Scottish Skiing / Nevis Range

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter. Finally! We have had an incredibly slow start to our winter season in Scotland, so we’re all relieved to have a nice dump of the white stuff on the mountains this week.

I think it’s fair to say that Scottish skiing is a labour of love. It will never be the alps. Our five resorts are small, the weather is erratic and unless you’re exceptional at playing rock dodge your skis usually need a service after a day on the hill. However, there is something special about Scottish skiing that keep us coming back for more – not to mention the backcountry potential.

Regardless of the weather (which can be icey, windy and shit) there is an unmistakable atmosphere on the hill. Everyone is cheery, friendly and generally just happy the runs are open. And the thing that always makes me laugh; without a doubt someone at some point will remind you “If you can ski in Scotland, you can ski anywhere.” Which is probably true!

Last Thursday, the west coast threw a freak of a day. An absolute bluebird. We left home at 5am (Ewan and I); I don’t know who did the maths because it only takes 3 hours to drive to Fort William from Glasgow – and the first lift was at 10am…

2 hours and 3 coffees later, our AM view was pretty alright.

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Big Ben

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Ewan (big brother)

Nevis Range is the highest place in Scotland to ski, a clear day gives you views of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the British Isles) and the lochs at sea level – wouldn’t get that in the alps! Nevis offers a kick ass range of skiing no matter your ability – there’s fast steep runs for intermediate/advanced skiers and lower slower areas for beginners. Nevis is also home of the Back Corries; considered by most to be the ‘gem’ of Scottish skiing. The Back Corries are out with the patrolled ski area, so primarily for expert skiers.

A few of the runs weren’t open when we were up on Thursday and the lower slopes were still rocky – so we paid £25 for a day pass rather than £35.50. Which was pretty nice of Nevis.

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We skied until 1pm, and met our dad in the mountain cafe for lunch. The Nevis Mountain Gondola is a great option for non skiers to get up the hill and experience the views and fresh air (it’s also the only mountain gondola in the UK).

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Our afternoon was a bit shorter, we landed on some gritty rocks coming gown The Goose and by 3 o’clock our ski service bill had doubled! Worth it though – we had an unforgettable day.

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Touring skis and skins coming soon… (so long uphill walks)

Overall – what skiing in Scotland lacks in scale makes up for in character and I think it’s fair to say we all really appreciate the skiing facilities we have in Scotland. Would I swap a weeks skiing abroad for a week in Scotland? Probably not, but I would definitely buy a season pass for a Scottish resort, so I could ski as regularly as I like throughout the winter.

Come ski in Scotland, it is fantastic and undoubtably a different experience from skiing anywhere else in the world.

 

 

 

Home Is Where You Park It

My van rental was in collaboration with Caledonian Campers ahead of the Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Home Show – my experience was gifted. The show opens 7th-10th of February at the SEC Glasgow – come check it out! 

You could go as far to say I am obsessed with camper vans. So much so, my boyfriend and I have a group chat (with only us in it) called ‘advantures.’ We created it when we first met with the dream of one day owning a van in mind. Preferably a VW, but let’s not be picky!

When Caledonian Campers gave me a shout last week offering me a weekend in one of their VW vans I was ecstatic; but with Callum being away at sea – my mum took the hot seat in his place. Sorry Callum!

What’s so special about a van? I think the appeal can be summed up in one word: freedom. No other form of transport allows for such spontaneity, and in Scotland – the freedom to roam is endless. A van allows you to spice up your adventure as much as you like; bike racks, surf boards on the roof, skis? But it can also be stripped back to the point where your adventure is simply the drive, the scenery and the experience.

We chose the latter this weekend. I was choked with the cold, so took a wee rest from big adventures. It was really nice driving around without anywhere in particular to be; I even read a book from cover to cover!

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If you are thinking about hiring a van (I’d totally recommend it) here are some advanture tips:

Pack light. A small space quickly becomes cramped with people in it, limit your luggage so you’re not constantly shifting bags around.

Plan a suitable route (it can be a rough plan) – having a route in mind helps manage fuel costs. And on that note – mark fuel stations on your map. Running empty is never cool… yep, been there before!

Have an idea of where you can park for the night, campsites are a good option if you like to have a shower (clearly not on my priority list); Scotland has a good bunch to pick from. Finding a remote spot is my preference, for peace and privacy. Just remember to park responsibly i.e., not in lay-bys.

Check out local pubs, cafes and shops. Stop and spend a few pennies in the places you visit.

Buy suitable food for inside the van – things that aren’t going to leak everywhere and cause you to loose your van deposit! Food that can be cooked/heated on a hob is best, soup, pasta, cous cous!

Keep an eye on water and gas if you are going further off grid.

Take the slow lane and enjoy the journey – but pull over to let cars past if your causing a pile up.

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Caledonian Campers

How easy are the vans to drive? 

Very easy! I was really nervous about driving the van before I picked it up. But driving a new VW is as easy as driving a small car, power assisted steering, parking sensors, really good turing circle. I found it a doddle (and I usually hate driving). Stay wide, slow down and you’ll be grand!

What are the costs?

