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]

Friday, 1 August 2008


How much does it cost to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats?

Well that very much depends upon how you go about it and how long you take over it. But, I can now say how much it cost us.

Before we set off I came up with a ‘budget*’ that suggested that it would cost us about £4,250. That allowed us two B&Bs per week, two meals out per week; at all other times the budget assumed that we were on campsites and buying groceries.

The reality was that we stayed in fewer B&Bs than budgeted, but ate out a lot more and drank much more beer than planned (the budget was obviously flawed in the latter respect – this was a holiday after all!). Fortunately the eating and drinking out was outweighed by the generous amount I had allowed on a daily basis for food, even though I had not appreciated before we set off how much we would find ourselves eating, nor how expensive it is to shop on a daily basis in little village stores.

Having gathered up my notebooks and completed another spreadsheet, I can now say that the trip cost £3,450.

Not bad for a three month trip for two people, I’d say!

If you take off the estimated amount that we saved by not being at home (i.e. savings on utilities, running a car, weekly food shopping etc.), then the real cost of the trip reduces to £2,225. A positive bargain for three months of good fun!

A few notes about the calculated cost:
1) It doesn’t take into account the cost of the 100 dehydrated meals that we pre-prepared, because the ingredients either came out of the store cupboard or were bought as part of the weekly groceries and so the cost was not separately identifiable. Looking at some example meals, I reckon the average cost per meal (including the dehydrating process) was between £1 and £1.25 (note that all of my meals were veggie, and dried pulses are very cheap indeed, which is how we achieved a low average cost). Of course, if we hadn’t dehydrated the meals before we went then the cost of food would have been a few hundred pounds higher.

2) It doesn’t take into account the cost of any gear, either bought on the way or beforehand, as I didn’t consider kit to be a cost of this trip specifically. Most kit was pre-existing; the kit we bought for this trip will mainly be good for other trips too.

3) It doesn’t include the cost of posting used maps home (don’t know why I didn’t write that down, but I consistently omitted it)

4) We did get a few beds for free, mainly thanks to friends and family (and thanks to Adrian & Deborah who put us up even though they’d never met us before). Obviously in the absence of such kindness the costs would have been higher.

5) It does include the postage of the re-supply parcels.

6) It does include the cost of gas canisters.

Because I’m quite sad (no, really!), all of the costs were categorised, so I can come up with some facts and figures as to how much was spent on what (although I’ll resist sharing the graphs with you!):

- I budgeted £60 per B&B night; we averaged £59.

- I budgeted £9 per camping night; we averaged £6.50 (helped by 16 nights wild camping, which brought the average down somewhat; take the free nights out of the equation and the average campsite cost was £9.15). The most expensive campsite was £15; the cheapest was £4 (both of which were good examples of the axiom ‘you get what you pay for’).

- Food and drink (which category includes eating out, beer, tea and cakes, and groceries) averaged just over £19 per day.

- The cheapest pint of Lime and Soda that we bought cost just 25p (at a rather well-to-do sort of a pub and on a very hot day when Mick had run out of water; it was the best pint of pop of the whole trip!); the most expensive pint of Lime and Soda was £2. The most common price was £1.20.

- It cost £200 more to get back from John O’Groats than it cost us to get to Land’s End. That would have been a lot less had we been able to book our return travel a couple of months in advance. Thanks go out to CPM Group Limited of Frome, who kindly paid for our train tickets home.

Finally, note that all of the above figures are for two people. It doesn’t follow that it would cost half the amount for one person (so save money and go with a friend).

(* I use the word budget in a loose sense here; our choice of accommodation and eating out was guided by the budget, but we weren’t going to sacrifice the enjoyment of the trip for a few pounds here or there.)

1 comment:

  1. Your point of ...we weren’t going to sacrifice the enjoyment of the trip for a few pounds here or a great point as it's a long walk so enjoy it and you did.

    Q.On fuel you must have saved a bit of money with the bush buddy stove,from burning twigs etc and if so is it worth having on a long trip?