BogLEJOG – Land’s End to John O’Groats by Bikes and Packrafts

14th May to 12th June 2022

It’s been a while since we finished this trip, and we never got round to writing a blog post so I’ve put together all our social media posts so it’s all here together in one place.
The original plan had been for Marcus to run while I carried all our kit on my bike, but a stress fracture meant that running was no longer an option so we decided to both cycle and take our packrafts so that we could paddle some of the wet bits. We decided to stick with much the same route that I had originally planned to ride which took in almost every steep hill between Land’s End and John O’Groats, but it was scenic!
We were very pleased with a total of £1760 raised for the fantastic charity WaterAid.
If you want to follow us we’re now on instagram @shesnotpedallingontheback

Day 1 – 14 May, 2022

And we’re off!
With a 1400 mile journey ahead of us, the first pedal strokes have been taken. Rolling away from a sunny Lands End it feels great to finally be on our way.
You can keep track of our progress on our website here with an update at the end of each day.
(There’s the link for donations for Wateraid on there too. ?).
Time for more pedalling and a pasty I think!

Day 2 – May 15, 2022

A tent with a view this morning

#decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraid #lejog2022

Day 3 – May 16, 2022

The only flat bits in Cornwall are the beaches!

#engagelowgearnow #winchingup #grannygear #niceview #kernow #cornishhills #cycletouring #lejog2022 #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 3 – May 17, 2022

Yesterday morning, after several cups of tea we couldn’t put off leaving our amazing hosts Sue and Dusty any longer and ventured out into the pouring rain.
Luckily it didn’t last long and we rolled down into Padstow to find our planned paddle across the estuary scuppered by a fast flowing, outbound tide.
A new plan took us onto the beautiful Camel Trail (no hills!!) past bluebells and wild garlic aplenty.
Then to finish we climbed up onto the rugged expanse of Bodmin moor. A world away from the busy coast roads.

#soggycycling #changeofplan #cameltrail #bodminmoor #kernow #cycletouring #lejog2022 #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 4 – May 17, 2022

While we cooked dinner in some woods last night an intrigued dog walker asked what we were up to. We explained and handed her a card with our website details. This morning we woke up to a new donation and the following message:
“So pleased to have met you this evening in Wilsey Woods near Camelford. Good luck with your onward journey and fundraising. Such a worthwhile (essential) cause!”
Thanks Georgy! Don’t forget you can find the link to donate on our website
Once on the road we were blown out of Cornwall and into Devon with a handy following wind. Arriving at Bideford we took to the Tarka Trail to finish by the sea for the last time before we get to Scotland. We’ll miss the sound of the waves and that sea air!

#generousstranger #wildcamping #nosuchthingasatailwind #byebyekernow #devonia #tarkatrail #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 5 – May 19, 2022

Old railway lines make for excellent cycle trails. The Tarka Trail was the third of our trip so far and gave us a beautiful morning ride into Barnstaple.
The debate continues as to how to make a cream tea. Kirsty swears by the Cornish way but I always go with the superior Devon method.
The main task of the day was to tackle Exmoor. Long, steep climbs but epic views at the top.
After being sunburnt in the morning the afternoon turned wet, very wet. Luckily we found shelter at the end of the day in time for an interview with BBC Hereford and Worcester.
41 minutes in on this show:

Day 6 pt.1 – May 20, 2022

The big hills were behind us but we still had to get off Exmoor which meant a glorious decent on narrow, gravelly roads towards Taunton.
Crossing the M5 marked our arrival at the Somerset levels which felt a complete contrast to the saw toothed profile of the previous few days.
A cattle jam gave us time for a break before we made our way to the banks of the King’s Sedgemoor Drain.

#exmoor #downdowndown #somerset #quantocks #cattlecrossing #cycletouring #lejog2022 #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 6 pt.2 – May 20, 2022

Finally a chance to paddle!
Boats inflated, bikes loaded then a tricky entry into the King’s Sedgemoor Drain (more scenic than it sounds).
The cows on the riverbank were even more curious about us than the ones on the road. We had them galloping alongside for a while.
For almost the entire stretch we followed a flock/gaggle/serene of about 20 swans until we got too close and they all flew straight at us. Ducks and geese weren’t so bothered.
Such a peaceful way to end the day.

