Go Ape, Aberfoyle

Not being one for heights, I had successfully managed to avoid visiting Go Ape until now…

Last weekend I was invited down to Go Ape’s Aberfoyle site for a Tree Top Adventure with a friend. With high speed zips, free-fall Tarzan swings and daring crossings, a Tree Top Adventure sounded like my worst nightmare. However, after doing a little research, I learned that over half of Brits are ‘very afraid‘ and ‘pretty nervous‘ around heights. Feeling slightly more at ease that I wasn’t alone – I decided to go for it. 

Scotland is currently having one of the most beautiful Autumns I’ve ever seen, we got so lucky with the weather and had a dry, crisp day with the sun splitting through the trees. We were booked in for an 11 o’clock slot at the Aberfoyle site (about an hour outside of Glasgow) so were up and off early for a fun, girly day out. 

What to Expect

On arrival, you are given some safety rules to read through, which is pretty important as you are responsible for your own safety on the course. Then you are given a safety briefing by a tribe member who ensures your harness is fitted correctly, shows you exactly how to clip on and off all the wires and that you are fully comfortable doing so. 

Next, you’re off! A spectacular 426m zip line through the trees drops you at the first landing station where the route begins. 

Go Ape

Go Ape Zipline

Pumped with adrenaline you make your way round five different aerial assault courses with various challenges on each. You’ll find plenty of tribe members wandering down below you, should you need some encouragement or a little reassurance before taking the step out onto a wobbly ledge.

Go Ape - Tree Top Adventure

There are some bits of the course that are optional, should you want to take an easier route – although everyone is encouraged to do the dreaded Tarzan swing! One of the most feared obstacles, solely for the reason that you’ve got to hurl yourself off a platform suspended 30 feet in the air and then clamber up a cargo net back onto the platform on the opposite side. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have to admit, it was one of the best bits and so, so much fun. 

Go Ape Sky Park

And finally, after many Tarzan fails, hysterical laughing fits and a very muddy bum later, you are presented with a certificate of awesomeness. 

Go Ape Certificate

I would highly recommend Go Ape and can’t wait to go back. If you’re like me and a bit of a wimp around heights, I would say to just go for it. I felt so safe and secure the whole time I was up there; the staff were brilliant and so re-assuring when you have a bit of a panic and just want to hug the nearest tree for a minute. 

The groups were also spaced out really well, I didn’t feel like I was holding anyone up going at a granny pace over the obstacles or when we stopped to take a few (shakey) pictures. You also don’t need to be super fit to take part – we went for a fun day out and had a blast. 

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What to Wear

  • Closed toe shoes (Trainers are perfect)
  • Trousers/ leggings – that you don’t mind getting muddy
  • Jacket/ Jumper with pockets – you’re not allowed any bags on the course so if you want to bring your phone/ camera etc. they must be in a zipped pocket.
  • Waterproofs (if there’s rain forecast)
  • Gloves
  • Bobbles 

It’s also worth noting, if you want to go along but prefer your feet firmly on the ground, there’s lots more to do. You can go walking/ biking and even try segwaying. Plus, Ben A’an and Ben Venue are just next door if you fancy a slightly more challenging walk. And after all your adventures – cake at the on-site cafe! 

This year, Go Ape is encouraging Scots to think twice about traditional stocking staples and consider the gift of an unforgettable experience this Christmas. They are offering the chance to gift an experience with bundles available in denominations of £30. Vouchers are delivered instantly, making it the perfect option for the last-minute shopper (guilty).

Available here: https://goape.co.uk/giftvouchers?utm_campaign=influencers&utm_medium=social&utm_source=bloggers&utm_content=giftvouchers

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Jobes Sport Review – 10.6 ft. Surf SUP

It’s been just over 3 months since I purchased my first SUP board from Jobe Sports and I absolutely love it. It is perfect for me and I use it almost weekly for solo paddling.

I researched lots of companies and different sized boards for a while before deciding upon this one – I was looking for an inflatable light weight board with good stability as I wanted to be able to travel with it but my biggest challenge was deciding which size. A lot of people recommended the 12 ft. but I just felt that it was a tad too big for me so opted for the 10.6 ft as this promised ‘great stability, easily maneuverable and ideal for solo touring’.  It does all of that and more… once you master the wobbling part.

