Land's End to John o' Groats

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Signpost at Land's End
Signpost at John o' Groats

Land's End to John o' Groats is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two extremities; in the southwest and northeast. The traditional distance by road is 874 miles (1,407 km) and takes most cyclists ten to fourteen days; the record for running the route is nine days. Off-road walkers typically walk about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) and take two or three months for the expedition. Two much-photographed signposts indicate the traditional distance at each end.

  • Land's End is the extreme southwestward (but not southern or western) point of Great Britain, situated in western Cornwall at the end of the Penwith peninsula, O.S. Grid Reference SW342250, Post Code TR19 7AA. The most southerly point is Lizard Point.
  • John o' Groats is the traditionally acknowledged extreme northern point of mainland Scotland, in northeastern Caithness, O.S. Grid Reference ND380735, Post Code KW1 4YR. The actual northernmost point is at nearby Dunnet Head. The point that is actually farthest by road from Land's End is Duncansby Head, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from John o' Groats.

The straight-line distance from Land's End to John o' Groats is 603 miles (970 km) as determined from O.S. Grid References, but such a route passes over a series of stretches of water in the Irish Sea.

According to a road atlas of 1964, the shortest route using classified roads was 847 miles (1,363 km). According to a road atlas of 2008, the shortest route using classified roads was 838 miles (1,349 km). In 2011 an online route planner calculated the quickest route by road as 838 miles (1,349 km), estimating a time of 15 hours 48 minutes for the journey (this uses A30, M5, M6, A74(M), M74, M73, M80, M9, A9 & A99). However, the overall shortest route by road, using minor roads in numerous places and utilising modern bridges, has been reduced to around 814 miles (1,310 km). This route is roughly follows: Land's End, Bodmin, Okehampton, Tiverton, Taunton, Bridgwater, the M5 Avon Bridge, the M48 Severn Bridge, Monmouth, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Tarporley, St Helens, Preston, Carlisle, Beattock, Carstairs, Whitburn, Falkirk, Stirling, Crieff, Kenmore, Dalchalloch, A9, Inverness, Kessock Bridge, Cromarty Bridge, Dornoch Firth Bridge, Latheron, Wick, John o' Groats.

Methods[edit]

Expeditions from Land's End to John o' Groats have been undertaken using numerous forms of transport, and are often organised as charity fundraisers, sometimes involving celebrities: examples include cricketer Ian Botham's 1985 walk and athlete Jane Tomlinson in 2003. In recent history the route has been used as a rite of passage by cyclists taking on the most iconic and toughest cycling challenge in Britain.

Routes[edit]

There is no continuous long-distance path from Land's End to John o' Groats. There are long-distance paths for substantial sections of the route, and where they do not exist walkers connect them by rights of way and minor roads. Most walkers broadly follow these routes:[1]

Walking[edit]

The first recorded end-to-end walk (actually from John o' Groats to Land's End) was undertaken by the brothers John and Robert Naylor in 1871.[3] Since then the walk has been undertaken many times, more particularly since 1960, after a well-publicised road walk by Dr Barbara Moore. In 1960 the entrepreneur Billy Butlin organised a road walking race, which gave further impetus to the idea.

Since the 1960s, walkers have mostly chosen off-road routes, using the growing network of long-distance footpaths. A classic account is from 1966 by the travel writer John Hillaby.[4] Off-road walkers usually complete the journey in two to three months. There is a considerable choice of off-road routes, but all are much longer than the shortest road distance, usually 1,200 miles (1,900 km) or more. The walk is still undertaken by road walkers, often doing the walk, like Sir Ian Botham, for charity, or as a "challenge walk". They typically take a month or even less.

Cycling[edit]

There are several annual mass participation cycle rides that go from Land's End to John O'Groats, the biggest of which is the Deloitte Ride Across Britain,[5] run by Threshold Sports. The Ride Across Britain takes over 800 riders the full length of Britain, taking 9 days and covering 969 miles (with each rider covering an average of 107 miles per day). Overnight accommodation is provided in large, tented base camps, and all aspects of the ride are fully supported. Previous celebrity participants include GB rower and Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell and former England Rugby captain Lewis Moody.

