Travel

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits Previously, I’ve written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal. This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me! Introducing the seven second summits Alpinism author Jon Krakauer wrote in Into Thin Air (one of my favourite mountaineering books) that it would be a bigger challenge to climb the second-highest peak of each continent instead of the highest. An ob...

Real-life hobbit houses that you can actually stay in

As travellers turn to nature in a post-pandemic world, we share 10 real-life hobbit houses that offer the perfect retreat It’s said that humans are one of the most adaptable species on the planet. We have settled the High Arctic and explored the deep sea, making homes in the unlikeliest places. When circumstances change drastically, as they did in 2020, we are able to adapt rapidly to a new way of living. In fact, our collective slowdown last year was so profound, we saw immediate effects on the natural world.  These changes encouraged us to reflect on our way of life on an almost unprecedented scale with many of us vowing to live, eat and travel more sustainably once things returned to normal. Few of us are ready to give up luxury hotels altogether but more of us are opting for natur...

Winter hiking: 6 tips to get you started

Winter hiking without experience is taxing at best and lethal at worst. We share some tips to help you prepare properly Winter hiking is a polarising sport: some love it, others hate it. Too often, people have bad experiences not because they’re inherently resistant to cold, but because they’re under-prepared. They make not just basic mistakes like packing the wrong gear but also arrive mentally unprepared. It’s important to understand that winter hiking can be unnervingly different to its summertime equivalent: simple movement suddenly becomes difficult and skills you thought you’d mastered prove unreliable. Using your body efficiently needs more practice than you might suspect. Winter navigation can also be wildly different. When you can see nothing but the ground in front of you, i...

10 great outdoor destinations – and their British twins

From Alpine-esque peaks to Basque-country beauty, there’s a world’s worth of wonder right here at home It’s strange that in a place literally named ‘Great’, we the British like to self-deprecate. We as a nation tend to regard blind ambition and gaudy success with a sense of mild distaste. We value modesty and restraint and seldom shout about our strengths. It’s understandable then why so many of us forget the vast and varied beauty right here at home. From crisp mornings on snowy peaks to fiery sunsets in easy reach, Britain rivals some iconic outdoor destinations. Whether you opt for camping, glamping or holiday cottages in the UK, there’s a mini-adventure that will almost certainly surprise you. The hardest thing to do is choose. 1. Alpine views in the north of Wales Dramatic mountains a...

Drone etiquette: 10 dos and don’ts

Our guide to drone etiquette will help you secure your shot without endangering yourself or others Drone operators get a bad rep, arguably with good reason. Pre-pandemic, near-misses with planes more than tripled in two years while irresponsible operators risked lives, closed airports and stressed wildlife – all in pursuit of a video clip. We certainly understand the appeal. We’ve marvelled at sweeping shots of dazzling landscapes, but we’ve also seen the less palatable side of this lofty pursuit. We’ve seen operators get too close to people and animals and act inconsiderately in quiet places.  Our guide to drone etiquette will help you secure your shot without endangering yourself or others. 1. Know your drone When you first receive your drone, it can be tempting to unbox it and head...

Coast to Coast Walk tips: all you need to know

We’ve collated all our Coast to Coast Walk tips in a detailed Q&A-style guide to help you along this classic English journey I recently hiked England’s Coast to Coast Walk which crosses northern England from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. As the route practically passes my home in Richmond, I decided to walk the footpath twice and experience the celebrated trail in both directions. My journey took me from Richmond to Robin Hood’s Bay and back, and then from Richmond to St Bees and back again. In the process, I covered over 600km (373mi) and ascended 17,760m (58,270ft) – the equivalent of climbing Everest twice. [embedded content] One of the great things about the Coast to Coast Walk is that it does not need to be completed in one go. I met walkers who were hi...

