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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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.

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!

Meikle Bin

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Almost there

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.

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Summit

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

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.

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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!

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Of course, we stopped for a selfie

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!

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Almost there…

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.

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Made it!

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!

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Get me hameee

La Point Surf Camp – Portugal

Seeing as summer was almost over and I still hadn’t been away or done much surfing this year, I decided to book a week away to a surf camp in Portugal. After a bit of research, I found La Point! They have a great reputation among surfers and were super easy to book with.

La Point are ‘A travel company out of the Ordinary’ based in Norway and Sweden with camps in Portugal, Bali, Sri Lanka, Norway, California, Morocco and more, their goal is to share their love and passion for surfing with their guests in a relaxed and safe environment. They cater to a range of levels – from beginner to advance. I chose Portugal as it was close to Scotland and I’d heard it’s a great place to surf and ideal for people on a budget.

I traveled to Lisbon Airport where the La Point team had arranged for a shuttle to collect me (the camp was roughly half an hour from the airport) I stayed in camp garden, Moinshois in Ericeria, which could sleep 14 and shared a room with 4 people who were so, so lovely, a girl from Germany and then 2 guys from Austria. There was a mixed group – some travelling alone, others in couples or big groups and as the company are based in Norway, there were a lot of Norwegians who were really nice also. There was another camp up the hill from us which is where we had most of our meals and meetings and a bigger camp about a 15 minute drive away – which was the most up-dated and renovated.

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Morning Views

The accommodation was nice although could have done with a few renovations but everything was clean and so well-organised. I was told towards the end of my trip that the company are currently building a bigger camp which will be able to hold 100 guests and should be ready for next year and that camp Garden and Hill will be closed at the end of this year’s season so stayed tuned…

The package included your stay, breakfast and lunch, 5 surf lessons (equipment included) and 2 yoga lessons. The surf lessons were roughly 2 hours long and could take place at any time of the day, depending on the swell, ours mainly took place around 9:00/9:30 am and an occasional sun-rise surf which was always a fun (cold) start to the morning ha-ha! Our instructor, Ricardo, was great with us; he took us through all the theory of surfing which I had been really keen to learn as well as the practical and made sure everyone felt safe.

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…There was also a professional photographer
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so that you could prove you actually got up…
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Sun-rise surf

I had initially been worried that I might be a bit bored during the day after surfing as I wasn’t sure what else there was to do in the small town of Ericeira but La Point had this covered! There were activities planned almost every day, some being a trip to Lisbon to visit the city and do some shopping, another day we visited a local vineyard which was extremely popular and absolutely stunning. We also had a volleyball match against the other camps; BBQ’s and dinners were all planned also so I wasn’t ever really stuck for something to do. I also ventured into the town where there loads of little shops and restaurants – I highly recommend ‘Brunch Me’ and a sushi restaurant, Hayaci, where you could get ‘all you can eat sushi’ for €11 and it was all made fresh in front of you… I ate my body weight in it that week! The great thing about Portugal is that there are no chains – no Starbucks, no Subway, nothing, it was so refreshing! Everything was really cheap and I didn’t really spend much over there, RESULT!

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Quinta de Sant’Ana Vineyard

On our trip to Lisbon, I went with the girl I was sharing a bunk with and one of the social hosts, as soon as we got there, we headed straight for the food market called ‘Time Out’ – It’s like the equivalent to a food court here but so, so much better! It’s apparently the number one tourist attraction in Lisbon located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre, you are truly spoiled for choice. In Portugal, people don’t eat until around 8/9 pm which was weird at first but so fun at night with lots of live music and sangria… lots of sangria! It felt like the weekend every night there…

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We also found a few hidden gems – there is a car park situated in Calcada do Combro where the top story is a bar and has the most incredible views over the city and the best cocktails! We also visited a restaurant called ‘Lost in India’ which appears to be a clothing store but if you go around the back you will see stairs up to a restaurant and through the back of that is another hidden bar with beautiful views over the city also, they  do the most amazing sangria! (Google Maps is also handy for these places). We also did some shopping with my new favourite store being ‘Brandy Melville’ where one size fits all!!!!! The clothes are gorgeous. It’s very Topshop meets H&M – I cannot believe we don’t have this in Scotland!

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Car Park bar

I had the most AMAZING time and met the most incredible people. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive travelling on my own but the staff there were fab and great at integrating the camps and introducing us all. The social hosts at each camp became our friends and made sure we were well looked after. I would highly recommend La Point to anyone looking to try out surfing.

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https://www.lapointcamps.com/