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.

What’s new in the kit bag? SKIING AUSTRIA

Six countries, fifty-four hours of driving and many frankfurters later – we are all home after an incredible two weeks. In August this year my Dad proposed the idea of a skiing road trip for the Christmas holidays, inviting all the ‘kids’ (of whom I am the youngest) plus partners, friends… whoever fancied it. And so we did. A week before Christmas day my dad and I packed up the truck (nicked named Truck Norris in our family) with everyone’s kit and hit the road for a 3 day drive to Austria (via Switzerland to collect my brother and Vivian who now live in Zürich).

Despite having grown up skiing, my skis have hardly touched snow over the last five years while being at uni (i.e., skint). Which, unfortunately for my bank account meant my kit bag needed some updating. My skis, boots and poles were all still intact thankfully – but my old ski pants and jacket were so worn and miserable looking I wasn’t up for trusting them to keep me warm.

SO – on the list was new ski pants, a jacket, thermals, goggles, gloves and socks. Which was just enough to almost bankrupt me for the year. But good kit is worth the price tag if it’s going to last years upon years.

Deciding what to get was so tricky, ski trends change ALL the time and it’s too expensive to ever keep up. But I am really really happy with what I ended up buying so I thought I’d share some pictures and info about the kit I got. (My only regret is not going for something brighter, but hay ho). I decided on something a little more glam than I’d usually wear, really fitted and supporting a bit of faux fur – there’s a first for everything and I loved it!

Jacket £399

Poivre Blanc Women’s Stretch Ski Jacket

Thumbs up

  • Very insulated and warm – I only needed one base layer underneath
  • Fitted and flattering
  • Three way stretch fabric was great for movement
  • Weatherproof and breathable
  • Good pockets (ski pass, phone, + 2 more)
  • Stylish and technically good
  • Long sleeves and long body – perfect for tall girls (I’m 5ft10)
  • Detachable hood/fur

Thumbs down

  • Snow skirt didn’t go tight enough around my hips
  • Pockets aren’t big enough for a spare goggle lens

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Ski pants £199

Poivre Blanc Women’s Stretch Ski Pants

Thumbs up

  • Waterproof and warm (no needs for thermal bottoms)
  • Elegant cut and well fitted
  • Although being tight, they are as stretchy as gym leggings!
  • Inside snow gaiter worked perfectly
  • Zippered gussets at the ankle for ease when putting boots on

Thumbs down

  • Slightly short on my leg – but not really an issue when wearing ski boots

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Goggles £180

Smith I/O MAG (bought from Tiso)

Thumbs up

  • Magnetic lens changing system is so quick and easy you can do it without taking the goggles off your face!
  • Includes bright light and low performance lenses
  • Lenses didn’t fog up at all
  • The photochromatic lens works virtually in all conditions and the rose lens is a game changer in flat light
  • Fit comfortably on my face and around my nose without any air gaps

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  • No complains at all – i’d highly recommend these goggles to anyone

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Thermals £110

Icebreaker 250 Vertex Long Sleeve Half Zip

Thumbs up

  • 100% merino wool
  • Extremely soft, flexible and comfortable for wearing all day
  • Lightweight and very warm – I wore only this under my jacket
  • Half zip was perfect for temperature regulation
  • Seems are offset from prone rubbing areas

Thumbs down

  • Zero complains – it’s the perfect base layer

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Gloves £75

The North Face Women’s Montana GTX Mitt

My hands are badly affected by raynauds disease which causes quite a bit of pain and discomfort when they get cold, so finding a good glove was really important. I’ve waisted so many hours in previous years sitting inside mountain restaurants trying to defrost my hands – but I have finally found the solution in these gloves.

  • Completely waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX insert
  • Insulated inner with inner glove separation for maximum warmth
  • High rise wrist to stop any snow or wind chill getting into the glove
  • Wrist bands were really handy when pulling gloves on and off (usually to take photos!)

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Socks £28

Falke Women’s SK2 Ski Sock

All round great skiing sock – merino wool mix – warm and breathable!

Overall,

I was extremely happy with all of my new and old kit on holiday. Having good quality kit really makes a difference in enjoyment as well as safety in the mountains. Getting cold is always miserable in my experience, and I never last long once the cold reaches my hands – those North Face mitts were an absolute find! And fingers crossed, now that my kit bag is full I won’t need to top it up or change it for many many years.

