Kayaking in Loch Lomond

Summer 2018 is well and truly underway with Scotland having a massive heatwave this week! Who needs Ibiza when you’re living in 30° heat?!

Typical Brit moaning about the weather but I swapped my hiking boots for my wet-suit last weekend and headed out onto the loch. It was just waaay too hot for a hike.

I headed up to Inverbeg, where my family have a little place over-looking the loch. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was sooo warm and the water was calm but super busy. Great minds…
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I hadn’t been out kayaking in a while and have always been really keen to explore some of the beaches surrounding Inverbeg and Rowardennan. I definitely wasn’t the first, as I found remnants of BBQ’s and campsites at a few.

I also wasn’t the only one out on the loch – it was filled with jet-skiis, boats, water-skiers and a few fellow kayaks. I even passed a couple who totally had the right idea… the girl, sunbathing, enjoying life with a bottle of wine whilst her boyfriend rowed his lil’ heart out, ha-ha. Yes please!

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My sister and I, have a 2 person kayak and whilst it’s good for bringing lunch/ bags etc. It’s so tiring and heavy after a while, we don’t ever get very far in it ha-ha so I had managed to borrow my neighbours – a single kayak with detachable comfy seat! It was super lightweight and easy to maneuver.

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I was also pleasantly surprised at the lack of litter on the beaches – I know this is something that the park are cracking down on as it’s becoming a big issue but I am proud to report I found little to none.

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There are lots of companies up in Loch Lomond, that offer kayak hire and water sport sessions so I have linked a few below that I felt offered good value for money. As with most water sports, being able to swim is a must and always ensure under 12’s are accompanied by an adult.

1. Loch Lomond Leisure – offer 1 – 3 people kayak hire from 1 hour to long term. They also offer group guided tours. Wet suits are not included with most packages but can be purchased for £2.00 – bargain! They also have a wide range of other activities from water skiing to banana boat rides as well. I am BUZZING to try some of these out.

2. Loch Lomond Wakeboard – offer 1 – 2 people kayak hire also, from 1 hour to long term (Wet suits are included in all packages). These guys also offer other water activities such as wake board and water-skiing lessons so I will definitely be checking that out as well.

 

Ben Vane

This was, hands down, the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed. Ben Vane, is described as only just reaching munro status at 915 metres. So, if like naïve, little me, you think this will be a nice, easy stroll – you are very much mistaken.

Ben Vane is one of the Arrochar Alps, standing slightly separate from the other mountains. Located on the A82, near Inveruglas, approximately an hour outside of Glasgow. It’s described as a ‘steep, rocky, little mountain’. That word ‘steep’ should be in CAPS, bold and underlined!

I read it takes around 4-6 hours up and down (it took me just over 5) so headed off around 9:30 am and reached the Inveruglas Visitor Centre where I was able to park. There’s also a small café, restroom facilities and gorgeous views over-looking the loch if you just fancy a day trip. When I got there, it was super busy with tourists, I got chatting to a family who had traveled over from India and said that they were just over-whelmed at Scotland’s beauty. T’awww!

I struggled to find the starting point for Ben Vane and first, ended up along the path of ‘An Ceann Mòr’ where this beautiful structure was created, part of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot project – it reveals the panoramic views over the banks of Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.

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I soon came across a group of girls who looked like they were going hiking as well – I asked them if they knew where the starting point was and they also, were confused. We soon realised that there were also about another 10 people trying to find it, all of us using the same website. Walk Highlands sort your directions out, eventually someone was able to steer us in the right direction and we headed off. For the record, you want to cross the road from the car park over to the Scottish Hydro Power station and walk past it.

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Keeping to the right – you will soon come across some blue arrows, after about a kilometre, turn right onto a gated tarmac road leading under the railway.

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You will soon come across a large electric substation on your left, where the slopes of Ben Vorlich should come into view on the right and Ben Vane ahead. (I didn’t know this until later…)

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Already the views behind me were stunning! It was such a gorgeous day in Scotland with 19 degrees of glorious sunshine! Amazing – guess who ended up getting burnt?!

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Had any of us been paying attention, we would have known that we were supposed to turn left at this bridge with the sign saying ‘Glen Loin’ but to be fair it should have also had a sign labelled ‘BEN VANE‘ seeing as that. was. it. right. there! … Instead we walked a good 20 minutes past this and wondered why we had lost the other 10 people following us.

