top of page

Conquering the LEJOG cycle route: Our start to finish guide and free route map


LEJOG guide free route map

Introducing our LEJOG guide


Completing the iconic Land's End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) cycle is top of the bucket list for many cyclists. The 1,170 mile (1,883km) ride is a proper eye-opening adventure, with diverse landscapes and a special glimpse into everyday life in the towns and villages across the full length of England and Scotland. I know many cyclists describe cycling LEJOG as a deeply personal experience and a chance to get to know the Britain in a new and intimate way.


In this guide, we’ll cover everything from the LEJOG route, how long it takes, discuss training tips, and provide an essential packing checklist so you’re fully prepared to make the most of this incredible cycling adventure. We will also share our free LEJOG quiet route map.


Content


What is LEJOG?


LEJOG is the famous cycling route from Land's End, the southwestern tip of England, to John o'Groats at the very northeast of Scotland. The journey crosses the entire length of the United Kingdom, giving cyclists a proper taste of the diversity of the British countryside from the Cornish coast to the wilderness of the Scottish highlands. The real beauty of cycling the LEJOG route is in its test of endurance and to see Britain off-the-beaten-track through the countryside, towns and villages along the way.


LEJOG free route map

Is there an official LEJOG route?


While there is no official route for cycling LEJOG the shortest end-to-end distance is approximately 874 miles (1,407 km). However, many cyclists choose to meander a bit to avoid busy roads or take scenic detours which extends the journey.


The quiet LEJOG route we have mapped is 1,170 miles (1,883km) and uses the wonderful National Cycling Network as much as possible to avoid busier roads. If you would like us to email you our free LEJOG route map, click here.


Each section of the LEJOG route is unforgettable in its own way. Unique in its own character. We've chosen to break down the route into six natural segments. These are based on our experience of the topography more than by distance:


1: Land's End to Beautiful Dartmoor

This first section winds through picturesque Cornish countryside, as the rugged cliffs of Land’s End and Penzance fade from sight. Cornwall’s rolling hills can make for a challenging start but the stunning coastline and quaint villages like St. Ives and Port Isaac make up for it. As you cycle northeast, the landscape transitions leading to the enchanting beauty of Dartmoor National Park. This is untamed Devon and cyclists find conquering the ancient tors and hills is tough going.



LEJOG free cycle map devon

2: The Somerset Levels

As you leave Dartmoor behind, the journey continues through Devon with sleepy villages and lush greenery. As you head from Tiverton towards Taunton in Somerset it will start to get flatter. The scenery transforms into gentle meadows and meandering rivers like the Axe and Brue. The Somerset Levels cover an area about 160,000 acres (650 km2) to the south of the Mendip Hills, creating a wicked backdrop and with the flatter terrain giving the legs a proper break.


3: Hills and Cotswold Charm

After Bristol it’s time for the Cotswolds - a region renowned for its English charm. The hills undulate, passing through classic villages of the honey-coloured cottages. Broadway and Chipping Campden are amongst the most popular stops. While the rolling hills can be demanding, the panoramic views are worth the effort. This is the home of Litebike. We especially love the view from Cleeve Hill towards the River Severn, Cheltenham and west Gloucestershire.


4: The Midlands to Cumbria

This is where the route forks, with LEJOG cyclists either heading west of Birmingham towards Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester, or to the east to Leicester and Nottingham. This was the centre of the Industrial Revolution and the cycling blends urban environments and heavy industry with short stints of green space. We recommend cycling from Manchester to Whalley in the Ribble Valley and on towards Penrith.


5: Into Scotland

From Penrith we would cycle through Gretna Green and Abington and up to Glasgow. As you cross the border into Scotland, the landscape becomes more dramatic. A mix of open fields, dense woodlands and winding country roads. Alternatively, if you have cycled east of Birmingham, Northumberland and the east coast is beautiful and unspoiled, dotted with little fishing villages like Seahouses, Craster and Beadnell and historical landmarks like Bamburgh Castle and Lindisfarne. From Edinburgh the route jaunts through the haunting beauty of Glen Coe and the enchanting wilderness of Cairngorms National Park.


