It’s May, and I’ve been home for 3 weeks. I thought I would look back on the walk now that I have had time to stop and think about the whole experience. My Land’s End to John O’Groats and 3-Peaks walk final thoughts. You can read about the walk itself from the start here.
I have already written a blog about the gear I used and how it performed, which can be found here.
I have been surprisingly settled since I’ve been back and feel very proud of what I managed to achieve. I’m really enjoying being home with my family, though, and haven’t missed the walking at all. I have also been sleeping better than I can ever remember.
It has been interesting to look back on the walk and think about what I could have done differently and what changes I would make to my kit if I were crazy enough to do it again.
I was extremely lucky with the weather – it was a lot warmer than expected for the time of year.
If I had known this beforehand, I would have taken fewer clothes. I could have easily saved over a kilogram of weight in my pack. Another 350g could also have been saved if I had not taken the solar panel. However, I did use it a lot because I was camping rough every night and was never anywhere long enough to charge my phone, iPod, flip 10 power pack and head torch fully.
Now having done the walk, I found that I spent a lot more time in cafes and pubs and could charge things more often than expected. So I should have just taken more USB plugs so I could top up everything at the same time, or stayed in accommodation at least once a week, charging everything overnight. This would have saved the weight of the solar panel.
I set off with from Land’s End with about 15kgs on my back but during the walk I reduced this to under 11kgs. I did this by posting home some clothes (due to the unseasonably warm weather) and by carrying less food. As I was passing shops, cafes and pubs nearly every day, I reduced the amount of food I carried to an absolute minimum and was really careful to work out exactly how much I needed to get to the next resupply point. This did catch me out a few times, though – because I was getting up so early I passed some before they were open.
11kgs was a comfortable weight to carry. My daily average walking pace was about 2 miles an hour but this increased to nearer 3 by the end, due to the lighter pack and the increase in my fitness. By the time I reached John O’Groats I had an overall average of about 20 miles a day for the whole walk. So I must have been walking nearer 30 miles a day some days, to make up for the lower mileage days earlier on in the walk.
If I was planning to climb the 3 peaks again, I would start the walk a month or two later because I needed an ice axe and crampons to climb them safely. I was VERY lucky not to have had an accident. Another good reason to start later in warmer weather is so I could carry fewer clothes and a lighter sleeping bag. This could save about 2kgs. Starting later in the season would also be better for longer days, as I was often getting up later and stopping earlier than I wanted to due to lack of daylight.
The down side to starting later would be walking through Scotland when the midgys are about (usually from about mid May to October). However, they aren’t too much of a problem if there’s wind, strong sunshine or rain.
Initially on the walk I wasn’t resting enough or eating enough calories. I would get to the afternoon with no energy and couldn’t focus properly. My food mainly came from small stores and I really struggled to find appropriate meals with a high enough calorie content. I just wasn’t eating enough or the right sorts of things. Due to the cold weather I wasn’t stopping and resting either, as I kept moving to stay warm. Once I figured this out, I started stopping for longer rests and eating good meals in cafes and pubs whenever possible. When I did this I found I could walk a lot further in the day and felt a lot better.
For most of the walk I never thought about the whole 1200 mile walk as it was just too overwhelming. Instead I focused on a day or two ahead at most. I found that I was better just walking until I was tired and then stopping. If I ever thought that I’ve got to walk 20 miles today, I stopped enjoying the walk and struggled to complete the distance.
I am OK with my own company but rarely felt lonely anyway because I was meeting so many interesting people along the way. As I was walking on my own people seemed happy to stop me for a chat or engage me in conversation when I stopped at a pub or cafe.
Allowing plenty of time for the walk made it a lot easier and reduced the stress. I had allowed 3 months to do it but finished in 2. I was able to do short days when the weather was bad or I felt tired, and this way I never felt I was behind schedule. I also did a lot higher mileage when I felt like it, which wouldn’t have been possible if I was walking to a plan. I don’t think I would have completed it if I had planned it any more than I did.
I had to leave my family at home for this walk. My wife had to work and her 2 children are still at school. My daughter is still at school but old enough to look after herself and my son is self sufficient at university. The kids missed me but we found they loved the map of the UK that we had pined to the wall. They marking my position with blue tack and moving it up the country as I went. This really helped them keep in contact with me and give them a sense of the size of our country. Also teaching them many new place names and where they are in our country.
Speed of the walk and wild camping.
I hadn’t plan on walking it so fast.
This speed was helped by wild camping because I could stop as and when it suited me. Each day I just walked as far as I felt comfortable.
