With the infamous Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) cycling adventure 6-months behind us, (where did the year even go!), and the weather soon gearing up for those keen to take it on, this post is well overdue. Or perhaps made in good time…
From the southern-most point of England to the northern-most tip of Scotland, this epic cycle route is a true test for any cyclist. Through all the elements of mother nature, narrow lanes, quaint old villages and stunning hillside scenery; it’s one hell of a ride! A ‘must-do’ for any avid cyclist seeking their next challenge.
So, if 1400+ kilometres of leg power, endless consumption of guilt-free calories and a solid sense of achievement sounds all too exciting to simply let slide; great! Stay with us, and we’ll share with you a ‘Safes Route Guide’ (a mix of few A-roads, B-roads, country lanes, and national bicycle routes), that saw us cycle the length of the UK in 12 days, and had us hitting the top in a picture of health (and in dire need of a celebratory brew!). As well, a couple of tips and tricks from one cyclist to another, links to our accommodation and the gear we used (in a separate blog post) and shoutouts to awesome food along the way. Because, rest will be your best friend and you gotta eat!
OK. Let’s do this!
Day 1. Lands End > Nanstallon | 100 kms. | 4.25 hours cycling time | 645m elevation gain.
First things first, Lands End. Aside from it being a notable landmark and your starting locale to what will be an epic adventure, there isn’t a great deal to do there (for cyclists about to embark on LEJOG that is). Perhaps best to kick off with a coffee, take a small moment to appreciate life before saddle-sores and otherwise hightail it right out of there!
C’s dad very kindly drove us through the night from Northamptonshire to Lands End (what a boss!). We anticipated poor weather so the main goal was just to get the legs ticking over and some miles on the board, as well a good night’s rest at the next destination, – Nanstallon.
A scenic route along the waters edge was a stunning lead in to the days following. Predominantly good road surface, albeit slow moving (narrow lanes) and a few hills.
The Route: Theres only one road out of here, the A30. Take this through Sennen and Buryas Bridge. On leaving Buryas Bridge take the B3315 towards Penzance, turning left onto New Road (at Newlyn) that will become Western Promenade Road and Marine Terrace. Merge left into Green Street and follow this around into The Quay (outskirts of Penzance) that becomes Wharf Road > Chyandour Cliff > Eastern Green (all along the waterfront) and re-join the A30 after Eastern Green. Just shy of Long Rock veer right to take the Long Rock Road along the waterfront. Take a left on to Green Lane, that becomes Green Lane West and New Dairy Lane. Cross the A394 at Gwallon where the road becomes Gwallon Lane and turns into Tredrea Lane. Continue to Saint Erth. Take Chennalls Road out of Saint Erth, cross over the A30 and join the B3301. This will take you through Hayle > Ventonleagu. After cycling past Loggans veer right onto Treeve Lane that becomes Turnpike Road and Horsepool Road through Connor Downs. Head right at Gwinear Road toward (and through) Carnhel Green and a left onto Penhale Road (becomes Forest Road) through Barripper and Higher Penponds. Continue onto the B3303 that will join the A3047 just shy of Tuckingmill and continue through Illogan Highway > Barngoose and Blowinghouse. Take Blowinghouse Hill Road (becomes West End) out of Blowinghouse and follow the signs to and through Redruth. Join the A393 at Mount Ambrose that becomes the A3047 at Shallow Adit. Continue through Scorrier and Blackwater. Join the A3075 and continue through Penhallow > Perranzabuloe > Goonharvern and follow to Rejerrah. Follow the signs to Saint Newlyn East (right hand turn after Rejerrah) and continue on this road (The Butts) over the A3058 to Whitecross > Trekenning > Quoit > Castle-an-Dinas toward Inches. A lot of the roads are smaller country lanes leading into Nanstallon, but follow the signs to the town for the first of many carb-loading sessions, and a good nights rest.
