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.
I regretted it the moment the hill started to steepen. It was already hot and muggy, and within minutes of climbing through tropical rainforest to the crater lake lookout, I felt like I was slowly being steamed alive. 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.
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 →
2017 – one blink and it was gone. Or so it seemed.
In reflection, it was a manic year of epic highs (awesome month-long trip home to New Zealand, gaining my British citizenship and starting a new journey of self-discovery through my mind). But it was also a year of epic lows (not one but two volcano failures, putting my volcano plans on hold while sorting out my British citizenship, and adjusting to a new reality of frequent hospital visits to see the boyfriend’s father who had a life-altering stroke).