Roz's 73 forms of transport on epic trip

MAKING the trek from John O'Groats to Lands End is a huge undertaking but when you want to use as many different forms of transport as possible on the journey it takes military-style planning.

By David Lennard

MAKING the trek from John O'Groats to Lands End is a huge undertaking but when you want to use as many different forms of transport as possible on the journey it takes military-style planning.

Suffolk photographer Roz Gordon wanted to raise public awareness of the disease ataxia as her mother was a sufferer and very little is known about the condition that leaves victims with a serious lack of co-ordination.

Roz, from Wenhaston, near Halesworth, hit upon the idea of making the trek from one end of the country to the other but said she wanted to make her journey special and different from any other.


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“I thought about using as many forms of transport as possible on the journey and it just took off from there,” she explained.

In all, Roz used 73 separate modes of transportation to make the 1,162-mile journey that she completed in 183 stages.

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She was accompanied for the majority of the journey by her faithful collie Troi but unfortunately the dog developed a sore shoulder when they had reached Cheltenham and missed the final few stages.

“I also had some tremendous back-up from family, friends and very generous sponsors that made the whole thing possible,” said Roz.

Ataxia support groups along the route also offered Roz and her back-up team some much-needed assistance by providing accommodation and other essentials.

“Everyone we met on the route was extremely helpful and it was a wonderful experience.

“I was a little bit nervous when I first started but when you arrive in a town on a pogo stick or space hopper you very quickly lose your inhibitions,” she said.

The journey took six weeks and Roz is anxious to publicise her efforts in a bid to make more people aware of ataxia.

“It is a very distressing illness and because of the lack of knowledge about it a lot of people believe victims are drunk because they have no co-ordination.

“I am very keen to highlight the condition and make more people aware of ataxia so that sufferers can get the support they so desperately need,” she said.

Recalling some of the memorable events during her journey, Roz said that some of the most uncomfortable had been riding on a camel and swimming in a freezing cold Yorkshire reservoir.

“I came across a camel trekking school and was given a ride but it was not all that pleasant and it still makes me sore just thinking about the saddle,” she said.

The route was “pretty much direct” between John O'Groats and Lands End although Roz admitted taking a few “zig-zags” to increase the modes of transport she was using.

“I set myself two main rules for using the different modes of transport and one was that I had to finish further south than when I started and the other was that each mode had to be at least 100 metres and no more than 50 miles.

“We managed to stick to these rules pretty well although it was tempting to stay on a comfortable train for longer,” she said.

Some of the more unusual modes of transport Roz enjoyed were using a coracle, rollerskates, golf trolley pogo stick, rickshaw and a 1933 Rolls Royce.

“I received some great help from the fire service, police and ambulance service along the route and all three organisations let me have a quick ride in their vehicles so I was able to include them on my list,” said Roz.

The most used modes of transport on the journey were her bicycle, her niece's scooter and her “good old feet”.

Trying to pick out her favourite mode of transport is difficult but Roz said it would have to be her ride in a coracle.

“There were times when I thought I must be mad as I was trying to make progress in a howling gale or other atrocious weather conditions.

“But so far I have raise more than £3,000 for Ataxia UK and I am continuing to raise awareness of the disease so I am pretty pleased,” she said.

There was one last surprise for Roz as she made the last leg of the journey to Lands End.

“I had been expecting it would be just me and my uncle who was my back-up driver at the finish but all my family and friends had travelled down from Suffolk to be there and it was a wonderful occasion.

“It was also my 34th birthday so it is a day I will never forget,” she said.

n More information about ataxia can be found on www.ataxia.org.uk

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