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The Pro’s

  • Stability – I was very surprised by the rigidity of the board when inflated, it handles really well on the water but I wouldn’t recommend more than one person on the board at a time.
  • Lightweight – These boards can look really heavy and clunky but they’re so light and easy to carry. The strap handle in the middle of the board allows for easy and comfortable lifting.
  • Speed – I wasn’t expecting to go anywhere fast on this little board but I was so wrong. The board is streamlined and cuts through waves with the pointer bow brilliantly – I’ve even managed to surf some of the smaller waves with it.
  • Appearance – At the moment, it is only available in the one colour but I really love the design on the surf 10.6 ft. boards. I think it looks clean and smart (plus, it matches my wet-suit).
  • Pump it up – Thumbs up for the high pressure dual action pump. The gauged pump is a life saver, I wouldn’t know when the board was pumped up enough otherwise -the manual details exactly how much air to pump in as well.
  • The Paddle – The adjustable paddle is super lightweight, has great durability and is really comfortable to hold.

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The Cons

  • I only have one and it’s a small one – there’s no cross guard so I can’t secure any bags or anything onto the board with me.

Aside from the cross guard, I genuinely have no improvements to suggest towards this board. It’s really quick to inflate and deflate, lightweight and easy to maneuver in the water and easy to pack down. If you’re buying for one – it’s perfect!

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What’s Included?

  • 10.6 ft. Surf SUP
  • Waterproof Carrying Bag
  • Pump (with nozzles and pressure gauge)
  • 1 x Aluminium Adjustable Paddle
  • Ankle Leash
  • 3 x Detachable Fins
  • Repair Kit

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Ben Donich

Last weekend, my dad and I headed up to Loch Lomond to blow away some of the summer cobwebs, we planned to do a bit of kayaking on the Saturday and take a jolly up Ben Donich on the Sunday morning. However, either being optimists or idiots, neither of us checked the weather forecast…

We had the loch all to ourselves on Saturday and so paddled up to Tarbet and then over to explore some of the hidden beaches underneath Ben Lomond.

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We had perfect conditions for kayaking minus the eerie mist that was hovering. The route back was slightly trickier with the weather being borderline stormy and the mist making it difficult to see, however, we hugged the nearby shore line, avoiding the worst of the weather, back home to some warm hot choccy!

Waking up on Sunday to dry, cloudy weather, we grabbed our backpacks and headed up to the Rest and Be Thankful taking the B828 towards Lochgoilhead.

The munro is pretty well signposted and there’s a decent sized car parking area, free of charge. Follow the signs for ‘Glen Mhor, Ben Donich Hill Access’.

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The path is pretty well maintained the whole way up, although, there are some boggy areas over some grassy slopes nearer the summit. The walk provides fantastic views down to Gleann Mor as well as back over the Rest and Be Thankful to Loch Restil, with Beinn an Lochain towering above it.

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We were only about ten minutes in to our climb when we got caught in some lovely Scottish weather and got completely soaked, the fog started to lift about half way up but we didn’t manage to see much from the summit.

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My dad is a pro at hill-walking and of far higher ability than me when it comes to climbing tougher munros. He’s always up at the crack of dawn every weekend doing hill sprints, climbing, the lot – but it’s always fun to do a nicer, easier one together.

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Although our views were a bit restricted nearer the summit, I thought this was a fab little climb and great for easing back into hill-walking if you’ve not been out in a while, guilty! 

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The Dockyard Social

This week I headed over to The Dockyard Social, a new street food and bar hub near Finnieston. They’ve just won Best Street Food at The Scotsman Food and Drinks Awards 2018, so I couldn’t resist trying some delicious food and cocktails. I also had a chat with The Dockyard Social’s founder, Kyle Steel, about their venue, their traders and what’s next.

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So, tell me about The Dockyard.

For me, it’s all about creating a really social space where you can bring your dog, your family and you don’t need to worry about any kind of preconception. We had a mummy bloggers event on earlier where there were forty mums and dads with their kids; we had Wonder Woman and Cinderella, it was amazing!

As the day goes on, it transcends into a more hipster, cool kid kind of vibe – not that mums and dads aren’t cool, I have 3 kids myself. But you can see the demographic shifting a little bit. People generally stay here for around 4 or 5 hours.

I can see why, it took me an hour to pick something to eat, there’s so many options to choose from. It’s a really cool venue, did you guys have a lot of refurbishing to do?

It took us two to three months. We tried to use as much as possible from the building; the blue metalwork you see around the place was here originally. The initial footprint of the building was one of the biggest Glaswegian shipbuilders back in the day, about a hundred years ago now. We really wanted to tie that in, hence ‘The Dockyard’.

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How do traders get a place in The Dockyard?

