Land's End to John o' Groats
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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 10 to 14 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 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. Google Earth reports a distance of 602.70 miles between the two iconic marker points.
According to a 1964 road atlas, the shortest route using classified roads was 847 miles (1,363 km) but in a 2008 road atlas, the shortest route using classified roads was 838 miles (1,349 km). An online route planner in 2011 also 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 the A30, M5, M6, A74(M), M74, M73, M80, M9, A9 & A99) but the overall shortest route by road, using minor roads in numerous places and utilising modern bridges, is only about 814 miles (1,310 km). This route is roughly as 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.
Google Maps, on 2 August 2017, calculated the fastest route by car, from the Land's End Visitor Centre to John o' Groats as being 837 miles and taking 14 hours 40 minutes. It also showed a walking route of 811 miles, which it suggested would take 268 hours, and involve an elevation gain of 30,148 ft and an elevation fall of 30,272 ft.
- 1 Methods
- 2 Youngest and oldest
- 3 Organisations
- 4 Scottish equivalent
- 5 English equivalent
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
There are many ways to go from Land's End to John o' Groats. Traditionally considered to be a walk, the route is now traversed in a number of ways, with cycling and multi-modal expeditions being particularly popular in recent years.
Most trips are done by individuals or small groups for personal fulfilment. Some expeditions are 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 cycling challenge in Britain.
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. 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. 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.
Some walkers aim to complete the route piecemeal, perhaps over several years, to achieve the walk within the time constraints of a working life and before the possible health problems of retirement.
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:
- from Land's End to Exmoor by the South West Coast Path; or by a shorter inland route through Cornwall and Devon by minor roads and paths, the Two Castles Trail and the towpath of the Grand Western Canal
- across Somerset by parts of the Macmillan Way West, the Samaritans Way South West or the Limestone Link
- to the Peak District either by
- to the Scottish Borders by the Pennine Way
- by St. Cuthbert's Way and a section of the Southern Upland Way to the Pentland Hills, then by
- a western route using the towpaths of the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal, then by the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way to Inverness; or
- an eastern route across the Forth Road Bridge to Perth and Pitlochry, then by Glen Tilt and the Lairig Ghru to Speyside and the old Wade road to Inverness.
- from Inverness to John o' Groats, a long distance footpath along cliff tops and shorelines with access to accommodation, known as the John o' Groats Trail, is currently under development. Previously the route was mostly on roads with a few stretches of coast walking; to avoid road walking, some walkers head north west from the end of the West Highland Way at Fort William using parts of the Cape Wrath Trail, then head northeast through the Flow Country of Caithness. However, this route is through remote country and requires wild camping.
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, run by Threshold Sports. The Ride Across Britain takes over 800 riders the full length of Britain, taking nine days and covering 969 miles (1,559 km), with each rider covering an average of 107 miles (172 km) 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 a rider on a conventional bicycle is 43 hours, 25 minutes and 13 seconds, set by 40 year old Michael Broadwith on 17 June 2018. Michael is a maths teacher who lives in the south of England. He studied mathematics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, representing the OUBC in the reserve’s boat race in 2000 in which ISIS beat Goldie by 5 lengths. He won the UK national 24 hour cycling road race (Mersey roads) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 in the lead up to his record breaking ride.
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. A typical cycling time when not attempting shortest time is 10 to 14 days. James MacDonald set a record in September 2017 for cycling from John o' Groats to Land's End and back again in five days, 18 hours and 3 minutes. 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.
Men's tandem bicycle. 5–7 May 2015 Riders: Dominic Irvine and Charlie Mitchell. Time: 1 day 21 hours 11 minutes. The previous record held for 49 years.
The first tricyclist to complete the route was Mr. Alfred Nixon, champion of the London Tricycle Club, who in 1882 made “the first, and at present only, tricycle journey from John o’ Groats to Land’s End, a distance of 1007 miles, in a fortnight”.
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. They rode large 36-inch-wheeled (910 mm) unicycles equipped with two-speed Schlumpf geared hubs.
The oldest person to cycle from Land's End to John o' Groats is Tony Rathbone (UK, b. 10 December 1932) who was aged 81 years and 162 days when he completed the journey on 21 May 2014. Roger Anthony "Tony" Rathbone started his journey from Land's End to John o' Groats on 7 May 2014 with his friend, William "Billy" Skipper. They cycled a total of 1,526.46 km (948.5 miles) and were riding for a total of 79 hours 34 minutes. Guinness World Record
In 2017 Amelia Sampson aged 22 months completed John o' Groats to Land's End in 14 days in her trailer towed by her parents riding a tandem.
