Walking for a couple of weeks is one thing, but walking across an entire country for three months is another matter entirely. I walked from Land's End to John o'Groats in the summer of 2003 and I rate it as one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I had my ups and downs and had to dig deep to make it, but there's no doubt this is one of the biggest challenges there is. It's something I'll never forget, so to help those who are thinking of doing the walk themselves, I've put together a comprehensive collection of advice that will help you plan your own End-to-End walk:
- General planning tips
- What to take
- LEJOG or JOGLE?
- Interesting statistics
- How to prove you've done it
- Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- Useful links
One of the great things about walking from Land's End to John o'Groats is that you make all the decisions yourself, from where you walk to how long you take. The only rule is to start from one end and finish at the other, but in between you can take absolutely any route you like. There are books that suggest sensible routes, and I highly recommend Andrew McCloy's route guide The Land's End to John o'Groats Walk (available from Amazon) or Andy Robinson's The End-to-End Trail (also available from Amazon), and there are loads of route options on other walker's websites, but ultimately the walk is completely down to you. You can stick to A-roads for the entire trip if tarmac is your thing, or you can choose a more scenic route that incorporates some of the most breathtaking walking this country has to offer, as I did.
The most difficult thing about walking across Britain is coping with the huge distance involved. I walked 1111 miles in 89 days (that's 70 walking days and 19 rest days) and I averaged just under 16 miles per walking day. For the first month my body ached and strained, and I nearly gave up just two weeks into the walk when I screwed up a tendon in my right foot; during the second month my body coped much better, and I began to entertain the possibility that I might actually finish the walk; and during the third month my body basically fell apart, worn out by the gruelling distances and constant pounding along Britain's roads and paths. I limped into John o'Groats, kicked off my boots, dumped my pack and sighed the biggest sigh of my life.
But was it worth it? Most definitely. I'm enjoying the fact that I've walked from Land's End to John o'Groats far more than the walk itself. As a way of creating wonderful memories, crossing the country on foot is pretty hard to beat, and I hope the walking tips in this section help you create memories that are just as amazing.