A Little Hiccup LEJoG .. Re-Route to JoG

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Thought I would have a look at the bus timetables for my mad idea and trust me I’m glad I did because the new summer timetables have happened and because I started planning my journey when probably the winter timetables were in place I have found a couple of changes have happened so time to fine tune AGAIN!!! the Cornwall leg was okay no changes there, it was at the opposite end of the country where the hiccup was ..

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So looking at Day 3 on the image above my original timings involved a train to  Thurso  to connect in with a bus to John o Groats with a 20 minute wait and connection time but the bus company have altered their timetables and if I stuck to the original journey I would  not be able to make my train connection later in the day, so question is what do I do??? heads spinning thinking I wont be able to complete LEJoG but a bit of research kicks in and from what I thought would have been an early start in Wick and another long day changed in the space of 20 minutes ….

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Originally I would have had to get a train from Wick to Thurso at the mega early hour of 0618 to Thurso then wait 1 hour and 17 minutes for a bus to John o Groats changing buses to get to John o Groats for about 0915, get my pictures and officially complete the journey before starting the long trek home. I checked the route that the 77 bus did from Arkangill and found it was on the same route as Wick and because I am stopping in Wick the night before the thought came that I might as well cancel the train leg of the journey, what was the point of going to Thurso to find out the bus I would be on to get to John o Groats actually comes from Wick so there it was an extra 2 hours sleep plus actually getting breakfast and a short walk to Wick Bus Terminal for a 0840 journey to my final destination taking 35 minutes to get there and giving me the answer I thought I wouldn’t have and that’s getting my train connection at 1306 to Inverness. 50 minutes in the most “northern” point in the UK and a bus back to Thurso 19 minutes earlier than my original bus but a lot better for my connection back to Inverness by train.

Headache solved thinking 8 months of planning would have to be totally thrown out of the window but now i know I can complete the journey .. no more headaches (hopefully).

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Above is the updated mileage and stats sheet plus my sponsorship as of 27th April which is either promised (to be collected after completion) or donated already, only £324 to go towards my original target and anything else will be a bonus.

18 days to go hopefully this will be my last panic that something will go wrong .. the trains will be okay I have requested it with him upstairs, it wont rain and will be sunny all the time .. I will get another dream happen and that’s to see the Northern Lights (Wick is the place).

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Charity Day .. story behind the event

Way back towards the end of March I wrote about the Charity day we had arranged at The Ring o Bells, Willenhall .. one of my local boozers .. well it’s happened and from what was an idea that rose from talking to the landlord about my LEJoG trek to a full on day to raise funds for my three chosen charities and a local Willenhall based Charity (Substance Matters) at 1130am on Saturday 22nd April it became reality.

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It was a steady start to the day but from about 1pm all day the pub and beer garden was packed, the sun came out, the kids ran riot and loved the face painting and bouncy castle .. the barbq dried up the beer that was drank a lot during the day by the adults, Live music during the afternoon got people in the mood for a great day, I was doing my 12 hours Darts Marathon for the Charities of LEJoG and Substance Matters with people donating a quid, three quid or a fiver to play either 1,5 or 11 legs of darts, the day wasnt about winning or losing just raising money .. one of the customers played a lot of darts against me and I appreciate that as I did everybody else, over £100 was donated during the darts and we had an appearance by BDO darter Jamie “Yozza” Hughes who donated a signed picture for the auction later in the day, also one of the Ring o Bells regulars and Jamie’s Warwickshire teammate Dean Stewart, I have known Dean for a few years now but never played him at darts so I was honoured to have the chance during the day, I did win one leg and could have had another 2 probably against him, overall I played 157 legs of darts in the 12 hours which excelled what I expected to play (my target was 130).

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The tombola went really well with loads of prizes and £60 raised on that alone. Nighttime came and the disco kicked in playing music of all genres to dance the night away to and also keep pushing me in the last few hours of the marathon, I have to admit the last 2 hours was the hardest challenge both mentally and physically but support from the people around me kept me going. I played Carl the landlord with my last leg which started about 2322 so 8 minutes to complete the game and I hit the winning double (D10) at smack on 2330. My friend Sean then announce the end of the Marathon crediting me with it all, the pub was still very busy, so when Sean announced the end the whole pub burst out into a round of applause, I was overwhelmed with it all but this showed that from a small idea and the work that had gone into organising it all with a small team of helpers that it was all worth it and the sum raised of £460 showed what a great day it had been. The darts did take its toll on me, my darting hand swelled up pretty bad but as they say NO PAIN NO GAIN.r9

