my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

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greenskies
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Joined: 8 Jun 2011, 9:33pm

my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby greenskies » 9 May 2013, 9:08pm

Hi everyone,

I am new to all this and doing my 1st jogle at the beginning of june........Gulp!

I just want to make sure that i haven't overlooked anything and would greatly appreciate any advice from you.

There are two of us and we're hoping to do it in 12/14 days.

We are planning on staying in yha mostly but haven't booked anything as we want the freedom to see how far we want to go day by day but
are estimating 80/100 miles a day, maybe an odd 60/70 miles if weather is really bad or a mechanical.

My main concerns are;

- do the yha get booked up or will it be enough to phone up on day or just turn up?

- what gear to take, will i need proper cold weather gear for highlands.( trying to keep the load down as much as possible, but hate getting cold)

- route from thurso to lairg via betty hill aprox,80 miles how are roads and terrain?

- nutition, is it just a case of eat as much as you can, whenever you can?

Any other advice that you think will be helpful i will be more than grateful.

Thanks for you patience

chris

gordy
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby gordy » 10 May 2013, 4:41am

You ideas sound good, except, I think, for the YHA bit. I love hostels, but are there hostels on the YHA route through England? When cycling 80 or 100 miles along a particular route, you need to find accommodation in a very small area. Have you checked the YHA map?
http://www.yha.org.uk/
Also - summer hostels in mainland Scotland tend to be extremely busy.

Good luck!

eileithyia
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby eileithyia » 10 May 2013, 8:18am

Food; depends on your metabolism, but eat sensibly:
Decent breakfast
11's stop
Lunch; soup/sandwich
3's
then have a decent meal at your evening stop.
Carry some emergency food; cereals / biscuits whatever takes your fancy for the days when an 11's or 3's stop does not present itself.

Scottish hostels, remember there are also independant hostels thru Scotland. Also 1 year in Oban we could not get in the hostel, were referred to the local independent, but on walking around the town later, found there were B&B's advertising cheaper rates than the SYHA which was on high season rates....
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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 10 May 2013, 8:23am

Hi,
Take a TENT :!:
When I have been walking the Pennine way or similar, I was always surprised at the mad panic to leave the moor and find a bed at tea time.
I would carry on till it got near dark and relax knowing that I could get up and be on my way with least fuss.
I just put my tent up where I am, If your out of sight at dark then you wont be spotted till it gets light and then your on your way.
You need to add about 2.3 - 2.7 kgs for tent and sleeping bag but I think the weight is worth the freedom.
You dont have to go longer distances just plan longer breaks in the daytime.
Gear why carry spare shoes :?: your not disco dancing.
Food get it hot when you can and carry plenty as a reserve for when you cant.
Camping means you are not tied to finding a bed.
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barneybear69
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby barneybear69 » 10 May 2013, 12:59pm

Checkout www.nigelend2end.co.uk for kit list and how I booked accommodation (and where I stayed)

Any other questions just ask.

I would have breakfast of porridge (one day made mistake of fried and suffered all morning. Then would just grab something quick on the way. I had a bar bag with nibbles and energy bars - but i must say I soon started craving savoury food instead of the sweet energy bars / drinks
2016 Mallorca touring htttp://www.mallorcacycletouring.co.uk

2011 Lands End to John O'Groats http://www.nigelend2end.co.uk

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Tourer: 2010 Dawes Ultra Galaxy

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barneybear69
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby barneybear69 » 10 May 2013, 1:00pm

As you'll see on my blog I managed to get into a YH in Fort William on Bank Holiday Saturday
2016 Mallorca touring htttp://www.mallorcacycletouring.co.uk

2011 Lands End to John O'Groats http://www.nigelend2end.co.uk

Raleigh Chopper C2C http://purplechopper.co.uk

Tourer: 2010 Dawes Ultra Galaxy

Restored Raleigh Chopper MK2 (1974)

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simonineaston
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby simonineaston » 10 May 2013, 1:05pm

