Little Big Dreams List

‘Go now, live the dream, big adventures, no excuses’ these are headlines in The Adventure Travel magazine that I was reading whilst sat having my final, Devonshire lunch before the big move back up North (which is now two weeks ago and it has flown). But whilst sat there I had an overwhelming feeling of we have actually done just that, we dreamt, we did, we’ve done, no excuses! This got me thinking, when Stuart and I first met we had a list… some would call it a bucket list, a to-do list, a travel list or even quite simply a date ideas list. Over the past four years we have ticked off a substantial number of trips, places and activities and it is these lists and ideas that have driven us to the adventures we have taken, from something as small as a date day to Yorkshire wildlife park to the more epic dream of let’s be outdoor instructors!

We have spent the past year blogging what we have done but maybe now is the time for a little insight into to what drives us; from the small tasks to the big ventures..

So here it is.. our ‘little big dream list’

  • Make curtains for the camper.. (which don’t fall off every time you close them..)
  • Walk the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye
  • Hike and kayak the Norwegian Fjords
  • Climb Cneifen Arete in Snowdonia
  • Run a small expedition to the Wicklow Mountains
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Be so successful we require a second van for life on the road
  • Reach 100+ likes on Facebook (only 2 away!)
  • Become Duke of Edinburgh providers so we can run expeditions for schools independently

For us, our experiences push our limits and deliver constant learning. This helps to set up new adventures for you and provides knowledge which we can pass onto everyone we have the opportunity to work with.

We will always have a dream list and where possible we would like to help with yours… so grab a pen and get making your ‘little big dream list’.

If you comment on this blog with your next little or big dream adventure we will give you a 10% discount on any future guided walk with us!

The End Of The Beginning

That moment arrived. That moment happened and that moment with a blink of eye.. passed. That moment when everything we have worked our butts off for came to a close. A mighty successful close might I add! This past week has been the crowning moment that Stuart and I become real life, actually qualified, fully responsible for actual people; Mountain Leaders!

You may have noticed from the safety of your office, the cosiness of your sofa or from behind the speeding wipers on your car that this last week has in fact been a rather soggy one and the thought may well have crossed your mind ‘thank goodness I’m not out in that blummin awful weather’ well, that’s exactly where we were. The aftermath of storm Harvey and hurricane Irma found us across the atlantic, in the high hills of Wales. Being able to successfully reach our designated navigation points through fog, 40+mph winds and hail made the pass even more special. It was no easy ride that’s for sure, as if the pressure of navigating was not enough we were grilled on our local flora and fauna knowledge and expected to hold a conversation too… the art of multitasking was a high priority!

We also completed a two day expedition, which, by now, packing for has simply become second nature, however, a fundamental item was missing from both our bags… gloves.. the fear for frost nip was real! My hands have never been so cold and consequently setting up safety ropes proved tricky but we were not reprimanded for it, we just had to reassure our assessor that we have learnt and we won’t be forgetting them, again.. ever! The feedback gained from the assessors was uplifting and a huge relief. Although, the assessments for the week did not end there..

We finished the expedition, had our debrief, indulged in a subway sandwich and set off to our next meeting. A two day selection course to become overseas expedition leaders (you know us, we are not ones to hang about and twiddle our thumbs) another successful couple of days; we are pleased to announce that we have been accepted and will be assigned on expeditions in 2018.. watch this space for where in the world we end up… Botswana..India.. Costa Rica.. to name a few..

Where would be on your bucket list? Have you been to any of the above? I would love to hear your thoughts…

But before all of this.. Our focus will be returning North to get Take 2 Adventure up and running but for this we need you lovely people!!

We have our guided walk up Kinder Scout in the Peak District in October! If your name isn’t down.. then why not?! Sign up today.. via our guided walks page.

We are also excited to announce that we will be running our very first ‘Irish Escape’.. a few days exploring, walking and relaxing in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains!

More information will be issued in the next few weeks but why not email me to register your interest, so to not miss the updates, as places will be limited.

See you all soooon

Laura

Take2adventure@gmail.com

What’s In Store For Take2Adventure?!

Nearly a year ago myself and Laura made a big life decision, to leave our jobs, our house and friends and family to embark on a year’s training programme to become Outdoor Adventure Instructors.  Now as our year closes to an end at Dynamic Adventures and we put the last finishing touches on our portfolio of qualifications we can start looking to future endeavours.

Take2Adventure emerged through our passion to try new and exciting adventures and to not be afraid to try again if things go wrong. We are very excited to be able to start pursuing our dreams  and offering events and activities for all.

