How To Save Money When Visiting Kuala Lumpur On A Budget!

We do a lot of adventuring on the blog, but the broader subject is that we love to travel, even if it’s to a new city! Here’s an example of a place on our bucket list, combined with some money saving travel tips! Follow these simple secrets, and it’s a place you can cross off your list without breaking the bank!

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and is bustling with amazing sights, shops, and history. Millions of people visit there every year to travel around the city and also explore the jungle which is only an hour away! However, it can be expensive in Malaysia, so you need to keep the costs down. Here are some ways to save money when visiting Kuala Lumpur (or KL to the locals) on a budget.

Kuala Lumpur Skyline by Nazman Mizan on 500px.com

Download and buy guides before you go

One of the top things you should do if you want to save money when visiting Kuala Lumpur is download or buy some guide books before you go. You need to be able to plan the trip before you go so that you can save some money. If you turn up and are unsure of where you are going, you could end up wasting money that you don’t need to. Therefore, plan your route with your guide books and then you won’t have to spend money on tour guides to show you the best sights.

Book your hotel early to cut costs

Another way you can save money if you are visiting Kuala Lumpur on a budget is by booking your hotel early. When you decide you are going to be travelling to the city, you need to start looking for the best deals on hotels. Don’t leave it till the last minute as the costs will rise and it will be expensive to get the best award-winning hotel rooms in KL, Malaysia. Go on compare sites so you can check who is doing the best deal on rooms.

Kuala Lumpur by Silentino Natti on 500px.com

Public transportation is easy to use

You can also save money when visiting Kuala Lumpur on a budget by using public transport to get around. As this article says, the subways and bus systems are so easy to use, and English is most spoken here, so if you are stuck, you can easily ask for help. If you use public transport, you don’t have to pay out to go on pricey tours around the area.

Don’t be afraid to try the street food

Another way to save money when you are visiting Kuala Lumpur on a budget is by trying the street food. You need to try and not be afraid and have a go at eating the tasty delights as it will save you cash. Malaysian food is delicious, and you will find many stalls selling dishes such as Nasi campur. This is rice covered with either fish, vegetables or curry. It will only cost you around 4 – 8 RM so it won’t break the bank.

KL Hospitality by Alex Grégoire-Denicourt on 500px.com

Choose a flight with a stop

You can also save money when visiting Kuala Lumpur on a budget by booking your flights to stop in Dubai on the way. A direct flight takes around 14 hours and can be very expensive. Therefore, why not stop on the way in Dubai as it’s cheaper and can mean you could explore the city. Stay there for a day or two so you can see the highlights, and then you can catch the flight on to Kuala Lumpur.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to have a great time in Kuala Lumpur without putting you in debt! Let us know any tips you have, and your experiences in this wonderful city in the comments section below!

Glasgow and Beyond – Our Trip to The Highlands

We’re back and have sat down to write our new stage of the travelogue. You may have read my anticipatory blog post a while back, but we finally did it. Here’s how our journey to Ben Nevis and the highlands went. It’s a long post, so bear with me – or, just read the bits you’re interested in, with the handy titles!

Note: The images, unfortunately, aren’t as good or as often as I would have liked, due to the weather conditions.

Preparation

Before leaving we had a lot of prep to do. Organising our Travel and where exactly we were going. Not to mention ensuring we had all the correct equipment to survive for a week in the wilds of the highlands!

I was pretty insistent that we needed a new tent. My £15 tent, bought hastily from The Range for a festival (the one that got me soaked at Dartmoor when it didn’t even rain!) was not going to cut it for a week in possibly rainy, windy conditions.  So, after much online research, I had narrowed it down to the Vango Banshee range. Both in my budget, and reasonably lightweight, this tent seemed perfect to carry with us and to camp in slightly more heavy weather conditions. You never know what weather you’re going to run into, so best prepare for the worst.  I found a local shop that sold the tent and tried out the banshee 200 and 300. They’re essentially a 2 and 3-man tent, but they’re a squeeze. Due to the fact we’ll have a week’s worth of supplies with us, I opted for the 300 as we needed that bit of extra room, and I’d shoulder the extra weight. It wasn’t much more anyway at 400g heavier, the weight of a tin of soup!

Also, I needed a slightly better rain jacket and a few extra bits for warmth, but nothing too pricey!

Next was the issue of water. We wouldn’t be able to carry tons of water with us because of the weight, so we bought some filters and purification tablets, planning to boil any water with our trusty Kelly kettle.

And finally, I considered taking a week’s worth of supplies in the pack I took to Dartmoor and laughed to myself. As much as I love the Forclaz 30 Air + (It is a thing of beauty) I needed something much bigger. I did some hunting on Gumtree and found myself a Gigantic Vango Sherpa 65L rucksack. Being second hand, it’s a little more rugged than I hoped, with a broken clasp and some tears, but it would do the job. It successfully Packed everything we needed safely inside! Both the huge sleeping bag and the tent, with all my clothes and extras on top, with room for lenses and bottles etc. in the added pockets. Amazing!

Setting Off

On the 17th we set off on our journey. Not the most exciting start, as it began with a Megabus ride (as most of our budget trips do!) at 10am from Cornwall to London. A long journey throughout the day, which was helped to pass a little quicker with good company (of course my other half, S was with me!) and my trusty DS. A journey on a mega bus isn’t the most comfortable, but for the price, it’s unbeatable. Plus, you get the bonus of Wi-Fi and charging ports along the way, meaning your electronic distractions will keep you occupied until arrival!

We eventually arrived in London at Victoria station; unfortunately, our budget travel option meant we now had a 5-hour wait until the next leg of the journey! We had arrived in time for dinner and headed to a nearby pub for some well-deserved food. Sitting on a bus for 8 hours with no food means you work up quite the hunger!

Luckily the Wetherspoon’s at Victoria station has a nice big sofa for us to chill out at, eat a giant burger, have a drink, and generally, waste some time before heading back to the coach station departures area refuelled and ready to catch our next ride at 11:00pm.

The Sleeper

Now this was a new experience. We had ordered a Megabus sleeper coach to take us from London to Glasgow. Scheduled to leave at 11pm and arrive at 7am, we figured it’s the best and cheapest way to get to our destination. Close your eyes, and the next thing you know, you’re in Glasgow!

Upon boarding (loading our GIANT trekking bags onto the bottom of the bus) We’re greeted with a box of water and a box of muffins. That’s our sustenance for the trip. Tasty! We had pre-booked a double bed, so were ushered upstairs to find it. The beds are folded down seats, with sheets laid over them, and a big divider between us. A bit weird to have a board between us, but perhaps a welcome addition if you’re paired up with someone you don’t know! Although it’s a bit disconcerting that they have a single hammock that hangs above the double beds – so we had someone we don’t know sleeping directly over us!

Everyone quickly settled in, electronics connected to chargers/ Wi-Fi and the lights go off. I’m a night owl, so find it harder to drop off at night. I stayed up with my DS, entertaining myself before finally dropping off!

Dropping off is, unfortunately, easier said than done on a coach, however. The road can be quite bumpy, and woke me up a few times! Whenever the driver reaches a roundabout and applies the brakes, be prepared to slide down the bed a little. Every time the driver goes around a corner, be prepared to roll to your sides! I eventually found it easiest to sleep in a foetal position with my face against the divider to block out passing lights! (there are curtains but they’re not perfect!)

Eventually, I drifted off, and although I did wake up a few times to bumps and corners, I got an adequate amount of sleep! S seemed to sleep like a log.

Glasgow City. 6AM

I awoke to some sharper turns and more bumps. We must be off the main roads and in a city! I turned my head, and notice it’s pretty light already!

We’re an hour earlier than we expected. I’m sure that’s great for the driver and most people on board, but I’d have preferred some more time to rest! Oh well! We were the last one’s off the coach, groggily gathering our things into my dry bag and heading off. Stopping on the way out the door, to grab a complimentary apple juice and croissant! Lovely! We sat at the Buchanan bus station and gathered ourselves.