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We then came across this bridge and realised we had made a mistake somewhere, thankfully, a Scottish Power van drove past us and offered us a lift back to Ben Vane, we found out that we were on our way to Ben Vorlich. Massive shout out to Scottish Power haha!

After finally getting to the right hill, it didn’t take long before the steep climb began. Basically, straight away.

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The initial path is a little unclear and boggy but it soon turns into a clear, stone path the rest of the way up. I think the hardest bit about Ben Vane (besides how steep it is) is the amount of false summits. I counted about 5 – it was horrible haha.

After the first few false summits, I started to realise how big this munro actually was.

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The top bit you can see there isn’t even the top. A few of the girls I started off with had decided to stop and call it a day while the rest of them went on, with me. I was actually so glad that they were there as there were some tricky climbing and scrambling parts.

The views were totally worth the steep climb in the end ha-ha and it did make me think about what that family had said earlier, we really do take these views for granted.

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Ben Vane Summit

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You’re best to re-trace your steps back down the path, and as always I would recommend a good pair of walking boots, especially with a good grip for this one.

The Inn on Loch Lomond Review

I had the privilege of visiting The Inn on Loch Lomond at the weekend and absolutely loved it! I have been coming here ever since I can remember and have seen it through many a refurb but have to admit that the interior, food and service, is the best it’s ever been.

Located on the main A82, just 3 miles north of the picturesque village of Luss, you will find stunning views across Scotland’s most famous Loch towards Ben Lomond. Where you can enjoy a spot of casual dining at Mr C’s Fish and Whisky Bar and Restaurant,serving seafood, burgers, steaks and fish and chips.

A short walk from the main building leads you to their quaint beach house where you can enjoy a relaxing stay over-looking the Loch or opt to stay in the main building which is just as beautiful.

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Although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, the interior is stunning with a traditional Scottish charm. Having recently been refurbished in 2008, there is definitely a more modern feel to the place whilst sticking with it’s classic aesthetic.

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Image Credit: The Inn on Loch Lomond
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Image credit: Trip Advisor

There are sooo many options to choose from on the menu and are famously known for their fish n’ chips, be warned though, the portions are huge ha-ha!

The Inn on Loch Lomond Menu
Children & Take Away menu is also available

I honestly could not fault our visit, the food was amazing and fast, the service was exceptional and that’s something I’m super sensitive about (nothing worse than a grumpy waiter) and the price was very fair. My only complaint was the lack of vegetarian options – I was looking forward to a vege burger but they only had a tofu option …. yuck! So I opted for Mac n’ Cheese whilst my friend tucked into the biggest fish and chips I have ever seen!

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Jet-skiing in Loch Lomond

In case anyone missed it, Scotland has been having the most glorious weather lately and everyone is in just the best mood ever! Summer is well and truly under way…

My parents have a little place up in Inverbeg, Loch Lomond, where I’m very fortunate to have spent most of my weekends as a child. It’s where I first discovered my love for hillwalking and water sports so, of course, I didn’t hesitate when I woke up to the sun streaming through this weekend with a 23-degree forecast.

In case you haven’t been, Loch Lomond is roughly an hour outside of Glasgow (14 miles North west of the centre) along the A82. There is just so much to see and do up there – it’s well worth an over-night or fun day trip.

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I spent the day out in the water, jet-skiing with some friends and enjoying a BBQ with some beers on the beach. Exactly the way every Saturday should be spent.

We are lucky enough to have a ‘Stand-up, Kawasaki’ which is so much fun but a hell of a work out ha-ha. It can take a few attempts to master your balance but amazing once you’re up and going. My friend has a ‘Sit down, Yamaha’ which is the type you would usually see on holiday, so much fun!

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We traveled across the loch to Rowardennan with the intention of jumping off the pier there but soon discovered it’s closed for maintenance repairs. Boo! Instead, we explored the area a bit and found some cute little, hidden beaches.

I could have easily spent the entire day out there, there’s such a lovely essence of freedom and tranquility on the loch. There are plenty of companies up that way who organise paddle boarding and water skiing sessions as well as kayak hire and inflatable sessions if you are looking to organise a fun trip.

