coast, 4200 miles from Seattle to Boston. I planned to use the full visa time of 3 months to do it in, averaging about 47 miles a day for 90 days. I had made all sorts of plans, then one day some friends of mine from the states suggested that they thought the idea was very dangerous, and for what ever reason i put the trip on hold. I have since found a web site that do organised trips in 56 days (although they do about 90 miles a day and I dont think I could keep that up for 58 days).

Still having given up the US trip I decided to ride round southern Ireland instead, (with my mandolin this time). Looking for good irish music and atmospheres that I could join in with. 500 miles later I returned home with some wonderful memories.

I did go to the states for 3 months, but I travelled by bus and train from Key West Florida to Seattle. I borrowed bikes, and hired them at various places to see the back roads at a more leisurely pace. I've read about people riding across the Arizona deserts, but having been there I dont know how they did it.

But in January of this year I started getting severe pains in my left knee, and the more I limped, the more weight I put on the right knee, until both were painful. The upshot of it all is that I now have arthritis, and even after an arthroscopy operation on my left knee I can't ride my bike more than about 3 miles before the pain gets to bad.

I haven't written to you for sympathy, just to say to anybody out there who really wants to do something that is strenuous, and I think we will all agree the "End To End cycle ride" can fit into that catagory.

Don't whinge on about doing it some day, get on with it now!

I dont regret any of the cycling, surfing, windsurfing, rowing, running that I have done, but I will just have to hope I can find some powerful medicine if I am to do any more long distance biking, like the "coast to coast".

Regards

Tony Wallis

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15/10/03 -
I loved your site which was so helpful in planning my own end to end. I even printed off a couple of descriptions which were useful companions on the trip.

I used the CTC B and B Route, as a basis and took in as many of the NCN routes as I could. I've suggested to the CTC that they should amend theirs to include much of the West Way-Bodmin onwards to Bridgewater, the Avon cycleway, to avoid going between Bristol and Bath as recommended by the CTC, and most notably, the NCN Lochs and Glens route, on the old A9.

I plan to do it again next year!

Ken

(I've posted Ken's route & trip details at http://www.users.waitrose.com/~ianclare/middlemiss.htm)

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14/10/03 -
26/05 - Hello again Ian, I emailed you in April 2002 after I'd attempted LEJOG. I was very disappointed that I'd made a few mistakes and called it a day in Edinburgh. On May 6 this year, I set off again from Lands End and having learnt from those mistakes, completed the whole trip in 15 days, averaging 65 miles per day. Not bad, I'm told, for an old geezer of 65.
I enjoyed the trip which I completed in 15 days. Met another couple of end to enders, Jim and Gavin, father and son, in Helmsdale. We all had a meal in La Mirage, then back to the Bannockburn Arms for more beer before starting on the malts, as you may guess, we were in party mood with quite a few toasts to the Queen and Rob Roy. A good night out didn't spoil the next days ride into JOG, we were fortunate to have lovely weather, what a fantastic feeling to ride to the finish. I intend to do it all over again some day soon.
For my trip last May, I took a route which avoided the A9 until after Dingwall. Slipping unnoticed between Glasgow and Edinburgh via Falkirk and Stirling, I watched the F.A. cup final on tv in Callander over a few pints of Tartan Ale. From there a lovely ride through Loch country cycling alongside Lochs Lubnaig, Earn, Tulla, Ba, Leven, Linnhe, Lochy and Ness, where I turned onto the A833 heading for Dingwall to bypass Inverness. Overnight stops from L.E. were: Lostwithiel, Mortonhampstead, Walton, Stroud, Boswals Common, Buxton, Oxenhope, Tebay, Eskdalemuir, Wilsontown, Callander, Glencoe Village, Drumadrochit and Helmsdale, where I met two other End to Enders in the Bannockburn Arms. We were all in party mood so, after fish & chips acc. with white wine in the Pink Palace, we enjoyed a few pints of McEwans Special and quite a few double malts. The next day's ride was in really good weather with beautiful views all the way to J O' G. So, that was my first long distance ride, apart from the " trial run " the year before, L.E. to Edinburgh, finished in 15 days averaging 65mpd. I intend to do it again one day but for now I'm planning to cycling the Five Corners of Ireland in 2005.

Bill Matthews, Guernsey.

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14/10/03 -
I have just completed my second End to End, following my trip last May. This year I had a support vehicle and crew, and took 4 days 8.75 hours to complete 862 miles.
We had mixed weather, the worst being a storm for the final 60 miles or so in Caithness, with gale force winds, fog and rain.
This made the final section of the route through Brora, Helmsdale, Berriedale, etc. hard going, and this hilly section of the journey was no easier than last time!
The cycle route NCR 7 from Pitlochry was good to use again, although some sections are fairly rough for a racing bike!
I shall write more soon......
Good luck to all future End to Enders !
cheers,
Wil Leaper

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18/01/03 -
Whilst riding the end to end solo last May, I stopped in Pitlochry,just off the A9.
I found the only bike shop in town that saved my life!
The address is; ESCAPE ROUTE, 8 WEST MOULIN ROAD, PITLOCHRY TEL ;01796 473859
The owner is KEVIN GRANT, who was very helpful in repairing my bike, and a great source of info for the cycle route North to Inverness. The shop is still there, and I thought it would be useful for other cyclists to know.
Thanks again for the great website.
I am thinking of going again this year!
cheers,
Wil Leaper

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07/08/02 -
I really appreciated the advice from people on your site and thought I'd contribute. 6 of us (myself and another "serious" cyclist, our wives and a friend's teenage kids) did the ride from 17/7/02 to 2/8/02 and generally had a good time. Planning was difficult as I now live in the US, only my wife of the 5 Americans had been in the UK before, and we had a limited time frame.

