A Land's End to John O'Groats Charity Walk

 
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Finally, we've done it. We have walked 1200 miles, the length of Britain! Yesterday we left Wick at about 0800 for the final 17 mile walk to John O'Groats. Shortly after 1200 we were walking down the A99 in beautiful sunshine the coast and islands off North Scotland stretched out before us. We were there, the John O'Groats sign welcoming us to the 'end of the road'. Strickly speaking John O'Groats isn't the end of the road, but Dunscaby Head (2 miles Northwest) is, so I ran down the road to the lighthouse there just to be sure!

However you look at it, we've done it. We've walked an unbroken line from Land's End all the way to John O'Groats. It's been 2 gruelling months since we set out, and we've had a lot of problems, successes, enjoyment, hardship and fun along the way. We are both very glad indeed to have finished now. It was particularly nice to know that we've done it carrying all our own kit on our backs. There were streams of cyclists coming in, carrying nothing with backup teams and campervans! I'm glad we did it the hard way!

It was particularly good that once we got to the official sign the man taking the pictures recognised us. Back on the 14th July when we set out, there was a man at Land's End that we spoke to, he was on holiday from John O'Groats...the official photographer from the John O'Groats end. Yesterday as we arrived he recognised us, which was a great feeling to have someone we semi-knew to congratulate us.

I must thank everyone who has helped us on our way, I would like to name everyone...and maybe I will in another blog entry (the time's running out) but to all of you who helpped, to all of you who gave support and to all of you who donated thank you so much. Thank you.

So now what for us? Well we are off to Edinburgh...to have a steak that we've been promising ourselves from the start! Staying at my cousin Lissie's place for a few nights before we fly home. We will soon be putting up the rest of the pictures. Thank you once again.

YAY WE'VE FINISHED!!!!!!

 
 

Check out the new photos I've added onto the page above, only the Scotish ones for the time being I'm afraid, as we left the rest of our photos with Andy back in East Kilbride. Hope you like them

 
 

Well here we are, North, North Scotland finally! Guess what we saw today? ...Our first signpost to John O'Groats since Cornwall on the first day!!! What an amazing feeling it was to see it too. We are now less than 100 miles from the finishing post. I really am very happy indeed, currently we are sat at John's house just outside Tain. John is a good friend of Ian's from University who has very kindly agreed to look after us for a couple of nights, and what an amazing day to come here. The sun is shining so strong that if I'd spent any more time outside I would have got very burnt. It's odd to think that having been walking throughout the summer today has been the first time I've actually seen a combine working! A sign of the bad weather of the summer that it's taken till mid September to see that.

So here we are only days away from the end (yes Dad we were days from the end at the start - only a few less now!) I estimate that we'll be finished by the 18th. Which is just as well, as those of you who have read Carlie's blog yesterday will have seen that she starts her PhD on 22nd September, so we've needed to get a shake on to get back in time. We've managed to rearrange our flights, and by averaging about 24 miles in the last 5 days we will make it. But of course we are VERY far North, so getting back to Cardiff will take us 3 days! A bus to Wick, then train to Inverness, then to Edinburgh (thank you Lissie in advance!!) before a flight back to Cardiff and a bus from Cardiff airport to ours! Thank goodness we've got time in hand to make it back.

So what have we been up to since our last update? Well the West Highland Way as I wrote previously, was amazing. Such spectacular scenary. It really was the highlight of the trip. I'd recommend anyone doing it. It's not a hard walk, with not many possibilities to get lost, but the rewards are spectacular. So unfortunately for the Great Glen Way, it's been a hard act to follow. The Great Glen Way was, well...a little tame in comparison. Following forest paths and canalside tracks wasn't quite the same as the grand vistas and amazing scenes of the Highland Way. Having said that, it was a whole lot better than the A9 which is our route to our end point! Loch Ness was exciting to walk past, but due to the heavily forested slopes, was hard to actually see anything - let alone spot Nessie! We met, and kept meeting (the daily stops are the same for most walkers) a very friendly couple who were also walkinig the Great Glen Way, thank you for your company and your pledged donation.

All in all though spirits are high and we can at last see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are so nearly there...thank goodness!

 
 

WOW! What an amazing few days, if ever any of you want to do a long distance path go with the West Highland Way! What an amazing trail it is. The views are amazing, the path itself it never too hard, and the reward for it is just well, spectacular. I am so glad that we had a chance to walk the West Highland Way.

From East Kilbride we headed out to the start of the West Higland Way, a 95 mile trek that takes you along the shore of Loch Lomand (yes Dad I sang the song while on the banks!!) Up and over into Glencoe across the vast expanse that is Rannoch Moor and then finally down to the foot of the highest mountain in Britain!