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I do not recommend taking your phone on a jet-ski ha-ha. My heart was in my mouth the entire time… but the views! Come onnn!

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Road Trip: Glen Etive

I had the best Easter weekend EVER!

It was so lovely to have a few days off from my busy work schedule to go and explore some more of Scotland. I started off the weekend climbing Conic Hill up in Balmaha and then climbed Ben A’an the following day. Finishing off with a road trip up to Glen Etive – it was so much fun!

Prepare yourselves for all the spam but the views were truly breath taking and we met the friendliest wild deer.

Glen Etive is just slightly past Glen Coe, situated in the Highlands. Popular with visitors seeking out the famous James Bond’s Skyfall and Braveheart film location, you can follow the route along the river Etive which then leads into a sea loch, Loch Etive.

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It’s roughly a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow so stock up on snacks and sort your road trip playlist out! I recommend ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’. If like me, you’re super dis-organised for these long trips, there are plenty of shops and restaurants on the way to stop in at. We chose to pop in to the Green Welly Stop for some much-needed coffee and sugar. They have a cosy little café where you can get just about anything from soup and a sandwich to burgers and pasta along with a little gift-shop and outdoor shop if you find that you’ve forgotten some of your hill-walking stuff…. Guiltyyy!

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We had planned to climb Ben Starav, which sits on the south side of Loch Etive, however, we struggled to find it and decided to follow a few of the trails along the river. Only to later discover the path to it was DIRECTLY across from where we had parked… Haha, I need supervised.

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The drive up was incredible. It’s hard to believe these views are just 2 hours from Glasgow. I was desperate to get some pictures of the Skyfall film location and feed the deer, who are so tame and friendly (as long as you have some food – we brought carrots).

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How cute is this guy?!

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One of the best things about the day is how much there is to see but also how quiet it is. Whilst we passed a few cars on the road, feeding the deer, the trails and walks were completely empty. Meaning we could take as many guilt free selfies as we wanted haha!

We stopped into Helensburgh on the way home, just as the snow was coming down… in April… I know! We headed into La Barca, a tapas restaurant, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend it and can’t wait to go back. Just what we were needing and the staff couldn’t have been nicer! I had the stuffed pepper with paella rice, vegetarian paella and the calamari. Soooo good!

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The famous James Bond – Skyfall road

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I have to give instagram.com/aaronspencee credit for the slightly more ‘professional’ looking photos haha. Every gal needs a pro with a camera on these trips.

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Aussie Wide Travels for this nomination. It was the best surprise to receive on a Friday haha – drinks to celebrate of course. If you haven’t already checked these guys out, get on it. Robyn and Mick created their fab blog to show you how to manage a travelling lifestyle when you’re on a budget without having to miss out on the good stuff.

God send!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award and link back to their blog
  • Answer 11 questions set by the blogger who nominated you
  • Nominate other blogs and give them 11 questions to answer
  • Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog

Aussie Wide Travel’s Questions

  1. What do you do for fun?

Anything to do with the outdoors! Literally anything. I absolutely love going surfing, hiking, and snowboarding, they’re my top 3. I also love going long road trips and exploring new places and finding new restaurants/ cafes.

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Image: Dopl3r

2. What is your travel style (luxury, backpacking etc.)?

Haha! I like to think I’m a backpack girl but I’m really not. I’m that friend that brings an entire suitcase for one night away, I’m so guilty for packing all the ‘what-if’ scenarios. Nightmare.

3. If you could give a random piece of advice what would it be?

Time heals everything! Be patient!

4. Do you think people can control their destiny?

Hmm I think to an extent. As Tiana said, ‘The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work’ and I believe that. Hard work and kindness goes such a long way.

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5. Country or City?

I love both, but I prefer being in the city and spending my weekends in the country. I need some atmosphere.

6. What makes you happy?

There’s so many! Friends/ family, being outdoors, bubble baths omg LUSH bubble baths!!! Spa days as well. Anything girly and that involves relaxing haha

7. What have you learned today?

That I truly hate answering these questions.

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Image: The Comedy Crowd

8. What do you wish to achieve from blogging?I’d like to inspire others to get outside and explore. Climb more hills, see more of the world…

9. Is there anywhere you have already travelled where you feel you missed out on specific surrounding destinations that you wished you saw?

