Tricia Luxton's Magazine Article.

Basil, Felix, Archie and William


take Trisha Luxton

for a ride from John o'Groats to Land's End.


starting on 17th April and finishing 16th May 2012


How it all began ....... At a BBQ having had one or two glasses of falling down water discussing our 'Bucket Lists' I heard myself say, 'I have always fancied doing something from John O'Groats to Land's End, and the obvious choice would be to do it with my new ponies and a carriage.' This was rapidly followed up by my friend Janey saying, 'If you do this will you do it for the Teenage Cancer Trust ?' 'Of course I will' say I.

Discussing it at home a few days later, I asked my partner Karl, "Have I committed to something big here?"........... His answer was "You know you can do it if you want to"

The planning started immediately (July 2010) as we realised we needed funds to actually do this. Our village 'Oakford' on the outer edges of Exmoor was right behind us helping with fund raising events. At that point the date of April 15th 2012 seemed a long way off, but it did come around very quickly. We were very busy from that moment forth not only organising events but training the ponies. Basil and Felix were straight off Dartmoor in May 2009 as 3 year olds, Archie came to us in July 2010 as a 3 year old. It was soon decided I needed another pony so I could do it in 2 pairs thus covering 40 miles a day. The 4th pony was purchased in summer 2011, but he decided he did not like the idea of driving, so the hunt continued. We found William in Cornwall in January 2012 and what a find he turned out to be. He started his training to be broken to harness at the end of January, went in a pair with Basil at the end of February and left for Scotland with the others on Sunday April 15th.

We stopped off at Lockerbie on the way up and stayed with Amanda Saville and her husband John Nisbet of the 'Chariots of Fire Team' fame. Amanda and John have so many animals, cows, sheep, pigs and of course their ponies, most of which are driven in their displays. The pigs decided they were missing out on the new guys who had come to stay and were making a lot of noise, much to our young Archie's horror. He jumped out of his stable twice to go and sort the pigs out.  We stopped him doing it a third time by putting him in  a stable with a much higher door !!!

The weather was appalling to say the least. John O'Groats is a God forsaken hole that I never want to see again. The tents had to be lashed to the bin stores to stop them going to Land's End ahead of schedule. Those that slept in the lorry that night thought they were in a boat, the lorry rocked all night. The hinges on the back doors of the lorry got bent by the winds. We could barely stand up in the wind that was hurtling at us from every direction.

But we started at 9.30am on Tuesday 17th April. It was so dark and dismal we thought what on earth are we doing here !!! As we left JOG it was hailing, snowing, raining and blowing so hard you didn't know where to put your face to stop the weather stinging.


Scotland was mostly wet, windy and very cold. The odd day we had respite was a joy, sunny although still bitter cold. We had the wettest April recorded for over 100 years. Yes, we chose the dates all by ourselves !!! But the whole summer was a washout so we would have done it in warmer rain later on in the year.

Once we went over the border into England our days seemed to really roll. The ponies were amazing; we were learning so much about them. They very quickly learnt to watch traffic lights and learnt the sequence and watched the vehicle in front of them, always waited their turn in a roundabout or junction queue. At times we left them alone to see their response and they always did the right thing - except they gave no hand signals !!!!!


They were seeing railway crossings with trains -   bridges over large expanses of water with boats ........nothing fazed them. Yet they did not like the metal expansion joints on bridges and would always jump them. At one point I said that I was amazed there was a tree standing in Scotland due to the log lorries that went past us...even these did not trouble them.

During the 'Trip' the ponies had to be shod 4 times and my son who is a farrier  was helping me find farriers to come to us on the way down. When we were near Shrewsbury needing a farrier he contacted a friend he shared digs with when they were training and explained the situation, Guy answered him by saying... 'I saw that mad woman with her ponies and carriage on the A49 yesterday - she should never be there let alone be your Mother as well'. He came and did 3 full sets of shoes in a layby at Bayston Hill, south of Shrewsbury.. bless him. We also feel he much maligned the A49 as we found it one of the nicer roads !!


We did suffer a few lorry problems due to Pit Crew not being able to understand simple instructions i.e: do not use all lights and equipment in lorry with engine off as it will flatten the batteries. This tended to fall on some very stony ground and being out with the ponies all day there was  no control over their deeds - which caused some frustrating moments. But a somewhat larger inconvenience would have to be noted that another of the Pit Crew managed to write off our Jeep and John and Angie's trailer which was their accommodation trailer and our scout car. On reflection we do wonder how we managed so well and to complete on target.


In Wells in Somerset, for an appointment with a local newspaper reporter and his camera - close to John and Angie's home - Angie drove with me on the backstep. Angie knew the way of course but then we had to suddenly change our route as a man had collapsed in the road and the ambulance was blocking it. So Angie, not wishing to be late, thinking she knew an alternative route took off down an alleyway only to be confronted by bollards stopping us going on to the High Street. I got down and took hold of the end of the pole (between the 2 ponies where they are connected together) and pulled it around making the ponies sidestep on the spot until we were facing the other way, narrowly missing a shop front window - but this saved so much time as it would have been an unharness job otherwise. We then drove back up the alley and found another route for our rendevous, passing lots of traffic going in the opposite direction waving to us, only to emerge at the other end to find we had gone the wrong way up a one way street. Oops !! but we found our reporter and had our photo shoot !!


As a West Country person born and bred, the Somerset sign was a joy to behold, as we know the roads and what to expect. Although the only major hiccup with the ponies was the big animal statues outside the Wells Reclamation Centre, Somerset - they did not like them at all!!!!!!

When we got to Atlantic Village in Bideford, Devon for a changeover, a lady approached us and said "How lovely to see you so far down - we passed you going the other way cycling up in Scotland". She was support crew for her husband and mates doing it the opposite way. There was us thinking we were not noticed that much.

We had receptions at 2 Pubs and our local branch of Mole Valley Farmers en route for us , met our MP Neil Parrish, Conservative, in our local village Oakford, who was very interested in our travels - trouble is we think Basil one of the ponies voted Labour or maybe even UKIP last time as he trod on Neil's foot. For the reception at Mole Valley in South Molton, we drove the ponies as a team of four from our home 15 miles away. They had never been driven as a team before, but Jonathan Waterer who had broken all four ponies to harness for me came to help and never doubted for one moment that they would not oblige. This was repeated at the final reception at Widecombe in the Moor where three of the ponies originated .  I have to say that on both occasions they were driven as a team of four,  it caused many a tear to be shed. The four ponies had given their all and still managed to go on giving. Many Dartmoor breeders were on the Village Green to meet us, mainly to see how the ponies looked after their long time on the road. But they had nothing but praise and thanks for raising public awareness for these amazing delightful ponies.

The weather improved going into Cornwall and the best was saved to last, as on May 16th on our roll into Land's End it was a glorious sunny day with a cloudless blue sky - coats off even!! We had a wonderful reception with many friends and relatives making the journey to Land's End to be there with us.

We have managed to raise £21,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust and with still a few more pounds to come in.

Since April/May when we achieved this 'Trip' we have written a book about the ponies part in this, called "Brave Hearts to Home" available from our website        


Below:  Trisha's in the middle between Felix and Archie with Widdecombe church in the background.