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Cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats – an unforgettable ride

gubbins4ever (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats – an unforgettable ride

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

17-38

days

3-6 h

/ day

1,113 mi

55,950 ft

56,325 ft

Wild, windy moors and timber-framed cottages, country lanes that twist through layered hills, ruined castles and intricate cathedrals, glistening lochs and pristine sandy beaches – cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats really has it all.

Spanning the UK from its most southwestwards to its most northeastwards point, this end-to-end route is the most famous cycling challenge on UK soil. The best route for this journey is often disputed. Some riders prefer to go direct and fast via A-roads whilst others like to take the more scenic route. The traditional distance by road is usually around 874 miles (1,407 km), but the distance can vary massively depending on the goal of your trip.

The current record for completing the route, held by Michael Broadwith, stands at an impressive 43 hours, 25 minutes and 13 seconds. For most of us mere mortals, you should budget at least 10 days, depending on your fitness and goals for the trip.

In this Collection, I take you on a scenic 1,119 miles (1,802 km) route which avoids busy roads where possible and sticks mostly to the National Cycle Network. It’s up to you how you decide to complete this epic adventure – you can push your limits by combining the stages to finish in just a few days. Or, you may prefer to ride just a few sections at a time; many of the stages end in a town or city with a railway station. This Collection’s 22 stages give you plenty of time to take it easy and enjoy the sights on the way.

Come rain or shine, you can ride the route at any time of year. However, the long days and warmer temperatures in summer might make it more enjoyable. May and June are the best months if you want to avoid midges and enjoy longer daylight hours.

You will find a huge range of places to stay along the way, ranging from friendly B&Bs to youth hostels and luxury hotels. Remember to book in advance as places fill up fast, especially during the summer holidays. To make the most of the beautiful nature, you could also camp along the way or bring a bivvy bag to keep weight down. Many cyclists choose to ride with a support car too.

Land’s End to John O’Groats is an unforgettable experience, but it is also intense with long days in the saddle and up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) elevation gain in one day. Make sure you are well-prepared physically to take on the challenge and fit in plenty of training rides before you set off. The hills in southwest England and central Scotland can be especially challenging on your legs.

As you cycle through England and Scotland, you get to know the hidden gems of these diverse countries. This ride reveals British beauty in all its glory, from fascinating history to spectacular landscapes.

Most road and touring bikes are well-suited to this adventure as you will ride along quiet lanes and cycle paths, with occasional off-road sections. Make sure you give your bike a once over before you leave to ensure it’s running smoothly and don’t forget to tighten any bolts and screws. It’s also a good idea to fit new touring tyres such as Schwalbe Marathon shortly before you leave – punctures are never fun!

Your kit also depends on your own preference – you may want to bring full camping gear or opt for a lightweight setup. Just remember to pack all cycling essentials such as spare tyres, brake pads and a multi-tool. Although you will find many bike repair shops en route, you will also pass through some remote areas in the Scottish highlands where you need to carry out any repairs yourself. One top packing tip is to remember insect repellent – the midges are fearsome during summer.

Your adventure begins in Lands End, a coastal village in Cornwall. Although the route can be ridden in either direction, you are more likely to experience tailwind if you set off from the south. As there is no railway station in Land’s End, you can travel to Penzance which is a short 10 mile (16 km) ride or drive from Land’s End – just don’t forget to reserve a space for your bicycle. Returning home from John O’Groats is trickier. The closest train stations are in Thurso and Wick.

Well-prepared and in good shape, you are ready to set off on this incredible long-distance adventure. Get comfortable in your saddle – you’re in for one stunning ride.

On The Map

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Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.

Land's End to John O'Groats

1,075 mi

52,625 ft

52,800 ft

Last updated: February 21, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    04:11
    40.1 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,975 ft
    2,050 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 1 of your epic adventure cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats begins on the southwest coast of England on the tip of Penwith Peninsula. Today, you cycle 36 miles (58 km) to Twelveheads, with the Cornish hills testing your muscles.

    

    Heading inland, you explore Cornish villages and countryside

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    04:01
    35.6 mi
    8.8 mph
    2,675 ft
    2,700 ft
    Ferry
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Historical country estates and futuristic biodomes: stage 2 takes you to some of the UK’s most fascinating green spaces as you cycle from Twelveheads to Golant. The elevation gain today is challenging – you climb a total of 2,460 feet (750 m).

    

    From Twelveheads, follow the Carnon River until Carnon Downs

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    04:58
    41.9 mi
    8.4 mph
    4,550 ft
    3,875 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From mystical falls to deep gorges, stage 3 is an enchanting ride from Golant to Lydford, passing some of the most scenic spots in the south. With 4,429 feet (1,350 m) of climbing, stage 3 is tough. However, your effort is rewarded with stunning landscapes as you ride into the Dartmoor National Park

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    03:21
    32.6 mi
    9.7 mph
    2,100 ft
    2,800 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Sweeping moorlands, galloping herds of Dartmoor ponies and vast mysterious landscapes, stage 4 takes you through the Dartmoor National Park from Lydford to Exeter.

    

    Today, you cycle 32 miles (51 km) through wild countryside and visit interesting historical sites such as the Meldon Viaduct. From Lydford

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    06:00
    58.8 mi
    9.8 mph
    2,625 ft
    2,700 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Enchanting cathedrals, crumbling abbeys, and historic villages; stage 5 leads you through centuries of history as you continue cycling north from Exeter to Glastonbury.

