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4.7 out of 5 stars54
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 July 2012
I really enjoyed Nick Mitchell's End to End Cycle guide. We based our End to End trip off of it and followed the routes pretty much in their entirety. Overall, it was a lovely, well explained route which avoided the most busy roads while taking us through the best parts of Great Britain.

A few things to be aware of are:

- The city navigation is often a bit confusing. We found ourselves having to consult the book multiple times through the cities or even using the SatNav in our mobile phones.
- Some of the trail riding can be a little much for road bikes particularly in adverse weather. We found ourselves with multiple punctures and on some quite slippy, debris covered farming paths a few times.
- We used the routes provided by the guide, but compressed them down from 14 days to 9.5 days. It was definitely possible to do so, but we thought that in the end it would have been more enjoyable to have taken more time to enjoy the ride.

Again, a great guide for the End to End cycle trip. Well written book and amazing trip.
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on 9 June 2015
I've just completed LEJOG and did it solo / unsupported, using this book (and the GPX files from the Cicerone website) as my sole reference guide.

Ultimately I don't think there is a better guide to use as a reference for LEJOG, and I would certainly recommend this book to anyone considering cyling "End to End", however I did have a few issues with it along the way.

I think the biggest issue, and I am surprised no other reviewer has commented on this, is the terrible format of the book with regard to how the routes are detailed. I have another Cicerone cycle route book (C2C) which is formatted in a similar way, so I suppose it may be the house style rather than the author's fault, however if I was writing this book, I would insist the route directions are given in a clear, numbered order, not written as if you're reading a novel. If you are following this book and are not using GPX files, then to avoid missing turnings along the way you really have to write out the directions properly in a numbered order, as indeed I noticed other End to Enders had done who were following the book without the GPX files.

It also doesn't help that the historical and direction notes are often written together, sometimes in the same sentence. Given the way the directions are written I suppose this is largely unavoidable but it is unhelpful. I do appreciate that some historical descriptions are self-contained in their own boxes, but that is only when a longer description is given.

I also found some of the historical notes a little arbitrary, although I suppose what the author decides is of interest will always be somewhat subjective. For instance, whilst he found time and space (almost a whole page) to provide a detailed explanation of Muchelney, which contains some medieval buildings, which wasn't even en-route but required a detour, I was quite surprised that on the same day there was no recommendation to stop and see the beautiful square and cathedral in Exeter, which you were actually cycling very close to.

Day 1 - The GPX files direct you to the wrong ferry crossing from Fowey to Polroun. Whilst you can take the ferry it directs you to, it only runs about 3 or 4 times a day, whereas the better one runs continuously until late at night so is far more helpful. If you do find yourself at the wrong ferry location, just ask a local who will direct you to the correct place - it isn't far.

Day 3 - After Broadhembury is an incredibly steep ascent which continues for over a mile. The book merely states "Ascend steeply for 1¼ miles." Maybe Sir Bradley Wiggins could breeze up this with fully laden panniers on a heavy tourer, but I couldn't, and I think this hill warrants a more descriptive explanation.

Day 5 - Having read blogs of other riders who have followed this book, just about every one mentions the horrendous hills at the end of this day's ride, which are completely avoidable. The final destination is Clun, and with just a few miles to go, you are told to turn right and head for Obley. This involves cycling two unbelievably steep hills then cycling down a terrifying descent for about a mile, when you are holding on for dear life whilst wearing out your brakes at the same time. These hills may just about be ok if you're riding the lightest racer on the market (ie. perhaps you are riding on one of the author's supported tours) but if like me you're carrying all your gear on heavy panniers and riding a heavy tour bike to begin with, then this is sheer hell. And all for what? For an "exceptional panaromic view". Firstly it wasn't particularly exceptional anyway (there are far better views along the way) and certainly not worth all the hassle. For anyone who is going to follow this book, I strongly recommend you do NOT turn off for Obley, just continue for Clun and avoid all this nonsense. The thing that I thought was really bad was that the author doesn't provide an alternative route. Further on in the book when you reach Scotland, the author does give you an alternative to avoid a hilly route so why not here?

I would also add that Clun is an odd place to have a stop en-route. It's quite small and there isn't much B&B availability, however I appreciate there probably isn't much else en-route, and this does take you into the heart of the Shropshire Hills, an AONB.