So Charity Day 1 ended and the cheque presentations will be happening next week to Substance matters (a 60% share) and to myself for my LEJoG (40% share which I rounded up), one of my friends owns The County pub also in Willenhall, I received a message from him asking whether they could raise funds for my 3 LEJoG charities at an event they are having on April 29th at the pub, again I was gobsmacked because I didn’t expect this at all, they were looking for a charity or charities to raise money for at “THE CHEEKY BLEEDERS” night and I was more than happy to agree to this, it as shown me and hopefully Willenhall that a community can come together at times and I really appreciate what The Ring o Bells & The County have done to help me towards my target.

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20 days to go before I set off to Penzance on the eve of the main event I have raised after this weekend £676 so more than halfway towards my target.

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LEJoG donation link

Pictorial Build Up to LEJoG

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DONATE HERE PLEASE

Massive Challenge from “End to End”

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^^^ Three Charities close to my heart  ^^^

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2 Countries .. approx 11 Counties .. 4 buses .. 12 trains .. 4 days .. 976 miles .. 3 Charities .. 4 B & B’s .. 40 hours 3 minutes travelling .. 9 hours 38 minutes waiting for connections .. 

THAT’S LEJoG 2017 IN NUMBERS 

 

 

The Stresses & Pains of planning LEJoG

So 8 months ago I started planning a mad idea for travelling from Lands End to John o Groats by bus and train, a different way of doing the “end to end”, most people cycle,walk or drive, I wanted something different so here it was ..

First thought was where do I start so needed to find out the furthest south I could travel by train and when would I travel .. would it be the day before or same day and go for it and get as far north as possible in one day. First brick wall I wouldn’t be able to get to Lands End and to Carlisle in one day so I would have to travel down the day before and stay overnight before starting LEJoG, Penzance it is then and a bus on Day 1 to Lands End after a good sleep. Meeting my colleagues at Wolverhampton Train Station for a few pics as proof of my journey (see below why)on the Sunday morning before setting off via Birmingham New Street

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Day 1 would be the earliest start and most probably the longest, I wondered how far I could get by bus and train in as long a day as possible, National Rail and Bus Timetables come into play, I knew I would have to do a lot of juggling to fine tune the trip with as little as possible transport and connections as I could. I would have to catch a bus to Lands End because Penzance was the furthest I could get by train .. next step where would I do my changes and how far could I get to finish each day at reasonable times.

Day 1 would finish in Carlisle just before the step over the border to Scotland on the second day, hopefully meeting up with a few of my Virgin Trains colleagues in Carlisle for photos because what I have found out is that to be classed as a true “end to ender” which is the term for somebody that as travelled LEJoG or JoGLE, you must have proof of your trip so diaries, photos, train & bus tickets among some of the stuff you have to keep.

Next step Day 2 how far could I go and I knew this would be the hardest bit to plan because I wanted to get as near John o Groats as possible because Day 3 would be the day I completed LEJoG. Leaving Carlisle early again I wanted to get to Inverness at least so that was the journey breakdown I would look at, 3 trains and about 5 hours of travelling to get there, crossing the border into Scotland I would have to change at Carstairs and Haymarket to make my connection to Inverness with minimum change time between trains so this would be key to the day, Plan B would be backup plan just in case. Could I get to either Thurso or Wick in the same day from Inverness as early as possible? .. that’s what I looked at next and if Plan A failed is there a Plan B, hopefully I would only need Plan A. I would have a 2 hour wait in Inverness before my scenic Far North Line trip to Wick through sparse and scenic places where I would probably see more deer and sheep than humans. Dinner and chill before the last leg on Day 2 arriving hopefully in Wick at 1822, and maybe once dark I could tick the Northern Lights off my bucket list too.

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Day 3 and completion of LEJoG before the long trip back home, latest start of the 3 days for me with a short 20 mile trip to Thurso for a bus connection to John o Groats and a 45 minute wait there so pictures and a celebratory beer and hopefully my target hit (£1000 is the aim .. LEJoG donate here 

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Day 3 would finish back in Inverness for an overnight stay before the final leg back to Wolverhampton the following day, again planning this little bit was key because once past Inverness trains are limited back south, so I would have a 1 hour 34 minute wait in Thurso before the nearly 4 hour trip back down the Far North Line but at least once back in Inverness my earliest finish but still a 9 hour day of travelling I could relax and look back on my accomplishments.

