10 January, 2007

Land's End to John o'Groats

I realised whilst looking at some of my photos from my walk that I haven't done anything with them really. So it's time I posted up some archaic photos from walking Land's End to John o'Groats in 2004:

St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, LEJOG 2004
This is St Michael's Mount in Cornwall a day's walk from Land's End. about a week after this I had to go home with a very painful ankle. I took everything out of my bag and put about two thirds of it back in again two days later and set off again. My dad said about cutting your toothbrush in half as an example of the ridiculous lengths you should go to to cut down on the weight of your bag.

Sleeping out, LEJOG 2004
I was sleeping out under the stars every night, which was lovely. Maybe it is one of those things that is lovelier in retrospect. Being 6'3", I have to take care of my back, and pitching down in the comfiest bit of land you can find on a quarter inch of foam underneath your waterproof poncho is somehow even rougher than it sounds.

Somerset, LEJOG 2004
I worked my way North and East through the middle of Devon and Cornwall, a journey that took weeks, and unlike a lot of the rest of the route, just followed my own meandering trail each day, reading a guidebook ("The End to End Trail" by Andy Robinson) and trying to find paths on the OS map that would keep me away from main roads.

LEJOG 2004
Inevitably some road walking was necessary. I like this photo because of the way the exact square cut into the hedge in the distance looks.

Luxury: A tent at last! LEJOG 2004
Rosa came and met me in Congleton where my aunt and uncle live (which is perfectly halfway between Offa's Dyke and the Pennine Way). It meant that I've not walked Offa's Dyke or the Pennine Way in entirety whatever lies I may tell you later, as I missed the last day's walking on Offa's Dyke, which was all rolling countryside and a bit gentle, and the first and last days on the Pennine Way. Anyway the point of this picture is to demonstrate that she brought me my tent. As summer wore on and I got further north into rougher territory it was really nice to have a cover over my head. The additional weight was like starting all over again for a while, even considering that I'd put on some muscle for once in my life.

The Pennine Way, LEJOG 2004
Some bits were nicely wild, such as the Pennine Way. Although maybe too much had been done to make it safe for people. I'm kind of glad I didn't sink in a bog though. 2004 was the wettest summer on record (don't know if that record has been beaten yet), so I had my fair share of dampness and hardship to contend with.

Walking the tracks, LEJOG 2004
This gives you an idea of the size of bag I was carrying. It was big. It was my bain and a burden and a half. By the end, I was sick of walking, sick of roads and paths and most of all sick of carrying that enormous weight around everywhere, it was like torture to me.

Walking LEJOG 2004
I'm terrible at smiling for the camera.

Blair Atholl to Kingussie, LEJOG 2004
Scotland was without doubt my favourite places to walk. the remoteness of locations, the glorious views and roughness of the countryside. It's properly wild in places. Bleak as anything, but in a very romantic way.

Scottish Highlands, LEJOG 2004
nearing the end. I had to make the decision whether to go through Glasgow and follow the West Highland Way along the West Coast or, to head vaguely Northwards from Edinburgh and try and beat a path straight through the mountains.
In the end, although the West Highland way is one of the nicest walks around, apparently, I opted to just tear north as quickly as possible without the detour. "Beating my way was hardly necessary however, as for the final fortnight's walk the A9 runs all the way from the end of the M90 to within a day of John o'Groats. I succesfully avoided it until Inverness.

One of my favourite days (well, two days) was going cross country from Blair Atholl to Kingussie.

Finishing post, LEJOG 2004
Tired and a bit beardy on my final day I walked 30 miles, unwilling to camp out a mere ten miles from the end when darkness fell and navigated the dark road to John o'Groats making excited phone calls to friends and family. Worrying I'd missed a turning in the dark and finally, finally walking in to town, buying myself a luxurious B&B room and then drinking too many doubles of whisky. This photo was taken the next day, exactly 3 months after I set off.


Anonymous said...

How'd you manage to be reading my guidebook in 2004 then? It doesn't get published until March. Bleeding time lords get everywhere...

Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures and description.


Your sister

Unknown said...

OK, I may have got the name of the book wrong. But I'm sure Andy's is a very good book and everyone should buy it.