Why Lands End to John o Groats ?

WHY AM I DOING THIS? Well its a personal challenge to me and something to tell my grandkids about, also raising money for 3 charities that are close to me Help Harry Help Others, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide & Prostate Cancer UK ..

The traditional distance by road is 874 miles but for me when I do this challenge the real distance is 976 miles that’s just the official LEJoG, overall including travel down and back I think its near 1915 miles.An atlas in 2008 said the perfect route by road was 838 miles taking 15 hours 48 minutes to complete, my actual LEJoG journey if everything goes okay will take 19 hours 42 minutes of actual travelling not allowing for connections which is another 5 hours 6 minutes, it also doesn’t take into account my actual travel to the start and back from John o Groats after completing the challenge which in total is another 22 hours 45 minutes ( including waiting time).
Reason I chose to travel by bus and train is because you hear loads about people doing LEJoG or JoGLE by either cycling, walking or running or even driving plus other madcap ideas but  I thought after reading that article about a lad who travelled by bus between the two points that I would combine the two modes of transport I think I know best and because I work on the railway, trains would be quickest (hopefully) but I knew to connect with Lands End & John o Groats I would have to use a bus or two, or maybe even more if the railway went pear-shaped so I have 3 plans A, B & C as backups and alternatives and even now 77 days before I start my journey I am still fine tuning the trip. The other thing about this is keeping awake too, movement of trains can be lethal for sleepiness, I will be travelling a minimum of 8 hours up to 12 hours approximate per day. So 12 trains of varying types and 4 buses is the total modes of transport I will be using for the perfect trip.

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When I start my journey from Day 1 travelling Day through to Day 5 the journey back home my trip will be blogged, vlogged and pictured here ( LEJoG Latest Posts on pages day by day so anybody that reads these build up pages will be able to follow my ups and downs, the good times and bad times as I try to reach my target of £1000 ( Donation Link Here )

Lands End (Cornish name is Penn an Wlas) is the most westerly point of Britain and overlooks the Atlantic so I will probably get some dramatic pictures and also the touristy ones too, I arrive at Lands End at 0721 on Day 1 but will not officially start my journey til 0937 on Bus 1A to Penzance, this is because the connection times at Lands End work better for me.

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John o Groats (Gaelic name is Taigh Iain Ghrot) is the most north-easterly point of Britain and will be my finish point on Day 3 after  travelling 1257.67 miles after leaving Wolverhampton 4 days previous, Day 3 is a short trip only 39.81 miles from Wick via Thurso and a bus to John o Groats for journey end and my official Lands End to John o Groats trip completed. the furthest northeastern point of Britain only as a population of about 300 people but believe it or not as 2 football teams. Up until 2013 the famous signpost was run by the same company that runs Lands End and you had to pay a charge for a picture at the sign post but now the hotel as reopened a picture is free (confirmed by email from John o Groats Tourism, conveniently still had no reply from Lands End tourism)

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To make up this blog some of the information in it as been researched and my own story for LEJoG mixed in to this read.

Latest update on fundraising .. Donations & pledged donations so far is £409 so nearly half way and 76 days to go. To those that have pledged monies I will be collecting it after I have finished LEJoG, if you want to pay before that then just see me whenever I am around, Thanks for all your support so far.

If you liking what you have read through the first 6 blogs please feel free to add a comment, any support is very welcome.

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The “Perfect” Day 3 & 4 – Mission Done

The day as arrived, day 3 is the day I reach my goal JOHN o GROATS, after 18 hours 32 minutes of travelling plus waiting time my final journeys start. Mid morning start 0802 from Wick to Thurso a short 20 mile hop followed by a 20 minute wait for the Number 80 bus along the coastline to John o Groats and completion of my trek. Only 45 minutes here so usual pictures and a fridge magnet bought as a souvenir before the bus back to Thurso.

So after completing my End to End journey its time for a 96 minute wait in Thurso for my journey back home with an overnight stop in Inverness, the journey back down the Far North Line starts at 1306 and even though it doesn’t look a long journey on paper actually takes just under 4 hours, no doubt extreme tiredness will have hit me by now but the satisfaction of completing something that started planning in September 2016 will be  far_north_map

worth it. Arrive in Inverness at my earliest finish just after 1700, find my BnB for the night, get sorted then find a Wetherspoons “The Kings Highway” for something to eat, a couple of celebration beers and complete the real journey blog, I will be compiling day by day in a book then just uploading to this blog so you can compare the “PERFECT” journey to what actually happened (guarantee something will go wrong at some point).

