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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have now walked just more than half of the South Island of New Zealand on part 2 of #WalkNZ.
More than 650km.
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 →