We’re hoping to make the journey in 14 days of cycling, plus a day at the start to get from Cambridge to Land’s End and a day at the end to get back from John O’Groats to Cambridge. That’s 16 days in total.
We’re going to follow the same general route that fellow tourist Mick Cousins took when he cycled the End to End a few years ago. Mick has a set of OS 1:250000 maps with the route he took highlighted with a pen, and I suspect if we no-one proposes a better alternative then we’ll be taking the same roads as him.
I won’t provide a road-by-road description of the route in detail at this stage, partly because I don’t want to sound like a pub bore with a length discussion of the relative merits of the A82 versus the A9, and partly because I simply don't know exactly what route we're going to take. I’ll write more about the route as we ride it. But this map should give an indication of our approximate itinerary:
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(Editor's note: I've updated this map retrospectively to show the actual places we stopped at overnight. You can see a GPS-based track of the exact route we took each day at the top of each day's diary page.)
As you can see, we'll be following the northern side of Cornwall and Devon before crossing Somerset to reach the Severn Bridge.
Once in Wales we run along along the Welsh border to Monmouth and then cross back into England. Then through Herefordshire and Shropshire to the Cheshire plains. From then it's almost directly north, trying to avoid Warrington and the towns of the north Cheshire south Lancashire conurbation as we press on to Preston.
Then we leave urban England behind for good as we skirt the Lake District near Kendal and climb over Shap to Penrith and then Carlisle.
Once we're over the border into Scotland we head north-west towards the Ayrshire coast. Then across the Firth of Clyde on the Gourock to Dunoon Ferry (no, this isn't cheating as it actually takes us further away from John O'Groats).
Then we have what should be an unforgettable couple of days winding our way along the edge of a whole series of western Scottish sea lochs to Fort William.
Then we turn north-east along the Great Glen, first along Loch Lochy and then along Loch Ness. When we see Urquart Castle brooding above the loch it's time to turn north again, heading via Dingwall, Bridge of Orchy and Lairg up to the distant, mysterious north coast at Bettyhill. And then finally we turn east and run along the coast to John O'Groats.