Cicerone End to End route review

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
PhilPub
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Joined: 29 Jun 2015, 4:08pm

Cicerone End to End route review

Postby PhilPub » 7 Jun 2018, 2:35pm

Having just completed LEJOG I thought I'd give my thoughts on the Cicerone route, which we followed almost turn-by-turn, except for a couple of planned diversions into Somerset and Merseyside to stay with relatives. In short, I would thoroughly recommend it if you want to cover the route in 14 days, want to avoid the busier roads and don't mind a bit of climbing. :wink: The practicalities of having a potted turn-by-turn manual with back-up GPS files - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26701266 - to keep the little blue dot on the little red line make this a very practical way of not getting lost.

I thought the guide did a very good job of keeping us on largely pleasant roads whilst keeping us going in the right direction. Where we intersected with National Cycle Network or Sustrans routes, rather than sticking rigidly to these, it took us along main roads if not too busy. (I think the Sustrans route would be a lot of hours in the saddle to cover in two weeks.)

I've also got no regrets about going straight over/through Dartmoor and the Lake District. There appears to be a lot of opinion here about going North of Dartmoor because why would you want to do all that climbing? Fair enough, but personally, after the exhaustingly lumpy terrain of Cornwall, one big climb to get onto Dartmoor was relatively easy, and absolutely worth the effort for the stunning scenery on the top. The Lake District was pretty easy going, with one long gradual climb on the way to Keswick, and the hardest section being just North of Keswick to get out towards Carlisle. If you're particularly averse to hills you wouldn't be doing LEJOG!

I've only got a handful of amendments to suggest, one major and some minor ones. Apologies if these specific points have been covered elsewhere but I've not seen many online comments specific to the Cicerone route, so here goes:

1. Day 12, between Fort William and Fort Augustus. "You will find that the NCN78 has a reasonably good, shale-type surface, ideally suited for hybrid and touring bicycles, although road bicycles can navigate the track but will need to use extra care to avoid punctures." Hahaaa! Sorry but I refuse to believe that since the book was updated in 2014 that the surface could have deteriorated to such an extent that large portions of it are completely unridable on anything but an MTB with suspension. One hour to travel 7 miles on a day of 83 miles was NOT fun. In lieu of doing more extensive research I think I'd prefer to put up with one of the busier sections of the A82 to get from Gairlochy to Laggan. (When we got to Thurso we bumped into another couple of LEJOGers whose only major gripe was exactly this stretch of the route.)
2. Carlisle to Gretna. Official route is straight up the A7 but you can travel on quieter roads and knock 3 miles off a less-than stunning section of the route by turning off the A7 a mile or so North of Carlisle and following the minor roads closely following the line of the M6. (Thanks for this forum suggestion in response to an earlier query from me.)
3. Forest of Bowland. Another chance to knock 3/4 miles, and some unnecessary climbing, off the route. Instead of heading into High Bentham, turn left off Slaidburn Road marked "Wray: 4 miles". (We didn't actually take this route but it's a marked cycle route so presumably just as nice as the longer, official, route we took.)

And one other caveat I've thought of. If you're thinking of using the route for a JOGLE rather than a LEJOG, I would strongly advise re-routing just south of Clun to avoid the ascent towards Pentre Hodre. Cripes! I was hard on the brakes all the way down and the surface is pretty awful. It was hard enough getting up there!

cmeilandt
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Joined: 9 Jun 2018, 10:13am

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby cmeilandt » 9 Jun 2018, 11:06am

Hey Phil,
Great reading. My wife and I are just about to take on LEJOG in 3 weeks time and are debating whether to follow NCN or the Cicerone route. We have got 19 days and will be unsupported with camping/cooking all the way. We are cycling on road bikes with 25mm heavy tires and a set of panniers each. Did you have to tackle much off-road, gravel or crazy stoney paths?

Regards your 3 amendments;
1. North of Glasgow, we will find the NCN route, so we can visit relatives in Kingussie, thus avoiding the stretch from Fort William

2. I just found your rides on Strava, I suppose that is what you did and I can just copy that stretch :-)? Only around 10km right?

3. Turn left down Aikengill Rd?

Anything else you'd like to add :-)

Thanks for all your comments

PhilPub
Posts: 34
Joined: 29 Jun 2015, 4:08pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby PhilPub » 9 Jun 2018, 3:37pm

Hi,

W.r.t. surfaces, the forest path described really was the only properly dodgy bit. I was on 32mm tyres but my girlfriend had 25/28mm and was OK with everything apart from that stretch. I had the only two punctures between us, probably not helped by the weight of two panniers + tent on the back!

2. I just found your rides on Strava, I suppose that is what you did and I can just copy that stretch :-)? Only around 10km right?

Yeah, look out for a BP garage just before the turn-off, and a MacDonald's as you turn off. Navigation is fairly straightforward, although look out for the right turn just after the road bears round to the left, leaving the line of the M6. It's well signposted to Gretna.

3. Turn left down Aikengill Rd?

That looks about right. It's signposted as a cycle route, something like Lancashire Cycle Network or similar.

