Volcano number 9: The boggy volcano (part 1)

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The road stretched ahead of me, weaving its way into the lonely depths of Northumberland National Park. As the boyfriend and I strolled along, the click of my walking pole on the road, the rolling mountains of the Cheviot Hills rose up around us, luring me in with their promises of high adventure.

At this point, I had a spring in my step. I was outside the concrete confines of London, relishing in the sublime English countryside, setting out to climb my next volcano (number nine) in my #40by40 quest – albeit it was an ancient one, resulting from volcanic activity when the continents of Scotland and England crashed together some 350-400 million years ago.

I breathed in the pollution-free air. Apart from the sticky humidity and spittles of rain, it felt good to be alive.

That feeling lasted all of about two hours. Continue reading

The pitfalls of preparing for volcano number nine

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The bags are packed; map directions sorted.

The boyfriend and I are about to set off up to the Scottish border to spend two days walking over the sparse and volcanically formed Cheviot Hills – subsequently bagging volcano number nine in my #40by40 quest.

I have to admit, I’m a little excited. All that fresh air and open space – not to mention another volcano – I’m feeling giddy just thinking about it.

But several weeks ago, I wasn’t this cock-a-hoop.

Why?  Continue reading

5 steps to an epic volcano-climbing adventure (without making my mistakes)

460Just over two years ago I came up with a crafty idea. I thought, why not set myself the ambitious quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 – a feat that needed to be achieved in a five-and-a-half-year time frame?

It was a bold, daring plan, borne out of a fascination of lava and plate tectonics… and the itchy-feet desire to make more of my life and challenge myself. I’d just quit my pharmaceutical journalism job of five years to go freelance and I needed a new purpose. I chose adventure. Continue reading

Volcano number 8: The accidental volcano

Yip that clock is ticking – 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40), and I’ve currently checked off… a big fat seven.

As you know it’s not quite the progress I was hoping to have made but in the name of positivity, you have to admit, it’s progress of sorts.

Now that I’m taking a more flexible approach to achieving my quest, I’m also being a little more creative and allowing some lines to be blurred. And so, when my mother informed me that Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain at 978m, just happened to be part of a volcanic igneous rock formation (the Borrowdale Volcanic Group) formed some 450 million years ago, it played with my mind. Continue reading

Planning isn’t everything

Yip, I admit it, I’m a control freak. I love planning and I love making to-do lists. And the recent month-long trip to New Zealand was no exception – I had a detailed calendar of our movements, a spreadsheet, and an A4-page to-do list to make sure all logistics and bookings were sorted.

It worked like a dream. I was so organised. I knew where we had to be and when, my parents knew our whereabouts and what days we were in for dinner, and it largely worked at keeping the boyfriend in line and on time (no mean feat that last one I can tell you!).

Happy days!

However, there was one thing I hadn’t factored in during my planning extravaganza… Continue reading

Volcano number 7: The successful New Zealand volcano

20170316_124710_resizedFinally, a day of sunshine!

I almost couldn’t believe it – I had to pinch myself to make sure – but there it was, crisp blue sky and a white-gold orb coating my immediate world in warm rays of sunshine. No rain to be seen; not even a cloud.

It was rejoice-worthy.

The majestic-ness of the day was in stark contrast to a mere few days ago when a weather bomb had hit New Zealand and put paid to my attempts at climbing the volcanoes Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Taranaki – what should have been volcanoes seven and eight in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40).

But finally, the weather gods were in good moods – today I was going to climb Rangitoto.  Continue reading

Another epic weather fail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rain on the tent sounded like an army chucking thousands of buckets of water over it. It had sounded like that all night; a constant drumming as the torrential rain pelted the tree above us, which jettisoned the water directly onto our tent. To say it was wet was an understatement.

We’d completed the three-day Tongariro Northern Circuit trek the evening before and had set up camp in Whakapapa Village (it had already started to rain by that point). I was still gutted that I hadn’t been able to climb Mt Ngauruhoe – what should have been volcano number seven in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40) – because of the crappy weather. But this would be rectified – the plan today was to make the drive west towards Mt Taranaki, the 2,518m peak that pokes out the side of the west of New Zealand’s North Island. Tomorrow we would climb. Continue reading

When the weather scuppers your volcano-climbing plans

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Are there any questions? Does anyone have other plans for tomorrow?” the hut warden Sally asked the motley group of trampers as we huddled in the Mangatepopo hut on the skirts of the Tongariro National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. Outside the wind was buffeting against the hut’s wooden walls, whipping the tussock grass (and tent flies) into a frenzy. But inside, it was cosy; the wood-burner was alight, slowly drying wet clothes whose pungent steamy fumes mingled with the homely scent of Pizza Hut pizzas some entrepreneurial Germans had carried up from civilisation.

I raised my hand, catching the eye of Sally. “We’re planning on climbing Mt Ngauruhoe tomorrow,” I ventured tentatively, worried I knew the response. Sally had already mentioned the weather conditions for the next day and while rain wasn’t going to be a massive problem (at least not until the evening) the wind was going to be frenetic, with gusts around 45km. Continue reading