Tag Archives: cycling

LEJOG – Day 15 to John O’Groats

Final Day, Day 15 – Tongue SYH to John O’Groats – 64 miles

(Previous Day 14)

We stayed at the Caberfeidh Guest House at John O’Groats. There was a Youth Hostel at John O’Groats but it appears this has now closed.

Lejog, the finish photograph at John O'Groats

The finish!

The day’s events

It seemed strange that having gone through various pain and psychological barriers, and that cycling for 6 – 7 hours each day was now our “days work”, that today would be the last day. We’d been travelling fairly light for the whole journey but today with Glenis being a “support vehicle” we were able to offload everything except water bottle and puncture outfits. This made a huge difference but some of this advantage was offset by a strong Easterly head wind hitting us in the face for most of the day.

The final day of our LEJOG between Tongue and Thurso

Between Tongue and Thurso

The first 35 Miles of the day’s ride was along switchback roads across moorland like scenery, following the sand-duned coastline. The scenery reminded us very much of the north Cornwall coast around Portreath/Porthtowan/Perranporth/St Agnes. The remaining half of the ride to John O’Groats was flatter but not quite so scenic, especially past Doonreay Nuclear Power Station (apparently they have a good selection of luminous marker pens in their gift shop!).

Last day stretches at Borgie

Last day stretches at Borgie

Despite the headwind, we still made good time into Thurso. We stopped for our mid morning tea and cake in a very ordinary bakery before taking the road again for the final leg towards John O’Groats. To let our welcoming committee catch up, we decided to stop at a Pub in Huna for a quick pre-celebratory beer – just 6 miles from the finish.

We arrived at John O’Groats at 1:30pm and crossed the famous Start/Finish line to cheers, party poppers and bottle of bubbly from Glenis and the kids.

After the obligatory photographs, we got talking to a small group of motorcyclists from Barnstaple in Devon. They were feeling proud having ridden their 1000cc motorcycles from Lands End to John O’Groats (with a support van) in 7 days. They were somewhat deflated when they asked what we’d been doing.

Thurso

Thurso

Food

We only stopped at Thurso for refreshments and the bakery we went too was very ordinary and not up to the standard we were used too.

The Route

The route was pleasant from a cycling point of view and scenery today – especially the part before Thurso. After Thurso although ok, it wasn’t stunning. The big negative was the gale force head wind we had to endure, and I can imagine in bad weather, this section would be very bleak.

Climbing Profile

Tongue SYH to Reay

LEJOG day 15 part 1 climbing profile

LEJOG day 15 part 1

Reay to John O’Groats

LEJOG day 15 part 2 climbing profile

LEJOG day 15 part 2

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Tongue SYH John O’Groats

64

1066

1456

1474

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 15 is listed below (1:50 000). For an electronic route that you can load on to a GPS or mapping application go to  GPS Waypoints.

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Out of Tongue SYH turn R (not L) and R again on minor road (and NCR1) that runs north alongside the kyle before beginning a gentle ascent of a hill before joining the A836 where L. Follow A836 through Strathtongue, Borgie Bridge, (still on NCR1), Bettyhill, Strathy, Reay, Thurso, Dunnet, all the way to John O’Groats.

 

LEJOG – Day 14 a stunning day to Tongue

Day 14 – Carbisdale SYH to Tongue SYH – 49 miles

On the road to Tongue

On the road to Tongue

(Backwards to Day 13 or Forwards to Day 15)

Recommendations

An alternative accommodation stop to Carbisdale YHA is in Altnaharra. The Altnaharra Bed and Breakfast has been recommended in 2010 by Twitter users @cyclingbob1 and @cminors.http://www.altnaharra.net/

For somewhere to eat at Bonar Bridge, there is the Crannag Bistro. No recommendations from End to Enders yet but they do offer End to Enders a free Dram!! The following description is from the owner Kathy Smith “Would you be kind enough to let everyone know about us please?  We are situated in the centre of Bonar Bridge, 7 miles from Carbisdale Castle (but only 3 as the crow flies and if you come via Invershin bridge!)  We are a small family run restaurant, 24 covers, fully licensed and serving honest
local fare.

The day’s events

Sustrans Route at Carbisdale

Sustrans Route at Carbisdale

Today for me was without a doubt the best day’s cycling of the whole journey. On the home straight now with a relatively short and easy ride across the moors to Tongue on the north Scottish coast. We set off in a light and cool morning mist at 7am and after the first few miles passed through the village of Lairg. From here there was little civilisation marked on the map on the 40 mile mountain road to Tongue except for a very small village mid-way along called Altnaharra and an intriguing landmark called the Crask Inn.

We arrived at the Inn at around 9:15am and asked the lady in the back garden if there was any chance of a pot of tea. She turned out to be the landlady and invited us in to serve us with tea plus 2 slices of home-made cake for £1.20 each. She then told us that she was just taking the dogs for a walk and if she wasn’t back by the time we left would we mind leaving the money on the bar. Not only did she trust us to pay but also left us in charge of an empty bar!!

We cycled the remaining 20+ miles across beautiful rolling moorland roads through scenery very similar to Dartmoor (but without traffic or ice cream vans), and arrived at Tongue just in time for a pub lunch.