When we started off, we were inundated with enquiries, we tried to mix it up between established and some brand new traders. ‘Fujisan‘ were our very first trader, they had only been going for six weeks, we were their second event. And then we had ‘FatBoys‘ he came in and it was his first ever big event, he did about 900 covers in four days.

We really want to help them get on the scene and start making a name for themselves. We get loads of traders getting in touch and because just now, we’re only open every second week, we are trying to mix it up so it’s always fresh. We see about 3,000 people over the weekend, so you want to keep it new and give the traders a chance to push themselves but also not get bogged down by being in here for 8-10 weeks, or it can get a bit stale.

How long are you guys here for? Please say forever.

Well, we’ve got a 10-year lease, full license application in just now, all going well – touch wood – it’ll be granted early December. The street food side of things will be running Thursday to Sunday with each day targeting a different group. Thursdays will be very student heavy and then Friday to Sunday is open to all ages. And there is a training school Monday to Friday every week.

Coffee Cocktails

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Will we be seeing more new traders then?

Absolutely! Going forward, we may give them three or four week stints, we have 12 pitches but it’ll always be something new.

I am so excited to try the Bubble Waffles! They look incredible.

They are hugely popular, everyone always comes in asking for them.

Bubble Wrap Waffle

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Tell me more about the traders then. I’m vegetarian for example, is there a lot of choice?

We’re really passionate about providing equal opportunities for dietary requirements. Ally who owns ‘Paleo Kitchen’, for example, is one of the nicest guys in the world who focuses predominantly on the caveman diet. So, no refined carbs, coeliac friendly, a lot of vegan dishes – loads of opportunities.  All of our traders will be able to accommodate you whether you’re vegetarian, vegan etc. We just really want everyone to feel welcome at The Dockyard and really create a community hub.

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Smokey Trotters

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What would you say the traders gain from being here?

We’re all about providing a platform for food street traders and chefs who maybe want to take a step towards doing their own thing. But where we really differentiate ourselves from other operators is that,while we’ve got 12 different food street traders, we run 2 of them so our revenue comes from the bar, ticket sales and our 2 food stalls. The other 10 are up and coming businesses.

We’re just here to provide a cool vibe and location for them to really apply their trade and give them an opportunity to show what they do. We spent four years doing Section33, so we were doing pop ups in old abandoned buildings helping raise funds for the homeless and gained a really strong following from foodies and their loyal regulars. It’s now transitioned to this and it’s actually been a year since we signed the lease on the building.

Bangkok Street Food

Food stands

What was the idea behind The Dockyard Social, what inspired you?

I think life is short, life is an absolute gift. The more we can do to help people the better. I’ve got three young kids and if I can help inspire them to help people when they’re older – they can look back and say ‘Well, Daddy did it”. I just think that’s a butterfly effect that spreads out exponentially. It’s all about uniting people and that old analogy of ‘People Make Glasgow’. We just want to do it on a bigger scale.

How are you planning to help people?

When we get our full license, I really want to put in 2 big initiatives. Teaching families who are currently relying on food banks how to cook free of charge. I keep hearing that a lot of families who reply on these food banks don’t know how to cook nutritious food and I want to help change that.

Section33 came about because my granny told me not to! “Kyle, you need to get a trade, be a plumber or a plasterer…” I wanted to prove to my gran that hospitality isn’t to look down upon others, it can really help people who are in sticky situations. Once we get the full license I’m going to put on a monthly local pensioners tea dance where they can come in for free and we’ll provide tea, coffee, cake etc. We want to hear their stories. I would give anything to have 5 more minutes with my gran.

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Big Buns

What’s next for you guys?

Our main ambition? We’ve got 10,000 square feet here, with another 4000 behind the scenes where we’re building a training school to help homeless people, the long term unemployed and kids that have come through care. We get them into the training school, and the street food traders will help train them. Then once they’ve done their basic training they’ll come out and they’ll do six weeks on pizza, 6 weeks on Thai and so on, so that after six months they’re ready to go and get a bigger job or maybe start their own brand – that’s the dream!

We’ve got loads of funding coming in from the training side of things from the government and then we’ll look at doing probably Edinburgh next. And then maybe move South, perhaps. It’s all just really cool. But we’re working on keeping engagement fresh, word of mouth is the biggest driver for us.

Thanks for reading, keep up with my latest adventures – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Images by: Fraser Craig

Editing: Harry Smith

 

Honeymoon Bridge

I woke up on Sunday hangover free and full of good intentions, Scotland’s weather forecast, however, did not…

The plan was to climb a Munro, just past Arrochar, but driving up there, realised the Scottish weather was going to get the better of me, it was blowing a hooley with low clouds and drizzly rain so instead opted for a ‘short walk with a view point‘.

