Lands End To John 'O' Groats 19/08/2000 to 03/09/2000

1004 miles

Day 1
Spent the day getting ready, then Neil phoned to say we had to leave later, so I went round to Ingrid's for 9pm and we sorted stuff, then off to Paddington in the dark by bike. We tried to go by canal and this worked so far, but it was shut after the canoeing place, but we got to the station and were settled in our bunks in time for what was quite a bumpy ride to Penzance.
Day 2
Awakened by a cup of coffee about 7,15am and the train arrived slightly early. We met a few other end to enders getting off the train and we took photos at Penzance train station. The journey to lands end was quite hilly and we had to wait for a bit to post our cards at 9,45am after another photograph session we set off proper about 10am. The journey back to Penzance was not as bad as going and we got to the chapel on the rock and had a stop there for a sausage roll. Carried on but the hills got worse and there was a particularly bad one after the ferry when we met up with a lot of end to enders and I beat them all to the top of the hill. Here we hooked up with Allan a Scottish policeman who was carrying a tent with him. Neil was starting to suffer a bit and when we got to St Austell we stopped for McFlurries at McDonalds. A couple of mistakes saw us do about 70miles to Golant 80 all told. We got there just after 7pm and had a pasty and a Boddingtons then to bed by 9,30 for Neil
Day 3
Breakfast in Golant was quite good with a nice view over the lake. We set of and did the long haul out of Golant that was to be a bit of a theme of the day. We had a ferry trip early and another one later getting to Plymouth. We had only one slight navigational error and it didn't detour us to far. We had a nice stop in Plymouth on a grassy bank for lunch and saw the other 3 guys at that point. We pushed on and got onto Dartmoor that was very bleak and the rolling hills were very difficult on Neil and Allan, my mega range gears were a blessing. I didn't have to give up on any hills. We stopped for a coffee near Dartmoor jail in princetown and again met the other 3guys. Then off again, we made the discovery at this point that we only had 65miles to do not 75, but we got a great surprise after moehampstead when 2 of the last 4 miles were all uphill, the rest however was a coast to the hostel at Steps Bridge. This hostel was self catering so we all went down the royal oak pub in dunsford and had beer and food including mars bar pudding.
Day 4
Up early and met at 8.30am. Set off and got a few miles in before it started to rain, but the waterproof socks and jacket worked well and didn't suffer badly got some shelter when we stopped for coffee and soup, pushed on and got some good speed up on the A roads and then stopped at a little chef were I phoned mum to wish her happy birthday. We got a bit off the beaten track then, which was tiring, and then we were racing the storm. but had a couple of problems when Allan had a puncture and then we had to adjust the spokes. So we got a bit wet on the way in, and then we had Neil's cooking and a few beers. Total mileage 68 for the day.
Day 5
Made an early start with cereal and milk shake. then set off at quite a good pace to Wells. Got to the cycle shop for 9am, Allan got a new wheel and I got a suspension post and Neil some waterproof socks. Then we had breakfast in the square while Allan posted his spare kit back. Then off to Bristol and the suspension bridge where we took pictures then had lunch in the park on the other side. On to the severn bridge, and a few more pictures, then into the wye valley which was superb, and the ruined tinturn abbey was impressive, and symonds yat was incredibly picturesque, must go back to symonds rock one day. We got quite close to the hostel but then the off road routes took their toll. We had a nice meal and then I took a walk to the bridge and took some photos. Welsh bicknor is a nice hostel.
Day 6
62.27miles total 353miles
Ended up at clun mill youth hostel which was nice, and we went to the 3 pubs in the village. The first was the real ale one and we had some food there but the clientele looked as if they were about to die I had dorothy goodbodys summer ale and a pedigree then we went across the road to have a pint of big nevs. Then ended up at the sun at clun were we had a desert from the very nice bar maid and chatted to the huge landlord who had done lejog 10yrs ago. Then back to the hostel to chat with the warden who apparently was the author of the route.
Day 7
Started from the mill at clun and had a relatively flat day. It was a bit windy but the chaps tucked in behind me. Neil succumbed and got a new bottom, and also started using the neurofen gel. We had a nice pub lunch at the admiral Duncan, then on to Chester. We washed our kit in the laundry and I accessed the Internet to do my e-mail. Into Chester for a pizza at a pizza place. We had to wait a while and my pizza had a stone in it put it was quite nice, then back to the hostel for a bit of telly.
