A  L o n g  Walk to the Top

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  Planning Tips and Links to Other Web Sites

So many questions; where to begin?

Like everything in life, we will probably all go about planning the project in different ways. Here is how we did, modified a little with some hindsight.

  • Start big and sketchy and gradually work in the detail of each aspect e.g.:
    • When can we do it?
    • How long can we take?
    • Do we carry a tent or stay in B&B's?
    • What is our purpose? It might be simply to walk from LE to JOG or it might be to also join Southernmost to Northernmost points or some other goal.
  • Then we wondered how others had done it, which is probably what you are doing right now. I found the following observations helpful:
    • I read as many accounts as I could find, some went the shortest flattest way and didn't mind walking on tarmac a lot of the time, others went a very long way round to be able to follow as many National Trails as possible and keep off the road. Some did it slowly others did long daily distances. Each web site, book, blog and journal had a different style and personality and all helped us to build a picture of what to expect and how we might go about it.
  • Here are some links to information sources that may be helpful:

    Daryl May did the walk alone at age 63, then went back 6 months later to do it in the opposite direction. A very entertaining and informative account  http://mylongwalk.com/

    Mark Moxon gives another entertaining story of his walk by a different route http://www.landsendjohnogroats.info/ Mark's website is probably the most comprehensive site on the Land's End to John O'Groats walk. 

    Richard Fosh http://www.foshy.co.uk/lejog/index.html  Done in a fast time combining camping, B&B's and YHA accomodation. Richard took a central Cornwall route and went directly north from Edinburgh. Written in a delightfully laid back, chatty, matter of fact style.

    Dave Greenwood gives a very earthy but hilarious description of his very fast walk, Be warned though, it is X rated, if you can't tolerate course language, give this one a miss. I thought it was great   http://imsodave.blogspot.com/

    For a good overview of the route options and a good concise account of the walk Martin Hockey is good  http://www.hockeylejog.co.uk/

    Andrew McCloy's: The Land's End to John O'Groats Walk book is a favourite amongst LEJOG walkers see Amazon for details.

    For the big picture on the main national trails, the Harvey Long Distance Path Chart is a useful planning aid. Also on Amazon.

    Mapping Options

    The obvious option is to take the most detailed, 1:25K OS Explorer, maps. You will need around 55 of them! We decided against this option in favour of a 3 way map carrying method as follows:

     

  • I downloaded PC based mapping software (the software is free and includes basic road maps) what you pay for are the OS maps of your choice. We bought 1:50K maps in 'tiles' of 40X40 square km along our chosen route. Current cost is 0.92 ukp per tile. This produces a seamless map on which you can draw your route on the screen of your PC. We then printed day by day sections as A4 sheets along our route. Later I added some 1:25K tiles and prints for more difficult to navigate terrain. Most of the maps we printed and carried were 1:50K and they were quite adequate.
  • To provide the wider context, we carried pages torn out of a Collins Road Atlas.
  • We also bought a mapping and GPS app for Lynne's iphone. If we had a windows based Smart phone we could have exported our PC maps to it for no extra cost, but the Apple iphone did not support the PC based software.. The iphone app (worked without a cell network signal) was great for showing us exactly where we were, not so good for context on a small screen.

This method worked very well for us and was cheaper, lighter weight, and much less clutter compared to broadsheet paper maps. We got a relative to post parcels of map sheets to us C/O post offices at intervals along the way.

Accommodation

After a great deal of indecision, we finally decided against carrying camping equipment and to stay at either B&B's, Hotels or YHA according to availability. Before we left home, we spent a lot of time, mainly using the internet and also other hikers lists, of conveniently located B&B's. We created a tabular Itinerary for the whole walk which included addresses and phone numbers of, ideally 2 B&B's in each planned stopping place. This proved to be invaluable. Generally, we phoned the evening before to secure our accommodation. However, we soon discovered that our listed B&B either; didn't answer the phone when we called, didn't have a vacancy at the time, was not open for business. Quite early in the trek we got quite desperate when no accommodation seemed to be available. In reality, we never had to 'sleep rough'. Something always turned up. After a while we developed the following 'rules' about seeking a bed for the night:

  • Don't wing it! We tried just looking for a place when we arrived and it didn't work out well! Always work hard at securing a place the day before (later on we started to book several days ahead).
  • Always accept the first offer, don't refuse because of price, it might be the only place available and you might get gazumped. This happened at least once when we phoned back after "thinking about it" and "shopping round".
  • Try to chat and let the host know you are walkers and you need to find somewhere close. If there isn't a vacancy, always ask for a referral to somewhere nearby. More than once I talked a host around to finding a way to 'put us up' when they had originally said there was no room. Reasons: Sometimes they had a room they didn't normally let out but liked to help out if they knew someone was 'stuck'. Sometimes people had to work late and couldn't be ready until well into the evening that day, let them know you are flexible and will work something out to accommodate their situation. Better than sleeping in the rain!

These are the main points that come to mind right now. Over time we will add to and improve this web site