I wish I had seen more of Bali when I was there, there’s a couple of islands that are really popular just off the North- west I think that look incredible

10. What is the most important thing to you?

My family and being HAPPY!

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My Questions to my nominees

  1. What makes you happiest?
  2. If you could go back 5 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
  3. Who inspires you daily?
  4. What’s your favourite joke?
  5. If gravy no longer existed, what would you have with your steak pie? Tomato sauce or Mayo?
  6. What is your favourite quote?
  7. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
  8. What is the nicest thing someone’s ever done for you?
  9. I woke up this morning and thought…
  10. ??? for President
  11. Something you really love about yourself is…

My Nominees

The Travel Connoisseur 

The Key to Kayleigh

Flippers and Flat Whites

Wander Woman Adventures

Rachel on Route

Cycle Route to Firkin Point

My mum and dad have been bringing me and my sister up to Loch Lomond since we were babies and it’s still one of my favourite places EVER. Specifically, the great cycle routes, there’s loads to choose from, my favourite is the route from Inverbeg to Firkin Point and on to Tarbert.

It’s beautifully secluded and off road so there’s no traffic to worry about, ideal for families with little ones or buggies. The route also forms apart of the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path.

One option would be to park at Inverbeg Holiday Park or The Inn on Loch Lomond (perfect for a spot of lunch/ glass of wine… or 2) and follow the path on the right-hand side of the road. There’s a layby for reference just up from the holiday park. Or you can drive to Firkin Point, (15 mins from Inverbeg) and park there and continue the walk. Firkin Point has free parking and toilets available also with plenty of picnic benches that look onto the loch.

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The path follows alongside the loch the whole way, It is usually quite busy with tourists but with plenty of stoney beaches to set up camp and relax for a bit or enjoy a picnic, you’ll be able to find a quiet area. The views are incredible, plenty of perfect picture spots – It makes such a difference when the sun it out.

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It’s easy to see why this is such a popular route, it’s so calm and relaxing. Such a fab way to spend the day – it only took me around 2 hours there and back and I stopped for many a selfie. There’s plenty of places to stop in Tarbert for a bite to eat, although, I would caution that when you’re approaching Tarbert, you have to rejoin the main road so might not be ideal for little ones.

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It’s easy to spend a good few hours here, with so many little nooks and crannies, it’s easy to lose track of time. The road is flat the whole way so no strenuous uphills to worry about.

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The Arrochar Trail

Soooo I was super productive last Sunday and managed to fit in a quick hill walk before my mum was up looking for her Mother’s Day presents.

I also realised this would have been a good walk for any active mums before going for a nice Mother’s Day lunch but as usual I was so disorganised haha. Anyway, it’s a really easy, picturesque walk if you ever want a nice hike but nothing too strenuous – perfect for a Sunday!

It’s the Arrochar trail between Arrochar and Inveruglas. I didn’t actually make it the whole way as I was conscious of time and wanted to be back for my mum getting up so only went around half way. The walk usually takes around 4 hours there, and back. Head up towards Tarbert Railway Station where you can leave the car and head under the bridge adjacent to you.

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After climbing up through some forestry, you’ll see this sign, turn left. You can see the walk that will take you to the right here.

Once you emerge from the forest, you will reach a cross roads – continue straight up past the yellow things into more forestry…

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Although you are climbing up and down a few hills throughout the forest, there isn’t anything particularly difficult about this walk. And Spring was well and truly in bloom, there was so many tadpoles and frogs eggs along the rivers beside the path.

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Frogs Eggs

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Eventually, you will emerge from the forest and begin to see some gorgeous views over Loch Long and Arrochar. Most of the hills were covered by the morning fog though.

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These views continue as you go further along the path where you will then reach the sign below, you can continue further which will take you across to Inveruglas or you can turn left and head down into Arrochar village.

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I carried on about another 40 minutes or so where the sun finally started to come (a tiny bit) with the help of an Instagram filter…

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Gone in search of some sun

I am keen to do the entire trail one day, however, a couple of my friends that have done it, recommended starting at Inveruglas as there’s more places to grab a bite to eat in Arrochar before heading back, another option if you have the luxury of 2 cars was to leave one at either end. It’s also an ideal cycle route for all ages.

