Alan Gladwin

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Alan Gladwin

Land's End to John o' Groats Off Road

The Mission

I fancied a bit of Off Road.

So I thought I'd do Land's End to John o' Groats using as much Off Road as possible.

And as I can't be bothered with public transport I thought I'd cycle to the start and from the end. And whilst I was at it I might as well take in the West Coast of Scotland as that's supposed to be very nice..

Objective Map

The Journey so far...

Progress Map

Clicking the photo will open up the route in Ride With GPS

Daily Log

Date

Route

Miles

Total

Notes

Day 1
Sun 27th May
Stoke Poges – Bishopstone 64 64 Was nice knowing the route as no navigating meant just riding through. NCN5 had been changed in Reading with a new shared use bridge. Stopped for lunch at the Bull, Streatley, Roast Pork with a pint of Cider. The Ridgeway was very hot. There was a scout tent set up with riders doing an event from Wantage. Got a bottle refill and bit of banana cake. Got to bunkhouse at 4.00 seemed too early to camp so had coffee and cake, then back onto the Ridgeway for a few more miles. Laying in tent right leg close to cramping, need to drink more tomorrow.
Day 2
Mon 28th May
Bishopstone – Old Down 71 135 No rain but heavy mist all morning. Filled water bottle at stone circle. Rode a long stretch of Wansdyke a massive earthwork in Wiltshire. Bought a kebab in Devizes for lunch. Canal path heaving with people as Bank Holiday. Got suckered by cycle nations Bath has great cycle paths? Stopped at campsite in Old Down, had a shower, washed shirt and socks, came back to tent, magpies had finished off kebab, no super or breakfast and also opened bag of fudge! Well disappointed as was rationing it! 50yds from fairly busy road, neighbour opposite having smoky bonfire, ok if wind does not change as missing my pitch atm. Campsite is 3-minute walk from only pub in UK without wifi so going to bed rather than having a drink. Only place for breakfast is Wells, I rode through there hours ago...
Day 3
Tue 29th May
Old Down – Burlescombe 63 198 Cooler atm but maybe because I am wearing my washed shirt! Strong tail wind, nice 3 mile downhill at 30+ mph. Wells very pretty, lots of photos. Pint in Glastonbury. Stopped at Bridgwater for Ham Egg and Chips. Raining outside. Not heavy. Camped in field between railway and bend in canal.
Day 4
Wed 30th May
Burlescombe – Chagford 49 247 Rained most of the night, tent had no problems. Tough climbs at Castle Drogo, just walked a mile or so! Battery low!! Off route a bit I think, changing batteries as who wants last 10%. Setting up camp on Dartmoor just past Chagford. Lower bit of two moors way all styles and badly signed bit on moors fun! Some places track gets wide where two sheep walked next to each other. Been doing 3mph most of the afternoon, hard to go fast uphill through heather.
Day 5
Thu 31st May
Chagford – Trewidland 48 295 Have done my Thursday yoga: downward sheep as no dogs up here! Some of the most extreme biking I have done for years, loving it! Only once over the bars at slow speed. Getting toward Tavistock, Dartmoor playtime nearly over. I like Ken's routes, they are nice and flat! In pub in Menheniot ordered korma and rice, cider is very nice. Leaving pub looking for camp spot, it's raining. In a building just past Trewidland that rents holiday cottages. Water bottle filled, 2 tins of guinness, wifi and recharge power. Happy Bunny!
Day 6
Fri 1st June
Trewidland – Lake Stithians 60 355 St Austell to Mevagissey is lovely cycle track, well signed, lots of families on bikes and walkers. Very pleasant 28.4 miles so far. In Megavissey tea room having a cider, ordered cottage pie. Full English breakfast just wearing off. Just crossed fal river on King Harry ferry. OsmAnd now decided to draw route line so feint I can't follow it. Setting up camp by Lake Stithians dam. Bottom bracket creaking, will try and sort in the morning. Been a bit of a mind game. Steep down and back up 20+% and long. But now getting smaller almost like Chilterns so have to get out of bottom gear slog mode. Sunny in the morning, drizzly pm, not any real rain, just spitting now.
Day 7
Sat 2nd June
