Lands End to John O’Groats : an introduction

Lands End to John O’Groats : an introduction

Nothing here to do with literature, so feel free to look away now.

More than twenty years ago, I heard of the Lands End to John O’Groats walk, from one end of mainland UK to the other, Cornwall to the tip of Northeastern Scotland – an accomplishment more than an actual walking trail, for there is no one set way to tackle it. Since then I have read various accounts, collected books and maps suggesting possible routes, and dreamed of when and how I would stake my claim.

Having walked the West Highland Way and Wainwright’s Coast to Coast in the meantime, I still had not started on my own personal LEJOG. But in three weeks, I will be flying across the world to London and traveling by train down to Penzance and across to Land’s End to attempt the first leg – I can’t afford the time and may not have the stamina to walk the entire way in one continuous outing.Β  I will walk along the south coast of Cornwall, reaching Plymouth in about two weeks. Most LEJOG walkers take the north coast or strike across the centre of the Cornish peninsula to save time using a more direct route. But I was impressed many years ago by the late John Butler’s marvellous website (http://www.jbutler.org.uk/e2e/index.shtml) from which I have borrowed the map above; and decided, like John, to include the south Cornish coast and the open stretches of Dartmoor and Exmoor, as the experience and not the number of days is my paramount interest.

I plan to actually start out from Sennen Cove just north of Lands End on Friday 20th April, due to reach Plymouth on Saturday 5th May. I have a ticket for Henry IV, part 1, being played at the cliffside replica-Grecian Minack Theatre, and accommodation prebooked in B&Bs and pubs along the way.

Hopefully I will have some photos and stories to share with you once I return to Australia

I also have a few personal ‘guidelines’ for my version of LEJOG

1. Walk from one end of mainland Britain to the other, specifically Land’s End (most southwesterly point) to John O’Groats, and include Lizard Point (most southerly point) and Dunstansby Head (most northeasterly point)
2. Start each day’s walk from the precise stopping point of the day before
3. Use no other mode of land transport for parts of the actual walk. Buses or taxis between the walk and my overnight accommodation are allowed, but I have to start from where I finished walking the previous day (see #2 above)
4. Short water crossings via bridges or ferries are allowed. This is more contentious than it seems as some purists insist walking only. But if Chaucer’s pilgrims could ferry across rivers, then so can I. And the South Cornish Coast does have a few river and estuary inlets in the way. πŸ˜€
5. Plan to walk on average ten miles per day. As I say, I am in no hurry, and I know from past experience (when I was younger and fitter) that every step after ten miles can be very tiring.
6. Use waymarked Long Distance Paths and when possible, complete them if it only adds a day or two to the total. This first walk is all along the much longer 600 mile South West Coastal Path (SWCP) so no problems there. Hopefully one day I will fill in the rest πŸ˜‰
7. Try to stay overnight as close to next day start as possible. This is simply to get started early each morning rather than delay and start late.
So there we have it. I’ll take some classic reading with me (probably The Aeneid by Virgil and Livy’s War with Hannibal, but won’t be posting anything until my return in May. Keep reading and wish me luck!!

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5 thoughts on “Lands End to John O’Groats : an introduction

  1. Oh, it sounds wonderful! I love Cornwall – don’t know it hugely well, but have spent odd holidays there over the years. I’m jealous that you will see a play in the open-air theatre. I’ve visited it, but not when anything was playing sadly. Don’t forget it’s obligatory to have scones with cream and jam at least once every day – it’s the law down there. Have a fantastic time and tell us all about it when you get home! πŸ˜€

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    1. And I have to have the scones in the Cornish method – cream on top of jam, Apparently there is a local feud between Cornwall and Devon over the correct Biblical interpretation of how they should be eaten. I shall also have a medicinal pint most evenings.
      Walking through Britain certainly gives you more chance to appreciate the local area and connect with people as opposed to whizzing from one tourist spot to the next in a hire car or bus (although that’s fun too) The uppermost thoughts in my head on previous walks has been about navigation and completing the walk – this time I will concentrate on what makes this part of the UK special so I can compare with future legs. Particularly looking forward to Mousehole, as we had a children’s picture book The Mousehole Cat which we all loved as the kids were growing up.

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      1. I took my mother on a tour of Cornwall just after I’d passed my driving test, and driving through Mousehole is seared into my memory – the steep, narrow road, the huge tour buses… I was terrified and trying so hard not let my mum know. Walking is definitely the way to “do” Mousehole! πŸ˜‚

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    1. Yes, Laurie, Its been a long time coming but the excitement is certainly building now, Walking in Britain is so easy – there are thousands of miles of walking trails through beautiful countryside and history, with numerous towns and villages often sprinkled within a morning’s walk. Modern realities mean that many village shops and pubs have closed, and public transport more limited, but the few pounds I spend staying and buying locally will help a little,

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