Tip: Don’t forget to snap a pic at the iconic Lands End sign and get excited about cycling 816 miles toward John O’Groats! It costs £10 (steep!) to get a photo within the fenced area (p/person) so we just stuck to outside the barriers. The pic at John O’Groats is free!
Top Tip: Stay in Penzance the night before departure to ensure a good night’s sleep, and fuel well for the day ahead. Stock up on snacks to keep you going for those few hours.
Day 2. Nanstallon > Westleigh | 135 kms. | 6.5 hours cycling time | 1,697m elevation gain.
This day was long to say the least, though beautifully scenic. Despite a rude shock to the Australian tourist (yours truly), Cornwall and Devonshire are incredibly hilly!
We followed the GPS to the national cycle route and it took us for 10 kilometres along a camel track (aka bike path swarmed by leaves and debris, though a good shield from the rain). It was time consuming (exceptionally slow moving for 1.5 hours) and resulted in 2x punctures. Perhaps you could stick to some A / B roads…
The Route: From Nanstallon follow the signs to Bodmin (A389) but take Berrycoombe Hill and Scarlett’s Well Road (left hand turns prior to Bodmin) toward Dunmere. Continue through Hellandbridge and Tresarrett and join the B2366 around Saint Tudy through to Valley Truckle. Join the A39 here and take it through Camelford and Starapark. Turn right onto the A395 and continue through Davidstow to Hallworthy, taking the North Cornish Coast Road to Warbstow > Canworthy Water and through Maxworthy. Join the B3254 and follow the signs to Trebarrow and North Tamerton. Continue on smaller roads through Derriton to Holsworthy. Take Waterloo Road out of Holsworthy which joins the A3072 and continue on this through Brandis Corner > Highampton and Hatherleigh. Take the B3216 toward Jacobstowe that becomes the A3072. Follow through Bow > Clannaborough Barton and Copplestone. The road then becomes the A377, which you will follow to Barnstaple Cross. Here, veer left onto Higher Road > Stonewall Lane toward Pounds Hill and re-join the A3072 at Creedy Bridge. Continue through Stockleigh and Pomery where the road will join the A396 (Exeter Road) around Bickleigh. Continue on the A396 through Ashley into Tiverton.
Tip:There are lots of hills this day so you might as well enjoy them. Keep the body well fuelled and hydrated to accommodate the climbs
Top Tip: Pay close attention to the address of your accommodation. We thought we were staying in West Tiverton, which indeed translates to Westleigh. We snuck in an extra 12kms in the dark and only had 1x working light by then, to arrive (filthy dirty) just in time to avoid the storm..
Day 3. Westleigh > Portishead | 98 kms | 4.25 hours cycling time | 645m elevation gain.
The weather really wasn’t on our side with rain from the get-go and strong crosswinds picking up throughout the course of the day. Despite having good energy, we called it a day after we were each were blown a metre into the road. Safety first.
The Route: Head toward Station Road from Westleigh and follow this through Buscombe and make a left-hand turn onto the A38. Continue through Red Ball > Whiteball > Beambridge > outskirts of Bagley Green > Pyles Thorne > Chelston and Rumwell into the outskirts of Taunton (becomes Castle Street). Cross the River Tone and make a left onto the A3027, followed by a quick right-hand turn onto the A3038, and another right onto the A358. After the first roundabout, this will road will become the A3259 that will take you through Priorswood > Monkton Heathfield, before then again becoming the A38. Follow this past Walford Cross > Adsborough and North Petherton toward Bridgewater. Continue on the A38 through Dunball > Walpole > Pawlett > Huntspill and through Highbridge. At Highbridge make a right onto the B3139 toward Wedmore, passing through Walrow > Watchfield > Mark Causeway > Mark and Blackford. Through Wedmore continue on the B3151 toward Cocklake and Clewer, where the road will become the A371 on the west side of Chedder. Continue through Shipman and join the A38, making a left-hand turn onto the path that runs alongside the A368 at the junction, and then veer right onto Front Street. Make a right at Church Lane (becomes King Road > Brinsea Batch) and join the B3133 until Congresbury. Continue on the B3133 through Yatton > Northend and Kenn, and take a right to join the B3124 (Clevedon Road) at Clevedon. This will take you through Walton in Gordano > Weston in Gordano and lead you into Portishead.
