By eck it's a long way.

#1
End2End Daylight
After completing my first verified SS1000 last year I immediately started planning my next outing for a verified ride. As I’ve never visited Land’s End or John O’Groats it was a no-brainer to complete an End2End. For a bit more of a challenge it was to be a daylight ride and to give myself the best chance, I booked the week covering midsummer’s day as annual leave. The bike is an 11-year-old BMW R1200 RT with about 30000 miles on the clock.
I decided, for no real reason, to do it north to south and duly set about booking accommodation. I took a steady two days to get up to John O’Groats, stopping off in Perth as about the halfway mark from my home in Lancashire. Weather OK on the way to Perth and OK also for most of the scenic route up to JOG via Spittal of Glenshee (always wanted to go there) and Braemar. As I approached Inverness the weather started to close in and the last 100 miles or so to JOG were ridden through torrential showers and what felt like a gale. The land up there is pretty flat and exposed and despite waterproofs, by the time I got to the hotel I felt pretty miserable. Word on the hotel: I stayed at the ‘Seaview Hotel’; guess what geographical feature was completely not visible from my room?
Dinner, a beer and then bed for about 8pm.
I planned on setting off soon after sunrise at around 0405 to give myself the best chance of completing the daylight ride. No chance of oversleeping as I had difficulty staying asleep anyway and I was up soon after 3 a.m. Breakfast was a sausage role purchased in Wick the day before and I was at the start point near the ferry jetty at about 0410. I was recording my progress using Spotwalla/Bubbla on my phone (more later) and navigating using a Tomtom Rider, which probably wasn’t necessary as the directions are ‘south to Exeter then turn right’.
The weather had picked up from the previous evening and was clear and cool at around 10 degrees. I didn’t see any other stupid sods about to do the same journey however and set off to the first required fuel stop in Wick after the obligatory photo of the odometer. The receipt at Wick 24 Hour Fuel at Tesco shows me there at 0428. The next planned stop was about 200 miles away in Pitlochry via the A99 and A9.
The riding initially was good. The road hugging the east coast to Inverness is pretty good when there’s no traffic and in the first hundred miles I only came across 2 other vehicles travelling the same direction, both logging trucks. As I approached Inverness, the world was waking up and traffic started to make itself known.
Heading south from Inverness, the A9 winds and climbs into the Cairngorm mountains past Aviemore up to a height of around 1500 feet. The climb was accompanied by intermittent lashing rain and temperatures that dipped to 6 Celsius. Midsummer’s bleeding day and I was freezing despite winter gloves, waterproofs, wussie heated seat and grips. This part of the journey was also made unnecessarily exciting by wet clay spread liberally across the road by lorries or farm vehicles which nearly had me tasting the grass of the verge when the bike continued in a straight line on a moderate right-hander. I will never be scathing of ABS again.
Most of the A9 is dual-carriageway and good, fast, single carriageway. Any temptation to allow the speed to creep up however is tempered by (literally) a hundred miles of average speed cameras. Cruise control is so useful. It also allows use of the right hand for appropriate signals to inconsiderate/blind/stupid/pissed* drivers (*delete as appropriate).
Pitlochry arrived and according to the plan I was running about 15 minutes ahead of time. Fuel, receipt, photo. Back on bike. Shortly after re-joining the A9 the traffic was at a standstill. Roadworks were causing a ‘convoy’ system of traffic control over about a mile. I sat on the bike for about 20 minutes, fuming and watching my daylight achievement tick away. There wasn’t even enough room to filter and get to the front of the queue. Speed through the roadworks was kept to a strict 20 mph which was actually fast enough on newly resurfaced road covered in tons of loose grit.
Past the roadworks and speed back up to legal limits. I was still sodding cold even though the temperature and the weather were improving. The dual carriageways and motorways approaching Glasgow were greeted with joy as a) it was actually warming up and b) less chance of hold-ups (ha bloody ha). I’ve travelled the M74/M6 a few times and once on the familiar roads, I could see familiar landmarks going by marking progress before hitting the border.
Next fuel was 1130 at Tebay, around 200 miles from Pitlochry and a welcome stretch of the legs and visit to the gents. Chatted briefly with a couple of other BMW riders who seemed gobsmacked at attempting this sort of ride. OK, it’s not a daily occurrence, but it’s not beyond the wit of man (or even me) with a bit of planning and the willingness to put up with a sore arse for a couple of days.