Now – Where do you go when you arrive in a new city at 6am? My first instinct was to head for Glasgow Central Station. Surely it would have 24-hour coffee shops? After a bit of wondering and finally finding it, we had no such luck! After a bit of waiting around and googling, I managed to find a Coffee shop nearby that opened at 7.30 (6am if it wasn’t a Sunday!) Perfect for another waiting period, taking us on to 10am, when we pick up a rental car. Heavy usage of phones to keep us occupied, meant charging points and comfy seats were a great bonus to go alongside my absolute love of coffee!

Glasgow Graffiti

Glasgow Also Has a Lot of Beautiful Graffiti!

Rental

As 10am rolled closer, we headed towards the company building in advance.

Our train of thought in regards to travel was that 2 coaches could get us to Glasgow on a budget, but then we would need the freedom to travel around the highlands. I managed to find (using Skyscanner) a car for the week at just £40. Perfect! This combined with the coaches would be much cheaper than running our car all the way up here, and we avoid putting 1000+ miles on the clock.

As we neared the rental building, we see what we’re going to have for the week. We’d ordered “A Fiat 500 or similar”. Nothing fancy, but cheap and gets us from A to B. It turns out we had a Smart Fortwo! Oh god!

After a surprise insurance payment (paying extra means my excess reduces if something happens!) and an extra £30 for the fuel in the tank, we were on our way. Giant bags in the boot and back seat, heading off up the M8 out of Glasgow and beyond.

Towards the highlands

Unfortunately, (as was the care with most of the trip) the weather wasn’t on our side. Clouds loomed over us as we drove, and rain was almost always with us. It’s a shame, as I was sure driving up through the roads of loch Lomond we should be seeing towering peaks and a beautiful Flat Loch next to us. Instead, we had fog and clouds obscuring any beauty, leaving us in a mysterious grey void for much of the journey.

It was on this journey that I realised maybe this Smart car wasn’t a bad thing. Being a new model, it has some clever little features like a speed limiter and cruise control. Something I don’t have on my own car.  It also has an eco-monitor, which gives you a score out of 100 telling you how economical you’re driving! Perfect for our 200+ mile round trip! I think I managed to keep it around 75. Not bad considering my usual ‘lead foot’! It also had a handy mount for our phones to navigate, and two USB chargers we could use each. A great little mobile base camp!

Our destination unclear, we just kind of… drove! We had a few ideas, but nothing set in stone. We knew we had to find somewhere to sleep for 5 nights in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. With no knowledge of the area, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s a good spot and what isn’t. We considered camping on some smaller hills and Bens, perhaps around Loch Lomond and Glen Coe; leading up to Ben Nevis to conquer it on Wednesday when the weather forecast was best.

Ultimately we decided to go straight to Ben Nevis first. S suggested we tackle the big peak first, then see how much energy we have for everything else, as it would be a shame to leave Nevis at the end of the week and be too tired to climb. I think this was the best idea, and I’m glad we did!

As we travelled, we caught a glimpse of Loch Lomond and as we drove out into Glen Coe we were in awe of the peaks reaching out into the clouds.

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If only it was clearer!

Fort William

Still in shocking weather, being pummelled by the rain, we arrived at Fort William, the home of Ben Nevis. First stop: the supermarket. As we’re tired, our plan was to camp at the foot of Nevis that night and make our way to the top the next morning. We needed supplies!

Buying some water bottles to take with us, and some easily-heated tinned food, we made use of the supermarket to keep us strong and well-fed as we climbed the next day.

Next on our list was to visit the outdoor stores nearby. It’s no surprise that Fort William has a wealth of outdoor and climbing stores in the town! Catering for all budgets and ‘seriousness’. We got some extra fire lighters for the Kelly kettle to ensure we had hot food. I really should have purchased some waterproof trousers, but I remained foolishly optimistic about the weather. Lesson learned I suppose!

By this time, the day had almost passed us by, and we needed to find a place to camp as soon as we could!

Finding Flat Ground… On The Side of a Mountain

The first thing we did on leaving Fort William was to go the wrong way! With our phones directing us the wrong direction, we almost climbed the north face of Nevis. Not what we wanted for our first time in this weather! We were after the mountain track.

We turned around and headed back to Glen Nevis. The valley at the base and the start of the Mountain Track. Driving around, we found one car park, which didn’t mention anything about staying overnight, plus we’d neglected to bring any change, so the public car park was out of the question! After much deliberation, studying the Scottish road laws, and researching other people’s anecdotes with our phones, we finally decided to leave the car in a layby right next to the youth hostel. This adjusted our path a little, as I think the hostel path is slightly steeper. We parked up, unloaded anything completely unnecessary, loaded up with our new food and water, and headed towards the track.

I’m still not completely sure on the rules, but I read online before leaving that camping around Glen Nevis is not allowed, because of the proximity to the road and to alternative sleeping options. Therefore, we continued onwards and upwards, higher and higher up the track, hoping to find a flat area to pitch the tent – there were a few viable areas at Snowdon, so Ben Nevis can’t be too different right?

Wrong!

We climbed higher with our packs. Keep in mind, my 65L weighed about 30KG, and S’s 45L bag weighed about a third of her body weight too! It was pretty tiring, to say the least.

The rain was non-stop too. Freezing cold wind battered it against our faces, and we pushed on higher. We met a few groups of people who were on their way down, and they looked at us like we were crazy! “Be Careful” was heard a few times, and by all accounts, the wind at the peak was 80mph. I don’t doubt that; The wind on the first half of the mountain alone was strong enough to move us as we walked! We kept to the inside of the path and took it slowly and carefully. It wasn’t long before we stopped for a break. I removed my bag’s rain cover, went to grab my water supplies, only to find there weren’t any. The bottles I had placed in the bag’s side pouches were empty! They must have dropped out as I removed my bag from the car. We shared the small amount that S had brought with her and pushed on. The climb got harder as we continued, with the weather getting worse, visibility low, and energy running out. We made it out of the initial Zig Zags, continued around the first peak, and up the side of the valley of the Red Burn. We could see clouds rising up through the valley, covering us and continuing upwards. We followed and eventually made it to the first flat ground of the climb.

Taken 2 days later in much clearer weather!

 

Loch Meall an t-Suidhe

Known as the half-way lochan, we had climbed a bit higher than we expected. Absolutely drained of energy and desperate for shelter, we left the path and searched for a flat section of ground offering some cover from the wild winds. Most of this area is wet ground, due to the runoffs of the mountains, draining down into the loch. 30 minutes of searching for the perfect spot and we finally found one that would do. The ground slightly wet, but certainly not the worst. The best part is that slight lip sheltering us from the wind.

Setting the Bag down on its waterproof cover I opened it up and pulled the tent from the separate lower section. I’m glad I packed it separately and see why it’s a much-appreciated feature of the bag! We needed to work fast to get the tent up. Now we’d stopped moving, we were getting considerably colder fast.

We now had to face a new problem. We bought the tent 2 days before we left, and have AstroTurf at home in the garden. Do you see where this is going?

How does the tent go up?

Barking orders at S to stop things blowing away, and give me pegs, I worked out getting the tent laid out in the flattest area I could find, battling the wind and trying to stop as much rain getting in as I could. This seems straightforward, but assembling a tent in the wind and rain is never easy. Especially when you haven’t done the important dry run! The outer layer up, I rushed S inside with our bags. Keep her safe and warm with our stuff – I’ll peg everything out and make sure it stays in place! Once I was finally happy the tent was secure (And I had done it properly) I jumped indoors to help S hang the inner sleeping pod.

It’s warm in here. And dry. I think the feeling is coming back to my hands…!

