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Day 1: Land's End

Saturdayhttps://www.facebook.com/LEJOG.sam

Full of pre-walk zeal I leave the B&B without taking a shower or having breakfast and walk along the Penzance promenade to the bus station. It's 06:20. I drop my pack and kill a few minutes photographing St. Michael's Mount on the camera I borrowed from my girlfriend's daughter but after only a few shots the device instructs me that's it's already reached capacity. I assumed it would be the battery that would give out, not the memory card. I pull it out, push it back in, turn the camera off and on, line up St Michael's Mount for a shot and - memory card full. I'm about to start a 900 mile walk with only a wide angle GoPro which is totally unsuitable for landscape shots, I need a point-and-shoot with a zoom; the camera is obviously broken or on a setting I don't know how to fix because I only used it for the first time the day before yesterday. I should have taken my own camera...now I'll have to spend …

HOW TO USE POSTE RESTANTE (U.K.)

Poste restante is a free service where you can forward mail including parcels to a post office in the UK which you will then collect at a later date.
I used Poste Restante to forward supplies and clothing to six different Post Offices between Land's End and John O'Groats. If you want to use Poste Restante in the UK but don't know how to set it up, here's how I did it:


First you need to know four things: 1. The address of the Post Office you would like to use. If you're sending letters, any Post Office should accept your request. If you're sending a parcel, you will need to select a larger Post Office which has the space to store it. Select the largest Post Office in the area you intend to visit. This is important. Note: you will need to pay regular postage charges on whatever you send. 2. You need to give them a date on which you expect to pick up your mail. If you cannot give a precise date, give a range, preferably no more than two weeks. 3. You need a r…

Life after LEJOG

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Life after LEJOG
Life after LEJOG began on the approach to Inverness during a phone call from girlfriend Sarah. To set the scene, I was still buzzing from crossing the Cairngorms in one hit. Half-jar of whiskey in backpack to be consumed at next camp spot outside Tomatin. Tomorrow, Inverness. All is well.
Ring ring, ring - "Guess what -" she said, "I've got a transfer to Torquay. And I'm going to move there. Permanently. Do you want to come with me?"
I didn't need to think about that. LEJOG is a very long series of grabbing opportunities when they arise, without dithering. Torquay: friends, seaside, fish and chips, those giant Devon hills - immediately I said, "Yes!"
We spoke for half an hour as I made my way towards Tomatin on a path beside the A9, identifying landscape features only ever seen from the plane. And it all made sense. Move to Torquay and begin again, with or without the blessing of my employer. There are higher callings. 
That …

Day 38: it takes time to come down

Day 38: Day 38: back to Johnny Foxes bar, Inverness. Bussed it back along the A99/A9 on the X99 bus which until now I've been carefully avoiding on the roads. The weather was kind to me in Scotland and I was lucky; today the road walking was a soaked affair with limited visibility - very dangerous. I sympathise with any brave soul trying their luck today. Anyway, that's over now. I don't need to stay stone cold sober 24/7 to stay sharp. I can relax. Or try to. Let me put it this way: I looked at myself in the mirror on Saturday at JoG: a scared wide-eyed witness of a horrific incident stared back. The following morning I looked more relaxed, more normal. It takes time to come down from that. So - B&B on Ardross Street tonight, airport tomorrow and homeward bound. I miss home. As they say, home is where the heart is. But before that happens, a few pints...

A note about the blog I must be the only LEJOGer without a smart phone. This means I don't have the ability to…

Day 37: it's your turn now

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Day 37: Day 37: I'm staying at the Sea View Hotel. I'm early so I get 2 nights here and a full day off to contemplate. I went down to the beach today and sat on a rock overlooking the Pentland Firth. It was bright and sunny with a strong breeze. I saw a lone cyclist at the sign - the sign I hugged last night - he unloaded his bike laden with panniers from a van and spent 10 minutes organising gear and programming a GPS. He then stood over his bike under the sign soaking up the scenery. I walked by at that moment and caught his gaze - it was obvious why he was here and what he was about to do so I simply said 'Good luck' and he said 'Thanks!' And he cycled down the road into a challenging cross-wind and was on his way. I checked the time: it was 08:03 - exactly 12 hours after I ended my own end to end. The things you are about to see...it's your turn now. I'm back in Wick then Inverness tomorrow. I get a night in Inverness and on Tuesday I'm flying …

Day 36: John O'Groats

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Day 36: Day 36: I don't really know what to say. I left the B&B hours after the other end to ender. His name is Andrew Martin - look him up and support him in his 30 day bid. He left at 5; I at 8:20. He was walking the same route I walked the day before, in reverse, finishing in Golspie. I posted my used maps and headed north, immediately back in the firing line of the A9. My plan was to stay alive. I thought and did nothing else for the 5 hours 20 minutes it took to reach Wick - a very quick time  for me for 21 miles. I stopped to refresh at the most northerly Wetherspoons in the country and was out in half an hour. There were 17 miles until the end. 17 more miles of quite frankly terrifying A road walking. This goes on my list of things I will never do again: bogs (Bodmin Moor), boulder fields (Larig Gru) and A roads (A9/A99). The last 4 days were an action spectacular, never to be repeated. Wick to the far north on the A99 - 2:50 pm to 8:03 pm. The final hour and a half wa…

Day 35: Andrew Martin

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Day 35: Day 35: today was different. The sun was shining, the sea was flat calm. I left the B&B at 08:40 and walked through Golspie to Duke Street (the Duke being the Duke of Sutherland who had a massive statue of himself built on the high hill overlooking town; he's the one who did the Clearences - everyone loves him up here) and found the bridge leading to the Brora coastal path. This was my first break from the A9 and I loved it. Not only was it beautiful (sea, sun, sand, owls, oyster catchers, Dunrobin Castle) there were three colonies of mostly grey seals lazing in the surf - they let me get close enough for some worthwhile photos. They were great fun to watch diving and head bobbing in the water. Anyway that path took 6 miles off my journey. Then back to the A9 for about 20 miles, through Portgower, Helmsdale and before the big hill climb at Berridale I'd had enough - luckily I found a marked section of the John o'Groats Trail! It got me half way up the big hill…

Day 34: this is ending quickly

Day 34: Day 34: danger. Today there was no choice but to tackle the busy A9. There are no more motorways and this A road is the next best thing. One doesn't walk along the side of it like a B road because the traffic is too big, too fast and too damn dangerous. One cuts a slow unsteady path if one is lucky along the roadside ditches which unlike in England are filled with sharp rocks. Or, even less steady, the uneven overgrown verge with random trenches hidden under grass which one falls into if one isn't paying attention. So it's hard going either way (25 miles of pebble beach walking and obstacle course). When luck runs out so does the verge and one is suddenly stuck on a sliver of mud by the white line with fuel tankers, timber rigs and boy racers shooting past your ears - the only choice is to run at full speed to the next safe patch. This was my day all the way from Invergordon to Golspie. The good news is there are only 72 miles until JOG. That makes two heavy days …