I’d wanted to cycle Land’s End to John O Groats before my 50th, but it never happened. Still, the desire sat there in the back of my mind, waiting for an opportunity to break free. That moment came in 2011 – in the days between Christmas and New Year. Sat in the pub and discussing it yet again, we decided we should just do it otherwise it would never happen… as long as Karon could get extra time off work. Being freelance, it wasn’t a problem for me.
And so I started planning the route, trying to find the flattest way between the two points. Well, four points, because we decided to take in The Lizard – the Mainland’s most southerly point, and Dunnet Head – the most northerly.
We had a few key places along the way. Tandem Club connections had provided an offer of a bed for the night in Weston-Super-Mare, my sister lives in Cumbria and we could stay there overnight, and Karon has family in Edinburgh, so we could stay there too. Google Streetview came in really handy for checking out parts of the route which I wasn’t sure about. We planned on only 35-40 miles a day depending on terrain – we are not big mile eaters!
For navigation, I had the Memory Map app on my phone, with OS 1:50,000 maps.
We pre-booked the first week’s stays in Cornwall and Devon because it was half-term and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. We also pre-booked the Tushielaw Inn and the Altnaharra Inn. Both these places are out in the wilds, and if missed, it would mean a 60 mile leg, so I pre-booked them both to make sure we could stay there. I had worked out a rough itinerary for the dates. After the first week, once clear of Devon, we usually stopped at lunchtime in a café or pub and looked for somewhere to stay further up the road. Out average for the whole trip was 35 miles a day.
Places we stopped overnight:
8 St. Newlands East
13 Creech St. Michael
14 Weston Supermare (Tandem Club friends)
26 Appleby in Westmorland
28 Sleetbeck (Relative’s)
30 Tushielaw Inn (Booked well in advance)
Approximate location of overnight stops:
We decided to try and make use of our efforts to raise money for Arthritis Research UK. They gave us a contact who arranged some radio and local newspaper publicity. One of our children has rhuematoid arthritis, so it seemed a good choice. Our contact remained in touch for the whole journey and we sent photos along the way. There were a couple of local radio interviews too.