20th June 2011

Land’s End to John O’Groats – 7 men, 7 days

Viv Alexander

Andrew Hanley, one of our colleagues here at Ordnance Survey is part of a group embarking on a cycling challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Below, he tells us more about why he’s doing it and how he mapped the route.  He’s going to give us an update along the way as well.  Good Luck, Andrew!

In July a group of 7 cyclists (6 fire fighters and me!) are leaving Lands End and heading for John O’Groats. Our aim is to arrive in John O’Groats in 7 days, averaging 125 miles per day.

The Team

A year ago firefighters James Shears and Alan Bannon lost their lives fighting a fire at Shirley Towers in Southampton. We are undertaking this challenge to raise money for the Fire fighters Charity.  The Fire Fighters Charity exists for all fire service personnel during their times of need, and assists thousands of individuals every year, by providing pioneering treatment and support services. The charity is completely reliant upon donations from the general public and fire community.

We are leaving Lands End on 11 July, heading to Exeter and some 900 or so miles later we should arrive in John O’Groats early evening on 17 July. We aim to stay in Fire Stations en route in Exeter, Hereford, Wigan, Gretna, Perth and Inverness, and hope that there are no call outs when we are there!

As I work at Ordnance Survey, a rather dangerous assumption was made by the team that I would know all the roads in Great Britain. Therefore I would sort out the route and expect to be punished, when, not if, we get lost! Bike hike is an application which has been developed using the OS OpenSpace API, and has been a great resource for planning the route (and avoiding getting lost).  Using Ordnance Survey 1:50 000 mapping was a great help in deciding the best route as it really provides a good representation of the “real world”, as well as having designated cycle routes visible on the mapping. I have been able to download the route into a Garmin unit which will be on my bike. I have also contacted numerous cycling clubs en route for local knowledge on the roads; Preston Wheelers have even offered us an escort!

If you would like to find out more please visit the Fire Fighter Cycle Challenge website. To sponsor us click on the charity/donate tab and visit our Just Giving page.  You can also follow us on Facebook/ Lejog fire cycle challenge). Look out for a further update on our progress on the GeoVation blog in July.

Andrew