The Longest Journey
Land’s End to John O’Groats is the classic long distance cycle ride in the UK. Over time the route has acquired various names such as End to End, now the jargon term is LEJOG (the first letter of each word in the full title). David Harrison talks about his epic journey last summer.
My opportunity to take on this ride arose when my cycling pal James said that he had a route planned but asked who would join him. This was too good a chance to miss so before I could have second thoughts I was committed.
There are two rules essentials for a cycling expedition
1. get a bike (ok) ,
2. set off (26 June 2018).
Luckily that coincided with the best period of dry sunny weather for several years. It was hot but a moderate cycling speed creates a nice cooling breeze so the weather was perfect.
From Cumbria we needed to get down to Land’s End. This required three different trains. Train travel with loaded bikes is not the best option. However the journey was completed with only one minor trauma. We set off from our hostel in Penzance at about 6.00am and started our journey from Lands End on a bright early morning. in fact we were able to enjoyed our first on the road fry-up breakfast back in Penzance.
Typically we left our accommodation early and after a couple of hours riding we would look out for a breakfast stop. Starting early meant that we were never under the pressure of time and could enjoy coffee, lunch and tea stops. We had plenty of time completing our typically daily ride of 60-70 miles by mid to late afternoon. Our accommodation was all booked in advance. This changed as we travelled north. Youth Hostels at first, then Premier Inns, then B&B and hotels. The choice was driven by availability and a desire to keep costs at a reasonable level.
Our route took us past Dartmoor, over the Seven Bridge, up the Wye Valley and the Welsh borders to the Mersey ferry (James’s dream), past Liverpool and up to Cumbria. Here we had a day off to wash our clothes, fettle up our bikes and look forward to being back on the road. From Cumbria we travelled north passing Moffat and Stirling, over the Cairngorms (David’s dream) to Braemar, Inverness and up the centre of Scotland to Betty Hill (a lovely hotel), then on to John O’Groats and success. We were lucky to ride through Scotland without seeing a single midge, but did not escape completely as it rained heavily on the last two days. This showed us how hard the ride would have been if the weather had not been so kind. We hired a van in Wick and drove back to Cumbria.
All in all we had a great 17 days, saw magnificent country, met great people, (only 3 punctures)
I for one was delighted to have completed this classic cycle ride and would encourage others to have a go. I certainly would ride it again.