Tip: This is cider country. Celebrate some good progress on the bike with a Thatchers in the evening.
Food Tip: For a wholesome meal, call in for lunch at Sow & Arrow in Clevedon. It’s an organic Paleo, Ketogenic, low-carb and gluten free focused cafe. It has the tastiest dishes and friendliest staff. Oh, and great coffee!
Day 4. Portishead > Upton upon Severn | 98 kms | 4.5 hours cycling time | 666m elevation gain.
For us, this day was wet all day. The road was great (A38) but we struggled to stay warm. Calling it an early day about 50 kilometres shy of where we would have liked to have reached.
The Route: From Portishead take the B3124 through Sheepway (Sheepway Road > Station Road) to Portbury. Make a left turn onto High Street and briefly join the A369 before veering left onto Saint George’s Hill > Priory Road > Lodway and another left onto Hardwick Road, following the signs to the M5 (you’re not going to cycle on this). Theres a path/bridge that runs alongside the M5 to cross the River Avon. After doing so, take a right-hand turn onto the B4054 through Shirehampton, and turn left onto the B4057 shortly thereafter. Continue on this road through Kingweston to Henbury. At Henbury take a path beside Hallen Road and cross the M5 (overpass/underpass) and make a right onto Berwick Lane. Follow signs to Almondsbury taking the B4055. Continue through Almondsbury and join the A38. This is a fantastic road with a good shoulder that will take you through Rudgeway > Alveston > Whitfield > Falfield > Stone > Woodford > Newport > Cambridge > Moreton Valence and just shy of Hardwicke. Just prior to Hardwicke, veer left onto the B4008 through Hardwicke and Quedgeley. This will become the A430 on the south side of Hempsted. Follow the signs to Gloucester and maintain your route that has then turned into the A417. This will take you through Alney Island and Maisemore. At Maisemore, make a right-hand turn onto Church Road that will become Over Old Road. Re-join the A417 at Hartbury and follow the road until veering right onto the B4211. Continue on this route through Corse Lawn > Longdon and Tunnel Hill. On the north side of Tunnel Hill join the A4104 that will take you onward to Upton upon Severn.
Day 5. Upton upon Severn > Wellington | 88.5 kms. | 4 hours cycling time | 1,035m elevation gain.
Another short day as Mother Nature just wasn’t at all on our side. The heaven’s opened all morning, leaving us with wet and slow roads. As well strong head winds to contest. In saying this, the road was of good condition.
The Route: From Upton upon Severn jump on the B4211 (Church Street) and continue through Hanley Castle and Rhydd where it turns into the B4424. Take this through Callow End and join the A449 heading north from Powick. Continue toward St John’s and cycle on the outskirts of Worcester following the rivers edge on the A443. Through Hallow and Holt Heath, where the road becomes the B4196. Continue through Shrawley > Frog Pool and Noutard’s Green and continue onto the B4194 just shy of Areley Kings. This will take you through Bewdley > Buttonoak and Kinlet where it then becomes the B4363. Continue through Billingsley > Duexhill > Glazely, over the Mor Brook, to Oldbury and the road turns into the B4373. Continue onwards to Nordley > Linley > The Dean > Jackfield and cross the River Severn into Ironbridge. Take Dale End and Dale Road out of Ironbridge that becomes Wellington Road through Coalbrookdale. Further north, it turns into the A5223 that will take you through Horsehay > Lawley > Lawley Furnaces > Arleston and into Wellington.
Day 6. Wellington > Preston. | 144 kms. | 6 hours cycling time | 858m elevation gain.
