Ralph Hughes's bike at sunset
Ralph Hughes's bike at sunset

The off-road End to End

Cycling from Lands' End to John o'Groats on road is a challenge, but riding it off-road, even more so! The longest off-road route in the UK's a tough ride, but perfectly doable given sufficient training/planning.

The off-road End to End ride is 1201 miles long, and takes an average of 23 to 25 days to complete, approximately 50 miles per day. Some cyclists use a hard tail mountain bike for the job with a rack/panniers attached, whilst others prefer full suspension with a trailer such as a 'Bob Yak'.

Ralph Hughes mountain biked the length of Britain: 1,267 miles through England, Wales and Scotland – with his camping gear on his back.

He said: "I tried to include as much mountain biking as possible. Notable points en route: Land’s End, Bodmin Moor, the edge of Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Quantocks, Bristol, the Severn Bridge, the Black Mountains, Radnor Forest, Wenlock Edge.

I then went east to ride the White Peak, Sheffield, the Pennines (mostly on the western side), north from Carlisle to Biggar through the Scottish Borders, north west through Kilsyth, on to the Trossachs, west to pick up the West Highland Way, Fort William, the Great Glen Way almost to the Moray Firth, north west and inland to Lairg, then through Sutherland to John O’Groats."

Ralph wrote about his Off-Road End to End journey for CTC's magazine Cycle. In the article he explains in detail the highlights and low points of his 34 day journey.

I felt like the only person alive in the world. The cycling varied between fast Land Rover tracks I could power along in the big ring to pathless bog that required pushing and carrying. Snow fell, first at night, then during the day. Deer were numerous and oblivious. At one point, cycling fast down a stalker’s track, I saw a group of 40 of them matching my pace across the other side of the valley. They swung across in front of me, each taking a spectacular leap to clear the track, and raced up the valley side above me."

Ralph Hughes

If you fancy tackling the challenge, CTC members can download the route from ctc-maps using their CTC membership number.