Huge thanks to Tiso for all their help and advisement before my trip. I was kindly gifted my ski jacket this season in exchange for a review, which I am extremely grateful for.

Thanks for reading – if you have any questions feel free to send me a message on Instagram @ronamcmillan

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Christmas Day attire

 

 

Sustainable Cossie

Fact of the week – fashion is the second largest industrial polluter…only to be beaten to the top spot by oil. AHHH that is horrible isn’t it? And it’s our greedy, materialistic mindset that has made this happen.

Last week I watched the BBC documentary ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secret’ with my mouth wide open, totally gobsmacked as I learnt some really shocking fashion insights. I knew it was bad, I knew sustainability was a problem, but I didn’t realise the extent of it.

With SALE signs constantly slapping us in the face and fashion bloggers influencing us with fast changing wardrobes – it’s no wonder we all have a desire to buy and keep up. But I question why we forget the value of money as we buy; we buy excessively and bury any desire of quality or ethical question as we pile our arms full of cheap steals. It is really sad, but it’s not too late to make changes.

I am thinking about my gran; she is of a pre Instagram, pre online shopping, pre mass produced clothing era and continues to shop as if it were 1940 (via catalogue) – but she is probably the most sustainable fashionista I know! She has two wardrobes, one for winter and one for summer and a few in-between pieces for layering/delayering. The clothing she buys is expensive, but it is all made in the UK ethically and it lasts her for years, and years, and years. I know I can learn a thing from her.

I am starting small here – with a swimming cossie. If I am going to make a conscious decision to buy less, for more… it’s going to take me a while to save up for my next purchase. Which actually makes shopping more enjoyable, and I know I will really appreciate and care for any clothing I buy from now on.

My Miko Cossie Miko Swimsuit

Sustainable clothing is understandably more expensive than high street prices, but you know where your money is going rather than many designer brands that eat your money for a logo. As a brand Tilia Rose Swim is very affordable – this cossie is £50 and is made from recycled and sustainable materials.

Check out more from the brand https://www.tiliaroseswim.com

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Thank you for reading. If anyone knows of any great sustainable fashion brands (especially outdoorsy ones) please let me know!

Rona x

Trespass #DoSomethingWild

Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Northern Lights? Well, thanks to Trespass you have the chance to WIN an all-expenses-paid trip for two people to the Northern Lights in 2019 – yep, that includes travel, accommodation, food, expenses – everything!

One lucky winner will take an equally lucky friend or family member on an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime to Karesuando in Sweden.  The winner will stay in either a cosy hotel or traditional log cabin on Scandanavia’s official Northern Lights Route.

The full package includes:
  • Return flights (from select UK airports) and airport transfers
  • Full-board accommodation
  • Thermal suits and boots
  • Northern Lights Forest Task
  • Reindeer Camp
  • Call of the Wild Husky Safari
  • Northern Lights Snowmobile Safari
  • Snowshoe Introduction
  • …and £500 spending money!

I am well and truly gutted I cannot enter this competition, but if any of you guys win… I totally wouldn’t mind chumming you on the trip!

So here is the challenge – Trespass want us to go outside and #DoSomethingWild. I ran to the nearest river and launched myself in, but this could be anything. Climbing a hill, doing a handstand, a dip in the sea, indoor climbing, outdoor climbing… whatever it is just remember to snap a picture or video.

To enter, here’s what you need to do
– follow me on Instagram @ronamcmillan
– follow @trespass on Instagram
– post a photo of your daredevil skills
– tag trespass and #dosomethingwild
– for an extra entry challenge someone else to #dosomethingwild (for T&Cs head to @trespass bio)

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I am so excited to see what everyone gets upto over the next few months (you have until January 7th) to enter the competition. If you are struggling for inspo I will be posting lots of entries on my Instagram story @ronamcmillan.

GO WILD (but please be safe – don’t go wild swimming alone or in dangerous places).

