Adventure alert: I’m going to sail around Great Britain

I’ve spent no more than a handful of days in a sailing boat. I don’t know if I will get seasick. I forget my port from my starboard. And the toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat.

Yet from May 1st 2022, this will be my life for four months onboard a 28 foot (8.5m) long yacht named Speedwell as my partner Mark and I sail an estimated 2,000 miles (3,218km) around the coast of Great Britain.

Mark has been sailing for more than 20 years so is a dab hand at this floating thing but I’m coming at it new and green – and just a little bit nervous.

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Volcano number 24: The Munro volcano

It’s late September 2020. I’m in Scotland and I’m about to climb my first Munro – a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet (914.4m), of which there are 282.

It also happens to be a volcano and the UK’s highest mountain.

Ben Nevis stands at a glorious 4,411 feet (1,345m) and is beautifully imposing. It is the remains of an ancient volcano that collapsed in on itself more than 400 million years ago, which was then moulded by the elements.

While not the hardest Munro to climb, it is the highest and for a first Munro it sets the standard.

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Volcano number 23: The private volcano

April 2020 was spent in a yellow motel room in the small tourist town Te Anau in New Zealand. That first Covid lockdown put paid to my #WalkNZ adventure – just seven days from the finish line in Bluff.

Once things opened up in New Zealand, and the rest of the world was still on pause, my partner Mark and I did a tiki tour of the North Island.

And I climbed volcano number 23 in my #40by40 challenge.

Mt Tarawera.   

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Learning to sail – the baptism-by-fire way

I can count on one hand the number of times I have been on a sailboat – and that’s with chopping two of my fingers off.

I know nothing about boats. I can’t remember port from starboard, stern from bow, gybe from tact (opps I mean tack).

I have no idea if I get seasick.

The toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat, the contents of which I have to chuck over the side of the boat.

There is currently nowhere to decently wash my hands and I don’t do dirty hands.

And dirty hands are part and parcel of sailing – disgusting, wet, dirty, muddy, mouldy ropes wherever you look. As well as large, copious amounts of gluggy bird poo. Yuck!

So, when my partner Mark, who has been sailing for 20 years, bought a new boat recently, I was suddenly introduced to a whole new and scary world.

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Ten things I learnt walking Hadrian’s Wall Path

A couple of weeks ago, I trod the Hadrian’s Wall Path in northern England from the east coast to the west coast. All 135km (84 miles) of it, walked in six days, passing through two cities, Newcastle and Carlisle, and following sections of ancient wall that had been built some 2,000 years ago to keep the marauding northerners out. It’s a walk I’ve wanted to do since I first arrived in the UK 15 years ago so to finally get round to doing it was pretty incredible.

Here are 10 things I learnt:

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Days 72-80 of #WalkNZ Part 2 – The arrival of winter, the Takitimu mountains and coronavirus

20200317_162611We left Queenstown early but not early enough to miss hearing that the tourist city had its first coronavirus case. 

I couldn’t get into the mountains and away from people fast enough.

And so my boyfriend and I headed for the New Zealand wilderness, moving further south, getting closer to the finish line.

But there was a chill in the air. (No, I don’t mean coronavirus). Continue reading

Days 66-70 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Motatapu Track

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Calves screamed.

Lightening strips of pain burned up the back of my legs.

My lungs were in meltdown trying to support my muscles that sucked up the scant oxygen in my blood, while my heart seemed to be in its death throes as it attempted to keep up with the relentless uphill movement of my legs as I inched slowly closer to yet another mountain saddle.

Five mountains over 1000m high in three days. Classic Te Araroa.

And oh man, it hurt.

To say I underestimated the Motatapu Track is an understatement. Continue reading

Days 57-63 of #WalkNZ part 2 – Ahuriri River and the Breast Hill Track

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Sometimes the Te Araroa throws everything at you. 

Hot, cold, sun, rain, uphill, downhill, stunning views, monotonous boredom, walking like a machine, hobbling and in pain. Wet underpants.

That was this section.

Seven days. Demanding. Challenging.

Totally worth it.

But it didn’t start well.

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Days 45-55 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Clent Hills, Two Thumbs Range & Te Araroa’s highest point

20200219_140531I have now walked just more than half of the South Island of New Zealand on part 2 of #WalkNZ. 

More than 650km.

Woozers!

That explains why the tread on my shoes is looking a little bald and why I’m now slightly obsessed with food.

The past 10 days have provided some of the best highlights of the trail – wild West country and the greatest sense of remoteness so far, super wild camping spots, the highest point on the Te Araroa trail, a stunning ridgeline walk with views to New Zealand’s tallest mountain Mt Cook, and a 55km bike ride. Continue reading