September is here..!

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The evenings are getting shorter and the darkness falls quick. But it does not stop me from getting out and about on the hills of Wicklow. Got this shot the other evening being out doing our navigation practice in the woods. Got to this open area and the mist was sitting low and could not resist taking a snap.

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The autumn is the season having the most gorgeous colours, I love the contrast between the red berries, the green leaves and the brick wall in the background in this photo.

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A couple weeks ago I was out on the hills with some people marshalling at a charity race, and being out and about you get to see things like this. We had rain clouds coming from one side and the sun was setting on the other and the heather is so gorgeous this year. I love the purplish ‘carpet’ covering the grounds. And to tell you the truth the heather is a great cushion while doing the bivvy at night. Yep, have actually slept outside up on those hills. The experience is interesting, but have to say that I cannot wait til all the midges are gone. They have been really annoying this year.

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This picture was taken while heading out on one of the bivvy nights. This is taken standing above the Miners Village in Glendalough, after walking up the zig-zags (as we call it) and the lake in the background is the Upper Lake. It was a lung buster getting up here I have to admit. I love this place, and once you get up a bit you get a different perspective of the surroundings. On the way up here we came across a few deers that were looking at us like we were some ‘out from space’ creatures.

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Well, this is not the best picture but as close as I could get in these circumstances. It is quite rewarding when you see things like this, makes it worth while getting out. We were from here navigating up to the spot where we should stay for the night. The forecast was rain in early morning, but in fact we were very lucky. There was no rainfall during the night which you can imagine felt good. But, we woke to a huge mist coming over us so we had to raise early, get our gear together and start our trek back to base.

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The mist lifted once we got a bit lower, but then the rain started to drizzle and it got real wet. But still, look at this view, isn’t is gorgeous? No matter when you’re out on these mountains/hills it is just as beautiful (in my opinion). This was Saturday morning at around 6.30 a.m. and it turned out to be a very busy day, so was up and down the hills in various locations.

As you can see our backpacks were pretty big and might seem heavy, but it was not so bad. You need to be clever when packing for a night out, and not pack things you absolutely won’t be needing. Keep it to the minimum, but be safe.

  • Sleeping bag – in the Wicklow mountains you’ll need a warm one.
  • Bivvy bag to put outside your sleeping bag.
  • Extra warm change of clothes
  • Food and snacks, water
  • Ground mat
  • Stove (if you have one) if not, there’s always someone in the group that has one.
  • Plastic bags to keep your backpack dry and your boots.
  • Storm shelter to cover your equipment, also good to get under to get changed for ‘bed’. (this should ALWAYS be in your bag).
  • All your other outdoor necessities; map, compass, head torch plus spare batteries, hat, gloves, buffs, first aid kit, waterproof trousers and jacket, etc.
  • Basically, think ahead and be prepared for the unexpected, without packing too much because you have to carry all the stuff all the way – and rain and mist comes in quickly at times.

 

Enjoy your time on the Hills!

Summer travels part 3

On Thursday morning we started our long journey from Oslo over to Stavanger. It is somewhat 485km, so we better start driving. We got off to a good start with nice motorways and fine roads. I was the designated driver for the day, so that himself could relax and have a look around at the landscape and other things that we were driving by. One thing that we noticed is, that there is a lot of tunnels in Norway. Why you may wonder, and the reason is that there are quite a lot of hills and rocky mountains. And rather than driving up and down these hills/mountains, they have built tunnels that goes through instead. The first 250 km or so went smooth, but then when we were getting closer to Kristiansand, there were roadworks (of course), and the traffic slowed down to 50-60 km/h. So, that made our travel time a little bit longer, that Google maps hadn’t taking in to consideration giving the total travel time LOL!

