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Lands End to John O'Groats - Advice Needed.

mikegtfcmikegtfc Posts: 21
edited October 2007 in Tour & expedition
I know what you're thinking, how many of these threads have we seen? Right? If there is other threads similar, links to them would be more than welcome. I've started a thread in the beginners forum also, but I'll use this for other purposes.

Basically I'm doing the LEJOG in Summer 2008, I'm a student at Leeds University, looking for advice on the trip. I'm a bit of a novice, well, a lot of a novice.

I'd like to make it as scenic as possible but sticking to roads, seeing as many 'landmarks' as possible, historical places etc. If anyone has done the trip or local rides and can advice great places to stop off at, that'd be great. I'm a keen photographer so I'll be documenting my trip in photos as well as blogs and things.

Routes? Any advice. Stick to a designed one or design your own? I can see the fun in that but it could go wrong.

Bike? Tourer or road? Any advice from experience.

Camping? B&B? Hostel? What's the best option?

Thanks in advance, if anyone has MSN or can correspond in another way I'm more than willing to do that, it'd be a huge help and I'd appreciate it a lot.

Mike. :)

Posts

  • How about this for a start. Decide how long you're going to take - 6 days/3 weeks etc. Choose an appropriate number of your 'must sees'
    Get a big map of whole of England/scotland and put pins/biro blobs on teh 'must sees'. Join them up with straight lines.
    Convert route to something closer to reality by transferring straight line route on to maps showing local roads - you can do this on the fly/once you've started cycling if you want more 'surprises'.
    I did this for a ride from Gibraltar to Skagen in Denmark. It worked really well, combined with a bit of local info from a forum about southern spain, and careful map reading to avoid potentially boring/dangerous roads.
    HAve fun !
  • I agree with ut..

    decide first how long you want to take and how many miles you realistically expect to cover each day.

    do you want to do it in one hit or take rest days? duration will be affected and so will the route (quick routes require using more main trunk roads)

    are you doing it solo or supported? a support vehicle means nothing to carry, otherwise look at panniers, tent (if camping etc)

    what is your budget? will decide whether you stealth camp, b&b, or hotel it.

    once the basics are established you can start looking at the detail including what kit you are going to need

    we did a 9 day charity lejog this year and took this overall approach. we also managed to get free accomodation (b&b and hotels) for all but one stop en-route because of the charity approach - it certainly helped to keep costs down, but needed a lot of mail-shotting to hotels in the area where our stops were going to be (perserverence required but it paid off though!)

    there a lots of routes out there and I recommend having a look at a few, but its your tour so go where you want.

    all the best
  • mikegtfc wrote:
    I know what you're thinking, how many of these threads have we seen? Right? If there is other threads similar, links to them would be more than welcome. I've started a thread in the beginners forum also, but I'll use this for other purposes.

    Basically I'm doing the LEJOG in Summer 2008, I'm a student at Leeds University, looking for advice on the trip. I'm a bit of a novice, well, a lot of a novice.

    I'd like to make it as scenic as possible but sticking to roads, seeing as many 'landmarks' as possible, historical places etc. If anyone has done the trip or local rides and can advice great places to stop off at, that'd be great. I'm a keen photographer so I'll be documenting my trip in photos as well as blogs and things.

    Routes? Any advice. Stick to a designed one or design your own? I can see the fun in that but it could go wrong.

    Bike? Tourer or road? Any advice from experience.

    Camping? B&B? Hostel? What's the best option?

    Thanks in advance, if anyone has MSN or can correspond in another way I'm more than willing to do that, it'd be a huge help and I'd appreciate it a lot.

    Mike. :)

    You'll get a plethora of suggestions which could lead to a zig zag route if you take in all of the must sees.

    I had the Falkirk Wheel suggested to me - didn't dop it as it was 'off route' for what I wanted to do.

    However here's somethings that i found interesting:

    West Somerset Railway at Williton,
    Avon Gorge and Severn Road Bridge - yes you can cross on the Old Severn bridge
    Wye Valley and Tintern Abbey
    Hereford Cathedral and Mappi Mundy
    Ludlow - half timbered building in town centre
    The A82 up past Loch Lomond
    Tyndrum to Glencoe stretch of road

    There's no magic route that fits every rider's needs.

