The Idea

Having driven LeJoG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) via B roads in April 2019 and with our intended North Coast 500 trip in May having to be cancelled due to Covid-19 we were faced with 202 being a year of limited Riley Blue activity. Then came the chance of a couple of weeks away in September but rather than re-book all our Scottish accommodation and drive north we headed south-west for a week in Tenby, Pembrokeshire – in Riley Blue, naturally.

Our original intention had been to have a relaxing seaside break, doing as little possible. However, just driving to Tenby and back seemed a bit… well, dull. With St. David’s Head, the most westerly point in Wales, not far off an idea formed and I checked the location of the most easterly place in England, discovering that it was Ness Point, Lowestoft. The idea became a cunning plan. I mentioned it to Gael; she nodded so I pushed my luck and threw in B roads and tulip diagrams, just like LeJoG. She looked at me, raised an eyebrow, said “Obviously…” and smiled.

Google maps had given me a coast to coast non-motorway distance of 366 miles. I reckoned that keeping to B and unclassified roads would add at least 10% so we’d be driving over 400 miles. A glance through the pages of our AA ‘Easy Read’ road atlas (scale 2.3 miles to the inch) suggested we might be able to keep the use of A roads to fewer than 20 miles, perhaps nearer 10; pretty good, eh? We’d previously found that around 200 miles was a comfortable daily maximum, both for us and the car, that being its safe range on a tankful as we’d run out at 223 miles on LeJoG. These, I should explain, are ‘Riley Blue miles’ with the car on non-standard size wheels and tyres; the difference in circumference exaggerates distances travelled and instrument speeds Though we carry reserve fuel, filling up in good time is preferable to running out whilst driving.

Having decided to make the trip, the decision to do it west to east at the end of our holiday rather than east to west at the start was easy, we didn’t fancy driving into the setting sun! Large towns would be avoided as far as possible but we knew we’ll have to visit one or two, B roads being notoriously lacking in filling stations stocking Tesco 99RON Momentum on which Riley Blue thrives.

Stow-on-the-Wold was the approximate halfway point so that was chosen to be our overnight halt. Conveniently there’s a Tesco Superstore there. Inconveniently when it was built a filling station wasn’t, even though the store is on the busy A429 Fosse Way. Not to worry, there was one further on at Bicester, within easy driving range after a ‘splash & dash’ at Carmarthen.