Leaving the Crask Inn

Leaving the Crask Inn

My wife and 2 children met us at Tongue as they were also staying in the hostel that night. They were on route to John O’Groats to welcome us in, and afterwards we were going to take a few days break in the Orkneys before heading South. We took the kids to the beach as its not often you have 28 degrees of heat on the north Scottish coast. However we were quite surprised to find we were sharing the beach with a herd of cows who seemed to be taking it in turns to promenade along the shore.

Our food parcels of chocolate bars we had sent to each hostel, were not something we looked forward to as by now we had built up our own chocolate mountain as we couldn’t keep up with the supply. The very thought of a chocolate bar made me feel sick, let alone eating one!

Food

A brunch bar too far

A brunch bar too far

Today was a short ride and so we didn’t stop for food that often. The 2 main stops were the Crask Inn (highly recommended) for a cup of tea and slice of cake, and the pub in Tongue for a pub lunch. There are a couple of convenience stores in Tongue just down from the pub. They are all situated where the A road takes a sharp hairpin and a minor road carries straight on. The convenience stores are almost opposite each other about 100 Metres on the minor road as it leaves the A road.

Delia does Brunch Bars

Delia does Brunch Bars

The Route

This was the most impressive ride of the whole trip. Quiet roads, steady gentle climbs / descents, and wonderful scenery. Fantastic!

When you leave Carbisdale SYH, you turn R at the end of the drive and almost immediately L along NCR1. Despite being an official cycle route it appears to be more like a public footpath. The route takes you on the railway bridge over the river straight on to the A836 to Lairg. This saves you the trouble of cycling back to Ardgay.

The SYHA

After the disappointment of Carbisdale SYHTongue SYH was the complete opposite. Small, clean, well equipped, in an absolutely idyllic setting right by the Kyle, and superb wardens (husband wife and young child) who had some delicious home-made cakes for sale and were very friendly. Unfortunately I think they were only there temporarily for the 2003 season.

Climbing Profile

lejog day 14 climbing profile

lejog day 14

 Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Carbisdale SYHA Tongue SYH

49

1001

883

931

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 14 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

When you leave Carbisdale SYH, you turn R at the end of the drive and almost immediately L along NCR1. Despite being an official cycle route it appears to be more like a public footpath. The route takes you on the railway bridge over the river straight on to the A836, where you turn L to Lairg.

At Lairg carry straight on the A836 towards Tongue. Pass the Crask Inn, Altnaharra, and eventually begin to drop down off the plateau towards Tongue. Just as you pass the radio mast there is a minor road L which you take to the village of Tongue. You carry on through Tongue and the SYH is on the right side of the road just before you cross the causeway.

LEJOG – Day 13 sunrise at Loch Ness

Day 13 – Loch Ness SYH to Carbisdale SYH – 64 miles

(Backwards to Day 12 or Forwards to Day 14)

For somewhere to eat at Bonar Bridge, there is the Crannag Bistro. The following description is from the owner Kathy Smith “Would you be kind enough to let everyone know about us please?  We are situated in the centre of Bonar Bridge, 7 miles from Carbisdale Castle (but only 3 as the crow flies and if you come via Invershin bridge!)  We are a small family run restaurant, 24 covers, fully licensed and serving honest
local fare.”

The day’s events

Sunrise over Loch Ness

Sunrise over Loch Ness

Set off early to get most benefit from cooler temperature and traffic free roads. There was a beautiful sunrise over Loch Ness and at 6:30am the air was still (and midge free!). Leaving the shores of Loch Ness at Drumnadrochit, we climbed our steepest hill at 15% (1 in 6) gradient, but thankfully only for about a mile. The good thing about climbing is you always come down and we enjoyed a quiet gentle descent more or less all the way into Beauly. We stopped for a 2nd breakfast at Dingwall and then took to the hills again after Alness to avoid A9 traffic, providing us with a spectacular mountain road with stunning views over Dornoch Firth towards Bonar Bridge.

View to Bonar Bridge from Cadha Mor

View to Bonar Bridge from Cadha Mor

We arrived at Carbisdale Castle early afternoon after a jacket potato lunch at Ardgay, near Bonar Bridge, which gave us plenty of time to rest and chill-out. The castle is quite a building and difficult to believe it’s a youth hostel! Unfortunately it is let down however by being very impersonal with under equipped and poor kitchen facilities which were certainly not good enough for 170 guests trying to self-cater!

Food

Keith on the road to Bonar Bridge

Keith on the road to Bonar Bridge

Again plenty of food stops available today so no real problem. We stopped at a friendly café / chip shop at Dingwall and we also stopped at Ardgay for a lunch and beer in the pub. There is also a small convenience store at Ardgay where we purchased our tea. If staying at the YHA, try to avoid peaktime in the kitchen as it is very poorly equipped and you will be fighting other hostellers for cutlery, utensils and pans! The bike shed is downstairs in a locked part of the cellar.

The Route

We all enjoyed the route today. There was one incredibly steep hill of Cornwall and Devon proportions but longer as you join the A833. However the effort is very well rewarded as the road gently descend all the way to Beauly. The second climb past Alness to Bonar Bridge, is not as steep as the first climb and a superb very enjoyable part of the day. It probably ranks in the top 5 most enjoyable parts of the whole trip.