We were driving quite a long time before we came onto better roads again. But, the speed limit was pendling between 50 to 80 km/h due to very bendy roads and at some places narrow. And the tunnels!!! Gosh, I completely lost counting of them all. Beside me himself were doing a lot of oh’s and ah’s and snapping like mad with his camera. The truth is that driving through Norway has that effect on you. Because no matter where you go, there’s always something spectacular showing up. You can drive through a tunnel, and when you come out on the other side you are greeted by a view that simply take your breath away. I have said it many times, and will say it again – Norway is one of my favourite countries, the landscape is fabulous! With all the hills, mountains and the fjords!! Absolutely AWESOME!

Anyway, when we had been driving for a good while and still had some two hours left til our destination Stavanger. This view came into play, we simply had to stop to take some snap, I did not care about the driving time. At this stage we had been on the roads for some 7 hours. But close to 9PM we finally arrived to our destination and the hotel we would be staying at for some nights.

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Stavanger is the capital of oil and is located on the south west coast of Norway. It is a typical harbour town, with beautiful buildings as you see in this photo. And, most of the houses were made in wood and the design was very interesting. I can say that I fell in love with this town, and it is here all the seriously gorgeous fjords starts. On our second day we went out on a boat trip up to Lysefjorden which was an hour away by boat. Lysefjorden is 42 km long but we would only travel 15 km in.

Norway is a big Viking country, many viking kings were from here and lived here. And you can get the idea when looking at the pictures above, there is a lot of water and those high cliffs are just amazing. All along the fjord the cliff raised some 1000m, it was absolutely fantastic. The landscape is very dramatic, and if you look into the horizon, there are layers upon layers of mountains, and they sort of differ in colour. From being darker in the foreground, and becoming more shady/smokey as further you see. The boat took us all into the cliff walls, and they played (at a few places) beautiful music by Edvard Grieg, he has written some beautiful classical music. And the music made the places even more dramatic, and there was an echo going around the high walls.

We made an interesting visit to some friends that were standing at the shore waiting for us, there were a few goats being at the green hills that were close to the water. We drove all the way in to say hello, and the crew threw some carrots to them which they happily accepted. The boat took us some 15 km in the fjord itself until we reached a waterfall that were cascading water out from the cliffs and the sound was defening but so beautiful. The boat drove us all the way into it, and it was just aaaaaa….so beautiful! We eventually arrived back into the harbour again to continue our sightseeing through the town.

One thing though, in Norway everything is ferosiously expensive, but it was worth it.  In my next post I will write about our journey back to the east coast again, it was the journey of our lives, so stay tuned…!

~A happy traveller~

 

The wild Mountains

Recently I have been out on a challenging walk through rougher terrains of the Wicklow mountains. A few of us were out doing a walk. We walked a part which took us over very rough terrain, with wet grounds, rough bog areas and mist. I knew from the start that this would be a long day’s walk, and prepared myself by starting out eating a good breakfast. Packing my provisions I would need during the day, to refill your energy depots are extremely important while doing the hill walks. I always carry raisins/sultanas, chocolate and snack bars in my “food bag” along with some lunch which usually is wraps that I prepare before heading out.

To chose the right gear is essential, and always be prepared for the worst, anything can happen while your out there. It can be nice weather when you start walking, but it can change very quickly once you get up a bit higher. The air gets cooler and you are facing stronger winds and many times mist/fog which makes the visibility limited. And this particular morning it started out pretty good on the lower grounds, but once we started to get up a bit higher we were facing the mist and cold air. The climb up towards Art’s Cross was the toughest part, because it was quite steep and you had to take it very slow and easy while climbing up. The ground was extremely wet and mucky, so it was quite slippery.

This day we were walking some 17 km and it took us in total seven hours.

When we were out on the flat area working our way back, we came across a pack of deer, there is a lot of them around the mountains. Luckily for us, that the fog had lifted otherwise we would not be able to have such clear sight as we had here. The deer’s were gorgeous as you can see in these photos. We stopped and were quiet not to disturb them too much, they eventually ran off  and we could continue our journey over the bog.