Here's a link to a blog I've just found describing a mainly YHA route...
http://landsendtojohnogroats.weebly.com/route.html
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

greenskies
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby greenskies » 12 May 2013, 7:06pm

Thanks for all the feed back. ive checked out nigels blog which had loads of good info.
Taking a tent isn't going to work for me.will save that for another trip. I think if your camping then you have to do it properly and take all the stuff, stove, sleeping bag etc and my bike can't take that kind of weight.
Still not sure what to take clotheswise for scotland. I know it can get cold, but then it's going to be hot the further south i go!
Anyone have any advice on this. cheers

mcgroa
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby mcgroa » 12 May 2013, 10:58pm

i just got back doing LEJOG- bizarrely scotland warmest part and got sunburnt to hell from Crask to JOG. most of my journey was 8-14 degrees,with some 4 degree starts.
I'm like you hate being cold.
id say best thing for being warm that is low pack weight is
i) pair of goretex sox - brilliant at keeping toes warm- i wore most days
ii) leg warmers and arm warmers
iii) a helly or a windproof cycle top e.g. with removable sleeves
iv) a nice breathable waterproof can cover the rest temp wise
v) 2 buffs (1 neck 1 head if cold)
vi)waterproof trousers ( i took them only as precaution e.g. get flat over drumochter in the rain- never used them even in heavy rain)
vii)waterproof overshoes
viii)waterproof gloves like sealskins
that plus regular gear (top and shorts) should be enough and can be mixed up as needed. i posted extra hellys, thermal overshoes and thermal tights to my folks as i was paranoid too, and they handily lived the day before i hit highlands. never used any of it.

as for energy- i'd agree with the meal approach - decent (not fried) brekker - porride and scambled eggs/toast. fruit scone/latte break, lunch, mid afternoon coffee cake, a nice diner. i lived on twixes and wine gums in between, but not many (buggered if i was carrying lots of energy bars). then used salt pills for my water. I never needed 2 bottles one was always left empty in the end.

thurso to lairg. thurso to bettyhill is quite hilly so hope for no westerlies that day. my garmin reckoned it was my 3rd hilliest day (top was cornwall, second was drumochter/slochd)
bettyhill to lairg is pretty flat and scenery amazingly beautiful.
lairg is wholly uninspiring. better staying in the crask inn (brilliant) and doing the 12 miles extra the next day.

just a side note on route down from Lairg-
i) the ped/cycle bridge at invershin to go down NCN1 is two flights of stairs. an buttock with loaded bike.
ii) it looked to me like the a9 bridge at inverness had no pedestrian cycle access open so check it if you are going that way. I went from inverness to beauly (stayed there) and up dingwall, picked up NCN1 and then cut corner at Alness over Struie road (says its closed but its not for bikes) rather than round the Tain windy way. Its a short sharp climb going North->South but you get an AMAZING view of the DORNOCH firth, albeit at expense of not passing the Morangie distillery!

not a fan of youth hostels enjoying blagging cheap 4 poster suites, and good DBB deals at random places where i stopped, and meant no prebooking. i switched route to a9 from glencoe as it was snowing in glencoe next morning, so glad i hadnt prebooked anything.

GL

Ron
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby Ron » 13 May 2013, 10:01am

mcgroa wrote:just a side note on route down from Lairg-
ii) it looked to me like the a9 bridge at inverness had no pedestrian cycle access open so check it if you are going that way. I went from inverness to beauly (stayed there) and up dingwall, picked up NCN1 and then cut corner at Alness over Struie road (says its closed but its not for bikes) rather than round the Tain windy way. Its a short sharp climb going North->South but you get an AMAZING view of the DORNOCH firth,

The Kessock Bridge is still open to cycles and pedestrians, albeit via a lengthy diversion which is inadequately signed. There have been numerous complaints to Transport Scotland since mid February when the diversion was put in place, but there has been no effort to sort the signing. I have just gone onto the carriageway and gone through with the motor traffic, there is a 30mph speed limit in place, so the carriageway is more cycle friendly than normal. The Kessock bridge works are likely to continue until mid June.
The closure on the Struie was short term, it is open as normal now.

greenskies
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Joined: 8 Jun 2011, 9:33pm

Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby greenskies » 13 May 2013, 10:06pm

Well done for completing lejog.

