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Lands End to John O Groats
May 2003

During the month of May 2003, I made the journey from Land's End to John 'O Groats by bicycle.

The idea for the trip was first formed in about 1989, when I read an account of the trip in a cycling magazine. Since then I knew that one day - I would do the same...

PLANNING I did not plan the trip until about 2 days before leaving. I bought a rack for my bicycle, and borrowed an old set of panniers. It was only when I got off the train at Penzance that I tried cycling with the panniers on the bike!

Perhaps this was a bit of a haphazard way to go about a trip of this sort, but it suited me fine, and everything went without a hitch after that.

ROUTE PLANNING The first 3 days were extracted from Lonely Planet's "Cycling Britain" guide. However I soon found that I enjoyed the thrill of spontaneous route-finding. So I bought a large scale Britain road map,and used it as a guide. Every night I would look at the map, and decide where I wanted to be the next day, and picked the next day's route.

To remain flexible, only once did I book accomodation ahead and that was a bank holiday weekend. In fact I only booked my train ticket back from Inverness several days beforehand, and that worked out very well - with me getting a bargain ticket for only £28! Admittedly I cycled slightly off-peak (May). This would not be possible in July/Aug.

Along the way I met 2 other cyclists who had pre-booked all accomodation and tickets 3 months beforehand. They both told me that they wished that they had been more flexible, and I would reccommend this approach to anybody considering the trip. ROUTE I followed a direct line through Southern England to Bristol, crossing the Severn into Wales. After that I deviated from the usual route into the Midland, by heading North through Wales to Bangor in North Wales, where I climbed Mt Snowdon (twice).

From there it was directly East to Chester, before heading North again through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and up into Scotland.

I avoided the most direct route past Edinburgh & Aviemore, instead choosing my highlight of the trip, the road from Loch Lomond to Fort William. From Inverness, again I detoured past Ullapool, then up the impressive & remote Scottish West coast, followed by the undulating North coast road to John 'O Groats.

ACCOMMODATION After 3 days of staying in lonely inflexible B&B's, I discovered the YHA. Although many find them to be impersonal, I found them warm, friendly, and a relaxing end to my day. However - because I was cycling a bit off-season, many times I found myself in an empty room, or sharing with just 1 other, different to sharing with 8 others.

But the location of many of these hostels was worth the trip alone. I refer particularly to: Kings Hostel (Dollgellau - Wales), the unmissable Loch Lomond "Castle" hostel, Glen Nevis and Achmelvich on the Scottish West Coast.

Day 1 Land's End to Newquay 83km
Day 2 Newquay to Launceston 93km
Day 3 Launceston to Tiverton 87km
Day 4 Tiverton to Glastonbury 88km
Day 5 Glastonbury to Chepstow 98km
Day 6 Chepstow to Brecon 87km
Day 7 Brecon to Dolgellau 81km
Day 8 Dolgellau to Llandidloes 74km
Day 9 Llandidloes to Bangor 85km
Day 10 Bangor to Chester 112km
Day 11 Chester to Knutsford 51km
Day 12 Knutsford to Slaidburn 114km
Day 13 Slaidburn to Dufton 97km
Day 14 Dufton to Greenhead 60km
Day 15 Grrenhead to Broadmeadows 102km
Day 16 Broadmeadows to Loch Lomond 168km
Day 17 Loch Lomond to Fort William 140km
Day 18 Fort William to Strathpeffer 131km
Day 19 Strathpeffer to Achmelvich 124km
Day 20 Achmelvich to Tongue 137km
Day 21 Tongue to John 'O Groats 106km

I don't have an album of photos from this trip, but look at my postcards, numbers 1 thru 6.

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