 

 

GoApe Aberfoyle

With a beastly winter coming our way I am starting to cram as many outdoor activities I can into Autumn before we are hit with -temperatures. The last few weeks have been very sea/loch based for me so I was keen to stay on dry land for a few days – and yesterday I took that to another level and went sky-high! I don’t know how I have managed to go 5 years in Glasgow without ever visiting GoApe – but if you live in the area, or nearby any of the other GoApe courses you have got to give this a go.

Adele and I got SO lucky with the weather, I booked two weeks prior to our visit and when I woke up yesterday morning it was one of those cold, crisp and sunny autumnal days. SCORE! But if you don’t get so lucky, I would recommend bringing waterproof trousers and a jacket – if you have as much grace as me you’ll be on your backside often and therefore pretty wet and muddy!

While GoApe is a great place for children, you don’t need to be a young flexible whiz kid to enjoy this place. We went for a girly day out and had a blast. I also think it would be such a fun alternative date idea – I’d much rather swing about trees for an afternoon than go for cocktails. Although, cocktails post tree swinging would be nice…

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So what to wear and what to bring
  • Closed toe shoes (trainers were perfect)
  • Trousers/gym leggings – that can get a little mucky
  • Waterproofs if its going to be wet
  • Gloves would be a good idea – I didn’t bring any and my hands were getting sore towards the end (big wimp).
  • Some snacks, or pennies to buy snacks at the end. Tree swinging makes for thirsty work.
What to expect

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On arrival you are given safety rules to read through (pretty important as you are responsible for your own safety on this course). Then given a safety briefing by a team member who then ensures you have your harness on correctly, and shows you exactly how to clip on and off all the wires.

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Thrown into the deep end – the start of this course is a spectacular 426m zip line through the trees to the first landing station where you begin the route.

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With a body pumped with adrenaline you make your way round 5 different aerial assault courses with various challenges on each – my personal favourite being the Tarzan swing. Ahhh ah ahh ahhhhh!

My least favourite being…img_7901.jpg

Always time for a quick selfie (you can take phones/cameras round as long as they zip away in the a pocket).

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And finally at the end – after many Tarzan Jane fails and a very muddy bum we were presented with a certificate of awesomeness. Thanks Go Ape!

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I also thought I’d mention – if the whole family is coming along but only a few people want to participate in the Go Ape course… there is lots more to do. Plenty trails for walking/biking in the surrounding areas, also Ben A’an and Ben Venue are right next door for hill walkers. And for those with tired legs – the cafe is great and has incredible cake!

Go Ape Aberfoyle

Keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Rona X

 

Kit Review – DRYROBE

A Dryrobe has been on my kit wish list for almost a year. I had a shot of my brothers Dryrobe on Christmas day last year and it was incredible. We had been out on the water and in the water all day and I got very very cold. This isn’t usual for me, I do get cold easily and I’m used to it. However that day I had next level chills; and the Dryrobe got me home without getting dangerously cold.

So, to my delight – a Dryrobe has been added to the kit bag just in time for winter adventures. This piece of kit is for when a towel doesn’t quite cut it anymore, you need more warmth and more protection from the elements – pre swims, post swims and for general use in cold situations.

When would I use it?

Wild swimming – for the last two weeks I’ve not needed to bother with clothes when I jump in the car or on my bike to get to the water. Dry robe before and after every swim, no shivery changing situations and straight into something that will warm me up.

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Competitions – it’s obvious now when I’m at triathlons and open water swims (usually cheering on my mum) that Dryrobe’s are becoming an essential bit of kit. There’s always a lot of standing around before and after a race, and often transport on boats with a lot of exposure to weather. Staying warm and dry in these situations is so important.

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Car park changing – I can say bon voyage to the car park struggle. Trying to get your pants on the right way round without your towel falling down – with numb hands its always a battle. Dryrobe = cosy changing palace!

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Photography – this is a bit of an alternative use, but since the weather is getting colder I’ve used my Dryrobe on a few occasions for photography. If I’m out with my tripod for long periods of time not moving I get really cold, so it has been really handy for that.

Van adventures – van dressing gown? The best thing ever. I say van and not tent because the Dryrobe takes up quite a lot of room so it’s not ideal for tent camping, but perfect to have in a van.

Boat journeys – wind chill is something I always forget to consider if we are heading somewhere on a rib/open top boat. Sticking my Dryrobe on over my wetty keeps that wind off, as well as sea spray and rain.