Lake Stithians – Loggans 64 419 In sun on beach by St Michaels Mount looking at Penzance. Just washed shoes, socks, legs and bike in river. Had to ride through a slurry pit earlier, deeper than the bottom bracket. Was drying sticky and smelly. Fish soup followed by fish and chips for lunch. At Land's End changing maps, it's heaving. Also cloudy threatening rain. Legs badly brambled and gorsed. Routes have been very hard to follow and almost unrideable. Last one has left me and bike covered in mud. Almost impassable on a fat bike in June. Not sure what to do, have very little faith in intended route now. In a nature reserve near Hayle. Going to study maps when it gets light. Just found and read write up. They say very thorny (agreed) muddy farm track. Sounds like it gets better so will minor road from here to Camborne and rejoin in morning. Nice having a foot long subway melt and a lay down.
Day 8
Sun 3rd June
Loggans – Bodmin Moor 72 491 Setting off blue sky at last. On Bodmin Moor, can see miles in every direction, middle of short grass meadow with sheep as neighbours. Had a malt loaf and choc biscuits for breakfast, pasty and tea at 12, cream tea about 4, energy drink and 2l water, got 4 snickers and some haribo and 0.5l water for tonight. Wind picking up so good test of tent tonight. Got 2 dozen ponies come to see what a tent is :) hopefully they won't try and walk on it or taste it!
Day 9
Mon 4th June
Bodmin Moor – Barnstaple 76 567 8:05 packed up and off, sun been up, blue sky. Really nice breakfast: pasty, bread pudding and apple from big farm shop. Tarka trail, old railway past Dartmoor, like Black Park, easy going so far. Dropped phone went back half mile asked riders I had overtaken. They had picked it up. Corner of screen spider web about 45° width of phone. Could have been much worse. Premier Inn Barnstaple £97!! Went in pub next door for pint and to use wifi. Had pint totally failed to connect! Need to charge battery. Camping at Coombe Farm, Goodleigh. Shower, towel, power and wifi connection at no charge! :) :) :)
Day 10
Tue 5th June
Barnstaple – Watchet 42 609 Ooops got to route's lunch stop at 11, pub does not open till 12. So sitting outside post office on bench drinking tea and eating bacon butty. On Dunkery Beacon 519m cloud and headwind all day. Been following gps line and tussock hopping as no real path. From Dunkery Beacon 2.5 miles loose rock garden. I love my bike! Pitched in campsite, unloaded bike, riden to pub 1 mile down the road. Now drinking Otter waiting for whitebait, steak & guiness pie with chips and peas. Time to ride back up the hill.
Day 11
Wed 6th June
Watchet – Portishead 65 674 Left Bridgewater on the A39 crossing bridge over busy road. The mendips are quite big and I had forgotten about them! Cider and pasty for lunch. Left route at Long Ashton, climbed two big hills, found a couple of bridleways and arrived at Pontishead 6.30pm. Met Sandra in carpark of The Poachers. Wandered round the town, had pleasant evening eating fish and chips looking at the Severn estuary and watching local firebrigade testing their hoses.
Day 12
Thu 7th June
Severn River Crossing – Llanwenarth 38 712 Sandra drove me to Slam 69 in Gloucester where they dropped everything and refurbished my bike. New drive and tyres. Sandra then dropped me by the severn bridge. Any comments that I cheated the 8 miles from Pontishead can join me on the next lap ;) Cloudy weather setting off again 3pm. New tyres fly, new max 47.4mph. They whirr rather than buzz. Got to Abergavenny tow path, closed, put up tent inner but path too solid for pegs! Went on to campsite, was 5* so did not stop, just slogged up sugar loaf. Pitching on side of track near top.
Day 13
Fri 8th June
Llanwenarth – Llanfihangel 43 755 Light rain nearly all night, dry when packed up 9am. Lots of climbing up past reservoir bash has been past. Stopped for lunch 2.45 just south of Hay on Wye. No signal but pitched 43.33 miles 8.00pm somewhere in Wales, hopefully geotag will locate me. Have been on the route line, don't even know what the area is called. Like Dartmoor only bigger!
Day 14
Sat 9th June
Llanfihangel – Rushbury 44 799 At Monaught nothing here. Rear brake playing up. Running out of water, only snickers since chicken sandwich yeserday. Hoping to get to Nighton, bike tool collapsed on me and it cost almost £5! Hey ho how things change. Had fry up, got food for day, lots to drink. Just need bike tool! Having cider and bap at Craven Arms, nettle rash really tingling! On Wenlock Edge, due south of Longville in the Dale wild camping next to Chris a cycling fossil hunter :) Had some wine and spag bol from Chris, result camping here :)
Day 15
Sun 10th June