We already have two guided walks in place for October 2017 with people signed up but we still want to fill more places! So if you are reading this and not booked on make sure you check it out on the Walk With Us page.

2018 will be a big year for Take2Adventure, there will be challenge walks, night hikes and week long expeditions added to our adventure list. We will be working with schools to get children involved with the Duke of Edinburgh awards and we have hopes to offer exciting activities for primary schools. Our belief isn’t to repeat events very often so if you see something you like, book on, it might not happen again!  

We are also on the hunt for small businesses to launch our corporate section, so if you know anyone or own a business yourself then get in touch to see what we can offer. From adventurous team building days to events and challenges we will make it a day to remember!

Over the years we have been really well supported by family and friends and we are taking this ethos with us into our business. So for anyone who signs up to follow our blog/website you will be in for a treat! There will be updates on events, challenges and adventures, but most importantly you will receive exclusive discount deals for Take2Adventure! You will not get spammed!! To follow us just scroll to the bottom of our page and enter your email address.

We look forward to getting more and more of you involved in the great outdoors!

 

Keeping Our Fingers Crossed

Today we embark on yet another adventure, yes another hiking adventure. This one, however, could be slightly more epic than our last few. As this expedition will not be in the UK but instead we will be travelling further afield. We will be flying out to Geneva to take on the Tour de Mont Blanc (well half of it at least) we will be starting in Chamonix, then hiking through three countries; France, Switzerland and finishing in Cormayeur, Italy.

UTMB

This expedition is not for our own personal enjoyment (albeit a perk of the job) we will be sharing our experiences with a group of 16-17 year olds, who we will be assessing, as this epic expedition is the final part of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

I love the outdoors. I love the views. I love the physical challenge (most of the time) I love the experience of exploration but I’m only human I do love a bit of sunshine.. however, after checking the forecast it looks like we are in for an epically interesting, potentially very soggy week..

So we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed the weather people have got it wrong.. and you guys can keep your eyes out for a few photos updates.

Catch up next week.

A Heat Wave In Scotland!

A heat wave in Scotland?? Who would have thought it.. but better still we were there for it and what an awesome week it was!

We spent four and a half days hiking the Cairngorm hills, sleeping in truly Scottish bothies, wild camping by the side of stunning lochs, basking in the glorious sunshine and meeting some wonderfully interesting people, all of whom helped make our adventure that bit more special with sneaky tips of cool places to go and advice on where to stay. You just can’t beat a bit of local knowledge and a shared passion for the wilderness.

Below is a short video of our trip, we hope you enjoy it.

The Cairngorms Adventure

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Fiacaill Ridge, Cairngorms

 

Learning

Going through school, college and university I was always more of a ‘do-er’ preferring to be more ‘hands on’. This is why I enjoyed sports so much, it was more a challenge physically and it suited me more than the classroom. I never struggled academically, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as being involved in sports and outdoors, I did the bare minimum to scrape through. I was bored of being told about what to learn and what to read, it wasn’t how I learnt best, I wanted to ‘do’! So I never imagined a life outside of sports or fitness, as it was all I really knew and the only thing that got me anywhere.

But over the years I gradually started to be pulled in a different direction. Leaving for America when I was 18 was a pivotal point, it opened my eyes to a whole different world. I had been to many amazing and adventurous places with my family on summer holidays, but now, being completely on my own, the adventure buzz hit me. I could go and do whatever I wanted. I loved it. This was where my travel addiction and desire to try new things really kicked off.

Fast forward 10 years, you’ll see someone who loves to learn! My brain is a sponge and I can’t learn quick enough! I have found my passion beyond sports and I want to become the best I can and know all there is to know about the world of outdoor adventure. I have found the perfect balance between learning and doing, where it takes time to hone your skills and develop but I can also tailor my learning to suit my interests.

Where am I going with this?! Well, I want you to realise that it is never too late to learn and try something new. You don’t know what you are capable of until you try and trust me, the pride and achievement you will feel whether you are successful or not will get you hooked. Whether it is learning to play an instrument or how to bake a cake, it doesn’t matter, you will have gained knowledge and improved your life skills. Learning is continual. Never stop.

We had the opportunity this weekend to demonstrate that learning new skills doesn’t just come from the classroom. We assisted a group of kids on Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award to learn through experience and activity. The three day expedition was all about finding the right balance within the group and managing the team. They put themselves out there to try something new, granted some of them hated every minute but they completed it and showed true grit and determination. Others who did not find it physically challenging had to learn how to become a positive team leader and motivate themselves and others, which is by no means an easy task. All in all they all came away having learned valuable life skills.