The Liebster Award

I was nominated for this award by the beautiful, Kayleigh, if you haven’t already had a look at her blog – definitely check it out! Kayleigh is just a little ray of positive sunshine and one of the most supportive and encouraging bloggers I have ever came across. Thank you so much for nominating me.

This is the first time my blog has ever been nominated for an award and it was the best surprise EVER to receive on a Friday!

The Rules:

  • Acknowledge the blog that gave you the award
  • Answer 11 Questions that the blogger gives you
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 blogs and notify them that you dig them
  • Give them 11 Questions to answer

Kayleigh’s Questions

1. What’s your favourite season?

Hmm, I think it’s definitely got to be Autumn. I have always loved Fall fashion – beautiful, big winter coats and scarfs, everyone’s starting to get in the Christmas mood and everything looks so picturesque. Plus, all the spiders go into hibernation.

2. Who is your favourite book character?

My favourite book character is from my favourite book, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. Laila, is the second female protagonist, I love her because throughout this book, she represents light and happiness in a truly awful world. She has a healthy skepticism toward authority and a headstrong nature that really inspired me when reading it.

3. What’s your fondest memory?

Every couple of years, me and my family go to Florida and of course, Disneyland so going there as a family will always be my fav.

4. Beach/pool holiday or sightseeing holiday?

I get asked this all the time for some reason and it breaks me every time ha-ha! I can’t choose. I love both.

5. How long have you been blogging?

I think around 2 years maybe? But I didn’t start really putting much effort into my blog until around a year ago now.

6. One thing you love most about yourself?

I would say I’m a good listener, I think it’s such an important quality to have.

7. What are you looking forward to this year?

Ah there’s so many! I’m excited to be progressing my career in marketing and learning new things. I’m excited for my sister coming home from Milan, after studying there for a few months. I’m also looking forward to holiday planning and seeing the sun, it’s been sooo long.

8. If you could be an expert on anything in the world what would it be?

Ooh the pressure to pick something cool and exciting… Hmm, maybe something like Veterinary science and then everyone would bring all their puppers to me ha-ha.

9. What’s your favourite food?

This is another question that will break me… I love all food! Buuut sushi maybe? Or Mexican… No, Tapas?

10. If you could have dinner with one person who would it be?

Robin Williams. Hands down.

11. What’s your favourite item of clothing that you own?

This is a hard one… probably any of my clothes from Zara, I never tire of them.

11 Facts about me

  • I sincerely hate talking about myself, cringing so much writing this
  • Total neat freak
  • I am the pyjama queen, as soon as I’m in the door, there on
  • I watch a Harry Potter at least once a week
  • Obsessed with candles and bubble baths
  • Yogi
  • Vegetarian
  • Total water babe – I love swimming so much
  • I used to be a swim teacher for Rebecca Adlington (sweetest person I’ve ever met)
  • A good 80% of my days are spent watching vlogs
  • I’m such a morning person

My Questions to my nominees

  1. What makes you happiest?
  2. If you could go back 5 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
  3. Who inspires you daily?
  4. What’s your favourite joke?
  5. If gravy no longer existed, what would you have with your steak pie? Tomato sauce or Mayo?
  6. What is your favourite quote?
  7. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
  8. What is the nicest thing someone’s ever done for you?
  9. I woke up this morning and thought…
  10. ??? for President
  11. Something you really love about yourself is…

As always, please don’t feel like you have to take part if you don’t wish to, it’s entirely up to you!

My Nominees:

 

 

 

Ben Arthur’s Bothy

Ben Arthurs Bothy

It’s not often I get to say this, but the weather was amazing in Scotland over the weekend. It was still FREEEZING (obvs) but the sun was out, and everyone was absolutely buzzin’.

And what better way to enjoy the weather than with a hill walk and a trip to the pub?!

After spending the morning walking from Inveruglas to Arrochar, we stopped in at Ben Arthur’s Bothy.

This little gem of a pub offers the most beautiful views over Loch Long and onto The Cobbler. With a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor and raving reviews from the locals – I was keen to see what they had in store.

Ben Arthurs Bothy

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From the outside, it doesn’t look like much but as soon as you step inside, you are hit with some spectacular views. They also have the option to sit outside and enjoy a pint or bite to eat. I was told they sell the best soup but was disappointed to discover it was pea and ham – my friends got stuck in though and it did smell AMAZING! It’s your typical pub grub menu, they did have a few vegetarian options but not loads, so I opted for the vege burger. Which I have to say, is one of the best vege burgers I have ever had! The portions were massive as well, just what you’re looking for after a long walk.