The wind whipping around and the rain battering the outside of the tent, we were warm, drying off with our amazing little microfiber towels, and attempting to warm up in our sleeping bags. The tent was amazing! I’m so glad I bought it. I could stretch my legs out this time, and I was dry! And there’s plenty of room for us both, with bags. Amazing. Exactly what we needed, and it’s doing an impressive job keeping the weather at bay. And what weather it was. I think I can admit now that I woke up frightened more than a few times. The wind was blowing hard, and I constantly checked everything in the porch and near the edges to make sure it wasn’t getting wet. The Banshee did well, though. Not a drop of water. No condensation. No wind damage. She held strong through the night.

As we settled in, tired from the climb with our bags, tired from 36 hours of travel, tired from a restless night on a coach; Sleep didn’t take long, even to the sounds of nature mercilessly shaking our tent trying to get in, we slept pretty well.

 

The Day 2 Dilemma

It turns out that we had camped in a cloud.

Or multiple clouds, I suppose. The problem with being on the first bit of flat ground is that all the clouds that rise up out of the valley, follow the path of least resistance over the Loch. And us. The entire night we were pummelled by wind and rain and awoke to the same. Opening the tent flaps gave us no indication of where we were or what the weather was up to. You could barely see 10 meters! It wasn’t raining, but rain was hitting our tent! I guessed that perhaps the moisture in the air, coupled with the strong winds, was blowing all the cloud and its rain over our tent, rather than it falling from above. An odd experience for sure.

We waited in the tent for the weather to blow over. It didn’t leave, however.

We had three options. Staying in the tent and wasting a day doing nothing, Take the tent and our heavy gear down and climb back up with water and food provisions only, or leave our base camp here, and continue up in the treacherous weather without our bags.

Wasting a day didn’t seem like a good plan, so we kept a close eye on the weather, opening the tent flaps whenever the wind and ‘rain’ calmed down. We decided we certainly needed to eat before anything else, so I dressed, got a few rocks to prop the kettle up, and started heating our breakfast. Tinned mac and cheese; delicious.

Now we have some strength, it’s time to make a decision. 12 o clock came by and after constant squinting, through the fog-clouds, I thought I saw someone on the trail.

Not just someone, but multiple people! I counted 14! Are people climbing even though we can barely see the Loch most of the time? They’re crazy! But if they can do it, we can!

It turns out the weather wasn’t as bad on the trail. I mean it was bad, but at least you could see.

It turns out the weather was only really bad where our tent was.

It turns out we had camped in a cloud.

 

The Climb

Nobody will steal our tent or sleeping bags, we’re halfway up a mountain. Let’s just go up with the bare minimum. I took my camera in a dry bag, S bought a small bottle of water we had filtered from a stream. Covered in waterproofs (other than my legs, jeans still wet from yesterday) we started the rest of the climb. It soon became pretty obvious that the weather wasn’t as bad as we thought. I think being in a tent amplifies every little gust and rainfall, making you feel like the whole world is against you. It wasn’t a clear sunny day, but there were parts of the path where you could see back to the tent! Imagination was needed in most places, and I was often left wondering what the view could be like if we had a clear day!

Climbing mountains is tiring.

It turns out that a small bottle of water isn’t enough for two people sharing to climb another ¾ of a kilometre upwards! The climb was very hard, our legs still wobbly from carrying the bags up the 600m elevation to the loch, we struggled much more than with Snowdon, although the path was clearer. I’m not sure how we managed Snowdon without any real provisions, it must have been the difference in rest, as this time was much different.

I’m sorry to say I really struggled, even carrying just my camera in the dry bag. As we reached around 1000m I had no energy, I felt like a zombie. I continued on autopilot, but in this weird void of cloud and dampness, I was no longer happy or excited to continue onward.

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Cara

Stopping for a break on a rock, tempted to start licking them for water, a man stopped approached to pass us. He was also heading upwards. He stopped for a quick chat, and on realising we stupidly didn’t bring water, he very kindly offered some of his own, and not only water but a jelly baby each! Never have I appreciated the sweet taste more! Almost instantly my morale was raised, my energy was back, and I found my feet again. The difference in my spirit really taught me an important lesson, and I now know how stupid we were to continue onwards without bringing our own water.

Realising my stupidity and the value of the water up here, I felt bad even taking a sip; but he insisted. Being prepared, he had two large bottles.

The man was walking with Cara, a very soggy, very sorry looking dog. I think she felt the same way we all did. He had wrapped her up in a jacket and obviously loved her very much, making sure she had energy and wasn’t too cold. I love dogs, so seeing her making her way up the mountain was another boost in spirit!  I’m tempted to say Cara is an Irish wolfhound, but being so damp, it was hard to tell!

We started walking together, chatting as we went, Cara wagging her tail at people we passed – not far now! Only another 300 meters or so.

Energy back and some new company, the rest of the way went pretty well. Then, as we got out of the zigzagging pathway, and onto the last straight, we reached snow!

It’s too cold for paws, Cara wouldn’t be able to follow the rest of the way. The man wrapped her up in a fresh under layer and reapplied the jacket, hoping to warm her up. They wouldn’t make it all the way, and I respected that. He had helped us both this far, and his dog’s safety was more important than reaching the top.

He gave us both another sip of water and jelly baby as a farewell. An act of kindness that sounds so small in everyday life, but in the cold, drained of energy, and soaked through, it was exactly what we needed to push on once more! Thank you very much.

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Summit

Not much farther now. As you reach the top of Ben Nevis the ground straightens out. You follow a trail straight ahead that leads you to a flatter section the levels out to the summit.

Up here, again it was clouded. There was little visibility, so we continued following the trail, looking out for cairns in the cloud cover to guide us.

The snow on the ground was gone again. It only seemed to be on a slope and hadn’t continued all the way up to the top. S loves the snow, and it’s one of the main things she was looking forward to. Luckily there were a few more areas it could be found, especially on the cliff edges of the summit. Again I imagine they would look incredible in clear weather!

Snowy Cliff on Ben Nevis

After stopping to appreciate the cliffs and snow, not much further we saw the marker ease out of the fog– we had done it! We made it to the top!

Just like Snowdon, No incredible view, but a great feeling of accomplishment! We snapped a few pictures, and of course looked inside the emergency shelter – it doesn’t look very cosy, but I’m sure it’s been kindly accepted by many a climber!

We were getting colder and wetter the longer we looked around, so it was time to head down. I’m glad we had the extra layers of warmth with us: I think my nose would have fallen off if it wasn’t for my bright red buff! It was really handy as a bandana when hot, and a balaclava/nose warmer when cold!

Me in a Highly Recommended Buff From Kitshack

Descent

It’s funny how much quicker and easier you go down a mountain! Excited at the prospect of food and water and a hot cup of coffee, we flew down the mountain, giving encouragement to anyone still heading up!

As we started downwards, we were treated to some gaps in the cloud cover and were in awe of the expanse of the highlands revealed to us. I’d love to return on a day with fewer clouds, just to take photos!

ben nevis view cleared up

This was an extra boost in my morale, happy to have seen some beauty up here (other than S!), not just grey!

We continued our descent of the mountain, me snapping much more pictures now with the amazing landscape below us and feeling a little less tired!

We even passed a few people with tents and cameras, I’d love to see if the cloud cleared for them. Although slightly envious, if it stayed how it was in the day, they wouldn’t get many shots!

At the Loch, reaching the tent, our legs collapsed under us and we snuggled back down into our sleeping bags, warm and relaxed again.

I made sure to gather a load of water in the 5L container we brought with us. Filtered and boiled, we cooked tonight’s food and made ourselves coffee and tea. This is the life. We conquered a mountain, we’re warm, we’re dry, we’re full, and we’re together. Sleep came easily that night.

Back down

We awoke, now on Tuesday. Day 3 of our trip. Aching but content, the weather looking a little clearer today, but knowing we had to head down. We weren’t in a cloud anymore. The wind was still strong but the rain was all but gone, and we could see the loch!

It’s tempting to go back up and see how it looks in the clear, but we were way too tired for that!

