LEJOG by Tandem 2021

Our adventure from Land's End to John O' Groats on a tandem

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Lochs and Forests

Day 22 started with rain, so rain gear on us and the panniers . Soon after leaving Altquhur Byre B&B (Our thanks to them for their donation) we were wowed by this little house.


Before too long we had to climb up some steps. Not easy with Daisy loaded up!

First challenge of the day!

We knew today’s ride was going to be tough as it included 3 BIG hill climbs and we were soon into the first one, in very humid conditions. The rain eased up so we were able to take off our rain gear which helped considerably. It was the lowest gear until we reached the top, 600 ft up and then around 700 ft down the other side to Gartmore where just after we crossed the River Forth. At Aberfoyle we had the biggest and steepest climb of the day 750 ft up through The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.

The cycle path entrance into The Forest Park

The wet mosses and the huge pine and spruce trees were so beautiful we nearly forgot about the steepness of the ride (but not quite).

On the forest trail

The route down was really stony and bumpy where it joined the forest drive and shook the rear pannier loose (quick repair carried out). We passed several smaller lochs before riding next to the 3.5 mile long Loch Venachar where we stopped for lunch.

Perfect lunch setting

The thundery showers forecast came as promised so we put our capes on and sheltered under a tree until they passed.

Sunshine back out and on our way again. At the end of the loch near Callander nestled on the shore was the superb Ripple Retreat building for families of young cancer patients to stay. Some tears were shed.

Just north of Callander a gentle climb gave us views of Garbh Uisge.


And also Loch Lubnaig

Just after Loch Lubnaig we had another downpour and once again sheltered.

Keeping dry and warm

A steep climb with many hairpin bends on narrow tracks took us to the foot of Glen Ogle a very long steady climb up the line of the former Killin Railway which had many warnings of rock falls in adverse conditions. With views of another mountainous landscape.

The last few miles descended down through rough forest tracks to Killin our B&B for the night.

We were very tired.

To top it all we were then informed our B&B for Thursday had been cancelled due to Covid some Googling and phone calls made to find alternative.

Total distance today 46 miles

Total Hill Climbs 3268 ft

Day 22

We are fine but due to technical issues we are unable to write the blog tonight. Double blog tomorrow!

Through Glasgow

Today’s ride was mostly following waterways, something we were pleased about as our recent days had followed major roads.

We had a fast downhill mile from our B&B to rejoin the cycle route which took us through Uddingston and our first sighting of The River Clyde

Bridge over the River Clyde

Soon after at a cycle path junction we came across this……

Heron Sculpture by Andy Scott

Following the path alongside the River Clyde towards the centre of Glasgow was a mixture of Scandinavian style houses overlooking the river and long stretches of green vegetation.

Amazed at the height of the giant hogweed!

On entering Glasgow Green Park on the very wide cycle/pedestrian path we saw many delights.

One of several gnarly trees.

The magnificent Winter Gardens Greenhouse

The huge UEFA 2020 Fan Zone Festival is being staged next to the greenhouse at the moment.

On leaving the Green Park the SEC Armadillo appeared in front of us.

Thought we were in Sydney for a moment!

And next to it the SSE Hydro

Very futuristic!

A smaller but just as striking sculpture that we were impressed by is “Rise” also by Andy Scott to signify the rising and regeneration of Glasgow.


We briefly chatted to a Glaswegian man who told us since Glasgow was the European City of Culture in 1990 it had regenerated and improved the city immensely. It certainly got the thumbs up from us!

Now following a waterway towards Loch Lomond we saw this boat who’s owner must have had a sense of humour!

We left the waterways and climbed up through the picturesque Balloch Country Park with an interesting work of art

Tree stump “house “where the little people live!

One of the challenges we faced today was squeezing over this long narrow bridge towards the end of today’s ride.

A steep climb up a lane for about a mile just outside Drymen was the final part of our ride today to our B&B for 2 nights. Rest day tomorrow!

Total distance today 45 miles

Total Hill Climbs 1,112 ft

Day 20 to Uddingston

With 20 cycling days and over 800 miles behind us we are finding it harder to get up and get going in the mornings. Thank you to everyone for your messages of encouragement to date, please keep them coming as they are very much appreciated!

