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


Land's End to Barnstaple (15 to 26 June 2004)

Barnstaple to Oxford (27 June to 6 July 2004)

Oxford to Edale (11 to 20 July 2004)

Pennine Way (21 July to 9 August 2004)

Edinburgh to Inverness (16 to 28 August 2004)

Inverness to John O'Groats (28 August to 4 September 2004)

Kirk Yetholm to Edinburgh, 10 to 15 August 2004

My first full day in Scotland started wet, but soon cleared. I followed the St Cuthbert's Way over Wideopen Hill, a fine ridge walk, then through woods and farmland to my B&B at Ancrum. Next day, Day 58, took me north along Dere Street, a Roman road as straight as any. River Tweed and Eildon HillsIt seems that the Romans penetrated well into Scotland, presumably to keep the Picts and Scots away form Hadrian's Wall. Beside Dere Street, at Ancrum Moor, a monument recorded later border conflict, where "fair maiden Lilliard..upon the English loons laid many thumps". St Cuthbert's Way then took this English loon (happily unthumped) along the banks of the swollen River Tweed and over the Eildon Hills to Melrose.

The morning of Day 59 was wet, and I was glad of some respite in a cafe at Galashiels. The afternoon was wetter still, as I headed up to the hills on the Southern Upland Way. It was 12th August, the start of grouse shooting, and amazingly the shooters were also out in the pouring rain. I passed the Three Brethren, said to be the finest viewpoint on the whole Southern Upland Way, in thick mist, and squelched my way down to the isolated youth hostel at Broadmeadows.

Next morning there was no water at the youth hostel - the storm had washed away its water tanks. But at least the rain had stopped. I climbed back into the mist, and groped my way along the Southern Upland Way to Traquair. From there it was a mix of road walking and the trails of Cardrona Forest to Peebles. Susan had flown up for a few days, and we stayed that night in a B&B just outside Peebles.

Day 61 called for some complicated navigation. Away from the recognised hiking areas and trails such as St Cuthbert's Way, Scotland lacks the signposted footpaths which are everywhere in England. Even footpaths marked on the map often did not exist on the ground, and I got to be an expert in negotiating barbed-wire fences and bridgeless streams. That day I had to abandon looking for a path south of the Cloich Hills, and made my way by forest tracks to Noblehouse, then by road to Carlops.

Halfway along the road, a guy came out of his house and immediately asked me if I was walking from Lands End to John O'Groats. I was taken aback - I had not realised it was so obvious. He explained that he used to assume that walkers passing by were just local ramblers, but last year the Naked Rambler walked past. Since then he had assumed that everyone was walking to John O'Groats. I told him that the route was in McCloy's book, so he was probably right.

Next day was brilliant weather. From Carlops the route lay over the Pentland Hills, and feeling energetic, I climbed up two of the summits, West Kip and East Kip. Ahead lay Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and Fife. From the Pentlands I followed the Water of Leith Walkway, which took me painlessly past Murrayfield Stadium into the centre of Edinburgh. It was Festival time, and the streets were busy with musicians and performers.


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Updated November 2004. Copyright © Martin Hockey 2004.>