Bibliography - Road Walking Books


The End to End Trail

E2E Bibliography

Offa's Dyke Castles Alternative


Contact me

Road-Walking Journey Accounts

The Big Walk by A Walker, Prentice-Hall, 1961

This is an account of the race from John O’Groats to Land’s End organised and sponsored by Billy Butlin, the holiday camp entrepreneur.  It is a hilarious read and is full of mind-boggling examples of what not to do.  Billy Butlin had the idea to sponsor a race after the publicity given to Dr Barbara Moore’s 22 day walk, presumably as a publicity stunt for his holiday business.  The race was on roads all the way and started from the John O’Groats Hotel at 5pm on 26 February 1960: not the ideal time of year for the racers, but nicely timed before the start of the Butlin’s holiday season.  Of the 715 starters only 138 finished: many of the competitors had no idea of what they were embarking on, and were only competing to win the £1000 prizes for the first man and woman to finish.  The winning time was 15 days 14 hours and 31 minutes, and from that day on there has been no end of new ways invented to generate publicity by getting from End to End.  The (presumably) anonymous author of the book didn’t quite finish the race, so isn’t included in the list of finishers in the book.  He did however write a very good account.  Highly recommended.

Shin Kicking Champion by Norman Croucher, Barrie and Jenkins, 1971

Norman Croucher had his legs amputated below the knees at 19 after drunkenly wandering into the path of a train. He subsequently became a mountaineer of some repute, and before that he walked from John O'Groats to Land's End, mainly to challenge himself. Part of this competent and interesting book covers that walk.

A Million and More Strides by E H Kyme, Robert Hale, 1975

An account of a road walk from Durness (near Cape Wrath) to Dover that the author undertook after he retired.  The roads in the southeast of England were as bad to walk on as you would imagine.

End to End by James T Remphrey, published privately, 1980

A bit of a sad tale this.  The author set off from John O’Groats in 1974, walking on busy main roads, and had to be hospitalised with a bleeding stomach ulcer in Gloucestershire.  He completed the walk the following year.

The Wild Ass by Bob Morrison, Bireline Publishing (US), undated (c.1980)

A brief account by an American walking on roads. Not worth seeking out.

I've Seen Granny Vera by Vera Andrews, Patrick Lawrence Publishing, 1985

Vera Andrews' 1984 coastal walk won her a place in the Guinness Book of Records, but it was for the "longest continuous walk by a woman" (3524 miles), and not in the "literature" section.

Ian Botham's Leukaemia Celebrity Walk, edited by Jack Bannister, Willow Books, 1986

Ian Botham's End to End walks are legendary,: he did a number of them to raise money for charity, all on main roads, and on all of them he specialised in burning off anyone who tried to keep up with him. This is an entertaining illustrated account of the first of these walks in 1985.

One Man and his Dog Go Walkies, John O’Groats to Land’s End by Noel Blackham, World Musicals, 1991

This was walkies on roads from John O’Groats to Land’s End.  Monique was a collie cross.  Funny no-one ever seems to take a poodle or a St Bernard.

A Walk Through Britain by Roy H Eardley, Dorrance Publishing (US), 1994

Roy and Ruth Eardley walked the main roads from Land’s End to John O’Groats.  The dust jacket claims it is “the most touching, romantic, and powerful adventure story of the year”.  Let’s just say this is perhaps not a completely objective statement.

Return Journey by Fred Noonan, Book Guild, 1994

In 1991 Fred and Joan Noonan walked on roads from Dunnet Head to Lizard Point via John O’Groats and Land’s End: this is an account of their walk.  The trip was complicated by Fred’s suffering from a brain disease that caused him to collapse in agony periodically: I’m not surprised they stuck to the roads.  The book’s called “Return Journey” because they had walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats the previous year.

Through the Tunnel by George W Jones, Brewin Books, 1994

This is the scariest account I’ve read so far.  George Jones is registered blind, having very limited tunnel vision.  He walked unaccompanied on busy roads, mainly navigating by following the kerbstones, as that’s all he could see.  He lived to tell the tale, but there’s no way I’d have had the nerve to do this!

A Walker’s Diary by Robin Moore, published privately, 1995

Almost half this book covers a charity road walk by the author from John O’Groats to Land’s End in the autumn of 1995.  It is mostly a tale of traffic, third degree blisters and lost toenails.  One for masochists: if this man suggests going for a walk with him make sure you get a sick note from your mum.

One Of These Days by Mike Aris, Austin Fisher Publications, 1998

Mike Aris set off walking from Land’s End intending to follow roads to John O’Groats and arrive four weeks later.  He actually arrived just about exactly a year behind schedule, having learned a lot in the meantime.  Worth reading if you’re thinking of walking it yourself: you may avoid learning some of the lessons the hard way.

Walking the World by Alan Cook, 1stbooks (US), 2003

This one's a bit odd. It purports to be a book about walking but mostly it reads just like an account of someone's holidays, walking round town centres and tourist sites. It does however include 30 pages covering an End to End walk on roads.

Tip to Toe by Swazie Turner, Jeremy Mills Publishing, 2006

Not walking, but in a standard non-sports wheelchair, hand-propelled. An account of a charity expedition by an ex-policeman who had his leg amputated after being attacked while working in Manchester.

Road-Walking Guidebooks

I Walked From Land’s End to John O’Groats by Krister Ardrén, Pentland Press, 1998

This is really a guidebook for road-walking Land’s End to John O’Groats, although it does include some narrative about the author’s own walk in 1996.  The maps are clear and there is plenty of background material and advice.  This is the book for anyone who wants to pull a shopping trolley from End to End.

John O’Groats to Lands End, the Ultimate Challenge by Brian G Smailes, Challenge Publications, 1999

This is the guidebook you need if you are planning a road walk for charity, or pushing a potato with your nose from End to End.  It gives the shortest practical road route, and contains a lot of useful information if you are planning this sort of walk.  I’m not sure John Merrill would agree with the description “the Ultimate Challenge” though!  A second edition published in 2004 is subtitled “the Official Challenge Guide”.  I've no idea what's "official" about it: the book doesn't say.

Road-Walking Drama

First and Last by Michael Frayn, Methuen, 1989

This is the screenplay for a television drama originally made for the BBC, starring Joss Ackland as a man in his sixties attempting to achieve his lifelong ambition against all the odds. Very good indeed, even when you're just reading the script. Recommended.

 Page last updated 26 August 2008