What better way to celebrate getting back on the road with your motorhome than by dusting off your road atlas and plotting your next road? Especially when it offers a variety of travel experiences, and has some special significance attached to it. And there are few more significant routes in the UK than the Land’s End to John O’Groats cross-country trip.
Travelling the length and breadth of the country, from the deep south west of England right up to the far northeast corner, is an ambition for many adventurous motorhome owners.
But while many may dream of such a trip, few get to fulfil their ambitions. So to make it that little bit easier, we’ve compiled an essential guide covering how to plan your trip, where to stop along the way and some quick tips on taking care of your motorhome. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get going!
Before you set off, if you want your trip to be a success you need to make sure you’ve got the best motorhome insurance to keep your vehicle and contents covered during your adventure. Get a quick quote from Motorhome Protect today and see how much you could save.
Land’s End to John O’Groats – a short history of a very long trip!
The route is sometimes referred to as the ‘End-to-End’, and sometimes as an acronym – LEJOG (or JOGLE if you’re going the opposite way).
Many believe that to do it ‘properly’ you have to plan it as a single event, starting at one end and travelling to the other, without breaking up the trip. So, doing the entire mileage over a series of summers is not considered ‘correct’. But we say, if it’s your trip, it’s your rules, so anything goes!
While there may have been earlier travellers between the two points, the oldest officially recorded end-to-end trip was undertaken by two brothers, John and Robert Naylor, in 1871. They took nine weeks to walk the route, which they estimated at 1,372 miles!
Since the advent of the car, the route has proved very popular for many motorists simply looking for an interesting challenge and a great way to explore our beautiful country.
Many people have raised significant sums of money for charity doing the trip on foot, by bike and other means of transport (fighter jet, skateboard and bathtub on wheels, to name a few).
If you’re thinking of LEJOG as a good idea for your next trip, then the exact distance you’ll be travelling fluctuates all the time as road layout and mapping technology changes.
Back in 2011, online route planners for the RAC estimated the quickest motor route was 838 miles and would take 15 hours, 48 minutes.
Today, the route has been shaved down to 837.1 miles and 14 hours, 33 minutes. Although a look at traffic alerts for the journey suggests your route is likely to be lengthened by endless disruptions!
Rather than trying to break driving endurance records – and risk having an accident on the way – the vast majority of people use it as an opportunity for a pleasant driving holiday with rest days and short excursions in between.
Such a trip could take anywhere between one and two weeks. And the beauty of doing it in a motorhome is that you can take things at your own pace.
How to plan your ideal LEJOG route
No one’s perfect route between Lands End and John O’Groats will ever be quite the same as other peoples.
Providing you start at Lands’ End or John O’Groats, any route to cross the country will do.
Having your own motorhome means you have the perfect opportunity to travel independently and in your own unique way.
When plotting a route, start by asking yourself some key questions:
- How long are you planning for the trip? Do you have time to take lots of meandering side trips or do you have a strict deadline?
- What sort of roads do you like to drive on? Do you like wide, open motorways that get you somewhere as quickly as possible? Or do you prefer quiet, country roads where you don’t know what adventures are around the corner?
- Why are you doing the trip? To see everything the country has to offer or to tick it off your to-do list?
- Are there specific places you would like to see? The possibilities are endless but if, for example, you’re a steam rail enthusiast are there particular heritage railways you want to visit?
- Are you looking for an extra challenge? For instance, you might want to add in some extra mileage by visiting the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland. Or perhaps you want to visit the extreme north, south, east and west points of mainland Britain?
- Where do you plan to stay? Are you happy stopping overnight in a motorway service station or do you want to stay at officially designated campsites every night?
Some must-see sights along the way
As you’d expect from such a long-distance drive covering so much of the UK, whatever route you choose it’s bound to be a genuinely fascinating trip with heaps of scenery to admire and places to stop.
Using a straight journey planner, the approximate 837.1-mile journey uses 10 major roads:
- A30 – Land’s End to Exeter
- M5 – Exeter to Birmingham
- M6 – Birmingham to Gretna Green
- A74 (M) – Gretna Green to Abington
- M74 – Abington to Glasgow
- M73 – Glasgow to Mollinsburn
- M80 – Mollinsburn to Nr. Bannockburn
- M9 – Nr. Bannockburn to Nr. Dunblane
- A9 – Nr. Dunblane to Latheron
- A99 – Latheron to John O’Groats
If you decide to follow this direct route then here are just some of the must-see places to visit along the route.
Land’s End and Cornish coastal delights
Enjoy the first leg of your journey by taking the mystical Cornish peninsula really slowly.
Steeped in legend and overflowing with natural beauty this stunning area on the edge of the Atlantic feels a world away from hectic daily life. It’s the perfect way to begin your journey and get into the holiday vibe.
Pull over for spectacular panoramic views, impressive cliffs of dizzying heights and wildlife spotting opportunities.
