All good roadtrips need a code name, this trip was going to be no different. A mad cap dash around England, Wales and Scotland cumulating in 15hr, 839 mile dash from John o Groats to Lands End. Could it be done ?
The plan originally began as an idea to drive from John o Groats to Lands End as an alternative "stag do" for a member of SABRE - User:Haydn1971, along with some friends, John, Dave and Tom. However it soon became apparent that you couldn't drive from Sheffield to John o Groats, then to Lands End then back to Sheffield in just three days without actually enjoying the journey. So the whole trip extended out to a cracking nine days of roads, war related visits and just generally the sort of places boys like to have adventures !
The Planned Route
Starting on Saturday 13th June, head off to Guildford, collect John, then head over towards Kent, looking in at Wotton, Whitstable, Ramsgate, Dover and finishing day one in Charing. Next morning, head east via Lydd on Sea (Sound Mirrors), Hastings, Cuckmere Havan (Seven Sisters), Tangmere (Air Museum) then head to Mid Lavant for tea and rest. Monday, visit Beaulieu (National Car Museum), The New Forest, Poole Harbour, Weymouth, Chesil Beach, Yeovilton (Air Fleet Arm Museum) and finally tucking into food and rest in Long Sutton. Next day Cheddar Gorge, Severn Bridges, Cardiff, A4061 Ogmore Vale to Treorchy, A4061 Treorchy to Hirwaun, A4069 Brynamman to Llangadog, Pendine, then finish in Stackpole.
Wednesday would be dependent on the weather and just how tired the drivers are, hopefully taking a tour of the Pembroke coast, Fishguard, Cardigan, Aberaeron, Welsh Dams (Llyn Brianne, Elan Village etc), then heading for Sheffield. Sadly, there wouldn't be enough time to visit Snowdonia or Portmerion. After spending the night back in Sheffield, there is an early start Thursday, collect Tom and leave Sheffield, via Worksop to collect Dave then a mad dash north via the Yorkshire Dales, Lake District and Galloway to Scotland, staying overnight overlooking Loch Lomond.
The next two days are all about driving in the Scotish Highlands, starting with a casual drive soaking up the sun and scenery along the way via Oban, Fort William, Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, Kyle of Lochalsh and onto Skye, then the next day, yet another early start, and another casual but long drive via Torridon, Kinlochewe, Wester Ross, Ullapool, Kylesku, Loch Eriboll, Kyle of Tongue, and the north coast to John O Groats, staying overnight at Thurso.
The next day (Sunday 21st June) is "The Longest Day" – A steady but rapid 15hr and 839 mile drive from John O Groats to Lands End ! Depending on the journey time, the plan is to get into the pub at Zennor for around 7:30pm, eat, then watch the sun go down from the back garden... but plans may change subject to the journey. The last day will seem like an anticlimax, with a late breakfast, visit Tintagel (King Arthurs Castle) head to Guildford to drop John off, dinner there perhaps, then head home to Sheffield for a well earned bath and sleep.
What Actually Happened
In the ten days we were on the road, we travelled about 3500 miles and the car returned a healthy 35mpg (£450 in fuel), which isn't bad for a 3.0L with four passengers and a boot full of baggage.
The 839 mile dash was actually completed in 14hours 15 minutes, but that included two stops for petrol, a 30 minute stop for lunch and several driver change stops, although they only took a couple of minutes each - I suspect, the amount of driving was about 13hours 30 minutes in total.
Its great fun, the tiredness really does hurt, especially around mid morning, but if you want to complete the John o Groats to Lands End drive, make sure you consider the time to get to the start and home from the end, you are effectively driving it more than twice unless you live on the preferred route. Try doing it in three days would be very foolish !