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Honeymoon Bridge has become a well known spot for it’s car parking facilities, lunch spot, remote picturesque views but more famously a car crash in the 1950’s.

Starting off at the rear of the car park, heading up through some forestry, along a beaten road you soon emerge to see views over looking the loch, and over to Ben Lomond.

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It was a fairly busy route with lots of families and puppers to ‘aww‘ and play with. After taking in the view, you’re back through some more eerie forestry. There are quite a few path options along the way, I followed the route up and off path which became pretty steep and boggy after a while.

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How creepy does this bit look?!

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Having not been hiking in a while, this one definitely loosened the hips. It reminded me a lot of Dun Na Cuaiche – perfect for beginners. Once you’re up and out, the views are gorgeous! You have the option to continue climbing up but I’d had enough of being mauled by ticks.

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I think this is a great little route for a Sunday stroll, especially that you’re protected in amoung the trees when the weathers rubbish, luckily by the time I reached the top the rain had gone off for a little bit – perfect photo opp.

Plus, there’s plenty of great restaurants near-by for some hot food and a drink when you’re finished!

Keep up with all my adventures – @abonnietravelersinsideguide. 

Glasgow’s Tontine Lanes

I’m lucky to work in among these secret lanes so it was so much fun to watch them being transformed into an array of Scottish pop up stalls with food and drink, art exhibits, live music and my personal favourite, crazy golf.

In case you haven’t heard, the secret lane, tucked away in the Merchant City between Bell Street and the Trongate has lain empty for several years, but before that it was a vibrant food and culture hub, made popular during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. This year, however, it was back for the European Championships 2018.

The talk of the lane was of course, King Putt’s Crazy Golf. The super fun course was made entirely from waste materials sourced from across City Council and Glasgow Life departments. There were also a few famous faces competing such as Tom Daley.

Lunch times suddenly became extremely competitive in my office ha-ha, with a few of us there every. single. day! 

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Photo Credit: King Putt’s

The best part, the lanes were totally free. The staff were made up entirely of volunteers as well and couldn’t have been lovelier. Speaking with the King Putt’s crew they said;

“…it’s popularity exceeded our expectations. We had a huge number of visitors over the 10 days – possibly in the region of 7500. The feedback we received was extremely positive and it seemed to have been popular with all age groups and families.

King Putt’s may be back some time in the near future – stay tuned!

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After a few rounds, we headed over to The Birdcage’s pop up restaurant, where you can grab a quick, tasty meal. They managed to completely transform a really run-down looking warehouse into an urban, chic little dining area.

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This specialty Chicken restaurant’s menu includes everything from coriander, chilli and lime chicken wings, to pulled chicken bao buns, to jerked spatchcock chicken and even fried chicken feet. Each to their own…

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My new favourite!

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I opted for one of the veggie dishes – BBQ pineapple stuffed with Hawaiian rice, chilli, sesame & soya and it was delicious. No complaints and I would definitely have it again.

If you didn’t manage to get down this year, I would highly recommend going next year, especially at night where you can listen to some of the guest DJ’s and bands.

Give these guys a follow!
@Kingputts

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Birthday Celebrations at Stobo Castle

I had the most lovely birthday weekend ever – thank you so much to everyone for all your kind wishes!

I usually hate celebrating my birthday, I always put waaay too much pressure on my self to do something different and fun and then there’s all the stress of finding the ‘perfect’ outfit… I really hate shopping, it’s my worst nightmare!

Anyway, this year I decided to just invite the girls round for some home-made sangria and prosecco (and lots of it). I love hosting parties and decorating the house, laying out all the crisps and nibbles and decorating the drinks with fruit and fancy umbrellas. I really wish I had taken some pics of them all, they were so cute. Afterwards, we headed down to my local, Angels, for some more prosecco and gin. It was such a fun night!

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Queue the hangover from the fiery depths of satin’s lair…

I woke up on the Sunday to find out that I was being whisked off to the spa of dreams – Stobo Castle. The ultimate hangover cure!

I have been a few times before and can honestly say hands down, it’s my favourite spa that I have ever been to.

Nestled in among the scenic Scottish borders, about an hour and a half from Glasgow, city centre. The luxury spa is set in an old, rustic castle with beautiful architecture and history.

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Once checked in, we headed to the Courtyard Lounge for some much needed lunch and refreshments. We were told that the courtyard had previously been converted from stables, this explains the horse statue at the back of the room.