#packrafting #bikerafting #kingssedgemoordrain #somersetlevels #collectivenounforswans? #Peaceful #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 7 – May 21, 2022

On the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury Tor can be seen for miles around. A hike to the top gave us great views over the Somerset levels with the Mendips beyond.
Long straight roads then took us to Wells before it was time to climb again. There are several routes up onto the Mendips and Ebbor Gorge is one of the harder options. Lugging a bottle of wine for our hosts didn’t help either!

#glastonburytor #somersetlevels #wellscathedral #ebborgorge #mightymendips #cycletouring #lejog2022 #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 8 – May 23, 2022

We’d planned our departure from Lands End to be able to arrive in the Chew Valley in time for a long awaited wedding on Saturday.
So cycling kit was swapped for glad rags for a superb weekend of celebrating and dancing. Such a contrast from the previous few days on the road and great to catch up with old friends.
There was still time to squeeze in a parkrun at Clevedon just to keep the legs moving. Thanks to our wonderful hosts Alex, Suzanne and Effie and their very refreshing pool too!

#happycouple #happyfamily #offthebike #parkrun #parkrunday #cycletouring #lejog2022 #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 9 – May 23, 2022

As James Brown was fond of saying “Take it to the bridge”!
We waved goodbye to the wedding party and said hello to a few more friends as we pedalled through the familiar streets of Bristol.
It’s always fun to cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge then we were out towards the River Severn to cross the Severn Bridge into Wales. But it was only a short stay before we took the Bridge over the River Wye back into Gloucestershire to find a place to camp before we head up the Wye Valley.
In the tent we were treated to the sounds of the Vengaboys playing ljve at Chepstow racecourse about 3 miles away. The perfect lullaby (!)

#bridgecrossing #brunelsmasterpiece #lovebristol #crosstowales #woahweregoingtoibiza #cycletouring #lejog2022 #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 10 – May 24, 2022

With an annoying ear worm about going to Ibiza yesterday we dropped onto the Wye Valley Greenway to see Tintern Abbey from a new angle.
The road down the Wye valley is one of our favourites: smooth and scenic.
After paying homage to Rockfield Studios and belting out renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody and Wonderwall (both recorded there) the road took us to Whitecastle.
Along the way we stopped at an ancient stone trough to find it had the inscription “Dwfr Yn Rhydd I Bawp” which means “Free Water for All”. It seems even in 1880 people realised how important it is for everyone to have access to clean water. Hopefully our trip will help WaterAid get a little bit closer to that goal.
The day ended at Llanthony Priory at the foot of one of Wales’s all time classic climbs. As the clouds closed in and rain began to fall we decided to save that challenge for the next day.

#cyrmu #tinternabbey #wyevalley #willyoudothefandango #llantonypriory #whitecastle #freewaterforall #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 11 – May 25, 2022

When we woke up in the morning the hill was still there but the rain had stopped. A couple of steep ramps took us up to the Gospel Pass, the highest paved road in Wales. There were even a few flakes of snow at the top.
An amazing descent with fantastic views dropped us into Hay on Wye where we inflated the boats and took to the water again.
Back on the bikes at Whitney, and a few bonus hills later we found a great wild camp for the night.

#wateraid #finishthirst #gospelpass

Our progress so far:
Cornwall ✅

Day 12 – May 26, 2022

We climbed the last few hills in Wales before crossing into Shropshire where things weren’t much flatter but a useful tailwind helped us along.
Just after The Bog (yes this is a real place), we winched up and over the Long Mynd with some impromptu sheep herding along the way! ?
Then it was down to Ironbridge where we loaded Marcus up with several kilos of food before the steep climb out of Coalport. All good training!
At the end of the day we set up camp with a nagging feeling that something was missing. It was our lock, still lying a field 106km away near Presteigne ?
Marcus had another call with BBC Hereford & Worcester last night and you can listen to his interview here at 1hr 40mins.

