Are you looking for ideas for your next travel adventure? If so, why not give France a shot because it has so much to offer in terms of culture, food and history. In addition to that, it makes for a great road trip as the country is definitely large enough and there are plenty of different things to explore with new and exciting scenery. Why not look at buying a used Land Rover which will be sturdy and great for a road trip! It’s certainly going to be worth it. France is the best place to start, so let’s look at why!
French food is known the world over, and it’s no surprise. The French are famed for their classic dishes and stunning pastries. Yes, you’ll find snails and frog’s legs here, but there’s so much more to French cuisine. Sample fresh seafood in the seaside resorts and hearty fare in the countryside villages. Opt for fine dining in Paris or indulge in their incredible bread, because after all it’s not France if you don’t try the bread. Bring your friends along also, a group road trip can be the best way to make memories!
France has incredible geography, and there’s a holiday to suit everyone and even if you don’t like being out and about much, there are museums and plenty of places that will tickle your fancy. Enjoy a chic city break in the bustling metropolises of Paris, Lyon, or Marseille. Hire a farmhouse and get away from it all in Brittany or Normandy. Hit the powdery slopes of the rugged Alps. Or sleep under the stars in the Loire Valley during the autumn time as it is divine!
You may not automatically think of France if you’re looking for a beach holiday. But you’d be wrong to dismiss it. The beaches on the Cote d’Azur are an idyllic setting. You’ll also find opulent hotels, bars, and designer boutiques on the shores if you’re treating yourself to a luxury break which makes it heaven for shoppers!
French culture is fascinating. The French are incredibly patriotic, and they are very proud of their traditions and customs and even their language so remember some choice phrases. Take time to find out more about French history and culture during your holiday because there is plenty to soak up! You will find lots of French people are quite reserved and this is normal, it’s just how they are so smile and be friendly and they will soon warm up to you, and probably be charmed (or embarrassed) by your bad french language skills!
The French are known for being chic, and you’ll find some of the world’s most famous fashion houses in France. Indulge in some retail therapy, or try and catch a fashion show. Paris is the place to be if you’re looking for designer stores. France is a vibrant country, which has so much to offer visitors of all ages. Whatever your interests, you’re bound to fall in love with France and make it a holiday to remember!
If you haven’t thought about doing some sort of road trip before, we know you’re fibbing. A road trip is like a right of passage for all new drivers, with everyone not driving being super keen to get the idea of a road trip going. But the road trip that that’s referring to, compared to the road trip we’re thinking of, is something totally different. As you get older and find your indepence, you hopefully will have started to travel a little bit. Going from country to country, squeezing in perhaps one holiday a year is nice, but what if you could fit in many different countries in one and have a whole holiday out of it? Well, there’s definitely a way, and we think it can be done by going across Europe. A road trip is awesome enough as it is, but when it comes to road tripping across Europe, the flare of each country will make it the best ever. So if you keep on reading, we’ll show you how you can plan it all out and make it the best trip that you’ve ever had.
The first thing that you need to think about is how you’re going to get from country to country. Rather than renting a car, we think there are far better options. You could start looking at VW campervans for sale to see what the prices are like. If you were to secure your own campervan, you could use it to go across country as much as you want to. The van becomes your own little home to live from, allowing you to go whenever whilst also having a roof over your head. They might be a big investment in the beginning, but you then have a way to be able travel without having to worry about travel plans necessarily. You could just get into the campervan and drive! Plus, it’s extra comfy and perfect for the drive across Europe.
Planning The Route
Next comes the part where you have to think about the route. The route you take is going to define the trip that you have and it all depends on the main parts of Europe that you want to visit. You could go to Amsterdam and then down through Germany and back across. You could go through France and then down into Spain. The list of route options goes on. If you follow the van idea, it’s not like you’re even going to have to find a hotel to stay in. If not, then there will be plenty of hotels to stop in and B&Bs that would make it cheaper.
Timing is definitely everything. You want to go at a time of year that’s just outside of peak season. Not only will it be cheaper if you have to stop off and stay in a hotel, but the roads are generally quieter when the kids are at school. Keeping it close to the warmer weather is also going to make the trip a lot more enjoyable.
Being able to see new parts of the world and to experience cultures that are different to yours are very important. It helps create new life experiences and makes you into a better and more well-rounded individual. Here are four reasons to go to Italy in 2020.
Italy is full of historical landmarks and so to experience all of them up close, and personal is something that must be done. Rome is probably one of the most iconic places for historical landmarks, with over fifty different monuments and areas to visit. From Pompei to the Vatican City, the Colosseum to the Pantheon, you cannot deny yourself the incredible experience of seeing these man-made structures up close and personal. You can’t imagine the amount of work and effort that went into constructing these buildings. It’s a shame that nowadays, architecture has changed so much and has become so modernized.
