TRANSPORT

Bridgwater & Taunton canal, Somerset


John o'Groats sign

Getting to Land's End or John o'Groats (and back again!) with your bike

John o'Groats sign

Getting to and from Land's End & John o'Groats can be a logistical challenge, especially with your bike. The good news though is that there are plenty of options available.

Depending on your circumstances and budget there's several transport methods you could look at such as train, plane, or coach, as well as car hire too. You can even use specialist couriers to ship your bike separately, freeing you up with more choices as to how you travel.

This page was last checked & updated in January 2024. Travel companies do regularly change their routes and schedules though - please do let me know if you spot anything that has changed.

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Taking your bike by train

Travelling by train is probably one of the most popular options for people cycling LEJOG or JOGLE. There's a well served train station 10 miles from Land's End at Penzance, whilst John o'Groats is 16 miles from Wick train station with 3 to 4 trains a day through to Inverness. With stations so close it's easy to see why train travel is so popular!

Reserving a space

Despite its popularity I found that getting your bike on a train isn't always very easy (more seasoned train travelling cyclists may disagree?). Bikes are generally free to take but since spaces are limited you'll need to reserve a dedicated cycle space when you buy your ticket.

Bike reservations are tricky to get and seem to be snapped up weeks in advance - I booked my tickets 3 weeks ahead of time and even then there was no bike space availability on any train on the day that I wanted to travel, and only 1 space (which I took) available on any of the 8 possible trains the day before. Having spoken with other LEJOG'ers this seems to be a common experience 😕.

So make sure you plan & book any trains early - and don't book your seat on a specific train before you've checked for bike space availability!

Getting onto the train

Getting your bike onto the train can be a mission too. The space allocated for bikes on the train from Leeds to Plymouth (a modern Intercity train; a Voyager I think) was absolutely tiny. It took a lot of contortioning of the bike to get it to fit and avoid blocking the door for passengers, and in the end I had to stand it up on its front with the wheel bent double. If you've done it a few times you might be used to it, however for a newbie like me (with an XL size bike and large 29er wheels) it wasn't easy working it out.

The train from Plymouth to Penzance was much easier though; this was an old Intercity where the bikes went into the spacious guard's carriage. The downside of course is that you have to get your bike in and secured quickly; you then have to get off this car and back on the passenger section before the train departs. It's also at the very end of the train - if you're unlucky your reserved seat could be a full 10 carriages away down at the other end (as mine was!).

The LEJOG / JOGLE train companies

If you are looking at train travel, the following are links to some of the train companies' policies and guidance on carrying bikes. Some rail operators enable you to book a bike space online, whilst others (eg ScotRail) require you to phone up to do it.

The Caledonian Sleeper train between Inverness and London also accepts bikes (although not tandems) and can be a relaxing way to travel.

Below too are links to the bike policies for other train companies you might need to use for connecting services:


Couriering your bike

If you're lucky enough to not be on a really tight budget then having your bike couriered to the start - and back from the end - could be an option, giving you much more flexibility in getting yourself to and from either end of the country.

  • John o'Groats Bike Transport Company

At John o'Groats the John o'Groats Bike Transport Company offer dedicated services to LEJOG'ers and JOGLE'rs. They run a shuttle bus for you and your bike between Inverness and John o'Groats several times a week during the summer, and whilst pricier than the train, it's effortless and quicker too.

Bikes loaded onto John o'Groats Bike Transport Company minibus

Loading the bikes at John o'Groats

In addition, for a very reasonable cost each way, they can also arrange for your bike to be couriered directly to and from your home, allowing you to meet it in John o'Groats (if you're starting) or leave it there for them to deal with (if you're finishing). I used them when I arrived at John o'Groats and had a great service. A minibus picked me and my bike up on the Saturday morning, taking me to Inverness train station and my bike on to their offices where they securely packed my bike up; TNT then delivered it to my house in Leeds on the Wednesday. Check their website out and contact them for the latest prices; I highly recommend them.

Additionally they also offer a luggage storage service at their base in central Inverness. They looked after my bike and bags during my Round The UK Coast trip in 2022 when I popped home for a short break to rest my legs; they're a very friendly bunch!

  • Local bike shops

Another option that some people opt for is to courier their bike to a local bike shop near Land's End or John o'Groats. I didn't use this option but there's plenty of people on forums who have done this over the years. Below are links to some of the local bike shops; call them to see if they still offer this service:

For Land's End:

For John o'Groats:


Flying with your bike

If you're coming from abroad then there's several airports you could consider. And even if you're already in mainland Britain, an internal flight can sometimes be cheaper than the train!