The official Road Records Association record for rider on a conventional bicycle is 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds, set by Gethin Butler in 2001.[6] The record for cycling from Land's End to John o' Groats is held by Andy Wilkinson, who completed the journey in 41 hours, 4 minutes and 22 seconds on a Windcheetah recumbent tricycle.[7] A typical cycling time when not attempting shortest time is ten to fourteen days. Ben Rockett, a postgraduate student from the University of Bath became on 27 August 2010 the record holder for cycling from Land's End to John o' Groats and back again in 5 days, 21 hours and 8 minutes.[8] From 1 to 4 March 2010, David Walliams, Jimmy Carr, Fearne Cotton, Miranda Hart, Patrick Kielty, Davina McCall and Russell Howard cycled in a team relay from John o' Groats to Land's End to raise money for Sport Relief.[9]

Men's Tandem Bicycle. In the years of 1966. Riders: P.M.(Pete) Swindon & W. J. (John) Withers. Time: 2 days 02 hours 14 minutes 25 seconds. Unbeaten record since 1966.

Men's Quadricycle. In the summer of 2012. Riders: Hugo Catchpole, George Unwin, Tom Bethell and Richard Nicholls. Time 10 days 15 hours. On a four man recumbent bike weighing 114 kg.

There have been several unicycle completions of the journey. The Guinness World Record for the fastest completion by unicycle is held by Roger Davies and Sam Wakeling, who rode 862 miles (1,387 km) (Land’s End to John o' Groats) from 12 September to 18 September 2009 in 6 days, 8 hours and 43 minutes.[10] They rode large 36"-wheeled unicycles equipped with two-speed Schlumpf geared hubs.[11]

The one-way distance is similar to that of 875-mile (1,408 km) London–Edinburgh–London, the longest regular scheduled Audax cycle ride.


Running[edit]

The record time for a runner to complete the route, as reported by the Land's End John o' Groats Club, is 9 days and 2 hours, by Andi Rivett.[12] In July 2008, Dan Driver became the first to run the route solo, meaning he carried all his equipment with him whilst he ran it. He completed the run in just over seventeen days.[13]

On 12 July 2009 British ultramarathon runner Kevin Carr successfully completed the first ever attempt to run the route off-road, becoming the first athlete to run the length of the UK as a Fell/Trail run. Like Driver, Carr ran unsupported and solo—a format commonly known amongst fell runners as a "Mountain Marathon". Carr ran the challenge as part of an event organised by Benumber1, an event that saw several top-level British athletes (mainly Olympians) completing the challenge. The event was designed to encourage school students to participate in sport and to realise the positive benefits of a healthy lifestyle, whilst raising significant funds for the British Heart Foundation. The run covered 1,254 miles over footpaths, bridleways, canal paths, river banks, National trails, fields, moorland and mountains. Over 80% of the route was off-road, the route resorting to tarmac only when necessary to link two trails, or where a trail passed through a village/town. The run took 6 weeks 3 days and 17 hours to complete (including three rest days). Factoring in the rest days, this run called for an average effort of just under 30 miles a day, every day, for more than six weeks.

Swimming[edit]

Sean Conway swam the complete route from the 30th June 2013 to the 11th November 2013. He is the first and only person to swim from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Wheelchair[edit]

The fastest time in a wheelchair was achieved in August 2009 by US Navy Pilot Rick Ryan: 8 days, 10 hours and 9 minutes.[14]

Skateboard[edit]

The record time to complete the 980-mile (1,580 km) journey on a skateboard is 21 days, achieved by Matt Elver, Charlie Mason and Lee Renshaw, who travelled around fifty miles per day in order to raise money for charity.[15]

Motoring[edit]

Tony Wilding at Land's End off to John o' Groats

Motoring events between the two extremities have been held since the first decade of the 20th century, when the Auto-Cycle Union organised a series of runs for motorcycles. In 1911, Ivan B. Hart-Davies became the holder of the final Land's End to John o' Groats record for solo motorcycles. Riding his 3.5 hp single-speed Triumph, he covered the 886 miles in 29 hours, 12 minutes. As his average speed exceeded the then-maximum of 20 mph, further official record attempts were banned by the A. C. U.