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Features
  • Completely waterproof and windproof
  • Super warm synthetic lambs wool lining
  • Full lengths 2 way reversible zip
  • Fleece lined pockets
  • Lightweight (1.3kg)
  • Waterproof chest pocket
  • Internal zip pocket (phone, wallet, iPod)
  • Huge A4 sized internal pocket
  • Velcro wrists
Key Benefits
  • Fits over clothing/wetsuit
  • Re-use multiple times without it feeling wet
  • Provides protection from the elements
  • The lining draws water away from my skin
  • Dries me instantly and continues to keep me warm
  • Hands kept warm in the insulated pockets
  • Stores my things safely (phone, money, camera, snacks)
  • Lightweight to carry

To sum it up, I can’t fault this product. It great, and truly a lifesaver for someone like me who gets very very cold. It’s something that will always be in the boot of my car ready to use. I also got a Dryrobe drybag with my order (bought separately) which I would recommend as the robe does take up a bit of space if it’s not in a bag.

I’ve had a lot of questions over price, this robe is £110. It is a pricey purchase and something to consider. For me, it came down to safety and how the product would perform keeping me warm and dry in challenging situations. It works – and therefore it is worth it in my opinion!

www.dryrobe.com

Thanks for reading

Keep up with adventures @ronamcmillan

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KAYAKING & WILD CAMPING IN LOCH KISHORN

It’s happened again – I’m the bearer of bad weather. I arrived in ‘sunny Kishorn’ – a small village in the Scottish Highlands where my mum moved to about two years ago. It’s an incredible place, surrounded by towering mountains, endless horizons, views of Skye – an ideal place for those who love to be outside. But whenever I visit… ‘sunny Kishorn’ loses its title. It’s the day before our trip and it’s dreich, windy and pretty miserable. However, that is a traditional Scottish summer and the addition of the wind means the subtraction of midges, so it’s not all bad.

The optimist in me predicted good weather for our kayaking camping trip, but nope. It’s still blowing a hoolie. With all of our kit stuffed into dry bags and stored inside our kayaks my mum and I headed off into the waves. We originally planned to paddle directly from Kishorn Bay to our destination (in a straight line) – makes sense on a calm day! But with the weather being borderline stormy we stuck to the coastline avoiding the worst of the swell.

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My mum, by the way, is of far higher ability than me in a kayak. She knows her stuff and has done heaps of rescue training. I am an amateur – but always enjoy going out and getting practice in. Thankfully today is not a good day for kayak rolling – so I’m off the hook!

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We had a good idea of where we could camp, but getting there was proving to be tricky. At this point I found paddling along to the beat of ‘another one bites the dust’ very motivational. However the further we got, the bigger the swell was… so instead of being numpties and having to call in the coast guard to be rescued we beached ourselves early and walked the rest of the route. Leaving the kayaks up high on a grassy bank.

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We clambered through thick bracken – getting mauled by ticks, and along the shoreline to a small bay with a stoney beach and large flat grassy area ideal for an overnighter… pretty certain this is the one we had in mind, and if not… it would do! Bonus, there were even two strong trees so I could try out the hammock.

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With views of the infamous Cuillin mountains on Skye and west facing (meaning sunsets) this beach should have been the perfect spot for a night under the stars. Except, when we got there the cloud cover was so thick I couldn’t even see the small island less than a km away, so no chance of a sunset OR stars… and the wind was chopping away at the sea so much my dream of a sea swim quickly went out the window. I also spotted enough large red jellyfish on our paddle to put me off a dip that day.

So – we set up camp, boiled up some water for cups of tea, changed into dry kit and had a wander around our highland residence of paradise. We found lots of small caves hidden among the vegetation that were piled with remains of old camping kit; sleeping bags, tanks of gas, glass bottles and clothing. Strange and creepy, and enough to stop me entering the caves for further investigation.

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So what happened for the rest of the night? Not very much – read books, scribbled in my sketchbook, heated up some soup for dinner… got cosy! I played with my camera for a while hoping that I would spot an otter on night watch… but that didn’t happen. My mum and I had a good catch up since we don’t get to see each other that often anymore, which was really nice because if we were in the house we would probably be watching a box set or something instead. I wrote some short stories in my notebook and eventually fell asleep (kind of).

