Hebridean Way #2: Claddach Kirkibost to Ardvourlie

If I had to pick a favourite day on the Hebridean Way, this would probably be it. Why? We had glorious weather (always a plus), and some of the best views – of both beaches and mountains – from the saddle yet.

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Hebridean Way #1: Vatersay to Claddach Kirkibost

Created in 2016, the Hebridean Way traverses the length of the Outer Hebrides, all the way from Vatersay, in the south, to the Butt of Lewis, at the northern tip. In a nutshell, it’s:

10 ISLANDS. 6 CAUSEWAYS. 2 FERRIES. 1 EPIC ADVENTURE.

It’s 297km/185 miles of pristine beaches, rugged mountains and open moorland. In many ways, it’s the perfect introduction to bikepacking: a relatively modest distance; stunning scenery; and not too remote if things go pear-shaped.

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Cycling the Highlands and Islands: Fort William to Vatersay

We arrived on the outskirts of Fort William late the previous evening, the last flickers of daylight fading as we pitched the tent by Loch Linnhe. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that water plus woodland means only one thing: being eaten alive by midges in the summer months. And so it was here: the ferocious little blighters were out in force. We slathered ourselves in Smidge, and retreated into the tent as quickly as possible. Time to catch a few hours’ shut eye ahead of our first day in the saddle.

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Two More Munros: Ben Vorlich and Stùc a’ Chroin

Sunshine? On a bank holiday? Well, it would’ve been rude not to head up to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs for a spot of Munro-bagging. Our targets: Ben Vorlich and Stùc a’ Chroin. (Confusingly, there are two Ben Vorlichs in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Here, I’m talking about the one located due south of Loch Earn.)

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John Muir Way: Edinburgh to North Berwick

Stretching from Helensburgh to Dunbar, the John Muir Way traverses countryside, cities and coastal towns. It’s 215km/134 miles in all, but with train stations at regular intervals along the route it’s easy to split up into shorter stretches if you only fancy a day in the saddle. We did just that, and cycled a small segment of the route from Edinburgh to North Berwick a couple of weekends ago.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Turnhouse Hill and Carnethy Hill

If you’re looking for a shorter hike with views on a par with those from Scald Law and the Kips, but without the crowds, Turnhouse Hill and Carnethy Hill should fit the bill. We made an early start, and for the second weekend on the trot the sun was shining. We followed a single track road beyond the car park for a short distance, and then veered off to the left to join the footpath (signposted Scald Law) which leads to Turnhouse Hill.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Scald Law and The Kips

Edinburgh is brimming with green spaces and hills, and the Pentland Hills Regional Park to the south of the city has quickly become one of my favourite places for a walk. Whether you fancy a short stroll or a longer hike that strings a few peaks together, you’ll find it here. With sunshine on the forecast for (some of) the Easter weekend, we opted for the latter. Scald Law, East Kip and West Kip (together, The Kips) can be done in one fell swoop, by tracing the ridge on the eastern edge of the park.

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Advent Windows

It’s December. On the quiet residential streets off Cambridge’s Mill Road, fairy lights twinkle in the windows.

So far, so ordinary.

Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see that these fairy lights frame festive scenes: nine ladies – their skirts delicate paper snowflakes – dancing; children ice-skating, snow swirling around them; a scene from The Nutcracker with the Mouse King holding his sword aloft; reindeer flying above King’s College Chapel.

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Exploring Wimpole Estate

Last week was emotionally draining. A trip to Wimpole Estate was the perfect pick-me-up; the tonic to flat-hunting tedium and work woes.

Ring, ring. Long time, no see, 07:15. We’d been hoping for a lie in, but the mid-morning slots had already filled up. We ended up booking our timed-entry tickets for 09:30-10:00. (Once you’re in, you’re free to stay until closing time.)

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Ready, Steady, Ride: Recent Bike Rides in East Anglia

When I first moved to Cambridge, I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I wobbled. I panicked. I fell off (more than once). I got back on again.

Fast-forward: it’s March 2020, and exercise is one of only four ‘reasonable excuses’ for leaving the house. Cambridge emptied: first of students, then of cars. Laurence and I couldn’t resist taking to the clear roads on our bikes. We’ve found new routes (some of which have become go-to rides), discovered picturesque villages and spotted adorable baby animals, clocking up 982km in the process.

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