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From a 700 mile trekker to the man who swims to the office, meet the UK's most extreme commuters

Stuck in the rat race? ITV News has spoken to people with unusual commutes.

Remote working may be on the rise, but for the vast majority the daily slog to the office remains a reality.

While the car is still the UK's most popular way to commute, there are some who find far less usual ways to get to work.

According to the Department for Transport's National Travel Survey, the average Briton makes almost 400 car journeys every year as a driver, and just over 200 as a passenger.

ITV News has spoken to some of the most extreme commuters to hear their epic travel methods.

  • 'My Monday morning starts with a 700 mile commute'
From Orkney to Westminster is a 700 mile trip - no mean feat. Credit: PA

Sitting in his desk overlooking the river Thames, Alistair Carmichael couldn't be much further from home.

As the sun blazes in through the windows, it's edging towards 36C in central London.

Meanwhile, in the Lib Dem MP's hometown of Kirkwall it's a balmy 13C.

As the MP for Orkney and Shetland, his travel costs come in at around £36,000 - the majority of which is spent on air travel to get from the archipelago off the northern coast of Scotland to Westminster once a week.

But he remains adamant it's worth it to represent his constituency, which stretches from north to south the same distance as London to York - making it geographically the UK's longest parliamentary area.

"I always have to be the person who is speaking up for the people of Orkney and Shetland - if I don't, nobody else is going to do it," he said.

The mammoth 700 mile trip kicks off before 6am on a Monday morning with a car journey to Kirkwall Airport.

For this part of his trip, Carmichael is inline with 69% of British commuters who use a car for their daily commute.

Alistair Carmichael in his Westminster office. Credit: Chris Hitchings

Checking in for the 7.40am flight to Edinburgh, he chats to airport staff about what is happening in their community ahead of leaving the islands for the week.

Arriving in the Scottish capital - a mere 300 miles away - just ahead of 8.45am, he dashes to catch a flight to London City airport, hitting the tarmac in east London around midday.

It's then a trip on the automated Docklands Light Railway to Canning Town.

Switching lines, he jumps on the westbound Jubilee Line line of the London Underground to finally arrive at Westminster tube station just before 1pm.

Six hours after he left home, it's just a short stroll through the tourist hot spot to the entrance of Portcullis House, and up in the lift to his third floor office.

Life in Orkney is very different from the hustle and bustle of London. Credit: PA

"I have an unhealthily detailed knowledge of plane timetables," he concedes.

Mr Carmichael says he's aware of the environmental impacts of his commute, but alternatives aren't a feasible reality.

He says he was once asked by a London-based broadsheet journalist why he flies to London and why doesn't he just take ferries and trains?

"We looked at the timetable, this was back in 2006, and I could leave Orkney on the 6:30am ferry on a Monday morning.

"Then take a train from Thurso to Inverness, and then one from Inverness to Glasgow, by which time the only train I could get would be the overnight sleeper.

"It would have got me into London at 7am on Tuesday morning."

He says timetables have since changed, but the journey would still see him only arriving in Westminster around 9:30pm, just in time for the very final votes of the day in the Commons. Far from ideal in these extraordinary political times.

The remote beauty of Shetland is one of the charms of the MP's constituency. Credit: Flickr / Phil Norton

The epic trip is a modern addition to the role, in days gone by the island's MP would visit for a short period in the summer before returning to London for the rest of the year.

Come the end of the week he does it all again, varying between spending the weekend with his constituents and family on a two week rota.

But once he's home, getting around his patch, made up of 34 islands, can be just as much of a challenge.

"I've hitched a lift on a fishing trawler, I've been taken around in speedboats," he adds.

He says most in the islands understand he can't be around all the time, but this doesn't seem to dent his popularity too badly - he picked up 48.6% of votes in the 2017 General Election.

Despite the high cost of the weekly trip, which costs more per year than the average salary of his constituents, he insists its all worth it as his constituents want a voice in the running of the UK.

It might be a 1,400 mile round trip, but Carmichael has voted in 74% of Commons votes in this Parliament.

"If we are to be a United Kingdom, and have our Parliament in London, then it has to be done," he insisted.

How unusual is Carmichael's journey? According to the results of the Department for Transport's National Travel Survey, eight people make commuting journeys of more than 350 miles on a regular basis.

  • The man who has cycled around the world, twice, just to get to work

Nigel Dykes is no stranger to a epic bike journey.

"I once cycled 90 miles to a job interview - and got the job," Nigel said.

As if that wasn't enough, a trip home to his mum's house in York ended with a 170 miles ride to Bedford, taking 15 hours instead of around three on a train.

The University of Cumbria tutor twice a day makes the 19-mile journey from his home on the southern shores of Cumbria to his classroom in Ambleside.

Over the course of several years, he's racked up enough miles to travel twice around the planet.

At more than five times the average daily commute in Britain, the journey is no mean feat. Taking in to account the fact, according to the National Travel Survey, the average Briton makes just 17 bicycle journeys a year - Nigel's feat is even more exceptional.

Nigel Dykes makes an epic 38 mile round trip to get to work every day. Credit: Nigel Dykes

No matter the weather, the commute is firmly part of his daily routine, akin to the 3% of Britons who cycle to work every day.

His love of cycling has seen him make the trip through wintry conditions and floodwaters two foot deep.

"I normally leave about 7.30 in the morning," he told ITV News.

"I head up through the Lyth valley, you’ve got to watch out because there’s usually plenty of cow muck on the roads.

"My route takes in some hills and a good amount of flat ground too."

The nature of the trip, winding through the foothills of England’s biggest national park, means he avoids many of the congestion problems faced by urban commuters.

"You have to avoid other road users by using the passing places, and then there’s the sheep to look out for too."

His motivation is one of helping the environment, and keeping fit at the same time.

  • 'I swim to work and tow my clothes behind me as I go'

Howard Crompton certainly had one of the UK's most unusual commutes.

The outdoor instructor from mid-Wales swam to work for several years.

"It's about a mile to swim, depending on the currents it takes between 15 and 20 minutes," he told ITV News.

Shunning the rat race, Howard navigated the estuary at Aberdovey to get to work - taking to the water in spring and summer when the weather allows.

"Generally I'd use a triathlon wet suit for the swim, and then a buckle waist belt to keep items dry, and then drag along a dry bag.

The Aberdovey estuary that Howard calls home from time to time. Credit: Bryn Jones / Flickr

"You get some funny looks from passers by, staring down at you from the footpath above the river.

"At the end of the swim, there's a slate beach so I'd get my trainers out of the dry bag and then jog the 150m into the outdoor centre" where he works.

What about swimming in wild water? He says its not something that concerns him too much.

"Luckily there are no rip currents but you've got to be aware of the consequences.

"There are always yachts in the water too, so you've got to watch out for them."