Our route was basically as direct as I could make it while avoiding main roads and stopping in my native Glasgow:

1. Lands End - Truro (via the Lizard for the 2 quicker cyclists)
2. Truro - Tavistock
3. Tavistock - Crowcombe Heathfield YH
4. CHYHA - Weston-Super-Mare
5. Weston - Monmouth
6. Monmouth - Shrewsbury YH
7. Shrewsbury YH - Northwich
8. Northwich - Lancaster
9. Lancaster - Carlisle YH
10. Carlisle - Abington
11. Abington - Bishopbriggs (nr. Glasgow)
12. B'Briggs - Killin
13. Killin - Newtonmore (over the hills via Tummel Bridge)
14. Newtonmore - Dingwall
15. Dingwall - Carbisdale Castle YH
16. Carbisdale Castle - Bettyhill
17. Bettyhill - John O'Groats

A few random thoughts:

1. Research thoroughly but pick a route via some unfamiliar places.

2. Pre-book the first couple of days but leave some flexibility later (if your budget can take a couple of hits when somewhere only has pricier accomodation available). We booked hostels ahead but left B&B's till nearer the arrival time.

3. If you can, take in the Lizard and Dunnet Head: it sounds a little more novel than LE to JO'G and both places are much more worthy of a visit than the tourist traps. They are the most Southerly & Northerly points of the UK respectively

4. Road atlases (I used the AA one) are great but get something more detailed if you use very minor roads (www.streetmap.co.uk is good for a few maps, or use the Ordinance Survey site to avoid buying maps).

5. Tourist information offices are very useful if you are caught out without accomodation.

6. Particularly recommended for great service are the bike shop in Aviemore, Newtonmore Hostel (very effective drying room!) and the Quayside Guesthouse in Wick. The bike shop in Callendar and the Witherspoon Witherlodge in Monmouth (called the King's Head, right beside tourist information) are also recommended.

7. Bike routes in England were not much use (other than some bike lanes on the A6 and the beautiful 5 mile coastal path into Lancaster off the A588). Those in Scotland were excellent on the old A74 and the A9. Glasgow - Killin via Fintry and Thornhill is beautiful but the bike route from Callendar to Strathyre is only a glorified mountain bike track in parts and not designed for a loaded tourer with slick tyres. Strathyre to Killin however is well surfaced and after a very steep climb goes flat on an old railway track with magnificent views. At the top of Glen Ogle just get on the road for the descent to Lix Toll.

8. I would personally avoid the A9 and A82 on Loch Lomondside and through the Great Glen at busy times of the year: I felt scared for the cyclists we saw on our return journey by car.

9. For those who finish and want a new challenge consider the US coast-coast!

Tim Cooke

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01/08/02 -
Just seen your site, I thought you might like to add my trips in - I will send details when I have cobbled them together.

My first trip was in 1997 (during the wettest June on record) when I completed a solo unsupported ride in 17 days - not special I hear you say, but because I could not be bothered with trains etc I decided to do it both ways. I started at my home (Salisbury) cycled to Lands End then up to John O'Groats and back to Salisbury, the total distance was just under 2000 miles.

My second trip was in 1999 when I completed the ride in 5 days, this time supported and with a friend - I found this trip harder than the first due to the mileage per day. but we completed it without too much hassle.

My email can be attached, as can my full name, and I will enclose more details in a later edition. Ian Perry

perryDELETE@neston.f9.co.uk   (please remove the word DELETE from the address first)

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25/06/02 -
There is nothing to match the anticipation experienced by speeding west on the train to Penzance and then the reality of joining other contenders at the Lands End start point. The weeks and months of planning are over and Lady Luck now takes a hand with the weather especially. My journey started on June 1 2002, almost twelve months after triple heart by-pass surgery at Coventry's Walsgrave Hospital, I had set my objective after a long and painful recovery but fate was to play a part in this adventure.....but first some rules :

1. Read as many of the web site articles as possible and talk to others who have done the trip - listen to their advice.
2. Travel as light as possible, it really is tough dragging panniers / bar bag etc, out of Devon and Cornwall, if you have some panniers then discard them in favour of a Carradice Longflap saddlebag (with a bar-bag for the personal effects and camera). If it won't fit into either of these then leave it at home! If you heed no other advice heed this one or you will regret it, I did. Look at each item and ask yourself if it is an essential, or just a nice to have? Be ruthless. If worst comes to worst and you do get it wrong you can still purchase it en route.
3. Book ahead - this is as important in tourist areas, which may be busy, as it is in non-tourist areas, where there may be a shortage of sensibly priced accomodation. The web is useful for this as often pictures can be found which removes some of the risk element - you will however still have good and less good stopovers.
4. Be careful with food - two bad food experiences caused me to suspend my trip at Gretna - one was avoidable, the other not. It is important to be at the peak of condition throughout so vigilance at all times with food - keep it simple.