Climbing Profile

Lejog day 13

Lejog day 13

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Loch Ness SYH Carbisdale SYH

64

953

1764

1741

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 13 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Turn L out of Loch Ness SYH and continue along A82 until Drumnadrochit where L on to A831. Next turn R on to A833 and follow until R on to A831 into Beauly. Follow A862 through Muir of Ord, Conon Bridge and into Dingwall.

At Dingwall continue under railway bridge, the A road takes a sharp R and take the next L up a side residential road to join the minor road to Mountgerald Ardullie (runs parallel to A862), and into Evanton where it joins the B817 where L. Follow B817 until it joins the B9176 where L.

Follow B9176 (also NCR1) until it joins the A836 where L into Kincardine.

At Ardgay, take L along minor road and follow to Carbisdale SYHA.

LEJOG – Day 12 looking for monsters

Day 12 – Glencoe SYH to Loch Ness SYH – 66 miles

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

(Backwards to Day 11 or Forwards to Day 13)

The day’s events

Early morning reflections on Loch Leven

Early morning reflections on Loch Leven

The Great Glen is a magnet for tourists and hence the main A82 through the Glen is a very busy road for traffic. There are really few other alternative routes for bicycles north of Fort William other than the new Great Glen Cycle Route that picks its way through the Glen. Ideal for Mountain Bikes but unfortunately of very little use if you are travelling on light weight road bikes. Therefore we would have to take our chances with the tourist traffic for a majority of today’s route.

South of Fort William there is however a superb diversion with next to no cars at all offering wonderful views of the tallest mountain on the British Isles. Ben Nevis at over 4048ft.

To pick up the diversion we cycled the short distance to the Corran ferry on a bright still morning, taking the ferry across to the West side of Loch Linnhe. We cycled along the very quiet B road to Camusnagual where we had to lie in the sun for a couple of hours waiting for the passenger ferry to take us the short distance across the Loch to Fort William. From Fort William, we followed as much as possible the Caledonian Canal Tow path that is part of the Great Glen cycle route. This wasn’t particularly well surfaced, ok for mountain bikes, but with our very narrow tyres, we needed to take it very carefully.

Fort Augustus and Nessie

Fort Augustus and Nessie

Another very hot day, significantly hotter than yesterday so must have been into the 30’s. As we climbed the modest hill from Gairlochy towards Spean Bridge we suffered from the 2pm sun on our backs and deep lung-full’s of hot air rising from the hot road surface. We decided that from now onwards we should get up early in the mornings and be on the road before 7am to avoid much of this heat.

We stopped off for a well deserved ice cream and some essentials for our tea at Fort Augustus and cycled the final 12 miles to Loch Ness Youth Hostel.

Loch Ness Youth Hostel proved quite entertaining with a very laid back Scandinavian assistant warden who wouldn’t do anything until he had got his “boost juice” sorted out. (Coffee to you and me). His laid back approach however was counteracted by his boss who resembled a female commandant who modelled herself on a 3rd world dictator.

Food

Ferry at Camusnagaul

Ferry at Camusnagaul

Food stops were not an issue today. We shopped in the large supermarket at Fort William and carried our provisions for a couple of miles so we could picnic beside the Caledonian canal. After that we stopped for a tea break at the Letterfinlay Lodge Hotel on the banks of Loch Lochy before shopping again in Fort Augustus at the Spar for our tea which we had at the SYHA.

The Route – The detour off the busy A82 across the Corran ferry (frequent vehicle roll on / roll off ferry on which foot passengers and cycles go free. and back across the Loch to Fort William from Camusnagaul, was a very worthwhile detour that gave us an almost unused practically flat road with stunning views across to Ben Nevis. The only negative being the frequency of the Camusnagaul ferry that means you end up possibly waiting a couple of hours to return across the Loch, and if it was raining, there is little shelter. The best thing to do in bad weather is to take refuge in the hotel (I think it’s a hotel) once you’ve crossed at Corran by the ferry slipway where you can at least buy refreshments out of the rain and plan your trip to minimise the time you have to wait at Camusnagaul.

The A82 through the Great Glen however is far from pleasant and if you can avoid it all for the better. It is very busy not only with local traffic, but heavy commercial traffic and tourists as well. None of use enjoyed that part of the route at all. There is the Great Glen Cycle Route but all advice we received was that this was suitable for Mountain bikes only and not at all suitable for narrow racing cycle tyres. We did follow parts of the cycle route where it followed the Caledonian Canal as a respite from the A82. We did get through but very slowly as the surface is very rough indeed.

Ferry times – Corran Ferry times are as follows: – Depart Nether Lochaber every quarter past and quarter to the hour. Passengers and cycles free. Journey time 10 mins

Camasnagaul Passenger Ferry times are as follows (these times were valid for Monday to Saturday summer 2012 so check for changes): – 0815, 1015, 1230, 1635. A single costs £1.50 with a £1.50 charge per bike.  . It takes about 15 – 20 mins (see photo).

