Our Land’s End to John O’Groats Challenge

Like the gold postbox challenge, it all started with a throwaway comment. “Shall we keep going until we get to John O’Groats?” hubby said jokingly as we headed towards Birmingham for a weekend stop before going to Butlins. “No, it would take hours!” I replied – which prompted us to look up just how long it would take. This then led to me reading more about the various ways of travelling from Land’s End to John O’Groats – and this year’s family challenge was set. A journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats using public transport to get there and back again and raising money for Little Hearts Matter along the way.

A map showing the route we will be taking to travel from Land's End to John O'Groats using public transport with the header "Our Land's End to John O'Groats Challenge"

 

Hubby’s work calendar can often change at fairly short notice so finding a suitable window of opportunity for the challenge to take place was our first hurdle. Then the next question – which way round to do it? LEJOG or JOGLE?

 

We spent a lot of time planning out potential routes in both directions, looking at places to stay en route and working out how far we thought we could travel in a day. We calculated that whichever way we did it, it would take us four days and four nights.

 

JOGLE was slightly cheaper but we would be starting off with an overnight journey on the sleeper train before a full day’s travel. Would we sleep well on the train? In the end, that decided it. We didn’t want to risk having a poor night’s sleep at the start of the challenge – if none of us slept well on the sleeper train, it would be better to leave it until the end of the challenge when hopefully we would be exhausted enough to sleep and if not, at least we were going home to our own beds!

 

The next step was to book our train tickets. We found that by using two railcards – the Family & Friends railcard and the Two Together railcard – we could get discounts on most of the journey. We also discovered that it was often cheaper to break up the journey into sections when buying the tickets, especially if we had to start before 9.30am – even though we were staying on the same train and in the same seats. It does mean that we have a lot of train tickets to cover the journey though!

Our train tickets for the journey

 

We’re hoping to complete the challenge in four days and four nights, breaking it up as follows:

 

Day 1

London to Penzance (train)
Penzance – Land’s End (bus)
Land’s End – Penzance (bus)

 

Day 2

Penzance – Perth (train)

 

Day 3

Perth – Thurso (train)

 

Day 4

Thurso – John O’Groats (bus)
John O’Groats – Wick (bus)
Wick – Inverness (train)
Inverness – London (sleeper train)

 

Planning the journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats and preparing to log it has been a good excuse to buy myself a new journal which has handy pockets to keep tickets in and any necessary bits of paper in.

My journal for logging the journey - with the text Land's End to John O'Groats 2016 and a map showing the route on the cover

I think our biggest challenge will be trying to keep two small children entertained on long train journeys and for this reason we have treated ourselves to First Class tickets for the 10-hour journey from Penzance to Edinburgh (which we managed to get at a reasonable price) to hopefully make it more bearable for the girls (and us!) I have moments of thinking we’re crazy for even considering trying to do it but hopefully it will be fun!

 

We are doing our Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge in aid of Little Hearts Matter, a charity which is very close to our hearts. It helps support children like Jessica who have half a working heart, and their families. If you would like to sponsor us on our challenge and help us raise money for a wonderful charity, you can do so via our fundraising page.

 

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30 thoughts on “Our Land’s End to John O’Groats Challenge

  1. Wow sounds like a great challenge for a fab cause! Although not entirely envious of the long train journey with littlies but do love any excuse for new stationery!! Good luck & looking forward to reading all about it! x

    1. Thanks Midge – the long train journey is definitely going to be challenging – hopefully we can keep the children entertained!

    1. Thanks Jenni – I couldn’t believe it when hubby sent the photo of all the train tickets – there are certainly a lot of them!

  2. What an amazing challenge! I’ve known several people do it by bike before but never considered public transport. The train journey will just fly by. Make the girls their own little journals with special I spy game in. Such is a tick off trains station names as you go past. Robert just loves looking out the window on the train, and he does sleep. You’ll have fun x

    1. Thanks Karen – what a great idea to make journals for the girls, that’s a brilliant way of helping to keep them amused. I’m going to pack some games in ziplock bags to help pass the time too 🙂

    1. Thanks Caroline – there’s a big part of me looking forward to it and another part of me that feels quite apprehensive about it!

  3. Best of luck Louise! I’d love to go from Land’s End to John ‘O Groats, and this looks like the quickest and most child friendly way of doing it that I’ve seen. #tribe

    1. Thank you – it sounded more like an adventure to do it this way rather than driving there in the car 🙂

  4. Ooh I JOGLE-d on a bike a couple of years ago, but that was with a friend and pre baby! If it’s of interest we kept a blog of our adventures https://millerkirstie.wordpress.com/2013/08/. It’s such a wonderful trip and amazing how much the country changes. I was completely smitten by the Scottish highlands, absolutely beautiful.
    Best of luck doing it with the little ones, I hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did xxx #bloggerclubuk

    1. Oh that sounds amazing – my cycling is definitely not up to that even without the kids in tow! Will have to check out your blog about it and read more about your trip 🙂

  5. Wow that’s a lot of train tickets.

    Can’t wait to read about how you got on. You’ll be an expert at entertaining kids on trains by the end of the 4 days.

  6. This sounds amazing! I am green with envy. What a brilliant adventure you’ll give the children – a bit more interesting than a week by a pool, and I’m sure they’ll remember it forever. Fantastic that you’re doing it for a good cause too. Looking forward to reading the updates #BloggerClubUk

  7. What a fantastic adventure! There’s some absolutely beautiful scenery to take in on your train journey, I’ve done the whole line many times – although not in one go! I look forward to reading about it.

  8. Wow this sounds like fun and maybe a little crazy , ha ha, but I like crazy and think life is better with a bit of craziness thrown in. Such an adventure for your girls. Enjoy and can’t wait to read all about it. When do you leave? x #bloggerclubuk

  9. This is a great challenge and an excellent way to raise money for the charity! I’m sure the girls will be fine with the journey too. Have you contacted Natural Retreats about a place to stay at JOG? They might be able to help you out, especially as it’s for charity? xx

  10. Louise what a FAB thing to do! I love challenges like this. Loving the journal and how many blummin train tickets are there?! It sounds like you’ve got it well planned out, you could be a travel consultant! #BloggerClubUK

  11. Oh my word all those train tickets! I hope you all have an amazing time, what an adventure and for such a superb cause. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you, may good weather and no delays be yours. #BloggerClubUK

  12. This is awesome! What a fab challenge and can’t wait to hear how it goes 😉 xx #bloggerclubuk

  13. Wow this sounds amazing, and such a great cause. That is a lot of train tickets, and good luck with the long journeys. At least you will get to see interesting things along the way.x

  14. This is such a great challenge. I’m a big fan of overland travel – I’ve done both the Scotland and Penzance sleeper trains and they both feel rather special. I got a good night’s sleep in a sleeper berth but no sleep in a reclining seat up to Inverness.
    I’d recommend at least one eye spy book for the journey – it was a good way of keeping my daughter’s attention on a long car journey recently and I know they have a train journey one too.

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