Finally got round to working out the official route I used for LEJoG based on the bus operators for First Kernow (Cornwall), Stagecoach North Scotland & the rail route using the proper rail miles (RAILMILES) site.
A railway line is measured in miles and chains, 1 chain is equal to 0.0125 miles. The distance from Lands End to Penzance as I was informed by the driver is 11 miles and from Wick to John o Groats along the coast on the 77 bus is 19 miles. Adding the 4 different stages together on the train section of my journey, the mileage is 924 miles then adding the chains together is 1.82 miles so its 925.82 miles in total. Overall Mileage then is 955.82 miles.
Bus 1A from Lands End to Penzance
Trains from Penzance to Plymouth, Plymouth to Birmingham New Street,
Birmingham New Street to Carlisle (DAY 1)
Trains from Carlisle to Carstairs, Carstairs to Haymarket, Haymarket to Perth
(additional train disruption), Perth to Inverness, Inverness to Wick (DAY 2)
Bus 77 from Wick to John o Groats (DAY 3)
So Official Route used 2 buses and 8 trains and the travelling down and return journey used 2 buses and 6 trains.
I am now an Official “End to Ender” member of the Lands End to John o Groats Association.
At the latest count I have raised £1083 for Help Harry Help Others, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide & Prostate Cancer UK, still got time to donateDONATE HERE
When I first started my blog way back in January I started by writing about The Perfect LEJoG journey based on everything running okay with no problems or headaches so obviously now I have completed the trip I thought I would throw some final stats out there now I have caught up with everything and more or less finalised things.
From Start to Finish .. that’s from travelling to Penzance on May 14th through to returning home on May 18th .. the total travel times including waiting for buses and trains was 47 hours 53 minutes and travelling 1905.85 miles in total of which 955.83 miles was actual Lands End to John o Groats.
The first 2 days were the longest because I travelled as far north as possible including what I always knew would be a challenging second day and it definetely was a challenge with disruption along the way.
The picture above gives a breakdown of the REAL LEJoG including distances which I calculated using a web page RAILMILESand asking the bus driver the actual bus miles, the actual time spent travelling is shown too and the cost of all my tickets, you are wondering why its so cheap well if you remember I work for Virgin Trains and get discount on other train operators and free travel on our services of which 2 of the trips were Virgin Trains. train tickets cost me £73.90 and bus tickets cost me £17.50, it would have been cheaper if I had some change when travelling to Lands End on Day 1 but I had to pay twice £5.20 each way.
Above is another stat attack, I love statistics of any kind, a breakdown of the REAL LEJoG.
I stopped off at 4 different points along the way, overnight stays in Penzance, Carlisle, Wick & Inverness also ticked off 6 Wetherspoons too including the most southern and most northern. I have to date raised £1078 donated or pledged for 3 Chrities Help Harry Help Others, Survivors of Suicide by Bereavement & Prostate Cancer UK.
Today is dedicated to HHHO, PCUK, SoBS & all my family and friends who have supported me along the way
Feel a little sad today, I have met some great people this week and also seen scenery and places I can only dream of, living in a city, countryside is a rarity unless you go to the outskirts of town or travel somewhere even the sunsets and sunrises I saw in Wick were amazing and I know I will never see anything like that in Wolverhampton or Willenhall where I live.
Leaving Inverness for my 2 connections home, changing at Perth & Inverness and after my first good nights sleep since arriving in Penzance 5 days before. The train left on time at 0845 for Perth and was fairly busy, I later found out Perth Races was happening.
We arrived in Perth early (makes a change), and yet another story to tell, it’s not every day you travel on the same train as Miss Great Britain. Short wait in Perth for my second train to Edinburgh and nearly home time, 1 hour 20 minutes to go before a 30 minute wait and my 6th Wetherspoons knocked off my list. As we approached Edinburgh the train actually cuts across the approach to the runway at Edinburgh Airport.
We arrived in Edinburgh on time, good signs for the rest of the journey, so The Booking Office Wetherspoons it was, sat on the bridge above Edinburgh Waverley station, time for a quick pint and relax before my last train home and a reunion with my wife.