#wateraid #finishthirst #lejog2022 #longmynd #bbcherefordandworcester #lostlock #decenttoiletsforall #thebog

Day 13 – May 27, 2022

We spotted this old CTC sign on a hotel in Brewood. These were to signify that an establishment offered facilities for cyclists. I’m not sure whether the fancy hotel could have competed with the doggers’ car park we just slept in – it had a picnic table!
After a quick stop in Penkridge to buy some cleaning cloths and use the leisure centre showers, we headed up to Cannock Chase with clean chains and clean bodies.
Marcus resisted the temptation to do a test run on the Commonwealth Games mountain bike race course.
Dropping down the other side, we were soon entering our 10th county of the trip, Derbyshire. A quick stop in Ashbourne to pick up a replacement lock and the start of the Tissington Trail.
The heavens opened to give us a good drenching for the last hour of riding.

#wateraid #finishthirst #cannockchase #tissingtontrail #peakdistrict

Day 14 – May 28, 2022

We rolled into Tissington yesterday to discover they have a tradition of ‘Well Dressing’ that takes place on Ascension Day each year. Each of the 6 wells are decorated with amazing designs all made from natural materials like petals, stones, feathers and fur.
When is Ascension Day? Turns out it was yesterday so we got to take a look at the wells this morning.
It’s great to see water sources being celebrated for being the life saving resources that we all need. Luckily Derbyshire is not short of spring or two but 1:10 people in the world aren’t so fortunate. We’re using our journey to help WaterAid provide clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene for those who need it most. If you can afford to donate to give them a helping hand then it could change someone’s life.
Here’s the link:
? Thanks to everyone who’s contributed so far, it really helps us keep going!

#tissington #tissingtonwelldressing #derbyshirewelldressing #tissinftontrail #valuablewater #finishthirst #decenttoiletsforall #wateraiduk #lejog #BogLEJOG

After a little ride around Tissington to look at the well dressings, we finished off the Tissington Trail.
An unfortunate shopping error meant we had had nothing for breakfast so we waited in Monyash for the cafe to open where we met another cyclist who was interested in our trip. We gave him a card and he later made a very generous donation – thank you!
We set off towards Castleton into a ferocious headwind which made the hills seem twice as steep but the views of the Derbyshire Dales were spectacular.
After Castleton one option was Winnat’s Pass – steep (25+%), narrow and incredibly busy. So we took the other route, the Mam Tor “broken road”. This used to be the main road until numerous landslips made it uneconomical to maintain and it was abandoned in the 70s. Most of the tarmac is still there, just not in its original location.
Marcus managed to ride most of it and then I was treated to the very rare sight of him pushing his bike. I found even pushing difficult because the wind was gusting so strongly it stopped me in my tracks.
Back on the main road we eventually made it to Glossop where we rewarded ourselves with a 16″ pizza and very nearly finished it.

#wateraid #finishthirst #mamtor #brokenroad #peakdistrict

Day 15 – May 29, 2022

Camping in a park where parkrun takes place leaves few excuses for being late to the start! After a nice trot round the Glossop course we were out on the bikes again for a lovely last bit of Derbyshire.
We knew we’d entered Yorkshire when Kirsty was greeted with an ‘Ay up’ by another cyclist. The Yorkshire bingo had begun with various games of cricket, a pigeon racing lorry, steep cobbled streets and a few flat caps getting us near to a full card. Just a whippet left to find.
The riding today was the hardest of the trip so far. Steep drops into gritty mill towns before even steeper climbs out the other side. Then repeat. The last climb of the day from Hebden Bridge took every last bit of strength with a cruel cobbled section to finish us off. Thankfully a camp spot with a glorious view was our reward.
Team BogLEJOG did raise a smile when we found Flush House Lane. But 20% of the world’s population don’t have a decent flush house or even a toilet. Please help WaterAid turn this around.
If you can afford a donation then here’s the link:
It’s all very much appreciated and every donation helps give us more power for the journey! ?