Rushbury – Ashbourne 73 872 Finished Shropshire way, more styles went through Much Wenlock. Had tea at the priory chatted to the staff (photo, and showed them blog) had a bit of trouble finding railway trail but v nice when on it. In Ironbridge, stopping for brunch 12.00. Bit messy out of Stafford lots of cows in the fields but gates good. Quite a bit of up down road work. Bike event coming opposite direction was Interesting. Also paseed Stafford triathlon event (got bottle refill). Just outside Ashbourne, just ordered a cider, considering camping by this river near Mayfield. Pitching at back of Tissington trail overflow car park. Toilets open at 8am.
Day 16
Mon 11th June
Ashbourne – Penistone 56 928 Was cold last night, have worn clean socks, morning dilemma, replace clean socks with cold wet crusty ones. Went into Ashbourne for launderette which was very busy, could dry but they have no sink! Washed stuff in river and hung on fence to dry. Plugged battery in at Tiss Bike Hire. Bought new track mitts, tea and a bacon sandwich, packed up tent, fetched battery from charge, almost dry kit. Set off very nice railway passing away weekend bash pub. Pub Lunch in Miller's Dale had chilli and rice. Had intended to camp near Ladybower Reservoir but no camping signs. On the tops tried to set up tent, but pole snapped! Tried to bodge and it snapped again. Packed away running out of daylight. Tried to rush trials section off road, lot of rock jumps. Trouble stopping, smacked my groin, rear brake needs bleeding. Lodged at The Blacksmith Arms, Millhouse Green, have directions to bike shop. Contemplating snapped pole?
Day 17
Tue 12th June
Penistone – Kitcliffe Reservoir 32 960 In Penistone, bike being looked at, local engineering works bodging a repair for tent pole, fingers crossed. Hydraulic hose with 2 jubilee clips, may hold if not windy. Bike sorted, I helped guy out when I went back :) Near Kitcliff reservoir outside Littleborough. Testing tent repair, Pennines very scenic.
Day 18
Wed 13th June
Kitcliffe Reservoir – Helwith Bridge 63 1023 Nice sunny morning. Followed tow path to Hebden Bridge, had full English from road side van. Climbed over a few ridges then on Leeds Liverpool canal at Gargrave climbed again. Met poppy and Arthur look alikes. Went through a cow field full of long horn :) handle bars like mine. At Austwick saw an open door, asked for water bottle fill. Bernard was from Marlow chatted and he sent me here, Bunk house and giant Yorkshire with Cumberland sausage.
Day 19
Thu 14th June
Helwith Bridge – Blencarn 52 1075 Hotel Paridiso probably the best value I will get for £5 borrowed a 2nd charger plug got all batteries full. Was a storm during the night still blowing strong in the morning. Have stayed in valley on road as deemed too dangerous on the ridge, riding at 16mph (wind speed) was surreal and calm. Had quite a few nearly moments glad I was on this bike. Had steak pie (breakfast/lunch) with tea :) Just passing chateaux Keats. End of day, cloudy one side, clear the other. Next to stream midway between Milburn and Blencarn. Eating my baps and sardines followed by rice pudding and snickers.
Day 20
Fri 15th June
Blencarn – Bentpath 78 1153 Cows making noise woke me up, 6.30 got up. Mobile by 7.15. Nice weather started following line, was heading up a long thin gully. Back brake had gone from spongy to nothing so decided descent from top woukd be reckless with only one brake. Therefore diverted on lower track back onto minor roads to Penrith. Arragon cycles is a Shimano specialist and fitted Deore brakes front and rear, while I had breakfast in Sainsburys and battery was on charge. Returned, paid, loaded bike, chatted, set off got to top of town and returned for battery! Camped just off road under some fir trees. Fed my first midges had forgotten how small they are. Possible they may fit through tent breathing mesh? Will know in the morning.
Day 21
Sat 16th June
Bentpath – Broughton 51 1204 Midges dont get in tent phew! Rain in the morning decided to lay in till 9.00 moved out 9.45 started dry but got wet through. Followed nice track 10 miles to locked gate? Forestry work no entry, diverted across open moor bog. Took an hour paddling fighting fir trees to get back on track. Stopped at mobile home site bought tomato soup and tapico tins so have some food on bike. 4 miles on found pub. Had cullen skink (creamy fish soup with potatoes) followed by chicken tikka on rice. Landlord used cloths dryer on my kit:) Was good for 1 hour then had thunder and lightening hail and rain. Slowly improving weather. Found bistro in Broughton, first town of the day, having Black Pudding & Haggis starter with Chicken Haggis to follow. Camping on Village Rec. Need to buy midge hat. Weather meant to be getting better tomorrow.