Coast to Coast kit list: what’s in my backpack

Our Coast to Coast kit list includes everything you’ll need for this classic long-distance journey across northern England I recently returned from hiking England’s Coast to Coast Walk. The 302km (188mi) unofficial footpath traverses England from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. To help other trekkers get the balance right, I’ve put together my usual post-trip kit list of everything I packed. Where possible, I’ve linked to the gear I carried for reference. [embedded content] Coast to Coast kit list As I live on the trail, I chose to walk from my home in Richmond to Robin Hood’s Bay and back (seven days), and then from Richmond to St Bees and back again (13 days). By the time I got home, I had completed the trail twice, so have a fair idea of the kit requi...

Coast to Coast: walking across England twice

I finally got around to hiking England’s Coast to Coast Walk. Only, as the trail practically runs past my house, I did things a little differently Feeling restless after months under lockdown, and loosely inspired by Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, I decided to walk across England… twice. In Lee’s memoir, he walks out from his Cotswolds home and embarks on an epic foot journey that takes him across southern England to Spain where he spends a year tramping from the north to the south coast. In my case, travel restrictions meant I wouldn’t be heading for Spain, so I picked up the Coast to Coast trail that practically runs past my house. Determined to make a sizeable journey by foot alone, I walked the route twice. England’s Coast to Coast Walk Distance: 302km (188mi)...

Virgin peaks: the world’s unclimbed mountains

The world’s unclimbed mountains are the last great challenges in mountaineering. We look at the most coveted of these unconquered summits In early 2021, Nimsdai Purja and his team of Nepali climbers became the first to reach the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, in winter. K2 was the final 8,000m peak awaiting a winter ascent after Nanga Parbat – Pakistan’s “Killer Mountain” – was scaled in 2016. Some have claimed that overcoming K2 in winter was one of the last great challenges in mountaineering. Although this overlooks the world’s unclimbed mountains – peaks that have yet to be overcome at all, at any time of the year. As such, we look at the most coveted of these unconquered summits. Nimdai Purja Nimdai Purja climbed K2 in winter for the first time Where are the unclimb...

How to prevent and treat blisters when hiking

Don’t let blisters ruin your time in the outdoors. Our guide on how to prevent blisters and treat them will keep your feet trail happy Whether you’re an experienced trekker or a newcomer to the trails, you will invariably suffer from one of the most common hiking injuries. Therefore, we’ve put together a simple guide on how to prevent and treat blisters when hiking. How to prevent blisters When it comes to blisters, prevention is always better than a cure. Knowing how to prevent blisters will save you from those painful footsteps later on. What causes blisters? Blisters are actually part of the body’s healing process and develop to protect damaged skin and help it recover. They can be caused by allergies, skin conditions, burns or even insect stings and spider bites. But the most common ca...

Best mountaineering books: 25 great reads

Updated for 2021, we list the best mountaineering books ever written, drawing on accounts of world-class climbers in the harshest environments As I’ve mentioned many times before, my bookshelves are filled with tales of adventure travel, survival against the odds and obsessive searches. I’m an avid climber keen on winter mountaineering and wild camping so, naturally, mountaineering books take up a good chunk of space on my shelf. It would be easy to fill a list like this with narratives of Everest and K2 alone. With that in mind, I’ve tried to include a wider selection of accounts from a variety of mountains spanning a century of alpinism and mountaineering. Best mountaineering books Drawing on my personal favourites as well Amazon’s best-selling lists and Goodreads’ most popular book...

The travel that changed me: Tharik Hussain

Kia speaks to author Tharik Hussain and explains why his book about Muslim Europe is changing her thoughts about her own religion If I had read Minarets in the Mountains in my youth, I would have almost certainly felt differently about my religion. My parents were Bangladeshi immigrants to the UK and in an effort to cling on to their identity, followed a highly prescriptive version of Islam that wasn’t very much fun. Author Tharik Hussain Had I – or they – read a book like this, we might have felt more secure about our place in the world. The problem is, of course, a book like this did not exist until Tharik Hussain wrote it.  The author and travel writer has ​written several travel guides including Lonely Planet Saudi Arabia, which was shortlisted for a 2020 Travel Media Award. He is...