Climbing Profile

Glen Coe SYHA to Laggan

Lejog day 12 climbing profile

Lejog day 12 part 1

Laggan to Loch Ness SYHA

Lejog Day 12 part 2

Lejog Day 12 part 2

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Glen Coe SYH Loch Ness SYH

66

889

1462

1472

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 12 is listed below (1:50 000)

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

 From the SYHA we retraced our steps through Glen Coe and back to Ballachulish where we crossed the A82 bridge and headed north towards the Corran ferry. We took the ferry across the Loch turned R and headed up the Loch towards Camusnagaul.

Catching the passenger ferry at Camusnagaul, we landed at Fort William. After the supermarket we took minor roads to join the B8006 where we turned L until it joined the A380 where L and almost immediate R to join the Caledonian Canal and the Great Glen Cycle Route. We stayed on the west bank of the canal until Gairlochy where we turned R on to the B8004 and followed to the A82 where L.

Stay on the A82 past Laggan, Invergarry, and at Bridge of Olch turn L follow cycle route alongside Caledonian Canal to Fort Augustus. Turn back on to A82 and follow past Invermoriston to Loch Ness SYHA.

LEJOG – Day 11 the longest day

Day 11 – Lochranza SYH to Glencoe SYH – 99 miles

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle

Backwards to Day 10 or Forwards to Day 12

The day’s events

Claonaig Ferry

Claonaig Ferry

On paper, today was our hardest day. Not only in distance but also in height climbed. We were up and out the youth hostel and down at the ferry terminal ready for the first (08;15) ferry of the day over the causeway to Kintyre. With the grey skies, the ferry bouncing over the slight swell and the drone of the diesel engine, our “Longest Day” would have been complete if we had landed on the beaches of Normandy.

Our cycle began with a steady 4 mile climb along a pleasant single track road. before passing over the top and down into Tarbert. The road between Lochgilphead and Oban was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, a series of long challenging hills but some very fast alpine-style descents which Keith and I especially very much enjoyed. We made good time with a slight tailwind enjoying the beautiful scenery and, unusually for A roads, a good smooth low friction cycling surface without the nuisance of lots of traffic.

South of Tarbert

South of Tarbert

As the morning progressed, the early morning greyness had gradually been burnt off by the sun. By the time we reached Oban at lunchtime it was hot. Very hot. Apparently 29C! It was clear that the heatwave that we’d heard about down south had reached us.

Climbing out of Oban and along the busy A85 in the afternoon was not much fun. Mark especially was suffering with the heat and counteracted his discomfort by steaming off at a cracking pace. Turning off onto the A828 to Glencoe was fortunately quieter and we enjoyed a superb scenic route along the Scottish Westcoast through to Glencoe. At the end of the day, despite 99 miles and nearly 9,000ft of ascent, we were not so tired as we expected and were in very high spirits now that our longest and hardest day was behind us. Having done that we could do anything We also completed this leg of the journey with our fastest daily average speed so far. 15.2mph!

Food

Oban

Oban

Although traveling on a potentially very quiet part of the British Isles, we didn’t really have any problems regarding food stops. We stopped for a brunch at Ardrishaig at a roadside café, and at Oban for our main lunch stop. Although Oban was busy, it was still a nice place and had plenty of options for lunch stops, including a large supermarket. After that we carried on all the way to Ballachulish where we stopped for a beer at the hotel bar just beside the bridge. There is a well-stocked Spar shop in Glencoe and the YHA also has a range of provisions.

Just in case it rains

Just in case it rains

The Route

The route was excellent. The scenery stunning and the roads a nice combination of A road tarmac quality without the volume of traffic, or for that matter the steep ascents associated with lanes. This combination of the 2 probably accounts for why we hit out fastest average speed of the trip. The only stretch of road that was busy and not that pleasant was the A85 out of Oban to Connel. Once we turned off the A85 on to the A828, traffic died down significantly. A good day.

Climbing Profile

Just in case it rains climbing profile

Lejog day 11

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Lochranza SYH Glen Coe SYHA

99

823

2717

2690

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 11 is listed below (1:50 000). .

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Out of SYHA and turn L follow A841 short distance to ferry port. Catch ferry to Claonaig.

From Claonaig follow B8001 out of port over hill and turn R on to A83. Follow A83 through Tarbert, Ardrishaig, and just before Lochgilphead turn L on A816 past Bridgend, Kilmartin, Kilmelford, Kilmore to Oban.

From Oban follow the A85 through Dunbeg and L at Connel over bridge on A828 past Benderloch to Ballachulish where you join the A82 before turning L on local road into Glencoe and on to the SYH.

LEJOG – Day 10 over the sea to Arran

Day 10 – Kendoon SYH (Glenhoul) to Lochranza SYH – 70 miles

(Backwards to Day 9 or Forwards to Day 11)

Lochranza Sunset

Lochranza Sunset

The day’s events

We were on a mission this morning as we needed to find a bike shop to get Mark’s rear wheel sorted and a spare tyre for me. We set off at 7am and roller-coastered the 35 miles into Ayr in Tom’s slipstream – who was on a roll – in well under 2 hours. We found a bike shop buying a spare tyre for me and doing a deal on a replacement wheel for Mark.

