We’re in the Pyrenees!

In complete argument with my inner planner, we booked a last minute holiday to the Pyrenees. After waiting a day to hear if we could stay in our chosen accommodation, and having to try a second company to hire a car, we were all set!

Having had a couple of occasions of trying to sleep in the airport, or leaving the house at 1.30am to get there in time, we did the unthinkable and slept in an airport hotel. Even though we still had to wake up at 3:30am, it was totally worth it. Extra sleep = happy me.

From there it was no nonsense. Park the car, get on the bus, drop bags off that combined didn’t break the weight limits, through security, 5:30am breakfast, flight to Toulouse! (Thanks Ryanair for giving me the whole emergency exit row to myself – would have been nice to have sat with Dan who also had a row to himself 12 rows in front of me).The hire car proved no problem once we landed. Except it’s huge compared to what we normally get given! It does have a huge sunroof and in built satellite navigation so we can at least find our way to places!

We stopped at a little supermarket on the way, not realising it was closing at 1pm because it’s Sunday. We had half an hour and got a few bits and bobs for dinner. And then, pretty much 3 hours early, we arrived in Anilac, Oust.We decided to take a walk to the next village, Cominac, and got some spectacular mountain views, even with the overcast sky.We arrived back at Anilac to discover we’d been upgraded to a bigger gite as another family had stayed there the week before and it made sense not to warm another house.It’s so cute with the most amazing shower and heated floor in the lounge.

We cooked and ate dinner, read some, then decided to walk up the road a bit to get some phone signal.After giving the owner’s dog a fuss, Canelle (Cinnamon), we saw another tiny grey dog, who decided to bark at us, and attract it’s pal, a giant alsatian, who decided to chase us up the road with snapping teeth.

Tiny grey dog snapped at Dan’s ankles too!They abandoned chase and we got a tiny bit of signal at the end of the road. Then we realised we had to get back. Big dog spotted us but stayed in the garden of his house and we made it back. Note to self: some dogs are terrifying and don’t want to be friends. And sprinting is never a good idea after dinner.

Had an excellent cup of pukka’s relax tea (the irony is not lost) and went to bed in the cosy upstairs room.Here’s to avoiding scary Alsatians and seeing some beautiful sites.

Trondheim adventures

Guess who is back in Norway? Never thought I’d come back – especially not so soon or in Winter. But here I am!

Got here pretty early. Dropped my bag at the hotel for later. Found a cute little café to have a cuppa because it is cold! Worked out how I was gonna spend the first day of being by myself in Norway.

The first Google maps attraction I came across was the old bridge. It gives a really beautiful view of cute houses reflecting in the river. The morning sunlight was gorgeous.

I then took a short walk to the cathedral, which is waaaay more impressive than I imagined. The architecture is beautiful. Got chatting to some old people on holiday and directed them to a café with WiFi.

After I went shopping (there are two shopping malls – both with a H+M!) because I left my favourite scarf in the last hotel by accident. Oops.

But I bought a new one! And found a few boats in the harbour that looked cool.

The way the water is so still and clear just makes for beautiful photos.

Then it was lunchtime, and after wandering around for a bit I settled for a ham and cheese roll in Starbucks with a matcha latte.

I explored some bookshops – I’m always quite impressed with the number of English books. Especially English books that I’d like to read!

Chilled in the hotel for a bit before finding a restaurant. An Italian was already full at 5:30pm and TGI Fridays was only doing drinks as the kitchen was being refurbished.

I found Egon by accident and it was pretty cute. Had a nice carbonara and it wasn’t awkward being by myself.

All in all, I really like Trondheim. It’s beautiful, everywhere feels clean and fresh, and I’m glad I got the chance to spend a day here.

Fjallraven Classic 2018 -Day 1 and the return

Day 1:

So it’s Sunday, we’re in Start Group 8 which sets off at 1pm. I wake up in my nice bed in Kiruna, sort my pack out, and go to breakfast. I feel a little bit like a did before sitting exams. Nervous. Particularly the ones I hadn’t prepped for too well…

One last toilet break, check out, and we make our way to where the buses leave from.

I’m feeling pretty nervous at the check in – there are so many people here that will be on the walk with us.

The bus leaves in half an hour. The good thing is I can look at all the different Fjallraven trousers colours and make up my mind which ones I want when I finish this hike!