Now hopefully, in the near future you will join Take2Adventure and let us teach you new skills and techniques to help you lead a more adventurous life! From October we will be offering the opportunity for you and your friends or family to come and take part in events where you can learn a variety of skills. Some of these will be;

  • Day and weekend walks in major national parks where you can refresh and learn new navigation skills, learn how to stay safe in the hills and be introduced to some amazing views
  • Wild camping trips; teaching you about camp craft, navigation, and finding secluded spots
  • Rock climbing days teaching you how to climb and belay and stay safe at the crag
  • Adventure weekends where you can choose from many activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and paddling.

Sign up to our email list to make sure you get informed first when we release our events calendar.

What Is An Adventure?

I am sure many of you have been on amazing adventures and have plenty of stories to go with them but what exactly constitutes an adventure? The dictionary explains it in numerous ways, from “an exciting or very unusual experience” to “a bold, usually risky, hazardous action of uncertain outcome!”

Some of you may need that element of danger, others a physical challenge but the beauty is, the definition of adventure will vary from person to person. We are all different and what may be an adventure to me could just be a normal day for you!

As we are “Take2Adventure”, we thought we would let you in on our personal belief of an adventure;

“Adventure should be a challenge outside of your comfort zone where you are opened up to new experiences .”

We strongly believe that by doing this, you will inspire and motivate yourself and others to find the beauty within our world and by doing so creating lasting memories of happiness.

Just remember, it doesn’t have to be an epic trip away or a dangerous pursuit, adventure is found in everyday moments, both in the new and the old. By looking at things differently and seeing others perspectives you can find true adventure.

As you are reading this you may be thinking, “he hasn’t mentioned the great outdoors!” This is because the great outdoors can be just one form of adventure, there are many, many more! Converting a van, renovating a house, raising a family or changing jobs are all ways of experiencing adventures!

We will soon be creating micro-adventures and events, so you too can join us in experiencing new places and challenges.

FEAR

Laura here, I thought I’d entertain with my adventures for the week so far..

So, last week’s canoe experience of the pesky drop off was not a one time thing, thankfully no panic scream was heard and the sizeable drop off was not so sizeable as the water level was slightly lower but do not let this fool you, the weir still meant mean business but did I fear it, no, I knew the line I needed to take. I had a strange sense of confidence (was I looking forward to the challenge? I think so.. Who am I and where is the usual ‘me’..)

All I had to do was keep the line. Focus ahead and paddle paddle PADDLE. I had this! Let’s gooooooo!

Fear is strange beast. Nobody ever really speaks freely of their fears. Whether this is a new age perception that showing fear represents signs of weakness but this is not the case. We all recognise fear; we hear it, we see it, we feel it. It creeps in from the sidelines, it cramps my style when perfecting new skills and sometimes it presents itself like ‘BAM! Here I am. I see danger. Get ready for a world of uncontrollable panic’ the danger that fear sees is often only perceived in your minds eye but that does not deflect the body’s responses, it can hinder the most logical of thinkers and can make the simplest of tasks appear massively challenging. Fear is hard to shake but to avoid is not the answer. However, having said all that… Fear found me!

False Evidence Appearing Real. Isn’t that what they say… But telling my brain that whilst I’m trapped in the air pocket of my upturned canoe, being whisked down rapids and bouncing off the rocks was no easy task and it felt bloody real to me!

Luckily, the body works in wonderful ways and adrenaline came along for the ride. After regaining a small amount of composure, air in to my lungs and accepting the disappointing factor that I am in fact in the water instead of on it. I forced myself out from under the canoe, only to be bashed between rock and canoe. Rightly or wrongly I kept hold of the canoe, however, what I failed to establish was that if holding the canoe hinders my safety.. Get rid of the sodding canoe! However, in true Laura fashion I thought more of the boat than I did myself, that was until I took a big hit to my back and I finally thought, sod the boat! Swim! At this point, Katie, my instructor was yelling the same thing, as she tossed me the throw line (Jess you would have been proud, perfect throw.. And catch of course) I was safe!!

Amidst all the chaos, it turns out I still could not let go of the that flippin’ canoe, ever responsible as I am, I had the painter (the canoe’s tow /safety rope) in my trembling hand! The force of the river had subsided the further down I had been swept, so with shaky legs on dry land we were able to haul the canoe up the bank to empty it, find my paddle (which had luckily been caught downstream) and with nothing else for it I got back in my canoe and straight back on to the river to join the rest of the gang, who, unfortunately had missed the whole thing as they were tucked safely around the bend!

