Hiking and Camping at Buttermere and Helvellyn, Lake District National Park

March 2016: 5-hour drive from London

Fancy going on an adventure for the weekend but you are short on money or cannot take many holidays off? Why not try a bit of camping? The Lake District sits on the north west part of the UK and it is beautiful – a must see if you live in the UK.

In March 2016, we drove up to the Lakes for a weekend and camped near Buttermere Lake. We left London on a Friday evening and stayed at a very cheap hotel by the motorway near the Lake District region so that we could wake up early on Saturday morning and drive up to the start point of our hike.


Saturday: Day 1 of Hiking in Buttermere 

We had asked a local if we could leave our car near their house overnight and then started our hike (alternatively, you can leave the car on a road lay-by). Our route was similar to the below.

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Take a look through some of our journey below.

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FullSizeRender 17.jpgFullSizeRender 24.jpgFullSizeRender 54.jpg As days in March are short, we had to settle down a bit early that day -around 6pm. After looking for a while, we had found just the perfect spot for a quiet and scenic camp.

FullSizeRender 45.jpgFullSizeRender 56.jpgFullSizeRender 55.jpgFullSizeRender 12.jpgThe next morning, we got up early to pack up and embark on the 2nd day of hiking.

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Sunday: Day 2 of Hiking in Helvellyn

We drove from Buttermere to Gillside Campsite in Glenridding on Sunday morning and left the car in the campsite before walking up to Helvellyn. The campsite is ideal if you want to take this route as it is the closest to the path from Glenridding.

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Day 3: Monday – Time to say goodbye and head home.

Thank you for your time and see you for the next adventure post. =)

Thailand: Highlights from Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay

9 Days; return flight from London: £400; everything else: cheap!

Matthew and I took one and a half weeks of holiday in May 2017 to spend some time in the sun and eat great Thai food. Thailand was my first experience in Asia, and I believe there would not have been a better country to introduce me to this continent. From the weather to landscapes, culture and food, everything about Thailand made me feel glad to have been there and it is a shame I didn’t have time to see the whole country. But heeey, we need to be wise with our 25 days of annual leave huh?

Thailand is now one of these famous tourist hot points, and I know I am just one of the many people who have been there, but I want to share my highlights with you.

Phuket

 Old Town

Our first evening in Thailand was spent here. We arrived at the hostel at about 9pm and took a stroll down in the Old Town. Unfortunately when we arrived it was a Buddhist holiday, so most shops, cafes and restaurants were closed, and they couldn’t sell beer (big big problem for me). But the town was worth seeing for its architecture alone. Not a bad way to start our mini adventure in Thailand. 
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Surin Beach

This beach was a quiet little piece of heaven, which was close to our villa in Phuket. It is approximately 15 minutes away from Patong on a scooter and it is worth checking it out if you want to steer clear from crowds.

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Nai Yang Beach

The best beach in Phuket in my opinion. Situated north-west of  Phuket island, near the airport, we stayed near this beach on our last day in Thailand. It was nice, quiet, pretty, and the sunset was really beautiful.

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Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong temples are definitely worth taking a look in Phuket. I had never seen anything like it, so to me this was a really nice experience as I got to know a bit more about Thai culture. I also loved the architecture of this place, it was incredible.

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Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

WHAT an experience! We went to an Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket where people go to feed and spend time with the elephants. Here no one rides the elephants, we just feed them and bathe with them. However one cheeky elephant caught me off guard, lifted me up and put me on her back for a couple of seconds! How did that happen? She started putting her trunk in-between my legs and I had no idea what was going on, but her carer told me to let her do it. It all happened so quickly and I got a bit scared, but this was such a great experience. It was a bit pricey for what it was, about 2500 baht each, but if you want to see one of these creatures up close then I would say you can’t put a price on these things.

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Koh Phi Phi

Walk from Ao Tonsai Pier to Long Beach

Phi Phi island is such a beautiful place that it is a pleasure to walk around the island instead of taking a taxi boat. We stayed on the south-east side of the island, at the end of Long Beach. Walking is the best way to get around if you are staying on the south part of the island. It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk from Ao Tonsai Pier to the very end of Long Beach.

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Long Beach

Long beach was gorgeous, not crowded and very spacious. It had a lovely view overlooking Phi Phi Leh. I would definitely recommend staying on this side of the island if you want to stay away from all the noise near Tonsai Bay.