I must admit we've been very lucky indeed, the weather has been really very kind to us, considering the forcast. It's been showery but never really totally wet all day, so even when we've got soaked we've managed to dry out. The route out along the banks of Loch Lomand was quite strenuous, the way goes up and down and for the top end of the loch there is a bit of a scramble over rocks as the way hugs the shore.

The day over Rannoch Moor was one of the most spectaular and possibly my favourate of the whole walk so far. It is just so vast and empty but with huge mountains all around, WOW. Ah noooo I'll have to cut this short, we've only been given a few mins on here and my time is running out.

Well thank you all for your support I shall be on again soon I'm sure.

 
 

Once again, I start my blog with an apology that it has been so long since our last update. Well we come with good news...we are in Scotland!! And not just inside Scotland but we are in East Kilbride just south of Glasgow.

So what have the last few days given us, well rain for one! As I'm sure you've seen on the weather forcast the west side of Britain has been covered in rain clouds. Thankfully we've actually been quite lucky. Although we've seen quite a few showers, we've not really had many days where it has rained all day.

Our last blog was in Preston, as we left the library and headed up to Lancaster we walked past some cyclists who were also doing Land's End to John O'Groats (they were stationary hence how we managed to walk past them!) It was strange to think, they were on day 6 and already in Preston, with only 4 days left before John O'Groats! There we were on day 30 with well over another month to go of walking. No wonder most people cycle the route.

So Lancaster was our next target and from there we headed on to Kendal, the gateway to the Lake District. I was very glad to be getting back to some decent scenary again, the urban sprawl of Warrington, Manchester, Preston etc was not a fun place to walk. Now we were back in mountains and beautiful views as we headed out in bright sunshine out towards Penrith over Shap fell. Unfortunately, with mountains comes bad weather and as we crossed Shap fell the weather changed, black clouds were chasing behind us and soon dropped their load on us. Yet again though we were relatively lucky as after a couple of showers it stopped over us. Yet either side of us we could see it tipping it down. 

We were very glad to finally get into Penrith, it was a very long day, the B&B owners where we were staying were going out that night so wanted us to get there by 7pm, so we pushed on all day with barely any stops. It being a Sunday the shops closed early too, so we ended up only having a chocolate bar for lunch!

On from Penrith we headed off to Carlise and then on to Lockerbie and Moffat. Thank you Ian (my brother) for helping us to sort B&Bs along the way. It's been a great help to be able to ring you up and not only get a selection of B&Bs but for them to be well priced and decent places to stay. Thank you.

The Carlise to Lockerbie day was one of our best yet, not due to any particularly spectacular scenary but we crossed the border into Scotland. We'd made it to our last country. It was a good feeling to get into Gretna Green and be on Scottish soil!

In Moffat we stayed in the World famous Star hotel (no I'd never heard of it before we went there either!) It the worlds thinnest hotel at only 20ft wide - well it was in 1988 anyway and they are still living off it! We stayed an extra day in Moffat, having walked continuously for 6 days averaging 25 miles a day we thought we deserved it.

From Moffat we headed out towards East Kilbride stopping the night at Crawford and then being picked up by Andy, Gayle and baby Ben about 10 miles from East Kilbride at Strathaven. Yesterday we had a lovely day off with Andy and Gayle and Ben. It's great to see them again, especially to see Ben. He's now fully able to pull himself up, crawl properly (he used to drag his legs behind him) and now can even walk when you hold his hands for support!

Andy and Gayle have been great to us, giving us time to relax, feeding us very well and really making us feel welcome. It's been great to catch up with them. Today Gayle took Carlie and I back to Strathaven so we could walk back to their house for a nice easy 10 mile day.

Tomorrow will see us heading off to the other side of Glasgow, saying goodbye to B&Bs and the easy life with light backpacks and hello to the West Highland Way and full weight packs and tenting again - just as well the way the money's going!

I am really looking forward to the West Highland Way, it is dubbed as the best long distance path in Britain, with spectacular scenary through it's whole route. So providing we are still lucky with the weather and we get to see the mountains we are climbing over it looks set to be amazing, and even better it the thought that a week Wednesday we should be in Fort William - at the base of the highest mountain in the UK!

Lastly in this entry I'd like to thank some more people, those of you who have sponsored us since our last update, Judy and Andrew, Auntie Susan and Alan and Lynn. Thank you so much for your support it really does spur us on to know you are donating to these two great charities.

Thank you also for all your kind comments - I've just found a way of using the internet on my phone so Carlie and I can access these comments even when we are away from the computer - even if we can't reply. So thank you very much indeed.

I didn't mention in my last update the wonderful meal we were treated to by Ian and Val. Thank you so much, it was great to catch up with you and thank you for your comment too.

