Meriel Shotton and Janet Bootyman at John o'Groats
[Editor's introduction: Meriel's late husband Bill was a member from 1998, when he drove from John o' Groats to Land's End on a B.S.A. Bantam motorbike, via Lowestoft Ness (East-most point), and Lizard Point (South-most point). His friend accompanied him in his car as back up. By the time they realised they hadn't included the furthest West point, they had already booked their holiday time from work, so they couldn't fit it in, as it added about 3 days! An article was then published in Quo Vadis? about his "Box the Compass" ride.Meriel writes:
Meriel told me she had planned to go with Bill in 2005 (or maybe 2006?) on the back of his modern Royal Enfield bike, but she had a stomach bug on the start day so she sent him off without her as she couldn't face changing all the B&Bs. She joined him at Perth, and they travelled together from there to Lands End. Then Meriel could say she might be the only person who hadn't started the run but finished it!
In 2011 Meriel and her friends, members Janet and Derek Bootyman, drove by car in memory of Bill, and she finally became a member of the Association. Janet and Derek had taken her to Perth to meet Bill on the previous trip, and that's what aroused their interest in the journey.]
In 2013, Janet and Derek Bootyman and I did the trip together again, with Derek doing all the driving. Many thanks, Derek. We arrived at John o’ Groats on Wednesday 18th September at about 4 p.m. We checked into Sea View Hotel and saw several others from our group who had already arrived. As it was wet and windy we drove the short distance to John o’ Groats and looked around the shops and had a cup of tea. We went back to the hotel for a break before meeting everyone for dinner at the hotel. It was good to see old friends and acquaintances again and to meet other members we had not met before. After a delicious meal and plenty of chat and laughter we went off to get some sleep before our journey began.
We all met at John o’ Groats after breakfast for a group photograph before setting off. Derek had decided not to use any motorways for the trip. We had done this on our trip in 2011 and we all agreed it was more interesting and Derek said a lot less boring for him! Last time we had gone to the East and so this route was new to us. We drove through some lovely scenery. We had decided to stay in B&Bs and our first B&B at Fort William was set in its own grounds with views of Ben Nevis. It was a bit shrouded in mist while we were there but still beautiful. We arrived in the afternoon and had time to look around the town before going to the B&B, Torbeag House. We were amazed at the lovely views of the loch from the High Street. We met others from our group also exploring the town. We had a good evening meal at The Moorings Hotel, just down the road from our B&B and by the Caledonian canal and the Caledonian Steps, the 8 locks on the canal. After a hearty breakfast we left the B&B on Friday morning and stopped to look at the Caledonian Steps and have short walk along the canal. We realised what an amazing piece of engineering it was. On Thursday we had crossed the canal and waited while the swing bridge opened to let a boat through.
Our route to Carlisle was very beautiful with varied scenery including mountains, lochs and woods. We drove alongside Loch Lomond and so, of course, quoted “we’ll take the high road …”. As well as going through expected places we also saw signs and drove through some very distant places such as Alexandria, Dunkirk, Virginia and Botany Bay. Fortunately we were not asked for passports and it did not add to our mileage or journey time! We had another good B&B in Carlisle, within walking distance of the town. When we told the owner what we were doing he said they have a lot of walkers and cyclists doing Land’s end John o’ Groats but he had never heard of the Land’s End - John o’ Groats Association. We gave him the website address and he said he would look it up and pass on the information in future.
After another hearty breakfast we left Carlisle on Saturday morning and set off for Gloucester. Our route took us near Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Kidderminster. We spent the night at a Premier Inn outside Gloucester where we had stayed in 2011 and were able to book rooms at £38 per room! On Sunday we had another pretty trip to Land’s End. We passed Jack and Theresa and their friends on the A30 and later they passed us! We arrived at about 4 p.m. and it was a lovely sunny afternoon with blue sky and sea. In 2011 it was very windy and dull and we almost blew away! It was lovely to see it calm and sunny.
After the group photograph we went to Hayle to join everyone at the Premier Inn for dinner, and we were joined by some four people who had not been able to do the whole trip. We were presented with our special medals for the anniversary trip, and chatted about our journeys together. After breakfast we said our goodbyes and set off for home. We did use motorways for this!
Many thanks to everyone who helped to organise the 3013 trip, a very memorable occasion for our 30th Anniversary.