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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I had the most lovely birthday weekend ever – thank you so much to everyone for all your kind wishes!
This year I decided to 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!
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.
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!
I kept hearing lots of screams and giggles coming from the Ladies court yard toilets. Ha-ha, girls you have to check them out!
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.
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.
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).
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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!
Winter has always been my favourite time of the year, I love being all wrapped up and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate (with mini marshmallows obv) and wearing a bobble hat… any excuse for a bobble hat! I’ve probably climbed more hills in the winter than any other time – the autumn/ snowy surroundings just make each view that bit more picturesque.
Seeing as it was Sunday and I was obviously hungover, I opted for a shorter walk and one that wasn’t too far away, que Meikle Bin. Located North end of Carron Valley Reservoir, in the Kilsyth Hills, along the B818, just 45 minutes from Glasgow, this is an ideal, super easy walk for a Sunday. Standing at 570m (1,870 ft) Meikle Bin is classified as a Marilyn.
The short drive alone was worth it, the views were gorgeous – overlooking the Carron Valley reservoir and onto Meikle Bin itself. There is a small car park on the left-hand side of the road with free parking – it does, however, get pretty busy throughout the day so as always, I’d recommend getting there early. For the first time in my life, I was there before 11 am! I was really hoping that it would be snowing on the hill as some of the pictures I’ve seen look incredible but instead, I got a sunny, dry, warm day (with warm being 8 degrees).
We parked up, and headed past the reservoir along the forestry track with the summit showing through the trees most of the way. The walk is so straightforward with a few twists and turns throughout but it is signposted the whole way making it pretty idiot proof to get lost.
Once you emerge from the forest, the track wraps round to the right of the hill and as you head up, the view opens out to show a glimpse of the mountains to the north. You will be able to see Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich at this point with Ben Venue coming into view a little higher up.
The last bit up is the steepest and also has a little picnic bench for you to enjoy some lunch and the views North. Me and my friend were total rookies and forgot to bring any food OR water! Mainly because we didn’t pass an M&S or any other supermarket for that matter.
The views from the top were amazing, you are surrounded by the bigger mountains like Ben Lomand and from the right the unmistakable peaks of Arran are visible (Goatfell, Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail), looking South – you’ll be able to see Tinto hill as well.
Meikle Bin was where the Fairey Fireplane crashed in January 1950 and both crew members on board lost their lives. You can still see some of the wreckage on the upper and lower western slopes. I was waaay too busy thinking about food at this point though and completely forgot to visit the crash site.
It took us just over 2 hours up and down – mainly because we were so hungry and cold haha. In all honesty, not the most spectacular views but a really enjoyable walk anyway. The only thing missing? … a cosy café nearby for some hot food!
Ben Lomond has been on my list of munros to climb for so long but I wanted to wait until I knew it was going to be a clear day (which isn’t very often in Scotland) there was no way I was putting myself through that climb to then not be able to see anything at the top. No thaaaanks!
Ben Lomond is one of the most popular munros with an average of 30,000 climbers every year with the views overlooking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Situated in Rowardennan, just past Balloch and Balmaha, along the B837, it sits at 974 metres and is also known as the ‘beacon mountain’ – I’ve never heard anyone say that it’s a particularly difficult climb but compared to some of the other ones I’ve climbed, I thought it was pretty tough especially nearer the top, with varying steepness the full way up.
The plan was to be on the road for half 9 but of course, that was never going to happen. It took around an hour and 15 minutes from just outside Glasgow, there is a car park at the foot of the hill, (parking is £3 all day) it is usually really busy, so I would advise getting there early. We got there around 12, with our wee M&S packed lunches – we’re classy like that, and hangover free for a change. The start is clearly marked, just behind the car park but there will be plenty of people to keep you right, you can’t see the summit from the car park but the start is pretty easy with a clear path all the way up through oak woods and lots of forestry.
Shortly into your forest climb, you will cross a small bridge and then through 2 gates. The nice thing about this walk is that if you look back behind you at any point, you have stunning views over the loch, looking over to Inverbeg and all the islands. The path then continues to climb at a steady gradient and you will pass through heards of sheep and cows who are very photogenic. This part took us around an hour – it is long and as you can’t yet see the peak, can be frustrating. However, the views are incredible all around and there’s usually plenty of puppers to pet!
Keep walking and you will now be able to see the final peak and the zig zagging path that leads you to the summit. Don’t freak out, it’s not as hard as it looks! We decided to stop for lunch here as we could feel it was getting colder and were beginning to come across some snow and ice. Que the posh sandwiches and Magic Stars!
Following the path as it sticks to the ridge of the mountain, there are some more stunning views over the loch where the path then climbs steeply on the final ascent to the summit ridge before curving round to the left. We finally made it to the top where it was FREEZING!!! We lasted all of 5 minutes but OMG the view! Breath taking doesn’t cut it. Totally worth my complaining the full way (sorry Laura) …. Got our Instagram worthy picture and started our retreat to the car. If you want to challenge yourself, there is a tough alternative route going back down but I’m going to assume you’re all sane and would just re-trace your steps back down.
This was by far my favourite munro, it wasn’t the hardest to climb and the views were incrediable the whole way up – WIN! WIN! I would recommend plenty of layers and walking boots 100%. The temperature, ground level was 6 degrees and -3 degrees at the top. When I did the cobbler a few weeks ago – I seen people passing us in FLIP FLOPS! … Insanity. Anyway, there is usually snow and ice the further up you go so wrap up kids!