Authentic Italian Food Has To Be Experienced
Authentic Italian food is one cuisine that tends to be a popular favorite for most tourists who come to Italy to taste the flavors that this country can offer. Unfortunately, Italian food served in other countries is not likely to be the same and so it’s important that you get the taste while in Italy. Before traveling, make sure you have an idea of all the popular spots around the area you’re traveling to and that you are getting only the very best in the food that’s out there. Book ahead to avoid being disappointed and allow yourself to deter off track and into a random cafe or restaurant.
Everything Is So Picturesque
There are so many places around the world that are picturesque, and Italy is one of them. No matter where you go, whether that be Athens or Florence, you will always find beautiful places that have wonderful backdrops. It is worth it to explore Italy with On the Go Tours as they will have the best in what’s on offer in the country to see and do. If you have time, it’s worth going to a few places over the course of a week, so that you’re able to take in all the sights.
So Many Iconic Tourist Photo Opportunities
As much as it’s important not to live your life through the camera lens, there are so many photo opportunities that are iconic photographs for tourists to take. From the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the wonderful city of Venice that rests on water. Although unfortunately, now it’s becoming more of an underwater city due to climate change. If there’s anywhere in the world to go to get the best photo opportunities, it’s Italy. There’s no end to the wonders that you can snap away at whilst exploring.
Going to Italy is definitely something you should do many times. There are so many beautiful cities to explore that one trip is simply not enough to cover them all. Try to visit as often as possible, if not just for the food!
There is something iconic about camping vans. It’s impossible to think of camping without picturing a bright and colorful VW camping van, and the reason is simple: Scooby-Doo, which was created in the late 1960s, encouraged many young people then to buy a camper and explore the world. In Europe, drivers picked a VW. In the US, it was a Chevrolet Sportvan.
The celebrated team of amateur detectives, along with their Great Dane, has become a global phenomenon. And somehow, they continue to feed people’s camping inspiration. As a result, more and more families are looking to switch their resort holidays for an adventurous camping style vacation. But, if it’s your first time taking the road at the camper’s steering wheel, you need to avoid these disturbing noob’s mistakes.
You don’t always want to sit INSIDE
Owning a camper means that you’re traveling inside your home. But while it saves you a lot of time and trouble when you’re ready to settle for the night, it doesn’t mean that you can’t plan an outdoor area. Indeed, spending all your time inside a camper van can feel claustrophobic in the long term. Instead, you want to consider camper trailers that let you sit outside under a protective roof. Why does it make a big difference? You’re gaining one extra room, which doubles your living space.
Ideally, your camper comes with proper bedding, which may be narrow but offers more comfort than an inflatable mattress. However, it doesn’t mean you should prepare your sleeping kit as if you were to sleep in a real bedroom. Forget the typical bedsheets, and aim for a sleeping bag instead. Packing bedsheets is only going to use space unnecessarily. On the other hand, you can roll your sleeping bag and store in under the table or in a cupboard during the day.
Can you survive on sandwiches only?
You can’t cook in a camping van, right? It’s the standard assumption made by countless new holidaymakers. True enough, you can’t throw a sophisticated multi-dish meal. However, you can’t expect your family to eat sandwiches during the entire duration of the trip. Just because you are not staying in a proper house doesn’t mean you can’t have healthy and comforting food. Needless to say, while you might enjoy the occasional sandwich, you can’t base your entire holiday diet on those! Instead, you can prepare simple one-pot meals that are nutritious, easy to make. More importantly, one-pot dinners are easy to clean, which is something you want to favor on a camping trip.
Lastly, there was a time when going camping was simple and easy. You didn’t need more than a handful of torches and a gas canister for cooking in terms of energy equipment. However, in the 21-st century, a smartphone is an indispensable tool that needs to be recharged regularly. If you don’t want to use up your engine battery, you can look for solar panels that act as chargers. No more grumpy teens claiming they can’t get in touch with their friends! More importantly, you’re sure to keep your Google Maps GPS at hand!
You may be dreaming of the next Scooby-Doo adventure in a camper van. However, you need to plan for comfort and practicality if you’re organizing your first camper tour. There’s a reason we never get to see Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy’s life inside the van: It can be very uncomfortable if you haven’t planned properly!
Chile is an amazing country with some of the most diverse terrain and climates on the planet. It contains both the wettest and the driest place on Earth, made up largely of mountains but also containing areas of desert, rainforest and scrubland. Here’s how you can explore Chile from south to north.
Visit the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia
At the southernmost tip of Chile, you’ll find Ushuaia – the most southern city on the planet. It’s often referred to as ‘the end of the world’ and is set to a backdrop snowcapped mountains. You can explore the port, take a trip through the mountains and learn about the history of this isolated but buzzing settlement.
Get close to Amalia Glacier
Of all the glaciers in Patagonia, Amalia Glacier might just be the most impressive. The wall of ice is absolutely vast – from a distance, it looks like a frozen tidal wave making its way through the river. The likes of Paragon Expeditions offer boat tours of this glacier.
