How Long Does it Take To Travel Across Great Britain?

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Ever thought about crossing the entirety of Great Britain? No, neither have most people.

But for those of you who have, we’ve brought you all the information you need.

We’ve covered information about driving, cycling, hiking, and train travel, along with lots of weird and wacky facts on the most famous driving route across Great Britain: Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

If you’re looking to traverse Great Britain (no matter how, where and why you want to do it), we’ve got your back.

What’s the Most Famous Route Across Great Britain?

That’s the route from Land’s End (in England) to John o’Groats (in Scotland), which runs from the most southwestern point of Great Britain to the most northeastern point of Great Britain.

Driving route across Great Britain between Land's End and John o' Groats
Route across Great Britain between Lands’ End (green pin) and John o’Groats (red pin) © OpenStreetMap

Those who tackle this route do so in many different ways.

The majority of people drive it, but it’s most famous as a cycling route. Some insane individuals even walk the entire distance, but that’s an arduous adventure reserved only for the stupidest people on the planet.

Because it’s by far the most famous cross-country long-distance route which traverses Britain, that’s the route we’ve covered in most depth throughout this article.

What’s the Distance Between Land’s End and John O’Groats?

From point to point, as the crow flies, the distance between Land’s End and John o’Groats is 603 miles (970km). But depending on whether people walk, cycle or drive, actual travel distances vary hugely. They also vary according to the route people decide to take, as there are (unsurprisingly) endless options for enjoying the adventure.

How Long Does It Take to Drive Across Great Britain?

It takes around 15 or 16 hours to drive the 837 miles (1347 km) across Great Britain from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

But in practice, it’s of course not that simple.

No-one wants to drive for 16 hours without stopping. And no journey is ever free of traffic or any other pesky disruptions. And some drivers might want to ride on particular roads for particular views.

The quickest driving routes from Land’s End to John o’Groats mainly take place along motorways and other large roads, so the drives aren’t particularly pleasant and the views aren’t particularly good. Most drivers therefore opt for longer routes in order to enjoy better views and vistas.

The route from Land’s End to John o’Groats is hugely famous among car enthusiasts and motorcycling speed freaks, with countless drivers embarking on the journey every single year.

Some do it for the incredible Scottish Highlands. Some for the historical cities you pass through. Others for the National Parks. But everyone does it for the challenge.

If you want to drive across Great Britain on an incredible adventure, the route from Land’s End to John o’Groats is absolutely your best option.

John O'Groats sign on the road
John O’Groats sign at the final destination point – by deemac1/GettyImages

How Long Does It Take to Cycle Across Great Britain?

If you travel from Land’s End to John o’Groats by bike, it’s typically around 1000 miles or so, depending on which route you decide to take.

Lots of cyclists tackle the route over the course of many years, intermittently attacking parts of the challenge over several small periods of a short few days.

But many others attempt the trip in one strenuous session, with the majority of them completing the entire route in around 10 to 14 days. Others might stretch the trip out to a month or even longer, if they’re treating the journey as a vacation rather than solely as a challenge.

The record for cycling from Land’s End to John o’Groats on a conventional bicycle stands at 43 hours and 25 minutes. Other insane record-breakers have attempted the route on tricycles, unicycles, hire bikes, penny-farthings, tandems and more.

Land's End, Cornwall, England, UK.
Cyclists on the starting point – by Geraint Rowland (CC BY-NC 2.0)

How Long Does It Take to Walk Across Great Britain?

If you walk from Land’s End to John o’Groats, it’ll probably take you around 2 to 3 months, but this can vary hugely depending on which route you decide to take and how much walking you’re prepared to do every day.

Again, some people walk from Land’s End to John o’Groats in one lengthy session, while others split the route into smaller chunks and complete it over a period of many years.

The first officially-recorded walk took place in 1871, but it’s been done countless times since.

Some people even run the route, and the current record currently stands at less than 10 days.

There are two recorded records for running from Land’s End to John o’Groats: one at 9 days and 2 hours and one at 9 days and 21 hours, but some people dispute the authenticity of the former. The official record therefore varies depending on who you ask.

But I don’t recommend running it unless you’re an absolute lunatic.

Man Approaching Whiteless Pike in Great Britain
Man approaching Whiteless Pike in Great Britain – by Robert J Heath (CC BY 2.0)

How Long Does It Take to Travel Across Great Britain by Train?

If you travel from Land’s End to John o’Groats by train, it would likely take around two or three days to allow time for connections, sleeping and not enduring an absolute slog of constant public transport.

If you plan to travel from Land’s End to John o’Groats by train, here’s what your journey will probably look like:

  1. Land’s End to Penzance: there’s no train available for this journey (since there’s no train station in Land’s End), but you can complete this section of the route by bus, taxi or hitchhiking. This stretch of the journey is only around 10 miles (16km).
  2. Penzance to London: this train runs regularly.
  3. London to Inverness: this train also runs regularly, but it’s a lengthy journey, so some options are overnight.
  4. Inverness to Wick: another train!
  5. Wick to John o’Groats: just like in Land’s End, there’s no train station in John o’Groats, so you have to undertake this part of the journey by bus, taxi or hitchhiking. But just like the stretch from Land’s End to Penzance, it’s pretty short, clocking in at around 16 miles (26km).

Other people travel the entirety of the route just by using buses and coaches, but that takes much more time than riding trains.