6. John o' Groats Triumph

This is the true spirit of the Highlands. The final miles pass through the remote, rugged coastline of Caithness. It’s windswept up here. This is the United Kingdom untamed, at its most raw and epic. John o’ Groats is the sum of everything before it.


LEJOG free route map

While there is no official path, we have mapped the perfect 1,170 mile (1,883km) LEJOG route using the National Cycling Network using traffic-free paths and quiet roads as much as possible. We have broken down the entire LEJOG cycle into 28 manageable stages, taking you through some of the most beautiful parts of England and Scotland.


Check out our free LEJOG quiet route!



How long does LEJOG take on bike?


The time it takes to cycle LEJOG varies but on average cyclists usually complete LEJOG in about 10 to 14 days. Some cyclists choose to take a less direct route to include points of interest or choose to take rest days. It is possible to cycle LEJOG in as little as 7 to 9 days taking a direct route and covering about 100 miles (160 km) per day. However, this requires a higher level of fitness and endurance as a perfectly mapped out route. The record is held by Andy Wilkinson, who completed the journey in 41 hours, 4 minutes and 22 seconds.


How should I prepare for LEJOG?


In this section we will give an overview of training strategies and how to prepare mentally for completing LEJOG as well as the importance of nutrition, rest and recovery.


Training strategies

Conquering LEJOG takes proper physical training and mental preparedness. We suggest doing some structured training in advance, which involves coming up with a cycling training plan and sticking to it. As we have written in depth elsewhere, an effective training plan should incorporate regular, easy-paced rides to build endurance and aerobic fitness. These should make up 70-80% of your training volume. The other 20% should come from high-intensity sessions, such as hill segments, that help build speed and strength and your anaerobic capacity.


Mental preparedness

Reading accounts from cyclists who have completed LEJOG it is clear that completing the cycle is as much a test in mental resilience as a physical challenge.


Sarah, a LEJOG finishes in 2021, describes this eloquently:


"LEJOG is not just a physical test; it's a mental one. There will be moments of doubt and fatigue, but it's in those moments that you have to dig deep, remind yourself why you embarked on this journey, and find the mental strength to push through."


Overcoming doubt and finding the mental strength to push through the tough kilometers is something we can train the mind to do. Mark, who completed LEJOG twice in 2001 and 2018 describes how visualising success and breaking down the journey into smaller, more manageable segments helped. Sometimes all you need to do is get to the next tree. These small victories help reinforce a positive feedback loop that helps the mind cope with stress.


Nutrition, rest and recovery

Any effective cycling training plan for LEJOG should include optimising rest and recovery to prevent overexertion. We have discussed the relationship between the regenerative role sleep plays in improving cycling performance in a previous post if you are interested in learning more.


You will also want to make sure you’re eating the right food to support your training. An effective cycling diet that gets results needs to be built on eating whole foods - plants and animals that have not been processed or refined and are free from additives or other artificial substances. As a rough guide your plate should be half vegetables, a quarter serving of protein (e.g. meat, seafood and eggs) and a final quarter legumes.


What should I pack for LEJOG?


Packing for LEJOG (Land's End to John o' Groats) is key to your preparation, efficiency on the bike and overall experience. While LEJOG is a long-distance cycle, packing light will improve your bike’s handling and ensure you can maintain a steady pace, especially in the hilly sections in Cornwall and Scotland. Going lightweight will give you more freedom: to detour, make spontaneous stops and feel the wind in your hair.


We need to pack much less than we think. Tyler Durden in Fight Club said it best:


“The things you own end up owning you. It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.”