And the coach arrived in Nikkaluokta, and there are dogs! We need one so I can sleep next to it.

We have 90 minutes until start time.

Weighed my bag, at 17kg. What. The. ****.

We have done the first few kilometres of the hike! Doesn’t feel too bad at the moment. I’ve got my waterproof on over my midlayer and though it’s a bit sweaty my bag fits a bit better with it on.

So the first 11km or so were great. Then everything kinda started to hurt and it rained alot and it was pretty scary to think we were walking 19km into nowhere with 91 left to go.

But I’m here at the checkpoint now, and what more can I do except breathe, and put the tent up after a big rest, and sleep?

Dan looked up the weather, and every day for the rest of the trail was rain, snow, intense gale force winds and below freezing temperatures. Someone even said that this was the fourth time he’d done the trail and someone recommended he turn back for the first time. (Later found out this was the worst weather in all 14 Fjallraven classics – a lot of people got helicoptered out).

So our other option is turn around and go back. And given day 1 consisted of a nose bleed, hyperventilation and being soaked through to my pants, this is what we have chosen to do.

I’m gutted, honestly. With warmer weather and less rain I’d have probably made it. The thought of camping in below zero temperatures later on makes me feel ill. I think it’s sensible to turn back and for us to enjoy what is left of our holiday. Maybe we will get to explore the Lofoten Islands which we didn’t have time for before. Or nip across to Finland for another country! All I know is feeling like this isn’t worth it.

Some people will say they have unfinished business with the Fjallraven Classic, but that’s me done. It really is a challenge, with unpredictable weather and relentlessly rocky paths. Much respect to everyone in Start Group 8 who finishes this year.

Having walked back 2km in the dark pitched a tent just before a downpour, and having my freshly warmed legs warm up my sleeping bag, I feel much better.

Day 2: walking back

Well proud of mine and Dan’s tent putting up last night – it got really gusty even though our position is pretty sheltered!

I walked 21km yesterday after only starting at 1pm with almost a third of my body weight on my back. That’s my furthest distance in a day ever, even with a small pack. And I actually feel okay this morning! (Probably thanks to Dan lending me his sleeping mat which has a better rating than mine so my feet and legs didn’t get cold).

Took my first big bag tumble, fortunately didn’t hurt myself.

I mean, it happens to the best of us!

This terrain is awful and though my backpack feels lighter I’m making more footing errors. Can’t wait to get back to Nikkaluokta whether that’s to camp or to get the bus back to Kiruna.

The scenery is lovely though (now we can actually see it without clouds).

My poor boots aren’t up for all this rock! My feet hurt. Alot. We’ve got 7.2km left of today. It’s honestly a beast. Decided to stop rushing for the bus and just camp at Nikkaluokta.

Looking through my photos when we sit down for a break makes me happy! We’ve been lucky enough to see this place, experience it, and in my case, nose bleed all over it.

Back at the strange wobbly bridge with 3.5km to go. It has been better on less rocky paths and it is nice that it is wide enough for us to walk side by side and have chats.

Made it back! Had a good sing along to Let it Go and Country Roads and we made it! My feet hurt but that is two big walks with my backpack and I’m so happy to be done!!!

Nikkaluokta seems to be pretty much in a different weather system. The sun is out, putting up the tent was actually fun and there is a shower and sauna.

And that’s it for my Fjallraven classic. I’m disappointed not to finish, but sometimes you just have to be sensible. Given I sit in a winter cardigan in the office air conditioning, I think we made the right decision.

Now to enjoy a camp and work out what we can do with our remaining days in Scandinavia!

From Narvik to Kiruna

Day 3 – end

So thankfully I wasn’t wrong with my bus timings from the polar park to Narvik, and we got on the coach!

Again, the views from the bus were stunning. We even got to see the new suspension bridge being built!

Arrived in Narvik about 8:30pm and found the way to our hotel. Having thought over the whole not camping thing, I’m going enjoy the next few days. Starting with a shower with excellent water pressure!

I mean why make an already ambitious challenge more difficult, right?

Day 4

Had a hotel breakfast! Omelette and weird sausage thing…and little pancakes!

Today we’re exploring Narvik in the downpours – including the war museum because Dan’s a history nerd and I really should know more.