Last train and 3 hours 41 minutes to home, again a busy train, part way into the journey I got talking to a couple who were travelling to London, spoke about what I had just completed and why, again a random donation to the fundraising, thank you Lynn Stoddart.
I arrived in Wolverhampton on time at 1633 and as I got off the train Boris Johnson and his bodyguards got on the same train, again not everyday you bump into a “famous” politician or person.
The Finish Line was here, JOURNEY COMPLETE, LEJoG by bus and train is over
Just a matter now of collecting my pledged donations and raising as much money as possible. I opened the Charity Collection tin that Jonathan took round the Far North Line train on Day 2 and it contained £57, so again Thank You to those people who I have never met before, your generosity is appreciated.
Time for The Tykester to award his LEJoG by bus and train Awards based on my experiences from “End to End”
Best B&B : Harbour House, Wick & Arkale Lodge, Carlisle
Best Breakfast: Harbour House, Wick .. brought to my room, proper full breakfast.
Best Wetherspoons Food: The Alexander Bain, Wick
Not the best Wetherspoons food: The Kings Highway, Inverness
Day 3 is dedicated to Prostate Cancer UK & my friend Nick Roberts going through the journey
“The Road is Long and the end is insight .. LEJoG by bus and train MISSION COMPLETE”
FINALLY GOT ROUND TO UPDATING THE BLOG BEEN SO BUSY AFTER I GOT BACK
8 months of planning, 47+ hours of travelling by bus and train and now at 0840 on May 17th I’m on my way to John o Groats, emotional, tired, both mentally and physically drained but all the support, texts, phone calls, conversations I have had with people along the way since Monday have kept me going and pushing me to the end, also knowing Im close to my target of £1000 which thanks to Jonathan yesterday on the train to Wick will take it closer when I open the tin when I get home tomorrow (Thursday). I have enjoyed explaining the story behind the charities, why I have chosen those charities and also what I am doing bus and train.
After starting on Monday in the most horrendous weather conditions at Lands End, I now head towards John o Groats in beautiful sunny, warm weather, somebody was definitely watching down on me today, I have seen the most stunning sunsets, moon & sunrises that I probably wont ever see anywhere else in Britain, only thing missing was the Northern Lights I wanted to see.
So left Wick on the 77 Bus towards John o Groats at 0845 5 minutes late, 20 minutes later I was at The Seaview Hotel, 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, I walked and videoed the final 500 yards to the sign post.
When I reached the finish line (the sign post) first thing I did was throw my holdall and rucksack towards the post and took a picture then took more pictures with my sponsored shirt on also my Prostate Cancer UK shirt & Team Darts PCUK shirt, after all today was all about and dedicated to PCUK but it also meant I had reached my goal of End to End by bus and train
I put the LEJoG flag & Willenhall flag at the bottom of the sign post ( and when I left it was still there), probably in the Atlantic heading for America now. While I was at the signpost I got talking to this man from Warrington who was working at Dounreay , and again explained about what my shirts and journey was all about.
I couldn’t go home without a souvenir and because Lands End was closed, John o Groats came to the rescue for a fridge magnet and pin badge, I also got my Lands End to JoG form signed and stamped both at the Information Centre and The First & Last Shop. it was time for my bus to Thurso ready to start the long journey home, I would be staying in Inverness before heading home tomorrow. On arrival in Thurso I had a couple of hours before my train back to Inverness again on the Far North Line, time to update stuff or so I thought, the internet in Scotland over the last few days have been poor so I gave up.
My time on the journey from Lands End to John o Groats have given me plenty of thinking tim and I have also met the most friendly people who have been interested in what I was doing and what the charities were about and if from what I have said inspires them to help or make a change or even sort their own health problems out (yes some people I spoke to were going through their own journey).
I have completed what I set out to do and that was Lands End to John o Groats and apart from raising money that was to raise awareness ..