The courtyard itself, was such a lovely place to chill out, with so many places to sit and relax it would be easy to spend all day there reading a book, drinking coffee or if you’re waiting on a treatment… or two!

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I kept hearing lots of screams and giggles coming from the Ladies court yard toilets. Ha-ha, girls you have to check them out!

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The piazza-style bar and coffee shop hosts a wide selection of hot and cold lunch options and amazing cakes. I opted for the soup and sandwich option along with my favourite green tea – Flora Tea. I always order this, it looks so pretty but it tastes even better and it’s super healthy.

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Lily Fairy‘ – Jasmine: Calming, good for the digestive system and kidneys
Lily: Helps to ease and give restful sleep, good for the liver and eyes

Although we didn’t book in for any treatments it was really nice to wrap up in robes and relax by the pool and enjoy the use of all the facilities. It’s impossible to not feel relaxed here – with a wide range of saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, 25 metre pool and relaxation room, it’s just spa heaven.

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The relaxation room was definitely a favourite, the room is so tranquil and calming (minus the fellow snoring guests who also felt the same way).

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Our room was a ‘Standard Room’ over-looking the pool area and just across from the new cocktail lounge which offers over 30 different cocktails – Ideal!

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Side Note: If you’re a fellow gin lover, you have to try the ‘Gold Gin 999.9’ – Our waiter recommended it and it’s now my new fav. It’s mixed with juniper, tangerine, violets and a few other ingredients, it smells and tastes incredible! 

The room was really spacious, elegantly decorated with quirky Scottish touches and our bathroom was huge, with a large shower and bath along with a selection of beautiful Molton Brown products. The bed was so comfortable and everything was so clean, zero complaints! (Excuse our messy room).

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The food was also incredible – so good I forgot to get pictures ha-ha! Breakfast had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee.

Lunch and dinner are both a three course menu. (Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed in the comfort of your robes and slippers whereas, dinner is slightly more formal wear).

Before lunch on Monday afternoon, we wandered down to the beautiful Japanese Water Gardens, located about a five minute walk from the castle entrance.

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Designed to promote a zen-like calm, it is absolutely stunning. With beautiful towering trees and picturesque bridges leading you to the gorgeous water fall, you’ll feel completely calm and relaxed.

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My only criticism (and it’s a small one), was how busy the hotel was – the pool and saunas were exceptionally busy making it a little less relaxing at some points.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Scotland.

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Surfing in Scotland

Road Trip…

This weekend, I headed to the west coast of Scotland for some surfing, still being a bit of a newbie, I decided to book a lesson which was scheduled for the Sunday morning so me and my friend headed up late Saturday afternoon and camped on the beach… how romantic?!

It’s around a 3 hour drive to the west coast but totally worth it, even the drive up alone is insane. It’s near enough a straight road from Glasgow city centre, along the A82 onto the A83. It is well worth a trip if you ever get the chance, the beaches are so beautiful and the locals are so, so friendly and welcoming.

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My poor, little car just about managed the journey, I am one of those people living in the 1900’s who doesn’t have an AUX cable… I know, I know, okay! So we piled all our ‘NOW…’ and ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’ CD’s into the car (CD’s ha-ha I can’t believe I’m writing that) tent, sleeping bags, galore and headed off.

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We did stop off in Dumbarton and Helensburgh en route, on the hunt for a disposable BBQ but it seemed everyone else had the same idea and every shop was completely sold out!

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Instead we opted for a take away pizza on the beach with some beers, which I thought, was 10 times better. It was still light at 11:30 pm with the pros still out catching waves until near enough midnight. I could have easily said I was in Bali or somewhere super exotic and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

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Spot the Glaswegians…

I absolutely LOVE camping, especially on a gorgeous beach, however, I did not take into account how small a 2 man tent actually is, on top of the glorious 30 degree heat (I promise, I’m not complaining) but waking up in the morning was definitely not a pretty sight… to say the least. #sweatfest. Laaavely.

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Once we were up and ready, we headed into the local town, roughly a 10 minute drive from the beach and got some much needed coffee and then headed back for our lesson. There are loads of companies all around Scotland, that offer surf lessons so get in touch if you’re looking to try it.

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We had perfect conditions for learning with clean waves, we occasionally got caught in the rip tide and had to fight our way back up the beach but it was so much fun.

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It was just a perfect weekend all round. The weather was incredible, the beach was filled with sunbathers and surfers – a lil’ seal even made an appearance a few times when we were out, how cute?! And I even managed to stand up and catch a few good waves.

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