    

    You leave Exeter via the city’s well-developed network of cycle paths. Cross the River Clyst and you reach nature once more as you ride

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:39
    53.6 mi
    9.5 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,600 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Stage 6 guides you further through rural southern England. Today, you can enjoy peaceful riding along bridleways and cycle paths between Glastonbury and Chepstow.

    

    The first 4 miles (8 km) are flat, passing the River Harlake and Sheppey before climbing towards Wedmore, a small village with three pubs

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    04:54
    45.1 mi
    9.2 mph
    3,500 ft
    3,450 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Gushing water carves through green hills, historic villages sit amongst rolling countryside and church spires pierce the horizon: stage 7 takes you through the beautiful Wye Valley. Today, you cycle 39 miles (63 km), covering a total of 2,919 feet (890 m) in elevation gain. You ride a few short sections

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    06:34
    63.1 mi
    9.6 mph
    3,650 ft
    3,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 8 guides you through the heart of rural England from Hereford to Shrewsbury. Today, you climb a total of 3,600 feet (1,100 m) over 63 miles (102 km). However, the elevation gain is spread over the whole ride and the highest point is 1,280 feet (390 meters).

    

    You pass plenty of beautiful sites during

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    04:12
    44.3 mi
    10.6 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,175 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Roman cities, medieval cathedrals, peaceful canals and serene meres – stage 9 leads you 43 miles (70 km) from Shrewsbury to Chester. With only 1,080 feet (330 m) of elevation gain, today is a relaxed ride through beautiful landscapes and fascinating history.

    

    You follow a cycle path that brings you from

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:35
    53.4 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,375 ft
    1,175 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Your tenth stage of adventure takes you 52 miles (84 km) from Chester to Chorley, passing many beautiful spots along the way. Today, you enjoy traffic-free riding along cycle paths for 23 miles (37 km).

    

    You leave Chester following the Shropshire Union Canal towpath northwards for 10 miles (16 km). At

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:38
    53.8 mi
    9.5 mph
    3,025 ft
    3,150 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From industrial heartlands to rolling hills – stage 11 is a varied ride from Chorley to Wennington. Today, you climb 2,985 feet (990 m) through the Lancashire countryside and the Forest of Bowland AONB.

    

    On the outskirts of Chorley, you join the River Lostock through the Cuerden Valley Park, 650 acres

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:00
    48.0 mi
    9.6 mph
    2,875 ft
    2,575 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Layers upon layers of emerald hills, vast open moorland, and tranquil nature define stage 12. This leg takes you through some of the most beautiful corners of the UK – the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennines.

    

    From Wennington, you pass through Tunstall and join the River Lune as it flows into

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:12
    53.6 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,500 ft
    1,700 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Ancient castles, rich wildlife and fascinating history – stage 13 marks an important milestone in your epic journey as you cross the border from England to Scotland. Today, you cycle 53 miles (86 km) from Penrith to Lockerby, climbing 1,510 feet (460 m) in total.

    

    From Penrith, you ascend gradually into

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:10
    50.8 mi
    9.8 mph
    2,300 ft
    1,825 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 14 introduces you to Scotland’s famous wilderness and vast landscapes as you cycle 50.7 miles (81.7 km) from Lockerbie to New Lanark. As 34 miles (55 km) of the route follows cycle paths, you can fully immerse yourself in nature.

    

    From Lockerbie, set off along the NCN 74 which traces the M74. You

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:10
    53.0 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,950 ft
    2,625 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 15 of your adventure leads 53 miles (85 km) through stunning wilderness, passing countless interesting sites along the way. You cover 2,400 feet (730 m) in elevation gain as you ride from Lanark to Stirling.

    

    You begin in the lovely Scottish countryside, climbing two hills and passing over Mouse

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    05:02
    45.8 mi
    9.1 mph
    3,675 ft
    3,400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Eagles circle above mighty mountains and mysterious lochs, locals relax in front of an open fire at a welcoming pub and gushing rivers carve through the impressive landscape – cycling stage 16, you realise why Scotland is known as one of the most beautiful places on earth.

    

    Setting off from Stirling, you

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    06:29
    63.4 mi
    9.8 mph
    3,725 ft
    3,400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Vast landscapes, winding river valleys and a few tough climbs – stage 17 rewards every ounce of effort you put in. With 63 miles (102 km) to ride, this is a long adventure. Stock up on plenty of snacks and water before you set off – you’ll be grateful for the energy on the hills.

    

    You climb along the Blue

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    04:18
    41.0 mi
    9.5 mph
    1,575 ft
    2,225 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today, you continue to follow the Eurovelo 1 through the majestic Scottish Highlands. Your ride is a gentle 41 mi (66 km) from Aviemore to Inverness. With more descents than climbs, you can take your time to soak up the landscapes along the way.

    

    The day begins along the Speyside Way, a great little traffic

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    04:07
    42.3 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,725 ft
    1,725 ft
    Ferry
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Leaving the capital of the Highlands, today is a varied ride across the Black Isle along the Moray Firth, following the Eurovelo 12 for 42 miles (67.7 km). You can expect crashing waves, quaint villages and sightings of bottlenose dolphins.

    

    Note: this route is only possible during the summer when the

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    04:29
    46.8 mi
    10.5 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today you ride along the Dornoch Firth and into Sutherland, a historic county known for its endless moorlands, mountain peaks and salmon rivers.

    

    Take the A9 out of Tain and along the Dornoch Firth with wide views over the glistening waters to your right. Take care on this road as it can be busy with

    by Amy

    View
  • More Tours & Highlights

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    22
  • Distance
    1,113 mi
  • Duration
    114:15 h
  • Elevation
    55,950 ft56,325 ft

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Cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats – an unforgettable ride

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