Day 4 I actually have a sleep in, my train doesn’t leave til 0845 down to Edinburgh with a change at Perth for a connecting service, I could get an earlier service but really want to get this one for something different. The journey down from Inverness passes through the mountains of Aviemore then Kingussie and Pitlochry before arriving at Perth, wont have time to see much here though 7 minute connection for my  trip to Edinburgh arriving at 1222 passing through Kirkcaldy, Inverkeithing and Haymarket for a 30 minute wait for my final train back home to Wolverhampton, hopefully will have time for another Wetherspoons ticked off my list “The Booking Office” on Waverley Bridge.

Wick to Thurso via John o Groats by bus (not my trip)

Final journey starts on the 1252 Virgin Trains service to London Euston but I’m only going as far as Wolverhampton for journey end, passing through a city I stayed in at the end of Day 1, Carlisle then the Lake District town of Penrith down back into the Industrial North West towns of Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington and Crewe I finally arrive back home, tired, happy and well proud of my achievement of travelling from one end of Britain to the other in Scotland.

24 hours 48 minutes on the actual LEJoG and  22 hours 45 minutes of build up and travelling to Penzance and back from Thurso, my little storybook and pictures and all my connections and hotels all signed as proof its 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

The blogs so far are not the real thing just a view of what would be perfection, the REAL JOURNEY blog will come in May when I do the actual trip.

I have been promised or donated £369 so far .. check out my page uk.virginmoneyraising.com/lejogbybusandtrain

“Perfect” Day 2 LEJoG

So Day 1 completed 501.31 miles (see picture below for breakdown of trip) and arrived in Carlisle safely and as this is a blog on the perfect journey (hopefully) on time.

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Day 2 is another early start for the long trek north and crossing the borders of England & Scotland.screenshot-1

Day 2 is the most complicated journey for me because apart from travelling Carlisle to Gretna and to Edinburgh, this will be the furthest North I have been in Scotland so entering the unknown and once I get to Inverness hope the trains are okay because there are limited services to where I need to be on Day 2, but this is “THE PERFECT JOURNEY” so I can dream everything will be okay and on time.

Only 3 changes of train today but 11 hours 30 minutes of travel with Trans Pennine Express and Scot Rail leaving Carlisle at 0652 to Carstairs before the first change-up to Haymarket. Quick 9 minute wait before the long journey to Inverness, passing through Kirkcaldy, Perth and the mountains of Aviemore hopefully still snow topped even though it’s May arriving just before noon in Inverness.

Hopefully the journey to Inverness will be pretty scenic and I know for definite the journey past Inverness to Wick will be amazing.

I have a 2 hours 22 minutes wait for my last train of the day to Wick, so lunch in Inverness in “The Kings Highway”, another Wetherspoons ticked off the list.

Back to Inverness Station for my train to my day 2 end in Wick, the penultimate night before journey’s end at John o Groats, its 4 hours 22 minutes on the aptly named Far North Line which is a mixture of single and double track railway through some of the most remote areas of Scotland, I’m expecting to see trees, trees, mountains, sheep (lots of them) and wildlife but not a lot of civilisation once we pass Dingwall. A more detailed story of the journey to the most northern railway station of Thurso and Wick is described by David Ross who wrote a book of his adventures (see link). My story will happen when I do the proper LEJoG in May.

David Ross Story of the Far North Line

A few interesting facts I have googled about the FNL ..

only 4 out of the 25 stations are manned by rail staff Inverness, Dingwall, Thurso and Wick ….

 The FNL is 168 miles long

Altnabreac only had 93 passengers either leave or travel in 2015 making it the 8th least used station in Britain

Thurso is the most northern terminus station in Britain ..

See the YouTube link for a eye view of the Far North Line by train

A Trip on the Far North Line Video

So 452.52 miles later after leaving Carlisle at 0652 and arriving in Wick at 1822, time to freshen up after checking in at my BnB for the night, its food time again at the most northern Wetherspoons “The Alexander Bain” where I’ll compile my real journey blog and compile notes and stuff before retiring for an early night ready for the Main Event and my arrival at John o Groats.