#parkrun #derbyshire #yorkshire #t’hill #howsteep? #needmorecake #hebdenbridge #pavé #cycletouring #lejog #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 16 – May 30, 2022

These days all our views are framed with grey, dry stone walls. And the views kept improving as we crossed Widdop Moor before dropping down to the Liverpool to Leeds canal.
A very welcome lunch stop with our friends Nikki and Dave complete with incredible ginger cake set us up nicely for the climb to Malham Tarn. Now in the Yorkshire Dales National Park this steep climb took us onto a high moor with rocky crags and a thin ribbon of road to follow.
Occasionally the walls were punctured with a ‘sheep creep’ which works well for cyclists to creep through too.
After a brief but chilling shower before the high speed decent to Stainforth we were treated to a clear evening for the final spin up to the Ribblehead Viaduct. A mighty finish line for a great day in the saddle.

#drystonewalls #yorkshiredales #fuelledbycake #malhamtarn #sheepcreep #creepingcyclist #cycletouring #lejog #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 17 – May 31, 2022

A gentle climb and then descent to Hawes served as a warm-up up the main event: Buttertubs. This is a famous climb amongst cyclists, but from the Hawes side there are a couple of steep 20% ramps and the rest is easily ride-able. It just goes on a bit!
Coming down the other side we bumped into Jeff, our friend from Evesham who was heading home in his car after spending a weekend cycling in the area.
We dropped down into Swaledale, the hillsides dotted with the eponymous sheep and stone cow barns, and took the turning for Tan Hill, home of the highest pub in the British Isles.
There was a bit of unpaved road for me to practice my non-existent mountain bike skills, and then we were out of Yorkshire and into County Durham and the North Pennines.

#wateraid #finishthirst #lejog2022 #buttertubs #swaledale #tanhill #100climbs

Day 18 – Jun 01, 2022

A day of superlatives: the highest road of the trip over Yad Moss at 599m where a sleet shower made us the wettest and coldest we’ve been so far too.
Somehow we extracted ourselves from the cafe on the other side to find the South Tyne trail that felt like a bit of a work in progress in a classic Sustrans way.
Then we were up through Hadrians Wall as a nice indicator as to how far north we’d come, and entered Northumberland. Rocky forest tracks took us across Wawk Forest and Kirsty’s off road skills improved with every pedal stroke.
We’ve got 20 minutes more daylight compared to when we were in Cornwall so we kept on pedalling late into the evening for our longest day yet. The end point was a soggy Kielder Water shoreline to be shared with an officious night watchman and several thousand midges. ?

#yadmoss #northpennines #northpenninesaonb #countydurham #cumbria #freezingtoes #southtynntrail #sustrans #hadrianswall #kielderforest #kielderforest #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Onwards and northwards!
Cornwall ✅
Staffordshire ✅
County Durham✅
Scottish Borders
Nearly halfway to our fundraising target too! ????
Thanks folks ?

Day 19 Part 1- Jun 02, 2022

We woke up on the banks of Kielder Water and crawled out of the tent eager to see where we’d pitched it. The night watchman had moved us on from our first choice location at 11pm the night before. “If I can’t see you I won’t move you” he said so we’d packed up in the dark and rain and moved a couple of hundred metres further into the woods.
A bit further along the shore we found the perfect beach to launch from and the boats were soon inflated.
The water was flat calm with barely a soul to be seen. We were lucky enough to see an osprey flying overhead with a fish in its talons. The only issue was finding somewhere to land with easy access back to the trail.
Apparently Springwatch are filming in Kielder this week so look out for us – we may feature as some new and strange aquatic life they’ve discovered.