On the Arran ferry

On the Arran ferry

Originally we had been aiming for the 3:15pm ferry at Ardrossen to Arran, but felt we had enough time to get the 12:30. Unfortunately my tyre patch started to give way and a puncture slowed us down so the hammer had to go down for the final 15 miles. Riding flat out (well for us anyway!) at about 20 + mph we started to believe we could make it again until we found ourselves riding over a bridge with no obvious way to join our intended dual carriageway to the ferry port. No time to carry on to the next road junction, we decided to try Cyclecross, dismounted, clambered down the embankment, carried bikes across the busy dual-carriageway, over the armco barrier, across the other carriageway, and back on the saddles again. As we got closer to Ardrossen the time got tighter and tighter. By now we were within the towns built-up area and overtaking most of the traffic. Luckily most of the traffic lights were in our favour and we reached the ferry with 5 minutes to spare – phew!

To Arran from Ardrossen-

To Arran from Ardrossen

As we rode off the ferry at Broddick on the Isle of Arran, I immediately discovered another puncture so the new tyre was fitted and a picnic lunch from the supermarket devoured on the beach. From here we had a fantastic 15 mile ride along the coastline, over the mountains and down in to Lochranza. The Isle of Arran is frequently referred to as “Little Scotland” and it is certainly an island blessed with beautiful scenery. The last climb from Sannox over to Lochranza is well worth the effort with stunning mountain views before the freewheel down the other side to the hostel.

Food

Keith summiting the pass to Lochranza

Keith summiting the pass to Lochranza

We had breakfast in Ayr whilst we waited for Mark’s wheel to be sorted out, and lunch on the beach at Broddick just after we got off the ferry, following a shop at the well stocked supermarket. We also brought provisions here for tonight’s meal and tomorrows breakfast as we had no idea what the hostel and Lochranza had to offer in the food department. As it happened a small general store was open in Lochranza and the hostel had a reasonably stocked shop that we could have raided if needed.

The Route

The official carrot points the way

The official carrot points the way

A good route today although we would have chosen a route through a less built up area around Ayr and Irvine if we hadn’t needed to get to Ayr and we hadn’t cut ourselves short for catching the ferry. NCR7 does follow the coast to Ardrossen which we would have followed but the signposts didn’t really help us as to if it went in the direction we wished to go so rather than follow it and miss the ferry, we kept to the main roads. We hadn’t pre-booked the ferry and it was no problem to just turn up with the bikes and jump on. We chose this route to avoid Glasgow as we had heard bad things about broken glass, needles and flashers on the route through the city – (these turned out to be true speaking to somebody in Glen Coe a few days later who had cycled that route!). Looking back on the trip the route from Carlisle to Aran and up the West Coast of Scotland to Glen Coe was a good choice for both the cycling and scenery.

The bike shop we stopped in at Ayr was a very helpful and friendly place. I can’t remember what it was called but as you head North on the A road just after the bridge where NCR7 crosses it is on the left side of the road here.

Broddick (Arran) Ferry times from Ardrossen were as follows for summer 2003: – 0945, 1230, 1515, 1800. Fare was £4.70 plus £1 per bike. You must have a ticket and be onboard at least 10 mins before departure. (Caladonian MacBraine) Journey time is 55 mins.

Climbing Profile 

Kendoon SYHA to Ardrossen Ferry Terminal (55 Miles)

Lejog day 10 part 1 climbing profile

Lejog day 10 part 1

Isle of Arran, Broddick to Lochranza (15 Miles)

Lejog day 10 part 2 climbing profile

Lejog day 10 part 2

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Kendoon SYH Lochranza SYH

70

724

1040

1203

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 10 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Out of the SYH and turn L following B7000 until it meets the B729 where L. Follow B729 to A713 where R and follow to Ayr.

Pick up the NCR7 from Ayr that goes all the way to Troon, and onwards to Irvine and Ardrossen. (We didn’t as the signing on the ground gave us no clues as to where it went!!) so we took the A road route to Ardrossen and the ferry port.

On the Isle of Arran follow the NCR73 which follows the A841 around the coast to Sannox and over the pass to Lochranza.

LEJOG – Day 9 Dumfries and Galloway

Day 9 – Carlisle YH to Kendoon SYH (Glenhoul) – 72 miles

NOTE – Kendoon YH has now closed. However thanks to Dave Barker, who has found bunkhouse accommodation here

Also note that Carlisle YH during University term time is student accommodation so check for availability in advance.

(Backwards to Day 8 or Forwards to Day 10)

The day’s events

Gretna Blacksmith

Gretna Blacksmith

Over the border and a brief visit to Gretna at the famous Blacksmith’s Shop. Mark proposed to Keith but he resisted the temptation as he said that he’d continue sleeping with me! Posing for some wedding photos of our official carrot dressed in a tissue paper wedding dress and bouquet with the official piper – (who seems to be looking very jealous of the happy couple in the photo below!), before heading on towards Dumfries. We stopped for a brunch at Annan before cycling on to Dumfries in to a very strong headwind. Although we found a Halfords open on the Sunday afternoon, they didn’t really have a suitable wheel or tyre for our repairs so we continued with crossed fingers.