Day 8
82,17 miles 506 total
Had breakfast in the youth hostel then back through Chester town centre. We made good time at the start of the day in the pelican formation and had done quite a few miles under our belt by the time we met Peter and had lunch at a pub that only had 4 rolls. We then peddled off and crossed the Manchester ship canal and took a picture in the stocks. We got through Blackburn alright but were then plagued by Allan having punctures. Eventually we had to push on to the hostel. I managed a speed of 42.6mh down a hill near the end which was fun. Gave a cheer when we hit 500miles. Neil was pretty tired. We went across to the pub and I had sausage and banoffee pie and we got chatting to a young chap who was doing the route as well.
Day 9
Had some breakfast at the YHA after getting some milk from across the way, then set off in the rain up and over the hills. It was very hard and misty, we saw two young chaps and caught them up regularly. We got some new spare tyres at high bentham, then set of to kirkby lonsdale where we saw the young guys again as we sipped our coffee and ate our crumpets. Then we pushed on hard against the wind and up a lot of hills one of the worst was out of grasmere where the hill went on for about a mile. also the last minor lane to mungrisdae was tough as we had to open a number of gates. but we got to the old vicarage and down to the old mill for a few drinks and some roast beef and Yorkshire pud, before back to the place to watch the rocky horror show. Stopped off in mungrisdale, just before carrock fell youth hostel.
68.21miles 574 miles total
Day 10
Had a good breakfast at the b&b but it took a little while to get going as the owner wanted to tell us all about his end to end trip, but we started off about 8.30am and quite quickly missed the carrock fell yha, so didn't get a stamp. Pushed hard into Carlisle and on into Scotland with hardly a stop. Had elevenses in Gretna green outside the registry office then on past annan were we eventually found a pub to have lunch. Me and Neil just had deserts. then we pushed on. We did really well and had got to the mennock pass by 5.30pm despite a headwind some of the way. Neil decided to push his bike from the beginning of the mennock pass as the yha was at wanlockhead the highest village in Scotland. That was a little bit pessimistic as the climb wasn't too bad. I got there then Allan and Neil and the 3 other guys, as they all arrived together, me and Allan's girlfriend cheering them on. Bit of a disaster when the hostel had no food, but the pub luckily had been open for just 2weeks and so we went down there and drank 60shilling for dinner with the young guy on the mountain bike and the maintrain guys who came down later. Allan was off to a B&B with his fiancée.
Day 11
66,25miles 730miles total
Was up and ready to go for 8.30am but Allan hadn't arrived back, so Neil nipped down to the shop to get some choccy biccies for breakfast. Then a short nip up the hill and then a long downhill which was very cold so we stopped at some services for coffee, then it rained a little while but not badly. We stopped at another service station for a coffee then saw peter and the 3train guys go buy. Then we joined with them to cycle into Glasgow. The cycle path was long but there was a lot of glass on the route, but none of us punctured. It nearly rained on us again but didn't, and we had to go through shit creek. We got to the hostel just before 5 and Allan's fiancée was waiting, peter and Neil locked me in a corridor without my shirt at one point. Me Neil, peter and the Mike chap went down the duck bar, where, I had a taste of India.
Day 12
65miles 795total
Seemed quite an easy day today. Set out from the hostel in the morning and stopped at 10am for tea and scones by the post office. Then pushed on a bit further to the green wellie tearooms were we had lunch and met the guy without the cycling shorts(Ewan). Neil led all the day apart from the one hill that went on for about a mile, but it was full of midges at the top so we didn't stop long. We pushed on and did a long down hill to Glencoe were we were buzzed by a very low jet. We were nearly at the hotel by four, so we stopped at the clachaig inn for a half before pushing on. We still arrived before everyone else to check in and do the old e-mail. Me ,Neil and Allan went back to the pub for a meal in the posh bit, I had the chilli and didn't brave the haggis. Then we went into the boots bar and met the others. Mike, Kevin,John, Tate and Peter. We had antonine ale and red cuillin and the others all had haggis. We walked home in the dark and I saw about three shooting stars. Then to bed in a very squeaky bunk.