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Decking area for Ben Arthur’s Bothy
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Views over Loch Long with The Cobbler in the background

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I would highly recommend Ben Arthur’s Bothy to anyone passing through Arrochar. The staff are so welcoming and friendly, the prices were more than reasonable, and the food is insane! They also cater to private functions, have live entertainment on throughout March to September and have a pool table and plenty of TV’s for anyone wanting to watch the football.

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Hi dad!
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Sunday’s hillwalk

Cruach Tairbert

The first hill climb of 2018 started off well… NAAAT!

Thinking that it’d be a great idea to travel up to Loch Lomand to climb Cruach Tairbert in the middle of all the snow that we have in Scotland right now was not one of my brighter ideas.

Me and my friend headed off around 10:30 am up towards Tarbet, a small village in Argyll and Bute, located within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. It is a straight road from Glasgow city centre and so scenic once you’re off the motorway. We noticed that the snow was pretty deep past Helensburgh and, so we opted to do the waymarked circuit that climbs through the forest plantations on the lower slopes of Cruach Tairbert above the village.

The walk begins just behind ‘The Slanj’ which is a cosy restaurant to stop in for some food or a coffee, and if you ask nicely, don’t mind you using their carpark. Head up behind the restaurant towards Tarbet Railway station and pass under it to reach an information board detailing the route, which is marked in red. The other way will take you along to Arrochar – so turn right here.

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Where’s my sledge when I need it

I felt like I was entering Narnia, the forest was covered in so much snow, it was gorgeous! The path then approaches a burn climbing left alongside it, ignore the waymarked branch to the right (it’s the return route), the path then climbs steeply up by the burn and then swings along to the right. You’ll pass a bench which was once apparently an amazing viewpoint but is now blocked by conifer trees. I think I spent more time on the ground than actually climbing ha-ha it was sooo icy!

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This is supposedly one of the easiest routes to do (minus a few steep bits) but we somehow managed to get lost here, so lost! …and I’m pretty sure at one point were trying to climb up a frozen stream disguised with heaps of snow.

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Continue along the path to eventually descend to cross a footbridge (You’ll see a small picnic table just above you). By this point, the snow was coming down pretty heavy – we could barely see 2 feet in front of us and had heard from home that the roads were getting pretty bad also so quickly followed the descending path through the trees and along a second footbridge before passing a gap in the wall. You should be able to see the stunning views towards Loch Lomand over the Tarbet Hotel here.  When the path approaches a burn don’t cut across but follow the loop slightly uphill to re-join the outward path. Turn left to retrace your steps back to the path junction above the station, turning left again to return to the start.

A walk that was supposed to only take us an hour and a half max. turned into a 3-hour long trek! We did however get some really cute pictures which is really the only reason we went.  I am keen to do this one again though and hopefully not get lost next time. I don’t think this walk is a particularly popular one, mainly because the views have all now been blocked by the growing forestry which is why I thought it’d be a good one to do in the winter, if all I’m going to be looking at is trees, they might as well be Instagram worthy.

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First time using my Instax camera – OBSESSED!

Bali: Climbing Mount Batur

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Bali… take it! I guarantee you’ll question why you didn’t go sooner.

I visited Bali last May and am planning to visit again soon. It sounds super cringe, but it was honestly the holiday of a lifetime. I stayed in Pan Pacific Nirwana, which was incredible! It has unfortunately now closed to make way for a Trump Golf Resort of all things! B******

I stayed in Seminyak, which is a quiet, peaceful part of Bali, if you’re looking for a slightly more livelier area then I would recommend Kuta or Legian. I had a couple of excursions that I booked through Expedia to break up the two weeks that I was there including visiting some of the sacred temples, monkey forests, scuba diving and where I had my first surf lesson, not a bad place to start, eh? But my favourite by far was the sunrise trek up Mount Batur.

Mount Batur is an active volcano located in Batur village, Kintamani District, Bali, Indonesia. According to Hindu belief, it is considered a sacred mountain, standing at 1717 m above sea level.