Thanks for all the advice. i will check weather before i go, but i think im going to air on the side of caution and take similar stuff to
you.
We are following the yha route, but thats not set in stone, so will stay at b+b's along the way too if need be. Will check out the crask inn.

Our 1st day will probably be a short one as only getting off train at wick around 2 ish, so will probably only ride 35 miles to thurso. Bit worried about 2nd day down to lairg via bettyhill, think its 80 odd miles which isnt a problem but if weather is bad and really hilly. It looks like there is nothing there untill you hit lairg. Do you think its worth pushing on past thurso on 1st day so we have a shorter 2nd day?

I think i just need to get started, it's that going into the unknown. im sure it will all be fine though.

chrisc
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby chrisc » 14 May 2013, 11:10am

Thurso to Lairg via Bettyhill = 80+ miles ? Not quite. Bing Maps shows 74.7 miles.
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RickH
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby RickH » 14 May 2013, 2:37pm

It is only 80 miles from Thurso to Lairg if you stay on the main road to Tongue before heading south, rather than taking the B871, which cuts the corner off to Altnaharra & saves about 5 miles, about 2¾ miles after Bettyhill.

In terms of there being "nothing there untill you hit lairg" that's not quite accurate (or at least wasn't) - there is (was) a small shop on the main road at Reay (11 miles) and a couple at Bettyhill (30 miles). You could get ice creams (& possibly other snacks) at the caravan site on the shore of Loch Naver on the B871 (c50 miles). The Altnaharra Hotel (55 miles) serves bar meals according to its website. The Crask Inn (at 62 miles) is one of a kind (or was when I was there in 2009) and worth stopping at, it also marks the high point of the day's route - after that it's virtually all downhill from there to Lairg.

Rick.

nnc283
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby nnc283 » 14 May 2013, 8:46pm

We run an independent hostel in the Highlands and June is already pretty well booked, esp at weekends. It is probably the most popular month for cycle tourists. So for hostels I would certainly not leave it to chance, definitely pre book though you would still be able to find B/B cheap hotel acc on spec in most places I think.

The road from Thurso to Bettyhill is an absolute swine, long monotonous hills and very exposed, and the wind will almost certainly be against you. There is a nice pub/cafe at Melvich but don't be tempted to stop at the pub on the right at Bettyhill, it has a poor reputation. I don't know anything about the Hotel in the village. The stretch from Bettyhill to Tongue is even worse so I would cut the corner and head down Strath Naver. The Altnaharra Hotel does teas/coffees but you might as well press on the the Crask Inn and I absolutely agree that is the place to stay. It's a proper "travellers rest", the sort of place that you would have thought died out years ago. Lairg by comparison is a totally uninspiring village, and always seems cold even in the height of summer. The Falls Of Shin are nearby though and well worth a visit - decent cafe there as well.

mcgroa
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Re: my 1st ever tour, any advice please.

Postby mcgroa » 15 May 2013, 10:42pm

Defo cut the corner the tongue road is hillier. Its 82mi from JOG to Crask. And 12mi from Crask to Lairg.

I just looked at my GPX. Dead right Lairg/Crask is the high point of JOG->LAIRG.

Thurso to Bettyhill has 5 hills to get past, with net climbs of 90m, 85m, 75m, 85m, 120m (all down to sea-level basically).

There was one hotel that reminded me of the shining in Lairg, with a sign on the door to tell you it was open and not derelict!

If you are aiming for Beauly / Inverness the next day then its only 60miles or so to Beauly and 70ish to Inverness. And that is a net down hill day with one big climb (that has a view) if you do struie, and only a few extra flatter miles if you hit tain.

My LEJOG started with 125 mi and 115 mi days to get to Chepstow in 2 days. I did appreciate "blowing the cobwebs off" at the start (and getting the biggest climb out the way in 1day), so Thurso seems very short day in a crap place although like you say you have the WICK thing to deal with.