Over the trip I will be blogging and maybe vlogging during the day but will upload everything at the end of the day when I can get decent wi-fi signals, I will be very limited during the train travel but will try to update the best I can as the day goes on, best thing about the blogging now is it’s the real story of the trip not the “perfect trip” blog like I did earlier on these pages (check out the post links on the right hand side of the main page)

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The above picture shows a breakdown of the trip with an idea of the distances I will cover and tickets I will have to buy to get the cheapest and best way of A to B. That picture is the main planning for my adventure, I do have a plan B and C but hopefully I wont need them because for 4 days the railway will behave itself (I hope).

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Day 4 is a later start for me from Inverness to Edinburgh via Perth before connecting in with my train back home to Wolverhampton and a few more pictures for the records then a celebration beer or three with my wife and friends to celebrate my achievement.

All my accommodation I have booked on the booking.com or hotels.com websites as early and cheap as possible on basis off book now pay on arrival with the chance of cancelling if something happened. I will be staying in Penzance, Carlisle, Wick and Inverness.

I also sought sponsorship of some kind, my specially designed T Shirt and polo shirt were made by my mate Henry Clarke by his company Thimbles Embroidery (Thimbles Embroidery)

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I am still looking for sponsorship too and will be having a charity day on 22nd April at one of my local’s including me doing a 12 hour Darts Marathon plus other things happening during the day to raise funds for my three charities plus a local charity Substance Matters.

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Anybody that wants to do a trip like this best advice I can give is don’t just think about it the day before the logistics are not that straight forward as I have found out and I think anybody doing this by cycling or driving or even walking the logistics would be even bigger challenge.

Strange Things I Never Knew about LEJoG

Doing some bits of research now my epic adventure is within more or less touching distance and its based mainly around people who have cycled from one end of Britain to the other so here’s a “Did You Know” guide to the insanity of Lands End to John o Groats adapted a little to suit my bus and train trip ..

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  • Cornish pasties will keep you going ..  hope there are plenty of Gregg’s or proper pasty shops along the way in between waiting for buses and trains.
  • Journey planning is essential ..  I started planning this trip last September when my brain went for a walk, 4 buses, 12 trains, no delays( I hope), 4 hotels / BnBs. I am still fine tuning to this day and if I can find better journeys between A and B or cheaper tickets or hotels I will change plans but at this moment today (April 9th) I think I have the best options.
  • Cider is the drink of champions .. I don’t drink cider so a pint of lager and a meal at the end of the day will have to do.
  • Looking at the map makes you realise how far you’ve still got to go .. Day by Day I know its 976 miles from Lands End to John o Groats by my chosen route, longest day is Day 1 501 miles to Carlisle and about 13 hours give or take a minute or 2 of travelling based on the perfect journey, overall distance including travelling down to Penzance and back from John o Groats on  Day 3 / 4 is about 1900 miles and 40 hours of travelling but worth it for my 3 main causes Help Harry Help Others, Prostate Cancer UK and Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide.
  • The views are worth admiring .. and boy will they be worth it, having never been past Taunton and no further north than Gretna Green I am looking forward to some great scenery and getting some great pictures and memories especially The Far North Line from Inverness to Wick on Day 2.
  • There will be temptation, you must resist it .. It’s definitely going to be a mentally challenging adventure and probably physical too because I have to stay awake on the trains and buses because if I don’t it defeats the object of the charity challenge and I will feel I have completed the journey falsely.
  • Even this far, the map still isn’t your friend .. so 501 miles from Lands End to Carlisle and nearly 13 hours travel on 2 buses and 3 trains then 2 days of 476 miles in total approximately and 21 hours of travelling on 6 trains and 2 buses from Carlisle to John o Groats and back to Inverness before homeward bound on Day 4 back to Wolverhampton from Inverness on 3 trains £236 lighter but with a sense of relief and satisfaction but never to be done again and maps wont be my best friend for a long time.
  • Love a big Scottish breakfast .. having already experienced one or two in Gretna when I got married nearly 2 years ago I know how good they are including the haggis but deffo no black pudding (and that’s from a Yorkshireman)
  • There’s a unique satisfaction in knowing you’ve just gone from one end of the UK to the other .. all the planning, the worries, the raising funds for my 3 charities, the blogging and vlogging, the pictures, the scenery .. everything will be worth it.

You still have time to donate ….. LEJoG 2017 Donation Page