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DON’T FORGET YOU CAN DONATE AT    LEJoG DONATION LINK

for Help Harry Help Others, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide and Prostate Cancer UK

I have been promised £282 in donations so far still a long way off my target but a few weeks to go yet.

Day 2 complete .. more to follow on Day 3 and Journeys End next week

“Perfect” LEJoG .. travelling day & Day One

In a perfect world everything goes right, buses, trains, planes, the world everything runs smoothly so as a start to my mad journey I will document the perfect trip for travelling to Penzance then the start of my trip to John o Groats on day 1.

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Here we go, lunchtime start by train from Wolverhampton into Birmingham New Street to connect with the train for my long journey on the day before the trip starts, it’s a long way to Penzance, just over 6 hours but it will give me chance to relax before a heavy 4 days of travel but worth every bit of lack of sleep and aches and pains for 3 Charities .. Prostate Cancer UK, Help Harry Help Others and SoBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide.

Distance to Penzance is 309 miles journeying through Cheltenham, Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton before I change trains at Exeter for a 26 minute wait for my connection travelling along the seawall at Dawlish hopefully with a sea that behaves itself .. (video below)

Dawlish by Train in stormy weather

after travelling through Newton Abbott next Interchange is Plymouth arriving at 1721 and still 2 hours 16 minutes away from Penzance, after leaving Plymouth we hit Cornwall which is part of the journey I am looking forward to having never been further south than Bristol and Weymouth, scenery should be amazing and I think it will still be daylight so hopefully get some pictures from the train window. Lostwithiel, Par, Liskeard, Truro, St Erth just a few of the quaint names we pass through on our “perfect” journey. Hopefully arriving in Penzance at 1937. My first bed for the night is situated near the train station so on day 1 I wont have to walk far, my lodging choices over the 4 days are based on being as close to the train / bus stations as possible and also cheap and cheerful, just a place to put my head for the night after long days travelling on “THE PERFECT JOURNEY”.

All checked in and my LEJoG record signed and stamped, now to find somewhere to eat and a few pints to relax and prepare for my long Day 1 of travelling LEJoG, need to get as far north as possible.

SO ITS HERE 9 months of planning is about to start on the perfect trip to Scotland and the Highlands .. early start and leaving behind in my room 3 bracelets representing all 3 charities and a bit of information about each also a Thank You card, this I will be doing in each Hotel / BnB I stay at, hopefully spreading the word and support for my chosen charities.

Penzance to Lands End Bus 1A The Video

 

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Officially my LEJoG doesn’t start until 0937 when I leave Lands End back towards Penzance for my train to Plymouth and Birmingham. Bus 1A through St Buryan and Sennen Cove to the world-famous Sign Post at Lands End, here I take pictures and lay my bracelets T Shirt and if I can sort it a flag for more pictures. Catch some breakfast and a cup of tea while waiting til 0937 for my bus 11 miles back to Penzance Bus Station, my first train leaves at 1044 and is a nearly 2 hour journey to Plymouth for a change to Birmingham. 79 miles later and a 41 minute wait for the 1325 service back up to the Midlands and Birmingham where my journey started 24 hours earlier. Its 217 miles to the second city and 3 hours 31 minutes of train journey, working on the railway I get a discount on my train tickets so for this part I will be using a 3 in 7 Freedom of Severn & Solent Ranger and also because the boundary is at Cheltenham I need a single ticket to Birmingham New Street (I did get a return because I do same trip on the Sunday). Last leg of the day is to Carlisle which is my finishing point for day 1, working for Virgin Trains its Free Travel for me on the 193 miles journey, probably feeling the tiredness by now but still intent of staying awake all the way I’ll probably be thinking “Gimme my  bed”… 9 hours 15 minutes  and another 51 minutes travel to Lands End which I don’t count after starting my journey from Penzance I arrive at the end of Day 1 in Carlisle where everything as been on time, no railway disruption, no bus crashes THE PERFECT TRIP“.

BnB for the night rest and a good nights sleep before another long day on Day 2, nearly at my target … more to follow about the perfect day 2 in my next blog.

Day 1 500 miles completed plus 320 miles travelling distance only about another 470 to go.

Please check out my Donations page at LEJoG Donations every penny helps so far I have been promised £250 so a quarter of the way towards my target of £1000.