Packing our stuff and heading down – these bags are a nightmare! We literally had all day, though, so we walked slowly and surely, taking frequent breaks, and drinking water (we finally learned).

It took a few hours to get back down, being passed by many bag-less people! The mountain was path much clearer, It’s a shame we didn’t get that kind of weather going up!

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Reaching the car, we were exhausted! Being clear, it was hotter. I had sweated through my jumper and shirt! Gulping down water and collapsing in the car seats, we chatted to a couple of people in the camper next to us – they told us they were waiting for their friends: They were cycling from John O Groats to Land’s End and doing the three peaks on the way! I couldn’t even imagine cycling at all at that point: they had already achieved 60 miles this morning before they arrived to climb. Incredible.

Safely on lower ground, we decided our next step was to get a well-earned giant meal! A quick Phone charge and a TripAdvisor search later, and we found exactly what we needed: The Ben Nevis Inn.

We had a couple of Gigantic, delicious burgers and a refreshing pint of Crabbies ginger beer. On any normal day the food and drink here would be amazing, but as we sat here exhausted from our journey so far, the food was like no other! Exactly what anyone needs after an arduous climb! The views from the Inn are beautiful too. As the weather had cleared up by this point, we were treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Great location, food, and drinks left us extremely happy!

Southbound

Satisfied and full, we went back to the car and thought of where to go next.

We needed to start heading back to Glasgow, as our car needed to be returned on Thursday morning. We had one more day to spend sightseeing on the road, and two nights to find good camping grounds!

S wanted to visit some waterfalls. Apparently, there was a sign on the way up, near Loch Lomond. That sounded like a good start. Also, now the cloud cover had cleared, I wanted to check out glen Coe. We had to drive through there anyway, so it seemed like a good point to stop off.

Driving South, we headed down alongside Loch Linnhe, stopping off at a couple of spots on the way to appreciate the stunning natural beauty of the area.

As we drove, the vast Loch was left behind, and replaced by the Breath-taking Glen Coe mountain range, the Bidean nam Bian and the three sisters. We decided we definitely had to sleep under these giants for the night! Seeing a tent near the road solidified this in our minds: We had to find a good spot!

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Just after passing The Meeting of the Three Waters, we stopped off at a car park because we spotted a track leading away from the road.

I jumped out of the car and scouted it out. Further up the trail, it opened out to a stunning view of the mountains. The ground was dry and level too: the perfect camping spot!

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I ran back down the trail to tell S the good news. It wasn’t too far from the car, but far enough away that we were out of sight from the road. We took only what we needed for the night, to make our bags a little lighter than before!

As we started setting up, the heavens opened! Not again! Running around trying to set the tent up in the pouring rain, it was much quicker this time! We both knew the drill, had it up fast and jumped inside to the warm and dry. It was getting late at this point, and the weather was getting worse, so we opted to stay inside and read to each other in the safety of the tent. I opened the flaps once to try and get a picture of the mountains but was instantly swarmed by midges! “Maybe not tonight!”

As we settled down, the weather did the opposite. I think camping up on the small hill attracted a lot of wind. We had the luxury of dry ground, but the winds were much stronger than the night on the mountain, it really whips through Glen Coe! Again, I found myself waking up during the night to check everything was dry and in place, but finding everything was safe. This tent is perfect!

Loch Lomond

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Awake and packed up, in the car and on the road. Our next destination is Loch Lomond and the Waterfalls S wanted to visit. We drove in awe of the landscape once more.

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Arriving at Loch Lomond, we stopped off at a few tourist spots and viewing areas to take in the beauty of the glasslike Loch. Taking the opportunity for lots of pictures!

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Eventually, S saw a sign. “That’s the one!” It was Falloch Falls we were after.

Accidently driving by it, turning around and finding the entrance, we parked up and got ready. I recommend lots of anti-midge spray here! We had some jungle formula and mosquito bands, which did a pretty good job in the places where we were covered. You’ve been warned!

Following the trail down to the river, you catch a glimpse of the rapids, and further along, it opens out to the falls! Beautiful! It’s definitely worth a quick stop off from the road.

There’s also an awesome viewing platform where you can see it from higher – we particularly like how it reminded us of the walkway from Jurassic Park 3! (The bit with the Isla Sorna Aviary and the Pteranodons)

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Lots of pictures and midge bites later, we were back on the road, singing the Jurassic Park theme tune for the rest of the trip. Away from loch Lomond and getting closer to Glasgow City.

The Last Night

We had to take the car back to the rental place in the centre of Glasgow at 10am, which meant our camping spot would need to be really close to the city to get us there in time. We pulled over to find somewhere that suits that description; not realising in advance how difficult it could be to find a wild camping spot near the centre of a big city!

Driving to a few spots, we eventually settled on Cochno Loch, near to Glasgow but also wild enough for camping!

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We got lost a few times, started to worry as a couple of hours were wasted, but finally found a local car park. Apparently, you could leave your car here, and walk to the reservoir nearby. We loaded up our bags one last time and got moving. Making sure to bring all our cooking gear and everything: This time, we had some tasty looking noodles to eat!

As we walked, we slowly realised it wasn’t as close as we were led to believe. The path went on and on, and we were too tired from our week of climbing! It would take forever to get back to the car tomorrow in time for the rental return!

I left the bags with S and ran on ahead, climbing up the ever steepening Cochno hill. (800ft) I think it’s about 2 miles uphill, and it was just too much for our final night. I reached the top, and it was a nice enough spot, but the lines between farmland and public land were a little blurred and after walking back to S, we decided it wasn’t worth risking a night out here. We returned, defeated, to the car. Would we have to sleep here in a car park?

A campsite.

Although not exactly wild, a campsite would get us a pitch near the city for a small price. It was our only option, as it got later and our ideas ran out. Our final night wasn’t spent wild camping, but pitched on some flat grass for a fee, in a local campsite. On the bright side, there were showers! We wasted no time making use of this luxury before feeding ourselves and settling down for the night, to an almost completely still tent! What a treat!

Final Day in Scotland, Then Home

First thing in the morning: our alarms didn’t go off, but S woke up on perfect time. Great work! We packed up quickly and packed our bags completely back up. We couldn’t rely on the car as a base camp any longer, so everything had to go back! We made use of another luxury here: bins! We’d been carrying around all our collected rubbish from the trip, so it was good to clear some space and get rid of it all!

Heading back to Glasgow, panicked about running out of Petrol on the rental car (they said return empty, but I hoped not to do that literally!) one eye on the petrol gauge, one on the GPS directions, and one on the road – we arrived in perfect time; if a little unorganised! Still half packing our bags on the pavement, the car returned. What now?

Our Coach leaves at 11:30 tonight, and we’ve got time plenty of time to waste until then!

We rang a hotel and asked how much a day at their spa is. Relaxing in Jacuzzi, sauna and pool is exactly what our bodies needed, and one of the best ways to waste time! Finding a voucher online for a reduced rate and heading across town, we lugged our bags another 1.3 miles to the hotel. It was so worth it! We wasted a few hours here, and headed off rested and partly recuperated – food! An amazing lunch in Slug and Lettuce, with some more time wasting, then off to the cinema to watch the Conjuring 2. A great sequel to a great horror film, and the first time I’d watched a scary movie in the cinema. I really enjoyed it!

Still with even more time to waste, we settled around the corner in a bar, charged our phones and had a few drinks, before jumping on our sleeper coach and repeating the whole journey in reverse.

That was a week ago now, and life has been hectic – I’m glad to finally get round to tell you all about how the trip went! Although the weather could certainly have been better, and we could have spent even more time in these incredible place, I’m so glad we went on this trip, and can’t wait to do it all again.

I definitely learned to bring more water next time, though. And jelly babies.

Five Great Reasons You Should Be Kayaking Regularly!

