Day 126 of #WalkNZ: Injury in the Nelson Lakes

20190307_080159It’s funny how long-distance walking undulates mentally as much as the mountains and hills that I hike along the Te Araroa trail.

Last week, I was ecstatic that I’d completed eight days in New Zealand wilderness in the demanding Richmond Ranges in the South Island.

This week, I have a dark cloud hanging over me after having to turn back and bail from the Nelson Lakes after poor weather and injury struck. Continue reading

Days 90-92 of #WalkNZ: The Tararua mountain range

20190203_085651I stood and stared at the squelchy pool of brown mud in front of me, a mixed look of disbelief and annoyance probably etched across my face.

“Really! I mean really,” I said out loud, to no one in particular. “Not more mud,” I moaned. #WalkNZ was quickly becoming #WalkMuddyNZ.

Here I was on the Tararua mountain range section of the 3,000km Te Araroa hiking trail down the length of New Zealand and yet again I was looking at a vast heap of wet, boot and soul-destroying mud.

“I’m in the fricken mountains,” I thought. “There’s not supposed to be any mud.”

I guessed this was another memo about the trail I had missed. Continue reading

Volcano number 12: The last-minute volcano

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After a wet day with thoroughly uninviting views, we awoke in the little French town of Mandailles to what promised to be better weather. There were pockets of blue in the sky (hurrah!) and while the tops of the higher mountains were still shrouded in cloud it looked like it was only lingering like a bad smell.

Today was to be our last day of our three-day hike along a section of the GR400 route in France’s Auvergne region. So far, we had been buffeted by gale force winds in an almighty thunderstorm, my hiking companion’s tent had nearly blown off the side of the mountain, and we had climbed two volcanoes as part of my #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanos by the age of 40.

Today’s aim was to take on two more volcanoes – including the immediate region’s highest peak Plomb du Cantal. Continue reading

4 reasons I love Snowdonia

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Photo credit: Matt Cripsey

There is nothing like getting out of the big city and into the countryside – goodbye car exhausts and concrete jungle, hello fresh air, mountains and adventure.

Getting away from the noise and bright lights and reconnecting with nature is one of my favourite ways to de-stress and reboot.

And what better place to do that than Snowdonia National Park in Wales.   Continue reading

Volcano number 9: The boggy volcano (part 2)

[Read part one of boggy volcano here]

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Day two of my ninth volcano, walking across the Cheviot Hills in England’s Northumberland National Park, and we were off. The rain of yesterday was gone, replaced by a gentle frost and lashings of lush sunshine. Now this was more like it.

My walking boots were still sodden from yesterday’s dismal weather and bog-hopping. Pulling on my cold, stinky, sopping socks that morning had given me shivers. I’d held the offending items at arm’s length, nose wrinkled, viewing them with contempt, before plunging my feet into their soggy centres. I admit, a whimper had escaped my lips.

But now, as we tramped uphill, my feet felt toasty – or as toasty as wet feet can feel. The second day of our adventure across the volcanically formed Cheviot Hills was to take us from Barrowburn back to Wooler via some summits. The original plan had been to include a few more summits but going on the day before’s poor time-keeping (and my poor fitness), I decided to scrap some that were more out of the way. Thus, our route was more direct.

Of course, that wasn’t taking into account the possibility of getting lost – and get lost we did. Continue reading

An adventure into the New Zealand wilderness

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We arrived in St Arnaud, in New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes, to persistent drizzle and a grey cloud that hung in the air and made driving difficult. It wasn’t a great start to a three-day walk into New Zealand’s wilderness, and a real mood-dampener considering the bad luck we had already had with the inclement Kiwi weather.

The blood-sucking sandflies – infamous in the South Island’s Nelson Lakes region – were also out in force, driving my friend Julia into her tent in the wake of their bloodlust. The shower of insect repellent she sprayed in the cramped confines of her tent resulted in a dramatic coughing fit and the near expulsion of a lung.

The adventure was going swimmingly!  Continue reading

These were my highlights from 2016

In my last blog, I listed all the mishaps, lows and hilarious misadventures I had experienced in 2016. Now I turn to the highlights and good times. At this time of year, with a spangly new year full of promise on the horizon, it’s good to remember the positives and to be grateful for the good things, experiences and people present in our lives. 2016 will be a year to remember for many reasons. Importantly though, 2016 has set the scene for 2017 and the experiences, adventures and joy (and certain mishaps) yet to come. Here are my top highlights from the year. Continue reading

Interview with adventurer and OS #GetOutside Champion Jason Rawles

about-img11Meet Jason Rawles!

Jason quit his corporate job, ended a toxic relationship, sold his house and moved to Wales – all to follow his passion for the outdoors. He now balances his time between climbing mountains and working in sales for a tech company in North Wales. He is a #GetOutside Champion for Ordnance Survey, promoting the outdoors, and brand ambassador for Keen Footwear, and is a qualified adventure guide.

Here, Jason talks about why he chucked in the high paying job and luxury lifestyle and what he has learnt along the way.   Continue reading

When the sun sets and you can’t find the path home

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“Seriously Del, we have to hurry up. The sun is setting and I have no idea where the start of the path down Devil’s Kitchen is.”

I left him to bumble about with his gloves and ice axe while I tentatively began a hasty and very steep descent of Glyder Fawr, a 1001m high mountain in Snowdonia, Wales.

The grey cloud that had enveloped the summit earlier had lifted somewhat showing off excellent views of the surrounding valleys and snow-capped mountains. But it also showed a brilliant orange orb hovering a little too close to the horizon.

We still had an ankle-breaking descent of about 300m to get to the little lake Llyn Y Cwm and from there we faced a craggy cliff face and vertiginous slope (Devil’s Kitchen – there is probably something in the name there) before finding relative safety in the valley. The only problem was it was starting to get dark and I didn’t know where exactly the path down the cliff face was. Continue reading