 
 

Once again it's been some time since we last updated this, sorry for that. On the plus side we're back on our way again, and catching up the days that we've had off! Which is a great feeling. Today we're in Preston, heading up to Lancaster by tonight. The next few days will see us in Scotland and with my brother in only a week. Glasgow here we come!

Spirits are high again, even though the scenary we are going though isn't great. Yesterday we had a day off, as we'd walked about 100 miles in the last four days, so we thought we were intitled to a day off. Tonight we will be at our half way mark with walking! It seems really strange that we are so far north in my view, but still only half way through the walking! Shows just how much of Scotland there is! Still once we are half way it's all down hill from there. Every step takes us nearer to the end. And I'll be very glad to get to the end too. Not saying I'm not enjoying it, but fatigue is starting to set in (hence the day off yesterday) A good nights sleep just isn't enough, we both feel so exhausted all the time. Having said that we do both feel very fit. Wednesday was our first 30 mile day, and although we were shattered by the end, walking the first 12 miles before lunch didn't seem hard at all.

Carlie's shin splints are a lot better, she's taking a lot of ibuprofen and with the extra weight of the tent etc taken off, we are really managing to get the mileage up. By the time we get to Andy and Gayle's we'll have caught up all the days off we've taken! Which will mean that we will have 11 days 'spare' again to do the final push with full kit again.

Thank you for all your support and concern. We really appreciate all the comments, texts and support from you all. There is a counter that we can see when we log on to this blog showing us how many of you look at this over the past week sometimes there are as many as 140 hits!! So it's great to know you are all looking out for us and thinking of us.

Next time we log on we may well be in Scotland, our path for now will take us to Lancaster tonight, then Kendal, Penrith and Carlisle....and then Scotland!!! Our final country! And once in Scotland we've only about 400 miles to go....only!!!

 
A setback... 08/08/2008
 

Well thank you once again for your comments, it's great to know you are reading this and thinking of us. Unfortunatly I've got some bad news though. Carlie has for the past few days been suffering with really bad shin splints. This is of course a real concern for us. We had another rest day yesterday in order to give us the chance to continue but unfortunatly that's not been enough.

So...what to do? Well firstly thank you very much indeed to Ed Riley (an old school friend of mine). He put us up for the past three nights, picking us up a days walk from his and then dropping us back so we could walk on. Thank you Ed for the food, hospitality and general kindness. We owe you and you really need to come to Cardiff!! It was great to see him after so long and to see his parents again too. It had been two years since I'd seen Ed and seven since I'd seen his parents!!

Our plan (for the moment) is to rest up for another two days in a B&B here in Church Stretton and re-think. Due to the nature of Carlie's injury, we think it best to try to get the weight off our backs for a little while. This will mean a eating into our budget, as we will have to ditch the tent, sleeping bag and stove etc. This will mean that we will have to stay at B&Bs and youth hostels - far from ideal but it's now all about getting to the end!

So in short our plan is to post on our excess kit to my brother's in Scotland and walk for the next two weeks or so with much less on our backs, therefore covering our milage more easily! We are also looking at our route and seeing where we can shave off milage with a more direct (but less scenic) route. Of course we'll keep you updated where we can with our progress.

Once again thank you for your support and thank you Ed for your huge help.

 
 

Well today was our final day with Nat and Parf and therefore our final day with daysacks! It will be hard to get back to trudging along with our big sacks on again, and sleeping in a tent every night...and eating army rations again!

Oh well, today was lovely. A really really enjoyable day. Ridge walking is always the best, but especially in good weather. Ok the weather wasn't great - not beach weather, but then we weren't on a beach. For the majority of the day it was perfect walking weather - overcast, slight breeze, a little sun and not much rain. It did rain, but not that much and the views from the top were amazing. Spectacular views all around, the Black Mountains and the Breacon Beacons to the West, the flat midlands to the east.

All in all today was one of the best so far, beautiful! So tomorrow we're off into Herefordshire and on towards Craven Arms.

 
On to Pandy 08/02/2008
 

Well, another nice easy day - relatively. Daysacks on Carlie, Parf and I, headed off from Monmouth on the Offa's Dyke Path once again. Carlie's Nan dropped us off and Nat picked us up at the end of the day, so thank you once again to you all for your help and support over the past few days.

The weather started out quite overcast, with a few drops of rain. Soon this totally changed to beautiful sunshine...out with the suncream again! The walk itself was fairly low level, lots of styles and certainly at the start of the walk lots of mud too! The rain overnight had left the path particularly wet in places.

Thankfully, yet another short day, only a 17 miler, which without pack we completed by about 1700.

Lovely weather, lovely views, great company....and back to a bed, food and shower! Lush!