A long gradual climb through the Lowther Hills started today’s ride. These hills are long and sweeping and surround this area completely giving you the feeling of being low in the sea with a gentle swell all around you.

Wind farms taking advantage of the elevated position are plentiful, although today was hot and still with the blades of the turbines hardly moving.

One of the first habited areas was the village of Lesmahagow, which had a delightful display of flowers planted in welly boots hanging from the fence of the primary school there.

Good use of old wellies!

Riding downhill into Larkhall we stopped on the bridge over the Avon Water as a unusual water feature caught our eye.

Very mesmerising!

It was a steep climb out of Larkhall and through Chatelherault Country Park close to Hamilton. On leaving the park the route followed busy city like roads and frequent industrial sites where junctions needed to be crossed using the cycle crossing lights which made it much easier.

The cycle route was also following the signs for the famous David Livingstone Memorial Park in Blantyre where we stopped for a drink in the shade.

We caught the rush hour traffic on the last few miles to our B&B at Uddingston on the outskirts of Glasgow, but it was very satisfying to be pedalling along the cycle lane next to stationary traffic.

Remote cycle path.

Total distance today 37.5 miles

Total Hill Climbs today 1,739 ft

Changing Landscape

Leaving Broadlea of Robgill B&B this morning meant we were also leaving behind the views of the northern Lake District hills. (Thank you Amanda for your donation).

We were soon back on route 74 which ran very close to the M6/A74(M) for all of today’s ride. At times so close to it we were practically on the hard shoulder!

5 miles into our ride, just north of the village of Ecclefechan about a dozen cyclists on their Day 9 of Lejog chatted to us while cycling by, closely followed by their support vehicle carrying all their luggage for them. (Not a luxury we have!)

As soon as they were out of sight we noticed the bright colours of more cyclists resting across the road. One of which had better cycling skills than us as he was riding a penny farthing!

Dean Williams with his penny farthing raising funds for Help for Heroes

The next place we rode through was the pleasant small town of Lockerbie where we were cheerfully wished good luck on our journey by a gentleman walking by.

Leaving Lockerbie the strong fragrance of freshly cut pine trees filled the air. The reason soon became clear as we first passed a wood chip fuelled power station, followed by many sawmills along the road.

When we were starting to get hungry we noticed a tranquil freshly cut rolling meadow, ideal location for lunch!

Lunchtime view

While we were packing up lunch a young deer appeared and quickly leapt a fence into the undergrowth.

As we were riding, the landscape was changing and becoming dominated by pine trees.

On a cycle path near to Moffat we had wondered if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and had arrived at Toulouse, South West France!

A quirky sculpture made from road signs

Riding up away from Moffat we were joined by Kevin a local cyclist who had gone out for a bike ride rather than mow his lawn! He chatted and encouraged us up to the top of Beattock Summit where he bid us farewell and sped off back down the hill. Kevin was very generous with his donation towards the charities. (Thank you Kevin).

On the final part of today’s ride towards Abington the verges were amass with Scottish thistles.

Some buildings of character along the way.

Total distance today 45.5 miles

Total Hill Climbs 1,798ft

England into Scotland

Today started with breakfast in our Travelodge room while enjoying the fascinating sport of people watching in the Services car park!

Off we set knowing we had quite an easy day ahead of us (much less hill climbing to do). Before long we were passing through lanes lined with hawthorn hedgerows and occasional oak trees, very similar in appearance to our own Hampshire lanes.

A lane near Raughton in Cumbria

Heading on towards Carlisle along the path between the River Caldew on our right was the towering modern looking Nescafe factory on our left.

On entering the cycle paths of Carlisle we stopped to admire an impressive weir on the river.

We were pleased how easily the blue National Cycle Network signage guided us through Carlisle and passed it’s Castle on the way. The existing keep was built by Henry 1 in 1122 (probably not on his own, too much work for one pair of hands!)

Carlisle Castle

The route out of Carlisle took us onto a busy road, but thankfully not for long. as it then left the road and took us onto a cycle path next to a lovely open parkland setting where we got to carry out our puncture repairing skills again!