  • For John o'Groats, just 15 miles away is Wick airport which offers regular flights to and from Aberdeen, using Eastern Airways.
  • Alternatively you could fly to Inverness airport and then get you & your bike to John o'Groats by using www.johnogroatsbiketransport.co.uk. Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are also options; you'll then need a train or coach up to Inverness (or beyond to Wick).

  • The closest commercial airport to Land's End is Cornwall Airport in Newquay, roughly a 52 mile bike ride away. This is another small airport but is served by airlines such as Eastern Airways and Loganair, with flights to/from London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin, and a limited number of other European cities. Check the airport's website directly for the latest routes.
  • Other airports in the southwest of England with more connections to Europe are Exeter and (a bit further away) Bristol. You can then get a train down to Penzance from either of these, although the airports are both several miles out of town and away from the train stations. They're easily rideable though or you could check if the shuttle coaches will take bikes.

What to do with bike boxes?

One of the main hassles when flying with a bike is what to do with all the packaging once you arrive? If you've used a temporary box you can just dispose of it, but then what do you use to pack the bike with again at the end? Some bike shops can help make this easier as they're happy to receive bikes that are couriered to them, and some will also help you to pack again once you've finished. Check out the bike shops listed above for some bike shops near Land's End and John o'Groats.

Alternatively, if you have a proper bike box or bag, you can look to ship this to your finish line. One cyclist from the US contacted me to say they'd used Parcelcompare.com to get a quote for shipping their bike case from Land's End to John o'Groats, where their hotel was then happy to store it for a month until they arrived. UPS quoted him around £40 for this service (in 2023).


By car

Another option some people opt for is to hire a car on a one-way trip to or from their home. If there's more than one of you then this can be especially cost effective.

  • For John o'Groats, Hertz have a base near Wick airport, whilst Inverness has plenty of other options too.
  • Near Land's End in Penzance you have Europcar, as well as Enterprise just 2 miles away in Long Rock.

Going by coach & bus

Another cheap - if relatively slow - option is to travel by coach.

  • For Land's End you can get a National Express coach to Penzance from anywhere in the UK (no doubt you'll need to change coach at some point though!). They will take bikes too as long as they're packaged and folded as small as possible, although they might incur a small additional charge and will only be taken if there's space in the hold (so travelling by coach could be a bit of a gamble). Give them a call to find out their latest policies and charges.
  • For John o'Groats it's a bit more difficult unfortunately, with the closest you can get by coach being Inverness with Megabus (National Express look to only go as far north as Edinburgh and Glasgow). They however don't accept bikes on their coaches so you'd need to courier it separately.

    From Inverness you can catch a local bus all the way to John o'Groats with Stagecoach, however they too also don't take bikes except for fold up ones. Your best bet from Inverness then, if you've made it there with your bike (eg by flying in or by train) is to use the John o'Groats Bike Transport Company as previously mentioned.

Taking the boat

One final alternative (and scenic!) option for reaching or leaving John o'Groats is by boat, travelling to/from Aberdeen via the Orkneys.

To get to Orkney there's a year round service, the Pentland Ferry, that departs 3 times a day from Gills Bay just 4 miles west of John o'Groats (a 20 minute bike ride away). This service takes you to St Margaret's Hope on Orkney in an hour. There also used to be the John o'Groats ferry that ran directly from John o'Groats itself between May and September, however this is unfortunately not operating in 2024 as the family owned business is looking for a new buyer.

Then once on Orkney it's an 18 mile ride (yes, more cycling!) from St Margaret's Hope to Kirkwall where the 3-times-a-week (during the summer) overnight Northlink ferry will take you all the way to Aberdeen, from where you can catch a train or coach home. Note however that, even in the height of summer, you'll apparently need bike lights for the ride to the ferry (which departs at 11.45pm)!

The advantage of this is that not only do you get to see Orkney (maybe even stay over for a night or two?), but that you have plenty more travel options from Aberdeen than you do from Wick or Thurso. There might be fewer cyclists trying to take bikes onto trains as well so getting that all-important bike reservation may be easier too.


Join the discussion!

How did you get you and your bike to or from Land's End & John o'Groats? Have you got any tips to pass on to others? Let us know here!