Now I haven’t talked a lot about the Youth Hostels so far but for those of you who haven’t used them before they are an unusual mix of buildings. Often old schools or country mansions that have been donated or inherited and one we were to stay at later in Scotland is actually a Castle! Kendoon YHA at Glenhoul however is described as “simple” – basically it’s a wooden hut that’s a cross between STALAG 13 and a cow shed! However it was clean and presentable, and after 7 hours in the saddle, and 2 hours in the excellent pub at St John’s Town of Dalry for beer and food, we were glad to see it

Food

The Piper at Gretna spies the carrot

The Piper at Gretna spies the carrot

We had a problem with sending our food parcel to Kendoon YHA. The YHA warden seemed to be particularly unhelpful and inflexible as he never appeared to be in when the postman arrived with our box of goodies. Despite phonecalls to him, our food parcel remained in the post office at St Johns Town of Dalry. This meant that we ended up changing our route so we could pick up the parcel, a route that took us along 9 miles of the busy A75. There was a silver lining to our cloud however as the excellent pub in St John very helpfully looked after our parcel so that we could collect it when we came through on a Sunday afternoon. The pub does very good bar food and the beer isn’t bad either! There is also very little in the way of food at the hostel – even down to essentials like milk for a cup of tea etc. Fortunately somebody who had left that morning left 4 pints of milk which the warden very generously said we could use!

Stalag luft Kendoon YH

Stalag luft Kendoon YH

There was also another silver lining as we found a superb combined tea and antiques shop with excellent friendly hosts just off the A75 near Lochfoot. The OS 1:50 000 map on Streetmap is out of date as The A75 is a dual carriageway at that point and marked on the 2004 1:50 000 OS map as a Green Trunk road. To find the tea shop (well worth the effort!) Coming from Dumfries on the A75 you come to a new roundabout at the end of the 1.4 Mile stretch of dual carriageway at Cargenbank. At the roundabout take the first exit (Left) on to a minor road (signposted to Lochfoot) and then almost immediately left again so that you are cycling alongside the A75 in the Dumfries direction. You should be able to see the tea shop about 200Metres away on the right of the road. For our mid morning stop we found a café in Annan with a small patio area out the back, that served baked potatoes that was OK and open on a Sunday morning.

The Route

The A75 is very busy with lots of heavy commercial traffic and I would certainly not use it again. I think it would be worth the 9 mile round trip from the YHA to St John to follow our original plan from Dumfries to follow the B729, or take the hillier lane that shadows the A75 from Dumfries to Milton and then right to pick up the A712 at Crocketford. The A712 off the A75 towards St Johns was very pleasant though. Gentle incline and some nice downhill sections along reasonably traffic free good quality surfaced road.

Climbing Profile

lejog day 9 climbing profile

lejog day 9

The profile above is our A75 amended route not the original route via the B729

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Carlisle YH Kendoon SYH

72

654

1092

938

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 9 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

From the YHA we followed the dual carriageway East back over the river and turned L (A7) on the big roundabout where the A7, A69 and A595 meet, crossed river and followed the A7 to Longtown where over the river and L on to A6071 towards Gretna. We turned off the A6071 on the lane past Springfields and Gretna Green to pay homage to the Old Smithy, we then picked up the NCR7 / B724 just West of Gretna and followed it towards Eastriggs and on to Annan.

Carry on the B724 until the junction with the B725 that you follow all the way to Dumfries. Our initial plan was to follow the B729 from Dumfries to Glenhoul, but thanks to the unhelpful SYHA warden we changed and followed the A75 to Crocketford before turning R and following the very pleasant A712 to St John’s Town of Dalry via the B7075 and A702, and the B7000 onwards to Glenhoul and Kendoon SYHA.

LEJOG – Day 8 the North of England

Day 8 – Slaidburn YH to Carlisle YH – 78 miles

(Backwards to Day 7 or Forwards to Day 9)

The day’s events

What a difference a day makes!

Tom and Keith approach Corss of Greet Pass

Tom and Keith approach Corss of Greet Pass

After “bonking” all yesterday afternoon, 10+ hours of sleep helped to get our energy levels back on track. After the rainy start to our LEJOG trip, the weather was definitely on the up with no rain at all yesterday and rumours of a heat wave on its way.

While having breakfast at the YHA we got chatting to a couple of guys on a tandem cycling John O’Groats to Lands End averaging about a 100 miles a day. They had a few problems the previous day and didn’t get to the YHA until 11:15pm. It was a sunny morning and as we had breakfast outside watching them getting ready to set-off one of them had a generous application of white cream to his nose. We figured that if he was riding “up front” it was probably sun-block but if was riding on the rear then it may have been Sudacrem when perhaps he lost concentration and got a bit low on his handlebars!!

Leaving Slaidburn the road continues relentlessly uphill for several miles, followed by a long fast decent into Kirby Lonsdale for a tea stop. Only to rise again over Shap before dropping into Penrith and onwards to Carlisle.

Mark rounding up sheep nr Burton in Lonsdale

Mark rounding up sheep nr Burton in Lonsdale

On paper this was one of the harder days but we all coped well. Plenty of big hills for the first35 miles and fantastic scenery as we came through the Cumbrian Mountains with views right across to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Steady climbs as we smugly passed cycle tourists loaded down with the kitchen sink, and thrilling rapid descents. The route proved also to be very quite, unlike the routes that pass through the Lake District National Park.

