Europe » Kosovo » South » Prizren April 20th 2015

Imagine a place where the streets are named after Tony Blair and George Bush, where the main roads have speed signs for tanks and where the inviting looking mountains can't be hiked owing to land mines. You're probably not thinking of Europe, but Europe it is. These oddities are all part of the experience of visiting Europe's newest country, Kosovo. Starting from Skopje in Macedonia, my wife, I and our 11 month old daughter crossed the border into Kosovo for a couple of days to explore what is perhaps Europe's least known country. We turned off the main Skopje to Pristina road (look out for another signs thanking NATO and the EU) and drive across the Sharri mountains int he direction of Prizren, Kosovo's second city. The Sharri mountains looked great but some of the paths ... read more
Sharri Mountains, Kosovo
Kosovo-Macedonia border crossing
Ruth and Amy in the Sharri mountains

Europe » France » Rhône-Alpes » Haute-Savoie April 14th 2015

The Maurienne valley is home to some of cycling's most iconic climbs, climbs that are synonymous with the Tour de France, such as the torturous path up to Col de la Madeleine, the steep, scenic ascent to Col du Glandon, or the epic Col du Galiber. One short climb in the valley that slips under the radar somewhat is the Lacets de Montvernier, a 4km route with 18 switchbacks that seem to be sculpted into the mountain side. As we had climbed Madeleine and Galibier on the previous two days we were supposed to be taking a day off but we couldn't resist the Montvernier switchbacks. We only found out about this when researching other climbs but what a discovery it was, as it's one of the most incredible climbs I've ever done. The Lacets climb ... read more
Classic switchback on the climb
View of the 2nd last switchback
View of the switchbacks

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Maskeliya March 30th 2015

Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and a fair few backpackers are attracted to climbing iconic Adam's peak, Sri Lanka's holiest mountain. Adam's peak is the fifth highest summit in the country but it is by far the most climbed. This is the one attraction in Sri Lanka where tourists are in the minority. Sri Lankans of all ages from toddlers barely able to walk to aged grandmothers haul themselves up the steep steps in time to see the sunrise over Sri Lanka and to visit the shrine on the top. The peak is revered for the 5 foot footprint near the summit, which according to Buddhist tradition was left by Buddha himself. Other religions have adapted the story in accordance with their beliefs though the majority of pilgrims who make the climb are Buddhists. The climb can ... read more
Shopping for the hike
Meeting a Buddhist monk
Easy to find the path

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Bassano del Grappa March 18th 2014

During our Venice holiday, Ruth and Amy gave me a day off as an early birthday present, which I put to good use by attempting a climb of the famous Monte Grappa. I rented a road bike from Veloce bike rental and the owner offered to join me for the climb as he had never done it before. We met in the scenic town of Bassano del Grappa and set off from there. The climb begins properly in Remano d'Ezzelino, about 2km north of Bassano. I hadn't trained much at all over the winter so I was a bit apprehensive about the climb but I surprised myself by setting off at a good pace. Maybe it was the nice bike he had supplied. I had expected Gennaro to leave me behind but he was falling back ... read more
Grappa switchback
Art on the road

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Iveragh Peninsula April 30th 2011

Prologue The late Easter holiday, royal wedding and may bank holiday combined together nicely to give us an 11 day holiday for the price of 3 days off work, so we waved goodbye to London and set off on our first ever cycling tour. Cycling 35 km to and from work 3 times a week for 3 months may have made us think we were fit, but I had a feeling the hills of Kerry might make us think again... Like all great cycle trips, our tour around Ireland started in a different country. We started from Ruth's parents hours in Porthcawl on a fine Good Friday afternoon and biked all the way to Swansea to board the overnight ferry to Ireland. Good Friday is the only day of the year when shops and pubs must ... read more
Setting off from Wales
View from the road
Cork City

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Carrauntoohil April 28th 2011

Carrauntoohil Climbing Ireland's highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, is something I had planned to do for many years, probably ever since I first learned the name in school, but it wasn't until 2011 that I finally got around to attempting it. At 1040 metres altitude Carrauntoohil is certainly no giant, but the trek to the top makes for a fantastic day hike, involving a fair bit of scrambling in places. It belongs to a range of mountains called Macgillycuddy's Reeks, a rather strange but quite compelling name for a mountain range, named after a local character "Macgillycuddy of the Reeks" who owned much of this land hundred's of years ago. The origin of the name Carrauntoohil itself are uncertain. Ruth and I have climbed mountains in many exotic places around the world so sooner or later I felt ... read more
Nice views
Hike planning
On the road

Africa » Tanzania » North » Mount Kilimanjaro September 9th 2010

First view of Kili... We had spent a full week in northern Tanzania, including two nights just outside Kilimanjaro National Park, before our first view of Africa's highest mountain. That first view - a magic moment - came at 5.30 am on our climb to Mount Meru, when we reached the Meru Crater and were rewarded with the most spectacular sunrise over Kilimanjaro Kili's highest peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo rose above the clouds, and even from our vantage point, 60 km away, it looked a daunting prospect. We knew that in one week's time we'd be attempting that same summit, but for now we were happy to just take it all in from a distance! After months of reading about Kilimanjaro and planning our trip it was great to finally see it for real and ... read more
On top of Africa
Ruth at Mawenzi Tarn
View of Kilimanjaro from Mt Meru

Africa » Tanzania » North » Arusha September 3rd 2010

A warm up for Kilimanjaro To give ourselves a better chance of climbing Kilimanjaro we did a warm-up hike on Mount Meru, the second highest summit in Tanzania, at 4652 metres altitude. Meru is nowhere near as popular as Kilimanjaro, but it's becoming busier as more and more people realise they need a proper acclimatization before tackling the big one. The Meru hike is a 3 or 4 day climb depending on how fast you do the descent. The summit attempt begins very early on the third morning, when, like on Kilimanjaro, you set off for the summit at midnight. Ruth and I had already been in Tanzania for 4 days on a safari before we met up with the rest of our group, who flew in the night before Meru. We were joined by our ... read more
The famous fig-tree
View of Kilimanjaro
Group shot on the summit

Africa » Tanzania » North » Arusha » Ngorongoro September 1st 2010

Tanzania Dreaming All year long we had waited impatiently for our holiday to Tanzania and as the departure date drew closer Ruth and I had done everything possible to prepare: weekend practice hikes in the Lake District; visits to practically every outdoor shop in London to stock up on gear; even abstaining from alcohol for a month. Why all the preparation? Well, over the next 17 days we planned to climb Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa's 10th highest and highest peak respectively, with the latter reaching a daunting 5875 metres altitude, higher than either of us had climbed before. As a gentle ease in to all that hard work we had planned to first spend a few days on safari in northern Tanzania. The 10 hour flight to Kilimanjaro airport passed very quickly. As it ... read more
Glad of my zoom lens
Zebra Crossing
Father and Son

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cumbria » Coniston August 21st 2010

With Kilimanjaro creeping ever closer we decided to visit the Lake District again for some last minute training to ensure we were in perfect shape for our attempt on Africa's highest peak. To make it a little more interesting we decided to try wild camping. Neither of us had wild camped before, but Trail magazine, to which we subscribe, had run a feature on it the previous month and it had immediately sparked our interest. Is wild camping legal? Officially, it's not allowed in England unless you have the landowners permission. However, provided you follow a number of rules it's apparently tolerated by the National Park authorities! Trail recommended camping at above 450 metres altitude, and as far away as possible from the nearest farm or settlement. We also had to delay putting up our tent ... read more
Wild Camping
Mini Matterhorn
Wild Camp spot by Seathwaite Tarn

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