To give you a better idea on how you could cycle the London-Land's End Cycle Route you can read this example itinerary. It is not how you should do it, it only intends to show how many of our Dutch touring cyclists do the route in a timespan of two to three weeks. Some people bring their teenage children or even younger. The youngest child known to complete the route riding herself is Lisa Munneke, who was six years old at the time. There are also parents who bring children on a trailer or tag-alongs. Some people even bring their dog in a basket.
You do not need to be particularly fit, but you should be used to cycle/walk around town on a daily basis, taking in 3-10 miles per day, and have the will to keep going. Most of our amateur riders only splash out on a big tour once per year, just taking it easy, taking in the scenery as it comes and enjoying life, without being too fanatic about it.
The German word radwandern is probably the best description of the type of this type of cycle touring; you are on a walk with your bike! Keep in mind you can make up your own "bike walking distances" per day at all times, the stages below are just an example on how you could do it. Feel free to split the mentioned stages into shorter stages as you think it would fit you. You can also decide to cycle the whole route over two, three or even more holidays; this is not uncommon!
Day 1: Transfer to London and London Woolwich - London Rotherhite (17 km/10.5 miles):
Whether you fly, train or drive to the British Capital, make your way to London Bridge Station, so you can utilise the On Your Bike Rental (with the only long-term quality bike rental in London directly on our route). You could hit the route westbound straight away, but what makes our London route so special is that you can take in the transformation of the River Thames across the city, from a wide sea estuary to a tranquil stream. To be able to experience this fully, take the bikes on a train to Woolwich station (well before the evening rush hour). Cut there from the station to the Thames Path and start to follow it westbound. A pleasant afternoon ride, you'll be able to enjoy the scenery of the Thames Barrier, the 02 Arena and Greenwich Park on the Greenwich Meridian (with splendid views across the Thames towards Canary Wharf). For a budget stay, ensure to make reservations for YHA Thameside with its secure bike parking in Rotherhite. From the outside seating area of the pub across the road, you can see the sun going down over the River Thames and the City of London.
Day 2: London Rotherhite - Chertsey (50 km/31 miles):
This is probably one of the most spectacular day rides you could ever have in your life. Cycling across Central London, you take in a great deal of famous landmarks, all just by staying on quiet roads and cycle paths. You'll only cross busy main roads occasionally. You'll cycle under the Tower Bridge, enjoy the views over Westminster and the Big Ben, could see the change of the guards at Buckingham Palace, have lunch in Hyde Park and browse through luxurious Kensington. You'll then cycle out of city into fabulous Richmond Park and further on the idyllic Thames towpath, also passing Hampton Court. In Chertsey, although close to Heathrow, you'll already feel being away from it all. If you like camping, pitch your tent at one of the two campsites here or enjoy a night of sleep in a local B&B. You can choose to do this spectacular stage over two days, for example by staying in a B&B in Kingston upon Thames or YHA Earls Court.
Day 3: Chertsey - Newbury (100 km/62 miles):
The first stage with some considerable distance could easily be split into two days, but as the route is flat on the towpaths of the Thames and the Avon and Kennet Canal, this day distance is achievable for many riders, so long as you make a reasonably early start. Via stunning Windsor Park and views over Windsor Castle and the famous Eton River Bridge, you'll set sail for Reading across the commuter belt of Berkshire. The scenery can be remarkable green here, especially around Knowl Hill, the only serious climb on today's ride. The towpath of the Avon and Kennet Canal is a heaven of peace and quiet, popular with walkers, cyclists, anglers and boaters. Most importantly, it keeps you away from any rushing traffic of all nearby commuters towns. In Newbury you have once again the choice between camping or B&B accommodation.