The Motor Cycling Club (which had been running the London to Land's End Trial since 1908, still held today, at least in name) put on an annual Land's End to John o' Groats Run from 1923 to 1928 which included cars as well as motorcycles. These events were also known as the End to End. In 2006, BBC Television ran a series of three programmes called The Lost World of Friese-Greene covering Claude Friese-Greene's 1920s-era road trip from Land's End to John o' Groats. The trip had originally been filmed using the Biocolour process, developed by Claude's father William Friese-Greene and the film had degraded. The original print of Claude's film was subjected to computer enhancement by the British Film Institute to remove the flickering problem inherent in the Biocolour process.

In 1984, Neal Champion covered 884 miles from John o' Groats to Land's End in 11 hours, 14 minutes, on a Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo.[16]

On 17 September 1988, Andrew Frankel and Mark Connaughton drove from Land's End to John o'Groats in a standard production Alfa Romeo 164 in 12 hours 30 minutes, including stops for refuelling.

In 1993, John Brown initiated the Land's End to John o' Groats Historic Reliability Trial, a race for vintage road vehicles.[17] The race is held each December and is a tough, three-day rally for old and classic cars, built between the 1920s and 1970s. The route takes a long 1,400-mile (2,300 km) route, using remote upland roads of the west of England, Wales (during the night), the Pennines and Scotland. Medals are awarded in gold, silver and bronze categories.[18]

On 15–16 April 1997, Hugh Edeleanu drove the route in a JCB excavator in a time of 22 hours, 10 minutes and 30 seconds.[19]

In June 2001, Wayne Booth became the first person to do the journey by motorcycle without stopping; the 37-year-old completed the historic trip in 14 hours and 52 minutes, averaging 57 mph, on a modified 1,000cc Honda Varedero, complete with additional 74 litre petrol tank. The meticulously researched route of 854 miles passed through just two sets of traffic lights and was completed within all highway regulations, law and speed limits.[20][21] Booth and the dozen strong support team raised over £1,000 for The National Childbirth Trust and MacMillan Cancer Relief.

On 22 May 2011, Kevin Sharpe and David Peilow completed the first end-to-end run from John o' Groats to Land's End in an electric car over two days, using only charging points available to the general public, in a Tesla Roadster Sport.[22]

On 7 August 2011, Darren Whitehead & Tony Dwight travelled 1071 miles from John o' Groats to Lands' End (including crossing the Welsh border) in 5 days using two ride-on Wheel Horse Lawn Mowers.[23] They also raised money for charity during the trip which was named The Lawn Way Down.

On 30th November 2013, Lucy Grogan (travelling on a BMW GS R1200 motorbike) and her father Martin Grogan (travelling in a Mini Cooper Works) travelled from Land's End to John o' Groat's in 19 hours, leaving Land's End at 4:30am and arriving at John o' Groat's at 11:30pm same day. This was in aid of Safe Haven Children's Trust and raised £3,000 for the non-governmental organisation. [24]

Public transport[edit]

Richard Elloway, having completed the return trip using a senior bus-pass "without paying a penny".

In 2008, Richard Elloway of Somerset claims to be the first person to complete the journey from Land's End to John o' Groats and back free of charge by local buses, using the English National Concessionary Pass (a free bus pass for people over 60, allowing free off-peak travel on local bus services throughout England) introduced on 1 April 2008, and the pre-existing equivalent concession for pensioners in Scotland. He completed the first leg of the trip in one week and six hours.[25] The entire journey was completed in two weeks, eight hours and thirty minutes.[26]

In August 2011, James Aukett travelled from Land's End to John O'Groats by local bus service, taking almost 6 days. James undertook the trip to raise money for children's charity, The Children's Society.[27]

In June 2014, to celebrate completing his GSCE exams, sixteen year-old Adam Mugliston travelled from Lands End to John o'Groats on 36 buses in 4 days, 10 hours and 44 minutes. [28]

