It takes a gruelling training regime and a whole lot of passion to prep for the Olympics, even if you’re as talented as gold medallist Laura Trott. DFS, sponsors of Team GB, have been working with the team’s rising stars to look at the importance of rest and relaxation in the run up to Rio 2016.
Cumbria, you’re a bit of all right. Here are my favourite walks, wild swims, campsites and cycle routes in the land of lofty fells and deep blue waters, plus a stay at the Beech Hill Hotel on the banks of Windermere.
One of the most magical places I have visited in the world is the Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca. The Incas knew it as the birthplace of the sun, and it’s easy to see why – the sunset over the Chicana ruins, which look over to the border of Peru across the lake is the most breathtaking sight, a seamless transition from pink sky to merging layers of clouds, mountains and sea, dotted with black islands.
I doubt I have to introduce you to the coolest backback on the block – Fjallraven’s iconic Kanken design. I’ve been wanting one of these dinky-yet-durable rucksacks for ages, so I have been very happy reviewing this oxblood beauty from the Fjallraven Kanken rucksack range at Blackleaf (from £47.95). On Saturday it came to meet ponies in the New Forest with me.
Ever felt the urge to swap city life for snowy hills, chalet living and skiing in your lunch break? Kat and Al Judge did too, and in 2010 they upped sticks to the beautiful snow-clad mountains of Morzine to start up their luxury chalet company, AliKats (get it?). Kat told me the inspiring story of creating her dream in Morzine and explains how keen seasonnaires could join the AliKats team for the 2016/17 winter season.
Long summer evenings were made for little adventures. It’s time to stop seeing the working week as something to get through, (‘Hump Day’: ICK) and learn to savour hours of balmy sunshine. Tick off some of my favourite outdoor escapes and I promise you you’ll see week days in a whole new light.
Meet your new outdoor kit crush. Berg Outdoor just launched their European online store and it’s full of beautifully designed gear, perfect for travels in hot climates and adventures in the back country.
More lovely things to wear this summer! The sun is shining and festival season is looming in all its cidery, fancy-dressed glory. Here’s my pick of key bits and pieces to pack in your rucksack, just in time for Glastonbury.
Planning a single or multi-day hike in the hills this season? Make sure you pack some of my favourite kit for mountain jaunts, from sturdy hiking boots and a light-as-a-feather jacket to a water bottle which could save your life.
I spent a month gadding about with the Polar A360 fitness tracker, £149.50, attached to my wrist. Here’s my review of a gadget which feels a bit like having a small, waterproof personal trainer on your person at all times.
A few things have inspired me to put this post together. Firstly, lots of you are searching for topics like ‘how can I be more adventurous?’. Ah, the eternal question! Secondly, I had a lovely Facebook message from a reader, thus: “Hey! Inspired by your blog and want to do the same thing as you. I don’t know anyone who is like me and I’ve been too nervous to get out and travel alone. What would you suggest I do?”. I feel ya, sister. So I asked lots of adventurous women for you and thought up some of my own advice. Here we go!
Dreaming of the road less travelled? Roaring down a ribbon of Tarmac through wild open spaces is one of life’s great pleasures, and exploring by car is the perfect way to combine discovering a new place with active adventure. Try one of my favourite active road trips, from buzzing round Ibiza in a hippy campervan to island-hopping in Sweden and exploring Nova Scotia on four wheels.
My favourite things from a very chilled out week on the Greek island of Santorini, a volcanic haven in the deep blue Aegean Sea (basically a list of all the stuff I did when I wasn’t sitting in the sunshine eating cheese).
They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. But good clothing which can’t stand up to showers is going to kill your outdoors buzz pretty fast. Enter Nikwax, here to waterproof and protect your kit like a boss. And now they’ve turned their waterproofing prowess to Rab’s Continuum jacket, filled with their water-repellent down.
Searching for a little adventure inspiration? I joined the awesome Jake Thompsett of JT Expeditions for an expedition training hike through the beautiful hills of the Brecon Beacons and asked him for his five top pieces of advice for multi-day hiking.
I’m just back from one of my favourite places in the world – the tiny, otherworldly Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. I’ve been rowing gigs, learning the stories of old shipwrecks and fishing for razor clams for BBC Countryfile Magazine – my island stories will be published soon, but in the mean time here are are some snapshots of life on Tresco and Bryher.
Balmy summer days call for sleeping out under the stars, so get your mitts on the fantastic Coleman Bering four-man tent from Outdoor World Direct. Easy to assemble and with plenty of room for all your mates, this is the perfect tent to take on your adventures, and I’ve got one worth £199 give away.
Festival season is almost upon us, and whether you’re planning on moshing at Reading, chilling out at Wilderness or having a little cry to Adele at Glastonbury, there’s one thing you can count on if you’re spending a weekend living in a British field – changeable weather. I rounded up my pick of the kit you absolutely need to pack for Red Bull, so you can get on with the important stuff, like pulling obnoxious dance moves and drinking warm cider.
What are you up to this weekend? Can you squeeze in a last-minute adventure? Whatever you’ve got planned you can get kitted up at TK Maxx‘s fantastic Outdoor World event, which is filling stores with amazing kit at fantastic prices. They set me the challenge of popping in to a store and seeing what #RidiculousPossibilities I could create with what I found.
They say salt water can cure anything, and a week of catching waves, napping in hammocks and toasting the sunset at a remote surf camp is definitely a salve for the stresses of daily life. Never caught a wave before? No problem. Escape and recharge at one of my pick of the best beginner-friendly camps for the Independent’s travel pages.