I was picked up around 1am from the hotel, it took us around an hour and a half to reach the village – the drive was by far the worst part of it all, the road is so rocky and winding. I can still feel the all new level of travel sickness I reached. We were guided only by the light of our torches as it was pitch black and a young Balinese Sherpa who told us he can do this hike 4-5 times a day. Gaaadsss!

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I took these on the way back down, had I been able to see what was ahead in the dark, I think I might’ve cried.

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At this point last year, I really hadn’t done much hillwalking, so this was bloody hard – we were straight into a steep climb through some forestry… in complete darkness! I’m not exaggerating when I say our young Sherpa saved my life countless times on that mountain, every trip or almost fall, he appeared out of no where and pulled me upright haha! And put up with my constant ‘Are we there yets?’

After around 3 hours climbing in the darkness, we reached a break point which is just under the summit, we were told this was just as good a place to stop and watch the sunrise over breakfast, but I didn’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t go all the way, so we pushed on, me still moaning every step. We finally made it just in time to see the first rays of light appearing from the clouds – it took us roughly around 4 hours. Breakfast is cooked from the steam of the volcano by the Sherpas whilst all the tourists fight for the perfect picture site.

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Sun rise at the summit

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It was probably one of the most romantic spots I’ve ever been to and sharing it with around 100 other tourists made it all the more special… LOL

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The climb down was a lot more picturesque and waaay harder than the climb up – that poor Sherpa. He held my hand the whole way down again and took us through the craters around the volcano, I even met some more monkey friends.

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My hero showing me some of the crators

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Clearly only interested in our food…

Part of the Mount Batur expedition included lunch at a local Chinese buffet and then a trip to a hot springs spa called Toya Devasya ‘Natural Hot Springs’… the ultimate treat after that trek! I thought the spa at Pan Pacific was incredible but this one was on a whole different level and OMG the view!

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These just don’t do it justice
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Toya Devasya ‘Natural Hot Springs’

This was by far my favourite holiday ever and climbing Mount Batur is something I’ll never forget. I would highly recommend this to everyone.

Women in the Gig Economy

With the New Year celebrations now over and 2018 upon us, we are also preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the qualification of women into parliament and women over 30 getting to vote.

100 years in parliament, getting the vote and we still can’t get equal pay!

In the 21st century, you’d think this would be a thing of the past. But, with the gig economy on the rise and women working in this sector opting for stereotypical roles in the labour market, is the UK taking a step back?

According to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA), there are currently 4.85 million self employed people in the U.K and just over one third of that population are women, with 1.1 million of all self-employed working in the gig economy.

The gig economy has proven attractive for many women. Working mothers in particular benefit from the flexible hours and independence that it brings. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of self-employed mothers increased by 79%.

While this way of working seems to be becoming more and more popular, it still poses many of the gendered challenges of the wider labour market. The biggest being woman opting for stereotypical roles such as administrative, domestic and care work – the same type of roles we worked circa 1920. With many arguing that WW1 ‘revolutionised’ the industrial position of women – many would agree that the war did offer women increased opportunities in the paid labour market.

It has only been since the 1980’s that women have started to be taken remotely serious by men. Still paid less for the same jobs but instead valued purely upon their exterior, during a time when women had little to no rights, instead given the job of looking after their appearance because there was little else we could do or show for ourselves. A “Keep yourself busy with your hair babe” approach.

During this time (1914-1918) an estimated 2 million women replaced men in employment so women have shown that they are more than capable of doing the same jobs as men. So why are we still opting for the same jobs now that we were told we were ‘supposed’ to do then and being underpaid?

Gig economy is predominantly male

The RSA published a recent study on the gig economy, showing that ‘women are half as likely as men to have tried any form of gig work and that the gig economy is predominantly male. Women seem to be more likely found on asset-based platforms, trading in goods like clothing or toys but are heavily concentrated in segments such as cleaning and care working.

When asked, women were much more specific than men about the type of gig work they would do with a narrower span of consideration; the top services they would be willing to provide were administration, professional or creative in nature with personal services also high up there.

Surprise, surprise… Women earn less as Giggers

Women also do not earn much in the gig economy. Almost 75% of women earn less than the taxable threshold – with as many as 66% of female gig workers stating that they also have other forms of work. Potentially, suggesting that at present, women have a much more casual relationship with the gig economy.