This weekend I’m feeling under the weather – last night I didn’t sleep until 5am, snuffling and unable to sleep with the “man-flu” only to rise again at 8 to go out in the rain and sit on a wet plastic raft in the freezing cold sea…  And it was amazing!  (Excuse the image quality on my pictures – there’s no way I can take my camera out with me! )

Kayaking Alberta by Chris Burkard on 500px.com

 

Kayaking Makes You Feel Great, No Matter What

“I’m ill, it’s cold and raining – and I couldn’t be happier.”

It was a bit of a shock to the system carrying the kayak from the car to the sea, and then standing in the freezing cold British water, but it certainly woke me up. Once I was on board and paddling out to sea, my heart rate increasing meant my sniffles had gone, my headache was dulled, and I could breathe again! I felt refreshed and full of energy! I paddled long and hard, forgetting at times that just a few hours before, I was feeling sorry for myself in bed, wafting olbas oil around the room. What an amazing cure!

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You’ll See A Whole New World

OK It’s not quite a magic carpet, I’ll give you that – but being on the water means you’ll find hidden areas you’ve never seen before. We dipped in and out of beautiful caves, saw an old shipwreck, found our own private beaches inaccessible by land, and saw wildlife I’d never witnessed before, in the shape of birds and fish who won’t (or can’t) come anywhere near your office in the week!

You’ll also have a new perspective on things – areas you thought you knew will be seen in a new way! You’re essentially sitting on the water! It’s beautiful! IT’s a shame I don’t have a waterproof camera!

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The Exercise Is Like No Other

One you get into the habit of paddling yourself along, you soon pick up a rhythm, and you glide through the water effortlessly. After a while, you may start to ache, but you’re never too tired to carry on. I guess that’s the beauty of being sat down the whole time! depending on how upright you sit, you’ll work different muscles in your shoulders and chest, and even in your stomach as you twist your core to paddle on each side. You can also adjust your grip and paddle in a different way to work on new muscles on your arms! You’ll be constantly working out and hardly notice…. But when the wind picks up and you need to paddle against it – that’s when the hard work is needed! paddling against the wind is the most tiring part of kayaking, but if you get your technique right, you’ll be out of the wind in no time, and you’ll have a fantastic body by the end of the summer!

You’ll be constantly working out and hardly notice…. But when the wind picks up and you need to paddle against it – that’s when the hard work is needed! paddling against the wind is the most tiring part of kayaking, but if you get your technique right, you’ll be out of the wind in no time, and you’ll have a fantastic body by the end of the summer!

Ultimate Privacy, Unbridled Freedom

When you’re out in the water, you’re in your own world – as long as you pay attention to your own safety, you’re free to go almost wherever you like. Paddling down the coastline, you can continue for as long as you want, and turn around when you want – there’s nothing stopping you. If you’re kayaking alone (I was in a group for this occasion) You’ll be completely alone, and the peace of the ocean waves is bliss. Try anchoring your kayak and sunbathing on it, or reading a book – you’ll fall in love with the experience guaranteed. You’ll be wishing you could bring your desk out there on a tough day! (wait.. do I need a waterproof laptop too!?)

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You Can Live Off The Sea

Now this last reason may not be for everyone, but many people choose to go fishing whilst they’re out on the water! You can get a casual hand line and try your luck, or you can go the whole hog and get a fish detector and bring your reels! There’s nothing like some fresh mackerel for dinner, and it tastes so much better when you catch it yourself!

 

Is there anything else you love about kayaking that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

Wildcamping On Dartmoor: Day 2 – Foggintor Quarry Camping

Following on from our Wildcamping on Dartmoor: Day 1 post – we leave the woods and head out onto the moors.
( That’s our red tent in the middle)

Beginnings

Upon waking the next day, we packed our bags (always seems to be harder than when you’re at home, nothing fits in!) and got moving. As we didn’t have much time on the moors, we decided to take the car to another point of interest to make sure we weren’t wasting any time seeing the most beautiful places!
Again we didn’t have a set plan for where we wanted to go but knew that next we wanted to camp near a big beautiful lake! As I drove, I had S do some googling next to me, and eventually pulled over to discuss our destination further! ((when we could find data signal) not exactly wild, I know – maybe net time we should go analog and go maps and compass only! I’m not sure what S would think of that!)
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor View
Anyway – Our chosen destination was found, and a good walk around some tors to match. We stopped for lunch first – kelly kettle out, this time for some sausages in bread for some makeshift hotdogs! Perfect fuel!
On the move again, we arrived at our first destination – an old pumping station, just outside of Princetown. We left the car here, and grabbed our gear, excited for the night ahead of us – we were heading for Foggintor Quarry! It looked beautiful online and I hoped I’d get to get some great pictures – it didn’t disappoint!

Trekking

We started walking south-east- up to Hollow Tor: – on the OS map I saw there is a small unused quarry here, but on arrival it was so small and was full of swampy moor water – not the most picturesque place to stay!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Quarry near king's Tor
so we moved onwards and upwards. up next was Hollow Tor. a great outcrop of rocks jutting out over the scenery – of course, we had to stop for a picture pretending to hang off the edge!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | King's TorWildcamping on Dartmoor | King's Tor climbing
When our little climbing session was done, we continued onto the next Tor, we could see it in the distance. Rundlestone Tor. not quite as impressive as the previous, but we still had fun climbing on the rocks and some good pictures. next up was North Hessary Tor – this one is pretty easy to find as it has a HUGE television transmission aerial on top of it!!
I think we got a little sidetracked here, we climbed a stile into a field, thinking it would lead us to the Tor, but instead we found ourself stuck in a field, cut off from the Tor and surrounded by sheep!!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor Sheep
Backtracking, we went back over the stile and continued toward the TV mast. It’s a bit uncertain where to go here, so we skipped this Tor, in fear of trespassing but I’ve read since, that it’s totally fine to skirt around the mast and have a look! 😃
 Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor
Next, from memory of the OS maps , we needed to head west (I think we need a compass) we headed slightly more south than we wanted, and ended up heading more towards Princetown than to our quarry destination – but it’s ok, we soon corrected our path when I realised my error and got to see some amazing wildlife – a small herd of wild horses with their young foals nearby. I made sure to keep my distance and move slowly around them, using my longest lens! I love wildlife, but I’d rather keep my distance and appreciate them from afar – it’s safer for me and for them; I’d hate to scare the mother or the young ones!
 Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor Horses
Continuing on and correcting our path, we found a trail at the bottom of the hill. Originally a train track that linked Princetown to Yelverton, this was used from 1800 to transport the granite mined from Foggintor Quarry over to Princetown, to build most of the town and Dartmoor prison. It was even used in Nelson’s column! The views around the area were amazing as the old track arced over the landscape below.
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Quarry Trail View

Foggin Tor Quarry

As we drew closer to the quarry, you could see the rocks and landscape around us rising up – we approached  the entrance… a tiny little stream and an overgrown path… this didn’t look like the destination we planned on! “Maybe this won’t be so great after all”, we thought. I climbed higher to have a look down into the Quarry – no water, and pretty dried out, what a shame. I didn’t give up hope though and started climbing down the other side, into the quarry, along a steep path. S followed me dubiously – I could tell she was a little disappointed and unsure if we should go on! I insisted she follow me and continued along the path, the quarry seems to branch off into another section, and as we navigated the bottom, it opened up into a great lake enclosed by cliffs! Breathtaking! This is exactly what we were hoping for. We stopped to appreciate the view – noticing that down one of the cliff faces was an instructor showing a student how to abseil! amazing!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Quarry
We checked the area and found the perfect camping spot for our tent, a little balcony of grass overlooking the lake, with just the right amount of room for our tent, giving us an amazing view as the sun set over the edge of the quarry. After the tent was set up and S was safely snuggled in her sleeping bag, I scouted out for some rocks to use as a base for the Kelly kettle’s hobo stove. luckily being a quarry there was plenty to be found. I set it up nice and level and got cooking! For tea tonight was noodles! (I must admit we did stop at a shop on the way to get an extra 2 litres of water! ) delicious with a bit of curry flavoring! We couldn’t help but marvel at a tiny little duckling and it’s mother swimming about in the lake below, searching for food and splashing around – I could have watched them for hours!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Kelly Kettle
Of course, I then set off getting a load of pictures of all different angles and found the perfect place to set up my camera for a time-lapse of the area with the sun setting over us. I didn’t pack a tripod for this trip, but it would have been handy! I found a good rock for it to rest on, but still, I was worried it’d fall! I think I left it for around 2 hours and hopped my way back across the rocks with a head torch to retrieve it after the sun was gone, stopping on the way to meet (and make sure I didn’t step on) a new friend who had jumped onto the path!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Toad
When I got back with the camera, it was time for a quick cup of tea (yet again thanks to the incredible kelly kettle – I can’t hype them enough!) and off to bed! Being close to the water, condensation and the dew was getting heavy this night – although it didn’t rain, everything was DRENCHED! I woke u multiple times with a wet head, my feet soaked through my sleeping bag and freezing cold. I tried my best to curl up a little, but didn’t have much room! A pretty miserable night’s sleep, but eventually managed to drift off and get some shut-eye. I definitely need something better than a cheap ‘Festival’ tent.

