BEN NEVIS AND WILD CAMPING IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Ok gang, i’m very much hoping this will not only inspire overseas visitors to put Scotland on their list but also inspire a few fellow Brits to realise that a little bit of heaven is right on our door step.
Thing number 39 on my list was to climb the mighty Ben Nevis. Although not particularly recognised as one of the more epic mountains in the world this is still one hell of a hike and if you’re very lucky with the weather, the views of the highlands (i’ve been told) are absolutely breathtaking.
The best thing about this entire adventure was that I was sharing it with my big brother. We don’t often do things like this together so this was a rare treat and hopefully the start of many treats like this to come. The tragic events in both London and Manchester were again a reminder that life can be very short indeed.
We started our adventure at my brothers house in Maidenhead and with a quick lunch stop at my mum and Dad’s caravan which is just over the border near my home town of Annan, we arrived at Glen Nevis campsite in Fort William 12 hours later. This campsite was unbelievable. Extremely cheap, amazing facilities and for those who are not fans of tents, there were even little wooden ‘pods’ to sleep in.
Glen Nevis Campsite is right at the foot of Ben Nevis so the next morning we were up early and set off to conquer the highest mountain in Great Britain. The climb to the top is via a pretty well trodden and in some places a well constructed path, so there was very little danger in getting lost.
Within a couple of hours we were up in the clouds and sadly that was it for our view for the day.
We set off in our shorts which seemed like a great idea until we were almost at the top and encountered a whole load of snow and wind. After a little over 5 hours we reached the summit to be greeted by even more snow, rain, wind and a whole load of cloud.
If i’m honest I absolutely dread any uphill walking. My blood clots make it difficult for my blood to get from my legs to my heart and together with my lack of training it can often make things like this quite a slow and at times, painful process. But once you get to the top it is the most incredible feeling in the world.
When we reached the top I gave my brother the biggest hug and thanked him for being so patient. He is an incredible athlete and has climbed mountains such as Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc and Cotapaxi so this was a piece of cake for him but he was so patient and kept me going throughout.
It took a little over three hours to get down so the whole thing took about eight and half hours. I was totally knackered by the time we got back to the campsite but as we looked back my brother said “it always amazes me just how far your legs will carry you”. It’s so true.
Now this turned out to be the absolute highlight of the trip.
We woke the morning after Ben Nevis to clear blue skies and a forecast of sunshine and 26 degree heat.
What a contrast to the day before!
The Knoydart Peninsula is regarded as one of the most remote and beautiful Glens in Scotland and this was where big bro and I had the pleasure of spending a few days.
Located around 45 minutes from Fort William we parked the car at the end of the road at Glen Arkaid and hiked up into the valley for the next 6 hours until we found the perfect spot to pitch up our tent. This place is super boggy so suitable places to pitch a tent were few and far between but this was better than we ever imagined. Complete with a beautiful view and located right next to a stream, it was absolutely idyllic.
There are a number of Munros (mountains over 3000ft) to climb in this areas, with the most famous probably being Sgurr na Ciche. Sadly the day I tried to climb this my legs gave way and I just couldn’t get them going again. So I headed back down the mountain whilst my brother climbed to the top.
As you can see from the photos my brother took, the view was absolutely sensational. I would have been even more disappointed with not getting to the top had I not spent the day sitting in the stream and reading my book in the blazing sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced 28 degree heat in Scotland before but there it was. Just incredible!
The days rest did me good because the following day was another full on day’s hiking. The main rules when wild camping are to respect the environment and leave without a trace so we packed up our stuff and said goodbye to some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen.
We only met a handful of people during our time there so if you go on your own make sure you tell someone where you’re going as there is no phone signal up there.
I would definitely recommend attempting both the climb and trek when fit and well. After my legs gave way on the third day it was clear that I should have done a lot more hill training. My muscles really weren’t ready for continuous days uphill walking, especially with my pack on. I managed it but my legs have taken a long time to recover.
If you do visit then make sure you go fit and well, and be prepared to be blown away by the awe inspiring scenery.
Happy walking gang!
EXCELLENCE IN HEALTHCARE 2017
I recently had the immense honour of giving the closing lecture at the Excellence in Healthcare conference at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow.
I met some truly inspirational people, attended a fundraising ball at the magnificent Kelvingrove Museum and even got to tell Princess Anne all about 101 Things To Do When You Survive.
I always enjoy speaking at events and I particularly love it when I can speak to those directly involved in patient and health care. These guys after all, are one of the main reasons i’m here today.
My closing message to this group of leading healthcare scientists, doctors and surgeons was simple – Keep innovating but please don’t underestimate the impact you can also have on a human level.
My time with PTSD was a darker experience than both of my cancers. It got to a point where test results became almost secondary to having someone just tell me that how I was feeling was normal.
I firmly believe that support is an enormous part of the cure for cancer and mental health issues, and medical professionals are a huge part of that support network. I for one look up to them and listen to every word they say. A friendly face, a short engaged conversation or even a reassuring comment can go a long way in improving the wellbeing of a patient. If our mind is feeling good our immune system thrives … and then anything is possible.
Thank you to RCOPS for having me and for all the work you are doing to improve healthcare around the world.
KINDNESS – My girlfriend’s amazing new book
My amazing girlfriend has her first ever book coming out this September!!!
Her charity, 52 Lives has helped so many people over the past few years and this wonderful book is all about the very thing that makes that possible – Kindness.
I am so very proud of her.
Click here to preorder now – KINDNESS – The little thing that matters most
A SAD DAY TO START AN ADVENTURE
I went to be bed last night super excited about going on this weeks adventure but woke up to the news of the horrific and senseless attack in Manchester.
My big brother, Barry and I have just spent the past 12 hours driving up to the highlands of Scotland listening to the radio coverage and we’ve both felt a bit numb.