Day 22
Sun 17th June
Broughton – Kelvinhead 54 1258 Camping at the reck worked very well. Had metal railing to lock bike to and open public loo. Got up late and dried everything. Bistro was not open till 10 ;) Had bacon sandwich and coffee with a group of car supported End to Enders. First bridleways well marked and very pleasant although slow going. One was through an unmarked gate into field with no marked track. Farmer renewing fencing on opposite side, so I took minor roads around. Found a Coop in Forth brought meal deal for lunch. Late afternoon rain started. Pitched under a tree near bin and picnic bench, rain sounds steady hopefully will stop by morning.
Day 23
Mon 18th June
Kelvinhead – Stirling 28 1286 Very windy but dry, took down inner first then outer waiting for a lull. Rode the last of the canal, had breakfast from road side van. Went into Kilsyth bought rolls soup meal deal, then found a Lidl and got snickers. All set for a long day! Started OK, big climb to view point turning into bridle way as road started down. Pretty much at summit route turns along a wall line, no track for 3 miles, lots of fallen trees had to saw branches just to get bike through. Joined fire roads, 6 miles later came out opposite a farm. Went to building asked for water and tools to check bottom bracket. Bearings gone and cage broken. Headed to bike shop in Stirling which had bearings but mech staff not in till tomorrow. Had haggis in Wetherspoonsn. Now in Willy Wallace Hostel, all clothes in wash and batteries charging.
Day 24
Tue 19th June
Stirling – Glencoe 76 1362 8.57 bike shop phoned bike sorted. French guy I was chatting with last night gave me 2 muffins for breakfast. Bridge of Allan has a promising name but is a railway bridge :( Roads to Callander, NCN7 good quality track easy going, another road section to West Highland Way. Heavenly single track twisty turns, tea rooms in all directions, me very happy bunny. Lots of walkers not seen any bikes yet. Camping at Glencoe ski station eating burger looking at chair lift.
Day 25
Wed 20th June
Glencoe – Loch Oich 38 1400 Rained all night but cloudy now. All campsite packing up while rain has stopped. I had pitched in a more open bit so wind had almost dried my tent, others not so lucky. I was over confident got a gully jump wrong, loud bang "sorry bike my bad". 50 metres on had a flat back tyre! Turned bike over checked for split tyre, no sign, pumped air not holding "uh oh", further checking big dent in rim, tyre not seated. Found a suitable big rock and hammered rim back into shape. Stans works his magic, tyre re-inflates, needed a few top ups but holding ok, nearly a very long walk! Biggest looser phone holder snapped off when I turned bike over. Took all future gullys carefully, trail becomes gravel road to Fort William, join the Calidonian way, starts as wide towpath with tail wind, moves away from the water at the Loch and gives views over the glens and lochs few other 'towpaths' could aspire too. Found a floating restaurant (on a boat) then continued to find a canoeists camp site mid way up Loch Oich.
Day 26
Thu 21st June
Loch Oich – Inverness 61 1461 Bright sunny morning, played fold the tent up avoiding the midges, good game involves much darting around campsite :) Old railway to Fort Augustus, bread rolls, jam, tinned fish, breakfast biscuits, snack bars, haggis pie, route turning north best stock up. Route climbs fire roads and sweeping single track trails, great weather, views fantastic. Route options, high or low (Scotish: An t-slighe Ard or An t-slighe losal) so I had to take the Ard route. Sandra texts that Deefa is not well and going to the vets! Rapid change of plan, head east to Inverness rather than north, catch overnight bus (£45 boy had I ridden a long way) back to Milton Keynes and get lift home from Sandra. Deefa off his food main symptom, seems OK in himself but just not eating.
As for bike need to:-
service all the bearings
get new mudguards
fix or replace saddle pack in theory holds pack higher than saddle good for bike packing, off road getting weight off back of saddle good for survival (not a good mix)
new glass for phone (see day 9)
new or better repair for tent (day 16)
get 8mm allen key so I can service BB on route, too much for multi-tool (day 23)
Check rim (day 25)

Notes

When wiill Alan continue his adventure... ?

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