Land's End to John O' Groats

A cycle tour in England, Wales and Scotland

Chapter 0: Preparation

Before anything is told about the tour things should start with a statement that was figured out during hill climbs and other high mood situations:

Thanks to the God of health,
thanks to the Gods of the weather and the wind,
thankyou to my wife who patiently stayed at home,
thanks to my bike except the last two days,
and thankyou to the bird who shit on my head at the very last
day before I went out.



Why one has to ride all over Britain by bike? There are some reports of this "End-to-End-Tour" in the Internet, and if you read them you get curious. I once was in England and Scotland 30 years ago (with Roland) and so I am far away from to be well known to these countrysides. On the other hand one should visit the countries where you speak the language (let us hope so) and be able to understand the people.

If you want to do so by bike the ultimate tour in England will be the "Land's End to John O' Groats". It is the longest tour without changing the main direction. My wife Heidi wants to come with me, but after some time argueing about rain and headwinds, coldness, hills and other troubles she resigns and I get free lights for my big-tour-once-in-a-5-years-period!!

Now one has to think of the direction (there are two), and the way from south to north seems to offer the greater advantages:

For this tour of about 1000 miles one should spend about 3 weeks, two for the tour itself and one week in reserve to get there and to come back. Fortunately I found a way to go by bus from Hannover to London, bike transfer included.

But first something happens as mentioned above. At the last day while I commute by bike to my work as every day I feel something falling on my head - a leaf or piece of wood? Oh no, it's wet and brown: shit of a bird. But at once the good idea comes up: this must be a sign of luck for my journey. And I need this, for I am pretty anxious this time going all alone and there will be a long way until a happy return in health.

OK, let's go off, we enter the train to Hannover at Braunschweig, no problems. Then we have to wait an hour at the bus station, it lasts one and a half hour until the bus (Gulliver Reisen) arrives and one more hour later after much trouble the bus departs. But the bike is well packed in one of the luggage boxes.

The bus is a "Sleeper" so you can enter a kind of double mattress and look for some sleep. The first sign of my luck furtheron seems to be, that a strapper girl comes to lie besides me. In the early morning the bus arrives at Amsterdam, some people leave the bus, my strapper girl too. So I have much space to lie and watch the passing landscape aside the Autobahn. It will not be the best of all...

We arrive at Bruxelles. There we change the Bus to one of the Anglia Lines, which will bring us to London via the Euro Tunnel. The weather is awful: rainy, stormy and cold. "What's about the weather in England?" I ask the driver. "Similar" he says. Finally we cross the Euro Tunnel and if you want to know the most impressive thing of this sensation I tell you: "It's dark in there!". But do not forget: set your clock back one hour, we have the Western European Time now.

After the arrival at the British continent you are highly motivated and recognize all sights passing by to be typical English. But after some time I loose my main interest and start to figure out, if the bus will reach London Victoria Station within the time provided (12.30). Of course it does not, the traffic in the city of London is terrible. It needs one hour more to get to V.St. Within the next hour I must change to Paddington. I ask the driver for the way. "You must go to the other end of London" he says. But I have a city map and find the way, riding on the left side, stopping at each junction uncertain where to look first.

Finally I enter the Hyde Park and everyone known to London knows, that Paddington is not far from there. But I had to ask once more and got the fine answer: "I don't know, I'm completely lost myself!"

I reach Paddington Station "just in time", that is early enough to buy a ticket, look for the platform, put the bike into the cabin and find a nearby seat. Uffh! But it is a nice feeling sitting in a train to the outer end of Cornwall. On the ride you will see much of "typical English" but I confine to a fox on a meadow with a rabbit in his mouth. Believe it, it's true! Nice views outside when the train passes the southern coast past Exeter. Red cliffs, at Plymouth you see the huge Tamar Bridge, built in 1961. And so on...

Meanwhile some guys have come into the compartment, their pockets filled with beer and whiskey. They become louder and louder, finally I change to another compartment to concentrate to the outer landscape again. When you see the famous St. Michaels Mount you nearly have reached Penzance, the final destination for today. It is 8.15 pm now so I have needed exactly 24 hours to come here from my home.

Harbour at Penzance
Now I have to look for an accomodation, we have Friday and so difficulties may arise. I ask here and there but they all send me to the next house. And finally at the Union Hotel, Chapel Street, the lady says the words of relieve: "You are welcome". Soon I phone up at home and think to be at the end of the world.

I then look for a Chinese Restaurant for a meal, because the other Inns and Pubs are crowded and many youngsters stroll around with much noise.

Chapter 1: Cornwall and Exmoor
Back to the Index