Day 7 - I thought it was odd that the author strongly recommends staying at the Holiday Inn during the stopover in Runcorn, which was apparently "reasonably priced". I phoned the Holiday Inn to check the price, but it was far higher than anything else I'd stayed at, and eventually found a very good B&B for half the price.

Day 8 - The route includes the following sentence: "Cycle on for a further 4 miles to the charming village of Grasmere." This was, as far as I can recall, the only time in the entire book that a village was described as charming, so I was quite intrigued as to what it would be like. However in fact you do not actually cycle to Grasmere, as about a mile beforehand, you turn off in another direction.

Day 12 - I ended up cycling along the A82 the whole day, in order to avoid the recommended NCN78 cycle path, given the book actually tells you to take extra care on this route to avoid punctures, (I wasn't taking any chances), and I also continued on the A82 along Loch Ness instead of taking the more hilly General Wade's Military route.

Also, at Invergarry the book tells you to come off the A82 and cycle along the NCN78 canal route. When I did this, they were actually relaying the surface of the canal route and it is absolutely terrible now and should be avoided at all costs. I don't think you can actually even cycle there now as it is just loose stones, and also I think you would get a puncture as some of the stones look quite sharp, so my advice here is to just carry on the A82.

Day 13 & 14 - At Inverness, I decided to cycle along the shorter coastal A9 route, rather than following the inland route shown in the book, therefore I cannot comment on these days. Whilst I have no doubt that the inland route is more scenic, I preferred a shorter last day into John O'Groats.

General comments:

In terms of the surface quality of the routes, I found these good overall, subject to my comments on Day 12.

The book provides a key to map signs, one of which is a spanner to indicate a bike shop. This is a waste of time and quite misleading, because according to the book, there is only one bike shop in most of the cities you go through. If you're going to use symbols on maps, use them properly otherwise it's just misleading. When I needed to visit a bike shop, I would google "Bike shop near me" instead. Similarly, there are symbols to indicate cafes, food shops and pubs, and I would level the same complaint against the use of these symbols too.

I also found the continuous recommendations to stop at foodstores to stock up on snacks and drinks a bit of an affront to my intelligence. Generally when you're cycling for the best part of the day, you realise you need to buy food and drinks along the way so why continuously remind us to do this.

Reading all the above seems like I have just taken all the bad points, without mentioning any good ones! The fact I am giving this book 4 stars does indicate however that there is a lot right with this book, but it could be improved. Clearly a lot of thought has been given to provide the safest, quietest roads as possible, although for large parts of Scotland cycling on faster roads is to some extent unavoidable.

Finally some advice to anyone considering doing LEJOG. Don't get bogged down reading all the advice on the internet. There is so much there to confuse and dissuade you, when all you're actually doing is going out on a long ride, but multiplied for two weeks. For me, I went on 6 rides (roughly 30km up to 115km in length) beforehand as preparation, then booked a train ticket to Penzance for the next day and also booked the first night's accommodation in Lands End. That was it - off I went, although I had previously cycled London to Paris, so had a good idea what I needed to take.

I occasionally booked accommodation the night before, but more often simply found a B&B to stay when I arrived in the town in the late afternoon / evening, although perhaps I was lucky here as I never had any problems finding decent B&Bs, despite going during a Bank Holiday weekend and half term.

So my final advice is buy the book, download the GPX files if you have something that can read them, and go! It's an amazing experience, totally unforgettable and something that will live with you for the rest of your life.
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on 21 May 2012
Nick's guide is inspiring: as someone who's never previously considered doing this route, reading the guide made it sound all too tempting and I found myself wondering when and how I could possibly fit it in! Quite a conversion. Dipping into the bits of the route that pass through places I've cycled in a lot, I can see how thoroughly researched it is. This gives me lots of confidence that I'd be able to rely on it in areas I don't know - not something you can always take for granted with cycling guides as I have learnt all too well over the years!

Knowing how thoroughly Nick has researched and ridden the route I'd have every confidence in it anyway. A great guide that I'd really recommend to anyone planning to do the route (or even people not planning to ... but easily tempted!
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on 31 July 2013
I got my copy of this book from doing the route on an organised tour run by the author (which I would highly recommend by the way) - though I've also met a couple of folks who did the ride by themselves, just using the book as a guide.