In 1954, Gertrude Leather travelled by seventeen local buses from Land's End to London, at a cost of £1 19s 6d (£1.97½), and the following year travelled from London to John o' Groats by 25 local buses at a cost of £4 5s 9½d (£4.29).[29]

The current fastest route on land public transport takes a timetabled 22 hours 45 minutes, departing Land's End car park at 14:35 on day 1 and arriving at John o' Groats ferry terminal car park at 13:20 on day 2. This involves a bus to Penzance, trains to Crewe to meet the London–Inverness sleeper train, then the following morning buses via Wick to John o' Groats. As of January 2011, an ordinary one-way railway fare for the rail section of the journey cost £216.[30]

Hitchhiking[edit]

M. Clark and G. Beynon are the last hitchhikers recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for the Land's End to John o' Groats trip (17 hours 8 minutes).

Paramotor (motorised paraglider)[edit]

The first recorded journey by paramotor was by Andy Phillips, supported by a team of British Royal Marines in September 2000. The trip took a little over 6 days and was completed from South to North. blog.

The first recorded trip from North to South was by John Caston, Brian Pushman, Alex Heron and Henry Glasse in September 2009 and took 5 days.

Golf[edit]

In 2005 Surrey-based golfer and member of the Kent Golf Society David Sullivan walked from John o' Groats to Lands End hitting golf balls all the way. He travelled the 1,100 miles in seven weeks to be eligible for the Guinness Book of Records as the longest golf hole. He raised money for the Variety Club, the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal, and the Orpheus Centre, a residential arts and learning facility for the young and disabled in Surrey.

Plane[edit]

The fastest passage between the two points was made in 1988 by a McDonnell F-4K Phantom Jet in a time of 46 minutes 44 seconds [31]

Shinty[edit]

Whilst not a distance challenge, shinty clubs from Caithness and Cornwall established a fixture to be played between the counties in 2014. The first running of the competition, held on neutral ground in St. Andrew's, was won by Cornwall Shinty Club, defeating Caithness Shinty Club 3-1.[2]

Youngest and oldest[edit]

The Land's End–John o' Groats Association presents the Jack Adams/Richard Elloway Trophy annually to the youngest person to have completed the journey other than as a passenger in a motor vehicle. Henry Cole completed the journey in June 2006, he was aged 4. He cycled over 31 days. He started school in the following September, and was presented with the Jack Adams/Richard Elloway Trophy in January 2007.[32] Imogen Bower completed the journey at the age of 2, by train, in five days and was presented the Jack Adams / Richard Elloway Trophy in 2012.

Reg Savill is oldest person to complete the journey on foot (although in the reverse direction from John o' Groats to Land's End), at the age of 74.[33]

Organisations[edit]

There are two organisations supporting people undertaking the journey.

  • The Land's End–John o' Groats Association is a non-commercial organisation established in 1983 for "those who have completed the epic journey from Land’s End to John o' Groats, or vice versa, by any means in a single trip".[34]
  • The Land's End John o' Groats Club, which is sponsored by the company that operates facilities at Land's End and John o' Groats, the end points.[35] It holds an Annual Awards ceremony to select the most notable 'end-to-enders' each year.

Scottish equivalent[edit]

Until Union with England in 1707, Scotland's equivalent of the phrase was often "John o' Groats to Maidenkirk", as Maidenkirk (Kirkmaiden) was traditionally considered Scotland's southernmost point, a 388 mile trip. This can be found in Robert Burns' poem On Captain Grose's Peregrinations thro' Scotland[36] and the song, The Lady of Kenmure:

From John o' Groats to Maidenkirk
You'll never find a truer
For loyal faith and dauntless deeds,
Than the Lady of Kenmure.

