JOGLE: my experience


jogle-final

Starting my journey on 13 July 2016 in John O’Groats and taking just 3 days off, I finished 71 days later on 21 September at Lands End. From Caithness to Cornwall, I walked a total of 1080 miles. The most I walked in one day was 23.80 miles but my average daily millage was 15.88, walking slightly less a day in Scotland and slightly more in England. I used a mixture of main roads, side roads and tracks (A roads only if completely necessary), walking the entire West Highland Way in Scotland, and picking up sections of the Great Glen Way, Lancaster Canal Path, Shropshire Way, Severn Way, Tarka Trail, River Parrot Trail and the South West Coast Path.

By far the most challenging part of my journey were trying to sort logistics as I went… with accommodation options totally driving which way I walked each day. And often – after a long day walking – I wouldn’t have the brain power to move, let alone start researching! The second most difficult part was carrying my backpack, which started at around 12 kilos but fluctuated depending on whether I could send any of it ahead, or whether I was with friends who had a car.  I now think I pulled a muscle behind my left shoulder blade very early on, so whether I carried a little or a lot, every day I had a constant ache in this part of my body. As far as my legs are concerned, my ankles were definitely my weak spot. Nothing major but they would often ache at the end of a long day and I always walked like a penguin first thing the morning (my fault though for never stretching them out at the end of each day!). And on the plus side I now have calf muscles, which I never had before.

My feet held up remarkably well, with just a few sores or friction burns here and there (no blisters!) and those really only happened in Scotland when my Merrell sandals would get extra wet and soggy, and therefore stretched. It was at times like that I really should have worn my Merrell closed in shoes but once mum had inadvertently taken them home with her from Glasgow – even though the option to post them back to me was constantly there – that would mean carrying them for 90% of the time, as I would only need to wear them the other 10%. Which brings me back to logistics and carrying so much weight on my back… in the end I decided to get by without them, and once I had replaced my old sandals in Liverpool with a snug, new dry pair… well I never really suffered again.

My daily budget was £30 a day, and with the help of friends and couch surfing offers along the way, I somehow managed to come in bang on budget! I would loved to have camped more in my bivi, but the weather simply was not dry enough. Incidentally the bivi, sleeping bag and roll mat went home with my mum on day 59 so from that point onwards my backpack was much more manageable. And here is a breakdown of how those 71 nights were spent:

pie-chart-web

My biggest tip

Unless you have unlimited time and money, or you’re extremely fit or just plain mad… then I would definitely suggest looking into walking with a support vehicle. The biggest hurdles I faced – sorting logistics and carrying my backpack – would obviously be eradicated if I’d had a support vehicle, and better still a camper van! Not only would you have that spare brain to help sort out logistics but it would mean you could walk exactly where you wanted to walk, for as long as you wanted to walk on that particular day – and not just how far accommodation options dictate. Having a camper van would also mean you could end up staying for cheap or free every night, and being able to stay in the middle of nowhere, you could then walk through all those places you wanted to visit for an extended lunch break. Rather than arrive at them late afternoon, completely exhausted with no desire to walk further than to the stick the kettle on! And of course, having a support vehicle would considerably speed up your walk having a massive knock on effect on your budget. If I had been able to walk with a camper van trailing me for example – without any extra physical effort – I reckon I could have completed the walk in 7 weeks instead of 10.

The facts

In case anyone is ever thinking of following in my footsteps and walking the length of the country, here are the facts from my experience, including where I walked each night, how far I walked, how much of my 12 kg pack I carried (very important!) and what the weather was like (equally as relevant!).

