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

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

How I found my outdoor adventure mojo

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I’m actually pretty new to this hill walking and mountain climbing business – although I think I’ve always loved the idea of it but have just always found excuses why it wasn’t for me.

Well that all changed at the end of 2014: that’s when I found my outdoor adventure mojo and new-found passion of walking in the wilderness.

However, it wasn’t the best introduction – rather more like baptism by fire, to be honest.

Continue reading

An adventure into the New Zealand wilderness

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We arrived in St Arnaud, in New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes, to persistent drizzle and a grey cloud that hung in the air and made driving difficult. It wasn’t a great start to a three-day walk into New Zealand’s wilderness, and a real mood-dampener considering the bad luck we had already had with the inclement Kiwi weather.

The blood-sucking sandflies – infamous in the South Island’s Nelson Lakes region – were also out in force, driving my friend Julia into her tent in the wake of their bloodlust. The shower of insect repellent she sprayed in the cramped confines of her tent resulted in a dramatic coughing fit and the near expulsion of a lung.

The adventure was going swimmingly!  Continue reading

Interview with Tough Girl Sarah Williams

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Meet Sarah Williams!

Sarah is a former finance guru who quit her city job after eight years to spend 18 months travelling the world and deciding what to do with her life. Once back in the UK she set up Tough Girl Challenges and the very successful Tough Girl Podcast as a way of motivating and inspiring women and girls. In 2016, Sarah completed the Marathon des Sables, the six-day 251km ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert that has been dubbed the toughest footrace on earth. Later this year, Sarah takes on the US’ 2,190-mile-long Appalachian Trail with the plan to thru hike it in 100 days.

 Here, Sarah talks about setting out on a new direction, fears about what people might think and focusing on the journey.  Continue reading

Interview with adventurer Laura Kennington

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Meet Laura Kennington!

Laura is a professionally trained actress and singer turned adventure athlete. She has completed the Nepal Marathon, climbing to over 2,000m in the process, cycled 2,600km through Ireland, and kayaked 236 miles of the River Thames. She has turned the three Channel Islands of Sark, Guernsey and Jersey into an adventure playground, where she swam, kayaked and cycled across and around the islands as a triathlon in three days. She has also attempted to kayak the entire length of the 2,300-mile-long Volga River in Russia but was forced to call it quits due to safety concerns.

Here, Laura talks about mental strength, the gift of human kindness and being inspired by Dr Seuss.   Continue reading

Interview with adventurer Laura Bingham

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Meet Laura Bingham!

Laura is a British explorer with a stamp-packed passport. In 2014, with zero experience, she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a 38ft Trimaran with two men and a cat. Then in 2016, she crossed South America by bike and with no money, relying on the kindness of strangers and rubbish bins. Laura recently married fellow adventurer and Amazon walker Ed Stafford.

Here, Laura talks about the call of adventure and her resolute belief that everything will work out OK. Continue reading

Interview with entrepreneur and social campaigner Gee Elliott

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-16-14-14-1Meet Gee Elliott!

Gee quit her private equity job and London life to move to Uganda where she ran a charity and co-founded the social enterprise Grass Roots Café and Deli. In July last year, however, she was forced to return to the UK after being hit by a motorbike, which fractured her back. She has recently launched a new platform – Above Water – to empower women amid the pressures of the 21st Century.

Here, she talks about the ‘cult of perfectionism’, going against social expectations, and the desire to enable women to meet their full potential. Continue reading

Interview with British polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE

The Commonwealth Woman's Antarctic Expedition (CWAE) selection and training camp in Norway, March '09.

Meet Felicity Aston!

 Felicity is an author, speaker, expedition leader, former Antarctic scientist and general lover of cold environments. In 2012, she became the first woman to ski 1,744km alone across Antarctica, taking 59 days. Her expeditions have also included the first British women’s crossing of Greenland, a 6000km drive to the South Pole, a 36,000km drive to the Pole of Cold, and leading the largest and most international team of women ever to ski to the South Pole. She has written three books and made several documentaries. In 2015, she was awarded The Queen’s Polar Medal and was appointed MBE for services to polar exploration.

 Here, Felicity talks about taking risks and discusses how experience is a teacher. Continue reading