When I first decided to walk the length of Britain to raise awareness of all the issues around stammering I had to choose which way to do it – John O’Groats to Land’s End….. or Land’s End to John O’Groats.
In the end, I plumped for John O’Groats to Land’s End. Here’s why.
When I start on the 27th July the temperature in the South West could be 25 degrees or more during the day, which would make for pretty uncomfortable walking. The north of Scotland is likely to be much cooler. By the time I get down to Cornwall at the end of September autumn will be knocking on the door. And, of course, there’ll be less traffic on the narrow roads at that time.
Apparently, cyclists choose the other way around to have the prevailing wind behind them. But I don’t think that’s as much of a factor for walkers. Walking into the sun every day might be more wearing, but then I’ll have my sunglasses. Talking about the sun, I’ll need a hat now that I’m becoming more follicly challenged.
The stretch from John O’Groats to Inverness and on to Perth could be quite a slog. I’m not taking the scenic route, so the A99 and A9 will become very familiar to me for the first two weeks. But I’d rather get my head down and do it at the beginning of the walk rather than face it at the end. What better way to break up the long days than to stop and talk to people about stammering along the way…
One disadvantage of starting in the north in July is the midges. Now, I love Scotland, and I’ve spend many happy times fishing in its beautiful lochs and rivers over the years. So I know to go prepared with a midge net to put over my head to stop them driving me crazy. It’s not the most debonair of clothing accessories so, with luck, there’ll be a stiff easterly blowing in off the North Sea to keep them at bay.
But, perhaps, the most compelling reason for setting out from John O’Groats is that it’s downhill all the way.