Carlisle YHA is actually in the University Halls and judging by the regular Police sirens probably not the most desirable part of the city. We had a bad feeling about the YHA bike store so decided to take our bikes to our bedrooms for safe keeping and the opportunity to check them over. This is when Mark discovered his rear wheel rim was cracking and I found a small hole in the wall of my tyre big enough for the inner tube to bubble through. Although we were in a city it was now 8:30pm on a Saturday night and all the bike shops were closed! Captain Bodge (Keith) to the rescue with some “liquid metal” for Mark and a tyre patch for me. This we hoped would get us through Sunday and the 100 miles to the next town likely to have a bike shop – Ayr.

Tom’s back tyre (fitted new at Exeter) had completely worn out and started to distort and bulge slightly so swapped-out with a spare he’d been carrying.

Mark, Keith and I re-lived our BT apprentice days treating ourselves to a Chinese takeaway in our student flat. Spirits were high as we were not only over half way in distance and time, but also tomorrow morning we’d cross the border into Scotland!

Food

We found very good tea shops and cafes in Kirby Lonsdale and Penrith without too many problems. You are spoilt for choice in both towns.

The Route

Carlisle YH is not that easy to find as the signposts are more or less non-existent. The YHA is actually the University Halls and presumably only a YHA during the University holidays and is on the West side of the Bridge right next to the river. The reception is on the ground floor of one of the hall blocks and is in the middle as opposed to being by the roadside. The best way to find it is to come over the Bridge and take the first R opposite the traffic lights on a minor road that follows alongside the halls and then take the first right into the complex and the reception will be roughly in front of you in the building in the middle of a small courtyard / garden.

We did have a backup plan using B roads to get us into Carlisle if the A6 was busy. But considering we were travelling along it on the 2nd Saturday of the Summer School holidays it wasn’t busy at all and we stayed on it all the way to Carlisle and would happily use it again. In fact all the A roads we used today we not that busy at all and we all enjoyed the route very much. Even the hills were enjoyable!

Climbing Profile

Lejog day 8 climbing profile

Lejog day 8 climbing profile

 

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Slaidburn YH Carlisle YH

78

582

2027

2158

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 8 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Turn R out of the YH past the pub and down a short hill where L onto lane and out of village and begin to climb on to the fells. Follow lane up over apex at 1400 feet and drop down into High Bentham. Take R and quick L across B6480 in the centre of High Bentham and carry on North to Burton-in-Lonsdale. Follow lane North and join A65 near Ireby where L along A65 to Kirby Lonsdale, nice small town with plenty of good tea shops.

Out of Kirby Lonsdale join A683 North and turn L onto B6256 just South of Sedbergh. Turn R onto A684 and L onto B6257 past Beckfoot where steep uphill under M6 and R on to A685.

Follow A685 until just before it crosses M6 where L on lane past Roundthwaite to Greenholme where R on lane over both carriageways of M6 and L on B626 until it joins the A6 where R towards Shap. Follow A6 North past Penrith all the way to Carlisle. See directions in Tips above.

LEJOG – Day 7 Lancashire

Day 7 – Chester YH to Slaidburn YH – 85 miles

Drop back to day 6. Jump forward to day 8

The day’s events

North of Blackburn

North of Blackburn

On paper, today’s route although not very scenic and very busy, seemed to be fairly straight forward. 85 miles and around 5700ft of ascent – easier than first day in Cornwall. However we all “bonked” towards the end which we initially blamed on the fact that all the hills were in the last 30 miles. Further analysis later in the pub however identified the problem. Food! Not the fact we didn’t eat enough and ran out of energy, but the opposite. Half a cooked chicken, naan bread, fruit and a smoothie at lunch meant the body said sod your legs, digesting this food will take me the rest of the afternoon! Lesson learnt, food little and often!. My knee although not giving the sharp pain of yesterday was still sore and concerning me that I might not make it to the end. A highlight just before Slaidburn however was peaking the highest speed of the tour so far, 49.1mph. Keith also hit a bump at around 45mph sending another of his rear lights into many pieces and oblivion. The day had been not our most picturesque, but as we left Blackburn, the beauty and peace of the countryside returned.

Slaidburn YH but no water

Slaidburn YH but no water

When we got to Slaidburn YH there had been a booking mix-up meaning they didn’t have us booked in. Luckily they had a spare room anyway but then they told us a main had burst therefore no water. I’m not sure if this was bad news for them or us as not being able to wash or shower would be very unfortunate for any poor individual who would have to share a room with us all. Fortunately we had a room to ourselves which has now been sealed in the interest of public safety and hygiene. Anyway, looking on the positive side the pub over the road was open serving rather good food and beer, and we had now notched-up a total of 500 miles so that was something to celebrate! Celebrations were short lived however as we were so knackered, that by 8:30pm we were all in bed asleep.

Food

Well as above we learnt to not stuff ourselves at lunchtime and to eat little and often. We ate breakfast at the YHA which was just about OK, and found a supermarket for our lunch. Our evening meal at the pub in Slaidburn was excellent.

The Route

The area was very built up and we followed the CTC YHA route today to pick our way through the traffic. The route was about as good as it could be in this area I imagine. Once you get past Blackburn however the scenery and peace of the countryside returns and the final route into the lovely village of Slaidburn is hilly but pleasant. The YHA at Slaidburn is one of the smaller hostels we’ve been to and probably one of the best so far. Very friendly, quiet, an undercover and locked cycle shed and opposite the pub with good beer and food. What more could you ask?