Puncture number 2 sorted!

It was so lovely we decided to have our lunch there.

The variety of surfaces to ride on made the ride even more interesting. Some easier than others!

Grassy track to ride along….

…..and then a rickety wooden bridge!

A magnificent weathered church caught our attention as we approached Longtown. It stood proudly on a hill guarding the many, many graves in its well kept graveyard.

The Church of St Michael and All Angels in Arthuret

As we left Longtown which is very near the England Scotland border we stopped at a real gem of a bike shop, Bikeseven, as we needed a bit more air in Daisy’s back tyre. We were helped and given coffee by a very friendly Dutchman who was working there.

Scotland was just around the corner and calling us , so off we went to find it. It occurred to us then that the last person we had spoken to in England was a Dutchman!

We felt we were really in Scotland as we approached Gretna Green….

…..and wondered if any couples had travelled by tandem to get married there?

Leaving Gretna Green we rode along farm lanes to our B&B for the next 2 nights. Rest day tomorrow

Total distance today 39.5 miles

Total hill climbs today 1077 ft

Comforted by The Pennines

Fuelled up by a lovely breakfast cooked by Brenda at Tranna Hill B&B and with Daisy sporting her new back chain we were off again, day 17!

Our legs felt very heavy and drained from the recent days of hard climbs. as we rode up and over the moorland near Sunbiggin Tarn. Suddenly we were small dots in a huge landscape again!

On the moors with the Pennines in the background

Pedalling along the hilltop road after passing a remote farm to reach the peak, we were able to ride more quickly, We weren’t far along when we saw the quite rare sight of another tandem being ridden towards us. We both stopped and exchanged tales of our travels. They were on a long ride finishing in Leeds.

Jess and Johnny on their way to Leeds

The Pennines were rarely out of sight and their soft undulating peaks were quite comforting as we continued to ride parallel with them in the distance.


Perhaps we will walk the Pennine Way one day!

The middle part of today’s ride had frequent short but steep troughs and peaks , like riding along the back of the Loch Ness monster!

We passed through the village of Kings Meaburn complete with the old school built in 1831 for £200 . It still has it’s bell above the roof.

School children looked out of those lovely windows for 150 years until it closed in 1983

The route then zigzagged it’s way north where next to the River Eamont just south of Penrith, stands the ruins of Brougham Castle.

Brougham Castle ruins in the background

As we skirted the Lake District and moved north the dying ash trees became very evident. Their appearance reminded us of a tree in winter, bare of leaves with mistletoe clinging to it.

The last few miles of today’s ride were slightly downhill along a road which was as straight as an arrow, parallel with the M6 where we were able to fly along in Daisy’s top gear and access the Southwaite Motorway Services Travelodge for the night!

A Cumbrian Milestone

Total distance today 42 miles

Total Hill climbs 2,654 ft

And now we are in Cumbria!

Rest day 5 over and we were keen to get going. Quick bike checks before setting off revealed the back chain had stretched (as expected) so it would need replacing in the next few days. Our planned 8 mile stop at Milnthorpe to get food supplies for tonight’s meal had an added bonus of being next to Mal the Bike Guy’s shop, so new chain purchased.

Nearby we passed Dallam Tower Estate , we were impressed by it and it’s views.

Dallam Tower Estate
….and the view from it’s front room !

Riding on and climbing we were soon looking across to views of The Lake District fells to our left and The Yorkshire Dales to our right.

Lake District View

Climbing higher still we could see Morecambe Bay appear as the lane we were riding through wound around the landscape

Morecambe Bay shining out.

Speeding down the steep descents complete with sharp bends gave the brakes another severe testing!

The route crossed a bridge over the M6 and we were then entering the Yorkshire Dales National Park at Beck Foot ….

…..through The Lowgill Viaduct.

Lowgill Viaduct built in 1859.

We rode a few hundred metres from and parallel to the M6, the railway and the River Lune all alongside each other, for several miles. It was quite surreal to view the business of the motorway and train line from the remoteness of our viewpoint.

Keen eyes will see the M6, railway and river.