DAY  DESTINATION  MILES  ACCOMMODATION  BACKPACK%  WEATHER  EXTRA NOTES
1  Castlehill  15.00  Couchsurfing #1, Thurso  100%  ☁️☁️🌥   first ever 15 miles!
2  Somewhere on A9  15.50  Couchsurfing #1, Thurso  30%  ☁️☁️🌥
3  Dunbeath  13.70  B&B, Inver Caravan Park ($)  100%  🌧🌧💨  😰 hard, soggy day
4  Helmsdale  15.00  Airbnb ($$)  100%  🌤🌧☁️   Berriedale Braes
5  Brora  12.50  Greenpark Caravan Site  100%  🌧🌤☁️  ⚠️ bad bivi night
6  Durnoch on A9  14.20  The Trentham Hotel ($$)  100%  ☁️☁️☁️
7  Milton  13.40  Milton Inn (owner house)  100%  ☀️☀️☀️  👍 Scottish summer arrived
✅ only “stranger” host
8  Dingwall  18.70  The Royal Hotel ($$)  100%  🌧🌧☁️  😰 Scottish summer ended
👮🏼 difficult wet road
9  Beauly  9.80  Archdale Guest House ($)  100%  ☁️☁️🌤  😀 top 10 day
😀 first “holiday” feeling
10  Drumnadrochit  14.00  Loch Ness Backpackers ($)  100%  🌤🌤🌤
11  Fort Augustus  19.00  Morags Lodge, Hostel ($)  100%  🌧☁️🌥  ✅ favourite hostel
12  Laggan  11.40  Great Glen Hostel ($)  100%  🌤☁️🌧  😰 feeling homesick
⚠️ hard logistics evening
13  Fort William  23.80  Couchsurfing #2  50%  🌧☁️🌤   most miles in one day!
14  Kinlochleven  18.70  McDonald Hotel Cabin ($)  50%  🌧☁️🌤   start West Highland Way
15  Kings House Hotel  9.80  Bridge of Ochy Hotel ($$$)  30%  🌧☁️🌧   “holiday from hell”
16  Inveroran Hotel  9.50  Bridge of Ochy Hotel ($$$)  30%  🌤☀️🌤  ✅ half day
17  Glen Falloch  17.80  Kilbride Lodge, Tyndrum ($$)  30%  🌤🌥☁️  😀 top 10 day
18  Inversnaid  12.00  Kilbride Lodge, Tyndrum ($$)  30%  🌥🌥🌧   difficult afternoon
19  Balmaha  15.50  Balmaha Bunkhouse ($)  30%  🌥☁️🌥
20  Milngavie  18.50  Premier Inn ($$$)  50%  🌥⛅️⛈   end West Highland Way
$$$ most expensive night!
21  Glasgow  9.70  Euro Hostel ($)  50%  🌤🌥🌥
22  Glasgow  0.00  Euro Hostel ($)  n/a  ☁️🌧☁️  ✅ 1st Day off
23  Strathaven  20.00  Bamflatt Farm B&B ($$)  95%  ☁️🌥☁️   physically long day
24  Coalburn  12.50  AirBnb ($$)  95%  🌤☁️🌥
25  Abington  13.80  Abington Hotel ($)  95%  🌥🌥🌧
26  Moffat  18.00  The Bonnington Hotel ($)  95%  ☁️☁️🌧   most boring day
😀 most surprising evening
27  Lockerbie  16.50  The Townhead Hotel ($$)  95%  🌧☁️🌥
28  Gretna  16.00  AirBnb ($$)  95%  ☁️🌥🌥
29  Carlisle  12.50  Carlisle City Hostel ($)  95%  🌤☁️🌧  🐮 scary moo’s
30  Caldbeck  16.15  Swaledale Watch B&B ($)  95%  ☁️🌧💨   difficult afternoon
⚠️ hard logistics evening
31  Keswick  16.25  Denton House Hostel ($)  30%  🌧💨🌥   difficult bleak morning
32  Ambleside  18.20  Ambleside Backpackers ($)  95%  🌧🌥🌤  😰 hard, soggy morning
33  Kendal  15.00  Kendal Hostel ($)  95%  🌤🌥🌤
34  Arnside  16.50  Arnside Hostel ($)  70%  ☀️☀️☀️  👍 summer arrived
😀 top 10 day
35  Lancaster  17.30  Couchsurfing #3  70%  🌤☀️🌥
36  Garstang  13.20  Couchsurfing #4  70%  🌤☀️🌤
37  Chorley (Preston)  17.80  Brook House Hotel ($$)  70%  🌤🌤🌥   hard slog afternoon
38  Ormskirk  18.20  Friends in Kirkby  70%  🌥🌧☁️
39  Kirkby (Liverpool)  0.00  Friends in Kirkby  n/a  🌧☁️☁️  ✅ 2nd day off
40  Storeton  20.50  Friends in the Wirral  70%  ☁️🌥🌧  ⛴ ferry cross the Mersey
41  Chester  17.50  Chester Backpackers ($)  95%  🌧☁️🌤   hard slog afternoon
42  Bangor-on-Dee  18.20  Buck House Hotel ($$)  95%  🌤🌤🌤   walked in circles
43  Wem  17.00  Lower Lacon Caravan Park  95%  🌤🌥☁️  ⚠️ bad bivi night
44  Shrewsbury  12.00  Trevellion House B&B  95%  ☁️🌥🌥
45  All Stretton  16.00  All Stretton, Bunkhouse ($)  95%  🌤🌤🌥  😀 top 10 day
46  Richards Castle  22.00  Couchsurfing #5  95%  ☁️☁️🌧   hard slog afternoon
47  Bromyard  16.00  The Hop Pole Hotel ($)  95%  ☁️🌥🌤   nearly didn’t make it!
48  Malvern  12.00  AirBnb ($$)  95%  🌤🌥🌤
49  Tewkesbury  16.00  Couchsurfing #6  95%  ☀️🌤☀️  😀 top 10 day
50  Gloucester  18.60  AirBnb ($$)  95%  🌥🌤🌥  🐮 scary moo’s
51  Dursley  17.00  Camping, Hogsdown Farm  95%  🌤🌤🌤  ✅ good bivi night
52  Old Sodbury  14.40  The Cross Hands ($$$)  95%  ☁️☁️🌥
53  Bath  14.20  YMCA Backpackers ($)  95%  🌧🌧🌧  🌧 wettest day
✅ 
friends visit
54  Winford  17.80  AirBnb ($$)  95%  ☁️☁️🌥  ⚠️ hardest route planning
✅ friends visit
55  Weston-Super-Mare  15.70  Couchsurfing #7  95%  🌧☁️☁️
56  Pawlett  16.40  Pontins, Brean ($)  50%  🌥🌤🌤
57  Stogursey  18.30  AirBnb, Minehead ($$)  20% ☀️🌥🌤  😀 top 10 day
58  Minehead  18.20  AirBnb, Minehead ($$)  20%  🌥🌤🌥   walked in circles
🐮 scary moo’s
59  Lynton  18.40  St Vincent Guesthouse ($$)  30%  ☁️🌧☁️   Porlock Hill
  bleakest Exmoor section
60  Bratton Fleming  13.00  Franklyn House, B&B  70%  🌥🌥🌥
61  Bideford  17.60  Friends in Bideford  70%  🌥🌥🌥
62  Taylors Cross  20.40  Friends in Bideford  20%  🌧☁️🌥
63  Crackington Haven  16.45  The Coombe Barton Inn ($$)  70%  🌧☁️☁️  😀 top 10 day
64  Camelford  12.70  Countryman Hotel ($$)  70%  ☀️☀️🌤  😀 top 10 day
65  Harlyn (Padstow)  20.80  The Harlyn Inn ($$)  70%  🌥🌤🌥
66  Porth (Newquay)  12.80  Treago Farm, Crantock  50%  🌧💨🌥
67  St Agnes  16.00  Treago Farm, Crantock  10%  ☀️☀️☀️   South West Coast Path
😀 top 10 day
68  Portreath  9.75  Treago Farm, Crantock  10%  ☀️☀️🌤   South West Coast Path
😀 top 10 day
69  Portreath  0.00  AirBnb ($$)  n/a  🌧🌧☁️  ✅ 3rd day off
70  St Ives  18.70  Cohort Hostel ($)  70%  🌥🌥🌥
71  Lands End  19.80  AirBnb, Camborne  70%  ☁️☁️🌥  🍾 Finished 16:30
 TOTAL  1080

