The first step is to creating a Lands End to John O’Groats cycle route on Google Maps is to open your web browser and search for ‘google my maps’ (see Route Creation One).
On the next screen click ‘Create a New Map’ (see Route Creation Two).
If you are not already logged into a google account you will be prompted to log in or create an account. If you need to create an account follow the instructions on screen and then, if necessary, start this process from the top.
On the next screen, first click on the directions icon near the top, middle of the map. This will open a box on the left where directions can be inserted. Type in your start point in the ‘A’ box and your destination in the ‘B’ box (see Route Creation Three where the start location is slightly obscured by the pop up box). The more precise you can be the less fiddling you will have later [you can even put in grid references]. A driving route should appear on the map.
Now click on the word ‘driving’ next to the car symbol and click the bicycle icon on the pop up. The map should now show cycle routes in addition to roads and it is likely that the route will adjust to select Google’s suggested cycle route. This is shown in Route Creation Four (ignore the branch off to ‘C’ for the moment).
You can add more destination points by clicking on ‘Add destination’. You can then rearrange the order of the destinations by dragging and dropping the letters by the typed destinations. Route Creation Four shows the screen just before releasing the move of the added destination ‘Sparkwell’ to be between Ivybridge and Plymouth. The route line is still showing the route as Ivybridge to Plymouth to Sparkwell.
Route Creation Five shows the map once the ‘Sparkwell’ destination has been moved.
You may now wish to fine tune your route. The first thing to do is check that the start and finish locations are correct. To do this point your mouse cursor just below the ‘A’ and double left click. This should zoom you in on the map. You may need to repeat this process a couple of times to get sufficient detail. Alternatively you can use the roller on your mouse to zoom in and out if you have one.
If the start position is not quite in the right place then drag and drop it to the actual start. To do this, first click on the hand symbol indicated on Route Creation Five. Then point your mouse cursor at the ‘A’ and click and hold down the left mouse button. Whilst holding the button down, move the ‘A’ around the screen using your mouse. As you move the mouse around you will note that the route changes to follow. Once you have located the correct start position release the mouse button.
To change the other destination points zoom out on the map using the mouse roller or the zoom scroll bar on the screen until you can see them and then repeat the above.
You can further fine tune the map by grabbing the route line at any point and dragging it around the map. If you hover your mouse cursor over the route line you will note that a small white circle appears with the words ‘Drag to change route’ (see Route Creation Five). The mouse icon will also change to a pointing finger. In the same way as moving the destination points you can grab the circle (by left clicking and holding the button down) and drag it around the map. If you hover the circle at any point on the map, after a couple of seconds you will see that the route line changes to show you what the route would look like if you were to drop the circle there. (Essential you are telling Google Maps that the route MUST go to the point where the white circle is.) Drag the circle around until you are happy with the route then release the mouse button to drop the circle. It may be that you will have to repeat this process several times at different points along the route in order to get your ideal route.
Please note that there is a limit to the number of drag points you can use on any single route. Therefore, if you have a long route or it is particularly complex you may have to break it into parts and save each one separately.
Once you are happy with the route shown on the map you can name it by clicking on the words ‘Untitled map’ (see Route Creation Six) and filling in the relevant details on the pop up box. The map will be saved under your ‘My Maps’ with that title.
If you wish to create written directions click on the three vertical dots indicated on Route Creation Six and then select ‘Step-by-step directions’ from the dropdown list. Copy the directions that appear by clicking (and holding down) your left mouse button at the top of the directions and then pulling the mouse down (still holding the mouse button down) until all the directions are highlighted (you will need to scroll downwards by dragging your mouse down the screen). Once you have all the directions highlighted, release the left mouse button and point the cursor somewhere in the highlighted area. Now click the right mouse button and select ‘copy’ from the drop down menu.
Having taken a copy of the directions you need to paste them somewhere. Personally I use MS Word. Simply open a blank document, click the right hand mouse button whilst the cursor is somewhere in the document and select paste from the drop down menu.
Now save this document to a convenient location on your computer or a data stick (in a folder called ‘cycle routes’ or ‘end to end route’ or similar). Remember to call the file something you can easily recognise, e.g. ‘end to end directions – Day 1’. Once saved, you can return to the document at any time to make amendments (if required) and to print.
You should now have a Google My Map and a set of amendable written directions saved.
Three books are available related to this website (including gpx route files) as ebooks or paperbacks. As little as £2.99 each or all three for £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, training for long distance cycling, thinking about the cycling equipment you will need, 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.