We sent our love to Manchester as we passed.
We arrived in Fort William, set up camp and tomorrow we’ll tick off thing number 39 – Climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain. We then set off for 4 days of wild camping in one of the remotest parts of the UK.
This is the first time we’ve done something like this together and after hearing of the families who lost their loved ones, I plan on appreciating every single second of this experience with my Brother more than ever.
Grab your loved ones, tell them that you love them and do the things you’ve always said you’d do together. Life really is so short.
Tomorrow’s climb is for the victims and their families.
Much love Manchester.
THE ‘W’ TREK – TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK
THE ‘W’ TREK – TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK
A 5-6 day hike which is considered one of the most scenic treks in the world.
Some people pay thousands to do this trek with a tour company but it can be done for a fraction of the price. I rented my own equipment, took my own food and paid the general admission to the park.
8/10 – A tough 4 seasons in one day trek with some steady and steep inclines. Go prepared, fit & well. I struggled with the weight of my pack on steep sections.
ANTI-BUCKET LIST WORTHINESS
10/10 – One of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet scattered with glaciers, forests, granite peaks and breathtaking valleys. Guaranteed to light you up inside.
Do it from end to start to avoid crowds and to be pushed along by the strong westerly winds. You’ll also get to end at the mighty Torres (towers) instead of starting there.
Happy hiking gang!
VISUALISATION AND THE 101 POSE
I spent last night trawling through just some of the many thousands of photos I’ve taken over the past few years when I stumbled upon this little beauty.
This was the very first 101 photo I ever took. My friend Gemma was taking a pic of me in front of the stunning Cathedral of Leon in Nicaragua when she suggested I turn around to get the 101 logo in the shot instead.
And with that, the 101 pose was born.
I’m going to be sharing some of the classic 101 shots over the next few months which I hope will give you inspiration for possible future destinations but also encourage you to get out there and take your own 101 pics!
101 t-shirts are now on sale so pick one up via the website and get out there and do something you love.
It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it helps you feel good! Send in a pic and we’ll plaster it all over 101 to inspire others.
Just visualising being in a place can evoke all the same sensations as actually being there.
Having things to look forward to helped me get over my own mental darkness during my worst time with PTSD.
Research has shown that when we visualise ourselves being somewhere or succeeding in something, it releases that feel-good chemical, dopamine, in the brain which can often be the first step in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety or depression.
So when you look at these photos or make a list, visualise yourself being there and I guarantee it will help light you up inside.
Happy visualising gang!
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK
Mental health is a topic that is very close to my heart. This week myself and the inspiring Sarah Page from award winning insurance company Insurancewith.com had the chance to chat about our personal experiences via Facebook live interviews for the International Business Times and Hello!
You can find the links to both below:-
HOW I GOT TRAVEL INSURANCE
A video explaining how a guy with one kidney, half a bowel, deep vein thrombosis and in remission for cancer managed to get travel insurance.
THE AMAZING LYNN – 101 GUEST BLOG
“It’s been one year since I finished treatment for breast cancer. Physically I feel fine but mentally is a very different story. Some days I see it as a success when I manage to get out of bed and make it out the front door.
Buying one of your Tshirts and reading your story is helping me to move forward, although I wish there was a fast forward button in learning to cope with the emotional side.
Here are my first 2 pics with the T Shirt, hiking in Chamonix with the view of Mont Blanc, on a recent holiday”
GUEST BLOG BY THE INSPIRATIONAL ALEXA
“I like this picture because of me and the world around me. I look at the picture and do not care about my funny hair, my long arms and huge hands, my grin, my funny trousers. I see my friend taking the picture on a warmish day, I can hear her laughing and I feel safe.”
I am Alexa. I relocated from Germany to London, my favourite city, in June 2012. In 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a mastectomy, followed by 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 3 weeks of radiotherapy, all at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, near to my new home in Chalk Farm. For at least the next 5 years I am on Tamoxifen.
My friends and family wanted me to return to Germany for treatment but I decided not to. I could not stand the thought of living in a guest room while I was ill and feeling down. I wanted to be surrounded by all the things I love, including my new life in London. For every chemo cycle one family member or friend came over to help out for a few days and after they flew back home I had help from friends and colleagues from London. They brought me cooked food, laughter and distraction. It was in this time that I realised that some colleagues turned into real friends.
From Facebook and 52 Lives I came across your Facebook page and bought one of the 101 Things-Hoodies. Please find attached 2 pictures where I wear it:
The first picture was taken by my friend Birgit. I go to see her and her family in Felixstowe, Suffolk regularly. I went there and because the weather was quite nice I wanted to see the port of Felixstowe. The best place to see it and have a good overview is from the Fort Felixstowe.
I like this picture because of me and the world around me. I look at the picture and do not care about my funny hair, my long arms and huge hands, my grin, my funny trousers. I see my friend taking the picture on a warmish day, I can hear her laughing and I feel safe (It´s maybe because of the walls surrounding the fort).
I also like to look at the other people/strangers in the picture. The girl in the right corner seems to thing “What is that crazy lady doing?”. And other visitors do not notice me at all, they just do what they were coming for, to visit the fort.
Sometimes it is such a good feeling that, although my life changed and shifted so much during the last 15 months, the world has not changed much and people keep on doing their things without knowing me or my story.
In the second one you can not see the logo well but I am getting something I always wanted to get, a tattoo. I never knew what design to get and where on my body to put it but when I was diagnosed with cancer I knew it before I started treatment. It is a “C” around my ankle, starting as a black dark letter, turning into a bird swarm.
One of the birds is red symbolising a hot spot in my pelvis, doctors found in a full body scan after my diagnosis which could be a metastasis. I always loved birds. So I hope to turn something really scary and horrible into something beautiful.