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When I woke up, I was cold, damp and desperate to get home. My frustration with Scottish weather consumed me for about an hour until I got back into the kayak and started to paddle home; and it all disappeared. I felt so happy, grinning from ear to ear – I felt like I’d been on the biggest adventure with my mum.

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We didn’t wait for good weather, or let the depressing appearance of dark cloud put us off. I think every single time I go off to do something a little bit wild, there is always a moment when I think I’d rather be at home nice and warm. But these wild and crazy experiences are the best, they’re the days I never forget and I can tell everyone about that time I thought sleeping in a hammock in strong winds and torrential rain was a good idea. Well, I ALWAYS come home happy, and am very appreciative of a mug of tea and a good sleep. I think that speaks wonders.

Thanks for reading – keep up with all my recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Rona x

 

Sailing Jolanda

I AM HOME – phew. As many of you may know (due to an overkill of instagam stories) I have been away sailing in the English Channel for the last 10 days. I am suitably windswept and windburnt to call myself a yachty now… although I’m not sure that’s really a trend I want to keep up. But it was fun while it lasted all the same.

So, how did I become so lucky to hang around on a beauty of a yacht all week? Its nothing more glamourous than I tagged along with my Dad and step Mum while they were down there sailing – I guess they wanted a galley gal to come and make cups of tea, pour them gin and cook the occasional dinner. Which I’m happy with if I get to sail around the tropical coast of Cornwall for a few days.

When I first arrived the boat was tied up in Plymouth and with me came the rain, thunder, general horrible stormy weather. It’s a reoccurring theme, I’m the barer of bad weather. So it was lock down for the first few days of the trip, sorry fellow crew members. Time was well spent with lots of reading – I got through three books, yes THREE whole books. Which is more than I usually manage in a year. And lots of eating, cinema trips and wandering around chandleries for hours… and hours.

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Would recommend!

Anyway – once the weather unraveled a bit we hoisted the sails and set off along the Cornish coast. Regrettably I didn’t document the whole trip, because my phone and camera kept running out of battery – no power at sea, you see! But I got a few snaps along the way.

Our first voyage took us west from Plymouth to explore all the little bays along the coast line. Bit bobby for the first few hours, gusting winds of 35-40knots and 3-4m swell – annoyingly waves NEVER look big in a photograph and I’m made out to be a drama queen. But they were big, and it was exciting!

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The sun eventually made a debut at Cawsand which is situated on the Rame Peninsula – a very pretty higglety pigglety town on the rocks. And I got my first swim of the trip – water temp was an unbelievable 16°. I could’ve stayed in all day.

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We got a nice gentle breeze to take us down to Salcombe in South Devon where we moored up for a few days. Salcombe seemed to be a bit of a holiday hot spot for yachts, we had a different boat rafted up next to us every night – so a pretty good turn around on the neighbour front. This provided endless entertainment of rope faffing, fender fails and a few slip and slides. Much like when you’ve pitched your tent in a campsite and your evening is filled with *as silent as possible* giggles as you watch people trickle in and struggle with guy lines and wind direction.

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Salcombe was really beautiful – heaps of small sandy beaches to explore, lovely water to swim in and the main street was full of posh shops… Musto, Henri Lloyd, Joules, Crew, Jack Wills yada, yada, yada. But the further I walked, the more interesting the shops became… and I stumbled across this beautiful shed with a guy making custom surfboards. If only I had a spare £1500! Oh, and there was a gin distillery… tried and tested, thumbs up for Salcombe Gin.

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Welcome to the galley. Saturday night menu, seafood spaggy with local muscles and prawns.

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Sundays are for scrubbing… galley gal turned mast cleaner. I’ve been itching to climb the mast for a bird’s eye view of Jolanda – so I sweetly offered to clean the cross tree which was all green and sad-looking. Sparkly clean yacht, and insta Dad was on hand to take some snaps of me while I was up there swinging around like a monkey.

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Meet Insta Dad/Captain.

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Sails up for the last wind of the week heading back to Plymouth to tie up – via my favourite bay at Rame Head for a dip to wash away the smell of five days at sea.