#wateraid #finishthirst #packrafting #packraft #bikerafting #lejog2022 #frontierpackrafts

Day 19 Part 2 – Jun 02, 2022

Back on the bikes we headed out through Kielder forest and soon had to get out our passports for the border crossing into Scotland. A big milestone and the start of the final stage of our journey.
True to form for this country, the sun was out and we had blue skies for the rest of the day. Up we climbed on a beautiful road alongside a burn that opened up to give huge views over the surrounding hills of the Scottish Borders.
A slight catering error meant a detour for one of the team to collect supplies before reuniting and finding a hillside where we watched the sunset while tucking into the best meal a petrol station could offer.
There was another chance to chat to BBC Hereford and Worcester too which you can catch here at 2hr 50m

#kielderforest #northumberland #scottishborders #scotland #alwayssunnyinscotland #smoothroads #cycletouring #lejog2022 #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 20 – Jun 03, 2022

Arriving in Innerleithen we found the town rammed full of mountain bikers. In the cafe Marcus had a haggis scone and “the best coffee of the trip”.
Outside the Co-op we bumped into James @craven11_ from Bristol who was attempting the fastest known time for the Capital Trail and had 120km to go.
A couple of gentle climbs and we were rewarded with an amazing view of Edinburgh. Marcus thought it was smaller than expected, but maybe it was just far away
Climbing into the Pentland Hills we passed James coming the other way, now with only 35km to go. He returned one of the Snickers we’d given him earlier as it was obviously weighing him down.
Camped next to the reservoir, we witnessed a touching family reunion as a ewe and and her lamb were calling to each other from opposite sides of the valley. Unfortunately the lamb decided the quickest route to his mum was through our camp. He leapt over my legs and then seemed to hover in midair above the bubbling pot on the stove. Noooooooo! Somehow he reversed mid jump and disaster was averted. That was until Marcus dropped the pot as he was lifting it off a few minutes later.

#wateraid #finishthirst #lejog2022 #haggisscone #pentlandhills #cycletouring #boglejog

Day 21 – Jun 04, 2022

A misty, grey and chilly morning took us up and over the pass through the Pentland Hills on a testing, rough track. Then it was down to pick our way through the jumble of towns that make up the M8 corridor between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
It felt like a filler day, simply getting from one side of the urban sprawl to the other using lanes and canals where we could.
Another creature encounter occurred when I was attacked by a swan on the towpath. Its huge bill took a jab for my bike but narrowly missed taking a chunk out of my tyre. Looking back we saw the reason was he had a clutch of cygnets with his partner nestled in the bank. Sorry Mr and Mrs Swan ?.
The canal was fairly tedious but livened up with the crossing of an aqueduct on a narrow cobbled path. Water on one side and 50m drop on the other.
Into Falkirk we found the famous wheel and watched tourists queuing up to take a ride. Sadly packrafts were not allowed on board.
It’s a huge and impressive water engineering project that cost £78m. WaterAid could provide clean and safe water for around 5.2 million people with the same amount. Now that’s an impressive water engineering project!
Just £15 per head can change someone’s life. If you’d like to help then here’s the link to make a donation:

#pentlandhills #midlothian #unioncanal #swanattack #linlithgow #falkirkwheel #waterengineering #gettingitdone #cycletouring #konaute #lejog2022 #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 22 – Jun 06, 2022

If the previous day had been hum-drum then this was a hum-dinger.
Now off the planned route to avoid the canal, we found ourselves on a ridge running parallel with The Trossachs giving us a panoramic view of Ben Lomond and chums.
The sun had most definitely got his hat on and given the clouds the day off too so arms were out and suncream on as temperatures crept into the mid 20s.
A pit stop in Callander gave us the chance to shower at the leisure centre, stock up with 2.5 days food for the next remote section and top up our bottles from a free water fountain. Imagine if every village in the world had one of these?
Then a superb path on NCN 7 took us up the valley on an old railway line before winding through the forest on swooping cinder tracks. The sunshine, the bathers in the loch and the towering hills made it feels like mid summer in the alps rather than June in Scotland.
The day ended with a 400m climb to camp under the imposing hulk of Ben Lawers with a reservoir just below us. Scotland has treated us well so far.