Climbing profile

Lejog day 7 part 1 climbing profile

Lejog day 7 part 1

Lejog day 7 part 2 climbing profile

Lejog day 7 part 2

Statistics

 

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Chester YH Slaidburn YH

85

504

1540

1415

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 7 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Left Chester YHA and headed out along busy roads (A5115) towards ring road. Passed under A55 and turned L onto lane Christleton.(NCR45). L in Waverton along lane towards Brookdale Farm and Tarvin where R onto A54. L on B5393 through Ashton. Before railway station turn R towards Delamere Forest park. Straight across B5152 at Hatchmere joining the B5153 at Cooksongreen where R. Turn L on lane at Milton Farm towards Acton Bridge.

Join A49 where it crosses the River Weaver and follow to M56 J10. Cross Motorway and R on B5356. Cross M6 J20 and on to B5158 at roundabout. R on A6144 at Lymm before L at B5159 and follow toll road (no toll payable for cycles) to A57 where R. L on B5212 to Culcheth where R on A574 towards Leigh.

In Leigh L on to A578 and R on to B5215 and turn L onto B5235 towards Westhoughton. Cross the A6 and M61 to Chew Moor. Pass the railway station at Lostock Junction and join the A58 where L. Follow A58 north and turn L onto B6402. Cross the B6226 and carry on to the A675 where L to Belmont.

Take R off A675 just after Old Man’s Hill and follow lane to Ryal Fold and Tockholes. Cross the M65 and carry on into Blackburn. R at A6062 and L on to A666. Follow A666 through the Blackburn one way system and out to Wilpshire. At roundabout with A59 take the 3rd exit minor road (not A59) to Whalley. In Whalley take L on B6246. Pass Great Mitton and R on to B6243.

At R hairpin in B6243 take lane straight on towards Bashall Eaves. Take L fork in Bashall Eaves towards Cow Ark. In Cow Ark turn R on lane and then R again after 400 Metres following lane past Marl Hioll to Longstripes. Where lane joins B6478 turn L to Newton and Slaidburn.

LEJOG – Day 6 Cheshire

Day 6 – Bridges YH to Chester YH – 58 Miles

Drop back to day 5. Jump forward to day 7

The day’s events

Spoofing at Bridges YH

Spoofing at Bridges YH

Started the day with our usual game of “Spoof” to see who would have the honour of wearing the “Yellow Thong”.  Short day over fairly flat terrain so no real problems ………. until we got to Chester. Up off the saddle to take my momentum over a small climb and I felt a sharp pain behind my knee that felt like a muscle tear. From that moment on as soon as we came to any slight incline I felt the discomfort. This was worrying. Bike problems can be overcome by handing money over the counter of a bike shop but body breakage’s take time and treatment to heal.

We arrived early at around 2:30pm, dropped our kit at the Youth Hostel then headed off to the bike shop to get some running bike repairs, and me to Boots to try and get my body repaired. We got about 200m down the road and there was a massive BANG! It seems that Mark’s rear tyre must have had a split in the side with the tube poking out through which touched something sharp causing a total blow-out – lucky it happened here! Keith and I got our spokes retensioned at a really friendly and efficient bike shop called “The Bike Factory” (www.the-bike-factory.co.uk) .

The staff were really interested in what we were doing and only charged £5 each for doing the spokes and we were all done and dusted in 20 minutes! That’s the bike covered now for my body. A knee support and some Ibuprofen gel recommended and purchased and back to the Hostel.

Ellesmere Canal

Ellesmere Canal

We decided to eat in the Hostel that evening which went a long way towards confirming our poor experience of hostel food. Also confirmed was in these larger hostels, staff and cooks appear to find the members a bit of an inconvenience.

The Hostel cycle store didn’t give us much confidence from the security point of view so as we were billeted into the annexe, we kept the bikes in the room. If may be worth requesting the annexe as a precaution in advance in case you feel the bike store is vulnerable.

Food

Didn’t really stop for any food stops today as we were in Chester by early afternoon and eat in town. We did make the mistake of trying the YHA food and would recommend both from a taste, volume and customer service point of view to eat out!

The Route

Pretty easy today and the route was not bad either from a traffic point of view. Chester however was incredibly busy, lots of traffic and one way systems.

Climbing profile

Lejog day 6 climbing profile

Lejog day 6 climbing profile

 

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Bridges YH Chester YH

58

419

607

848

 

 

 

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 6 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

L out of YHA, past pub and continue on lane from yesterday up hill towards Stitt Farms where L fork to Westcott, Habberley and into Pontesbury. Carry on lane to Hinton, Lea, crossing B4386 at Nox. Pass Shoot Hill and R on A458 where next L on B4473, and L on B4380 to Montford Bridge.

Follow lane to Nib Heath, R before Little Ness to Baschurch. Continue along lane to Bagley turning R at Lower Hordley to Lee and Ellesmere.

After Ellesmere follow A528 to Overton and B5069 to Bangor-on-Dee. L on A525 to Cross Lanes where R onto B5130 to Earndon.

Take L onto B5102 and R on lane to Trevalyn. Turn R on to B5445 and at roundabout turn R onto A483 into Chester