In the creative industries, men command an average day rate of £319 (£15 higher than women) according to research by jobs platform YunoJuno. It found women take higher rates across strategy and client service roles, but men’s rates can be as much as £50 a day higher across other disciplines including creative, design and film.

Part of the problem is women setting their own rates dramatically lower than their male competitors. Lee Kemp, a director and owner of Vermillion Films, said two-thirds of freelancers he encountered who “drastically” under-priced themselves were women. “Immediately you think it’s because they are inexperienced or they’re not very good, but that is not always the case”.

Have we only ourselves to blame?

It’s possible that women may be under-represented because newer platforms tend to offer work that women are typically not drawn to in the wider labour market; an example would be the taxi industry, women are not very well represented in this industry so it’s not a surprise that not many work for Uber. However, given that women are more likely to be in professional, creative or administrative services in the economy as a whole, we would expect platforms aimed at freelancers or ‘crowd workers’ to be attracting more women.

 

My Christmas Wish List

It’s only 17 days ‘til Christmas!!! Excited is an understatement for me – this is without a doubt my fav time of the year. Christmas songs on repeat all day, every day! Starbucks Ginger Bread lattes, cheesy Christmas jumpers, mince pies and mulled wine comin’ out my ears – Ahhh I cannot wait!

Having just started a new job and a little on the skint side, my Christmas list has almost doubled in size this year haha but I am in much need of some new outdoorsy things so have put together a list of fab gifts idea for me (or if you know of anyone who’s outdoorsy as well and stuck for ideas).

1. Climbing hills in Scotland means that you need to have a pretty decent jacket, I absolutely love the one I currently use – it’s from Superdry and it’s never let me down! It’s so warm and lightweight but being the fashionista that I am, thought it was time to mix things up so I found this supa cute jacket in Tiso from The North  Face range.

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Super cosy quilted jacket – The North Face

It is virtually the same as my current one (in a different colour). Lil’ bit pricey but I think it’s worth investing in a good jacket and if it’s stylish also… Win! Win!

2. Next up, boots! This is a MUST – the amount of people I see climbing hills in trainers is insane. If you’re going to spend some money investing in this hobby, please let it be boots. I bought mines a few years ago from ‘Go Outdoors’ for doing The Duke of Edinburgh Award and they’ve lasted well but it’s time for an upgrade. I found these beauts on ‘Go Outdoors’ from ‘Mammut’ but they have sooo many nice boots in this year. These are perfect for me because they’re lightweight, the ones I’m currently using are too heavy and loose around my ankles.

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Girly Hiking Boots – Mammut

These boots are the answers to my problems and will go perfectly with my usual all black attire. If you would rather walking shoes, they have a great range in also.

3. This is my favourite thing ever to shop for! The North Face is my go to brand, everything is so chic and flattering. There’s so many fab brands to choose from when it comes to backpacks, but The North Face will always be my fav!

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Backpack – The North Face

I’m not surprised this ‘Women’s Borealis back pack’ is a best seller – I love the subtle hint of colour, giving it a slightly more feminine look. It’s small and lightweight enough to fit any extra layers and lunch in. It also has a padded sleeve to protect your laptop or tablet from bumps.

4. I’m not going to lie, I wear black, A LOT. Especially when it comes to sports wear and most of it comes from H&M or New Look, I have a few slightly more expensive pieces that were gifts – I used to think that spending hundreds of pounds on jumpers was a bit drastic but let’s be honest, we all would if we had the money. I don’t have the money. So, I’m just going to dream. I thought I would venture out of my comfort zone (seeing as it’s Christmas) and found this jumper from The North Face in Tiso.

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Pink Jumper – The North Face

It looks warm enough to wear as a jacket as well whilst adding a splash of colour to your outfit.

5. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a bobble hat. New Look and Topshop have some gorgeous ones in this year! ‘Barts’ have some really cute ones in this year also…

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Bobble Hat – Barts

They come in a range of colours and designs – the only part of my outfit I’m prepared to have some colour in. A nice tag of £20, wee stocking filler perhaps?!

If you’re still undecided what to get me or don’t want to spend a lot, Tiso, Go Outdoors and The North Face are doing a Christmas Gift Guide on their websites where you can set a price limit etc. and plenty of ideas for smaller gifts like water bottles, hand warmers, socks – there’s so many to choose from. On my best behaviour from now ’til Christmas!