Saddle Sore – Reviews, Rides & Rablings – Cycling Blog

Category - LEJOG

Posts from my Land’s End to John o’Groats (LEJOG) ride.

Day 10: LEJOG A Field to John o’Groats

So last night I cycled as far as I wanted then found a flat farmer’s field to camp in for the night. I must have gone to sleep straight away, woke up a few time, but got up at 05:30.

Yesterday’s effort of 140 miles only left me 13 miles to go today and it was easy terrain.

It was misty but the view over Sinclair’s Bay and Castles Sinclair and Girnigoe was still impressive.

Near Freswick I saw a big stag with huge antlers standing in a field. I took a small detour to take a pic and it turned out to be Reindeer, not bad but not the impressive stag I had hoped for but nice.

By 7 I was approaching JOG and the mist had mosty cleared, I could see across to Stroma and some of the other smaller islands.


I thought about cycling the mile or so to Duncansby Head (the most easterly point) then I thought bollocks to it.

I didn’t get any punctures, mechanical problems, I didn’t fall off, I didn’t get hit and no near misses so I’d say that’s a pretty successful trip. I just watched a girl with her feet clipped in to her pedals fall over sideways – probably the highlight of my trip!

It feels like I have blisters on my hands (I don’t), it feels like my behind is covered in boils (it may be, I dare not look) and my body has given up (it knows it’s over).

I don’t feel like I’ve lost any weight, I was 83kg with clothes on when I left so I’ll let you know tomorrow – I know you’re interested.

Got a taxi from JOG back to Wick and the driver asked what I so for a living, I made something suitably impressive up (breeding turtles) and then said “how about you?” doh, what a dick.

Too save lugging all my stuff on and off the trains and around the stations I’ve sent it all home. I popped into PoundStretcher bought some rubble bags and gaffer tape then away they went. They’ll probably get home before me.

On the train from Wick to Inverness (almost 5 hours) there was a girl about 5 I’d guess. She stuck her head between the seats and blew a raspberry at me, this took me a back as I’m normally the raspberryer not the raspberryee: I like to blow raspberries at children in the ultimate hope that the child will raspberry back, the parent will see/hear it and then hit the child – I have achieved this pinnacle twice. Anyway I ignored her raspberry (which was very hard) and briefly considered accidently trapping her fingers in the folding tray in the back of the seat – too much crying.

Tomorrow is London Euston and home.

Day 9: LEJOG Aviemore to a Field

Left the B&B by 5 and felt good, I was going home – even if I was cycling north.

Loads of animals today, some dead, some live. Dead: 3 deer, birds of pray, gulls, corvids, black bird, pheasant, hedgehogs, rabbits and fox. Alive: Deer, 3 lapwings, curlews, 2 hares, and 4 domestic cats.

There were a lot of nice tracks today and a few horrible bits of A9, going past Inverness for example – not advised but couldn’t see a better route.

I mainly got my head down to knock out the miles but I did see a man in a kilt, I smiled at him, he scowled at me.

2013-07-10 14.02.44

After dinner at Helmsdale there are 2 terrible hills. The worse of the 2 began with B, maybe Berriedale – look it up.

I’m now in a farmer’s field just outside Wick overlooking Sinclair’s Bay. There’s not a whisp of wind and the clouds are clearing.

I’m tired, it was a 140 mile day, I need to sleep.

Rest Day 2: LEJOG Aviemore

Something I forgot to mention yesterday, I heard a Scottish man say to his mate, about his small child sitting on the cross bar of his bike – “Argh nae! She’s sheeet herself!”. Maybe you had to be there.

At breakfast there was an American family who’s son (probably about 8) would only talk to the waitress in squeaks unless reminded by his parents to “use your talking voice”. He was very annoying.

Got the bus to the Cairngorm Mountains and took the funicular railway to the top. I’d have liked to have walked or cycled up but that’s no the idea of a rest day is it? Squeak boy turned up on the bloody train.

Tomorrow the idea is to get as far as possible with Helmsdale being minimum, hoping to get at least 10 miles beyond that. It will leave me less to do on the last day, I need to get to John o’Groats by 10:30 on Thursday to allow me to get back to Wick to get the train to Inverness.

2013-07-09 10.37.55

Only 2 days cycling and the sleeper train left before I’m home – whoop!

I feel like rest days are bit of a waste but I guess I need them.

Day 8: LEJOG Scone to Aviemore

Considering it was on a foam egg box mattress it was a good night’s sleep but I still couldn’t get up as early as I’d hoped. Luckily some arguing Oyster Catchers had over ideas and I away by 7.

There aren’t many places in Scotland and the map has changed scale, so every square is 6 miles rather than 3. It makes me feel like I’m making less progess and I get to throw less pages away.

2013-07-08 16.46.30

There is the NCN 7 from Calvine to Inverness and I took this route on and off depending on the surface of the track. They have a habit of tarmacing cycle routes as far as the eye can see then gravelling the rest.