Carrying on down the M6 through the Lune Valley gap between the Howgills and the Cumbrian hills - one of the better bits of motorway in my opinion – and more ticking off of known landmarks giving a feeling of real progress as well as passing the half-way point.
Manchester came and went, then Stoke and on to sunny Birmingham. By this time, I was actually warming up however getting increasingly irritated by mile after mile of 30 mph speed limits on the motorways. Even after getting onto the M5 for the south west, speed restrictions continued. Between speed restrictions, spanners without mirrors insisting that the outside lane was theirs’ and theirs’ only, and increasingly heavy traffic, riding was requiring increasing concentration.
The next fuel stop was at Gloucester services. When I got my phone out of my tank bag I found it had a ‘No SIM card inserted’ message, the vibration must have dislodged it enough to lose contact. As a result, no waypoints had been uploaded to Spotwalla since Stoke-on-Trent. When I restarted the phone, there was a series of increasingly alarmed messages from my wife who had been keeping an eye on my progress on Spotwalla on the laptop at home. I hadn’t appeared to move for over an hour and a half and all she could do was assume the worst. After a quick call to reassure her and all the missing points were uploaded, I finally got to start removing a couple of layers of clothing as the temperature was now up to around 20 Celsius. One thing I hadn’t considered when planning the journey was that for the last part, I’d be riding straight in to the sun and that was hard, with the reflection off all the cars.
Past the M4 junction near Bristol, the traffic became very, very heavy with miles of solid stationary and slow-moving cars. Filtering through this required intense concentration and at this point I need to mention the loose group of bikes that gathered by chance. In front was a guy on a Harley. He had cars moving out of the way by scaring the bejesus out of the drivers by blipping the throttle. He was followed by me with full headlights and LED spots on and behind me was a guy on a black upright (a VStrom?). We rode together for maybe forty or fifty miles with no chance of open riding as the traffic was so heavy. As a group, I think we made better progress than we would have done individually. Thanks guys. Spotwalla shows me at between 1.5mph and 32mph max for miles. Eventually, the traffic started to break and speeds for good periods were back to what they should be.
At Exeter came the switch to the A30. This is a great dual carriageway. At least I thought so. Happy cruising at 70 and not unhappy at being overtaken by tin-box- occupying eejits desperate to reach the depths of Cornwall.
Penzance was greeted with glee tempered by a sore backside. Nearly there. A tenner’s worth of unleaded at Sainsbury’s (and the obligatory photo) and a gentle, unhurried, final few miles to Land’s End for 7:58 pm. The sun was still well up in the sky and, after taking the final photo of the odo and turning off Bubbla, I really couldn’t be arsed about being at Land’s End. All I wanted was food, beer and bed - all available for a very high price at Land’s End or a slightly less extortionate price in Penzance.
Lessons learned:
  • Plan.
  • Don’t worry about a few delays. There’s plenty of time at legal speeds around midsummer to do the daylight ride even with the Department of Transport’s clever schemes to reduce pollution by slowing traffic to 30mph.
  • It can still be sodding cold in the middle of June.
  • Don’t frighten the wife.
  • Allow several days to recover from the pressure sores.
Total time: 14hrs 48 minutes
Distance: 839 miles (map), 832 miles (odo).
Average speed: 57 mph.
Average fuel consumption 56.4 mpg.
3 night’s hotels: £255. Rooms at either end of Great Britain are pricey.
Fuel: ~£95 (E2E only)
Sausage roll: 89p
 

Kim Leeson

Selfie Stick King
Premier Member
IBA Member
#2
Nice write up, thank you for taking the time to share your experience, much appreciated...and by no means last, Congratulations on your E2E! Something I have yet to conquer, so well done!
 
#9
Thanks for that detailed write-up... I mapped it out and followed you as I read your story! As an American who's never ridden outside the States, that looks like a great ride, except for the traffic and subsequent filtering. Perhaps someday...
 

HACKLE

Well-Known Member
#10
Nanookotn, another one behind you and I'm sure the next one's planning has already begun. I enjoyed your resourcefulness [let the loud Harley lead, let the V-Strom watch your back] in the filtering game, works every time. Congratulations on the planning and result. Cheers.