The war museum was really cool! There was world war 2 history and a strange philosophical future warfare exhibition that was really interesting. It’s a really thought provoking place and it was interesting to read about world war 2 from a different perspective.

Then I had my first actual hamburger that wasn’t a beefburger, which was pretty good.

It’s weird to spend time in a city. Saw some hikers sorting out their sodden tent and I’m pretty happy that’s not me right now.

Making the most of an off day by reading (finished Children of Blood and Bone and it ended on a huge cliffhanger – urghhh!). Also checked Instagram for people starting the Classic today. Looks like they’re having fun and I’m getting excited. Still, the prospect of snow is terrifying. Wish I had Dan’s capacity to produce heat.

Oh – and I napped a fair bit. Still shattered from the previous days and have the worst eye bags I’ve ever had in my life.

Went out for dinner in the evening, not too much to choose from in Narvik but had some good pasta. And took more silly photos.

Now to sleep before heading off to Kiruna tomorrow! First time on a train in another country! (Minus the Eurostar but I’m not counting that!)

Day 5:

All packed up. Had breakfast. Now it’s off to Narvik train station to make our way to Kiruna, Sweden.

The train journey is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been on. So many gorgeous views of mountains, rivers, fjords and waterfalls.

Arrived in Kiruna! Registered for the classic, picked our trekking pass that we have to get stamped at each checkpoint.

Ate reindeer for the first time. This is all getting very real!

Checked in at our room for the night, which is really awesome!

Walked in the rain to The Bishop’s Arms for dinner – British style pub in Kiruna that is very busy! I’m having fish and chips because why not. Fuel for the hike.

Then it’s off to bed for the last time, and we’ll see how I get on from there!

Rebecca

An honest account of travelling in Norway

Day 1

It’s officially day 1. I’ve been sat in Heathrow airport since 10pm. It’s now 3.28am and I’m tired and miserable. Sleeping in an airport is not easy. Especially for someone who loves sleep and really likes it to be quiet.

The toilet seats are more comfortable than the actual seats. The cold floor is giving me an itchy bum even through my down jacket and midlayer fleece.

Honestly, I’m starting to think if this adventure thing is really my thing at all given I can’t even sit in an airport for 8 hours without being uncomfortable.

Made it to Stockholm for our connecting flight. Worked out how that works and have an hour to spare. Got some sleep on the flight too.

Made it to Tromsø! And my bag turned up! And the poles were still attached! On a bus at the moment to the city centre to get some camping gas.

Found camping gas and a map!!! Got another bus, now finally off the roads and onto paths. Time to find a camping spot.

We found a camping spot. It’s nice to be by a stream but there a bugs EVERYWHERE.

Tonight I am very emotional because I’ve had barely any sleep and it all feels a little bit pointless. Like, I have no aim right now. And I can enjoy scenery and all the stuff I love about the outdoors with a bag 10kg less heavy and a bed at the end of the day. The thought of camping until the 25th is just too much.

Day 2:

Slept all morning. Today we’re gonna go back to Tromsø. There’s a campsite so we are going to check that out. It’s kinda difficult to hike anywhere around here because everything is either road or really steep. And we have the classic to think about.

Did my business in some random mountain poo hut. That was fun…

Learnt how to filter water… again! Except I actually did some this time.

Made it back to Tromsø on the bus, got off a bit further off than we intended. Walked back into the centre and found the tourist information centre (where our bus will be tomorrow!). Decided there’s no way we’d be at the bus station at 6am if we camped over the bridge, so we’re in a hotel. (I’m very glad of this – feels a bit like giving up which sucks but there are plenty more days to do the camping thing. It’ll probably feel a bit more purposeful during the Fjallraven Classic because I’ll have targets to meet each day – and there will be lots of other people around doing the same thing.

Perhaps the lesson here is a schedule and less wandering.

Day 3:

Sleeping in a bed was just beautiful and it had only been 2 nights without one! We got up pre 5am and I’m currently at the bus station waiting to go to the Polar Park – the most northern zoo in the world!

On the coach, and there’s this really cute baby who is adamant that chewing the seatbelt is much better than his dummy. It’s really nice just to look out of the window and see more of Norway.

The bus drops us off at the polar park…well, 3km away anyway. We cover it pretty quickly, given bags and all.