One other part I'd consider doing differently (but I couldn't think where it was when I did this write-up) is day 3, just East of Taunton, crossing over the A358 at around 50 miles. From the book: "this is a very fast stretch of road and it is advisable to walk your bicycle across the dual carriageway..." Fast? Not kidding!! Also the grass verge in the middle of the carriageway means there's no choice but to walk the bikes over, which was OK but we must've been standing in the middle of the carriageway for 5 minutes waiting for a gap big enough to get across safely. Doable but I'd consider some alternative if I knew the local roads better.

What gears have you got? We both just about got away with compact double 50-34 and 11-32 on the back. The sharpest climbs I can remember were both of the roads getting off ferries in Cornwall (small chain ring before stopping on the ferry!), day 5 climb through Pentre Hodre before getting to Clun, and turning off the A591 North of Keswick. Hard work but doable!

charliepolecat
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Joined: 22 Mar 2018, 3:53pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby charliepolecat » 9 Jun 2018, 9:25pm

11-32 on the back.


With a long arm derailleur? What make?

PhilPub
Posts: 34
Joined: 29 Jun 2015, 4:08pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby PhilPub » 10 Jun 2018, 10:27am

charliepolecat wrote:
11-32 on the back.


With a long arm derailleur? What make?


I've got SRAM Rival 22 (11-spd) with mid-cage (I think... came with the bike) and my girlfriend has Shimano Claris (8-spd) with mid-cage. Both are spec'd up to 32 teeth; I've had advice that the Shimano one would be good for 34 which in hindsight I might have considered.

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cycleruk
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Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby cycleruk » 10 Jun 2018, 11:28am

Good information Phil.
Dérailleur - I have a 10 speed 105 triple set up. But I have used both 10 speed 105 and a 9 speed Deore long cage mech's.
Both coped well with a 32T cassette but a 34T is stretching the Deore.
I have had to adjust the "B" screw to max' to stop the jockey wheel from contacting the larger 34T sprocket.
There's no such thing as a tailwind.
It's either a headwind, or you're going well.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81gfs4sd76E

scarletnut
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Joined: 27 Apr 2018, 7:38pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby scarletnut » 26 Jun 2018, 10:11pm

Thanks for this, Phil. I had just logged on to ask if anyone has done Cicerone Route cos I am thinking of doing it in September!! It is the one by Nick Mitchell?? How was the A82 section since this, in the book, seems to come with a warning.
Also the Lancashire section looks daunting just to keep on the right route? :o

charliepolecat
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Joined: 22 Mar 2018, 3:53pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby charliepolecat » 26 Jun 2018, 11:23pm

It is the one by Nick Mitchell??


Scarlet, FYI: All Cicerone guides are written by someone who has walked/cycled/climbed, etc. a route and then has Cicerone publish same. For the End to End this person is Nick Mitchell and he is the copyright owner of it. Ergo, his is the only Cicerone guide for the LeJog. :)

And I too plan to ride this route in September and would certainly like to avoid the roads with the worst (any?) HGV's and am interested in Phil's observations.

PhilPub
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Joined: 29 Jun 2015, 4:08pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby PhilPub » 4 Jul 2018, 3:19pm

I think THE most unpleasant section of the journey for busy roads with HGVs on was the A403 just after Bristol, between Avonmouth and the Severn Bridge. I'd seriously consider alternative routes through/round Bristol, although the bridge itself is fine and then it gets nice going up the Wye Valley to Monmouth.

W.r.t. Lancashire, since this was one of the larger diversions we took from the Cicerone route I can't comment on navigation. I do remember we didn't really start enjoying the scenery again till we were North of Bolton!

The A82 was busy in sections but not entirely unpleasant, and the West Loch Lomond cycle path keeps you off it through most of one of the busier sections. As stated above, I would've preferred to put up with the traffic of the A82 rather than the off-road section between Gairlochy and Fort Augustus. I suppose it could get busier in peak season but September probably no worse than May when I went?

Simmy
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Joined: 19 Dec 2017, 8:16pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby Simmy » 9 Jul 2018, 10:59pm

Just jumping on with some local knowledge about a temporary road closure.

Due to the moorland fires on Winter Hill, part of the normal Cicerone route is closed off for a few days.

It's just outside of Bolton going past the Bob Smithy Inn all the way to Belmont Village. This is on the day the book lists as Runcorn to Slaidburn.

I'm not going to recommend diversion routes as I'm not too sure what they are, sorry, but just thought I'd post in case anyone is on route at the moment.