Morning

We awoke to the light spilling into the quarry behind us… and damp feet.
Groggily, we started packing in time to witness some school boys arriving arrive with their parents, and insisting that they swim in the lake. Rather them than us!! It looked freezing, and from the sound of their shouts, it definitely felt it! It’d have been nice and refreshing I’m sure, but too cold for us. (The parents kept out of the water too I noticed!!)
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Camping View
Packed up, we went on our way , I chose to climb out over the quarry one last time and marvel at just how beautiful the area was. Incredible how it’s so close to so many people to appreciate for little to no cost! who needs a holiday right? 😉
We walked out along where the old hill cottages used to stand, now ruins where the quarry workers used to live.  Appreciating the area and just how amazing it is , with nature overlaying the man-made structures, forgotten and left in the past. For all my videogaming readers, the quarry and the surrounding area looks like something out of “shadow of the colossus“, it was truly a sight to behold!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Ruins
Our time up and our journey over, it was time to head back home. we made our way back (A shorter route this time) to the car with our things and loaded it up. unfortunately, something terrible happened at this point of our adventure…
As we started to drive, I noticed someone flashing their lights and pointing to us –  I had no idea why and carried on…
After a few moments of thought I asked S:
“did you leave something on the roof?”
“oh my god, the camera!!”
She had forgotten to remove her new hat and my Sony RX100 camera from the roof! We pulled over straight away and checked – NOTHING!
I drove back to the pump station , where we walked up and back to the place we turned. The hat and camera were nowhere to be found! I loved that camera to bits, it’s so great for travel photography! But even worse – the SD card with all our memories of the trip were lost! Heartbroken and with no way to find the lost items, we had no choice but to continue home.
I’m hoping a good samaritan has picked up both of them in order to return them, As I noticed a lot of cyclists on the road. But nothing has been returned yet, even after our efforts to report it missing on facebook, to the police, and to the park rangers office.
I’m disappointed that we’re missing a lot of good images for this post and for S’s blog too – but life goes on! maybe it was the moor’s way of telling us to forget our history, leave technology behind and live in the now. We’re safe and we had an amazing time, and that’s all that really matters.
I have a few more pictures left over so I’ll just tag them on the end here! 🙂
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Trail Veiw
The vast expanse of the moor ahead of S
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor tent
Our pitch from above
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Quarry Bottom
and from below!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Helicopter view
A Helicopter flies through an ominous landscape
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Sheep
The proudest sheep I’ve ever seen!  😄

Planning the Ultimate Outdoor Backpacking Adventure

The great outdoors is one of the great treasures this country has to offer. There is such a range of climate, geography, and landscape. But, you don’t have to stay here, of course, to enjoy the wilds. If you’re a bit of a jet setter you might decide you want to head off to a different country to go on an outdoor backpacking adventure. Whatever you choose it’s pretty clear that something like backpacking has a broad appeal.

This is because it gives us a more stripped back experience, and allows us to be at one with nature. Anyone who has the travel bug and enjoys being outdoors will get a lot out of a backpacking trip. But, you need to know and plan for what to expect so you can take steps to have the best possible time.

12. Fact: Quick change in weather conditions by Cludes Tomato on 500px.com

Do You Have Supplies?

First things first, you need to make sure you have the right supplies for backpacking. There are plenty of things you’re going to need for your outdoor adventures. And it’s important to make sure you have everything you need. Don’t forget that most of the time you’re going to be out in the middle of nowhere. So you have to have important supplies with you. You’ll need a first aid kit in case of any minor injuries. Your own tent wouldn’t go amiss either unless you plan on paying for hostels the whole time. It’s important to have a large and sturdy backpack and to make sure you carry a map and compass safely. Bringing the right supplies is essential for having a great adventure.

Map Your Route

You need to make sure you know exactly where you’re going. And the way to do this is to make sure you map your route out. You have to get a map and figure out the route you’re going to take. It’s vital you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost. This way you’ll also be able to figure out the most efficient and safe route. Make a decision about the sort of backpacking you want to do, such as desert hiking, and then look up the best possible routes to take. You need to map everything out in detail before returning you set out on your journey.

Right direction by Dina Belenko on 500px.com

Don’t Go Alone

It’s important to remember that these kinds of trips and adventures can sometimes be quite intense. And that’s why you need to make sure you don’t try to go it alone. Make sure you always have a buddy or friend with you. This is important for safety and security, and will help you complete tasks much more quickly. You’ll also be able to help and encourage each other if you start to struggle. The best thing to do is approach a friend who is a bit outdoorsy like you, and see if they want to join you.

Planning the ultimate backpacking adventure is important to make sure you have a great time. You need to make sure you truly enjoy the great outdoors when traveling. And the way to do this is to plan out your journey so you can enjoy it safely, and you know where to go and what to do.

 

Night Time-Lapses – Five Things You Didn’t Think About

There’s a lot of information on night time photography out there – but it usually talks about the camera! Let’s talk about what you’ll need to take with you if you’re shooting at night to keep yourself safe! I’ve made a short list of what I needed recently when taking a time-lapse of Pendennis Castle at night-time on the rocks.

 

Light

Taking the time-lapse above from the rocks next to an old shoreside castle, I had to be careful not to slip, drop my gear, or fall into a rockpool! It was important you can see exactly what you’re doing! I used a large Asaklitt battery-powered LED camping lamp to guide my way, keeping me safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t about to step into the unknown! It also sat next to me, illuminating my camera – it’s always useful to see your settings, and to check that your tripod is indeed on firm ground (At one point it slipped and I damaged my widest lens! Be careful shooting on wet rocks!)

Asaklitt Clas Olsen LED Camping Lamp

Of course, be careful where you’re shining it! In the first few frames of images, the castle was lit up from the light where I was looking for a place to sit as I waited! The lamp I have even comes with a remote control attached to the top – useful to leave on the rocks, and check from a safe distance if the tide was creeping dangerously closer to the camera!

Warmth

This may depend on where you’re shooting, what the conditions are, and how long you plan to stay out – but you should make sure you’re comfortable and warm – whether that means wearing a hat, or packing a fully loaded tent, that’s up to you! In my case, I knew I wasn’t staying out all night, but wanted to be warm and comfortable, so I bought along my trusty sleeping bag and self-inflating roll mat.

Once I arrived on the rocks, I soon realised it was too steep and jagged to set up a roll mat. I didn’t want it to get pierced, so I left it rolled up. I also didn’t think I needed the sleeping bag. I started shooting around midnight and felt just fine, but when I was sat on the cold rocks for half an hour, the chill started getting to me and I was glad I bought it along. I unrolled it and found a place I could safely sit overlooking the camera’s shooting position but away from the ever-nearing tide! The roll mat made a good headrest too!