Low season (Nov-Feb) £71-£85 per day

Mid season (March, April, Sept, Oct) £85-£99 per day

High season (May-Aug) £110-£122 per day

What happens if something goes wrong? 

You are fully insured and have full AA breakdown cover if you have any hiccups.

How many people can sleep in one van?

They can sleep 4. I would say it would be perfect for 2 adults, and 2 kids. 4 adults would be pretty cosy!

Any hidden costs? 

£20 hire fee for a gas bottle

You are also required to take the van for a mini valet before return – depending where you go this could be between £20-£30.

Heres what I got upto...

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I collected the van in Glasgow and drove 2 hours to Glen Coe

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Parked at An Torr (walking distance to the Clachaig Inn)

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Went for a wander in the snow – took lots of snowscapes

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Drank tea and read books all afternoon

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Slept here on night one

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Woke up with a beautiful view of the Aonach Eagach ridge

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Crossed Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry

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En route to Glenuig we stopped at Loch Sunart for a walk

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Looked but failed to find the local Elephants…

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Parked here for night 2

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With beautiful views of Eigg, Rum and a wee bit of Skye in the distance

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Then lazed in the sun reading books for the rest of the day!

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Heading home we stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct for another snowy walk!

Huge thanks to Caledonian Campers for lending me their van for the weekend.

Rheign Clothing Review

I first stumbled upon Rheign on Instagram a few months ago when I saw a picture of someone wearing that incredible aqua blue half-zip top (which just happens to be my favourite colour). After checking out their website I realised Rheign is in fact a really small independent company run by designer, owner and model Hazel Whatley – and all of the products are designed in Scotland. Fast forward to now… and I’m dressed head to toe in Rheign with another 7 items in my online basket!

Technical Half Zip - Pale Aqua

Since this top arrived last week I’ve worn it on three separate occasions. I wore it alone on a hill walk, I wore it as a base layer (for extra warmth) out on rescue boat duties last Sunday and I’ve worn it out for coffee – because as well as being technically brilliant for outdoor activities, it just looks really good.

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Best features

  • Flexible fabric – the top has a four-way stretch system for maximum movement
  • The technical fabric is breathable and took moisture away from my skin which kept me cool while walking, and warm on the boat.
  • Quick dry formula – always handy
  • Sewn with flat-seams for anti-rub
  • Thumb holes to retain sleeve position during wear – I think this would be so handy for skiing
  • Long body and sleeves – which is such a saviour for 5ft10 me!

I ordered a size small (which would fit anyone who is a size 8-10 on top).

Also available in many other colours – Technical Half-Zips

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Leggings - Grey/Aqua

I generally find leggings are not that flattering on me – I keep them for the gym and usually wear shorts or walking trousers when I’m outdoors. My other issue with leggings for the outdoors is that they stick to you when your sweaty/damp and because they’re usually made with non breathable fabric they just rub away at your skin. My point is, these leggings are made in the same fabric as the half zip so they take away that moisture from your skin – keeping you cool, dry and comfortable. And not to blow my own trumpet, but I think these are actually flattering on me.

I also got these in a size small – and they fit perfectly around the waist. They’re maybe a tiny bit short on the leg for me, but I don’t mind that at all.

Also available in lots of other lovely colours Leggings

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Supersoft Crewneck - Aqua

And finally, the snuggest jumper to cosy up in post adventure. This crewneck is as it says on the tin, it really is SO soft. Fleecey inside, chunky and warm. It’s the perfect thing to put on after you’ve been out in the cold all day – you get back to the car, strip off all your damp kit and snuggle up in this. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Again I got mine in a size small – it fits perfectly and I’m thinking about ordering one in a larger size too for slouching around in. Does anyone else do this? Shop Crewnecks.

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The price point for Rheign is incredibly reasonable – for a quality product from a small company I generally expect to pay a bit more, and I wouldn’t say any of these products are overpriced. I am a strong believer in ‘getting what you pay for’ as well as ‘buy less for more’ and it will last longer. Overall I am really pleased with the design and quality of my Rheign items and after wearing them this week I feel they are robust enough to last me years.

Thanks for reading - 


Rona x

Keep up with my latest adventures at @ronamcmillan

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How to spend more time doing what you love with the people you love

Plan your days and weeks ahead – there’s nothing more exciting than having a calendar full of things to look forward to.

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Tiree Ultra Marathon – Vivian

Check the weather – getting organised to make the best use of good weather is a million times better than being stuck twiddling your thumbs on a sunny day because everyone else is already off up hills, on the water or in a beer garden… FOMO really starts to kick in.

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Surf wake improvisation – Callum

Stick to your word – there’s nothing worse than really needing an adventure, and plans get cancelled. Doh! Sometimes we really rely on other people to get us going, so a cancelled plan can be a real downer.

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Firewood mission – Ewan & Angus

Don’t be afraid to contact people… even when you’ve not seen them in a long time – more often than not they’re going to be delighted to get that message. Better still, give them a call.

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The outdoor beauty – Emily

Go the distance – what a bummer when one of your best friends or family members moves across the country… but how appreciated is it when they make the effort to visit?