I saw two bears! They were so adorable and fluffy.

I am really glad we got to see them and they weren’t hiding.

Sat down and had lunch – this polar park is so hilly and I ache a bit.

We wimped out again and booked another room in Narvik. Now to hope we get on the bus! It’s going to rain really heavily tonight. I’m just not into being cold and wet.

This isn’t how planned to do Norway but I just don’t see the point of being sad…though the hotel thing feels a bit like giving up again.

I just feel like with touristy things like the polar park, I’d enjoy it much more if I didn’t have to carry my bag. It’s hard to stand still with it on. Taking it on and off is hard.

I’m just hoping when Sweden comes around, I’ll only have 5.5 days and 6 nights of it ahead of me so I’ll feel a bit more determined to finish it.

Hopefully my next blog will be a bit happier. And honestly, I am enjoying some of this, like the country is so so gorgeous making the long coach journeys a treat. I’m just not sure I’m up for holidays that are this draining.

Until next time,

Rebecca.

Pre-adventure nerves

Hey everybody!

It has been a while since I wrote something other than a micro book review so thought I’d talk about how I’m feeling right now before my big adventure! (well, big for me anyway!)

So Dan’s currently looking at beautiful outdoors photos on instagram and I’m sat in my dressing gown with absolutely nothing packed or organised – and we fly really early on Tuesday. We’re really great at life, as you can tell.

Norway comes first – part warm-up, part let’s check two places off the list in one go. It’ll be the first time either of us has done a connecting flight, so that’s a bit nerve wracking. (Like how many connecting flight baggage disappearances have you read about, am I right??). Then we get the train (I booked train tickets on a Swedish website – go me!) over to Sweden to begin the Fjallraven Classic 2018! 110km of walking and camping over 5 days.

The things I’m worried about are:

  1. Public transport going completely wrong.
  2. Wildcamping in random places in Norway.
  3. That I’ll be too cold (I hate being cold).
  4. Carrying my backpack for that long.
  5. That I’ve never walked more than 20km each on 2 consecutive days.
  6. Rain. Urgh, rain. Generally just terrible weather.
  7. Not washing my hair for about a week. I’m an everyday washer so that’ll be really hard.
  8. That my kindle battery dies and I won’t be able to read in the evenings / during breaks. (Dan here: This is what the powerbank and solar charger are for 🙂 )
  9. HORRIFYING INSECTS!!!
  10. That I’ll hate longer adventures full stop.

Those aren’t really in any particular order, and I have many more irrational fears (urgh, brain, behave).

I just have to remember that I’ve done little walks – on cold, windy Dartmoor, and on baking hot Dartmoor. And that I like finishing what I’ve started (Hey there, Puig de Massanella). And I’ll have Dan, who is absolutely helping me out by carrying all of the tent and the cooker. And probably other stuff too, but hey, we haven’t packed yet!

Anyway, I can’t believe my Kindle battery dying is one of my top 10 worries…can’t keep a bookworm from her books!

Wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it all goes. Hopefully my blogs will be a little less dramatic than my training walk in Dartmoor liveblog. 

Rebecca

(Who totally can’t sleep right now because AAAAAAAH).

 

 

Dartmoor Take Two – Live Blog

Hey everyone!
So we tried Dartmoor again to see if we could do a bit more walking than last time (and potentially camp for three nights). I thought I’d try something different and make notes of how I was feeling along the way. You’ll probably notice that I was quite miserable, but then it got better. I’m hoping when we do Fjallraven Classic Sweden 2018, I’ll feel a bit better after day 2 as I get used to the weight in my pack. This is also a record of things I’ll learn whilst practising.

Friday night
22:30 In the car, listening to the sounds of the trail podcast, wishing that Dartmoor wasn’t still an hour and a half away .

Dan started listening to the sounds of the trail podcast and finds it funny – I like it because there are lots of women and some of it is so relatable even though I don’t thru-hike yet.

Saturday
00:23 The tent is up, the stars are gorgeous, just inflating the mat and there we go. It is so much warmer than last time and nice to not be freezing. There’s a horse outside though (or two) and they’re creepy.

0:37 In my sleeping bag, warm, much happier than last time.

8:21 Awake and it’s warm!! Did get a little cold in the night.