All that said this is the pinnacle of one's cycling career, the variety of experiences, the countryside, the people encountered all add up to the total event. I can't wait to be involved in the journey again, re-starting at Gretna station and heading for the beauties of Scotland and eventually crossing the line at John O'Groats, something to savour for a few weeks before doing it.

Mike Hall

hallmi@timken.com

more from Mike.....

As promised here is the follow-up resume of the second phase of my journey.....

The return journey from Rugby to Gretna went as planned despite some serious engineering work on the West Coast main line and the journey resumed at 11.18 on Saturday August 17 2002. The first day to Annan and Dumfries was a pleasant enough ride through unspectacular scenery along the Solway Firth, the temperature gradually rose as the day went on until thundery rain arrived as I reached my destination for this leg at The George Inn, Thornhill. A pleasant stopover with good food and company after the lovely countryside of Dumfries & Galloway.
Next day saw grey and leaden skies but rain initially gave way to less moist conditions by Drumlnarig Castle and the banks of the river Nith, a most enjoyable stretch until Sanqhuar is reached, thereafter busy main road to New Cumnock the nondescript to Irvine and thence Kilwinning and the end of day 2.
The short ride to the Ardrossan Pier for the Arran ferry is a pain in the morning rush hour but once there and ticket purchased a pleasant mini-cruise is experienced to Brodick on the island. The ride to Clanoig (for the ferry crossing to Lochranza) is a dream alongside the waters' edge until the climb halfway between the two villages is met !!, this continues on and on finally culminating in a rapid descent to the pretty village of Clanoig. Time to spend chatting with other riders, this time from Holland and Germany all discovering the delights of the West of Scotland in the ever improving weather. Tarbert follows and a rather run-down Lochgilphead where the girl in the TIC is unduly optimistic about finding B&B accommodation for my Dutch colleagues, so onward (for me at least) to Arduaine and a delightful stay with stunning views over the islands.
This route is proving to be both challenging and fascinating, some busy stretches of road around the bigger towns but with opportunities to take the lanes and byways if preferred. So on to Oban - need some cash (always need cash), and after a brief pause continue north towards Fort William, this is a busy road and pleasure of cycling is diluted by level of traffic, a situation which is to continue until Fort William is reached. Take the opportunity to see the locks on the Caledonian Canal at Banavie and the train journey to Mallaig, this journey will take half a day out but is worth every minute. End of day 4 is Drumnadrochit in the Great Glen, very poor B&B (The Glen) most expensive yet and with poorest facilities - avoid it but the evening meal at The Fiddlers next door is very good and a first experience of haggis !.
Next day one hell of a climb out of the valley and across country towards Dingwall, pleasant but not spectacular country ending the day in Lairg for my Dutch friends and The Crask Inn for me.....what can I say, certainly the most pleasant and atmospheric stay I have had with a superb grouse meal as a bonus.....The Crask Inn should be on everyone's itinerary and is for me one of the most lasting memories of the journey.
The next day through the forests moors and lakes of Sutherland and Caithness, all wonderful stuff despite the midges which are very active this year, particularly through a dry and sunny week. The day ends in Castletown just to the east of Thurso, famous for it's paving slab heritage now defunct.
The great day dawns and the last 15 miles to JOG are reeled off in style, arrival is very uplifting, particularly when greeted with like minded souls about to undertake the journey south.

So that was it - two bites at it but eventually successful...low spot Runcorn - avoid it like the plague!, high spot - a night at The Crask Inn north of Lairg. Glad I did it ? - yes, do it again ? - perhaps north to south by another route - who knows......

Lessons - Pack light - my second leg with just a saddlebag transformed progress and comfort.
Eat well - don't stint on food you will rely on a high intake of good quality food.
Check Scotrail booking from Thurso / Wick - booking system is very 'flaky'. Despite my reservation and two confirming phone calls I was not on the conductors list at Thurso - this could be disatrous !
That good weather transforms the experience from a slog sometimes to a delight when the sun shines - not easily achieved this one particularly in 2002!

Mike Hall

hallmi@timken.com

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31/05/02 -
Hello Ian,
I have just completed the trip south to north.
An excellent journey that took me 7days to complete approx. 930 miles, including a 'detour' to the west coast nr. Southport!
I hope to send a detailed account when I have recovered! In the meantime perhaps you will be kind enough to post the following information to your web site, as it maybe useful to folks starting the trip in the near future:

1. - I took the 'new' cycle route that runs alongside the A9 from Pitlochry to Inverness. It uses the old A9, some lovely B roads, and some excellent recently constructed cycle paths. A great route, that avoids completely the main road.