Trek the Torres Del Paine
Torres Del Paine national park is a popular spot for hiking, renowned for its jagged mountains and crystal-clear lakes. There are several treks, which you can take a guided tour of – or explore yourself if you’re feeling brave.
There are several places in Chile where you can spot penguins. Chiloe Island is one of the most accessible spots for seeing penguins. Two varieties live here – Humboldt penguins and Magellanic penguins – and they both breed together. The rural landscape of this island and flowing meadows are also worth visiting for.
Climb the volcano at Villarica
Villarica is located in the Valdivian temperate rainforest and is home to one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. There are organised hikes up this volcano for anyone daring enough. It’s also worth taking a tour of the nearby rainforests where you may have the opportunity to spot exotic wildlife such as pumas and chillas.
See the sights in Santiago
Chile’s capital city Santiago contains most of the country’s population and is a vast and vibrant place. Here, you can take a break from the rural hiking and enjoy the city’s many restaurants and markets. Located right in the hub, you’ll find luxury accommodation such as Renaissance Santiago Hotel to stay at. You can also explore the city’s history by visiting landmarks such as San Cristobal Hill, as well as a number of museums.
Explore the Atacama Desert
In the north of Chile, you’ll find the magical Atacama desert – one of Chile’s most popular attractions. The landscape of this desert can feel as if you’re exploring another planet with its red mountains and still lakes. You can watch the sunset over Moon Valley and gaze at the bright stars at night. There are many tours through the desert organised by companies such as Rainbow Tours, which can allow you to find the best viewpoints and most impressive natural sights.
It’s September 22nd, which officially marks the equinox. Autumn is here!
A dreaded time, when temperatures drop and clocks change, the days become shorter and we start to wrap up warm!
But thanks to my trusty fatyak, I’ll be keeping warm with my memories of summer!
The Fatyak I have is the Kaafu adventure S – Stronger, lighter and better looking than the standard kaafu model, and I love it! (I don’t know if you could tell from the video?)
In the last bank holiday of August, we were lucky enough to have the most incredible weather (a rare surprise for a bank holiday!) After the amount of fun we had last time, S and I decided it was the perfect time to go kayaking again!
We now have a kayak each, and a set of wheels to carry them down to the beach. We live about 15 minutes away on foot, so it’s not too hard to wheel them both down the hill together and get started.
When we arrived at the beach we were immediately glad we had chosen to bring the ‘yaks, as it was PACKED!! Gone are the days we go to the beach to relax, our kayaks have given us a better option!
Pushing our way through the crowds, almost knocking a guy out with our oars. We finally manage to launch into the water together and start pushing out to sea.
Although the beach is popular for kayak and paddleboard rental, we instantly notice the change in atmosphere… Silence!
Relaxation in privacy
A busy day on a beach brimming with people has just become a sunny, fresh day, reserved entirely for us! We giggled about this on the water and remarked at the difference it made. Peace and quiet with beautiful crystal blue water all around! Bliss!
We headed up the coast and had a bit of fun paddling around, but we weren’t here to exercise on this sunny day, we had a plan!
Just a 5-minute paddle from the bustling sand we launched from, is a small cove with a tiny private beach. Armed with a disposable BBQ and a goody bag of food, we headed towards it.
Our perfect little private beach, for a romantic sunny BBQ picnic day!
As we neared the beach, and the waters became shallow, we marvelled at how clear it was! With the weather, this amazing sea, and the privacy. It was as if we had been in the Mediterranean for this day!
Pulling our kayaks onto the sand. S unpacked our Moroccan style picnic blanket,and we stopped to relax and bathe in the sun for a moment. We could hear nothing but the gentle sloshing of the water and the call of distant gulls in the air,with our kayaks bobbing about on the shore.
Snuggled on that blanket, we could have been a thousand miles from home, it was beautiful. Once we were relaxed and content, it was time to get the food going! We had bought burgers and salad provisions with us, so it couldn’t last too long in the sun!
Unwrapping our cheap disposable BBQ, putting a couple of pulled pork burgers on the white coals and preparing our buns with cheese and salad, this was a well prepared and deservedly delicious meal. Lots of mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and of course toasted brioche buns. Incredible!!
We could have always made these at home, but nothing beats a Burger made on a BBQ, nothing beats a BBQ on a beach, and nothing beats a private beach!!
As we relaxed, full, content, and happily making the most out of this day, a memory was made of pure happiness. Its a memory that sticks with me now as I think of the cold that’s approaching this autumn. The memory keeps me warm inside no matter what. It’ll be summer again soon, and we’ll be doing it all again! I can’t wait!
But before that…
…we’ve got to make the most of the cold weather too: rest assured, no matter the weather we’re still on the outdoor journey! We’ve booked to climb the last of our UK peaks on new years day – we’re tackling Scafell pike in the snow! Its going to be great!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 Also Has a Lot of Beautiful Graffiti!
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.
If only it was clearer!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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)
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!
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?
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.
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 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!
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!
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!?)
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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!
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!!
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! 😃
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!!)
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!
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! 🙂