about talks publications code


In Cycling most of Land's End to John O'Groats | 28 Apr 2023 | cycling

My journey back south when smoothly but took quite a while — a reassuringly long time that made me feel that I’d cycled a significant distance. On the day after finishing I was cooked an enormous breakfast at the B&B, then cycled the 10 miles to Wick to catch a 4h30 train to Inverness. The most interesting part of that was going past the Cromarty Firth with several oil rigs stashed there for possible reuse or later salvage. I stayed the night at another B&B in Inverness, ate a wonderful Indian meal and even caught some decent live music with my nightcap pint.

Tartan Paint band playing in pub at night

Tartan Paint at Gellions Bar in Inverness

The next day I caught trains Inverness to Perth to Edinburgh to Kings Cross, underground to Wimbledon, and train again to Horsley. Started at 8:42am, arrived about 12 hours later. All went smoothly including bike although the ScotRail reservations were a complete mess and I’m grateful to the conductor for making sense of it all (and sending feedback to central so hopefully they fix their computer systems to get it right).

In total I rode 925 miles in 9 days, so just over 100 miles/day on average. I missed out the segment from Nantwich to Kirby Lonsdale while ill. Even though I didn’t complete the entire LEJOG I’m still pleased with the ride. The route was from Richard Barrett’s “Land’s End to John O’Groats” guide (Cicerone, 2021) and I was happy to use the GPX tracks loaded into my bike computer. The highlights were the ends: the first day through Cornwall including a couple of little ferries, and the last two days through the Cairngorms and the moorlands north from there to the coast.

LEJOG route map

My route of 925 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats, minus a day’s ride in the middle that I skipped by train

It was lambing season up and down the country and there are sheep everywhere — apparently about 33 million in total or about one for every two people in Britain. I was amused to see what looked like numerous “trailer parks” to US eyes that were instead “luxury holiday home resorts” serving a notably different demographic. The large number of camper vans was also quite striking, especially in the otherwise sparsely populated north of Scotland. Finally, I was delighted to find bakeries and tasty pastries all along my ride. I particularly enjoyed the savory pies in Scotland.


Except for a broken spoke that in the end didn’t cause me much trouble, my bike and gear worked extremely well. I got just one puncture and had sufficiently little gear that it didn’t weight me down. For significant chunks of the route, especially those on bike paths and canal towpaths, 28mm touring tires would be better than 25mm road tires, but my old-school road bike frame can’t take them. However, riding the fast sections with true road bike feel was lovely.

Before starting I wondered whether my lack of real climbing gears would be an issue. I have 50/34 front chainrings and a 10 speed 11/25 cassette: 50 to 11 is great when going fast but 34 to 25 meant that I certainly had to stand and grind on the occasional very steep hill. These were mostly in the first couple of days in Cornwall and Devon and really didn’t cause any trouble.

Clothing and other gear worked well. Each night I washed either my bike shorts or bike jersey, and something else. I used my warm gloves and rain gear though never got a real soaking.

My eating plans were messed up by being ill but at other times it worked well to start with a snack in the morning before leaving, stop for breakfast after 25-40 miles, snack for the rest of ride, and then eat a good dinner. There were small shops in many villages and then also pubs open in the afternoons so I never felt that I was too far from being about to buy food or drink. Probably wasn’t the best trip to stop bringing Imodium (Loperamide) with me on 😉 I lost 8-9 lbs on the ride.

In terms of weight, my bike with bottle cages, handlebar bag mount, seat pack mount and bell is about 21 lbs. Everything I added was another 21 lbs, and I was wearing about 3.5 lbs when it was sunny.

Detailed Gear List

To wear

Bike stuff

The bike itself

Bags, bottles, etc.



In handlebar and seat packs

Clothing – extra cycling

Clothing – non-cycling

First aid kit

Phone, computer, lights, charging

Maps, paper, etc.