Monday, 30 July 2007

What is a JoGLE? And why George, Josh, Josh, John and Tom did it

Every year, an unspecified number of people get the urge to cycle, or walk, or just generally travel from Lands' End at the southwestern most tip of Cornwall in UK to John O' Groats in Scotland, the most northeasterly settlement on mainland Britain.

George, John (who celebrated his 17th birthday the day after his return), Josh, Josh and Tom, all 17 year old students at Hind Leys College in Shepshed, decided to do it the other way around, from John O' Groats to Lands' End since they reasoned that it would be like going downhill.

All the advice is that you should start in the southwest and travel north, since you are likely to get the prevailing westerly winds behind you, a real boon in Devon and Cornwall, but this didn't deter the Famous Five. Hence, John O' Groats to Lands' End: JoGLE.

I'm not quite sure how the idea emerged to cycle the JoGLE. Requests began in April for new bikes and tents in order to do the trip. Two lads, John Jarrom and Josh Wicks want to go on a Conservation field trip to Honduras with the school next year and each need to raise £2000 to cover their costs, so I suspect that the JoGLE was proposed as a fund-raising idea. As for George Hutton, Josh Knowles and Tom Chambers, the challenge was the thing. They chose to direct their fund-raising to Cancer Research.

They were influenced in this choice by the fate that had befallen one of their former team mates at Loughborough Rugby Club. Tom Walker developed a very aggressive sarcoma in his right upper arm last year and had to have the arm and the shoulder blade amputated shortly before Christmas. Sadly, the cancer had already spread to his lungs, and at the time of writing, the prognosis is not good.

On a much happier note, their schoolmate Alex Tranmere is in remission from cancer after chemotherapy.

If you would like to donate online, the website address is

It's one thing to decide to undertake the JoGLE. It's quite another to get it underway.

Although it had been a matter for discussion since April, none of the boys seemed to have sat down and planned the route and what they would do about accommodation on the way.

I gave George an ultimatum in mid-June when I went away for a weekend. Have the route planned out by the time I get back, with stopping-off places, or the JoGLE doesn't get underway. He did. It did mean that I had to spend three days on the phone booking hostels and campsites, but that was something that had to be left to me, because campsites are extremely wary about giving space to all-male parties, especially when they're under 18. It was the last three stops that had to be changed, because one hostel was full, one campsite refused to take the party full-stop, and then Adele, John's Mum, got this terrific offer of Embla farm to R&R on.

In late June, parents met to oversee the plan and to organise everything needed for the journey. On the weekend of 14th-15th July 2007, everyone travelled north. George and John rode with Len and Sue Hutton in the support vehicle, variously labelled Big Bertha or the Starship Enterprise, with bikes on the back, while Josh, Josh and Tom took the train following their bikes forwarded by courier earlier in the week.

A word of advice, book your train ticket for yourself and your bike as soon as you can to get a reasonable fare. Only four bikes are currently allowed on a train, and some operators don't allow bikes at all. The parents of the three boys had to pay almost £400 to get three bikes to John O' Groats via courier. We had read on a Scottish Youth Hostel site that Interlink was recommended, but our experience was that Interlink was not helpful, and would not have taken the bikes in any event because the packages would have been too large.

At the John O' Groats campsite, not large, but very well maintained and on a lovely piece of real estate, the manager told us that people arriving from Lands' End often take their bikes up to the Post Office to obtain packaging and actually POST their bikes home!

This is a photo record of the start points on the JoGLE, which can be used by the lads to prove that they did it.

The first photo shows George and John mounting their bikes on Bertha just before we set off for Scotland. We stayed overnight en route to the north in a fantastic B&B called Ciar Mhor at Dunblane.

The second photo shows all the lads at the shore edge at the John O' Groats campsite on Sunday 15th July 2007.

The third photo is a panorama taken from the shore edge of the John O' Groats campsite looking across the Pentland Firth towards the islands of Orkney. A beautiful, translucent light.

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