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Viewpoint

This will be the place you might love and hate at the same time. The view is beautiful, but the place is crowded. You pay 30 baht to “go in” and also struggle to find a quiet spot. But… you can’t miss it, it is indeed very beautiful.

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Nightlife

Nightlife in PhiPhi is like being in a big bar crawl. Do not settle just in one place. Get the “traditional” bucket and walk around from bar to bar. Loh Dalum Bay was a nice place to chill with a bucket!

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Maya Bay and Phi Phi Leh Lagoon

Maya Bay is beautiful without a doubt but unfortunately its beauty is overshadowed by all the tourists. However, the famous beach is a must-see if you go to Phi Phi Island. Phi Phi Leh Lagoon was also beautiful

Tips for Maya Bay:

– Take your own private longboat. It will cost between 1000 – 1500 baht per person.
– Go early. The earlier the better. We arrived there at about 8am and there were already quite a few people on the beach.
– Do not stay on Maya Bay for too long. Go and enjoy the Lagoon instead.

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Phang Nga Bay – Captain Mark’s Boat Tour

Captain Mark’s boat tour was a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Definitely a must if you are in Phuket.
We were looking for a more private boat tour and this was definitely a great choice. There was only about 20 of us on the boat, the food onboard was amazing and the places we went were stunning. Places we visited included Lawa Island, a couple of caves in Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island (we did not get off the boat here – which is a good thing considering the amount of people I saw on one little piece of land) and Panak Island.

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Hiking and camping at Pen y Fan, Wales

Brecon Beacons National Park, southern Wales. Journey from London: 4-hour drive

Fancy a last minute camping trip but don’t know where to go? Gather your gear on Friday night, pack and leave on Saturday morning!

During the summer of 2017, Matt, Lexi and I headed to the Brecon Beacons. We left on a Saturday morning so that we could be there around lunchtime.  Having prepared poorly the day before, we had to make a pit-stop at a camping/outdoors store on the way to buy a stove and some camping food. We arrived in Wales at about 1pm and stopped at a lovely local Welsh pub for lunch, the Red Cow Inn in Pontsticill, before starting our hike from Neuadd Car Park.

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Pen y Fan at point 5 on this map.

We set off from the car park at about 2.30pm and walked on the route above anti-clock wise. We took our time as we were not in a rush. Take a peak at the snaps below.

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Peaks: Corn Du on the left; Pen y Fan on the right

We arrived at Pen y Fan at about 5pm after lots of ups and downs with our heavy rucksacks, and from that point onwards we kept on walking, looking for a good, suitable spot to camp. At about 7pm we settled down, put our tent up, made dinner and watched the sunset before going to bed.

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Camping hack: buy camping food… and bring these little bottles of wine!
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Watching the sunset before bedtime

One of the things I love doing while camping is watching the stars, and little had I known that the day I chose to camp out in the Welsh hills was also the day of the Perseid Meteor Shower. I woke up at 2.30am that night, feeling sleepy and cosy, I struggled to get out of my sleeping bag. I got up eventually, after battling in my own mind about whether I should get up or not. I opened the tent, looked at the sky and my jaws dropped – I did not hesitate for a second – I put my shoes on and got out of the tent.

The sky was absolutely stunning, I had not seen the sky like that in a long time. I could see the Milky Way with my naked eye just above our tent, right in the centre of the sky. Many big, bright shooting stars falling from the sky – I was hypnotised. I stayed out there in the cold for hours (I usually strongly dislike the cold, but it didn’t seem to bother me that night).

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I had to blend two of the same photos to get this image. I played with different ISOs and different exposure times so that I could get the land and also most of the stars.
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I am very pleased with this image, this is just one shot aimed at the very centre of the sky – where the Milky Way was. All I did in this image was put a bit of contrast and bring out the colours of the Milky Way.
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Almost time for the sunrise

After about an hour, I started to wake up from my hypnosis. I could not feel my hands and toes and I took that as a sign I should go back to the tent. It took me some time to fall back asleep, but it was all worth it, it was a night well spent!

We woke up early on Sunday, at about 7am, had breakfast (porridge pots from Tesco! Just add boiling water) and started getting our things ready before we headed back to the car.

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By 9am we were back in the car park, ready to drive back to London. We got back reasonably early, around 12.45pm, and had lunch in our favourite pub in Hammersmith where they serve Thai food – The Old City Arms.

I hope you liked reading about my mini adventure, and who knows maybe you will feel inspired to do something different with your weekend? As you can see, you can fit a lot in just under 48 hours.

=)