From out-of-the-way secluded coves to heavenly ice cream pit stops there’s plenty to enjoy. Depending on the time of year and weather you might even be able to get in some surf time in Cornwall’s’ world-renowned waters.
Bristol, Bath and the charming Cotswolds
For an explosion of urban culture, cutting edge art and great music then look no further than Bristol.
This is a particularly colourful city with a wonderful chilled out atmosphere and lots of nearby sightseeing opportunities. Take a break from motorway driving and head over to the small but beautiful Roman city of Bath.
Or take a meander north through the quintessential countryside that is the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Before you head back towards the M5, no tour through the UK would be complete without setting your sights on England’s literary heart.
There’s no better place than Stratford Upon Avon for a dose of the world’s greatest playwright.
Shakespeare was born, lived and died here and the town offers amazing historic sites to transport literary lovers back in time.
Manchester, Liverpool and God’s Own Country
After all that country living, you might be partial to a bit of city scenery to break it up.
If so, stop by the vibrant northern cities of Manchester or Liverpool. They’re both bursting with artistic and musical talent as well as stunning architecture, amazing museums, delicious foodie hangouts and some of the best nightlife the country has to offer.
There are few better ways to get over a heavy night than a long walk, and there are few better places to do so than Yorkshire.
With hundreds of heritage sites scattered throughout the landscape, you can explore both the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales from the comfort of your motorhome.
The Lake District - a walker’s paradise
Heading north you’ll soon find yourself immersed in the rolling green hills, spectacular mountains, and glistening lakes of the iconic Lake District.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the charms of its jaw-dropping landscape have inspired artists and writers for generations.
While you bask in the peaceful surroundings of the lakes don’t forget to visit the impressive Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England).
Scottish city highlights
And so, to Scotland! With Glasgow and Edinburgh a mere hours drive apart you can do a sweeping excursion and hit all that these two fantastic cities have to offer.
Both have exceptional architecture and historical and cultural sites, but are also very different. Visit Glasgow for its cutting-edge art scene, legendary music and a great night out.
Hop over to Edinburgh for its traditional splendour, breath-taking views and fine dining.
Take to the waters of Loch Lomond and Loch Ness
Up next is the UK’s biggest lake and one of the best loved places in Scotland, Loch Lomond.
Why not spend the day out on the water trying out a wide variety of water activities? Depending on the season these include wakeboarding, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding.
Take a walk on the famous West Highland Way that runs along the eastern side of the loch – the views are not to be missed.
The wondrous Cairngorms National Park is next before a visit to Scotland’s ‘Highland capital’ Inverness. For all its cosmopolitan pleasures no visit is complete without a spot of monster hunting at nearby Loch Ness!
But always make sure you’ve got motorhome insurance to protect your home on wheels while you’re away. Theft and damage can occur at any time.
John O’Groats - a fitting finish
The final leg of the trip north to John O’Groats awaits. Fortunately, this runs along part of the majestic North Coast 500 touring route.
But don’t hurry away once you’ve got there, as there’s still much to recommend the most northerly point of mainland Scotland. Stretch your legs on the many coastal walks, geo-parks and cavernous areas.
If you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of the magical Aurora Borealis, particularly if you’re there in the late summer months.
Whatever time of year you visit keep an eye on the night sky. The vastness of the Milky Way is truly stunning viewed on a cloudless Scottish night. What a great end to an End-to-End trip!
How to take care of your motorhome
Whether you’re taking a short day trip to a local beach or a month-long trip across the country, here are a few top tips to bear in mind.
- Pre journey checks – It’s impossible to understate the importance of pre-journey checks. From tyres and oil levels to windscreen wipers, lights and bulbs, keeping your vehicle in good shape will help avoid extra costs down the line.
- Know your vehicle – From the type of fuel it takes to how to empty the toilet, make sure you know your vehicle inside and out. And don’t forget, its exact dimensions. Knowing these could mean the difference between a damaged roof, clipping your wing mirrors, or even getting stuck in a car park!
- Pack a decent tool box – You never know when a bit of maintenance know-how could get you out of a jam and save your once-in-a-lifetime trip from disaster.
- Understand what you’re insured for – Knowing what your motorhome insurance covers is an important part of staying protected.
- Lockdown everything before driving off – There’s a lot of damage caused by items that haven’t been stored correctly. Have this as part of any pre-journey checklist.
- Install motorhome security devices – The UK is a very safe country but theft can happen at any time. Don’t become a victim of crime – keep your motorhome safe at all times.
Protecting your vehicle with motorhome insurance
Whether or not you plan to do the full LEJOG, don’t leave home without ensuring you’ve got the right motorhome insurance policy.
Motorhome Protect’s bespoke cover can include benefits like:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year including foreign use
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Enhanced cover for camping personal effects up to £3,000
- Uncapped mileage cover
- Discounts if you’re a member of a motorhome club
- Consideration of all claims and convictions
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.