The next Garbage Run goes on June 8th with a price of £250 for participation including your accommodation. If you prefer to go it alone, here’s a run down of the route, taking as many scenic roads as possible between Land’s End to John O’Groats.
Day one starts at Land’s End in the morning and works its way up the coast, clinging to the cliffs as much as possible and passing through some really nice port towns and seaside villages along the way. Some of the lanes are tight and twisty, others open and flowing but there’s some stunning scenery through here, with a final dog-leg inland to miss the busy roads around Bideford and Barnstaple.
A bit more of a transit day this one, with a fantastic ride in the morning, again along the back lanes bordering the ocean, through Lynton, Lynmouth and down Porlock Hill, before reaching Bridgwater when things get less scenic. Getting around Bristol is the biggest pain, with several options but the one currently taken is to head for the top Severn crossing bridge, over to Chepstow then up through Monmouth heading for Leominster. Depending on time you could duck further into Wales, or swing further out and come round through the Cotswolds. Lots of options.
A nice shorter day this, with a surprisingly pleasant ride up through Shropshire Area of Natural Beauty, around Telford and Stafford – without going into either – stopping for a pasty at Iron Bridge before reaching Matlock for lunch. Plenty of good riding from here in the Peak District and you can do as many or as few miles up through the Peak District as you fancy. We tend to stay in and around Castleton for the evening as there’s some great campsites and pubs in the village. Onwards up through Winnatts Pass the next morning.
It starts to open up by day four and the group is in full swing and starting to find their feet. The rest of the run up through the Peak District is a fantastic start to the day, taking some nice quite lanes before having to skirt around Skipton and Keighley as best we can. Then comes Yorkshire Dales and into Cumbria towards the end of the day, which is a stunning ride and brings in a few alternative routes depending on the weather. Generally we’re aiming for Haggs Bank bunkhouse that evening. But you could venture off to the Lake District instead, whatever takes your fancy.
A long day in terms of miles (about 200) but as the roads are so empty for the most part it’s probably one of the best riding days. The route from Alston to Gretna Green is across country with hardly any traffic in sight. We skirt around Dumfries on a bit of busy A road before turning off and taking one of my favourite roads of the run (A713) all the way up to Ayr on the coast. Getting around Ayr isn’t much fun on the bypass, but dropping down to the water’s edge of the Firth of Clyde is one of the best moments of the trip, then up from there to Largs for an icecream, then a ferry from Gourock to Dunoon to the best campspot of the route at Glendaruel campsite.
You’re in the highlands now with not a bad road to be ridden between here and John O’Groats. We head to Inverness for a breakfast bap, then up through the glens to Glencoe, refuelling at the Green Welly on route. We reach Fort William around lunch, then you have the option to either push onto Applecross and stay the night there, or head for the Isle of Skye instead, which is my preferred option as it allows you to assess the weather conditions over Applecross before committing to it. With more time you could explore Skye and then begin your route north.
You’re riding the fabled North Coast 500 (NC500) now and from here it’s as simple as following the coast and making the few turns when you need to. It can get busy in the height of summer up here and this west coast has quite a few single track roads. I encourage people to ride in smaller groups along there to make it more manageable. Sometimes you get good weather, sometimes you get bad, but a trip up and around here is memorable whatever the weather. There are a couple of nice cafes on route, the Whistle Stop Café near the junction at Kinlochewe is a personal favourite. We then head onto Ullapool for the night as there’s a good choice of camping, food and beer up there.
The final day, making the final push to John O’Groats. It’s felt like a long way by this point, especially with the winding roads and camping on route. It’s about 1500 miles all up, which to many people is more than they’ve done in a week long time frame before. Again, this day’s route is simply, just continuing on north up to Durness for a hot chocolate at the chocolate factory, before taking the long and winding road around Loch Eriboll, where campervans sometimes, and sometimes not, move over to let normal people past. We reach John O’Groats around 3pm. Some turn around and head straight back south, required to be at work on the Monday morning. For the rest we tend to stay in a hotel back in Thurso, which is a bit rough around the edges, but still has its own charm. Then the long ride home for everyone. About 2400 miles per rider by the time their done, door to door.