A bloke on a photography trip started talking me at Dalwinnie (which smells of cat food), and as he left he gave me £10 (Scottish mind you) for the charity – I just spent it on dinner, unlucky dieing children!

2013-07-08 13.37.03

Roadkill: another mole! Several bunnies, loads of various birds (at least one bird of prey), a fox, a deer, and I think a dog.

Aviemore isn’t the place for someone who likes to waste money on outdoor crap, every second shop is an Ellis Bingham or even better a local outdoor activities shop. Sorry Charly, no food shopping this month.

2013-07-08 12.18.55

There are some parents at the pub trying to get their children (twins I think) to pole dance on a parasol on a pub table while shouting woo-woo, it’s not all bad though, one just got stung by a wasp (I assume wasp, could have been the less malicious bee). Let’s hope they aren’t allergic.

Yesterday I wished I saw a snake and today I did! I think is was a young Adder but it was back in the grass before I could say Cowboy Boots.

When planning this ride I was ready for headwinds, rain and snow in Scotland but not for 27.4 degrees in the Highlands?! If it wasn’t for my cycling shorts I’d have been in the river multiple times today. I can still see snow on the Cairngorm mountains (I might go up there tomorrow).

Day 7: LEJOG Moffat to Scone

I couldn’t force myself up at 04:30 and ended up leaving at 6ish. A crap breakfast and it showed in my early effort, but by 11 the sun was out, I’d had some food and I was speeding along again.

2013-07-07 15.08.06

2013-07-07 11.39.38

Their was a load of roadkill today (mainly rabbits but 1 mole, since when do you get roadkill moles?) and the temperature made it smell like when you forget you own a hamster, then you remember and it’s in a slightly more gelatinous state than is healthy. As well as dead stuff I also saw a live Red squirrel and a black rabbit.

I’m not sure Scotland has ever been so hot; 25 degrees tomorrow.

The knee is pretty good, my muscles have given up hurting so it looks like it’s just a matter of making sure I have enough energy now.

Typically, the nearest pub is ages away and up hill so I’ve had some food delivered: the only place that delivers was an Indian, I didn’t want to risk a curry so now I’m dining on 1 beef burger and chips and 1 chicken burger and chips – vile.

2013-07-07 10.59.48

No good place names on the ride today, though I noticed Cocklands and Devil’s Beef Tub on the map.

Tomorrow looks like it includes 55 miles of near constant climbing :-(. Calling at Perth, Pitlochry, Newtonmore and Aviemore. This day terminates at Aviemore.

Only 3 cycling days left.

Day 6: LEJOG Kendal to Moffat

Up and out by 05:10. Almost as soon as you leave Kendal you have the climb the 1400ft Scap Fells which wasn’t a problem surprisingly – I kept waiting for them to start and before I knew it I was in Penrith.

I was flying along like I had nothing in my panniers and reached Carlisle in no time at all so I stopped to have a drink and some food. I also checked my phone and found a text message from the B&B saying I’d left my sleeping bag and half my clothes there – excellent! A quick Google and I’m at ‘Free Time’ with a new bag and a lighter wallet. They only had one small/light bag, it was down and not, shall we say, budget like mine.

Cross the River Esk’s estuary and you reach Gretna and therefore Scotland. The first person I saw was actually carrying a bottle of Irn Bru, I don’t know why people conform to these national stereotypes. Any way I went to the café and got some tea and cucumber sandwiches and sat in the park. I paused Strava on my phone so my average speed wouldn’t be affected too much by my break and to save battery power.

From Gretna there were no stops and it was going fine, though my bum was suffering a fair bit. Knee not 100% but not prohibitive.

2013-07-06 14.42.27

I got to Moffat at about 15:15 thanks to my early start which I’ll hopefully do again tomorrow.

Turns out I didn’t restart Strava after at Gretna so I don’t have the last part of the journey saved which really annoyed me, even though it doesn’t really matter.

Tomorrow is my longest day in terms of mileage and the elevation isn’t good either. I sometimes wish I didn’t have this information.

Rest Day 1: LEJOG Kendal

I might have been a bit harsh on Kendal last night. It’s not so weird in the light of day. It still has its fair share of weirdos – you can’t look anywhere without seeing a wonky eye, limp or Special Brew drinker. Apologies to those with wonky eyes, limps and drinkers of Special Brew – help is out there.

After phoning around (and giving the Thai Angels a miss) I was able to find a place for a massage. I can’t say I feel any better for it and I had to endure having a man rub uncomfortably close to my testicles.

The massage meant I couldn’t visit Windermere on the bus as I thought I might. I settled for a walk around the town.

Everything being well, tomorrow should see me pass into Scotland through Gretna.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a hot day so I’m hoping to get up at 04:00 and on the road by 05:00 to escape most of the heat and be lunching by noon.

I’m lead to believe the next 5 days will be nearly as hard as the first 3, so I’m hoping the previous 5 day’s exercise, coupled with the rest day will have given my fitness a boost.
Destination Moffat (North of Carlisle).