lands_end_small_bw.png ...and Loving It
A Walk from Land's End to John o'Groats
Introduction Preparation Equipment Costs Maps About  
The choice of equipment is a tricky one. The main decision you have to make is whether to camp or not. Each has its pros and cons.
There are two main advantages with camping:
  • It is cheap if you camp. This can be very significant, as over 80 or 90 nights, any savings per night add up.I tried most forms of accommodation:
    • cheap hotels cost between £50 to £60
    • B&B's cost between £30 to £40
    • Youth Hostels cost between £15 to £20
    • camp sites cost between £3 to £10 (with one site changing me £15!)
    • wild camping is free!
  • You don't have to be all that organised with booking ahead. And if you get totally stuck, you can just find a quiet place to pitch out of the way
The obvious disadvantage is weight. Camping means a tent, a sleeping bag, probably a sleeping mat, and maybe cooking equipment. Plus a bigger pack to take all that extra equipment. Anyhoo, for your information, here is a list of equipment I took with me. Be aware that my pack ended up weighing 18 to 20kg, which wasn't so fun.

The reason I have gone into so much detail is because weight is often death by a thousand cuts. I was surprised when I went through this list how many individual items I ended up carrying.

Backpack Macpac Genesis 3.4kg I have used this backpack to death, and found it as comfortable as to be expected. The only problem I had with it (and I must admit, it annoyed the crap out of me) was that the front clasp kept on bursting open after the first month. The harness is rated to 20kg so I was at its limit.
Tent Macpac Eclipse 2.7kg There are certainly lighter tents out there, but this tent served me brilliantly. It was easy to set up, and for all the rain I got never let a single drop in. The only negative was that it didn't handle really windy conditions very well.
Sleeping bag Macpac Meridian 1.3kg This was fine. It was actually probably overkill for a British summer. I don't think they actual sell this one anymore.
I would highly recommend getting one that zips all the way down so you can use it like a blanket, as I found it is much more comfortable to sleep, especially if it is a bit hot.
Sleeping mat Therm-a-rest Trailite 910g I didn't actually start off with the Therm-a-rest, but I ripped a gapping hole in my original one with the sleeping bag zipper 2 weeks in, and so bought this one.
Sleeping bag liner 200g Actually, I used this as a cover for my sleeping mat in the end!
Sleeping Bag stuff sack Sea-to-summit Compression sack 75g Again, I didn't think I'd need this, but it was really great, as volume was a little bit of a premium in the backpack.
Rain coat Berghaus Mera-peak 950g If you come from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, you'll know all about this jacket :-) It's quite a fashion symbol amongst the chavs, as I discovered when I lived there.
It is a really great jacket, but it wasn't much fun wearing it with the backpack, because the fabric is slightly slippery, and because my backpack was so heavy, the furking thing would slip down and cause some of the weight to rest on my shoulders. Again, not much fun if you have to put up with that day after day.
Waterproof pants Snowgum 450g Seemed to do the job. Didn't have pockets which annoyed the crap out of me. Didn't wear them all that much.
Hiking Shoes Brasher Superlite 1.1kg (pair) This is probably the most important piece of equipment you need to consider. I am no expert on this so all I'll tell you is my experience with these shoes.
First of all, they actually survived the whole walk! They were completely stuffed by the end, but that's still pretty impressive, especially since they got wet more times than I care to remember. You can see photos of how they ended up here, here, and here.
I found them pretty unsuitable for road walking, and noticed that they weren't rated very well for cushioning. They chewed up my feet pretty bad in the early stages in Cornwall, where it was day after day of hard country lanes.
Annoyingly, I also found them not to be all that water-proof. However, I wasn't wearing gaiters, and I reckon these might of made a huge difference.
For other surfaces they were fine. I found the ankle support particularly useful, as there are are lots of treacherous, ankle breaking tracks.
2 x Walking pants 350g each I brought two pair, one for walking, and one for camp. Here's a tip: Don't throw away the belt that comes with them, as I found I lost so much weight they kept on falling down after a while!
3 x Walking shirts 175g each Didn't really need 3. Two would probably do.
3 x Hiking socks 50g each Two pair for walking and one for camp. And believe me, you don't want to smell them after a while! My socks lasted me the whole walk, although they were stuffed near the end
Fleece Top 350g
Hat 100g
Stove MSR WhisperLite stove and bottle 1kg (with fuel) I had a few fun and games with this stove. There was never any problem with getting it started, but it only seemed to have two levels:
  • Off
  • Liquid Mag-ma
Getting anything to simmer on it meant holding the pot a few cm above the flame
Still, for cooking breakfast, it was fine.
