Land’s End John o’ Groats, virtual walk

1083.8 miles (1744 kilometres), January to May, 113 days. There’s a referral link at the bottom if you fancy it

Remember when we were all locked down? Most of us went a little stir crazy, particularly those of us who need to get out and walk places. I would walk round and round the local graveyard, day in, day out. After a while I knew every tree, every jay, every rotten log in the wildlife walk and where the wren would sit and talk to me. While it was very rewarding watching things change on a daily basis, we become so well acquainted with our local area and wildlife, when I discovered virtual walks and realised I could walk around the world I was drawn right in.

I’ve done several now but I’m going to tell you about when I decided I was going to walk from Lands End to John O’Groats, the long distance path across Britain from the furthest point south-west, Land’s End, to the extreme North West of Scotland, John O’Groats. Except I was going to do it from the comfort of home, walking round Sainsburys and of course my local graveyard.

The idea is you sign up, pay up, and join a virtual walk somewhere in the world on your phone or device. You can either link it to your fitness tracker, smartphone or you can input steps, which is how I chose to do it. I don’t have any trackers and I generally don’t remember to bring my phone, so I got a cheap step counter. As you input your activity you move along the virtual road. You can stop and look around as this walk uses google streetview, and you get sent postcards from interesting places as you walk through them. Mostly interesting. You also get a finisher’s medal at the end and these are good quality.

I soon found myself spending far too long on streetview. This was one of the first places I checked and I was delighted to be buying some eggs outside someone’s farmhouse and walking past the duck pond in Polgigga, Cornwall. (It might have been around this time I bought the 15 kilos of duck food online).

I can also remember being massively excited to find myself standing on the central reservation of the A394 looking at a Poundstretcher warehouse. I mean, that’s never happened, I’ve never walked there before. Let me tell you my family lost interest in this adventure a long long time before I did. (Note: I never did, I’m still walking virtually every single day, currently about to reach Mordor to throw the ring into the fires of hell or some such Lord of the Rings nonsense.)

There were plenty of gorgeous places I stopped too, various stone circles, the chain ferry at Fowey, outside a quintessentially English tearoom, and an excellent surprise at Shell Bay where I found myself on the prow of a boat crossing the water. I can only imagine the ones I missed by not ‘landing’ there when I inputted my steps counted.

This version of LEJOG (that’s what the cool kids call this trail) follows a tourist route, I believe the actual non-virtual version is 874 miles but this one, in order to take in the sights, is 1083.8. I walked it day and night, literally as I do nightshifts, I walked it walking to work, I walked it going to the shops, I walked it hiking, I swam some of it, at one point I even walked it as I walked part of it, a somewhat meta experience when I walked through virtual Edinburgh while I was in Edinburgh, wondering if I would bump into myself and what that might do to the space/time continuum.

Something else rather lovely happened, I realised I was walking right past my friends house on the map so I got in touch, and as he has the same sense of the absurd as I have, we messaged and he got it right away; we had virtual cake at his virtual house as I walked past virtually. I stayed for a cup of virtual tea and then went on my way.

Every 20% of the way trees were planted as an incentive to keep going. I wasn’t too bothered about the postcards that kept coming every 100 or so miles, except for the slightly bizarre ones. The company isn’t British but I worry for all the tourists who think Leicester might be on a par with Stonehenge.

It may not come as a surprise that in the early days I became a little obsessed with my virtual walks, and I had spreadsheets (I love spreadsheets) with figures, graphs, medians and mean distances, tracking every step walked. I’m a little more relaxed about these things now. But not much. I’ve walked a few different virtual walks to date, I only ever do long distance ones as the overall cost is not cheap. I’ve walked the Appalachian Trail and I’m signed up for the Great Wall of China. I average around 9 miles a day, but at times it has been much higher. I try to be a little more relaxed these days when I don’t get to go out because of work, or like this week, illness, hence the virtual walk post. But hey, at least I can still move along the map each time I go to the bathroom or walk over to make myself a cup of tea. Never stop moving along.

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Walk info

The company I use is called Conqueror, there’s an app to download and you take it from there. It costs around £39 per walk, including medal which isn’t cheap, this is why I do the longest distance walks, and ones that have streetview. If you are considering trying it I get a discount on mine if you use this referral link

7 responses to “Land’s End John o’ Groats, virtual walk”

  1. I very much wanted to do that and never did, following the route John Hillaby took in Journey Through Britain,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read that one, is it good

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rather lovely, I always think. And he did it in around 1965 so it’s a bit of history now as well, with the land and the people, I know it inspired a lot of folk to do long-distance walks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Will blog a piece on it later.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve swum the English Channel, walked the Camino Frances and am about 550km from John O’Groats! See you out on the trail. Mel


    1. Hey congratulations. Hope you’re enjoying Scotland!


  3. I virtually have zero experience in this area, but I do think it is so cool you have spreadsheets for these activities. The 15 kilos of duck food reference…gets me every time. 🤣 This really does sound like great fun, and I will be interested in future walks virtually or otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

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