There are endless possibilities for original adventurous undertakings across the UK and around the world. Don’t just cycle Lands End to John O’Groats by default.
Let me start by saying that I have no problem with “LEJOG”, as it’s known.
I would love to make the trip – be it by bicycle, on foot or otherwise – and part of me hopes that I one day will. But, every time I think about it, a larger part of me considers the hundreds of other journeys of equivalent distance that I could make for which there aren’t guide books, record holders, museums, and a series of pubs and B&Bs that will greet you with “So, which way are you going?”. All those other journeys that would follow a route entirely unique to me and ripe for my own exploration, and all just waiting for me to dream them up.
Of course, it would be narrow minded to focus simply on LEJOG. I would apply the same to climbing Kilimanjaro, skiing to the North or South Poles, swimming the Channel and entering an Iron Man amongst other things. The text book adventure destinations that roll off the tongue so easily.
It’s not my place to poo poo these things. I have done none so don’t speak from experience. If you want to do them or have already done so then good on you. You might offer in defence:
- They are popular for a reason
- They are attractive precisely because they are so well trodden and that gives a sense of being part of something bigger
- You don’t need a defence, you can do what you want and hopefully don’t care enough about what I think to influence your plans
All entirely valid. Please don’t let this put you off. BUT… do use this to make you think twice and consider your options. If you’ve thought about it and still want to do LEJOG or some other well rehearsed route then that’s great. But don’t just do it by default.
LEJOG looks like a great route but is it really any better than going south-east to north-west? No doubt Kilimanjaro offers some spectacular views but then so do many other thousands of mountains across Africa and the rest of the world. And whilst it would be great to tick the official Iron Man box, couldn’t you organise something similar yourself on a more interesting route (like this or this)?
The opportunity to spend that long travelling or that much effort exploring is too rare, too precious, to be squandered lazily on the first thing that comes to mind. Give your next adventure some proper thought before signing up for the honeypot project.
Hi guys, I think your right its good to get off the beaten track. LEJOG is the longest ride (end-to-end) in the UK though that’s the beauty of it. Quite a challenge!
Thanks Bikecation. It might be the longest “set piece” ride in the UK but that’s the point! You could just as well carve your own route that was twice as long if you wanted to.
I like the idea of taking different paths can you suggest an alternative to the coast to coast walk for your not -so -adventurous -as- Tim parents?
Well mum, I’d first stress that I am sure that the classic coast-to-coast would make a wonderful walk.
But if you really want to do something different then you’ve given me an easy one: just look at a map of the UK, pick two opposing coastal points and find your own route between them!
Or if you don’t just want “C2C” routes then looking for old historic routes or connecting two otherwise arbitrary landmarks (e.g. highest point in given county, where you went to university, two places with the same name) are good places to start for ideas.
Nice idea Tim. Some great pubs on the C2C though ;)
couldn’t agree more. this was really brought home when i did the three peaks a few years ago. we saw the same faces on each hill and the same minibusses in the lay-byes at the bottom. it didn’t feel like adventure, more like a conveyor belt.
next year i’m planning to ride between all of the english county tops in one continuous journey. i’m sure someone has done it before, but if they have, i’m sure the route will be different.
i chose the challenge for exactly that reason.
Ah yes Ian, perhaps the Three Peaks would have been an even better example!
Good luck with the county tops trip. Let us know how you get on.
I feel exactly the same way. Everyone and their dog does lands end to John o groats. The real excitement in an expedition is planning your own trip 100%, where there are many unknowns and challenges that you will face along the way. I find there is a lot more excitement and satisfaction to be had in planning your own trip also.
Pleased to announce that within 6 months of writing this article, I have fully embraced hypocrisy and started planning an end-to-end cycle!
May I ask why you’re doing LEJOG instead of planning your own route? No intended sarcasm, just curious what your reasons are!