2. - A taxi firm from Wick took me and the bike ,and another fellow end to ender, in a minibus,from J'OG back to Wick to catch a train.
Phone no. from;
Mrs. Steven,
Caber Feidh Guest House,
01955 611219,
where I stayed and was well looked after!

more to follow. Thanks again for your site, so useful when I was planning my trip, and a good link now I have done it !
Cheers,

Wil Leaper

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06/02/02 -
I did a solo unsuported ride in May 99, taking a more easterly route I designed myself, using OS maps I posted ahead to various stopovers. I used all minor roads except where A or B roads were unavoidable. I must admit, I could not see why more people don't go further east, because the roads and navigation around Manchester/Liverpool area as well as Glasgow are not attractive. My choice was also influenced by not wanting to cover areas I'd toured more recently (eg Dales, Dumfries). I also definitely wanted to avoid the A9.

I took 19 days plus 3 rest days (laundry), doing between 50 and 80 mpd. The weather was pretty poor, with hailstones in Scotland, but some great sunny days as well. I stayed overnight in all pre-booked youth hostels or B&Bs I'd researched previously. I also calculated roughly the climbing I'd have to do. My route totalled 1115 miles, largely due to it being a bit wiggly in Scotland).

I wrote a diary, but a summary of my route, from Land's End, is:

- St Wenn nr Bodmin (central Cornwall route, but avoiding A30)
- Okehampton (fastest speed of trip - 49mph)
- Crowcombe YHA
- Cheddar YHA
- village approaching Gloucester, via Cheddar Gorge and outskirts of Bath
- Ludlow
- Cheadle, nr Stoke; via Bridgenorth and Cannock Chase
- Penistone nr Barnsley/Sheffield, through middle of Peak District, including Manifold Trail
- Ellingstring YHA (longest day, but flattest) via outskirts of Wakefield and Castleford, then Vale of York, Boroughbridge (these two days I thought were my most clever, ie remaining mostly rural, avoiding connurbations)
- Alston YHA via Richmond, Barnard Castle, Teesdale (longest climb)
- Hawick via Liddesdale
- Biggar via Peebles
- Glendevon YHA (Glen Eagles), via countryside W of Edinburgh, over Forth Bridge

Then turned West a bit.......
- Crianlarich YHA, via Comrie and Loch Earn, using minor road on S. of Loch
- Banavie, via A82 (quiet) over Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Banavie by Fort William
- Loch Ness YHA, along Great Glen
- Carbisdale Castle YHA, via Drumnadrochit, Dingwall, Alness, Bonar Bridge (wettest day)
- Bettyhill on N coast, via remote B roads (so organised that I made stupid arrangement to put bike on train to cross the river for 200 yards (Invershin I think) - train guard thought I was mad not to walk over bridge, but I thought this was prohibited)
- Wick, via JOG (great day, 50 miles done by lunchtime)

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and will do it again with my wife in a few years time, changing the route no doubt. My normal riding is a week or two's tour with my wife every year, plus weekends (sometimes with kids), plus I've done a couple of CTC tours myself, and may lead one next year. I also do some mountainbiking, including to the office most days.

I did no real training, as I felt I was fit enough with my existing cycling, so all I did was to ensure I took it easy for the first few (hilly) days. I felt better as I progressed, and lost 7 pounds in weight despite eating loads! I had no breakdowns, not even a puncture and like to think this is because I am careful about bike maintenance, although my bike is a 10 year old Galaxy. I noticed that being on my own seemed to encourage more people to talk that I met on the way.

What I'd do differently: not much, although I'd preferred not to have pre-booked but overall this made me more relaxed, and allowed for nicer B&Bs (unlike some other horror stories I'd seen on some links from your website). Also, I'd try to travel lighter, mostly by buying fancy wicking tops that I could wash each night.

I only took one pair of cycling shoes, that I wore in the evenings as well. If they were wet, they would be dry by morning. I'd like to carry fewer tools, but this is probably tempting fate. I also went to local library to build a list of cycle shops near to the route, from Yellow Pages. I obviously pre-booked the trains at either end.

regards

Nick Coe
coe@abbots44.freeserve.co.uk

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10/10/01 - "I completed the ride in 11 days from the 8th - 18th August this year, I took the scenic route through Cornwall, Devon, the Welsh borders and then up to Carlisle via the lakes. I then headed West via Arran up the Mull of Kintyre before turning East through the Great Glen and up to John O'Groats.

I totally disagree with the writer stating that the spirit of the ride is encompassed by completing it "self supported". My wife Helen and my two children; Jake (4) and Holly (2.5) accompanied me in the camper van. They were able to share in the ups and downs of the trip and it became a family event.

Lands End to John O'Groats is about PERSONAL achievement whatever the method or route taken, it has nothing to do with the speed, length or mechanics of the journey. I climbed a lot of personal mountains during the trip and almost gave up after a knee injury halfway into the ride. However, the promise of sponsorship kept me going and I finished relatively intact.

My personal top ten tips would be:-

1) plan to stay off A roads wherever possible, stay out of big towns as unless you know where you are going, most cycle paths have little or no signage

2) make sure your map covers more than just your planned route, some days you may have to re-plan due to road closures, accidents, fatigue, etc...

