My route

May 11, 2017

One of the best things about walking from one end of the country to the other is that the route you choose to take between the start and end is up to you. As long as you get that cheesy snap at Lands End and again at John o' Groats, the country is yours to explore as you wish.

 

 

Although most LeJoggers take advantage of long distance footpaths en route, there are dozens of popular variables. Some take the trip to respectably crazy extremes. Adam Short did LeJog and back again - by walking 6,600 miles around the coast of the UK. Charlie Lee visited the furthest north, south, east and west points of Britain. Mary Laver did it in a wheelchair. Tony Phoenix-Morrison did it with a fridge on his back. 'Naked rambler' Stephen Gough did it in the buff. Best of all, these guys did it playing folk sessions every night.

 

With the caveat that anything from failing hips through ennui (start and end of the Pennine Way) to irritation (Cotswolds Way) may alter my plans, the route I expect to follow is outlined below.

 

Lands End > Barnstaple (166 miles) on the South West Coastal Path. There is a lot of up and down here, making it a tough start to the journey and a quick way to get fit (if it doesn't break me). On the plus side, I've always loved the SW coast and I can't wait to explore it further.

 

Barnstaple > Bath (100-ish miles). A shortish tramp over Exmoor and the Quantocks then via Glastonbury and the Somerset Levels to Bath.

 

Bath > Chipping Camden on the Cotswold Way (100 miles). I thought hard about this section. The Offa's Dyke Path that traces the Welsh border gets great reviews – and it's not a part of the world I know well. Meanwhile, the Cotswolds Way seems to have few fans among LeJogers, who bemoan its frustrating twists and turns. The clincher for me was being able to bring together villages I already know while getting to see a bit of my family in and around Stroud. 

 

Chipping Camden > Thorpe. I will go east of Birmingham, using the Heart of England Way to join the Limestone Way at Thorpe. 

 

Thorpe > Edale. I love Derbyshire. I have walked some of this area before and can't wait to tread old ground on the Limestone Way.

 

Edale > Kirk Yetholm (268 miles). The Pennine Way. In terms of long-distance paths in Britain, it's the daddy (though one day I'd love to walk the Cape Wrath Way). I see the hills on the horizon every time I drive north and it will be nice to put names to shapes. I am expecting this section to contain low points (on the moors) but also some of the best scenery (in the Dales). Although many LeJogers, leave it earlier, I am hoping to complete the full Way - including the boggy Cheviot.

 

Kirk Yetholm > Milngavie. I'm planning on switching between three long distance routes, St Cuthbert's Way, the Southern Upland Way and the Millennium Link along the Union and Forth & Clyde Canals to cross the Borders and reach Milngavie, north-west of Glasgow, and the start of the West Highland Way

 

Milngavie > Fort William (96 miles). I enter the big mountains on the West Highland Way. If I have energy and the weather's OK, I might try and summit Ben Nevis on a rest day.

 

Fort William > Inverness (73 miles). I travel from coast to coast along the geological faultline of the Great Glen, skirting Lochs Lochy, Oich and Ness to arrive in Inverness.

 

Inverness > John o' Groats. I will stick to the east coast of Scotland, trying to avoid the busy A9 as much as possible to reach my destination. I am keen to use as much of the John o' Groats Trail as possible, but am aware that it is a work in progress, and there are more than a few horror stories from other LeJogers about inaccessible routes and pathways that disappear over cliff edges. Even the website is clear this is "a challenging route". I guess it depends on my spirits and the weather by the time I reach the home straight. If a straightforward slog along a road seems the best option then the A9 it will be.

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