Some good mileage made this day along consistently undulating roads. Weather was on our side and we passed through several quaint towns and villages that made the scenery all the more beautiful.
The Route: Take Whitechurch Road out of Wellington toward the A442 through Long Lane > Sleapford > Sleap > Waters Upton and Cold Hatten. On the north side of Cold Hatten take the third left into a laneway that crosses the River Tern toward Eaton-on-tern and Ollerton, and Childs Ercall. At Woodseaves the road becomes the A529. Continue this route through Market Drayton > Spoonley > Adderly > Audlem > Hankelow and take the A530 into Nantwich. Take the B5074 outside of Nantwich and continue this route through Worleston > Church Minshull > Ashbrook > Primrosehill and Whitegate. From Whitegate head towards the A559 in the direction of Northwich, making a left-hand turn onto the B5374 and A533 toward Winnington. Continue through Winnington Bridge > Anderton > Comberbach and Lower Stretton. Join the A49 at Stretton through to Stockton Heath > Winwick Way and take the A573 at Winwick through Golborne Dale > Golborne > Abram > Platt Bridge > outskirts of Wigan > Swinley > Standish and Euxton. Cross the A6 overpass and make a left-hand turn into Havelock Road that becomes Holme Road, and follow the way into Preston.
Tip: Be sure to stop in at Market Drayton for some delicious gingerbread treats, – its founding town. Genius!
Day 7. Preston > Carlisle. | 148 kms. | 6 hours cycling time | 1,203m elevation gain.
This was a fantastic day of cycling through the lush hills and greenery of Lancashire and Cumbria. The Shap climb was an achievable test and the winds at the top were epic; pushing you along without the need to peddle, which was a cool experience. The road was in great condition which meant for a fast descent
The Route: From Preston start on the A5072 and join the B6241 that turns into the B5411 through Woodplumpton. Make a right onto Hollowferth Lane that becomes Benson’s Lane and follow this until you make a right-hand turn onto Moss Lane. Continue along and take another right onto Saint Michaels’s Road before joining the A6 just prior to Bilsborrow. Continue on the A6 through Cabus > Bay Horse > Hampson > Galgate > Scotforth and into Lancaster. Rejoin the A6 though Lancaster and continue through Slyne > Bolton le-Sands > Carnforth > Dock Acres > Hale > Beetham > Milnthorpe > Heversham > Leasgill and Levens Hall before making a right-hand turn onto the A590. Take Nannypie Lane over the junction > Cooper Hill Road > Halfpenny Lane and Natland Road through Sedgewick > Natland and Kendal, and rejoin the A6 from Kendal. Taking you through Skelsmergh > Selside > Forest Hall > (not before you climb the Shap!) Shap > Sapbeck Gate > Hackthorpe > Clifton > Eamont Bridge > Penrith > Plumpton > High Hesket > Low Hesket > Carleton and into Carlisle.
Tip: There’s a great bike store in Lancaster – The Edge Cycleworks that’s worth a drop in if you’re in need of any gear, or just some really cool and kind people to chat with. We stocked up on some base layers for the north as we were pretty unlucky with wet and cold days for the majority of our journey.
Food Tip: Archer’s Café on the shore at Bolton le Sands does great coffee and a generous lunch.
Day 8. Carlisle > Airdrie | 150 kms. | 6 hours 40 mins cycling time |
This day we hit Scotland! We’re making inroads and the weather is yet again, wet. Of all the road surfaces we encountered along the way, this day and the B7076 was the most memorable, and not for good reason. It couldn’t have been more bumpy and therefore slow moving if it tried. Going down hill and still hitting only 20 km/hr says something.