Energy

Not for your camera, but for you!

To get the images above, I prepared the camera and sat on the rocks monitoring it from midnight to almost 3am. I was so glad to have some hot food to keep me going, and to warm me up!

Asaklitt Clas Olsen 6 Piece cook set with Kelly kettle hobo Stove and Beans

All you need is a tin of beans (or any other food you feel like!) camping stove and something to cook it in, and you’re ready to go! I’ve got a neat little 6 piece stainless steel camping cook set that folds down really small, containing a frying pan, 2 saucepans with lids and another tiny little saucepan – the smallest one was fine for this night, but it’s nice to know you can probably cook a full breakfast in the morning if you’re shooting all night!

Just make sure you either get a tin of food with the pull ring or a multi-tool to open it! And don’t forget cutlery like we did in Dartmoor!

Entertainment

Just because you’re out in the wild all night, you may not be able to relax and enjoy nature as much as if you were on a camping trip! Make sure you have something to keep you occupied, as you’ll likely be sat around waiting a while! If you can get far away from your camera’s subject, you can use your light to read a book, or get some paperwork done! If you’re only out for one night, you’ll likely be able to rely on electronics to keep you busy, but don’t count on getting a mobile signal or charging batteries in the middle of a field, or out by the sea! As an avid video gamer, I took my trusty DS Lite for this trip and finished off my current game of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Just make sure the light from any electronics doesn’t mess with your shot!

Protection

This time for your gear, not you!

One of the problems with shooting at night is condensation – everything gets covered in it. You can protect your lens with a handy dew heater, but what about everything else?

Asaklitt Clas Olsen Dry Bag

A dry bag is a must to keep all your gear in! it’ll not only protect your camera equipment but also any sleeping gear, and make sure your cook equipment doesn’t get ruined! Mine is an awesome shade of orange, meaning I can see it no matter how dark it gets! I found that with the lamp inside I even have a nice bright orange light to lead my way! It can be folded down to any size you need and clips together with a very useful handle at the top. Very useful indeed. I’m tempted to use to to cover my camera one day – it’ll keep it protected and that window in the middle will allow me to shoot through it! As you can see in the image above, this is also from the Clas Ohlson Asaklitt range.

Once you have your timelapse of images, you process it like the clip at the top of the post, or like the images below! Happy shooting!

Star Trail of Pendennis Castle

Have we missed anything? What would you take with you? Is there anything you’ve found useful in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Truly Enjoy The Great Outdoors When Traveling

They don’t call it the great outdoors for nothing! Whether you’re planning a trip or are currently enjoying one, making the most of it will be right at the top of your priority list. However, the ways that we make the most of a delicious meal, or an expensive coat, are different to how we make the most of the great outdoors. Keen to know how you can truly enjoy your experience while it lasts? Then read on…

Go for the road (less traveled)

There is something incredibly fulfilling about enjoying the great outdoors via an RV or motorhome! This is probably because it allows you the best of both worlds. You can access the places that you want, and have room to take the necessary equipment with you. However, you have a place to cook in the mornings, and shower in the evenings. These little conveniences mean that you can actually enjoy your time in nature, without feeling grubby or peckish!

Sleep under the stars

Whether you chose to travel by RV or not, be sure you sleep under the stars at least once during your time in the great outdoors. The sense of adventure will be magnificent, plus all of that fresh air will do wonders for your lungs! Just don’t forget your sleeping bag!

Dawntreader by zach bright on 500px.com

Join in

If there is a certain activity that is very popular where you are headed try it out. The chances are that it is popular for a reason. Even if you’ve never fished before, try fishing for the first time if it’s a big deal where you’re headed. The same goes for all other outdoor activities too, be that surfing, canoeing, bouldering or something else. Join in and find out what all the fuss is about!

Leave your technology behind

We are such a connected world these days. Leaving the devices that allow us to stay in touch with everyone and everything behind can be touch. But a far more authentic and fulfilling experience will be waiting for you if you let these things be for a while. Chat with a friend you’ve met along the route, instead of telling your friend on Facebook all about it. Turn off the music on your iPod, and listen to the music of bird song instead. It might still be wise to take your phone with you, especially if you’re out in the wild, or deep in a park. Just keep it charged up, switched off and in the bottom of your bag; instead of glued to your hand!

Be spontaneous

When out in nature, things may occur that you weren’t expecting. Imagine this; halfway through a hot and sweaty 10-mile hike, you’ll find a beautiful lake you didn’t expect to find. The water is a mesmerizing blue. Others are swimming in the lake enjoying the sunshine. If this happens, don’t let anything hold you back from getting involved. “I’m not wearing the right clothes!” and “I don’t want to get my hair wet” are excuses that just won’t cut it! Being spontaneous allows you to enjoy nature to its fullest- even it’s beautiful surprises!

Maligne Lake by Chris  Burkard on 500px.com

Wild Camping on Dartmoor National Park – Day 1

It was S’s last day of work as she’s going freelance, so we decided to celebrate by taking a weekend trip to go wild camping on Dartmoor! One of the only places in England where wild camping is permitted! The sun was out, and we were excited to get going! This was going to be both a fun getaway, and a trial run for our week in Ben Nevis that’s coming up next month!

As we packed, we quickly found we’d have to be as economic as possible to save space and make sure we only take what’s absolutely necessary. We have a 30 and a 45 Litre bag, so with a weekend of clothes (and emergency rain gear!), two of our 2kg sleeping bags, two self-inflating roll mats, a kelly kettle and a tent – it was a hard squeeze to fit it all without strapping everything to the outside and toppling over from the weight!

When we were finally packed and satisfied with our efforts, we started our drive – about 2 hours including a quick stop to get fresh water and some tinned food. Not bad for a break from civilisation!

We hadn’t really planned out where to go! Although we’d planned this trip for a while, we hadn’t really planned much more than “Camp in the wild, and see pretty things!”

Arrival

As soon as you get to Dartmoor, you’re met by cattle grids and vast expanses of land all around you! An area of beautiful moorland left entirely to nature! It’s not long before you see all the wildlife too! Sheep EVERYWHERE! and because it’s spring, this meant hundreds of adorable baby lambs!  Both gob-smacked by the landscape so close to our home, and by the cute little fuzzy white things beside (and often lying in) the road we were driving pretty slow and had to let a few people pass us so we could appreciate our surroundings!

As we drove we saw some woods in the distance, and S said: “I want to go there!” With the Google and OS map apps, we planned a route to reach them.

Wild Camping on Dartmoor Forest sunset

And reach them we did!

Wild Camping on Dartmoor S looks into the woods

As we walked with all our gear, the light grew dim and the temperature started dropping – we had a couple of great spots, but unfortunately – being woods – there were many roots and branches in the way that we either couldn’t or didn’t want to disturb! We were very concerned with not leaving  a trace of our trip! eventually, we found a spot – not perfectly level, but clear of any debris and situated in a clearing!

Wild Camping on Dartmoor tent in forest

Up goes the tent!

Nightfall

With little wind and no rain, the conditions were perfect for a night under the stars. The tent wasn’t huge (and can barely fit my 6ft height) but we managed to squeeze us both in, with the sleeping gear and our ‘luggage’! The priority now was food!!

Using our incredible Kelly Kettle, we gathered some dry fuel and a flat rock base (to keep the area safe)  and boiled a tin of stew we had bought earlier!  We’d forgotten to bring cutlery, though! So slices of bread were used to pry the food out of the tiny travel pan. Full and exhausted from our somewhat unplanned trip we packed everything up, wrapped our waste in the bread bag (to guard against any creatures sniffing us out in hunger!) and set ourselves to bed. This is where we first realised just how much of a slope we had set the tent on! it doesn’t look like much in the image above, but with our self-inflating mats and our sleeping bags, we were constantly sliding down towards the back! we positioned bags to prop our feet up, and clothes under our head, and eventually fell into a slumber. I awoke a few times uncomfortably squished up in the tent – it’s one I bought for a festival some years ago and isn’t really cut out for heavy camping. I originally used it myself, and lay diagonally quite comfortably! I now realise that with S next to me, and with both our bags, that it’s impossible!  My head and feet constantly touched the sides of the tent, so I either woke up shivering or woke up squashed! S, however, seemed to sleep quite soundly with the advantage of being smaller than myself!