#lochlomondandtrossachsnationalpark #benlomond #sunnyinscotland #sunsoutgunsout #collander #neededthatshower #freewater #ncn7 #benlawers #agranddayout #decenttoiletsforall
#finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 23 – Jun 07, 2022

We set off down the hill with the wind at our backs, amazing mountain views ahead, blue sky overhead and freshly laid, buttery smooth tarmac under our tyres. Cycling heaven!
At the Bridge of Balgie we stopped to take a photo of the red squirrel sign and then literally 2 seconds after I put the camera away a red squirrel came hopping along the parapet of the bridge. It was gone before I could get the camera back on so you’ll have to make do with this photo of Marcus’s best squirrel impression.
On today’s route there were two sections of steep rough stoney track over Rannoch Moor which put my non existent mountain biking skills to the test again. The usually patient Marcus even made a comment about the amount of waiting, but eventually, hot, tired and sunburnt, we arrived at the oasis of Loch Ossian.
A few days ago we saw a sign which said “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations” and I think this may have been exactly what they were talking about. We pitched the tent next to the stunning loch, and I crawled in and collapsed.

#wateraid #lejog2022 #finishthirst #benlawers #lochossian #rannochmoor #redsquirrel

Day 24 – Jun 07, 2022

After the heat of the previous two days Loch Ossian was all too tempting for a refreshing dip in the morning.
Our planned route out was due to take us through a boggy footpath but some local guides advised against this. Despite being BogLEJOG the prospect of a 4 mile carry with our heavy bikes was not appealing.
Instead we took the service road that had been described as ‘Sublime gravel’ by another cyclist. He was right. This was a wide valley with a newly laid gravel road that we had all to ourselves. Grins hung from ear to ear all morning.
We worked around Ben Nevis, still with snow on the top and down to the main road into Spean Bridge. Despite only being out of civilisation for two days the bustle of the tourist town felt foreign and noisy.
Loading up with more food in our stomachs and panniers we left town alongside the imaginatively named Loch Lochy on a forest road. We were glad not to be on the A82 on the other side which was nose to tail with camper vans.
The top temperature for the day was 30 degrees and our solar panel is being so effective we’re considering signing up for a feed-in tariff.
As the evening drew in we found a quiet road up to Loch Garry to pitch up and enjoyed the silence again.

#lochossian #wildswimming #gravelriding #greatoutdoors #bennevis #rannochmoor #speanbridge #needmorefood #evenmorethanthat #fullpanniers #solarpowered #ibigbluesolar #lochlochy #offthrlebeatentrack #cycletouring #lejog2022 #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 25 – Jun 08, 2022

This was a day that packrafts were made for. When planning the route for this trip I’d found the most amazing road leading down to Kinloch Hourn but it finished at a dead end at the loch. Round the other side of the peninsula was the end of another dead end road which led back to civilization. The rafts would allow us to connect the two.
The Kinloch Hourn road exceeded expectations. Steep mountains either side, a view down to the loch, and a tiny road which twisted and turned through the landscape like a rollercoaster.
Arriving at the loch, the water was calm and the wind was behind us. Inflating the boats we set off on the longest paddle so far (12km/7 miles). We had a brief encounter with a seal and a longer encounter with a couple of other paddlers who turned out to be from just down the road from us in Malvern.
Eventually a village hove into view. Back on the road, a couple of stiff climbs took us into Glenelg where we discovered the shop was shut, but the pub was open. A great camp spot suggested to us by some friendly Belgian tourists was the perfect place to finish a great day.
#wateraid #finishthirst #lochhourn #packrafting #bikerafting #deadendroad #frontierpackrafts #whereweregoingwedontneedroads #wellearnedpint #isleofskye #glenelg #sheenasteahut

