London to Edinburgh – Days Before and After

Although the whole point of the event was to do London to Edinburgh I live in Saltash, Cornwall and so I had to position to London on the Thursday and once the London to Edinburgh trip was done I then had to return back to Cornwall.

Here are a few notes about the trip on the Thursday from Saltash to Reading and also on the return trip back from Edinburgh to Saltash, Cornwall.

Cornwall to Reading

On the Thursday I left my home in Saltash
to make my way to Reading from where I would start the London to
Edinburgh trip from on Friday. It is 200 miles and needed charging stops

Leigh Delamere

The whole day was totally uneventful and after leaving Saltash at about
11.30 I arrived at Reading at about 5.30. I had booked into the
Travelodge on the Reading West Services as it was significantly cheaper
than the East. However, the charger on the West was broken so on arrival
I did an 80% charge just to get me through the evening in case I wanted
to go out for dinner. Then I returned to the west to check into the
hotel. In the morning I would have to go down to the next junction and
return back to the east service area to fully charge before starting my
trip and this is what I did.

 Edinburgh to Cornwall

Dinner after an 18hr driving day – Not exactly recommended!

So, I had made it to Edinburgh I arrived at the hotel at 10.45pm, tired, hungry and happy. There was no food available and at 11pm at night, with the car on charge at the front of the hotel, I felt it was better I just got myself a pint and some peanuts from the bar and just crashed out.

The hotel was great. I had decided to use ZeroNet if at all possible and the Best Western Kings Manor Hotel in Musselburgh was perfect. £55 + £5 to charge the car on the ZeroNet charging station was good value in my opinion. It looks like Best Western are putting ZeroNet into most of their UK hotels so they will now be my hotel of choice when on trips.

It is a pity that the hotel has decided to charge a fee to plug in but we have no right to free electricity so no complaints.

Breakfast at Best Western Hotel – It was very good!

Next morning was bright but very windy. I had a super breakfast at the hotel which gave me time to contemplate the return trip. I now had the 530 mile trip back to Saltash to consider and in particular should I risk going via Newtown St Boswell and Hexham, the route that was closed the night before by snow, or should I return back the way I came via Haggerston Castle and Alnwick? The A68 route was by far the most scenic and after a bit of indecision during which time I Twittered that I was going back via Haggerston Castle (sorry!) I finally decided to go the scenic route. The A68 was fully open and there was no real likelihood it would close again before I had passed.

ZeroNet Charging Station
Best Western Kings Manor Hotel Musselburgh

 So with breakfast over I checked out and made my way to the car. It was obvious as I walked to the car that even though it was very sunny the wind was very strong, probably around 25-30mph, and southerly so it would be right on the nose most of the way. It did cross my mind that could I have made the wrong decision?

Return Route Edinburgh to Saltash – 530 miles / 2 days

My plan for the day then was to drive the original route from yesterday in reverse as far as Woodall, near Sheffield, where I was booked into a Days Inn at the service area. It was going to be a fairly relaxed day and I have to admit to feeling a little “demob” happy but I still had a task to do… more on this later when my “de-mob happiness” nearly came back to bite me in a big way!

In hindsight I would have searched out a Best Western with ZeroNet charging and I later found out there is one very nearby at Aston Hall. A lesson for the future… I will always look for a ZeroNet hotel in future!

I won’t go into all the legs individually. Overall, the trip went well and I arrived at the Woodall services early evening. However, there was one leg that I do want to describe in more detail. It was the 2nd leg,  from Newtown St Boswell to Hexham… that’s right… the leg I had to cancel because of the snow.

Newtown St Boswell to Hexham – How Not To Do It!

Now I describe this leg with a huge degree of embarrassment! I am an experienced long-distance EV driver. I know that on legs that push the range of the car I must always be careful and cautious not to waste power early on and to monitor the power use throughout the trip in case it gets marginal towards the end. But I think I must have let that feeling of being “demob happy” get to me… with nearly disastrous consequences!

A68 Between Newtown St Boswell and Hexham

I had imagined that this leg would be a challenge for my Mk1 Leaf. It was 56 miles with lots of hills and one climb to 420m. It was cold at 2C. It was very windy at about 25mph on the nose. There were a couple of places I could get a 7kW charge at if I needed it but my objective was to do it without additional stops. I set out with a high degree of caution and care… as you would expect. I set out with the heating off and at a steady 45mph.

A68 Between Newtown St Boswell and Hexham

The route was just beautiful and well worth the effort. There was snow of course from the night before but the road was completely clear.