Awakening

After a few false starts, I awoke properly – I could hear birds chirping and red-tinted light shone all around me. I was warm, I was awake and I was restless! I threw on some warm clothes (quietly, so as not to wake S) and went for a quick walk to explore the area – it’s so peaceful there. All you can hear is birds and the wind in the trees. No people, no traffic, no sirens. Just peace! It’s so relaxing being ‘in nature’ for a change, instead of being surrounded by buildings and a man-made environment. I think everyone should ‘escape’ and immerse themselves in the natural world as often as possible, and appreciate the little things.

Wild Camping on Dartmoor River

Small plant Wild Camping on Dartmoor forest

By the time I’d explored and arrived back at the tent, S was stirring and we prepared for another day – this time on the moors!

Wild Camping on Dartmoor - Rocky outlook

Stay tuned for wild camping on Dartmoor: Day 2!

 

How To Choose The Right Sleeping Bag

I’ve been looking at buying a new sleeping bag recently and found how difficult it is to find one that suits every need! I thought I’d write a quick guide to show others the best way to choose their own!

IT really comes down to what you’ll be using it for – are you just looking for something to sleep in on your mate’s sofa after a night out? Or are you defying death in the most extreme places on earth? (Let us know if you are, we’d love to hear about it!)

It’s likely that you’ll need to prioritise some qualities – and I’ve drawn up a little graphic here to illustrate it!

sleeping-bag-choice

Now the problem is, you probably can’t get to the snowy summit of this chart and have all three, you usually have to choose just two!

Light and cheap

Now this one’s pretty easy. You can get yourself a light and cheap sleeping bag, something you would use for festivals or summer camping trips – but be aware that these won’t keep you warm during the colder months, and many don’t go below temperatures below freezing.

This means you’ll have something nice and light you can pack down small into a pack, but it’s too dangerous to use in winter, and possibly even fall or spring! Always consider safety above everything: if you can’t afford or carry a warm enough sleeping bag for your trip, don’t go camping!

Warm and cheap

Unfortunately the warmer the bag, the more it usually costs, but you can trade off some of the cost in extra weight! Modern sleeping bags are filled with a synthetic microfibre that emulates down. It’s much cheaper than a down sleeping bag, but weighs much more and often doesn’t compact as much! As I’m on a strict budget, for our Ben Nevis trip, I recently purchased the Mountain Warehouse Microlite 1400 which certainly falls into this bracket. It’s comfortable down to -4°c and only cost me £44.99! The only downside is it’s pretty heavy for hiking at 1.9kg and it packs down pretty large! It’s certainly going to go outside of my bag, as it won’t fit in.

Light and warm

This is the bracket you’re lucky to be in! If you can afford it you can go to the best sleeping bag manufacturers and have a wealth of incredible materials and technology at your disposal. For example, at the same weight as the sleeping bag I just bought, you could buy the incredible Alpkit ArticDream that would keep you comfortable at an unbelievable -48°c!! (probably not suitable for summer though!)

 

 

So where do you fit into the graphic? What’s the most important quality in a sleeping bag in your eyes? Leave a comment below!

Our Trip to Snowdon – the Climb

This post follows on from the previous Travelogue entry, Our Trip To Snowdon- Starting Out

We awoke bright and early, and after a good croissant breakfast and a warm shower, we were ready to conquer snowdon. I couldn’t wait to get back out into snowdonia and explore it’s beauty, let alone it’s highest peak!

As we made our way along the 45 minute drive from penmachno village, we watched as the landscape turned more and more epic, opening out to the peaks surrounding snowdon!

Approaching Snowdon

Excited to start, we pushed on as I snapped out the car window!

We arrived at the car park, even the view from here was stunning, with valleys down below, and road winding around the edges. I found it incredible that people created all this in such a difficult environment!

As we got to the parking machine, we realised we had no change! It takes notes, so make sure you have some with you. Luckily we were able to get change from the nearby restaurant and continue on our journey.

This is where it really started!

We decided to take the Pyg track up to the summit, and come back on the miner’s trail. I’d spoken to friends who had been before and they all advised that as a first timer, this would be the easiest and most enjoyable way to go. After actually doing the trails I think I agree with them and we’d decided on the best route for the day.

When we arrived at the very start of the trail (go right at the car park for pyg) we came across this sign:

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“Snow showers above 400m, wind upto 45mph, Snow above 500m, Recommended to carry ice axe and crampons. “

Oh no! We don’t have ice axes or crampons!

We decided we’ll keep heading up, and stop if we feel it’s getting too difficult, or we can’t find safe footing. I think we made the right choice, but please do consider this before you head off. There were some people we met on the way up, who had decided it was too dangerous and they were heading back. The climb would have been much easier had we packed proper snow equipment, but it never reached a point we considered dangerous to ourselves.

We also saw many signs around the start warning NOT to climb the closest peak you see in front of you. It isn’t snowdon! It’s a very difficult climb named crib goch, and should not be attempted unless you’re very experienced. It looks extremely difficult even from the bottom, and we didn’t even attempt it! It certainly wouldn’t have been safe in these conditions.

As we walk up the stone steps, the sheer size already sets in. You’re really climbing a mountain! With crib goch out ahead, and giant valleys spanning to the right and behind you, it’s difficult not to stop and marvel at the landscape!

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That last pic is crib goch looming overhead.

 

So as we continued on, I realised I was getting tired much too quickly. I had packed on the layers and was wearing a giant pea coat over everything. I realise now this was stupid – but I just didn’t have the gear I needed. The coat went into the bag and I continued on – my body heat was more than enough and kept me warm without that huge thing. I wish I’d left it in the car, but it became extra weight on my back!

As you continue up the stone step, you eventually reach a bend, and get to peer down at the beautiful reservoirs below. It serves as a good indication of how high you’ve climbed already!

Snowdon Reservoir Panorama

It’s absolutely stunning, and S wanted to visit just this incredible view alone!

We pushed further onward and up, slowly getting higher and higher, into the snow and wind! It was a bit worrying without ice axes and crampons, but luckily I have the karrimor snowfur boots I bought for our norway trip – they kept my feet nice and toasty!

We met a few people travelling in both directions, we stropped for a chat to everyone on the way down to ask how they managed. Most said it was possible without snow equipment, and seemed confident we could continue! Great news!

Because of the snow, it got a little difficult to find the trail sometimes! We even ended up climbing a treacherous face that we didn’t need to, because we went off track!

Snow at Snowdon

As we got to the top stone steps, things got much more slippery, and we had to hang on to the fencing to keep our balance. This was the only part of the trip I felt was risky without Crampons – but we continued on slowly, being very careful of our footing and making sure we kept holding ourselves up! Although, as the point in the picture above, we stopped for a bite to eat, and S’s glove flew down to the bottom! Unbelievably we found it on the way back down!

The very top of the pyg track, where it meets the railway, was the hardest part of the climb – It became extremely slippery and steep, and we had to crawl upwards, being careful not to slide at all. It’s difficult to show in pictures just how steep this section was. As we reached the top of this short section, we were pleased to see flat ground and the top marker! It was incredible to see how the extreme winds and cold had made icicles that stuck sideways to everything around us!

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I wish I could say that the view from the summit was the best I’d ever seen – but the cloud cover was too great! We were left with this!

Snowdon summit in the snow

We had no shelter up here – S’s hair was literally freezing, with bits of ice in it, and the wind was very fast, so we decided to keep moving and head back down before we warmed up!

It was an absolutely incredible journey, and it’s got us hooked – next stop Ben Nevis! It’s already booked for mid June!

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