Thanks Mike. I’m sure it’s partly out of laziness for not thinking up something new but also, it’s a classic challenge (see Point 2 above)
I’ve come up with a lot of my own ideas for cycle routes around the country before (e.g. on my rickshaw, for a triathlon, doing the three peaks, and along the Welsh coast) and now it will be nice to follow a well-worn route which can be shared with other people.
It’s something which can be easily compared with other people’s trips – routes chosen, time taken – for a talking point and point of reference. And, of course, underlying it is the fundamental appeal of travelling from end of the country to the other by human power (see Point 1).
There’s much to be said for doing something different, but for charity escapades like wot I do, the big name challenges always get the attention. Everyone knows LEJOG, Kili, Channel, etc & local papers are more likely to run the story if they have a common hook to hang it on.
Interesting point Rich. I can certainly see that going for the big name escapades makes it easier to get people’s interest/attention/pounds. But with a little effort, alternatives can be just as effective and have the scope for a much bigger impact. You’re never going to raise millions or change the world cycling LEJOG or climbing Kili (which is not to detract from such trips, just to say that their is a limit to their impact) but something genuinely novel has the scope at least for a greater impression.
And that, in a round about way, rather reinforces my point. The classic trips are fine and good and easier to do in many respects but, with a bit of effort, alternatives can be as good or better.
Interesting standpoint and I’ll go along with you on the ‘find something individual’ concept. I cycled LeJoG last year and did it my way. Included Lizard Point and Dunnet Head; went over Dartmoor and through Much Wenlock (nod to the Olympics that bit) and used the General Wade Road past Loch Ness (hell of a climb that one) as well as a few other oddities which included the miles back down to Inverness to catch the train home. LeJoG took me 8.5 days and the whole 1076 miles took 10 days. Solo. Unsupported.
Yes Lejog is a standard for cycling in the country but it can be individualised. I’m looking to do it again but not like the first time (it hurt and I got ill after it but I set myself a challenge and found one) so if anybody has options let me know.
Another challenge I did the year before was the national 3 peaks. Cycled between them of course. They are standard challenges but you can make them your own.
In a few years I’ll be doing a coast to coast as well. Specifically I’ll ride from Hull via York to my home in Liverpool. Yes it’s the A59 when I’m 59.
Use the standards to develop your own challenge. More fun that way and it helps people who may be sponsoring you to get a handle on what it it you are doing.
Hey Paul, thanks for the comment. LEJOG is, of course, a wonderful thing to do (I’ve since gone as far as Edinburgh) and, as you say, there is plenty of scope for individualising.
I also cycled the 3 Peaks and I thought I was being original!
Good comments here.
i have just returned from a 30 day bike tour to the 4 corners of Scotland.
Muckle Flugga in the North
Mull of Galloway in the South
Those 2 are pretty much accepted but East & west get argued over.
For me it was St. Kilda and Peterhead
Fantastic weather and folk.
Anyone need any tips or advice, please contact me
Thanks for that Matt.
Interesting thread. Coming over from ‘Murica on first trip to Britain, everything would be new to me. I am considering a LEJOG solo bicycle tour, via Ireland for a bit (on a Brompton no less), then multimodal to Cities ending in London. In summer 2015.
Any input or detours would be welcomed.
Thanks Tom. I put out a message on Twitter/Facebook for suggestions and got this back from Ruben Rome:
“Head for the big green blobs (national parks), coasts and mountains. It can easily start at Land’s End and finish at John O’Groats, but the route can be infinite. I do have a slight bias towards Scotland though. The best route is not following a route and continually being concerned with whether or not you took the right road!”
Hey dude, interesting read!been following your blog quite a lot and like what you do!
My first (and currently only) Cycle trip was Lands End to John O Groats, me and my friend camped every night and in some places followed our own route, however we started with this one because there are guides out there, and it made the whole trip a bit easier to plan/prepare for :)
However my next trip will be something I plan myself entirely.
Thanks Kieran. Glad you you had a good time on LEJOG. I really enjoyed the stretches I’ve done so far. Just shout if I/we can help with whatever you plan next!
Great advise that did not stop me from doing my LEJOG on a unicycle
Good work Hans!