The record time for a runner to complete the route, as reported by the Land's End John o' Groats Club, is nine days and 2 hours, by Andi Rivett. 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 17 days.
Fred Hicks was an early record holder, he ran the journey between the 20th and 30th of May, 1977 in 10 days 3 hours and 30 minutes. He ran this for charity not aiming to set any records, it was only later when he was approached by the Road Running association asking if they could pursue the record with Guinness that he became aware he had set a new record.
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 benefits of a healthy lifestyle, whilst raising funds for the British Heart Foundation. The run covered 1,254 miles (2,018 km) 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 (including three rest days). Factoring in the rest days, this run called for an average effort of just under 30 miles (50 km) a day, every day, for more than six weeks.
In July 2011, a team of runners from Calday Grange Grammar School, Wirral completed a relay from Land's End to John o' Groats, becoming the first school to do so. They raised £200,000 for Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool.
In mid summer of 2011 Anthony Band from Surrey ran 1000 miles barefoot, all in aid for Help for heroes. Band took 29 days, running on average 36 miles per day.
On 3 August 2014, Marie-Claire Oziem became the first female runner to complete the distance unsupported and solo. She pushed all her provisions in a pram and camped along the way. Her route consisted of both on and off-road sections. Oziem ran for the charity Mind, based in Taunton for its project Go Wild, Stay Well, which aims to support those with mental illness through the use of various green therapy schemes. She started her run on 23 June and finished on 3 August 2014, regularly running distances of over 32 miles daily.[better source needed]
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Evelyn Burnaby was the younger brother of the famous English Long Rider Colonel Frederick Burnaby. Whereas the elder brother was famous for having ridden across Central Asia and the Ottoman Empire, Evelyn decided to keep his equestrian adventures closer to home. He set off in 1892 to ride from Land’s End, Cornwall to John o’ Groats, Scotland. Evelyn’s journey was soon serialised in a popular publication, The Country Gentleman, and was published in book form the following year.
Arthur Elliott, a veteran of the Great War, rode his horse, Goldflake, from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 1955.
In 2006 the mother and daughter team of Vyv and Elsie Wood-Gee rode from John o' Groats to Land's End. Elsie was 13 at the time.
Former army officer Grant Nicolle continued the tradition by travelling from John o' Groats to Land's End in 2007 with Marv (solo and unsupported), taking 11 and a half weeks. Grant has published a book called 'Long Trot' through Amazon, documenting the trip. It is generally completed north to south, starting in April to avoid the midges in the Highlands but also to benefit from warmer weather.
Sean Conway swam the complete route from 30 June 2013 to 11 November 2013. He is the first and only person to swim from Land's End to John o' Groats.
The fastest time in a wheelchair was achieved in August 2009 by US Navy Pilot Rick Ryan: eight days, 10 hours and 9 minutes.
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 50 miles (80 km) per day to raise money for charity.
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 (1,426 km) 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 (1,423 km) from John o' Groats to Land's End in 11 hours, 14 minutes, on a Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo. in 1984, Christian Conzendorf-Mattner, covered the route from Land's End to John o' Groats—there and back non-stop other than for fuel—in 21 hours 22 mins in a 1941 BMW 327. The record run was monitored by a team of journalists from a motoring magazine and is the current record for prewar classic cars end to end, non-stop, one driver. The end to end club awards this trophy to new record holders.
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. 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.
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 (1,374 km) passed through just two sets of traffic lights and was completed within all highway regulations, law and speed limits. 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 stations available to the general public, in a Tesla Roadster sports car.
On 7 August 2011, Darren Whitehead & Tony Dwight travelled 1,071 miles (1,724 km) from John o' Groats to Land's End (including crossing the Welsh border) in 5 days using two ride-on Wheel Horse lawn mowers. They also raised money for charity during the trip which was named The Lawn Way Down.
On 30 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' Groats in 19 hours, leaving Land's End at 4:30am and arriving at John o' Groats at 11:30pm same day. This was in aid of Safe Haven Children's Trust and raised £3,000 for the non-governmental organisation.
In September 2015, Jonathan Porterfield and Chris Ramsey beat the record in a Nissan Leaf electric car, using the existing public rapid charger infrastructure to travel there and back. The route south took 28 hours and 38 minutes, and the return trip 27 hours and 46 minutes. They submitted an application to Guinness World Records to have the quicker time recognised as a record.
On 7 October 2015, Jeff Allan and his son, Ben Cottam-Allan, beat the electric car record in a Tesla Model S completing the northbound route in 19 hours 45 minutes and the southbound route in 18 hours 53 minutes. Jeff prepared the route by cycling in May 2015. They hold the Guinness World Record for shortest charging time from John o' Groats to Land's End of 3 hours 44 minutes 33 seconds.