My mum is a 5 hour drive from Glasgow – the trip is pretty tiresome, but always worth it because I love her company, and I know we will always get up to something fun together.

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Red Point – Mum

Do things, that aren’t ‘ya thang’ – what if someone suggests meeting up to do something that you don’t really fancy doing? If not for any other reason, do it because they’re going to enjoy it.

My family was really keen to go and explore caves last weekend; I totally didn’t see the appeal of climbing into dark, damp smelly caves… but I went with them and actually really enjoyed it.

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Old mining caves – Kishorn

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And we found a cute newt!

Being present – how often do you turn into a tech zombie and realise you’ve been staring at a screen for an hour. I do, all the time – but having no signal up north is helping this problem!

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Tiree – Emily and I

Silence is ok – this is something my mum and I were chatting about recently. We are both relatively quiet people and find it pretty tricky when it comes to small talk… not because we aren’t friendly and interested in other people… we are just fairly shy. But once we decided we didn’t need to try and make conversation ALL the time – silence didn’t feel awkward, it was actually pretty nice.

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Sunny Applecross – Ewan

Encourage other people in things they do – going along to be a support for someone is hopefully going to be helpful for them, and also inspiring for you.

Last weekend my brother ran up the Bealach; my mum and I drove half the way up to give him water, I took some snaps and we met him at the top when he finished. It was really great watching him achieve something – even though the run was no bother at all for him, it would be something I would find difficult and now I feel pretty egged on to do the same run.

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Running up the Bealach – Angus

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Tiree Ultra – Angus and Gary

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Ultra running super Mum

And after all that – time alone seems to feel different. My itching restlessness is gone and I’m feeling content and pretty chilled. Being around other people who love doing what I love doing generally makes me a more productive and happier person.

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Beers, poems, hammock!

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Just a couple dudes I love – The Bros

Thanks for reading

R x @ronamcmillan

Ad(van)tures Pending

RIP Rusty - The search for a new van begins

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Summer is approaching… slowly! And the search has begun for a new family van, because our loved and ‘trusted’ red T4 kicked the bucket last year… due to summer exhaustion. I say family van; its my mums – she is the poor soul who has to pick up the pieces whenever it breaks down! So why a van? Why not pack your kit and sleep in a tent somewhere further away from a road? I asked exactly that when we first got the van a few year ago, but van life is so much fun and only enhances accessibility to the outdoors. A van becomes your own portable base of warmth and safety, as well as your mode of transport. It provides storage, cooking facilities, shelter, a place to charge your tech… and you can always tuck your tent away somewhere for more adventurous nights.

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The positives of van life

Freedom – the ability to go where you want when you want for as long as you want.

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Cost effective holidays – you can eliminate the cost of hotels, restaurant bills, flights, public transport, tickets, organised entertainment! Some cash for fuel and food is all you need.

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Simple living – Living in such a small space allows you to cut out nonessential items that clog up your average day – having a level of simplicity discards distractions that tend to melt away time day after day (Netflix, instagram, doing your hair and make up)!

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Forces organisation – not essential, however a messy van is pretty awful. Once things have a place, it makes finding them again much easier!

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Inspiration – new people, places and thoughts. I think it’s always nice to notice how your thoughts change depending on where you are and what you’re doing; at home I’m guilty of  toxic rational thinking – but when I remove myself from certain environments I think I become more logical, creative and adventurous!

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Waking up to awesome views and fresh air – waking up and being outside immediately is the most refreshing thing (unless its raining and howling)!

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Negatives

Planning ahead – almost everything requires a bit of planning and preparation, going for a shower, to the toilet, cooking, washing up…

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Loneliness – it’s always a nice idea to run away and be by yourself, but being alone without much human contact even through social media can quickly become a little too isolating – find someone to share adventures with!

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Time goes slow – although this can be good, the weather always gets bad and you can be stuck in a small space with not a lot to do. Always remember to pack a few books, and even more wine!

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Breaking down is expensive! It’s bound to happen at some point, so be prepared with some tools and good breakdown cover. Just try to break down somewhere beautiful, with waves to surf while you wait!

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Things to pack and things to do

Surfboards, bodyboards, SUPboards – something that gets you in the water. They’re easy to strap on the roof, so don’t take up any precious inside space… and if anyone forgets their sleeping bag, a board bag is your next best bet!

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Snorkel on rainy days – because it doesn’t rain underwater!

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Open water swimming to rinse off that funky perfume that you develop from living in a van for too long!

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Catch yourself some dinner while you’re in the sea!

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Warm yourself up, get the blood pumping and head for the hills –

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Check out a west coast music festival – even when your siblings aren’t thrilled to be getting drunk with you for a 4th night in a row!

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Search for magical fresh water pools to wash the salt away –

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Meet the local wildlife –

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And finally – hang out with your fam, they’re the best friends you’ll ever have!

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If you fancy a peep at some of our adventure videos (that are extremely amateur) – follow these links!

48 hours on Tiree // April 2017
Tiree Ultra 2017
Thanks for reading 

Oidhhe Mhath

R x