Ex-rayray LeJog 2019-2021

I wanted to do some walking after I retired and I thought it would be a good idea to walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (LeJog).  This is a well known charity walk, often done on roads (e.g. by Ian Botham).  There are a number of books and blogs that describe the walk cross country which increases the distance from 874 miles by road to 1100 miles or more, depending on the route. The route can be done, of course, from South to North or North to South (becoming JogLe!).  The advantages of LeJog include walking with the prevailing wind (and rain!) coming from behind the walker and improved fitness by the time the more demanding terrain of the Pennine Way and the Highlands are reached.

Unlike recognised long distance paths like the Pennine Way, there is no fixed route for Le Jog. Most walkers do the walk continuously but for me, I think this is unrealistic.  I therefore set myself the challenge as follows:

  • To walk the route in stages, usually of 2 weeks duration, each stage to start exactly where the last finished
  • To avoid road walking as much as possible
  • To use B and B as much as possible rather than camp
  • To include the Southernmost point (the Lizard) and the Northernmost point (Dunnet head) of the mainland.
  • To include, where possible, areas of the country that I particularly like, or where I have wanted to walk, that lie on a sensible route.

My plan was to start after I retire at the beginning of June and to do the following stages in 2019

  • The Lizard to Bodmin on the South West Coast path walking via Lands End then along the North coast to Padstow, then using the Camelford cycle trail to Bodmin
  • Bodmin to Bath via Bodmin Moor; the 2 Castles way to Okehampton; then turning North to just east of Barnstaple where I will pick up the Macmillan Way West.  This then crosses Exmoor and the main Quantock ridge before descending to the Somerset levels to reach Castle Cary. I will then turn North to reach Bath.
  • Bath to Edale via the southern half of the Cotswold way, then turning North-west to cross the Malvern Hills. I will then head around the west side of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, hopefully calling in to see my son before turning North-east on the Peak district to Edale

In 2020 had hopes to complete LEJOG, but with the COVID lockdowns I was only able walk the Pennine Way.

In 2021 I followed the “conventional” route across the Southern Uplands and crossed the central lowlands by following the canals to reach the West Highland Way via part of the John Muir Trail. From Fort William I followed the Great Glen Way to Inverness and then the nascent John O’Groats trail.

When I told friends, most thought this was a good project. Others though I was mad, not having done any long distance walking for years. Some then asked me whether I was doing it for charity.  I had not thought of this and, at first, I was not keen because I am not sure I will be able to complete the trek and I was primarily doing the walk as my own challenge.  However, after further reflection, I thought it was a good idea to try to raise money for a charitable cause. For Lejog I chose to support cystic fibrosis.

Two years on, and a lot fitter (and a bit older!). I have decided to continue the blog. I will start a Munro page (the mountains of Scotland higher than 3000 feet, or 909 metres) and in 2022 I plan to walk Offa’s Dyke path and the walkers Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt. Each year I will continue to try to raise a bit of money for charity, this year’s charity will be the Alzheimer’s Society.