Famous trail riding from London Paddington to Penzance
Famous trail riding from London Paddington to Penzance – by RedruthJH Photos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Fun Facts About Land’s End to John O’Groats

Lots of mad people have undertaken the Land’s End to John o’Groats adventure in bizarre ways, setting crazy records in the process. Here are some of my favorites:

  • In 2018, Ross Edgeley swam the route in 62 days. His distance (since you can’t swim over land), clocked in at around 900 miles (1448km).
  • The current skateboard record was achieved in 21 days by a trio of friends (Matt Elver, Charlie Mason and Lee Renshaw) who were raising money for charity.
  • If you live in the UK and you’re over 60, you receive a free bus pass, which entitles you to free local travel on regional buses (but not long-distance coaches). In 2008, Englishman Richard Elloway completed the journey on these buses (and therefore completely for free!) in just over 2 weeks.
  • In 1882, the entire route was completed by Alfred Nixon on a tricycle over a period of two weeks.
  • In 2009, Roger Davies and Sam Wakeling completed the route together on unicycles. It took them 6 days and 8 hours.
  • In 1886, George Pilkington Mills set the ridiculous record of cycling the route on a penny-farthing, completing the route in 5 days. 133 years later, Richard Thoray broke that record by doing it in 4 days and 11 hours.
  • Some people complete the route on horseback. The first of them was John Richard Penistan, who took 56 days to do so.
  • The oldest person to complete the journey by foot is Reg Savill, who completed the trip at the age of 74. The youngest is Amelia Sampson, who was 22 months. She rode in a trailer towed by her parents, who were riding a tandem.

Charities That Tackle the Land’s End to John O’Groats Journey

The trip from Land’s End to John o’Groats is hugely popular with charities, who offer lots of walking and cycling challenges for raising money. Some of the most famous include Water Aid, Unicef and several cancer charities.

If you want a massive physical challenge which helps you to raise huge sums of money for people who need it, it’s an excellent idea!

Okay, Enough About Land’s End to John O’Groats – Are There Any Other Famous Road Trips in Britain?

There are many!

Some of the most famous are:

  • The North Coast 500: a circular trip in the Scottish Highlands over 516 miles (830km), it’s one of the most incredible road trips in the world.
  • Heart 200: another circular Scottish route, this one clocks in at approximately 200 miles (320km). It takes travelers through the centre of Scotland, and past many of its most famous natural sights.
  • The Coastal Way: this Welsh route is a 180-mile (290km) journey which runs north to south across the entirety of the country’s west coast. It takes drivers between towering mountains and shimmering blue seas. The Cambrian Way is another fantastic option for a Welsh road trip.
  • The Atlantic Highway: this one starts close to Land’s End, and runs for around 70 miles (113km). It takes in the incredible scenery of the southwestern tip of England, featuring charming towns and beautiful golden coasts.

These road trips are all a little different to the route from Land’s End to John o’Groats, as that route is designed exclusively for people who want to traverse Great Britain, not just travel within it.

If you want to cross from one side of Britain to another by car, Land’s End to John o’Groats is absolutely the best trip for you. While all of the above are excellent, they don’t take you across the entirety of Great Britain.

North Coast 500: Road trip in Scotland
North Coast 500: Road trip in Scotland – by patrykstanisz/Getty

I’ve Decided I Don’t Want to Drive Any More! Are There Any Cross-country Routes I Can Do in Great Britain Without a Car?

There are many famous cross-country routes in England, Scotland and Wales, some of which are restricted to one country, and some of which incorporate more than one country.

Some of the most famous are:

  • Coast to Coast walk: completely unofficial but massively famous, the Coast to Coast walk is considered to be the ultimate in English walks, and offers a 182-mile (293km) trek between the northeastern and northwestern coasts of England.
  • Coast to Coast cycle: fairly similar to the above, but the route is more northern than the walking route. It’s usually around 140 miles (225km).
  • The Pennine Way: one of the most famous long walks in Britain, this takes intrepid hikers from the Scottish borders to the English country of Derbyshire, over a distance of 268 miles (435km).
  • England Coastal Path: this route isn’t even fully completed yet! But when it is, it’ll take walkers around the entire perimeter of the English coast, at a hefty distance of around 2,795 miles (4,500km).
  • Southern Upland Way: the first (and only official) coast to coast walking route through Scotland, this trek takes hikers between Scotland’s east and west coasts. It clocks in at 212 miles (341 km).
  • Offa’s Dyke: this route edges along the border between England and Wales, and takes walkers between the southern and northern coasts of the latter. It measures in at 177 miles (285km).

If you want to cross Great Britain without the use of a car (or a bicycle), these hikes are the best options.

In Short…

… that’s how long it takes to make your way across Great Britain!

Most people drive it, but there are endless methods – and endless routes – for tackling the traverse. If driving is your plan, the route from Land’s End to John o’Groats is absolutely the best option for crossing Great Britain.

You can also check out my guide on how long it would take to travel across England if the whole Great Britain is a bit too long for you.

If you’re interested in any other information about Great Britain, we’ve covered it all on our site. We have articles about currencies, cities, places to stay and other famous road trips, along with guides to weird accents, things you should never say and some of the most unique and unusual things you can do.

Paul McDougal

Paul McDougal

Paul is a handsome and hilarious travel writer and travel journalist from the UK. He’s hiked, hitchhiked and laughed his way through more than fifty countries, and he’s always looking for a new place to call home. Originally from Newcastle, he’s lived all over the UK, spent more than three years in Asia, and most recently lived in Vietnam. Here’s his website.