Day 13
58 miles, 854 total
Up reasonably late to start and set off for the nearest garage which was at spean bridge where we had coffee and I managed to get a Nescafe ice. We pushed on then to fort William to find a bike shop were me and Neil had our bikes serviced, unfortunately my click did not disappear and we found l had a broken spoke maybe caused by the heavy chap who repaired it. We also got a bacon roll and I bought an alarm clock, then we set off again and stopped at a set of locks then met Peter at another set of locks, and bought some tea, soup sausages and rice. The hostel at loch ness was a bit like porridge in the room, and I tried to fix my spoke but couldn't, Neil proceeded to cook and then we were descended upon by French women and alien infested Japanese women. Eventually gave up and went to our cell. Day 14
64 miles 918 total
Not up particularly early, but out quick onto the road to avoid the midges. We set off with jackets on and it wasn't to get much drier throughout the day. We made a special effort to stop at garages where we could get a hot cup of coffee. We saw mike at the first one his knee was bothering him, so hopefully he was o.k, we didn't see him again. We pushed on to dingwall and found a bike shop where I got my bike fixed and we bought a new bottle, and had curry pie and chips while we were waiting. Then out of town to find a 1:7 and a 1:6 hill together. We met peter at the top but he soon pulled away. We pushed on across some hills and got wetter, then got too a very good few point while it was sunny. We stopped for a tea and cake just before the hostel and saw a German panzer division on motorbikes outside. The hostel drive was very steep but we checked in dry, and got a dinner, some of us with chocolate dessert. Did the laundry, didn't see any spooks, and peter made us tea.
Day 15
96 miles 1014 total
Alarm was set for 10 to 6 and we crept out of the hostel to set off at first light, south from the hostel in the early morning drizzle. When we turned east after 5miles we hit a fairly strong headwind as well, so we were having a hard time of it. We heard later that wind speed averaged 20-25knots at times gusting to 35. We stopped for our coffees at a filling station early on, and got the depressing news that it was likely to be raining all the way up. We pushed on well with few stops and stopped for bacon rolls at lunchtime next to the shrine to Barbara cartland. On and on we pushed, it got harder and harder to draft due to the hills and especially near helmsdale there was a big hill Neil had to push up. But Neil did very well, even leaving tea stops early to push on. I also had to buy a pair of marigold gloves to take the chill off my hands. Just before 5pm we made it to Wick were we had fish and chips and bought some beers to celebrate the finish. We pushed on then and found that the land got flatter so we could draft again and the last couple of miles we turned west and shot along at 20mph with the wind behind us. Me, Neil and Allan all crossed the line together and we found we had beaten Peter who had taken the tongue route so we all grabbed bottom bunks so Peter had to sleep on the top. The maintrain lads, mike and ewan were all there before us but they had set off from different locations in the morning. Allan's colleague from work was at the hostel as well to see him, and we all piled in a minibus, me and Tate on the wheel in the back, and set off for the groats inn at john'o'groats. There we had some pints of 80shillings ale and I managed to beat mike on the pool table.
Day 16
Up late and a breakfast of toast and ginger nuts before setting off for john 'o' groats with Allan, Neil and Peter. Getting there was easy and we met Mike there and Allan's cousin was there to take him back. We had a number of pictures taken, then me, Neil and peter had a look at duncansby head, posted some postcards in the post office then set off just to stop again shortly at a tearoom for coffee and bacon roll before cycling on to wick in sunshine, and with the wind at our backs. We had a bit of time to kill so bought papers and had a coffee in the pub by the dock, before catching the train to Inverness. We met the maintrain lads, Kevin, john & Tate on the train and I navigated us all to Inverness youth hostel were we all got showered and changed in record time to be out into Inverness for a curry at the rajah. We had a run in with a very drunk Scotsman who thought we were Australians. The curry however was very good and the pub served 80shilling ale so I was happy.
Day 17
Awake again early at 6 'o'clock the night porter let us into the kitchen and after a little delay due to Neil's bottom again, we set off for the airport which seemed a lot further than the 6 miles we estimated. Had a small problem boarding when I managed to shatter the spanner trying to get the last pedal off. They weighed Neil's panniers as hand luggage and they came in at 4.9kg just under the limit and a tribute to our efficient packing. The flight went smoothly just over an hour as opposed to what could have been 17hrs by train. After a short trip from Luton, we cycled from farringdon and the ultimate irony, I got a puncture on the Bethnal green rd 10mins from home. So of course I just got out the mobile and ordered a pizza to be at home when I arrived. You couldn't ask for a better end to the trip.