My first thru-hike with a dog! Hiking & wild camping the Loch Ness 360

It’s my first hike since coronavirus locked us all down! The weather’s looking torrential in the north-west of Scotland, so I decide to head north-east, where I don’t have to endure days of rain and bog. The Loch Ness 360 is a 130km-long hiking trail, loosely doing a loop around Loch Ness. I say loosely, because there’s some days where you don’t see the loch at all.

The official website describes the trail as “epic”. I think that’s a slight exaggeration. Epic if you’ve only seen Kent, maybe. But it’s definitely a lovely hike, and if you’re an experienced walker, you’ll find it easy. There’s *lots* of forestry track and tarmac, though, so if you’re going to hike this, try to make your bag as light as possible to give your feet a break as they pound the hard ground. Continue reading “My first thru-hike with a dog! Hiking & wild camping the Loch Ness 360”

The Scottish National Trail (part 1): the Lowlands

I hiked the length of Scotland last Autumn. These Scotland blog posts are dedicated to Old Alan, a Scottish family friend who died after my trip.

“I’m going to hike all of Scotland!” I say suddenly to Chris. “Do you want to come?”

“No…I’ve got lots of work to do…”

“Me too! But I’m going to do it anyway!”

Once I decide to do a hike, there’s no talking me out of it. Chris decides that he will join me “when it gets more exciting in the Highlands”. Continue reading “The Scottish National Trail (part 1): the Lowlands”

Hitchhiking the Outback: part 1

“If you were a woman I’d give you a lift,” a sleazy truck driver says to Chris. It’s late afternoon in Charters Towers in eastern Australia. We’re excited and nervous as we stick our thumbs out and wait for our first car to take us into Australia’s Outback. A billboard poster behind us advertises how to make ‘fuller cattle’.

The sky turns pink as the sun goes down. Miners drive past us on their way to one of Australia’s many mines. Road trains (giant four-carriage trucks) speed past us,  full of cows who have been transported through the 40°C heat.

It’s immediately obvious that the Outback is going to be frustrating for two vegan activists who have just come from protests on the east coast against coal mining.
Continue reading “Hitchhiking the Outback: part 1”

Hitchhiking & wild camping Australia’s east coast

** I’d like to acknowledge the First Nations peoples of Australia, their elders and their ancestors: custodians of the land that I have been travelling through.**

Imagine a place where dolphins play amongst surfers in the waves. A place where parrots squawk above you and pelicans sit on shores. A place where kangaroos hop into gardens for their breakfast of grass. A place where koalas sleep in eucalyptus trees. A place with thousands of kilometres of perfect beaches. This is Australia’s east coast. Continue reading “Hitchhiking & wild camping Australia’s east coast”

Hitchhiking Japan: some tips

I’m always a little bit nervous when hitchhiking in a new country, especially where there’s a language barrier. But Japan is great to hitchhike! People know the concept (pronouncing it ‘hitch hike’, emphasising the space between the two syallables). We also saw some Japanese hitchhikers.

To hitchhike, you do the same as you would in western Europe, and stand with your thumb out. Sometimes we used a sign, sometimes we didn’t.

Waiting times were similar to in Europe, ranging from three minutes to three hours.

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Hitchhiking at the exit of a rest area. We have a sign which may or may not say ‘west’!

Continue reading “Hitchhiking Japan: some tips”

Hobbling and hobbits on New Zealand’s north island

“You can’t hike any more. You have to change your plans,”  the doctor says sympathetically. “Was it your dream to tramp across New Zealand? Had you been planning it for years?”

“Well, no,” I reply, “but it’s really disappointing. How long will I take to heal?”

“Three more months, maybe…or keyhole surgery.”

I have torn a cartilage in my knee just 160km into the Te Araroa hike across New Zealand. It’s now very clear that I won’t be able to hike the whole trail. But because I can stay in the country for six months, it’s possible that I’ll recover in time to walk half of it. Continue reading “Hobbling and hobbits on New Zealand’s north island”

Hitchhiking, hiking & camping Malaysia

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Map of our route from my diary

“Aaaaggghhhh! You fucking wankerrrrrr!” I scream at a young guy as I chase after him on my scooter. He has just grabbed my breast, whilst driving at 60kmph on his scooter, and now I’m on a high speed chase.

But after just half a minute I wonder what I would actually do if I caught him. Ask him to pull over so that I can have a polite word with him about his misogynist ways? More likely the chase would end with me having a serious scooter accident. So I stop driving and cry instead. Continue reading “Hitchhiking, hiking & camping Malaysia”