3) carry a folding spare tyre, expensive, but you won't regret it if you manage to damage one of yours

4) drink carbohydrates all day long, when you run out stop at a newsagents or other shop and buy Lucozade sport, I even used the fizzy Lucozade in my bottles and I never once bonked or felt too tired to carry on

5) stop EVERY hour for 5 minutes, eat something, relax and then get going again

6) avoid the full English breakfast, eat porridge, museli, toast and fruit, I promise you will feel better for it. I started the day with 3 bowls of Alpen and a banana, I ate a banana or energy bar every hour and dined on pasta most evenings.

7) smear your arse with Savlon EVERY day, I didn't and paid the price

8) don't listen to the radio for 4 days before the ride, you will end up with every crap pop record going through your head as you cycle along, even worse in my case, I ended up humming "The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia" all the way through Cornwall

9) forget puncture repairs in the rain, change the tube and fix the puncture later when you are dry

10) before you go look at your bike, think to yourself "what would I do if that broke", Dave's law of E2E states "For each and every bicycle component not considered during a pre-ride check a major failing will result, the seriousness of the failure shall be directly proportional to the distance from the nearest bike shop multiplied by two if said bike shop is shut"

Great site ! My report is located at http://www.phased.co.uk/htdocs/End%20to%20End%20index%20page.htm Regards Dave Barter"

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02/10/01 -
"Hello, I`ve been reading through your site with great interest. But I have to confess I only got as far as Inverkeithing,and much to my shame got on the train home( St Just near Lands End)
I`m a fisherman/cycling enthusiast ,and gave myself a couple of weeks off to do the trip.It was late Sept 98,when my wife and a couple of friends dropped me at LE .There was a very strong east wind which didn`t help matters ,although I was still full of enthusiam for the trip ahead.
I picked the CTC scenic route for the ride,which is beautiful,I recommend it to anyone.To cut a long story short my downfall was too much luggage,if you stay b&b a change of cycle clothing is all you need.Waterproof panniers is another must.It was arriving at Inverkeithing, with all my belongings absolutely soaked esecially the maps and paperwork that was the final staw for me and I confess I jumped on the train the next morning ,back to Penzance,and have regretted it ever since.I`m going to do it one day before I go!
So there you have it an e-mail from a failed LEJOGGER but what I did ,Land`s End to Inverkeithing in 9 days was brilliant,so if anybody is toying with the idea-----------------

GO FOR IT !!!

yours Roger Lewis"

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07/06/2001 - "Just with regard to the hilly route - i.e. via Braemar,Tomintoul and Grantown on Spey. It is a worthwhile diversion,the scenery is beautiful and the roads are nowhere near as busy as they appeared to be going the less hilly route. Much excitement was created in Gordon's restaurant in Braemar when they discovered we were planning to cycle over The Lecht ski field. It is manageable, but only really with a triple chain ring (30 on the front with a 25 tooth on the back just saw me over). You have a bonus if you stop in Tomintoul of finding yourself in the centre of the Speyside malt whisky industry!

We also used the CTC route at the top of Scotland, which takes you via Lairg and Altnaharra to Bettyhill. You are then left with a rolling journey Eastwards, which if the prevailing winds prevail, which they did for us, means you are blown along at a good pace to your destination, a nice way to end. Elizabeths Cafe at Bettyhill was a friendly spot for lunch too.

In general I would thoroughly recommend the CTC routes as a basis for planning your trip.We varied it at times to fit in stops with friends and family."

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14/03/01 - "Hi, I'm just emailing you to say that I really enjoyed looking at your website. I rode the other way, J.o'G to L.E. in August last year. I have four pieces of advice to those contemplating the trip which you might (or might not!) want to add.

1) When you buy a bike, make sure it has a common wheelsize. I bought mine in france, and the wheel size was 28", which proved problematic when my tyre burst near the Quantock Hills, because not many cycle shops around there seemed to have anything other than 26' tyres.

2) ALWAYS carry duck tape. (it held the tyre together for 14 miles!)

3) Ibuleve is a miracle drug. Buy lots of it. It's a topical painkiller and really makes life a lot more pleasant if you have joint pain.

4) We stayed in yha's and b&b's, and I would seriously recommend paying a few pounds more and going for the b&b's. So much more comfortable, lovely baths, and good breakfast to get you at least 3 hours into the ride!

Oh, and one other thing to add, for those going the same way we did, they might like to know that the sign at John o'Groats pointing to land's end doesn't get put up until 10am. Before that it's just a pole.

Also, we found that if we mentioned to publicans that we were doing the ride for charity we often got a discount on our lunch.

Hope some of those proove useful to other people. We had a great 12 day, 963 mile ride.

from,

Georgeanna Williams

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06/02/01 - "Learnt to ride my bike last March (TREK4300). Complete beginner, never ridden before in my life, even as a child!

In September completed the trip unaided in 12 days using just off road tyres and a will to go on! Found it surprisingly easy, although the last stretch past Helmsdale and Berridale is an absolute killer! Shap summit and then on to Longtown was brilliant..deserted roads and beautiful country and weather...many thanks to the dentist in Penrith who sorted my broken tooth over lunch stop!

My advice to anyone who is considering doing the ride...definitely, really good fun and you see some really bizarre things!

I found that the key was not to plan too much, as I completed the route in a quiet period of the year accomodation is easily come by (merely cycle until you see somewhere!) - nowhere was I unable to find accomodation with any difficulty.