    I used a Philip's Road Atlas and marked a route on the relevant pages using highlighter. The Philip's Atlas has camp sites marked on it. Camping offers maximum flexibility and is definitely cheaper than B&B

    A tourer is the best choice if you are camping and carrying all of your gear but any bike can be used with appropriate support arrangements. At one extreme is a unicycle - how's that for a minimalist approach. I've don the ride in both directions and used a Dawes HGalaxy. I've seen fellow end to enders on Bromptons, Mountain Bikes, hybrids, tandems, tourers and outand out carbon framed road bikes. Essentially it's your call as it's your decision whether or not you can make do with what you've got. You might want to look at lowering the gearing of a road bike by changing the rear mech to a MTB one and fitting a mountain bike cassette 11- 32 or 11 - 34.

    If you are determined to buy a new bike Leeds is well served by Woodrups on Kirkstall Road, Bob Jacksons in Bramley and the Edinburgh Bike Co-op in Chapel Allerton. I use Woodrups because of their consistent helpfulness and encouragement.

    Oh and another route planning trip. Try not to cross rivers as there's invariable an accompanying valley - a great descent but a climb to contend with once the river is crossed. Places ending with ford and bridge are best avoided for the same reason e.g. Exford, Hebden Bridge.
  • A good starting point is:

    http://www.users.waitrose.com/~ianclare/links.htm

    This has links to JOGLE/JOGLE attempts from lots and lots of different perspectives and routes.
    I'm sure I'll get round to it one day, but even rainy weather is so much warmer in Europe...
  • camDaveT wrote:
    A good starting point is:

    http://www.users.waitrose.com/~ianclare/links.htm

    This has links to JOGLE/JOGLE attempts from lots and lots of different perspectives and routes.
    I'm sure I'll get round to it one day, but even rainy weather is so much warmer in Europe...

    Don't cont on it. I rode from the Channel to the Med this August and endured two rainy days of 12-15 degrees plus several evenings in Provence when I had to supplement my summer only sleeping bag's insulation. The temp never exceeded 28 degrees in The South of France for the five or six days I was there - I was grateful for tha but there were many sun andd warmth seekers complaining about 'the cold'!
  • Here's my thoughts. Use a comfy bike. Tourers are generally the comfiest around but don't pay the earth. I used the A-Z maps. They cover the UK on four sheets, Scotland, North England, South West England and South East England. You'll only need the first three unless you really are keen on detours! The A-Z maps show ALL roads, major or minor, so I view them as ideal for the purpose. Not recommended for over 45s, though....very small print!

    When I did this, I booked the train from Leeds to Wick, left myself a week to cycle back. Then I booked the train from Leeds to Penzance. This allowed me a week's cycling, a day for laundry, watering the plants, opening mail etc, then a train ride and then another week's cycling. It has the major advantage of allowing pre-booking of train space for bikes and saves ££ by early booking. The only disadvantage is breaking the ride's integrity, if you think this is paramount.

    I wanted a scenic route avoiding as much traffic as possible. I did Wick, JOG, Thurso, west to Tongue then due south to Dingwall, west to Skye, then followed the west coast down via Skye, Arisaig, Ardnamurchan, Mull, Oban, Isle of Arran, then across Dumfires and Galloway to the north pennines and home ground. I didn't see any serious traffic until I got off the boat from Arran, five days into the trip. For the trip from LE, I just looked very carefully at minor roads and went a very circuitous route. I took a week for each leg but totalled 1250 miles. As I over-did the mileage, I decided to take the train under the Severn Estuary to avoid cycling through Bristol. Cheating perhaps, but I saved about 30 tedious traffic filled miles and the whole thing's meant to be fun?

    Best bike ride I ever did. I had strong southerly winds when I was cycling south and northerlies from LE to Leeds. Plenty of rain too. I was glad I didn't camp. YHA is good but I also used cheap B&Bs.