HELP HARRY HELP OTHERS – Help Cope, Help Care, Help Cure
PROSTATE CANCER UK – Check your bits if you think something is wrong
SURVIVORS OF BEREAVEMENT BY SUICIDE – Dont be afraid to talk, you are not alone, Its okay not to be okay
Inverness for me was my celebration night, after completing my trek and limiting myself, it was time to enjoy and relax so another Wetherspoons ticked off The Kings Highway and a bar called Hootananny which had live Celtic Music on and was amazing to watch. Got back to my BnB and had best nights sleep since I set off on Sunday knowing my journey was at an end and my target was so close.
“Things come to test us!! If it goes wrong, it will be today”
My saying for today became so true after the first train of the day from Carlisle to Carstairs, I knew for LEJoG to finish on time and be perfectish the second day would be the hardest one because past Inverness there are not many trains to get you to Wick.
Day 2 would be about 435 miles long and involve a few trains, should have been 4 but it became 5 as I will explain later. By the end of the day I would be 20 miles from completion and John o Groats, weather was very warm and enjoyable even though I only saw from inside a metal box (train). I again had a poor nights sleep but woke up feeling fairly confident everything would be okay (didn’t want to stress too much), arrived at Carlisle Station early for my train, Patrick from the Arkale Lodge had done me a packed lunch because I was missing breakfast so Day 2 was go,go,go ..first train 0652 to Carstairs left on time .. yes going to be a good day .. well it lasted about 20 minutes when the guard announced trains towards Glasgow & Haymarket were cancelled because of Overhead Line Damage. NOOOOOOO!!!! don’t do this to me please, it was what I had dreaded even in the 8 months of planning.. LEJOG maybe be LECARSTAIRS.
Working on the railway my disruption head kicked in, National Rail Enquiries bail me out please, so away I went googling the possibilities to get to Inverness in time to board the 1400 train to Wick which I had to do no matter how long it took or route I had to go because if I didn’t get that train at 1400 I would be stranded in Inverness, trying to find a hotel and still having to pay for the one in Wick. I found a route from Motherwell to Glasgow Central then Glasgow Queen Street to Inverness .. at the time I found it there was no other choice but to go that way and arrive in Inverness at 1329 (SUCCESS), then good news the guard announced that a Cross Country service would stop to pick anybody up that was going to Haymarket or Edinburgh .. and Breathe Out .. there was a god and he worked for Cross Country, you may ask why was that train going to Haymarket but Trans Pennines wasnt, well Cross Country run diesel trains and the TPE was electric so that was the reason we couldn’t go forward on their train.
Now I still knew it would be a testing day because anymore problems along the way would put even the part of the journey in jeopardy that was why I planned to travel a little earlier and as you know that didn’t happen, but at least I made it to Inverness for my connecting train with 28 minutes to spare. So last train of the day on the most remote rail line in Britain, The Far North Line from Inverness through some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen, when we went past Dingwall which probably was the last main part of civilisation until Thurso and that is the 23rd station on the line and only the 3rd staffed one too, Inverness, Dingwall & Wick being the others where rail staff work. The whole trip to Wick on the Far North Line is 4 hours 22 minutes long so I reached Wick at 1840 (late and just about summed up the day since Carstairs).
The train was only 2 carriages and I thought it wouldn’t be busy but it was, it seemed a lot of people were travelling to Thurso, The line up to Wick goes from 2 lines to single track several times along the way so my train had to wait for a few minutes while a Southbound train went past us heading back to Inverness. Anyway there I was at with my home on wheels (holdall, rucksack & laptop) thinking I cant wait to chill out and eat some proper food at last when a guy called Jonathan who had travelled up from Dingwall came to me just before Georgemas Junction, he asked me about my T Shirt and the charities on it and what was I doing, so explained everything when he told me that it was the Prostate Cancer bit that caught his eye because he had suffered the disease and he was only 33, we got talking more and a couple of people who were sat round me listened intently as I talked about how I set off from Lands End the day before heading for John o Groats. He asked if I had a collection tin which I had and could he take it through the train for me, remember this is a complete stranger I had only just met, so I gave him the tin and a lady sat behind me gave a generous donation Judith was her name and other people were throwing coins into the tin, I will open the tin when I get back home on Thursday night.
