Thursday, 16 November 2006


There are currently three hundred walkers poring over their maps trying to trace a golden thread across the highlands of Scotland. They are all planning their routes for their two week holiday on the Rab TGO Challenge 2007.

All over the world, maps are strewn over sitting room floors; all the edges folded back to try to make the maps as seamless as possible, just so the plotter can take in the sheer size of the country in one hit. One of the hardest parts of the planning is just choosing the approximate line of the walk so that the detailed planning can begin.

There must be three hundred different ways of doing this each year, but eventually, after weeks of effort, three hundred walkers arrive at their final golden lines.

That’s for a walk of about 200 miles.

Okay, so I am getting a bit quicker these days laying out the route for the Challenge, but this LEJOG route is some 1600 miles long. Now, of course it isn’t eight times as difficult planning it, as I have chosen to incorporate some National Trails into it – the Offa’s Dyke Path and the Pennine Way. This has taken a lot of the difficulty out of lining the rough route in, as I have to start at Land’s End, have to cross the Severn Bridge, and have to get from Prestatyn at the top end of Offa’s Dyke over to Edale at the bottom of the Pennine Way, etc. So I only have to choose the route within those parameters.

I have also elected to make a few personal choices that affect route planning too:
No ferries
No transport of any kind between Land’s End and John O’Groats – that means no lifts at the end of a day to deliver me to a friend’s house and subsequent delivery to my pick up point in the morning. (I do not want the rhythm of the walk affected by high speed transport)

So, the route has to be plotted (I am using Anquet’s 1/50,000 electronic maps on my computer) so that the walk can be broken down into daily chunks and a programme arrived at, which allows for a day off a week.

It is only when I have been plotting it all on screen that it dawned on me just how big this walk actually is. – Yes I know it is four months. I know it is just over 1600 miles. But you only realise how big it is when you plot the thing onto the electronic map. It is a whopper! It is taking an age to just plot it!

One of the well used routes for a LEJOG has been devised by a chap called Andrew McCloy. His route is 1,147 miles long. Mark Moxon describes the length of the walk quite succinctly : 'Take an empty pint bottle, and add one-and-a-half teaspoons of water to the bottle each day; when the bottle is full, then that's how long it takes to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats.'

By that reckoning, my walk will be about one teaspoonful of water a day.

1 comment:

  1. I should give credit to the orignator of the 'teaspoon and pint bottle' approach to LEJOG planning. It's from this site, which was pretty much the only web resource I found when planning my walk in 2003:

    There's a lot more out there on the Web these days! :-)



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