The Route: From Carlisle take the A6 north to reach the A7 and take a left at Kingstown onto Parkhouse Road which turns into the B7076 and hugs the M6 through to Gretna. Continue on this road through Gretna Green > Kirkpatrick Fleming > Kirtlebridge > Ecclefechan > Lockerbie and Johnstonebridge. Prior to Beattock you will make a right-hand turn to join the A701 that will once more turn into the B7076. Continue through Coatsgate and Nether Howeclouch and over the River Clyde where the road becomes the A702. Follow through Kirkton > Abington and keep left outside of Abington to continue on the A73 through Roberton > Hyneford Bridge > Lanark > Carluke > Bogside > Newhouse > Chapellhall > Brownsburn and into Airdrie.
Tip: Don’t forget to snap a few ‘welcome to Scotland pics’ at Gretna.
Road Tip: To avoid the B7076 you could divert your route to either Glasgow or Edinburgh. We opted for a more direct route that took us somewhere in-between – to Airdrie. If you choose this way, there’s no way around the B7076.
Day 9. Airdrie > Aberfeldy. 107 kms. | 5 hours cycling time | 1,129 elevation gain.
This was a tough day in Cairngorms that was windy and hilly, albeit incredibly picturesque. The road was quiet and cycling in the valley of the mountains was truly breathtaking.
The day was cut short however due to my boyfriend’s knee giving way. (I think he really just wanted to eat the 18” pizza on offer in Aberfeldy, which defeated him anyway!) The last 8kms into Aberfeldy was a lovely coast down the mountain. No effort required.
The Route: Take the A89 out of Airdrie toward Plains and turn left onto the A73 through Stand and Riggend. This then turns into the B8039 (Stirling Road) through Luggiebank, which turns into the B8054 (Forest Road) and then Walten Road. Make a quick right onto the B816 to get onto Cumbernauld Road, which joins the A803 and turns into the A872. Follow A872 through outskirts of Auchenbowie and Saint Ninians before the road turns into the B8051 (Saint Ninians Road) > B8052 into and through Stirling. Cross the bridge and veer off to the left taking the B823 through Bridge of Allan and joining the A9 with a left-hand turn. Take the 3rd exit at the roundabout and continue on the B8033 (Auchinlay Road) to Braco, joining the A822 through Garrick > Muthill > Crieff, and turning right onto a side road/path alongside the A85 at Crieff. Continue to Gilmetron and take the A822 through Corrymuckloch > Amulsee and take a left onto the A826 (at Milton) through Scotson and into Aberfeldy.
Day 10. Aberfeldy > Aviemore | 59 kms. | 3 hours 10 cycling time | 862m elevation gain.
If things didn’t already slow down the day prior with an injured knee, this day topped it with a broken bike! It’s fair to say that morale was low – temporarily. Stranded high and dry quite literally in the middle of nowhere, we hiked for 15 kilometres (by foot) to Dalwhinnie. A tiny village that luckily had a train passing through in 20 minutes after our arriving. We took the train for 26 miles to Aviemore to seek a hire bike to complete the final 300 kilometres of the adventure (which really had become an adventure by now!), as well spoiled ourselves to an expensive hotel for the night… because, well there were no other options than just that.
The Route: From Aberfeldy take the A827 out of town and turn right onto the B846 towards Weem. Follow this through Dull (small village paired with ‘Boring’ in the US) > Keltneyburn and Tummel Bridge, and it will join the B847 just prior to Trinafour. Continue through Dalchalloch > Struan and Calvine where you can cycle on a terrible bike path (as we did) alongside the A9 to Aviemore.
Assuming your bike won’t also break, so from Dalwhinnie there’s a service road to Crubenmore Lodge. Also, the B1952 runs from the far side of Kingussie, through Kincraig and into Aviemore.
Tip: If we had our time again, we’d probably cycle on the A9 and avoid the cycle path that runs alongside it. Of course safety is the highest priority at all times, though permit for some slow moving hours and plenty of moments spent dodging potholes if keeping to the bike trail. In parts it’s great, however at times given its poor and unkept condition, it’s perhaps more dangerous than cycling on the highway.