Arrived at my B&B for the night Harbour House, my room overlooked the harbour and out towards the sea, it had been sunny all day and the sunset was awesome and all I needed now was the Northern Lights to happen, but I was to be let down with that one. I had a poor nights sleep again, don’t know if it was the adrenalin or too much going through my head about Day 3 and the last leg to John o Groats but I saw the moon rise about 330am, I was stood in the window looking out towards the sea and saw this bright orangy yellow light appear suddenly, I have never seen anything like it and again another first, also about 0430am I saw the sunrise which again I havent seen nothing like it even in Wolverhampton.
Day 2 finally completed and after a challenging day it was time to check out the most northern Wetherspoons in Britain The Alexander Bain and to get a picture of the Cask Marque for my mate Richy, a real ale enthusiast who collects them, a bit like train spotters collect numbers (im doing that for my LEJoG not because Im a spotter lol but for my records and stats which I will post when I have sorted it all out).
Big day tomorrow Wednesday but a lot shorter day, hope the weather is good for the last leg.
Day 1 and a long day of nearly 14 hours because of the delays between Plymouth & Carlisle, had a poor nights sleep last night probably 4 hours tops so it was going to be hard and a challenge to stop heavy eyes during the trip towards Carlisle on 2 buses and 3 trains. One thing I do know is that no matter what I struggle to sleep on any operators train except for Arriva Train Wales, luckily they are not part of this epic mad idea.
After a hot and sticky day yesterday weather forecast wasnt good for today and it definitely wasnt good, I started the day at Lands End in strong winds and heavy rain and when I got to Carlisle it was the same without the strong winds.
So after buying a bacon and egg sarnie and coffee I waited for the 1A bus down to Lands End, we left on time not a very eventful trip just single track roads where if you had a car coming the other way it was a master of driving that got you past the bus or vice versa.
I arrived at Lands End car park smack on time at 0719, the driver wished me the best of luck, think he thought I was walking LEJoG,
if only he knew. On arrival at Lands End there was no rain but it was windy so I walked down the footpath towards the visitor centre which like everything there was closed and trust me there wasnt a lot of shelter either. I did a walk down towards the First & Last House on the edge of the steep cliffs, took a few pictures, the view was amazing but I did struggle to stay on my feet at times.
Finally found the famous sign post at the side of the Lands End Hotel (where I got my Lands End to John o Groats Association form stamped), normally I would assume from about 1000am there is a photographer that charges for a picture with the signpost but getting there really early, it was free, nobody about so took advantage but the picture with the signpost went wrong, I set the wrong settings on my phone so the signpost was pictured as if in a mirror (I’ve sorted it out now)
The picture above says it all as what was going through my head considering the weather condition which were horrendous and 2 hours with no shelter I can say I did get very wet.
While I was waiting for the bus to officially start LEJoG, I got talking to one of the maintenance men who asked me what I was doing being stuck wet through at Lands End, I told him I was doing LEJoG by bus and train for 3 charities, in talking to this guy I found out he had lost a family member with a brain tumour and somebody else was going through Prostate Cancer, so 1 HHHO bracelet & 1 Prostate Cancer band later also explained about the Help Harry website too, made me feel like this journey was going tobe worth it, as I found out travelling on the train from Penzance to Plymouth, because I was wearing my Thimbles Embroidery sponsored T Shirt ((Thimbles) people were quizzical what it was all about.
LEJoG started at 0940 with the bus back to Penzance, same bus same driver who said “you had enough already then”, third leg of the day was train to Plymouth and god was that a long trip, the train was full and standing room only in the end, I was lucky i got a seat but surrounded by luggage it was very uncomfortable.