The essential gear for your LEJOG journey should fit comfortably in two medium pannier bags without compromising safety or comfort. Here’s your comprehensive gear checklist covering all the essentials to carry:

  • Bike repair kit (inner tubes, patch kit, tire levers, mini pump, multi-tool)

  • Water bottle or hydration system

  • Lightweight tent or bivvy bag

  • Sleeping bag

  • Comfortable sleeping mat

  • Lightweight cooking stove and fuel

  • Lightweight cookware (pot, knife, fork, spoon, mug)

  • Multi-purpose knife or tool

  • Clothing suitable for various weather conditions (including a warm layer and a rain jacket)

  • Helmet

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, sunscreen, insect repellent, toilet paper)

  • Bike lock

  • First aid kit

  • Headlamp (bike lights work too)

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses

  • Smartphone with maps/navigation app, charger, and backup battery.

This list has all the essential gear covered for your LEJOG adventure. One or two extra items isn’t going to hurt, but in our experience touring across Europe and parts of Africa we have found that anything else just ends up sitting at the bottom of the panniers. Adding extra weight on the hill climbs.


To help keep your bike weight to an absolute minimum - improving the overall enjoyment of your trip - we recommend a few simple lightweight upgrades that you can make.


RideNow TPU inner tubes

TPU inner tubes are a new technology in the cycling world and are a step-change in weight reduction and durability over traditional butyl tubes. TPU has been shown to be more puncture resistant and has a lower rolling resistance despite being a fraction of the weight. At the moment there are two big innovators in the TPU inner tube market: RideNow and Tubolito. We have rigorously tested both brands over thousands of miles and both are a dead heat in terms of performance. We decided to stock a small selection of RideNow TPU inner tubes because they are more competitively priced (at £16 compared to £28-30 for Tubolito). A pair will save you around 200g over regular tubes, making this one of the most cost effective upgrades you can make.



Lightweight carbon seatpost

Cycling LEJOG will put strain on your entire body, especially your shoulders, arms, bottom and legs. If your bike came with an alloy seatpost, we recommend upgrading to a lightweight carbon alternative. In addition to being lightweight, the properties of carbon fibre allow for more lateral flexibility and absorb road buzz. We have tested tens of seatposts and hand-picked a lightweight carbon design that is a balanced blend of lightweight and touch, with just the right amount of compliance to keep you fresh on your LEJOG adventure. Your whole body will thank you!



LEJOG free route map

Where can I find a LEJOG map?


Navigating the LEJOG route can be challenging. As there is no official route, you will have to make lots of micro decisions based on your personal preference. One option would be to sketch out a rough plan in advance, with an idea of where you would like to get to each day and then to map the route for the next day in the evening before using a Garmin or an app like Komoot or Strava.


However, to save you time we have mapped the perfect LEJOG route making the most of the wonderful National Cycling Network and optimising for traffic-free paths and quiet roads. We have designed our 1,170 mile (1,883km) LEJOG cycle map in 28 manageable stages, which take you through some of the most gorgeous landscapes in England and Scotland.


Check out our free LEJOG quiet route!



What type of bike should I use?


Most bikes are suitable but when it comes to cycling the Land's End to John o' Groats (LEJOG) journey, we would optimise for comfort and reliability over long-distances. Gravel bikes have become more popular for LEJOG because of how they can handle a variety of surfaces, due to their tyre width. Touring bikes with sturdy steel frames are also popular. Road bikes are fine as long as they can carry panniers and ideally have thick-ish tyres (28mm+).


Concluding our LEJOG guide


Cycling LEJOG is an amazing experience. We hope you now have the knowledge (and confidence) to embark on this epic cycling adventure. In this guide we have covered everything from the LEJOG route, how long it takes, discussed training tips, and provided an essential packing checklist so you’re fully prepared to make the most of this incredible cycling adventure. We have also shared our free LEJOG quiet route map. Now it’s time to embrace the beauty of the British countryside, conquer the miles, and create lifelong memories from Land's End to John o'Groats. We wish you the best of luck. Happy cycling!



For more like this on cycling, sports psychology and wellbeing etc sign up to our newsletter, click here. To follow us on Instagram, click here. If you're after the very best lightweight bike parts you're in the right place. Ultra light carbon handlebars, seatposts, stem, pedals, waxed chains, RideNow inner tubes etc all rigorously tested by us and a small team of cyclists. Click here to see more.


Comments


bottom of page