Lands End to John O'Groats + Orkney Tandem Tour
The concept for our End to End tour was shaped around two key ingredients:
Planning the route involved hours of enjoyable poring over maps from November until we finally left the following May. For starters we ordered the CTC End to End route pack and borrowed a couple of End to End route books from the library. The Internet also yielded up a heap of accounts of various rides, quite a few of which did not warrant publication anywhere. A new large spiral bound motoring atlas was purchased, dismembered and photocopied. We then stuck it together into three long strips - West Country, England and Scotland - each of which occupied most of the length of Sheila’s lounge floor when unrolled. Armed with coloured pens I drew on the CTC B&B route and Youth hostels route, together with bits of possibly relevant Sustrans routes and variations from other sources.
We came up with a theme for CAB sponsorship based on the fact that we would be doing an End to End journey through Britain. We could use the trip both to publicise the fact that CABx are a national organisation giving good consistent advice everywhere, but also that the organisation is totally reliant on its local offices, locally funded and with local volunteers as advisors. The nearest CAB office to Lands End is Penzance (We cannot manage to fit in a visit to the Isles of Scilly). And the furthest we can reach is at Kirkwall on Orkney, beyond John O’Groats (The Shetlands are also beyond our range for this trip. The strapline for publicity will be:
Citizens Advice Bureaux from Penzance to Kirkwall
Free impartial advice throughout the length of Britain
For our own leaflets and cards we will travel the End to End as a personal "millennium project". Why not? Everyone else has the 2000 label:
A 1000 mile, Year 2000 journey throughout the length of Britain
We highlighted all the towns that have a CAB office on our long strip maps within a broad corridor of our intended route. We then spent lots of time working out variations to the route to link them up. Sheila wrote to all of the bureaux and to NACAB. From some we received an immediate encouraging response, starting with Penzance, whose manager kindly offered to put us up for the night on our way through. Others took longer to reply. Some never answered at all despite follow up letters and faxes. To my disappointment NACAB showed no interest. Sheila took on all of the tasks of CAB liaison that were considerable. There were certainly moments in the next few months when we wondered if it was worth the effort. The whole sponsorship and publicity business seemed much harder work than cycling up hill in the rain!
Eventually we had a route planned and the CAB stops scheduled. And because the visits to CAB offices would constrain where and when we need to be on the road each day, we also booked all of our B&B accommodation in advance.
John took on responsibility for the publicity material. We produced a pack of information for each CAB office, including various versions of sponsorship forms locally tailored for each of them to raise money for their office and/or to seek local press publicity. He also made a banner, a CAB logo roundel to fix to the front wheel of the tandem, and an information board to fix to the rear rack-top bag. A town name to fix to the tandem top-tube was made for each CAB destination. This material would be used for the photo stops at each bureau. For supporting material we printed cards and distance certificates, which were also customised for each bureau. We also made a sign mounted on a piece of acrylic that could be fixed to the rear rack on the bike in order to give us on-the-road publicity.
Sheila took on the thankless task of dishing out Lymington CAB sponsorship forms, that included a “guess the total distance cycled” competition, to everyone she could think of. She also personally twisted the arms of friends and relatives to pledge their sponsorship or donations.
Separately to all of the CAB fund raising, we set up a separate “guess the total distance cycled for a £1 per go” competition at work for NFDC Councillors and staff that was linked to the Chairman’s charities for the year – Wessex Cancer Trust and Honeypot Children’s Home. A site on the Council’s Intranet was created on which our daily progress could be reported.
Peter, who was a trainee advisor at Lymington CAB, volunteered to drive our car in support so as to deliver and fetch us to and from each “End”; and also to provide backup for baggage and publicity material en route. The logistics were all coming together.
On a Saturday morning we took the tandem and publicity material to the Lymington CAB office for publicity photos to be taken. The Chairman and some volunteers turned out for the photos. A photographer from the local newspaper covered the event and an article and picture were printed in the Lymington Times the following week.
The final writing out of the route notes and marking up the route on innumerable photocopied fragments of Ordnance Survey maps seemed to take for ever and we were still completing them during the week before we set off. Various route alternatives were included giving longer or shorter options to suit how we were feeling, variable weather conditions or to cope with unforeseen delays. Wherever possible our preferred route would take us along the smallest and potentially quietest and most scenic roads. That still left us with the prospect of crossing Truro, Bristol, Blackburn and Edinburgh, so we would not be short of city sights.
To Lands End
Prologue - Lands End to Ludgvan
Day 2 Ludgvan to Trelill
Day 3 Trelill to Great Torrington
Day 4 Great Torrington to Bridgwater
Day 5 Bridgwater to Chepstow
Day 6 Chepstow to Ludlow
Day 7 Ludlow to Church Minshull
Day 8 Church Minshull to Slaidburn
Day 9 Slaidburn to Penrith
Day 10 Penrith to Eskdalemuir
Day 11 Eskdalemuir to South Queensferry
Day 12 South Queensferry to Blairgowrie
Day 13 Blairgowrie to Tomintoul
Day 14 Tomitoul to Alness
Day 15 Alness to Bettyhill
Day 16A Bettyhill to John O'Groats
Day 16B John O'Groats to Kirkwall
Orkney and Home