This allows you to adapt your daily shedule in accordance with how you feel. My original idea had been to complete the trip in 14 days, in the end I took 2 days off that. An essential is good waterproofs... Matthew (below) is right however, if it rains all day (which it did) nothing can keep out the wet!

A handy tip: I was navigating using the pages from a road atlas. I found that not only was this cheap but very lightweight too. Merely remove the pages you need from the atlas and number them sequentially. This is great when you move from one page to the next, very satisfying.This might sound like a small thing, but a positive mental state is esssential as the trip can conspire against you all the way.

My final tip: hot showers at the end of every day and a great breakfast is in my opinion the key to success.

Also Ian, Matthew, the guy who has his e-mail down on the list below mine! I was the bloke who he met with wide tyres and who he cycled with until Carlisle! We both stayed in Longtown that night and went down the pub! Glad he made it as he was quite worried when I was with him! We both agreed that the only way to do the trip is unaided, we just felt that people with support vans and spare bikes were totally missing the point of the challenge.

Off to cycle round Ireland this year!"

Simon - Simon_Howard@detr.gsi.gov.uk

(....and Simon hadn't even seen my site before he went! His conclusions are similar! - Ian)

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07/01/01 - "Hello. Great Web Site. Thought I would share my experience with you.

Did the run solo totally unaided (no support except mobile phone!) in 8.5 days. Distance ended up at 892 miles, which at age 34 is quite good! Bike used was a Dawes racing bike with rear panniers fitted as a temporary measure (I also used tribars which helped the mileage and speed). I raised 5,500 for the charity SCOPE.

Journey was as follows:

Day 1: LE to Tiverton (the longest day, 129 miles!)
Day 2: Tiverton to Dursley
Day 3: Dursley to Kinver
Day 4: Kinver to Chorley
Day 5: Chorley to Longtown
Day 6: Longtown to Loch Lomond
Day 7: Loch Lomond to Invergarry (via Rannoch Moor - fantastic day!)
Day 8: Invergarry to Brora
Day 9: Brora to JOG.

I averaged about 100 miles a day, the first day was exceptional as the weather was good and and the wind was behind me. The hills were the worst in Devon and Cornwall! Only problem I had was a broken rear wheel on day 2! Should have used a 32 spoke rear wheel as advised instead of 28. Purely by chance found a wheel builder in Dursley - an ex Milk Race mechanic! Did a great job building me a proper wheel (although 18 speed racing bikes are more difficult than you may think). I lost 1/2 a day here, so would have done it in 8 without this problem.

Hills south of Bristol were very hard (is it called redhill??).

The Chesire plains through Nantwich/Northwich to Warrington were flat and easy. Made excellent progress. I was dreading Shap summit. Took in Fish and Chips lunch in Kendal before the assault! Very hard, but surprisingly easier than I thought. Hardest bit is after you have climbed for about 3 miles, and then drop down again before going all the way up! I was warned about that one! Met another guy half way up on a mountain bike with wide tyres (not a good idea). Kept with me to Carlisle (nice bloke).

Using the old A74 to Glasgow was spooky - they have converted the old dual carriageway into single track, it's a ghost road with no traffic! The old service stations are derelict, and I cycled for miles without seeing a sole - fantastic!

Best day of my cycling life was Loch Lomond to Invergarry over Rannoch Moor. What a fantastic hill climb! The drop into GlenCoe was as good as everyone has said, the scenery was unbelievable. Up to end of this day, I had no rain. The next two days were horrendous, no matter how good your waterproofs the rain will penetrate after 6 hours plus! Up the A9 coast road was very hard into a terrible wind and driving rain. I passed 2 or 3 riders who were going slower than me! The climb out of Helmsdale was a killer but good. Don't believe a word that this "last part" is easy!

JOG was an anti-climax for me, misty weather and deserted. Hit the pub to sign in and get my form stamped. Bunch of 15 already there with van support - when I said 8.5 days they couldn't believe it! They took 12. Cycled back to Wick the next day to catch the train after a very heavy night with the locals in the JOG hotel!!

I am a mad keen cyclist averaging 150 miles a week training between May to September. In the winter I do less due to the risk of cycling in the dark after work. Training is the key to give yourself a fair chance to achieve your goal. You also need mental strength to conquer those hills! At age 34, I guess it is easier than if you are 54! (no disrespect to anyone of more 'mature' years).

Next time I would take less kit - even though I B&B's each night. Too much weight for the bike. Personal hygiene will have to be given a miss!

My next project is to cycle round the coast of Britain in May/June 2002 in 30 (100 miles a day) days. I don't know the exact mileage, but I guess it may be 3,000? West coast of Scotland will have to planned carefully! I am taking a month's sabbatical of work to raise money for charity again. Man Utd donated a signed ball and shirt on this one.

If any one is keen to take part on some of this epic please contact me!!!! Otherwise, I will be very lonely for a month.

In summary, do not hesitate to do the ride, and use the Shap/Rannoch Moor routes - they are fantastic if you like hill climbing!! I am not the best cyclist in the world-far from it-but the training and determination got me through. I would recommend it to anyone."

Regards.