I arrived in Plymouth on time but the train to Birmingham had an electrical fault and suffered a 13 minute delay, I thought here we go going to be a nightmare end to the day but travelling on a very comfortable HST (High Speed Train) to Birmingham we arrived on time but that was only the start..
last leg of the day should have been 1715 from Birmingham to Carlisle on a Virgin Train, things were looking good then all of a sudden train showed as delayed, wondering what was happening when all of a sudden the BTP & New Street platform staff descended on Platform 1 as a man with a carrier bag appeared out of the tunnel walking along the track so this explained why my train was delayed. After what seemed an eternity my train to Carlisle left Birmingham about 24 minutes late never to pull the time back (well except about 8 minutes). Met a couple of Wolves Onboard crew Daz & Sue who were just about to finish but I still managed to grab a selfie with them.
Also good to see Simon Webb the team leader at Wolves, made the torture of travel more bearable seeing a friendly face.
Finally arrived in Carlisle at 2016 to be met by my VT colleague at Carlisle Michelle who stayed on after a 12 hot shift especially to meet me and do a bit of publicity for Carlisle & VT also myself.
Finally checked in at Arkale Lodge at 2035 bit late but met by the owner Patrick who told me about breakfast times etc, I did tell him I would be away very early for my first train towards Inverness so he said he would make me a packed lunch for my trip because I wouldn’t be there for breakfast, I’m impressed by the standard of customer service and Patrick goes very highly on that basis.
Anyway, an extremely long day as come to an end and its midnight I need some sleep hopefully better than Sunday night ready for Day 2 and 4 trains crossing the border to Scotland and upwards towards Inverness & Wick to hopefully fulfill another ambition and that’s the Northern Lights.
Travelling Day is dedicated to all 3 Charities .. Help Harry Help Others, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide & Prostate Cancer UK
Well it’s here and it’s happening 955 miles of travel from end to end in fingers crossed 23 hours 21 minutes but that is based on buses and railway behaving .. so I leave Penzance to Lands End tomorrow morning at 0630 and arrive in John o Groats at 0915 on Wednesday morning but today was all about travelling down for an overnight stay to prepare for the journey.
Arrived at Wolverhampton Station at 11amish to meet up with Simon,raj & Lucy not forgetting Josh who looked after Platform 1 while we were doing the photo thing, as I have said before I work for Virgin Trains and have had support from my guys at Birmingham International and Wolverhampton andtomorrow when I arrive at Carlisle got support from those guys and girls there too.
I left Wolves for Birmingham New Street a little earlier than planned because on arrival at New Street I would have to get from Platform 4C to Platform 11B which is a fair trek when you are carrying a holdall, a rucksack and a laptop bag so thats why I decided on a little extra time. Trains left on time from Wolves and New Street which I thought was a good omen, I even got a seat to myself until we reached Swindon.
The journey south was very scenic, saw lots green fields and sheep & cows but not a lot else.
I did find it difficult to get an Internet signal and it was very inconsistent that is why it’s 1118pm and im updating my blog even though I have an early start. the weather as been warm and sunny all day from leaving the Midlands all the way down to Cornwall.
Just a thought too that until today the furthest south I have been was Taunton so I have beaten that by a lot of miles today.
Leaving Exeter at 1605 and my 3rd train of the day was probably best part of the journey the scenery and views were amazing
I videoed the trip along the Dawlish Sea Wall on the journey to Penzance & a well earned beer and food, I will upload the video when I get chance, the sea was fairly calm but I can imagine what it can be like when it is stormy.
So I arrived in Penzance 8 hours and 14 minutes after leaving Wolverhampton and thinking about it I could fly to the USA or Jamaica in the same time.
So travel day complete and tomorrow May 15th is officially Day 1 of LEJoG bu bus and train and a 501 mile trek by 2 buses and 3 trains to Carlisle and a meet up with my VT colleagues.
Weather forecast not looking good at the minute so anything can happen but hopefully things will go to plan.
I will update as much as I can during the day on my FB page, Instagram & Twitter feeds then blog again tomorrow night when I get to my B&B in Carlisle.
Still got time to donate too,Im £85 off my target check out