Day 26 – Jun 09, 2022

This was a day bookended by two incredible views. The first was overlooking the Five Sisters at the end of Loch Duic. We’d earned it with a lengthy climb up from Glenelg, unlike the coach of American tourists enjoying it too. “Aren’t you cold?” one of them asked “Not after cycling up here!”.
We made our way up to Loch Carron in more traditional Scottish weather with grey clouds and steady drizzle. Then the glen widened out and we were hit by a headwind as stubborn as a highland cow and nearly as strong. Pushing a low gear on a nearly flat road is never much fun.
Luckily after 40km we turned 180° into a parallel glen and the bull was behind us pushing us up to our 2nd view. This time we stood and looked down towards Loch Maree with Bein Eighe Nature reserve all around it. The most rugged and massive landscape of the trip so far. A long day in the saddle took us to the shore of the Loch ready to take to the water in the morning.
Up here the Highland Council have been busy closing the public facilities to save costs. The local communities were devastated, realising how important it is to provide decent toilets and fresh water for locals and tourists. A lot of them have now been adopted as community projects run by volunteers and funded by donations. We’ve been very glad to have them available to use.
The communities that WaterAid work with are often starting from scratch to provide something similar but the aim is the same: Clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene for everyone. If you’d like to help WaterAid get closer to this goal then please make a donation if you can afford it:

#glenelg #fivesisters #iloveagoosclimbinthemorning #earntheview #liquidsunshine #lochcarron #hateheadwinds #lovetailwinds #highlandcoo #lochmaree #beineighe #communityproject #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 27 pt.1- Jun 10, 2022

We awoke to the sound of waves lapping the shore of Loch Maree a few metres from the tent. Although the water looked a bit rough, the wind had dropped and we decided to go for it.
The wind picked up again as we were launching and blew my packraft side on to the waves, one of which came crashing over the side and filled the boat with water. I hoped the panniers were waterproof…
Getting out onto the water was a bit hairy but once we were going the packrafts bounced around on the waves quite happily. They really are very robust.
I bailed my boat out with a water bottle and with the wind behind us we reached our landing beach in double quick time.
This was probably the last paddle of the trip. They’ve been a great way to get to places we wouldn’t otherwise have got to and to see things from a different perspective. It was totally worth getting Marcus to carry them all this way, I’m sure he’ll agree.

#wateraid #finishthirst #lejog2022 #lochmaree #packrafting #packraft #bikerafting #frontierpackrafts #bikesonboats #paddleontheloch

Day 27 pt.2 – Jun 10, 2022

The wavy water was replaced with a wavy road once we were back on the bikes. Following the coast around Loch Ewe the water was as clear and blue and the sand as white as you’d find on the most exotic of Caribbean beaches.
We passed the most romantic of the Scottish islands: the Isle of Ewe (say it out loud). Heart rates were up and cheeks were flushed but that was probably due to the steep hills!
Eventually we dropped back to sea level alongside Little Loch Broom and found a kind old lady who filled our water bottles. Then we settled in for the 12km climb back up and over to join the main road towards Ullapool.
The midges haven’t been too much of a problem so far as we’re early enough in the year and there’s been enough of a breeze. But the wee beasties were being a bit of pest while we set up camp so the nets were on and we dived into the tent as soon as we could.
The keen eyed will have spotted that we’ve been working our way up the west coast when John O’Groats is in the north east of Scotland. We managed to get ahead of schedule so instead of racing to the finish line and putting our feet up we decided to add some extra distance instead. This was all about the journey rather than the destination after all. After Ullapool we’ll be turning east and we’re now inside the last 300km. Time for the final push!

#isleofewe #nc500 #northwestscotland #northwestscotlandbeaches
#upanddown #clearbluesea #ullapool #weebeastie #midges #thefarnorth #cycletouring #lejog2022 #boglejog #decenttoiletsforall #finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 28 – Jun 11, 2022

We started with a short blast into Ullapool where we found breakfast, a shower and Tesco. The road out was one we had ridden in 2013 and it was good to see the familiar, jagged mountains again.
We shared the road with the convoy of campers and motorbikes from all over Europe on the North Coast 500 which has been a wildly successful driving route, some say too successful with the added traffic.
Soon we were turning away from the west coast with its dramatic landscape and onto a quieter, moorland road. Rolling hills and small lochs with stone bridges over the rivers. A very different landscape from the previous few days.
We rolled into Lairg towards the end of the day with the sprinkling of a shower overhead. Luckily they’d provided a covered picnic table as well as a bike work station with a pump for passing cyclists. This is a popular stop for the traditional LEJOG route.
Tomorrow’s forecast looks a bit grim so we’re bracing ourselves for wind and rain. We’re used to dealing with weather now though!