Matthew G Shaw.

matthewgshaw@netscapeonline.co.uk

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The next three emails are from from Ian Morgan, who was one of the first people to email me about my site, back in 1999. He has now been out and done the ride -

13/04/00 - "We have decided to YHA the trip as it is the cheapest option & we are starting on June 30th til July 15th - quite a relaxed pace, about 60 miles a day. We are doing it for SightSaver's International."

05/07/00 - "Just cycled up from Land's End to the Midlands (Ironbridge), which adds up to a total of 320 miles. Tomorrow we're off in the direction of Warrington - not the nicest of places but it does avoid the Pennines. We set off on Saturday (1st July) & plan to finish next Saturday - the 15th.
I'm not sure whether you said anything about Cornwall, but that really kicks on the hills, especially over Dartmoor, up from Tavistock. Ouch. Hoping its slightly flatter through the rest of England. We actually went over the Severn Bridge to Chepstow, which cut out quite a few miles.
We've met loads of people cycling the LEJOG; Its actually quite busy in some places. We got quite lost & wet through Bristol - it seems as though we haven't picked the weather so well, but except for Bristol, navigation hasn't been too bad & weather has been gloomy but not overly cold or wet. Oh yes, also good ol' Redruth where we found ourselves heading off in the direction of Falmouth.
I see what you mean with Land's End on your page - it is actually 3 for parking vehicles, and if you wanted an 'official' picture of you next to the sign you had to pay 5. RIP OFF springs to mind.
Well, after reading your page, I see we have a few more hills to go. So far we have had no technical difficulties etc with anything - I am famous for my punctures, however, so far, none have decided to come my way. We have stuck mainly to main roads because they seem to be faster & slightly more direct. After looking at some of the pictures it seems that no-one has good weather on the LEJOG. We managed to do the three countries (England, Wales & hopefully Scotland) which was quite good. Just wondering how on earth you manage to take 'action shots' as I find it more or less impossible - but I'll have a go!
We are also staying at Helmsdale YHA from Tain B&B - well, I'll tell you how it went when I get back from John O'Groats & I may or may not do a web page - if I do I'll be sure to link to you & others!
We have recorded all the stats from the days our longest day being from Exeter to 10 miles North of Bristol which added upto 93 miles. Enough for me! "

16/07/00 - "It took a while but yes, we did do it! - you were right about the hills in the North, not quite as bad, although the worst was just after Drumnadrochit along the Great Glen, firstly a 1:7 gradient for 1 mile & then a 1:6 for another mile. Which did definitely hurt quite a lot.
Originally the Exeter - Bristol run was going to be longest but it turned out we did a centennial 100 miles from Glen Nevis to Tain... although this was 100 miles we managed to do an average of 18.1 miles per hour, suggesting that the countryside wasn't exactly mountainous. We didn't have any hitches except for a puncture to Tim's bike just outside Moffat at the end of the day. (My bottom bracket managed to click most of the way - not the bearings though... we suspect just grit.)
The run from Helmsdale to John O'Groats was actually quite difficult, although only being 55 miles we had headwind all the way and its not exactly flat. I think I probably will set up a website on it, I'll need to get a new server etc etc cos I've taken up all the room on my others. It will take me a while but I'll try & do it over the Summer when I'll have loadsa time.
We had a total cycling time of 62 hours 53 minutes - (spread out over 15 days) & the distance was approximately 912 miles... my speedo & tim's vary on this answer... But it was definately quite a way under 1000."

Congratulations Ian & Tim!!

Ian is webmaster of two cycling club websites - Wrekinsport Cycling Club and Yellow Curve Cycling Club

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"Hi - I have just completed the ride on my own from John O'Groats to Lands End on the 2nd June,2000. I had allocated 14 days to do it and was successful. I would just like to say that I had been training from July 1999 to May over differing distances and for the benefit of others I would say that the most important lesson I learnt was that no matter how many miles you do in training you MUST prepare mentally as well as physically. When you cycle the route I did which ended at 908.7 miles, no breakdowns, no punctures and no repairs needed, with the wind against you battling through hailstones the size of golf balls, rain both mild and torrential, cold, hot, sunny and bleak, the mental anguish can be so strong that determination sometimes doesn't seem enough. But at the end the emotion, elation and job well done you have to then decide WHAT'S NEXT?

You may use my email address and if anyone else would like to contact me then I look forward to their contact."

Alan Clark - alanclark1916@hotmail.com

I asked Alan how he kept going and this is his reply -

"It is quite strange when cycling through the country at the type of things you think about. I know that I had two spare cycles which were in a van which for the first part of the journey was moved in the evening by work colleagues and as I got further down into England then I travelled back by train to move it each day. I had two bikes given to me by Universal cycles plc who have said I can keep them and do with them what I wish. One is being raffled at 50p a ticket and the other which I did the ride on I am keeping. My own bike which I had had a very good gel saddle and each night while relaxing in a Radox bath I promised myself I would put the gel saddle on the bike I was using. I didn't. The next day I would promise myself to change it again and I didn't. Then I became superstitious thinking that if I changed the saddle as nothing had gone wrong with the bike up to now then it might if I change things.

