Monday, 27 August 2007


In 2006, I planned to walk the LEJOG in 2007, allowing two months. However, as I started to work out a route, I realised that it was going to take longer, possibly three months. Given that I was probably only going to do it once in my lifetime and that I wanted to make it an enjoyable experience, I wanted to do it properly and not in an unduly rushed way. Therefore, the idea was shelved temporarily.

The walk continued to niggle away and I read various accounts of the walk by others, following Alan Sloman’s blog and Mark Moxon’s ebook and Imsodave’s online diary. A firmer plan was established on 19 August 2007 at the revolving restaurant at Elveden Center Parcs during our wedding anniversary dinner. My wife, Amanda, suggested that I set a time for it but, for various reasons, it can’t be in 2008. I want to avoid school holidays, as it would clash with others at work who have younger children. I want to do it when daylight hours are reasonably long. Amanda, bless her, can cover much of my work after some re-training. This will maintain a source of income.

Therefore, I have decided to start in early May 2009 and allow between 2-3 months.I intend to camp most of the way wherever possible. Wild camping will be easy in out of the way areas but not so in more populated areas, although I have wild camped in some very dodgy places at home and abroad where I have kept my head down until darkness falls and been up at first light to move on. It’s not always very relaxing! So, on returning home on 20 August, I looked out the Caravan & Camping Club sites book (I belong to the Club) to investigate mainly their Certificated Sites. These consist of over 1,250 members’ only sites which are able to take up to five caravans or motorhomes; many also take tents (numbers generally limited to the space available). I’ll assume that all take tents for my purposes. On-site facilities for these range from very basic to not so basic. The sites book also lists the Club’s own sites and non-Club commercial sites. Altogether, there are over 3,500 sites listed. The Caravan Club also has a system of certificated and other sites across the country. I intend to see if their certificated sites take tents as well as caravans, etc. I stayed on one when I was doing the Cumbria Way and I wasn’t required to be a member, but if their certificated sites will take campers then it might be worth joining the Caravan Club for this.The Backpackers Club also has a directory of farm sites, but I have heard that it is non too reliable. I will look into this.

Walking routes from west to east across Cornwall and Devon appear to be thin on the ground. Andrew McCloy’s book, published in 1994, mentioned a Lands End Trail, being then just a draft document. I thought that some 13 years later, this might have come to something but a Google search revealed nothing. Must make further enquiries.

Looking at the Long Distance Path Chart, apart from the SWCP, most trails go from south to north. There’s the Two Castles Trail from Launceston to Okehampton, which may be useful for about 40 miles and the Grand Western Canal path from Tiverton to Taunton. It looks as if much of Cornwall and Devon must be traversed by way of tarmaced roads, albeit quiet ones. I shall have to study the routes that others have taken for inspiration.

I’ve had the Andrew McCloy book for a few years. A look at imsodave contained a link to a Cicerone book, The End to End Trail: Land’s End to John O’Groats on Foot: Walking from Lands End to John O’Groats by Andy Robinson. This is probably worth getting.

I have the Memory Map National Parks edition which I will use to plan the parts of the route that will take me through National Parks. By the time this has been completed, I anticipate that I will upgrade to the complete version covering the whole country.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Brecon Beacons weekend

Just back today from the second Bloggers' weekend away, this time in the Brecon Beacons. Good to meet up with some familiar faces and some new ones. The weather started off good and then deteriorated overnight on Saturday and was wet into this morning.

I had a pig of a drive to the tiny village of Glyntawe where we were to leave cars. Traffic was bad and somehow, at one point, I took a wrong turn and found myself on the way to Cardiff down the A449. Still, my detour back to the A40 took me through Usk which I hadn't visited for years. I eventually arrived at Glyntawe, found a layby to leave the car, hoping it would still have wheels on two days later (it did).

The directions we'd been given were good although, close to the beginning, finding the way across a rocky stream was a bit tricky as it wasn't clear where to go on the other side but the way emerged the closer I got. Then it was just following a generally distinct path, using the compass at times. On arriving at what I thought was the sheepfold I found nothing but a stream in a dip. However, on exploring around a bit I saw a sign of life up a side "valley" which turned out to be Mick. I negotiated a second rocky stream with slippery footholds and had to divest myself of my map carrier and backpack to cross without getting wet. Mick and Gayle were at the sheepfold and Alan Sloman turned up some ten minutes later. Very enjoyable getting to know some more like-minded folk for the first time.

Ali and Lay arrived a couple of hours later in the dark. We kept ourselves amused before they arrived drinking single malt and watching meteors. No-one else came although we saw some lights. Duncan, Darren and Mike met up with us the following morning along the route.
Mick and Gayle left after breakfast to generally head home and Alan and I set off for the next night's halt. I was keen to find out as much as I could from him about his LEJOG completed a few weeks ago as I am beginning to make plans to do it myself at some time.

The weather was good and we made it early to our camp for the night. Dawn arrived, having been lurking in the Beacons for the past couple of days. I thought my tarp was quite minimalist until I saw some others! Mike's Siltarp was not much more than a figleaf, Darren had to retreat into the corner of his when the weather roughened up in the night and Bob and Rose had to turn theirs around when the wind and rain changed direction in the early hours. I had a small amount of rain come in at one end of mine which could have been avoided if I'd pitched one end a bit lower. Tents are just too heavy to carry.

Next morning, Sunday, it was still raining and everyone headed for home, with the exception of Mike the Chef who intended to make a week of it (he didn't). Alan and I were the last to leave and we sloshed across the moor to a tarmaced road and on down to Glyntawe.
Altogether a successful trip, despite the weather.