Martin Hockey's End to End Walk: Land's End to John O'Groats


Planning your route

My route


Maps and guidebooks

What I took




An early decision was to rely on youth hostels and bed and breakfast, and not to take a tent. This partly decided my route, particularly in remoter areas of Scotland where beds were few and far between. But I did not think it practical to book in advance the whole way, so my route had to be flexible enough to deal with full and non-existent accommodation.

Usually I was able to arrange a bed by phoning ahead on the same day. I had a few problems finding a bed at weekends or for odd reasons - the end of school term at Bruton and the Lichfield Festival. But I worked around this by having longer or shorter days.

I pre-booked accommodation on the Pennine Way, expecting it to be busy in the school holidays. In the event, most places were not full. But at some pinch points (Standedge/Marsden, Upper Teesdale), I would have had a problem if I had not booked in advance. I also booked accommodation in Edinburgh, where my visit coincided with the start of the Festival.

There are good accommodation guides for the National Trails and National Parks. Elsewhere, there are few comprehensive lists of accommodation, and even trawling the internet for B&Bs in a particular place can be frustrating. I found Tourist Information Centres useful, particularly in Scotland, but even they do not cover all the available accommodation in their area.

Prices for B&B varied from £15 to £45 a night. The highest prices were in the Midlands, where most places had no single rooms and tended to charge a significant premium for single occupancy of double rooms.

In contrast, booking youth hostels was a dream. The SYHA has a particularly good website (, and it was easy to change bookings by phone through one central number. The English YHA website ( was good but not as flexible.

The standard of youth hostel accommodation was much higher than when I last used them over 30 years ago. A big advantage of hostels was the opportunity to meet and share info with other walkers. Most English hostels provided meals, but in Scotland none did, which meant carrying food long distances to isolated hostels (Broadmeadows, Inverey) where there was nowhere to buy food.

I also stayed at two independent hostels. Since 2004, some of the smaller "official" youth hostels have closed, and independent hostels are filling many of the gaps. Two websites, one for the whole of the UK and one for Scotland, give details of independent hostels.

Each night's accommodation is listed in the log.

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Updated May 2007. Copyright © Martin Hockey 2007.