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.
Day 60 of #WalkNZ didn’t start well – and it didn’t get any better.
What with a terrible night’s sleep and then being shadowed for a kilometre by a greasy-haired, gap-toothed cyclist out of Te Kuiti, I guess it didn’t bode well for what was to come – the Mangaokewa River Track; a 15km riverside walk that takes the Te Araroa hiker out of Te Kuiti and into the back country farmland of New Zealand.
I hadn’t heard any rumours about this track so what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading →
So far, #WalkNZ has been a solo journey – but it was always meant to be.
Last week I was asked if I was bored of walking by myself. An interesting question.
I said no – I’ve met many people along the Te Araroa trail and, for the most part, I’ve spent each night with an eclectic group of random fellow trampers.
That said, I have to admit I am a little bit over listening to myself think while I’m walking. Mainly because all I seem to be thinking is how much my feet hurt, how much my shoulders hurt, how boring and monotonous this road walk is, and where I should put my foot so I don’t a) slip over b) twist it or c) fall off the trail/down the hill.
So, it was quite a joy to have one of my best friends join me on the Coast to Coast trail across Auckland, which just so happened to conveniently cross over three dormant volcanoes – part of the 40 plus volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field – and thereby ticking off volcanoes 18, 19 and 20 in my #40by40 volcano challenge, and reaching the halfway mark. Continue reading →
The Yellow Bus’ door closed and it accelerated off before I could figure out if that was the stop I needed. I looked at the brochure and my map amid high-speed twists and turns. Yeah, I probably should have got off at that stop, I realised.
Oh well, final stop it was then – the Vista do Rei viewpoint that overlooked the magnificent and photo-famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades in the north west of the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Continue reading →
“I guess I should be grateful that I’m actually on my way to see a volcano,” I thought as the ‘Yellow Bus’ hurtled through the Azorean countryside, passing fields of maize and languid dairy cows.
It had almost been a no-volcano day after a caffeine-deficient, panic-fuelled morning. I’d arrived in the Azores – the volcanic archipelago off the coast of Portugal – the night before rearing to tick off four more volcanoes in my #40by40 challenge.