Thank-you to everyone who has offered advice and tips - all gratefully received. We've amended the route (although some parts such as the route through southern Scotland were important to one or other other of us), and got the details below.
So on one of my first rides along a relatively busy road, kids decided to trip each other and one fell in the road right in front of me. A few scrapes to me (not the bike) - quieter roads are the way to go. We've decided that busy roads and hills are what we'd try to avoid, and rather do a few extra miles as a consequence. We've aimed for quieter lanes where possible, and avoided canal cycle paths unless they are the best route through a tricky part of the journey. We'd really appreciate any feedback, along with suggestions - everyone has been so helpful!
Day 1 - Lands End to Penhale - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28530272
We decided to skip St Austell and take the "easier route" as per advice given. We'll still be seeing friends though, as they will come to us.
Day 2 - Penhale to Okehampton - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28530781
Decided to go for the easier route again as per advice, taking in the Granite Trail and where possible avoiding hills and busier roads (bit tricky).
Day 3 - Okehampton to Taunton - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28521549
Where possible, avoiding the busier roads.
Day 4 - Taunton to Chepstow - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28534140
Reasonably flat, quite scenic. Still not sure of the route around Clevedon and Portishead as quite industrial. Used cycle paths where possible.
Day 5 - Chepstow to Ludlow - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28521573
Had some great advice to take in the Wye Valley and a more scenic route, plus avoidance of the A49 where possible.
Day 6 - Ludlow to Buckley - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28545427
This is one of those segments where we've basically scrapped our previous route and gone for something quieter, scenic with the cost of a few extra miles (followed by a night at home!).
Day 7 - Buckley to Blackpool - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28545525
One of the tricker segments to map, with cycle paths / river banks etc. used. We can get either the ferry or the train across the Mersey. Was looking at the Runcorn bridge as an alternative, but plumped for the trip through Liverpool to end at my the house of the other cyclist for the night.
Day 8 - Blackpool to Kendal - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28562494
Nice and "easy day" with some easy riding and quiet roads.
Day 9 - Kendal to Carlisle - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28564557
Avoiding the busier A6 where possible, plus some nice lanes cycling to avoid the worst that Shap can throw at us.
Day 10 - Kendal to Abington - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28566620
Following the old trunk road alongside the M74 with a lovely scenic stay at Abington Services to end the day(!).
Day 11 - Abington to Dumbarton - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28549553
We looked at a different route via Edinburgh but this route was pretty much demanded by my co-cyclist. Using the NCR 74 and & wherever we can. I'm sure there's still some improvements we can make to this segment though...
Day 12 - Dumbarton to Lochearnhead - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28542476
Looking forward to this segment following NCR 7 or quiet roads.
Day 13 - Lochearnhead to Pitlochry - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28541545
Using NCR 7 or some lovely lanes and quiet roads.
Day 14 - Pitlochry to Kingussie - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28541665
Pretty much NCR 7 all the way. Avoiding the A9 unless absolutely needed, with some long stretches of traffic free riding.
Day 15 - Kingussie to Dingwall - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28539702
Doing quite a few extra miles to avoid the A9. Was advised to take the route through Muir of Ord and this looks great!
Day 16 - Dingwall to Altnaharra - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28538331
We scrapped our previous route via A9 and Helmsdale and decided to take the slower scenic route, primarily via NCR 1.
Day 17 - Altnaharra to John o'Groats - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28538589
NCR 1 all the way with a few shortcuts. Might split this into two days to allow us to enjoy things more, but we'll see.
Your opinions would be really very welcome. If there are routes you've done that might improve our experience, or if you had tips about poor surface etc. then please share. We're riding Boardman Hybrid MX Sport 2017 bikes.