The distance between Lands End and John O’Groats is a query easily raised but not so easily answered. Why? Because there are many answers. In fact there are almost infinite answers because it depends on the route you take from one end of the country to the other.
An easier question to answer is:
“What is the shortest distance between Lands End and John O Groats (LEJOG)?”
The distance from Lands End to John O’Groats is 603 miles (970 km). But that is a straight line distance. Fine if you are the proverbial crow but if you are cycling it would mean somehow crossing the Irish Sea and traversing a lot of countryside without roads.
So, a better question is:
“What is the minimum distance, by road, for LEJOG?”
Inputting Lands End to John O’Groats into Google Maps reveals the quickest route as 837 miles (1,348 km) and uses A30, M5, M6, A74(M), M73, M80, M9, A9 and A99.
The shortest route, using a mix of minor roads and motorways is 814 miles (1,310 km).
This route is roughly: Land’s End, Bodmin, Okehampton, Tiverton, Taunton, Bridgwater, the M5 Avon Bridge, the M48 Severn Bridge, Monmouth, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Tarporley, St Helens, Preston, Carlisle, Beattock, Carstairs, Whitburn, Falkirk, Stirling, Crieff, Kenmore, Dalchalloch, A9, Inverness, Kessock Bridge, Cromarty Bridge, Dornoch Firth Bridge, Latheron, Wick, John O Groats.
Unfortunately both routes use motorways and cyclists are not permitted.
So the best question is:
“What is the minimum distance, by road where cycling is permitted, for LEJOG?”
The signposts at both Land’s End and John O’Groats indicate a distance of 874 miles (1,407 km) to their counterpart, which is often taken as the shortest road distance between the two points.
However, Google Map reveals a route with a distance of 866 mile (1.394 km), avoiding all motorways.
The route is roughly: Lands End, Bodmin, Okehampton, Exeter, Honiton, Shepton Mallet, Gloucester, Leominister, Shrewsbury, Tarporley, St Helens, Preston, Kendal, Carlisle, Beattock, Carstairs, Whitburn, Falkirk, Perth, Pitlochry, Aviemore, Kessock Bridge, Cromarty Bridge, Dornoch Firth Bridge, Latheron, Wick, John O’Groats.
So the answer is that the minimum distance from Lands end to John O Groats by bike is 866 miles (1,394km) but most people would not want to ride that route because it follows a lot of very busy main roads. The reality is that most routes will be between 900 and 950 miles. I have ridden end to end 3 times and my respective routes were 882 miles (1,420 km) JOGLE, 938 miles (1,510 km) LEJOG cycling the Google Maps route and 953 miles (1,534 km) LEJOG testing my Safer Way Route.
Many riders deliberately lengthen their Lands End to John O’Groats route to 1,000 miles to add an extra challenge.
But of course knowing how far it is from Lands End to John O Groats and being able to ride it are two different things. Not only is the cycling itself a massive feat of endurance, the planning and training are also hard work and take up a lot of time. But imagine if someone had done most of the thinking for you and could offer all sorts of helpful advice and a plug and play gpx route guiding you along safe roads and cycle ways all the way?
Kickstart your Land’s End to John O’Groats planning
Everything you need to know to get you started on your Lands End to John O Groats adventure is contained within these three books: a How To, a detailed account of riding the Google Map route for LEJOG and a ‘safe’ Route Book using GPX files.
Click the image above for free samples.
Available as electronic or paperback books from as little as £2.99 each or get all 3 for the price of 2 through this site for only £5.98. That’s less than an inner tube or a Costa coffee with a slice of cake.
Where to next?
The most popular pages on the site concern planning your End to End, including training for long distance cycling, thinking about the cycling equipment you will need, how to look after your bike, what you should be eating and drinking whilst cycling and how to create a route for Lands End to John O’Groats. Or you can read my own account of cycling End to End to get some idea of what to expect.