Day 11. Aviemore > Brora | 147kms. | 6.5 hours cycling time | 1,185m elevation gain.
Cycling Aviemore to Inverness along the A9 was perhaps one of the least enjoyable moments of this incredible journey, due to the fast moving traffic and high winds. On doing your research, as well speaking to locals; many warn against cycling this route and encourage sticking to the bike paths. We utilised each, as there are some areas where you simply cannot avoid the A9. The road surface is second-to-none, mostly dual-carriageway with a generous shoulder for the most part.
The Route: Take the B9152 out of Aviemore and through Granish before joining the A9. Take the B9154 at the fork before Moy and re-join the A9 at Daviot. Continue on the A9 toward Inverness and turn left into B9006 > Kingsmill Road > Eastgate Road into the town centre for a break. Take the B865 out of Inverness > Shore Street > Cromwell Road > Longman Ave. > Stadium Road before re-joining the A9 to cross the Kessock Bridge (there is a bike lane) with beautiful views over the Moray Firth. Follow the bike path to and past North Kessock. Take B9161 at Artafallie junction to Tore and continue on the bike path that follows the A835 to Newton of Ferintosh and outskirts of Conon Bridge to Maryburgh. Turn right onto the A862 through Dingwall > Tulloch Ave > Old Evanton Road to Mountgerald > Ardullie > Evanton and Culcairn. Continue on the B817 through Novar Toll > Alness. Re-join the A9 through Achnagarron and turn left at Tomich (Scotsburn Road) toward Rhicullen > Stonyfield > Lamington > East Lamington. Re-join the A9 at Tain and follow through Morangie, over the Dornoch Firth Bridge, past outskirts of Evelix > Proncycroy to Pole > Culmaily > Golspie > Doll and finish in Brora.
Tip: Be incredibly careful and mindful of the high winds and opt for the bike path/B-road where possible. The Dornoch Firth Bridge is particularly blowy!
Day 12. Brora > John O’Groats | 102 kms. | 4.5 hours cycling time | 1,042m elevation gain.
The final slog. Though you’re almost home, the prize is still quite far away. Undulating for the most part with some inclines at 13%. Hitting Wick was almost as exciting as reaching John O’Groats itself. Just a little over an hour from there.
It’s a simple route today with just 2x major roads. Continue on the A9 (Victoria Road) to Latheron and then take the A99 to Wick.
On the A9 you’ll pass through Dalchalm > Lothbeg > Lot passhmore > Culgower > Portgower > Helmsdale > Berriedale > Newport > Ramscraigs > Dunbeath > Latheron.
The A99 will take you to the finish line (John O’Groats), not before passing through several small villages along the way; Swiney > Lybster > Occumster > Bruan > Whaligoe > Ulbster > Thrumster > Whiterow > Wick > Ackergill > Keiss > Nybster > Auckengill > JOHN O’GROATS!
Tip: Pick up some snacks/supplies (if staying the night at JOG) in the large Tesco at the fuel station on the JOG side of Wick.
Accommodation Tip: There’s few accommodation options in John O’Groats (and $$$) so book ahead or arrange/research transport back to Wick for the same day. The local bus network is inconsistent with accepting bikes on-board/underneath.
Enjoy a beer at the pub! So well deserved and congrats on an awesome feat!
I hope you found this helpful in the planning of your imminent epic journey! It might be worth mentioning that we did this ride unassisted. We carried our necessities for the journey on our backs, and stocked up on snacks along the way.
Evenings were spent hand-washing and drying (by hairdryer) lycra, charging lights and devices, planning next day routes and eating more often than not, – veggie burgers and other high carb meals.
Through all the rain and storms, friendly faces met along the way, sugary snacks and beautiful landscapes, cycling LEJOG is really such a fantastic way to see the UK. And to know that you took to the hard slogo with nothing by leg power; that just makes hitting the top that much sweeter!
Cycle Safe & Bon Voyage x