My Mission

My mission is to travel every road and visit every town, village and hamlet in the British Isles. I don't like thinking about how badly I am doing.

So where does this come from?

Quite simply, when I was 18 I was given a Readers Digest Book of the Road as one of my presents. At the back is a gazetteer which claims to list 'nearly 30,000 entries'. This caught my attention, and ever since I have been putting a yellow line through places as I visit them. A quick flick through suggests that I have managed about 7-8%... in 14 years... I need to live to be over 200 then. I have re-visited almost everywhere that I had been before I was 18!

Being a little more serious, Somerset is about 99% complete, Dorset maybe 50%, Wilts, Devon and Glos well over 20% I should think. Then, moving north, Lochaber and North Argyll are probably 90%+, with much of the surrounding Highlands & Islands approaching 50% or more.

What counts as a 'visit'?

To actually visit a place I have to be out of a vehicle. Merely driving through a village does not count. Parking and walking a dozen paces along the pavement to take a photo does. That may not seem like a particularly in-depth visit, but that was the criteria I laid down at the beginning! Sadly, however, this means that there are many 1-house 'villages' marked in more rural areas that I have driven past many many times, but still not visited. Take Portclair on the A82 between Fort Augustus and Invermoriston as an example. It is perhaps half a dozen houses scattered in the trees along Loch Ness. There really isn't anything to visit, and no evidence of a layby in the vicinity. I suspect that when I walk that section of the West Highland Way (which passes about 50m up the hill) I shall deem the place to have been visited!

Even more tricky, perhaps, is Bun Loyne. A single house next to the A87/A887 junction in the middle of nowhere. Not only is there nowhere to get out of the car safely, there is no reason either. Perhaps a little 'cheat' here and there is allowed!

What about the roads?

When it comes to driving every road, I should perhaps be a little more specific and say classified road! It certainly cuts down on the mileage a tad! I am also not particularly bothered about driving every inch of every road, just to travel on each classified road will be quite enough.

Having said that, however, I reckon I have covered 99% of the classified road network in Somerset, Lochaber and Orkney. Probably 70%+ in Dorset and on Skye, over 50% in the Western Isles, Argyll, the rest of the Highlands and probably Wiltshire. After that it doesn't look so good!

So when will I finish?

As mentioned above, at my current rate I will have to live past 200 to complete all of the towns and villages. Having said that, I'm pretty sure that I have speeded up somewhat over the years. At 18 I had a bike, a pair of feet and other people to drive me. Now I drive myself 12-15,000 miles a year, and I'm getting much better at stopping at obscure places to explore a little. Nevertheless, I suspect I will fail in my mission, but not for want of trying!