The book not only describes the route in clear detail but also shows every segment of it on colour OS maps and makes good recommendations about where to eat and where to stay. The pocket-sized format is great for carrying in your saddle bag or bar bag. From what I understand, Nick has actually ridden the route himself a dozen times, and I think this comes through in his attention to detail and in the high proportion of the time you spend on quiet roads and cycle paths. I never would have imagined for instance being able to cross the whole of Glasgow almost entirely traffic-free.
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on 30 July 2013
A well researched guide from an author who knows just what information is needed to undertake this great ride. I completed the ride this spring and followed the prescribed route taking 14 days, as recommended. I could easily have done it in 10 days but would have missed so many interesting things on route which are all detailed in the guide. I could not believe how much of the route was on quiet country lanes but be aware some of the bike tracks, which although traffic free, can be harsh if you are riding a road bike rather than a hybrid. I downloaded the GPX files and used these for navigation but its well worth having the hard copy book in your back pocket as it contains so much more than directions. In my opinion a must have guide for planning and riding an end to end.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 7 December 2014
Cycling from Land's End to John O'Groat's is one of those things I have always wanted to do and is now on my "bucket list" of things to do before I die. (Indeed, it may be the end of me...) So, I just had to get this volume to see what it would entail. Perhaps if the task were divided into neat little chunks it would not seem so daunting to me!

As Nick says on page 19 - a good reason to cycle in this direction (from the South West to the North East) is because it makes good use of UK's "prevailing south-westerly winds" - a not inconsiderable reason for doing it this way round.

This volume divides the route into 14 stages or days. Each route is between 53 and 85 miles per day with most days being given around the 6-8 hours to finish. Now I must admit that I'd have to divide it up again probably - my weight and age mean I am a more gentile cyclist! But having had a good read of this volume I now feel that, even I could achieve this given the right preparation. So, I plan to cycle this route the year after next...

This book gives you pretty much all of the info you are going to need to undertake this mammoth endeavour. There is an overall map of Britain with your route mapped out and then the introduction takes you through the preparations - which time of the year to go, health and safety, fitness and training before you start, food and drink (and equipment) to take, accommodation along the route etc before getting into the 14 chapters which make up the guide for each stage. These daily route guides are excellent - they give you the information of where to start and finish (OS grid ref), distance, difficulty of the route, time it will take, maps necessary, refreshments along the way and where to stay at the finish of each stage. There's then a little summary of the day's ride before getting down to more detail and what to see along the route, an elevation chart for the day's ride, two (or more) OS maps of the route, along with this are colour pics of the areas cycling through.

At the back is a list of campsites, hostels, B&B's and hotels - so something to suit all tastes and bank-balances. This is a comprehensive guide to cycling from End to End - and one I thoroughly recommend! I cannot wait to get fit again and start on the journey myself!
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on 8 May 2012
If you're even vaguely curious about attempting this ride, then this book is simply a must buy. There are some other great guides out there, but the author has clearly poured his heart and soul into this book (as well as a vast amount of personal experience and knowledge) and as a result it's a joy to read. I would challenge anyone to pick this up and resist the urge to jump straight on their bikes and head straight for Cornwall!
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on 4 April 2013
This book was exactly what I was looking for. I'm doing this ride in a few weeks and it has all the useful tips that I need.
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on 3 August 2013
I scoured Nick's book before signing up to join one of his LEJOG groups this summer. The book is a mine of information, like the author, assembled after his many repeats of the ride to hone the route and make sure it is safe, enjoyable and totally memorable.

Follow the route and you'll see the best of Britain, travelling for large parts along cycle tracks or quiet back roads. Even the city traverses are efficient and surprisingly easy. Nick has minutely researched the many sights along the way giving a host of landmarks to watch out for. If you have a bike satnav gadget like a Garmin then make use of the day routes he offers as a guiding hand along the way, for me indispensable.
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on 4 August 2013
We followed Nick's route for 10 days in all, deviating only to go via the West Coast of Scotland ( Ayr,Ardrossan, Arran, Kintyre) which I would recommend as a worthwhile extra 60 miles or so, before rejoining Nick's route from Fort William. His route is very well balanced in terms of length of each day - but especially the choice of country, B and lesser A roads means that you are very rarely dicing with death as juggernauts roar past your ears- and much more often enjoying long stretches of relatively quiet and scenically beautiful cycling. He also highlights many notable sites and historic buildings not to be missed. A really excellent guidebook for an epic trip.
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