Further down the road we spotted a sheep stuck half way through a fence complete with brambles entangled in his wool so we stopped to help free him. However on seeing us approaching he gave a super sheep wriggle and freed himself!

After another big climbing day the last hill climb today was up to our B&B for the night at Newbiggin-on-Lune

Total distance today 37 miles

Total Hill Climbs 3631 ft

Hardest day yet!

Having today been welcomed to Lancashire, it got us thinking about how many different counties we have travelled through to date, and the answer is 9.

Also to answer a question which several of you have been asking, we have been extremely lucky to date and the rain has left us alone. A slight drizzle on the day mentioned before and then light rain for the last 2 miles today!

We set off mentally prepared today as we knew we had a long ride with substantial climbs ahead of us, although we had also prepared ourselves for a little celebration at 8 miles as this was the 600th mile(half way stage).

The route took us around Clitheroe on lovely quiet roads through villages such as Waddington, Grindleton and Sawley before our first climb of the day which was quite a long steady one, at the top of which opened out to reveal a huge landscape lined with drystone walls, sheep and very weathered trees.

We didn’t know Lancashire was this vast and beautiful.

It was then speedily down to the village of Slaidburn where we found a lovely spot by the river to have our lunch.

And then the inevitable hill climb up out of the valley into the Forest of Bowland. Magnificent views across to the Yorkshire Dales and the peaks of the southern Lake District.

Coming in the opposite direction to us vintage and classic cars on the Pennine 1000 Rally passed us every few minutes.

The continuous climbing levelled out a bit and then dropped slightly through a wooded area and across a cattle grid from which we could see the vastness of the glacier formed landscape we were in and the immense challenge of the road ahead. Our 3rd big climb of the day was staring us in the face! The wind picked up and was blowing towards us and it turned chillier. The climb was unforgiving bordering on torturous and we wondered if when the bicycle was invented they imagined anyone would want to take on or want to do such a challenge! The views and feeling of isolation in such s huge landscape are beyond what we can describe, so if you ever have the chance, you should see it for yourself!

A waterfall when nearing the top of the last climb
Truly relieved to be at the toup of such a hard, hard climb!

We certainly enjoyed the downhill ride on the other side and decided to reward ourselves with a coffee in a little village called Wray where we chatted to a most delightful, friendly Lancashire lady. It turned out her parents had ridden a tandem in their younger days. (See photo below)

She wished us well as we rode away to our B&B in Borwick for the next 2 nights as tomorrow is a rest day!

Total Distance Today 47.5 miles

Total Hill climbs 3,643 ft

Such character!
Once a beautiful home!

Sale to Whalley

After spending nights in sheds, garages, hotel meeting rooms and even outside Daisy got to spend last night in our hotel room with us!

Back on the Trans Pennine Trail again and then route 6 took us across the tram ways and open parkland into the busy centre of Manchester. It was a mixture of old industrial buildings and new modern looking skyscrapers.

A mixture of new…..
…..and old

To stay on the route and stay safe we decided to use the traffic light crossing points rather than mingle with the traffic at the junctions. As we came out of the city but still on busy roads an odd engine noise grew louder from behind us and we were overtaken by a very large high speed quad bike which rode over the speed bumps without slowing down!

Thankfully we were soon onto the Radcliffe to Clifton railway path which was a delight to be on.

Tranquility and only just out of Manchester !

We crossed a bridge with the River Irwell far far below us and then joined the Kirklees Trail out of Bury.

From Bury we rode to Ramsbottom which was 26 miles into today’s ride and up to this point the climbs had been undemanding. We knew we had nearly 2000ft to climb today and most of these were still ahead of us and so the climb up from Ramsbottom was tough! We were rewarded when reaching the top with spectacular views over the Rossendale Valley, the Pennines and Manchester in the distance behind us.

We rode through Accrington and along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath.

After leaving the towpath we had a very long steep climb ahead of us and with 40 miles in our legs at this stage it was really hard and we had to dig very deep! As we climbed we could see Blackburn in the valley behind us. A very fast descent down the other side into the Ribble Valley and to Whalley our B&B for the night.

Total distance today 46 miles

Total Hillclimbs today 1942ft

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