New Zealand: The North Island 3 weeks

Our November was pretty amazing!  Craig and I spent the best part of three weeks touring New Zealand’s north island. We did so many amazing things that it’s really difficult to pull out just a few highlights, but I thought I’d give it a try.

Auckland

We spend a few days at the start and end of our trip in Auckland. It’s a really cool wee city, and it’s just a short drive out of the main centre to the coast. We spent some time out at Mission Bay, Devonport, a day in Auckland Zoo and an evening at the Planetarium too.

Hobbiton

I have loved Tolkien’s works since I was tiny and Craig’s a big fan of the fantasy genre too, so Hobbiton was always going to be a hit. Even keeping this in mind, it totally surpassed both of our expectations. In both detail and in scale there is so much going on, and it was pretty cool to have a pint in The Green Dragon! We stayed for lunch at the end of our tour, and it was well worth it.

 

Lake Taupo Kayaking

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

We booked this trip with about 2 hours to spare, and we’re very glad we did! A 3-4 hour trip in tandem kayaks round to some Maori rock carvings, this was a really cool afternoon out. We had the chance to jump in for a swim on the way back, and our guide even packed some cake and coffee. He did then have a laugh at us when we were surprised by a floating rock, but then we don’t get pumice in Scotland.

Tongariro crossing

Often referred to as New Zealand’s best one day hike, I would find it hard to argue! Starting fairly easily along single track and boardwalk, the going soon gets steeper and more challenging as it goes.

It helps that it includes Mount Doom too.

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2017 ticked off the bucket list

2017 was quite an exciting year! Craig and I got engaged right at the start, and since then it’s been pretty packed with big trips, adventures and just a few goals ticked off my bucket list. Here are just a few highlights:

Continue reading “2017 ticked off the bucket list”

Mollie Hughes: Everest Challenge

In January, I was luck enough to attend a presentation by Mollie Hughes. She spoke about her 2012 Everest summit, which at 21 made her one of the youngest British climbers to reach the top of the world.

The presentation was exciting, in places a bit grim, but definitely inspiring.  It didn’t matter that high altitude climbing is not something that I aspire to – Mollie focused in on the qualities that a person needed to achieve any challenge and that made her presentation engaging to everyone in the room.

Very soon, Mollie is heading off to Everest again. this time she hope to summit from the Tibet side of the mountain. This would make her one of few who has summited Everest from both sides – the youngest Briton and also the first English woman too.

I’ll following Mollie’s journey through her twitter and her own blog, and wish her the best of luck!

Hiking Lake Geneva

I love it when a plan comes together! 

On Monday morning, I am flying to Geneva to hike around Lac Lèman. We will follow the water line as closely as possible, travelling through lots of little villages and towns in Switzerland and France.

I’ll be joined by Robyn, who I have known for nearly six years now (wow, time flys!)  and Lewis, who I met a week ago!  It may seem like an odd indever, but it’s all for a very important cause – Robyn and I are nearly 25 and are really wanting to earn our Explorer Belt! 

So, what is the Explorer Belt?

It’s and award open to all 16 -25 year olds who are in Scouting or Guides. To earn it, you must “Undertake a 10-day expedition as part of a team outside of the UK with a minimum travelling time of 50 hours over the 10 days, by foot, cycle, horse, canoe, boat or dinghy” 

Route!

Making 2017 Another Adventure

New year new me? Nah, I prefer to set a few goals and plan a couple adventures when the new year rolls around. Last year was pretty action packed, so I’m massively looking forward to seeing what I can fit in this year. I’ve managed to meet my January challenge, so I just have to keep the momentum going! Continue reading “Making 2017 Another Adventure”

Exploring 2016

2016 was a busy year for me! Between changing posts at work and moving city, I have managed to fit a couple of adventures in. These were my favourite parts of 2016:

In February, I went to Glenmore lodge to try winter walking. With lots to learn, we spent two full days out around Cairngorm. Winter walking is definitely something I can see myself getting hooked on, and I would highly recommend getting yourself on an Intro course as a great start!

winter-pano

 

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I completed my first ever half marathon in June! In 2.04.36 I made my way around the Isle of Skye half marathon course. I was a bit sore after, having smashed my prediction by at least 20 minutes!

I used the trip up as an excuse to explore Skye a bit more too. Some friends joined Craig and I for the trip to Skye. Along the way we saw a few castles, swam in the fairy pools and in the sea, we camped out under the Cullin ridge and explored Portree. All while battling the midgies!

 

In August, Craig and I went to Star Surf Camp in Carcans. 10 hours of lessons in a week was a great way to start a brand new sport.  I fell off a lot the white wash and got totally wiped out on a few big waves. It probably felt a lot more impressive than it looked….

But it was totally worth it for the thrill of standing on my first green wave! All adrenaline, more terrifying than you ever expect it to be and it feels like you’re being flung along at 100mph. I couldn’t get enough of it!

I was too scared of losing my camera in the water, but we did spend a few days in Bordeaux before we headed home.

 

Another month, another challenge. This time, a DofE Diamond Challenge! 2016 was the 60th anniversary of the Award, and the Diamond Challenge was a call to raise money to support more young people getting involved in the DofE. With the Scotland team we set out on a tough one. From Ardnamurchan lighthouse to Spey Bay, we covered around 140 miles on the bikes and a further 40 miles in canoes. Owch! This took us 4 days, and I can’t say that I’ve been out on  my road bike since.

 

Alongside all of this, I definitely stuck to my resolution of getting out on the hill more. I spent a week in October up in Torridon and Cairngorm, and the rest of the year was dotted with hiking. I even tried a summit bivi for the first time!

 

Thanks to everyone who was part of my adventures in 2016! I’m looking forward to getting out and exploring even more this year.

See you on the hill.

Ainsley

Try: Winter walking in Scotland

Several hours of high wind and spindrift ensured that my first day of winter walking was giving me a good taster of what Scotland in February could whip up. I was quickly learning that the freezing conditions would make my buff around my mouth solid if I wasn’t careful of condensation, and that it was going to take a while to learn how to avoid steps that would leave me flailing, one leg disappearing into the snow to mid thigh.

Back in February I decided to get myself on an Introduction to Winter Skills course at Glenmore Lodge. After years of being a three season hiker, it was brilliant to get a feel for what Scottish winter had to offer. With the winter season just starting, here is  what you can expect when you first dip your toes into winter walking.

Continue reading “Try: Winter walking in Scotland”