It was nice, without the stress of having anything booked and having to cover a set mileage each day to get to a booked accommodation.
When the weather was good and as I got fitter, I realised that I was doing more miles each day.
A wild camping spot was sometimes difficult to find. Sometimes I had to camp after dark and be gone before it was light because I was on private land and didn’t want to risk upsetting the land owner. (It is often difficult to establish who owns of the land and ask permission to camp.) However I was never asked to move on or had anyone complain about where I was camped.
Choosing where I stopped would have been a bit easier if I hadn’t restricted myself to wild camping every night. There were plenty of campsites or B&Bs I could have used. It would have been easier if I hadn’t started in February too, because many places were still shut for the winter.
If I walked Land’s End to John O’Groats again, I wouldn’t change much because I was very happy with the way the walk went. Not making any bookings or do too much planning worked well. I would keep myself as free as possible to change the route as and when I chose to or the weather dictated.
I would definitely carry a tent again as it allowed me real freedom. However, I would use accommodation on a regular basis as and when I had the opportunity, at least once a week. This would mean I could wash and dry everything more often. It would also be good for recharging everything fully overnight, saving the weight of the solar panel and power pack.
I would probably walk it in the summer to save the weight of all my winter kit that I needed. As when walking for so long weight is everything. Even emptying the small amount of weight from my rubbish bag as I passed a bin was a positive feeling.
I did enjoy the challenge of walking LEJOG+ in winter, but if I hadn’t been lucky with the weather, I don’t think I could have completed the walk. This could have been mitigated by staying in accommodation more often, but I did get massive satisfaction from camping rough every night. It saved a lot of money too, which was the only way I could afford to do it.
I loved the walk and would recommend it to anyone able to make the time for it.
Read my LEJOG and 3 peaks walk short story here and my gear review here.
How I plan a successful long distance walk
My 53 day Dover to Cape Wrath walk, wild-camping every night
Wildwalkinguk is a blog run in my spare time, and I pay for its running costs myself. I do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to me. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. I would be extremely grateful if you could consider using my links when you next need to buy something from the advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy me a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark.
5 Replies to “Land’s End to John O’Groats and 3-Peaks walk: final thoughts”
Well done, and thanks for all the insights. A really enjoyable read. I set off on 29/05, but without camping gear and with accommodation (bravely or foolishly) fully booked ahead. I’ll probably, at age 65, encounter an entirely different set of conundrums. If you’re interested, here’s my blog, which I’ll update as I go along:
All the best
I’ve enjoyed reading your adventure from Louisiana, USA. I’m not a distance walker or wild camper but find myself compelled by reading JOGLE & LEJOG accounts and yours was engaging and interesting. Well done! Thanks for sharing!
As an overweight (18.5 St), unhealthy (smoker), 49 yr old guy with a knackered ankle (broken real bad 5 years ago) which has never healed completely, I decided a week ago I was going to train hard and do the LEJOG next year, starting in April and hopefully finishing in late June – planning for 75 days with several ‘rest days’. I haven’t got the guts to just wildcamp, though I am in the process of buying up tents and gear (on benefits due to mental health issues, so this might be somewhat difficult, but I have some gear already… am a keen camper and used to hike a lot – did the C2C six years ago, but stayed in BnBs every night and had sherpas transfer gear to the next each day) – I’ll be looking for permissions before leaving, and campsites along the way, maybe the odd BnB if funds stretch to it.
I found your food difficulties most enlightening, and will definitely budget for a good hot meal every couple of days. The boot situation is of paramount importance now too – will have to be sure I have emergency funds to buy some more if mine fail on me.
Appreciate the blog – going to try to do something similar myself… maybe YouTube.
Keep on keeping on – you haven’t scared me off, so I musty be committed. Cheers.
Hi Ian – thanks for taking the time to contact me, and it’s great to hear your story. Best of luck with your LEJOG attempt. If money is tight, try to wild camp as much as possible – and it’s possible much more often than you think. Camp late, leave early, leave no trace and be respectful of private land (you’re unlikely to find anyone to ask permission), and you should be fine. With regard to boots, if you want to guarantee one pair will make the distance, then I recommend the Inov-8 Roclite 345s. The uppers will get wrecked, but the soles will be fine. The new 400s might be better, but I haven’t been able to afford a pair yet! Keeping the weight down in your pack is everything, but don’t go so far that you end up uncomfortable at night. The weight of food and water makes the biggest difference. Try not to carry any more water than you need, and aim to resupply often rather than carry heaps of food. Best wishes, Mark.
Good stuff, I’m planning this trip soon.