Cooking Pot/ Cutlery 450g
Cup 125g
GPS Garmin 60CSx 213g This was a bit of a life-saver for me. I am pretty hopeless at orienteering, and also have absolutely no sense of direction. I downloaded the Ordnance Survey maps onto this, and combined with the paper maps, and a compass, never got lost. Funny about that!
Seriously though, when I first hit the Pennines, and the visibility was about 10 meters, I'd still be walking around there without it. Plus, it logged my track which you can see on the maps page!
As far as battery life goes, I found it lasted for about 24 continuous hours on a set of standard AA batteries.
Accuracy wise, it would normally report between 5m to 10m (although I did get it down to 3m once). Strangely enough, the only time I had problems with acquiring satellites was near Loch Ness. Spooky!
Note: If you load the OS maps onto it, don't expect to see the screen display the same level of detail as the paper versions. To get an idea of what you will see, goto the Garmin TOPO Great Britain and select the Mapsource Map Viewer. Annoyingly, it didn't have all the walking paths that are marked on the OS Explorer series of maps. However, it does have the major ones, in particular the Pennine Way.
LEJOG Book 250g
Maps OS 120g each I used the OS Explorer series of maps, although in hindsight I probably could of got away with the OS Landranger series. I have also heard that Harvey Maps are really good, except they only cover normal walking trails.
Be aware that if you go for the OS Explorer maps, you will need about 60 of them to cover the whole length. I normally carried 4 or 5 maps at a time, and only once did I ever end up having trouble buying them for the next section.
Obviously it is not feasible to carry that many maps, so I posted them back to myself. Be warned that when the Post Office say it will take 2 month for surface mail to go from England to Australia, they're not joking.
Map Case Ortlieb 80g A map case may look daggy (just look at me at JOG with it around my neck) but your maps will be ruined without it.
Camp Shoes 750g (pair) Another pair of shoes seemed a luxury, but there was nothing better than at the end of the day changing out of my stinking, waterlogged boots to a pair of (relatively) clean shoes.
Drysack Sea-to-summit Drysack 225g I didn't think I'd need this, but what I found is that, because it was always raining, I'd be packing my tent up when it was soaked and during the day's walk all the water would drip out into the inside of the pack. This kept everything perfectly dry.
I'll be honest, you could achieve the same thing with a garbage bag. However, at least these don't rip.
Towel Sea-to-summit Tek towel 200g Did the job. Be aware that if you can't dry it, it can soak up a shirt-load of water and be quite heavy.
Pack cover Sea-to-summit Pack Cover 125g No, I am not being sponsored by Sea-to-summit! Again, I didn't really think I'd need this, but in the end it was great because:
  • it kept my backpack dry, and a wet backpack is a heavy backpack.
  • it kept all the numerous straps on my pack under control
In the end, I covered my backpack everyday, mainly for the second reason.
First Aid kit 300g FYI, I had the following:
  • Duct Tape
  • Whistle
  • Elastic Gauze Bandage
  • Small spare torch
  • Spare batteries
  • Pain killers
  • Dressings
  • Triangular Bandage
  • Thermal Accident Blanket
  • Blister Pads
  • Emergency Chocolate Bar
  • Spare shoelaces
Thanks to Adelaide for supplying most of the items!
Food 1kg Because I went out at night, all I had to carry was enough food for breakfast, and maybe lunch.
And whilst you can cook porriage with water, I found it much more tasty to just buy a small container of milk every day!
I also always carried an emergency spare pasta meal, in case I got stuck at the end of a day without somewhere to eat.
Water Bottle and water Sigg 1.5kg (with water) I managed to lose my Sigg bottle about a 1/4 of the way through, after which I just carried water in 500ml drink bottles.
Camera Canon Powershot A570 325g Bought this camera in Bath after other camera died.
Torch Maglite Mini 107g This was vital for me, because I suffer from Congenital Stationary Night Blindness
This was fine for me, although I probably would of liked something brighter!
AM/FM Radio 50g
Phone + Charger 170g Damn phone broke half-way though!
Suntan Lotion 200g This was clearly the most ironic item I had, because even though I carted it 2000km, I used it precisely once!
Tooth Brush/ Paste/ Soap/etc 200g
Spare Batteries 200g All of my GPS, torch and camera worked off AA batteries, so I always had a couple pair of batteries on me.
Pocket Knife 150g
Passports 150g
Total Pack Weight 19.4kg  
1st November 2007 John Minack