At half way it was clear that I had plenty of power remaining. I started with 20kWh in the battery and had used just 7kWh at the halfway point. The remaining 28 miles was more down hill than up and so I was confident that I would easily make it to Hexham. So put on the heating and increased the speed to 55mph and I started to relax…

Unfortunately the road from about half way on towards Hexham is a great “drivers” road with some excellent undulations and sweeping curves and I started to relax and enjoy the drive in a way that I hadn’t really done in the Leaf for quite a while. The Leaf is a great car to drive in this way… it is punchy, quiet, smooth… as most EVs are and for about 15 mins I pretty much forgot myself… until the car threw up the “LOW BATTERY WARNING”… Oh Heck! That came as a surprise and brought me fully down to earth in a big way.
Suddenly I realised that my little indulgence had used up most of my remaining power… I had about 8 miles to go and about 2.5kWh remaining. Now, my normal power use in everyday driving works out at about 3.5 miles/kWh (or 0.3kWh/mile) but this was hilly country and although this section was mostly down there was still an awful lot of up to do before I got to Hexham. Suddenly I was experiencing serious range anxiety… not something I had experienced for a long time – I am usually so careful!
Leaf Spy at end of
Newtown St Boswell to Hexham
Off went the heating and I slowed down to 30-35mph. I put the car into ECO mode, folded in the mirrors (they are a big source of drag), unplugged the phone and turned off the centre display. That was it. That was all I could do to conserve what power I had left. I had to eeek out the final 2kWh over 8 miles! Yikes! Even driving carefully I wouldn’t expect 2kWh to take me much more than 7 miles! At that point I was totally convinced I would need recovery.
I have never pressed the throttle pedal so gently in all my life. I made it to the A69 with 1.9kWh remaining and about 3 miles still to go and that meant I had used just 0.6kWh over about 5 miles!!! I said there was a lot of down!
So with 3 miles still to go I kept the speed at 35mph on the dual-carriageway A69, hazards on, and hoping I’d have enough. I now began to recognise the road from when I drove that way the night before and I started to have more certainty of arriving. I rolled into the car park at Hexham with 1.4kWh remaining… plenty as it happens – but it could have been a very different story altogether!

What Did I Learn?

The first thing I must say is that this leg was very easily achievable without any range anxiety at all had I just driven sensibly all the way. This whole situation was totally self-inflicted and that is why I didn’t mention it at the time as it wasn’t really of any relevance regarding the viability of the trip. However, I was being watched on Glympse and my wife had noticed how slowly I was going over the last 8 miles and so I am sure others will have noticed too so now you know why 🙂
The moral of this story is pretty clear to me… when driving an EV at the limit of it’s range you cannot relax. Even 15 mins of wasteful driving can put you in a challenging situation creating range anxiety. I hardly ever get range anxiety now as I have learned to use the Leaf well within its capabilities and so for me it was a very unexpected experience and not one I want to repeat too soon. It was completely avoidable with sensible driving and predictable without and that is the case nearly all the time. Had I not got “demob happy” for 15 minutes this whole incident would never have happened!

Sheffield to Saltash

To be honest, there isn’t a lot to say about the following day home. It was about 280 miles but it was totally uneventful… and after the previous 2 days of excitement I was happy for that.
I won’t cover any of the conclusions of the trip here as I have already done that in previous post but I will say that the trip home was actually more enjoyable that the London to Edinburgh day.
Would I do it all again? You bet I would!!!

2 thoughts on “London to Edinburgh – Days Before and After”

  1. Thanks for the write up Paul. I was also watching on Glympse on the section between Wetherby and Woodhall on the Saturday. It appeared for the final stretch after reaching the M1 the careful 50 mph previously seen on that leg reduced to around 35 mph. How tight for juice was that or was there some other issue – roadworks/traffic?

    I also traveled part of that stretch (A1) that same evening and did the whole heating off, wing mirrors in routine before rolling into Blyth services with (for me) a skinny 10 miles remaining.

  2. Thanks for your comment 🙂

    It wasn't tight at all. I think I arrived with about 8 miles left but the Low Battery Warning hadn't come on. That whole section has roadworks and lane restrictions with the hard shoulder in use. The weather was rain and the traffic was pretty heavy and slow. No idea why it was that slow though because when I went out to dinner an hour or so later it was fine.

    The funny thing is that my wife was also watching and when I called in from the hotel she asked me the same thing! Isn't Glympse fun!

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