The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

LEJOG Route Planning (Part 2.1)

Continuing from a theme that I started a few weeks ago, I said that I would next talk about how I’ve gone about the route planning so far.

The concept didn’t seem to be that difficult:

1. Pick a destination for each day that looked about the right distance away from the starting point (ie around 15 miles and not more than 25 miles)
2. Find accommodation in or near to that place
3. Plan a route between the start and the accommodation
4. Plot it and print it
5. Repeat 80 or so times until the destination of John O’Groats is reached.

Having planned the route through England and Wales, I think I can speak with some level of experience in saying that the most difficult part of the route planning has been the accommodation factor.

An initial budgeting exercise led me to the plan that we would camp for an average of 5 nights per week and staying in a B&B for the other two.

That meant that for an average of five nights per week, I needed to find campsites at the end of the day.

Well, what a task finding suitable campsites turned out to be!

Naively, I started out with the notion that Cornwall and Devon would be the easy places to plan as campsites abound down there. It transpired that I was right about the quantity of campsites. Unfortunately, very few are conveniently located and whereas a five mile detour is nothing when you have wheels to assist you, when on foot even a mile out of the way becomes a big deal.

So, the great campsite hunt began. I knew from past experience that the tent symbol on the map is not a reliable indicator, but it’s still a good starting point when searching (in that it gives you a place name to start your search with). The ukcampsite website
was a good resource, but turned out not to be as comprehensive as I had previously thought. A couple of other regional campsite listings that I found (such as turned out to be useful. Other people’s LEJOG diaries helped. If all else failed, I resorted to more general searches on Google, which every now and then did turn up some useful information.

Of course, finding an address for a campsite doesn’t help when you’re not familiar with the area, so armed with my lists of campsites that seemed to be in the vicinity of places that we wanted to include on our route, yet more hours were spent with the computer whirring away to capacity as I used Multimap to convert post-codes to useful map positions (and finding that a postal address of ‘Helston’ can mean ‘not anywhere near Helston at all, actually’), from which I could discern whether the campsite would be useful to us.

As it turned out I was so successful in finding campsites that between Land’s End and the Scottish Border, if we stick to my planned itinerary, there are only seven nights that we have no option* but to stay in a B&B (and four of those are in joining the ODP with the PW). Husband was taken aback by that statistic until I reassured him that the fact that there is a campsite in an area doesn’t mean that we have to use it instead of a B&B – it just gives us the option!

(* not strictly true; there’s always the possibility that we’ll find a suitable hedge behind which to secrete ourselves for a night, or encounter a friendly farmer who’ll let us use his land legally)

1 comment:

  1. Hi G&M

    Great post! It can take an absolute age in the planning stages of the walk: I found I spent longer finding somewhere to spend the night in my planning than I did on planning and plotting the route!

    In the end, because of the time of the year, I spent nearly all of England & Wales in B&B's and when I got to Scotland, for the second half of the walk, it was far easier to camp - apart from between Edinburg & Glasgow.

    Depending upon your route, you may find that resupply points become a critical factor too - I had to carry six days of food on a couple of occassions (Carrying five days worth once, having miscalculated, and being quite hungry as a result)

    Of course there is the option of making up as you go... It worked for 'I'm so Dave!'

    Mark Moxon had the luxury of a girlfriend at home who helped sort out daily stopping points on the web as he walked.

    Ooh - the loneliness of the Long Distance Planner...