Day 4: Newbury - Devizes (70 or 100 km/43 or 62 miles):
Wiltshire is famous for its ancient stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury. With our route book, you can make a balanced choice on which you'd prefer to visit by bike. The shorter Avebury route takes you through ancient Savernake Forest and beautiful Marlborough. The longer Stonehenge route makes you travel across the empty Salisbury Plains, which are actually pretty hilly. Have a good look at the height profiles in our book and know yourself when making up your mind on which route option to go for. If you'd like to visit Stonehenge, we recommend to split this stage into two stages, allowing you plenty of time for your Stonehenge visit. Both routes rejoin towards Devizes, where you will see two white chalk horses on the hill sides and where you'll see the amazing 29 canal locks of Caen Hill, bridging a height difference of 72m! Around Devizes, you have once again the choice between camping and staying in a B&B.
Day 5: Devizes - Clevedon (100 km/62 miles):
There is so much to see and to do on this flat stage, that you might prefer to split it into two. An extra budget stay is easy available in either the YHAs in Bath and Bristol or the YMCA in Bath. Cycling on the towpath of the Avon and Kennet Canal is at its very best in the scenic Cotswolds, but you may want to opt for the spectacular ride through a one mile long railway tunnel. It is well lit and calm music from speakers helps you with this unique cycling experience. Either way, Bath is famous for its Roman Baths and many impressive buildings, one of the very first cities to appear on the UNESCO World Heritage listings.
From Bath, another unique cycling experience awaits you on the Bristol and Bath railway path, Britain's first long-distance cycle path, built by volunteers of the Sustrans charity. It takes you indeed traffic-free to Bristol's bustling city centre with its vibrant docks area. It is worth to spend some time here, before heading on into the spectacular Avon Gorge, which will take you via the Gordano Valley to Clevedon. When cycling from Dover or Harwich, this could be the worthy finish of a coast-to-coast ride between the English Channel or North Sea and the Bristol Channel/Atlantic Ocean. From nearby Yatton station, you could take bikes back on the train to London. Note choice of accommodations in Clevedon is limited, you may end up slightly inland, such as campers will do anyway with the Bullock Farm campsite, of which the owners are dedicated fans of our route.
Day 6: Clevedon - Taunton (105 km/65 miles):
This last truly flat stage across the Somerset Levels takes you on the Strawberry Line to Cheddar, famous for its cheese and gorge. Abseiling, caving or just a walk/bike ride in/on top of the gorge is recommended. The next stretch to Bridgwater is very rural and heights such as the Mendip Hills keep the flat horizons of this area interesting. Another canal towpath with its pleasant Maunsel Locks cafe takes you to Taunton. In Taunton, you'll have once again the choice to take the train back to London or to continue further west. The journey through reasonably flat areas now definitely comes to an end. The climbs ahead are not impossible to do, but a reasonable level of fitness, the right frame of mind and willingness to walk bikes on some very steep stretches is needed to continue west from Taunton...
Day 7: Taunton - Barnstaple (90 km/55 miles):
This stage takes you across Exmoor National Park and you'll be cycling on the highest "pass" of the route, 480m above sea level. This might not sound very high, but as this ride goes up and down, up and down and up and down, your total climbing distance will tally up to at least one serious Alps climb of the Tour de France. Splendid views and stunning countryside are the rewards of your climbing efforts. Travelling over the ancient Tarr Steps should make this journey truly special. Don't forget; what goes up, goes down as well! Still, know yourself and split this stage into two as needed, for example by staying in pleasant Dulverton, or at the remote Halse Farm campsite, Blindwell Bunkhouse or Sportsman Inn pub and B&B.
Day 8: Barnstaple - Bude (85 km/52 miles):
The splendid Tarka Trail on the course of a former railway sets the pace for this stage. Without too much climbing, you can take in the tranquil hilly Devon countryside, also enjoying pleasant riverside towns such as Barnstaple and Bideford or even the spectacular Atlantic Ocean beach of Westward Ho. Severe climbing is ahead in Cornwall and if you are not up for that, seriously consider to cycle the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route to Plymouth. With various cycle paths on former railways, such as the Granite Way, Drake's Trail and Plym Valley Way, this could be a worthy finish of your ride from London. The route is fully described in our route book. Allow two or three days for the 160 km/99 miles ride between Barnstaple and Plymouth. If continuing into Cornwall, you could split this stage easily into two by staying at a rural accommodation halfway.
