Yosemite is one of those places that you can spend years exploring, learn every mountain name and walk every path like a grizzly ol’ mountaineer, and still find something new to discover. Each season transforms the park into a different world, making it an easy place to return to year after year.
My first visit to Yosemite was during the spring, with the snow running off the mountains and the waterfalls tumbling at full throttle. With only a day to explore this expansive park however, I knew we had to find a walk that enabled us to see as much of Yosemite’s landscapes as possible. After spending a hefty amount of time deliberating whether to chuck it all in and become a forest ranger, I used all of my self-restraint and common sense, and decided to go with our second plan: walk the Valley Loop Trail.
Measuring just under 12 miles in total, the Yosemite Valley Loop Trails follows the park’s old wagon trails, incorporating the main features of the valley in the process. While the trail is available to hike year-round it really comes into its own in the spring, where the snow run-off from the mountains supercharges the waterfalls in the valley. Continue reading →
If there was one word to describe California, it would be diverse; from its desert to mountainous landscapes, its metropolitan cities and whistlestop cowboy villages, to its weather, one can find anything and everything in this state. With this in mind, California was a natural choice when it came to choosing a destination for our road trip, and what better starting point than San Francisco?
With a reputation of being one of the world’s greenest cities, San Francisco is easy to walk around and explore, as long as you have calves of steel to take on its many hills! With a city of that size though, it soon became apparent that we needed to swap our two feet for two wheels. And so we rented some noble steeds from one of San Francisco’s many bike shops and meandered along the coast towards our destination: the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. Continue reading →
At first, Reykjanes might not seems like much of a sightseeing destination. For miles around, the lava fields spread like one expansive, flat blanket. In fact, if you happen to be driving along the coast during inclement weather, it can seem forbidding and barren. If you have a little faith however (and good direction) the road inland will lead you to some of Iceland’s most unique geological features. Continue reading →
If you have ever been to London in December, there’s a good chance you would have seen hundreds of Santas running around the city. Each year various charities promote ‘Santa Dashes’ to raise money, and after spending several Christmases in the capital and thinking “I wish I could do that” as be-robed St Nicks breezed past, I finally got my opportunity when my workplace organised its own Santa Dash in support of Brainwave. Continue reading →
First and foremost, choosing our big #take12trips challenge was easy; Peru has Macchu Picchu, varied scenery and some of the best food in the world. Choosing how to get to Macchu Picchu however was more difficult. For ages we thought the only way of reaching Macchu Picchu was through the Inca Trail or by train, but after speaking with the good folk at G Adventures we were all on board with the Salkantay Trek.
Unlike the Inca Trail, the Salkantay is a high-altitude trek that takes in varied scenery through the Salkantay mountain pass and down through the Amazon Rainforest. The trail gives trekkers the opportunity to do lots of side trips in between the main trek, which we took ample opportunity to do.
Peru is undoubtedly famous for its Incan site, Macchu Picchu, and the Inca Trail that takes visitors there. However, there are a wealth of sites just outside of Macchu Peru in Cusco, that are well worth a visit with fewer crowds. Continue reading →
Finding a summer hat that simultaneously protects your face from the UV rays whilst looking good is like striking gold. Most high street options are flimsy and crumble against the elements. Of course, there is always those crisp white hats your grandparents wear, but sacrificing over £70 and the knowledge that you will resemble an antiquated BBC documentary host are factors few people are willing to accept.
So when Tarp Hats got in contact with me about testing one of their namesakes, one quick look and read made me confident I had hit the jackpot (in vogue sun protection, anyway).
But first: what is a Tarp Hat I hear you ask?
Way back when trucks were the primary use of goods transport in the Amazon, tarpaulins were used to cover and protect the trucks and goods. Over the years the tarpaulins became worn from the elements and were discarded in the remote villages in Brazil.
Tarp Hats are constructed by the local villagers in Brazil using the discard tarpaulins and giving them a new lease of life. Each hat is waterproofed to protect against increment weather and brass eyelets are used to prevent rusting.
These are pretty big claims for what looks like an incongruous hat, and so I decided I really wanted to put it through its paces, starting with a little jaunt over the Malverns.
The first trip was an initial test to see how it would cope with a general summer day’s hike the average joe would take. What started as a harmless walk through fields of wildflowers……
……escalated quickly into a tiring 20+ mile hike through all the Malverns on a blustery day, to the summit of Great Malvern.
Luckily the Tarp Hat pulled through, only blowing off twice against the fierce wind and the brim proved wide enough to protect my face from sunburn. On a side note ladies, it also gave me much less hat hair than any other hat I have tried in the past. Sure, it’s not the most important thing when outdoors, but every little helps, right?
So overall, the Tarp Hat could easily handle what the Malverns threw at it. However, the Malverns were going to look like a walk to the shops compared to the next test I put the Tarp Hat through: a long-distance hike through Scotland.
Rain and sun, beaches, storms and their gales of wind, not to mention the surprisingly endless summer hours of blistering heat trudging up and down pine forests and hills, the Tarp Hat performed well throughout all the elements, and then some.
Of course, I then decided to test the Tarp Hat through even harsher, more varied terrain: the Salkantay mountain pass to Macchu Picchu. Frosty mountains, rainforests, scorching days spent traversing desert hills and roads, the Tarp Hat proved to be in its element, whatever the elements.
After all the adventures we have been on together these past few months, it’s fair to say the Tarp Hat has become another trusty edition to my essential kit list for the outdoors. In fact, it hasn’t just been popular with me alone – countless other hikers, guides and friends have tried it or expressed interest in the Tarp Hat, proving it makes friends wherever it goes.
It is not only the fit and the durability of the Tarp Hat that makes me like it so much, but also the company itself. The hats are produced by the local villagers using materials that would have otherwise been littered in the Amazon, thus giving jobs to a remote region and creating treasures from trash. In addition to this, 50p of every hat purchased goes towards installing freshwater wells to remote villages in the Brazilian Amazonian rainforest. The video below shows one of the typical villages in the Amazon that is helped by Tarp Hats.
It is rare that I find myself so enthusiastic about products, but Tarp Hat’s ability to combine a simple, good idea with eco-friendliness and sustainable, social practices can only make me like it further.
On the third section of The Speyside Way, we awoke early like little kids at Christmas, eager to start on the trail. It wasn’t so much the joy of hiking that gave us this skip in our step, as the promise of whisky in Craigellachie. Out of all the whisky distilleries in Scotland, more than half are situated in Speyside, and in particular, where we were staying.
Sometimes on work trips it can be difficult to find the time to do some sightseeing – after a day of work and meetings, most are certainly too tired to trudge zigzigs across a city, and many sites shut after office hours. Luckily though, I managed to squeeze in a few hours between the end of work and dinner to have a wander around Rome. Continue reading →