The history of walking
between Lands End and John O'Groats dates back to 1871 and is
Wikipedia as follows:
The first recorded
end-to-end walk (actually from John o'
Groats to Land's End) was undertaken by the
brothers John and Robert Naylor in 1871.
Since then the walk has been undertaken many
times, more particularly since 1960, after a
well publicised road walk by
Dr Barbara Moore.
In 1960 the entrepreneur
organised a road walking race, which gave
further impetus to the idea.
Since the 1960s,
walkers have mostly chosen off-road routes,
using the growing network of
A classic account is from 1966 by the travel
Off-road walkers usually complete the
journey in two to three months. There is a
considerable choice of off-road routes, but
all are much longer than the shortest road
distance, usually 1,200 miles (1,900 km) or
more. The walk is still undertaken by road
walkers, often doing the walk, like
Sir Ian Botham,
for charity, or as a "challenge walk". They
typically take a month or even less.
from Land's End to John o' Groats was done
The first recorded walk from Land's End to
John o' Groats via the summit of every UK
mountain above 3,000ft was undertaken by
Steve Perry. It included 15 mountains in
Snowdonia, 4 mountains in the Lake District
and all 284 Munros in the Highlands of
Scotland. The walk was completed between 18
February 2003 and 29 September 2003.
There is no
"official" route for walking the 2,000 kilometres from Lands End
to John O'Groats. I researched a number of alternative routes,
each of which has advantages and disadvantages. My primary
off roads as much as possible,
areas of scenic beauty,
large metropolitan areas, and
renowned national trails where feasible.
end, I decided that I would try to follow the route described by
Andy Robinson in his book "The End to End Trail" published by
Cicerone. He has a website
His route seeks
out hills and wild country where practical, rather than
cultivated farmland, and is described by him as follows:
Section 1: Land's End to Barnstaple (Devon) The first
section follows the spectacular northwest coast of Cornwall
and Devon all the way. Most of it is on the South West Coast
Path, which is a waymarked National Trail.
Section 2: Barnstaple to Knighton (Welsh borders) The
route leaves the coast at Barnstaple and crosses Exmoor, the
Quantocks and the Mendips to skirt Bristol and reach the M42
bridge over the Severn Estuary. Across the bridge it picks
up the Offa's Dyke Path, another waymarked National Trail,
and follows it up the Wye valley and over the Black
Mountains to Knighton, halfway up the Offa's Dyke Path.
Section 3: Knighton to Hebden Bridge (West Yorkshire)
From Knighton the Trail heads northeast through the
Shropshire hills to cross the Severn again at Ironbridge. It
then continues in a more easterly direction into
Staffordshire, joining the Staffordshire Way and following
it across Cannock Chase and north towards the Peak District.
It crosses the Peak along limestone valleys and gritstones
edges on the line of the Alternative Pennine Way, to reach
Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley.
Section 4: Hebden Bridge to Jedburgh (Scottish borders)
Just north of Hebden Bridge the Trail joins the Pennine Way,
following it as far as the Scottish border in the Cheviot
Hills. It then makes a beeline for Jedburgh, following Dere
Street, a Roman road.
Section 5: Jedburgh to Fort William The route crosses
the Southern Uplands via Melrose, Peebles and West Linton to
join the Union Canal west of Edinburgh. It follows the Union
Canal to Falkirk, then the Forth and Clyde Canal most of the
way to Glasgow, leaving it for a disused railway track which
is eventually joined by the West Highland Way. The Trail now
follows the West Highland Way along Loch Lomond, along the
edge of Rannoch Moor, and past the foot of Ben Nevis to
reach Fort William.
Section 6: Fort William to John O'Groats Initially this
stage follows the Caledonian Canal to the northeast along
the Great Glen, before cutting north into wilder areas of
the Highlands. The route visits Glen Garry, Strath Cluanie,
the head of Glen Affric, the tremendous Falls of Glomach and
Kinlochewe, to reach the head of Loch Broom on the west
coast. From here the direction changes to northeast,
crossing wild and remote country to Oykel Bridge, round the
northwest end of Loch Shin, then out of the mountians to the
lower moorland around the Helmsdale and Thurso valleys. The
last few miles follow the cliffs of the east coast to
Duncansby Head and John O'Groats.
find a map showing his route
I'm going to try and travel
quite light, to maximise the enjoyment from hiking. I know from
previous long hikes that my fatigue and injury risk clearly rise
in direct proportion to the weight of my pack. Not surprising,
really! My gear includes
Vantage 40 litre Hydration Pack with a 3 litre bladder.
Originally bought for multi-day backcountry hike/run, but
seemingly large enough for this trek.
EQ 15° Sleeping Bag
Contrail One-Person Tent
I will have a small Sony AM/FM Walkman
Radio (I love listening to the local radio stations, want to be
aware of the weather forecasts, and am a current affairs addict)
with me along with an iPod Nano with the 750 greatest songs of
I plan to carry a
mobile (cell) phone as well as my Dell Mini 9 Laptop and a
wireless modem. I will purchase the mobile hone plan and
wireless modem when I arrive in the UK.
I plan to begin
hiking in late April and to finish in late June. Apart from
fitting with personal commitments in Australia, this time period
has the advantage of spring weather and long days. It should
also beat the summer tourist season meaning accommodation may be
easier to get when needed. One disadvantage will be that I
arrive in Scotland after the start of the "midge" season, but
I'm hoping that will be bearable.
I will stick roughly to the
schedule used by Andy Robinson which requires an average of 32km
per day. Because of booked return flights to Australia, I can't
afford to drift too much behind this schedule. I know I will
need some rest days here and there and will hope to walk a
little further some days so as to build up "credit" that can be
used for rest days.
I will be carrying a light
one-person tent and will hope to use it about 50% of the time to
keep costs down. Many walkers use Bed & Breakfasts as their
preferred accommodation and I'm sure I will stay in those some
of the time. There are also hostels along the route which are
will offer cheap accommodation and laundry facilities and I
intend to use those where available.
I hope to be able to survive
without carrying much food at all to keep the weight down. The
planned route will pass through at least one or two stores or
pubs each day and I will buy food there. Cost is also an issue
here, so I hope to avoid buying all meals. For the latter part
of the route, which passes through relatively uninhabited
highland areas, I may need to stock up with as much as five days
of food. I won't be carrying a stove so will survive on cold
meals where necessary.
I also hope to survive
without carrying more than a litre or two of water, given that
opportunities to resupply should occur several times a day.
I'll be a bit wary of drinking from streams, but it should be OK
at higher elevations. I will carry some water purification
tablets just in case.
will wear shorts and a T-Shirt for hiking and carry some high
quality lightweight thermals in case it gets colder. I will
also carry a high-quality lightweight rain-jacket and trousers
and a spare pair of shorts and a T-Shirt for "town" use. I have
some lightweight Nike hiking boots, but may switch to running
shoes if these prove to be uncomfortable. I hiked most of the
Appalachian Trail years ago in running shoes.
In early February, I badly
aggravated a chronic right knee injury that I have tolerated for
the last four years, and haven't been able to run of cycle
since. I have, however, been able to walk increasing distances
sine the start of March and will be in reasonable shape by the
time I start hiking. However, I anticipate that the first few
weeks will be tough as my body adapts to the trail and am
mentally prepared for that. To take the pressure off the bad
knee, I plan to hike using trekking poles for the first time in
my life (I've always been anti-trekking poles up to now, seeing
them as a gimmick.)
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