… and finally, why did I decide to walk 1000+ miles?

Its the question everyone still asks me (and I keep asking myself)… and for good reason. I’ve never been a sporty person and I’ve never shown any interest in travelling around the UK. But therein lies one of the reasons:

  • To see more of the UK: I honestly know the geography of Australia way better than I do the UK. I haven’t spend much time in Scotland or the north of England, so I figured it was about time I finally explored what is on my own doorstep.
  • Personal challenge: Travelling/backpacking can be challenging – both physically and emotionally. Its not the “holiday” that people generally mistake it for and you often find yourself well outside your comfort zone. But after 21 years I have found myself getting blasé about travelling, so felt the time was right to bite the bullet and go that one step further. To complete that once-in-a-lifetime thing which I can always look back on and be proud. Something truly epic! But I could never climb everest, cycle across Africa or even attempt to run a marathon… then JOGLE suddenly popped up on my radar and I instantly knew this was the challenge for me.
  • To raise money to help rebuild Nepal: And most importantly, I am doing this walk to raise money for Nepal. I had already thought about doing this walk before 25 April 2015, however back then there was no particular charity close to my heart.  Being in Nepal during the quake obviously changed all that. And keeping up-to-date with the slow rebuild process taking place – and on the anniversary of the quake seeing images of so many people still living under temporary shelter – it is obvious how much still needs to be done. Please visit my just giving page for more information. And finally…
  • Because I can: It’s as simple as that 😛