My determination to complete it was re-inforced by the charities I would 'let down' by quitting. I promised to quit on three days. Each of those days it was wet, cold, I was soaked to the skin and I was going over mountains. I was alone and depression soon sets in. I convinced myself that when that day was through I would relax in a hot bath, have a drink and a hot meal and I had forgotten about it the next day. In addition a mobile phone with lots of people ringing to spur you on dries the tears and strengthens the will.

If you want more or anyone does I am writing a presentation with photographs for my own benefit which I can email to you when finished.

One important issue is I went on the A720 round Edinburgh and cycles are now not allowed. I was stopped by the Police and told to get off. There is a local bye-law apparently."

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"I did the ride in August 1996 but followed the West coast route. This was very picturesque around Lancashire and Loch Lomond etc. but overrun with tourists in camper vans. I took a tent and would have been in trouble without it as West Scotland was full!

Best part of my trip was riding through Glen Coe after crossing Rannoch Moor. I was a bit luckier with weather than you - only rained once."

From Anon.

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About the 'high' route over the Grampian mountains via Blairgowrie, Braemar and Tomintoul:

"I will put together a few words about the route if I can remember some of the detail, I have managed to delete it from my mind as some of the hills were too horrible to want to remember, for instance going over Glenshee it only rained for the first 2 and a half hours, all ridden in the lowest sprocket and bottom two or three gears after that and with some way to go before reaching the top the rain stopped, and the snow started!"

Anon - (I will post the rest when received.)

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Also about the 'high' route over the Grampian mountains via Blairgowrie, Braemar and Tomintoul:

"This is from memory and it was ten years ago, so no guarantees!

I spent the night at Perth and have few memories of the morning - pleasant countryside I believe. gradually climbing, and getting gradually steeper until you get to the Spittle of Glenshee. At this stage I caught a headwind and the work started. At one stage I stopped to have a rest and had difficulty in standing up against the wind! I didn't get much relief once I crested the ridge and started down the other side. The wind was so strong that I was still working quite hard in middle range gears to get downhill. I was glad when I reached the youth hostel at Braemar. There were a number of people in the hostel in the middle of a coast to coast across Scotland. They seemed somewhat embarrassed at the heights of decadence they were enjoying, staying in a youth hostel. I was up early the next morning, knowing I had a hard ride that day. There was still mist as I cycled past Balmoral and turned left back up into the hills. There was still mist as I reached the top and came out on heather moorland. I found myself in the middle of a herd of deer - they seemed cold and miserable and had no intentions of moving from the road so I had to cycle through the middle of the herd - a surreal experience!

A couple of hours of relatively easy moorland cycling followed and then I hit the Lecht Road.

The Lecht Road, yes, the Lecht Road!

I'm not often beaten by Hills. I crawl, I honk, I stop and have a rest but I get there in the end. I only walked three on my e2e - and the first two were on the second day on the north Cornish coast when I was not yet very fit. My memories of the Lecht Road were turning a corner and seeing a wall of tarmac in front of me. I'm sure it was a psychological thing... I didn't even try! That being said it wasn't a very long climb - just ridiculously steep. There were ski lifts on the top, then more pleasant moorland cycling before rolling down into Grantown (?) I had the slightly sad feeling that I often get when returning to 'civilisation' from the wilds. I remember that the ride on into Inverness was hard work - I was tired.

In conclusion I would definitely recommend the Braemar route - the views were magnificent and there was a real sense of achievement."

From Gareth Kiely, email gareth@highbury-ave.freeserve.co.uk

The distance from Perth to Braemar is 48.5 miles (78km). Braemar to Inverness is 77 miles (124km), Tomintoul being 30 miles (48km) and Grantown-on-Spey being 44 miles (71km) from Braemar respectively.

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"My family and I stayed at YH Carbisdale Castle. I quite agree with you, it was an impressive YH. More reasons why I remember the YH-castle so well, is that according to my information the Norwegian King lived there in exile for some time during the war. And another impressive experience was that when I found out that the YH lies on the other side of the river from where the road goes, I had to cross the river, pushing my bike along the rails of a railway viaduct. (I had sent my family and their bikes by train from Thurso, so they landed on the right side.)

I saw you or Steve in a typical British rain cape. You hardly see cyclists with such capes nowadays. I have got one myself. I bought it in Newcastle in 1968, and I use it when I am cycling in rainy weather. I believe it is the most practical device you can use in such conditions."

If Terje Melheim say's this, then it's worth taking note of - look at his tours on his website at http://home.online.no/~temelhei/

Terje is also a Nigel Dean bike fan, are there any more out there? As far as I know the factory has shut down, does anybody know different? The bike I bought in Exeter is a Nigel Dean Tour Master. I've now started a page for Nigel Dean owners and their tours. Click here to see it

"I've had a Nigel Dean Tourmaster for the last eight years. I recently had the frames re enameled at Argos cycles @ Bristol. Most of the components have worn out but I still have the original XT chainset, rear mech, front mech, stem and handlebars still going strong.
The only mods I had done at Argos were to remove the cable stops and have them slightly re positioned and replaced with the slotted variety.
I too have found this frame to be superbly comfortable and somehow responsive."
Keep on riding,
 
Denis

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