#wateraid #finishthirst #decenttoiletsforall #cycletouring #ullapool #lairg #nc500 #lairg #lejog2022 #boglejog #rainraingoaway

Day 29 – Jun 11, 2022

The promised rain storm never materialised but the wind was back with a vengeance. Handily on our backs for the first 30km so we made rapid progress with time to stop at the Crask Inn on the way. This legendary house has cared for end to enders for decades and is run by the Scottish Episcopal Church. Great homemade biscuits too. ?
Then we were blown along the road beside Loch Naver that was as choppy as the North Sea. We kept the packrafts safely in the panniers. Fly fisherman were trying their luck in the River Naver but we didn’t see anything being caught.
We couldn’t have the wind on our side all day though so a right turn took us into the teeth of the gale for a short stretch and then it was on our sides. The bikes had to be leant at a steep angle just to stay upright while we wrestled with the bars.
In a fitting penultimate day we were now in The Flow Country: Europe’s largest blanket bog. By far the most bleak, desolate and wind-blown road we’d ridden so far. This area is teeming with life though with birds of all shapes and sizes shouting at us all afternoon and a couple of red deer ran across the road in front of us. This area feels very much like we’re at the edge of the island.
Eventually the road bent round so the wind was behind us again and literally blew us up the last small hill. The rain began to fall and the prospect of a night in the tent became less and less appealing. Luckily we arrived at Forsinard to find the station waiting room was large enough to make our home for the night. The bikes were wheeled in and the stove was on. Kirsty managed to catch the very moment I kicked the pan of water on to the floor!
Just one more day to go.

#laird #craskinn #endtoend #lochnaver #tailwind #headwind #crosswind #bloodywind #flowcountry #peatbog #reddeer #tinyhouse #lejog2022 #boglejog #cycletouring #decenttoiletsforall
#finishthirst #wateraiduk

Day 30 – Jun 12, 2022

Spoiler alert – We have made it to John O’Groats! If you want to know how we got here then read on…
We had a very peaceful night in our cosy waiting room. Only two trains stop at that station on Sunday so the chances of us being disturbed were small.
First we went for a walk to the Forsinard Flows nature reserve to see the peat bog up close. The colours in the moss are really amazing.
Back on the bikes we still had a useful tailwind, but not as strong as the blow-you-off-the-road-sideways one of yesterday.
We turned off into the last off-road section of the trip, a lovely 25km of gravel through the bog and forest. Then all too soon we were back on the tarmac for the final wind-assisted blast to the finish.
As if on cue, as we rode up to the famous sign, a bagpiper started playing. It took three attempts to find a passerby capable of capturing us, the bikes and the sign in a photo, but we got there in the end.
There’s still a bit more pedalling to do because we’ve got to get to Thurso to catch our train on Tuesday. And we’ll post some final thoughts once the dust has settled.
Could we be the first to bikeraft Land’s End to John O’Groats?
We’ve had a great journey and all for a great cause. If you’d like to help WaterAid provide clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to the poorest communities in the world, a donation here would be much appreciated.

#wateraid #finishthirst #decenttoiletsforall #flowcountry #peatbog #bogride #europesbiggestbog #lejog2022 #bikerafting #packrafting #boglejog #johnogroats #missionaccomplished #gravelriding #cycletouring

The Final Map and Stats

Cornwall ✅
Staffordshire ✅
County Durham✅
Scottish Borders ✅
Perth & Kinross✅
Total distance: 2243km (1394 miles)
Distance by bike: 2206km
Distance by packraft: 38km
Total elevation gain: 28,858m (94,678 ft)
The equivalent of 3.2x Everest or 38,477 toilets stacked up! ?????
We’re just a few hundred pounds from our fundraising target for WaterAid too! ????
Thanks for your support folks ?

Here’s a little video we made with an action cam attached to Marcus’s handlebars.


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