Tashibashy
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Joined: 5 May 2019, 4:21pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby Tashibashy » 5 May 2019, 5:19pm

We have just completed LEJOG following the cicerone end to end book & gps files. It was fantastic! We had gravel bikes loaded with bike packing style bags (rather than panniers) carrying tent, sleeping bags and clothes between 2 of us. It certainly wasn’t the flattest route but the climbs were worth it for the scenery. We had serious headwind for the first 3 days and final 40miles but it was all part of the challenge. Dartmoor & the Glencoe pass were the most brutal sections due to whipping side winds but wow- what goes up must come down!!
ROAD CLOSURE- stage 8 where the route takes you off the A591 around the other side of Thirlmere, we thought we would be able to walk around the closure but Ito is PROPERLY CLOSED about 2 miles down (and almost out the other end) luckily it’s a nice flat road, but added unnecessary miles, STAY ON THE A591 while the road closed signs are up- possibly years as they are apparently putting a pipe in from a dam.
Stage 12 - forest track section. It is a track- we had 40c tyres and made it no punctures. Whilst it was tough and took concentration it was good for a bit of variety. DEFINITELY WOULD NOT RECOMMEND IT FOR A ROAD BIKE.
Also stage 12 when you get to Aberchalder swing bridge there are tracks on either side of the canal- they join up further down so doesn’t matter which you take. (GPS took us down the track before the bridge and NCN is the track if you cross the bridge).
GPS files made it incredibly easy to follow the route, but the book was invaluable for the foresight on what to look out for on the day ahead. A few cycle track entrances are not obvious and easy to ride past unless you have an idea of what to look out for.
Anyone thinking of doing this- go for it!! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

1982john
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Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby 1982john » 6 May 2019, 9:41am

Tashibashy wrote:We have just completed LEJOG following the cicerone end to end book & gps files. It was fantastic! We had gravel bikes loaded with bike packing style bags (rather than panniers) carrying tent, sleeping bags and clothes between 2 of us. It certainly wasn’t the flattest route but the climbs were worth it for the scenery. We had serious headwind for the first 3 days and final 40miles but it was all part of the challenge. Dartmoor & the Glencoe pass were the most brutal sections due to whipping side winds but wow- what goes up must come down!!
ROAD CLOSURE- stage 8 where the route takes you off the A591 around the other side of Thirlmere, we thought we would be able to walk around the closure but Ito is PROPERLY CLOSED about 2 miles down (and almost out the other end) luckily it’s a nice flat road, but added unnecessary miles, STAY ON THE A591 while the road closed signs are up- possibly years as they are apparently putting a pipe in from a dam.
Stage 12 - forest track section. It is a track- we had 40c tyres and made it no punctures. Whilst it was tough and took concentration it was good for a bit of variety. DEFINITELY WOULD NOT RECOMMEND IT FOR A ROAD BIKE.
Also stage 12 when you get to Aberchalder swing bridge there are tracks on either side of the canal- they join up further down so doesn’t matter which you take. (GPS took us down the track before the bridge and NCN is the track if you cross the bridge).
GPS files made it incredibly easy to follow the route, but the book was invaluable for the foresight on what to look out for on the day ahead. A few cycle track entrances are not obvious and easy to ride past unless you have an idea of what to look out for.
Anyone thinking of doing this- go for it!! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!


Thanks for the review as I'm looking to do this with a couple of deviations next month. I'm hoping to do it on a road bike with 32-35mm tyres so any sections I should avoid would be helpfu.
Also, busy did you find the roads? Was there good access to campsites or did you wild camp?

Tashibashy
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Joined: 5 May 2019, 4:21pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby Tashibashy » 6 May 2019, 10:57am

Hi, we booked all our accommodation before we left, we had booked camping for 10 days but due to bad weather ended up with 8 in the tent. We had BnB at start and finish although there is campsites at both. Couldn’t find campsites at Runcorn (stayed in premier inn- you can take bikes into room and it’s bang on the route) and Slaidburn- hark to bounty is lovely or there is YHA which seemed to have a few cyclists, may be cheaper if travelling solo.
Found out The Camping&Caravan Club sites can’t turn away backpackers and get it cheaper as walk/cycle in apparently.
Most busy A road sections had at least shared cycle paths, but where there wasn’t or they were in bone rattling condition we used the road and found the HGV drivers were brilliant, slowed and gave a wide berth, had a few choice words for a bus, caravan and about 4 cars in total. Ambleside on bank holiday weekend was quicker to push the bikes along the path!
There is an off road section quite early on that is not ideal for a road bike, but I think it’s only a shortish downhill section of an otherwise relatively good cycle path. I can’t find it in the book. Other than that and the previously mentioned forest track there are gravelly sections but should be ok.
That reminds me- On the first day the gps file took us through Truro rather than King Harry ferry.

charliepolecat
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Joined: 22 Mar 2018, 3:53pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby charliepolecat » 6 May 2019, 8:26pm

e have just completed LEJOG following the cicerone end to end book & gps files


What GPS device do you use?

Tashibashy
Posts: 3
Joined: 5 May 2019, 4:21pm

Re: Cicerone End to End route review

Postby Tashibashy » 6 May 2019, 9:19pm

OH Has a Wahoo element bolt and I have his old Garmin edge 200. It was handy both being able to follow the route and saved me keep asking which direction to go. The Wahoo is much more detailed and helpful, for example when there is a fork in the road you see both roads and which one to follow, the Garmin you have to make the wrong turn before it tells you you have gone off course.
In case you need to re-route we would suggest pairing the Wahoo with komoot or similar app rather than the Wahoo inbuilt one.... it tried to take us across fields, which whilst quickest as crow flies, it’s definitely not on a bike.