Saturday, 7 August 2010

Route planning and other news

Route planning

One of the joys of a walk between John O'Groats and Lands End (or vice-versa) is that there is no set route. As long as you start and finish at those two points you can go which ever way you choose.

The straight-line distance from Land's End to John O' Groats is approximately 603 miles, but that passes over stretches of the Irish Sea. The shortest distance by road is 874 miles. Many end-to-end walkers opt to take a scenic route and end up walking as much as 1,200 miles, or even more.

My route has been in the planning stage for several months. When I leave John O'Groats the first 118 miles or so will involve walking along the A9 and A99 to Inverness. From there I will head south west along the Great Glen Way until I reach Fort William around 73 miles later. The 96 miles of The West Highland Way, a scenic but challenging off-road track, will take me from Fort William to the outskirts of Glasgow. From there I will head south until I enter England at Gretna Green.

I have chosen a route through England that enables me to visit my fellow milkmen at 17 Milk & More depots, including my home depot in Exeter. The Milk & More team's backing has been crucial to getting my walk off the ground, without their generous support I simply wouldn't be able to afford to do it. I'm hoping that my depot visits will generate some PR opportunities and boost the sum raised for MacMillan. The Milk & More depots I have chosen to visit are as follows;

Howley (Warrington)
West Bromwich
Yate (Bristol)

If anybody living close to my route can offer to put me up for the night I'm very interested, please get in touch.

Seasoned hikers who prefer scenic off-road walks will probably be horrified to realise that my path will take me through several urban centres including Glasgow, Birmingham and Bristol. However the route is of my choosing and I don't mind passing through occasional towns and cities if it gives me the opportunity to visit my colleagues and the possibility of raising more money for MacMillan.

When my walk commences I will be carrying no paper maps whatsoever, though I expect I'll need to buy one or two on my way. While planning I've typed up over 100 pages of detailed route notes and generated 120 maps on my laptop using some very useful mapping websites. These have all been stored on my iPhone, which will be a crucial tool on my walk. I will be able to views all my maps and notes even when I have no mobile signal. A copy of all my notes and maps will also be taken on a USB stick to give me the opportunity to have physical copies printed off when the need arises. My hand-held Garmin GPS device will also aid navigation.

In total my planned route comes in at just over 950 miles, however I'm bound to stray off the path quite often when I'm seeking food, other provisions and places to stay. Also it's inevitable that I'll take a wrong turn every now and then and end up putting in some unexpected extra miles for various reasons. So all-in-all I'm expecting to walk around 1000 miles, in fact I think it will feel good if I actually do manage to break the 1000 mile barrier before I reach the finish line. My GPS device will record the exact daily distances and I will publish them on this blog.

Other news

As I type I have already raised £1,853 for MacMillan, and that sum doesn't include the gift-aid element that will be claimed on the majority of donations at a later stage. I have been over-whelmed by peoples generosity and I'm delighted to reach this figure two weeks before I even start walking. I'm now more confident than ever that I will be able to reach my £5,000 target. Please keep them coming folks!

My training is almost complete, my final 20 mile practise (10 miles each way to and from work) will be completed on Wednesday 18th, with shorter walks to follow on the Thursday and Friday. I estimate that I have walked at least 500 practise miles over the last few months, always wearing and carrying all my JOGLE kit. I'm very lucky to have beautiful countryside to explore in East Devon. My practise boots (that I've also been wearing at work) are almost completely worn out, they're identical to the brand-new ones I'm taking up to John O'Groats with me, I'm going to start wearing that pair in a week before I leave.

For those of you familiar with Twitter, I will be tweeting as I walk. The tweets will include progress reports, photos and anything else of interest. The Tweets will also automatically update my Facebook status. My iPhone has a GPS facility, this means all the tweets will include precise geographical data. Shortly before the walk starts I will add my Twitter address to this blog.



  1. Hi Gary good luck with the walk I'm currently in Carlisle but I'm sure you.ll catch up with me! Alan (barefootman)

  2. Thanks Alan. Your blog is great, very inspiring to me. Good Luck. Gary

    Alan is currently doing his JOGLE barefoot!

  3. Looks great, Gary! Good luck with it all...



About Me

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Exmouth, Devon, United Kingdom
Hi :) I'm a 49yo father of three from Exmouth, a lovely seaside town in Devon. In parts of Exeter I'm well known as the local milkman where I've been making traditional doorstep deliveries for 15 years.