Hey lady. Where are you adventuring this summer? If you’re searching for an active break and the chance to meet a gaggle of new mates try one of these holidays designed just for girls, from learning wilderness skills in the Highlands to surfing up a storm in Costa Rica.
Captivated by David Attenborough’s explorations of the place he calls “the most magical thing I ever saw in my life”? I was too. The Great Barrier Reef, a 2,000km stretch of coral that hugs almost the whole length of Queensland’s shore is, after all, nature on an epic scale. I spent a week there in November for The Independent, flying high above the reef in a seaplane and diving deep below the water in a magical underwater world.
I had a blast helping Greentraveller to create these beautiful new video guides to each of Wales’ eight protected landscapes (that’s Anglesey, Gower, the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, Llyn Peninsula, Wye Valley, Pembrokeshire and the Clwydian Range). Celebrate Visit Wales’ Year of Adventure by using the guides to explore the mountains and coastline of this magical land. Here’s a taste of the beautiful landscapes we filmed in.
These nutritious little oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip energy balls are packed with protein. Make a bath over the weekend and take them on your travels – they are perfect for stuffing in your cycling jersey on a ride or keeping in your CamelBak on a long-distance trail runs. Or just scoff them on the sofa, I won’t tell anyone.
Lucky enough to have a Glasto ticket? Planning on moshing at Reading or Leeds? Taking the sedate path at a family-friendly shindig? Wherever you are heading, take heed of my definitive festival packing guide which I have compiled from the front line (a muddy field).
If you conjured up the perfect cottage it couldn’t be much more charming than Little Holme, one of English Country Cottage‘s properties nestled in the heart of Dartmoor. Take a thatch, roaring fire and roses round the door and add the wild beauty of the moors and you’ve got a pretty special escape.
I’m trying to film more of my adventures this year, and while it’s hard to lug my D-SLR along on a bike packing trip or a gallop on horseback, I hope these iPhone video snaps make for a nice taste of how it feels to wake up and go walking in one of the most beautiful places in Britain.
In deepest darkest February I headed to Snowdonia to climb Crib Goch. My mountain-goat mates Gavin, Chris and I set up camp in the darkness and woke by the side of a tarn in a peaceful valley at the foot of Snowdon. Bleary-eyed, we packed up and set off along the Pyg track, past various ominous signs warning that the narrow grade 1 scramble we had in mind was ‘for expert climbers only’. Hmm. Whilst technically not difficult, the ridge definitely isn’t a walk in the park – I was glad of my years of bouldering and often had nothing but a wobbly grip on icy rocks with sheer drops to either side.
The wind buffeted us as we stopped for essential sustenance (pork pies) and then clambered up to the highest ridge. And there the wind suddenly dropped and all around us were silent, snow-clad peaks, green valleys and mirror-like lakes. I could have looked at the view forever but daylight was precious, so we strapped on crampons for the slick, icy path back down, where we promptly headed to Llanberis to thaw out in a warm pub. The perfect weekend.
In my quest for outdoors-ready gear that you can wear down the pub I review the fully waterproof Berghaus Ancroft parka, stocked by GO Outdoors. Stormproof, furry-hooded and a bit of a looker, it’s now reduced to only £140.
I noticed on a cycle a few days ago that the wild garlic is starting to spring up. It’s the perfect find for a foraging newbie as it’s easy to spot in woodlands (look for the wide leaves, small white flowers and the smell of garlic!) and easy to cook with. Why not dig up some bulbs, pick a handful of the leaves and make my wild garlic soda bread this weekend?
Last Autumn I went on an epic walk with Exodus to the summit of Mount Kenya. It took five days to reach the top, where I had a little cry. Let’s blame that on the altitude.
Here’s my pretty much verbatim diary of a trek through some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet whilst wearing dodgy socks and eating ginger biscuits on a tactical basis.
Take a dip somewhere a little bit magic – the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye. Crystal clear icy water flows from the foot of the Cuillin mountains, forming lagoons and waterfalls that’ll both enchant you and give you serious brain freeze.
Sunny meadows, secret coves, sleepy fishing villages, pasties to stuff in your face – Cornwall was made for proper summer camping adventures, just like the ones you went on as a little’un. Pack a tent and a surfboard and spend your days exploring Kernow’s loveliest places and your nights kipping under a sky full of stars at one of these brilliant campsites.
Ever wondered what explorers and athletes have squirrelled away in their rucksacks? I picked ten classics must-haves for the Red Bull Adventure blog – they’re the first thing to chuck in your kit bag for any adventure.
I’m totally addicted to sweaty-faced, jelly-legged, all-weather running. From massive mental health benefits and city mapping to living out Taylor Swift fantasies, these are all the reasons you should lace up your trainers and hit the city streets or woodland trails.
If you’re dreaming of a summer spent getting to grips with granite or just fancy giving climbing a try, now’s the time to get training at Britain’s best indoor walls and bouldering centres. From rad bouldering warehouses to UV climbing walls, I rounded up my ten favourites for Red Bull’s Adventure blog.
Here’s how to have a stellar spring weekend. Stick on wellies. Fill car with friends of the two and four-legged varieties. Go on a windswept walk somewhere suitably bucolic and then warm up with a cider by the fire in one of these lovely pubs, which are all very happy to have your mutt mates come too.