I did get a little cold during the night – sleeping in trousers would probably be better given I’m a bit of a wimp.

10:21 we’ve put away the tent and been walking for 15 minutes or so. It really hurts and I hate this so much. But the little lambs were cute.

The first half an hour is always absolutely horrible.

11:01 Climbed up Bellever tor, no energy. Whyyyyy?

I forgot to mention that the view was beautiful.

11:39 So I hadn’t tightened my shoulder straps enough (urghhh) so that’s why the bag felt worse than last time. Still can’t say I’m feeling it yet.

Hadn’t adjusted it for just one layer – I had three last time I used it!

12:15 it’s lunch time – we made it to Postbridge – a pretty little village. Feel loads better (might be because we went downhill).

13:31 had a long reading break looking over the river. Very tired. We’ve only walked about 5km. 7 or 8 left.

14.38 Hartland Tor. It’s so hot today and I’m not feeling it. Urghhh. I want to feel it.

15:38 This is very hard today. But the sun’s gone in and we’re not too far off the forest…I’m just really tired.

16:07 Walked through a bog – can’t tell if my foot is wet from bog water or sweat. Probably both. Having to work out good crossing points distracted me from the fact this is hard.

It was good to have to think about foot placement instead of how warm it was.

16:23 There is just sodding brown everywhere.

Moorland – what can I say?

16:45 We are in the forest and I feel a bit better. Change of scenery is excellent because damn the Moors were getting boring.

17:27 Made it to the camping spot.

It was in a little wood just outside a reservoir area.

18:49 Just used the shewee. Love this adventure.

I bought a shewee because sometimes your legs hurt too much to squat. Was good to practise using it.

19:25 Tent is up, life is instantly better.

19:39 Even better, Daniel cooked dinner (I mean he does every day to be fair).

19:40 Ooooh pasta and weird french grains.

Total distance: 14.2km

Sunday
9:02 Slept okay but why do my arms and shoulders hurt and why are my legs fine?

12:12 Just been for a quick walk along the reservoir (bagless). I miss bagless walking…it’s too hot so saving the walking for later in the afternoon.

13:19 Note to self don’t take sleeping mat outside there are Ticks everywhere.

Fortunately didn’t get any bites, Dan can’t say the same. Little buggers.

14.19 Off we go, I really don’t wanna put this bag on.

14:59 A public loo! Just at the right time. Walking feels better today – I didn’t distribute the weight well yesterday which is why one of my hips hurt more than the other.

I put my clothes bag upright on one side meaning one side was much heavier than the other. Must learn to pack better.

15:36 Late afternoon is nice. Have a little headache though.

16:57 Uphill hurts. Bag feels better but the heat is relentless.

18:19 Walked through a forest, had a break and a read – back on the moorland but it’s cooler now. Enjoying myself again. It’s kinda beautiful.

20:04 Back at Postbridge, had dinner by the river (tuna and bean pasta). The ‘I’m doing cool stuff feeling’ has kicked in and I’m like yeeeeesss outdoors (also I saw a foal and some lambs which was awesome). I learned how to filter water.

Water filtering is actually easy. You just fill up a bag in the stream, attach this nozzle thing and squeeze the bag so the water goes into the container. Oh you can also drink from the nozzle – how cool is that? (It’s called the Sawyer Squeeze).

20:56 This is amazing. Up on a hill as it’s going dark. It is COOL and I’m not aaaah hot. Just gonna find a good camping spot.

21:21 Blessed with another public toilet! Tonight feels good. So so good. I’m so so happy.

Thanks Bellever Forest for leaving your loos open at night.

22:05 Ah it’s beautiful. The stars are out (maybe a couple of planets). There is no wind. It’s cool. It’s silent. I can see the car (we are going to the car now because I am totally on it). And I am enjoying night hiking.

22:36 Back at the car – 16.6km done today. Walking at night was soooo awesome.

03:15 I am home. Felt a bit sick in the car but so happy to have a bed.

Monday
13:04 I love Dan, he made me cheese and marmite on toast. Felt amazing to have a shower and sleep in a bed and urghhhhhhh it’s Tuesday tomorrow.

And there we have it, my second wild-camping adventure. Over in a flash (or not, it was a bit too hot to be happy sometimes!).

On to the next one….

Rebecca.