Day 9: Bude - Tintagel (35 km/21 miles)
No kidding. This stretch is the hilliest and hardest on our route. Stunning coastal ocean views will make you forget about the fact that you are climbing the heights of two serious cols in the Alps. Just take your time. 9 km/6 miles is uphill with gradients over 15%, so if fully loaded with panniers bags etc, you'll be walking your bike a lot, unless you are using the fabulous South West Luggage Transfers service or if you have the pleasure of riding an E-bike. Tintagel Castle, surrounded by the myths of King Arthur is the mysterious finish of this ride. If this is all too much, be aware our book also features an alternative route via Bodmin Moor. Although higher up and more remote, this route is less up and down and therefor easier to accomplish.
Day 10: Tintagel - Newquay (70 km/43 miles)
The journey across hilly Cornwall continues. Fortunately, the lovely Camel Trail provides a flat break from all the hard work. Between Wadebridge and Padstow you may even find yourself cycling in a cycling traffic jam! Via Padstow Harbour, the beaches of Harlyn Bay and Treyarnon Bay and inland St Columb Major you'll arrive in Newquay, England's most legendary sea side resort, famous for its many surfing beaches. There is plenty of choice of accommodation here, with all levels of luxery. Making reservations during the summer holiday period is essential though. Remember there is plenty of less popular accommodation inland if all are full. Those wanting to split this stage into two and on a budget, may want to consider the Dennis Cove Campsite in Padstow or the Treyarnon Bay YHA.
Day 11: Newquay - Penzance (80 km/49 miles)
This ride provides plenty of contrast, thanks to the Heritage Mining area around Redruth and Camborne. The Mining Trail takes you across a truly special landscape and brings a break from all the overwhelming glorious coasts and beaches. Truro is a surprisingly pleasant urban valley, providing another "touch of Cornwall". Near Hayle we return to what Cornwall is famous for and can you cycle one of the shortest "coast-to-coast" adventures of the United Kingdom. It is only 8 km/5 miles from north to south coast, where you'll have splendid views over St Michaels Mount in the stunning bay of Penzance. Book in at a local campsite, hostel or B&B for two nights to be able to cycle our circular ride to Land's End luggage free!
Day 12: Penzance - Land's End - Penzance (50 km/31 miles)
What a final! The extremely scenic harbours of Newlyn and Mousehole take you into the heart of the rural Penwith Peninsula. A cycle path on the cliffs make the last mile to Land's End truly special. On arrival, you may mix with other heroic cyclists who cycled from John O' Groats in Scotland. Together, you may well be wanting to escape from the (let's be frank) tacky commercial developments on this cape. This is the moment you can invite other cyclists to ride together to Cape Cornwall. Our routebook takes you to this truly unspoilt landmark, which was thought to be England's western tip for centuries. A pleasant ride will take you back to Penzance; mission accomplished!
Day 13: Transfer Penzance - London and beyond
Catch the train reasonably early in the morning for the 5 hours and 30 min journey back to London. Make reservations for your bike well in advance (compulsory from 2016). You could be back at London Paddington station by 2 pm, from where our guidebook takes you once more via traffic-calmed routes across Central London to any main London railway station. These routes also allow you to cycle rented bikes back to the On Your Bike rental at London Bridge station. You could also catch a train to Dover or Harwich to catch a late-night ferry back to the continent, if this is where you live.
Day 14: Have a break!
Don't rush back to work after completing this ride. Have a day at home to relax and allow yourself to have peaceful reflections on your special cycling adventure across southern England. Of course you can also utilise this day to have a non-cycling day somewhere on the way!