    Good luck.
  • I'd agree with other posters, and here's a few more thoughts:

    own or planned routes? If you've any spirit of adventure, do your own! No, the trip can't "go wrong" on this basis: in the UK we don't have gravel roads, sandstorms, marauding wildlife or other phenomena that can make the choice of route an endurance exercise or life-threatening. I'll stereotype wildly and guess that as a student time isn't particularly an issue?--in which case, allowing time to take diversions, linger etc is likely to be more rewarding.
    I took a few tips from people on this forum when doing my E2E, but otherwise ploughed my own furrow. Only had a rough idea of my route when I set off, and was unorganised to the extent that sometimes I started a day's ride without a good idea of where I'd be riding through that afternoon! Unless your journey really is open-ended though (my train tickets restricted me to 24 days), that's probably a bit too unplanned: I ended up missing a day's walking in the Cairngorms as I thought I might be running over-time.

    accommodation To an extent this will be answered by your funds. Getting the cheapest available hotel/B&B each night is still obviously ££s more expensive than camping rough (or even on a site). Even if you can afford it, bear in mind that you'd need to book these in advance (same for hostels) to ensure a bed. So there's also the question of how much you value spontaneity (again).
    And even if money isn't an issue, try camping before you plan to see if you like it. I've not been a poor student for years, but still enjoy camping for the freedom it gives you to enjoy remote (and often beautiful) places etc.

    places I liked
    Sennen Cove (a beautiful tranquil antidote to the tackfest that is Land's End)
    Cycling Museum nr Camelford. Sadly (and surprisingly), the owners say they don't get many E2Eers visiting.
    Tintagel (even if the surrounding village is another tackfest)
    Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. Nearby is a tower with a camera obscura you can play with for a couple of £.
    Chester, for the unusual architecture of the shops.
    Lune Valley
    Borders country near Eskdalemuir--and the Tibetan Buddhist monastery! You go tens of miles in fine scenery basically seeing no-one, but then there's this complex straight out of the Himalayas. Good place to get a snack: never expected to find a soya cappuccino in the Borders!
    Loch Tay, the Crannog Centre & the Fortingall Yew. Indulged my interest in millenia-old history.
    Glen More Forest Park.
    Crask Inn N of Lairg. The most unlikely-looking pub--and does toasties at reasonable prices. Feed here rather than Altnaharra (see below).
    Orkney. OK, not strictly on a LE-JoG trajectory, but one of the best bits of my trip. So much ancient stuff, half of it they barely mention on maps...
    Dunnet Head. To JoG what Sennen Cove is to LE.

    As you can probably guess, I did a LOT of sightseeing. :)

    places I didn't like
    Warrington--and in fact the whole conurbation. My route took in dreary suburban development interspersed with the odd bit of boring scenery. Warrington itself doesn't seem geared up for overnight stays being tourists rather than contract workers. Avoid the Adelphi Vaults B&B: that 2nd 'B' is a lie.
    Lanarkshire: Carnwarth to Kincardine. More torpor-inducing scenery. I only went this route to avoid the big city on either side, not having time to do either justice.
    The midges at GMFP. In fact, the midges wherever they were in Scotland. The ones at the Park did seem to be unusually bold in attacking during broad daylight, though.
    The A9 cycle route. Horrible for so many reasons. Met one bloke who'd broken his front suspension on it. In the end, I took my chances on the road: no problem.
    Altnaharra Inn. I won't go chapter&verse on my crappy experience here, but having now read elsewhere of how some 'fishing hotels' treat bikers&hikers it starts to make sense.
  • JamesBJamesB Posts: 1,184
    Completed LEJOG this year on organised trip (= expensive option), with camping....superb!!!
    :D
    Key thing is to decide WHY you want to do it and time available; I was very pleased with organised trip as I wanted to 1. see Britain 2. compleet LEJOG; on a 2 week trip (my time available) it met all my criteria.

    Avoid main roads unless you want a head down bash end 2 end

    Best places for me:

    Not LE ....trippery!
    Nth Cornwall coast
    Dartmoor
    Severn Bridge crossing
    Welsh borders
    Entering `The North` at Rivington / Winters Hill
    Trough of Bowland / Bentham Fell
    Dent and Dent head
    Moffat & Devils Beef Tub climb
    Leaving Glasgow...without a puncture
    Rest & Be Thankful summit...into the Highlands proper
    Lairg and road to Crask Inn
    Crask Inn on a cold & wet day, with a headwind
    Bettyhill and first sight of North Coast of scotland!!!
    Dunnet Head
    Duncansby Head (The REAL NE tip of Britain)
    JOG...not as bad as LE. the harbour is lovely, especially after 5 pm when all the trippers havegone and you can see the Orkneys .

    Above all have a great time and enjoy! :D:D:D
  • I am doing the same August 1st with my brother to raise money for cancer research. We have estimated 15 days doing a mixture of camping and b&b trying to keep costs down. Lots of planning yet to do. Will keep you posted what date are you starting?
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