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The Cornish coast was absolutely beautiful and provided some fantastic weather – heading home with rose checks and secretly excited to get back to a drizzly Scotland… and a bed that doesn’t sway all night.

Thanks for being the best home at sea Jolanda. Until next time.

Bon voyage

R x

Keep up with future adventures  @ronamcmillan

 

 

TMF more than just a festival

Hands down, Tiree is my favourite of the Hebridean islands and also home to my favourite event of the year. Tiree Music Festival is a haven for Scottish trad music, supporting both new and established bands from all around the country. What’s really magical about this festival is the location; Tiree is a paradise of white sandy beaches with incredible surf, lush green fields and meadows of wild flowers. I heard so many people this year describe it as the ‘Hawaii of the North,’ and it’s true – Tiree really is an idyllic location whether festival-ing or not.

It is also a known fact that Tiree, along with its neighbouring island Coll receive more sunshine than anywhere else in the UK. Which I can vouch for 98% of the time – although with the sun comes immense wind, and since Tiree is extremely flat… temperatures don’t quite reach those of Hawaii. IMG_8766The adventure of TMF begins in Oban harbour, where hundreds of festival go-ers catch the 6.15am boat… only this year Callum and I missed the service update and turned up at 7.15am for the normal sailing (which was obviously canceled for the festival timetable) DOH! Luckily CalMac were running two boats that day, and we caught the second. IMG_2079Unlike most years, we are without the adventure camper van… so we hired a car from MacLennan Motors which worked out cheaper than taking our own car over… somehow! Tiree is deceivingly bigger than it looks on a map, so having either a bike or a car/van is really handy if you want to explore all its endless hidden gems.

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RIP Rusty – we miss you

Thursday night

We arrived on the late boat, pitched our tent and headed to Balevullin for some sunset steaks cooked on our super high-tech BBQ.

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Friday

Began with some coffees and cakes for breakfast from Yellow Hare on Scarnish Pier.IMG_2070Followed by half an hour of faffing with sim cards – incase you didn’t know signal is pants on the west coast… so we thought we’d swap to Vodafone for the weekend. Which worked well for signal, but 3G/4G was really just fakeG. IMG_2096We then ditched the car at Caolas and walked down to the beach that meets the Gunna Sound, as we were yet again in search of basking sharks… and the sound is known to be a hot spot for the sharks at this time of year.IMG_2100Our luck doesn’t seem to change with b sharks, so we were unsuccessful AGAIN. Even after sitting perched on a small rocky island between Coll and Tiree for an hour shark watching… or wave watching it turned out to be! IMG_7892IMG_2214So – in the afternoon we packed up the boards and drove back to west side of the island to our favourite free diving/snorkeling spot… this one is remaining unnamed im afraid since not many people seem to know about it… yet. Processed with VSCO with c7 presetThat evening we headed back to the festival, stalling to have some predrinks in the boot of our car… if that’s allowed? If not, this isn’t us… IMG_7639And that night we had tunes from Beinn Lee, Ho-RO and Trail West – among many many others. IMG_7659

Saturday

A wee bit hungover, so some animal therapy to cure the sore heads and a wander at a few beaches before a prolonged snooze in the car at Balevullin.IMG_7618_Facetune_13-07-2018-11-17-06IMG_7614IMG_7891IMG_7533IMG_8754SHOWERED and back in time for tunes from Rura and Skerryvore. S/O to Kirsty, Louisa, Rowen and Katherine for having us round to their house for bacon rolls and a shower – nothing like west coast hospitality! IMG_7746IMG_7727

Sunday

We drove down to Hynish for a wee swim and picnic before the madness of Sunday night began, and met a few bonnie coos on the way… IMG_7859IMG_8755…round three beginsIMG_7771_Facetune_15-07-2018-17-53-24IMG_7800Also, did I mention the food at TMF? What other festival serves champagne and oysters from Loch Fyne? SO GOOD!  IMG_8756And for our Sunday sesh we had tunes from, Elephant Sessions and Skipinnish. What an incredible final night. IMG_7179

It gets better every year, and whatever the weather… we will see you next summer!

Rona and Callum X

@ronamcmillan

@ahoycallum