It is some time since our LEJOG ride was completed and I have been re reading the entries and have taken the opportunity to include a picture on each entry showing our route and information on our accomodation. Reading the blogs of other LEJOGGERS and the questions posted by those thinking of undertaking the ride I thought some comments on our experience might prove helpful to others.
Our route We chose a direct "western" route as this worked with our time constraints and targeted average of around 75 miles per day. We did not plan a specific, mile by mile route. Rather we set out a general plan based on our over night accomodation and adapted the route day by day to suit our mood, traffic and weather. For maps we simply used relevant pages torn from a motoring map (light, cheap and disposable) supplemented by phone maps for tricky bits through towns. Also very handy for pinpointing position when looking for turnings.
Cornwall is tricky as the A30 is no place to be on a bike. We took the A30 (still quiet early in the morning) from Lands End to Penzance, and then cut up to Hayle using cycle ways. From there we followed the coast to Portreath, then through the lanes to Goonhavern, dropping back to the A30. This route has the added benefit of avoiding Camborne and Redruth which are both busy and hilly. A short stretch on the A30 takes you to the next roundabout and from there you can track alongside the mainroad using lanes until Indian Queens. This route may appear very "round the houses" but in fact worked out very well. I would follow it again as it was a very pleasant days cycling through one of the more challenging sections for cyclists.
|Lanes north of Monmouth|
In Scotland we took the route from Fort William to Inverness. There are plenty who will advise against this route, but apart from the head wind which made for a really hard days cycling, it was fine. The traffic was not a problem, at least when we did it. The main problem so far as I was concerned was the lack of refreshment stops alongside Loch Ness. The only place to stop is Drumnadrochit.
On our final day we simply headed up the coast but the A897 looked an interesting (and very remote) route when viewed from the comfort of Wick to Inverness Train (yes, it really is a very round about train route, 4 hours long and worth every magical minute of its £6) The A897 would probably add a day but I would be tempted.
|1930's cyclo/Sturmey Archer combo|
Clothes. You will see from the photos that Steve and I have forsaken the tight fitting Lycra look. We saw plenty of other riders that would be well advised to follow suit....
Tyres. The potential for punctures to slow progress was something that concerned us and so we fitted both cycles with puncture resistant tyres, in my case Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I have to say that I find them harsh to ride and the road holding iffy in the wet, but you can't argue with the results. On the second day I managed to ride directly over a broken beer bottle without so much as a cut on the tread. All I can add is that they are still on the bike..
Mudguards. This is the UK. Unless you are very lucky, it will rain at some point! I simply don't get touring without having mudguards fitted. I was amazed how many bikes we saw on the route not fitted with them. Even if you don't mind the discomfort yourself, consider your cycling companions. It's no fun being constantly sprayed with muddy water.
Accommodation I strongly recommend that you pre-book accommodation. It gives you a plan and target for the day and will avoid wasting a lot of time at the end of a tiring day looking for somewhere for which you end up paying top price. Do make sure you have clear directions to each. I made some assumptions about addresses which resulted us having to double back a couple of times, having ridden straight past our stop.
Getting home. At the end of the trip we stayed over night in Wick before catching the Wick to Inverness train and then Easy Jet flights back to London for Steve and Bristol for me, about £45 per head. We dropped the bikes off at a local bike shop, Highland Bikes. 29-31 Shore Street, Inverness. IV1 1NG. 01463 234789 who run a courier service for £35 that returned the bikes back to our respective addresses. Both bikes turned up well packed, undamaged just two days later.
The Wick to Inverness train journey is a joy, going north first to Thurso and then back south to Inverness. What looks a short trip actually takes 4 hours through wonderful scenery. I recommend booking in advance as room for bikes can be limited, and even if you have booked make sure you get there early as the station is unmanned so its first come, first served. I think the cost was £6 per head, including bike. Brilliant.
Hope you enjoy our blog. (I haven't worked out how to reverse the sequence of blogs, so you need to scroll right down to the first day.)