So you can see from these photos, that the grounds we were walking were not even, you had to be really careful and look where you put your feet. My advise is to always wear a good pair of boots with good ankle support, to help you feel more comfortable. And gaiters is always good to wear to prevent muck and wet get into your shoes and it also keeps the lower part of your trousers clean. I made a few jumps over the bog where I landed with one foot, and I could hear a ‘swomp’ and my foot went down a few inches in the muck. This happened a few times on this walk, but thanks to my good choice of gear my feet were warm and dry when I got home as well as my lower legs. However there were a few times I had to make a bum slide to be able to get down from a high sloop where it was wee too high to make a jump. But that comes with the work as they say.

Here are a few more picture, that will give you an idea of the area we walked. The views are always spectacular, even on a grayish day like this.

I have been resting for a few days this week and will be heading out on the hills again on Saturday, to a different part of Wicklow Mountains. This time we will walk down in the Glenmalure area which is south west from Glendalough.

I will be back with more updates next week. It is getting closer to Christmas and hope that you are all prepared to enjoy this holiday season.

Well, week three has now been completed and it was not too bad. I arrived here in Stockholm on Sunday a week ago, and when arriving at the hotel and seeing my room, I felt ah – I like this place, the room were less sterile in a way. This hotel is an older building and I think it use to be some sort of military house previously. You can sort of tell by the design and how it looks.

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Being here in Sweden makes it a bit easier of course,  I can speak my native language, navigate well in the city etc. But, after three weeks I am starting to get a bit home-sick, but am trying to make the most of my stay here. Today, Saturday, I got up early and went into the city to walk around in my favorite part of Stockholm city, the Old city or as we say Gamla Stan. It’s an old part of the city [hence the name] beside and around the royal castle.

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I love these buildings at Stortoget, it’s an open square covered in cobble stones and there’s a big sort of statue thingy in the middle, you have the nobel museum there and some restaurants. I was out walking at 9.30am this morning and did cover some distance. It’s nice when you get to a place that you are familiar with, you know the places to go to, the coffee places etc. I started at a coffee place called Gråmunken [the Gray Monk] where I had a coffee and a cinnamon bun [of course]. The way they make coffee here is just amazing, you always get your caffee latte served in a glass, and the coffee tastes so much stronger and nice.

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This is how a typical Swedish cinnamon bun looks like and they are absolutely gorgeous.

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Here is Stadshuset, Stockholm City Hall, and if you look at the top of the tower you’ll see the typical Three Crowns, that is the national sign for Sweden. The Three Crowns. And if you are a fan of ice hockey, you might have heard the name of the Swedish national team, they are called Three Crowns, mainly because they have the symbol on their jersey’s.

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I was amazed to see that this old telephone booth still stood there, these were very common in the past along the streets. But as far as I know there is only one left, I did not come across others during my walk today.

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This is the narrowest “street” in Gamla stan, Mårten Trotzigs Gränd it’s called, and not sure if it’s correct to call it a street, it’s only a narrow step between two buildings.And as you can imagine, the old city is sort of built on a hilly place, there are steep streets, steps and you can spend hours just walking around between the houses. I love these narrow streets and almost all of them are covered with cobble stones.

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There is one street here that is sort of the main street, the side of the street is covered with swedish gift shops, design boutiques, coffee places and restaurants. I try to avoid this street even though I enjoy walking among the people here funnily enough. I try to avoid crowds, but in a city with a lot of tourists it is hard. But, I did find some streets that was very quiet, like the ones on the pictures above. And after six hours of non-stop walking I felt it was time to head back to the hotel to take some rest and prepare myself for my next journey, which will take me to Oslo in Norway. This time I will travel by train and that should be interesting I would think. Oslo, will be my last stop before I finally head back to Ireland and normality again. And as much as I love travelling, being on a business trip is a lot different from doing a leisure trip I tell you that much.

I will be back next week for another update, then from a snowy [I think] Oslo.