4 reasons I love Snowdonia

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Photo credit: Matt Cripsey

There is nothing like getting out of the big city and into the countryside – goodbye car exhausts and concrete jungle, hello fresh air, mountains and adventure.

Getting away from the noise and bright lights and reconnecting with nature is one of my favourite ways to de-stress and reboot.

And what better place to do that than Snowdonia National Park in Wales.   Continue reading

Turning disaster and uncertainty into a silver lining

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I’ve realised I’m not that great with the unknown. It can be scary not knowing what’s around the corner or on the other side of that bank of cloud when you’re high up on a mountain.

When faced with the unknown or uncertainty when we’re out on an adventure, we often instantly jump to the worst-case scenario: imagining we might be stuck on a rock face with a 30m drop below, getting lost in the woods and never finding our way home, or falling off the side of a mountain when visibility drops. Continue reading

Volcano number 9: The boggy volcano (part 2)

[Read part one of boggy volcano here]

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Day two of my ninth volcano, walking across the Cheviot Hills in England’s Northumberland National Park, and we were off. The rain of yesterday was gone, replaced by a gentle frost and lashings of lush sunshine. Now this was more like it.

My walking boots were still sodden from yesterday’s dismal weather and bog-hopping. Pulling on my cold, stinky, sopping socks that morning had given me shivers. I’d held the offending items at arm’s length, nose wrinkled, viewing them with contempt, before plunging my feet into their soggy centres. I admit, a whimper had escaped my lips.

But now, as we tramped uphill, my feet felt toasty – or as toasty as wet feet can feel. The second day of our adventure across the volcanically formed Cheviot Hills was to take us from Barrowburn back to Wooler via some summits. The original plan had been to include a few more summits but going on the day before’s poor time-keeping (and my poor fitness), I decided to scrap some that were more out of the way. Thus, our route was more direct.

Of course, that wasn’t taking into account the possibility of getting lost – and get lost we did. Continue reading

Volcano number 9: The boggy volcano (part 1)

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The road stretched ahead of me, weaving its way into the lonely depths of Northumberland National Park. As the boyfriend and I strolled along, the click of my walking pole on the road, the rolling mountains of the Cheviot Hills rose up around us, luring me in with their promises of high adventure.

At this point, I had a spring in my step. I was outside the concrete confines of London, relishing in the sublime English countryside, setting out to climb my next volcano (number nine) in my #40by40 quest – albeit it was an ancient one, resulting from volcanic activity when the continents of Scotland and England crashed together some 350-400 million years ago.

I breathed in the pollution-free air. Apart from the sticky humidity and spittles of rain, it felt good to be alive.

That feeling lasted all of about two hours. Continue reading

The pitfalls of preparing for volcano number nine

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The bags are packed; map directions sorted.

The boyfriend and I are about to set off up to the Scottish border to spend two days walking over the sparse and volcanically formed Cheviot Hills – subsequently bagging volcano number nine in my #40by40 quest.

I have to admit, I’m a little excited. All that fresh air and open space – not to mention another volcano – I’m feeling giddy just thinking about it.

But several weeks ago, I wasn’t this cock-a-hoop.

Why?  Continue reading

5 steps to an epic volcano-climbing adventure (without making my mistakes)

460Just over two years ago I came up with a crafty idea. I thought, why not set myself the ambitious quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 – a feat that needed to be achieved in a five-and-a-half-year time frame?

It was a bold, daring plan, borne out of a fascination of lava and plate tectonics… and the itchy-feet desire to make more of my life and challenge myself. I’d just quit my pharmaceutical journalism job of five years to go freelance and I needed a new purpose. I chose adventure. Continue reading

5 things I learnt from SAS survival legend Lofty Wiseman

“If you ever get lost you need to stand out like a turd on a snooker table.” Those were the words that came out of the mouth of the enthusiastic and wickedly witty septuagenarian who held the audience in rapture. He sat in a camp chair, a wooden walking stick at his side and a leather cap on his head. On the ground beside him, a paper cup of tea steamed. He reached down frequently to take a sip of the brew. Continue reading

Kit review: How to have a “sardine experience” in a tent

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The label clearly said “two-man tent” but I was dubious about that definition. They were two bloody small men by my calculations. Maybe the manufacturers were basing it on men who had trekked for a hundred days and nights through brutal extremes, living off foraged food and who had lost half their body weight – oh and were really short. Either way, getting two people in that tent was going to be a mission. I scratched my head. And where the hell were the bags supposed to go? Continue reading