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
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.
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
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)
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).
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)
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.
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.