On 21 August 2017, John Chivers completed the first journey by electric motorcycle (a Zero DSR) from Land's End to John o' Groats, then continued his journey to Orkney and finally to Skaw, on the island of Unst, Shetland. The journey from Land's End to John o' Groats took him four days to complete, breaking the journey up into ten parts, each stop requiring a charge of at least three hours.
The current fastest journey by bus was set by John and Kirsty Boyd from Runcorn, Cheshire , who travelled from Land's End to John o' Groats in August 2017 using 20 buses, in three days, 2 hours and 47 minutes.
In June 2014, to celebrate completing his GCSE exams, 16-year-old Adam Mugliston travelled from Land's End to John o' Groats on 36 buses in four days, 10 hours and 44 minutes.
In August 2011, James Aukett travelled from Land's End to John o' Groats on 31 buses in five days, 7 hours and 25 minutes. James undertook the trip to raise money for children's charity, The Children's Society.
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. The entire journey was completed in two weeks, 8 hours and 30 minutes.
In 1954, Gertrude Leather travelled by 17 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).
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[update], an ordinary one-way railway fare for the rail section of the journey cost £216.
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)
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 six days and was completed from south to north.
The first recorded trip from north to south was by John Caston, Brian Pushman, Alex Heron and Henry Glasse in September 2009 and took five days.
In July 2016 a group of four pilots completed the trip from north to south in 6.5 days. This included double amputee Cayle Royce, who became the first person to fly the route in a ParaTrike.
In 2005 Surrey-based golfer and member of the Kent Golf Society David Sullivan walked from John o' Groats to Land's End hitting golf balls all the way. He travelled the 1,100 miles (1,800 km) 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 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami Appeal, and the Orpheus Centre, a residential arts and learning facility for the young and disabled in Surrey.
In a straight line
On 17 May 2014 a team of four set off to complete Beeline Britain - a journey from Land's End to John o' Groats in a straight line. This never before attempted route was completed in 28 days and required the two biggest sea kayak crossings ever completed in UK waters.
- The first crossing went direct from Land's End to Pembrokeshire - a distance of over 200 km which took 34.5 hours to complete.
- The second crossing went direct from Pembrokeshire to Anglesey - around 170 km and taking 24.5 hours to complete.
The team then kayaked, biked and hiked the remainder of the route which went via: Isle of Man - Dalmellington - Glasgow - Creiff - traversing Ben Macdui the second highest mountain in the UK - Lossiemouth - across the Moray Firth - Lybster - John o' Groats.
The project was devised and managed by Ian O'Grady. He recruited the Team GB Paralympian Nick Beighton, Adam Harmer, a professional kayak coach and University Lecturer, Tori James who was the first Welsh woman to stand on the summit of Mount Everest. Beeline Britain's aim was to raise funds and awareness for Blesma, the limbless veterans charity. The project gained full royal endorsement from the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, and has to date raised over £20,000 for Blesma.
The whole journey was captured by filmmaker Ian Burton for the feature documentary As The Crow Flies 
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 Andrews, was won by Cornwall Shinty Club, defeating Caithness Shinty Club 3-1.
Youngest and oldest
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 four. 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. Sophie George is currently the youngest recipient of the Jack Adams/Richard Elloway Trophy. She completed the journey by bus and train in August 2016 at the age of two years and 10 months and was awarded the trophy in January 2017.
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.
There are three 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".
- 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. It holds an annual awards ceremony to select the most notable 'end-to-enders' each year.
- Bike the UK for MS is a charity raising awareness for multiple sclerosis research and patients by running supported cycling trips including from Land's End to John o' Groats. They combine an important cause with an incredible experience to help fund treatment and research for a cure whilst addressing the challenges for those affected by MS.
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 (624 km) trip. This can be found in Robert Burns' poem On Captain Grose's Peregrinations thro' Scotland 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.
The length of the English mainland is delineated by the distance between Land's End and Marshall Meadows Bay in Northumberland. The distance is 556 miles (895 km) by road or 426 miles (686 km) as the crow flies. The traversal of the length of England is sometimes used to define charity events such as walks and cycle-rides.
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- 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
- Mitchell, N (2012) End to End Cycle Route: Land's 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 978-0-9582256-1-8
- Lewis, D. (2005) "Land's End to John o' Groats", On a beer mat Publish and Print
- Comprehensive Free Journal "Walking the length of Britain" Includes detailed preparation tools.
- A bibliography of LEJOG/JOGLE published reports and guidebooks, and links to relevant websites
- Land's End to John o' Groats on the Long Distance Walkers' Association website
- Land's End to John o' Groats in a straight line - one of the last Great British adventures.