The southernmost village in Scotland is actually nearby Drummore, which has grown to a latitude several metres south of Kirkmaiden.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Annotated list of walkers routes, with links to websites". Hockeylejog.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  2. ^ Samaritans Way South West website[dead link]
  3. ^ "Naylor, J. and R. (1916) ''From John o' Groats to Land's End'' on Project Gutenberg". Gutenberg.org. 2004-12-22. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  4. ^ Hillaby, J. (1966) Journey Through Britain Republished by Constable in 1995 ISBN 978-0-09-474990-0
  5. ^ http://www.rideacrossbritain.com
  6. ^ "Land's End to John o' Groats". Road Records Association. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  7. ^ The Official site of Andy Wilkinson and his Lands End to John o' Groats record attempt
  8. ^ "Rockett speed for a cyclist!". Bath University. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Sport Relief celebrities reach Land's End". BBC News. 2010-03-05. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Guinness World Records entry for Fastest journey from Land's End to John o' Groats by unicycle (male)
  11. ^ Event blog with details of the trip and certificates from LEJOG Association, Redwelly.co.uk
  12. ^ Land's End and John o' Groats Club. "Methods of Transport". Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  13. ^ http://www.therunner.org
  14. ^ "Photos and Blogs". Ride for Remembrance. 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-09-21. "15 Aug. 2009; We did it! ... A new world record: Land's End to John o' Groats by hand-crank wheelchair in 8 days: 10 hours: 9 minutes: 10 seconds" 
  15. ^ "BBC - Skateboarding the UK". BBC Online. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  16. ^ http://www.tubbylardo.co.uk/2011%282a%29.html
  17. ^ "Who's Who at HERO: John Brown". HERO: Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation. 2006-12-27. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  18. ^ "Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation Regulations & Eligibility". HERO: Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation. Retrieved 2009-12-16. 
  19. ^ "yesterday was a ...". The Independent. 1997-05-17. 
  20. ^ http://www.endtoenders.co.uk/history_record_breakers.php
  21. ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/UK+top+to+bottom+non+stop.-a077042421
  22. ^ http://www.thegreencarwebsite.co.uk/blog/index.php/2011/05/23/tesla-travels-from-lands-end-to-john-ogroats/
  23. ^ http://www.nwlmra.org/pages/the-lawn-way-down.html
  24. ^ https://www.facebook.com/the2550milechallenge
  25. ^ BBC News (2008-10-04). "'Ultimate holiday' on a bus pass". Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  26. ^ Rebecca Hehir (Somerset County Gazette) (2008-04-16). "A pensioner's two-week bus journey". Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10947507/Its-a-record-four-days-by-bus-from-Lands-End-to-John-OGroats.html
  29. ^ Leather, G. and Parke, J (1986) Home with the Heather Ian Allan ISBN 0-7110-1550-3
  30. ^ Transport Direct website Sample journeys checked 2011-01-04
  31. ^ http://johneckersley.wordpress.com/tales/route-designer/
  32. ^ "The Jack Adams - Richard Elloway Trophy". 
  33. ^ "On the Buses". BBC. 2008-04-11. 
  34. ^ "The Land's End – John o' Groats Association". Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  35. ^ "The Land's End John o' Groats Club". Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  36. ^ Robert Burns: Complete Works,

Further reading[edit]

Road walking
  • Smailes, B. (2004) John o' Groats to Land's End: the Official Challenge Guide Challenge Publications ISBN 1-903568-18-7
Offroad walking
  • Robinson, A. (2007) The End to End Trail: Land's End to John o' Groats on Foot Cicerone ISBN 978-1-85284-512-4
  • McCloy, A. (2001) The Land's End to John o' Groats Walk Cordee ISBN 1-871890-59-4
  • Salter, M. (2006) Land's End to John o' Groats - a Thousand Mile Walking Route Folly Publications ISBN 978-1-871731-71-2
Cycling
  • Mitchell, N (2012) End to End Cycle Route: Lands End to John O'Groats (Cicerone Press) ISBN 978-1-85284-670-1
  • Smailes Brian (2009) Land's End to John o' Groats Cycle Guide - The Official Challenge Guide Challenge Publications ISBN 978-1-903568-59-0
  • Brown, Simon (1995) Land's End to John o' Groats Cycle Guide, Cicerone ISBN 978-1-85284-188-1
  • Salter, P. (2002) Bike Britain: Cycling from Land's End to John o' Groats Epic New Zealand ISBN 0-9582256-1-8

External links[edit]