So, an action packed day down here in Devon! Am I glad I took the plunge (literally)? Of course. Did it scare the life out of me? Of course. Would I do it again? Of course. (Attempting the weir… Going in the water I will obviously do my best to avoid) For me, it’s about gaining the ability to conquer a small challenge (or in this case quite a hefty challenge) and in doing so gain a fractional amount of self-confidence and satisfaction. Doing one thing every day that scares you is not about the outcome, it’s about the process. I cannot avoid the fear but I can face it, fight it and succeed! I may have ended up in the river, not part of the plan, but my success was handling the situation well and hey, next time fingers crossed I’ll stay dry! 😊

What Have We Been Upto Lately?

Poland has become somewhat of a distant memory, months seem to have passed since we were throwing ourselves down snowy slopes with just an ice axe for a rescue and trekking with crampons on the high ridgelines. But, in reality it’s only been 3 weeks!

Caving: The before.. And after shots
After a couple of days unpacking and recovering from skiing, sledging and ice axe related injuries we were straight back into our training. We spent a week at the centre doing a bit of white water kayaking, caving, night navigation techniques and honing our climbing and abseil set-ups. With that quick breather over it was time to pack our bags and head back out again, the Brecon Beacons were our destination this time.

Another week long expedition saw us out in all types of weather (mainly fog!) practicing our leadership skills on the mountains.

A very foggy Pen Y Fan summit
As always the fog made things a lot harder, our navigation was put to the test when we had a simulated search and rescue scenario to find the crash site of the Wellington Bomber MF509 that came down at Carreg Goch. We nailed it first time and then learnt some interesting history. The mountains are full of tales! You can read more about this crash at:
www.adventurebritain.com

After 5 windy, soggy, foggy, wet days and accumulating nearly 80km of walking we headed back for another well earnt rest, once again, to allow sore feet, shoulders and backs to recover!

But two days passed in a flash and before we knew it we were off again for two days training for our Climbing Wall and Abseil Award.

Practicing some lead climbing
Here we learnt the skills and techniques to safely teach and instruct people to climb on indoor walls. We went into this course confident as our awesome instructors at Dynamic Adventures had covered all the aspects with us already, but it is always a good thing to go and revisit and practice those skills. We now have to assist and lead climbing sessions over the next few months before we go back for our assessment. However, with Laura and I being who we are, we already have our eyes set on bigger things…outdoor climbing! The weather is almost ready for us to get out there and touch real rock!

We recently had our first experience of solo canoeing (14-16ft canadian canoes) on grade 2-3 white water, and in true Dynamic form we went out as Storm Doris hit! Strong winds and a fast flow made it an adventure and a big learning curve. Luckily there was no capsizing but a nice panic scream from Laura as she took the wrong line down a sizable drop off! All in all though it was fun…it wouldn’t be an adventure if something didn’t go slightly off plan!!

In other news, our van conversion is coming along nicely and is very close to been fully ready for an epic adventure, all we need is some spare time!!

The bed… Just awaiting the mattress 👍🏻
After attending the Banff Adventure Film Festival UK tour we have been inspired to get out there and explore more! But, one adventure at a time, for now!!

Poland. Thank You. What A Week We Have Had!

I cannot speak for Stuart but I went with no real expectations for the trip, having never visited any parts of Eastern Europe before. All I knew was that we were going to learn and practice winter skills, therefore, it would be cold and snowy. However, what I experienced was above and beyond anything I could have anticipated. Not only was it nowhere near as cold as I had planned for but we were lucky enough to be welcomed with clear, blue skies and sunshine everyday! Perfect conditions to explore the mountains.

Poland, for many, may be associated with the traditional cities and buildings, the brutal history surrounding the war or quite simply the infamous Polish vodka but even so, it remains slightly off the beaten track as a holidaying and travel destination. I, however, can confirm that Poland has so much more to offer, a beautifully diverse and culturally rich country.

  

We were based in Southern Poland, in the Christmassy alpine town of Zakopane, perfectly located at the the base of the Tatra Mountains, the ridge line provides a natural border between Poland and Slovakia. The large wooden, snow-laden lodges lined the streets with twinkling lights draped around windows and over verandas, the click clack of horse hooves and the jingle of bells on the horse drawn sleighs, as they transported both locals and tourists through the town, created a truly magical feel. The smell of warm, sweet waffles, mulled wine and mulled beer (an acquired taste) filled the air and vendors lined the streets selling the traditional Polish Oscypek (baked smoked cheese).


Our home for the week was just out of the town, in what was advertised as an apartment to accommodate twelve.. There were nine of us in total so there should be plenty of space, yes? Wrong. There were only two bedrooms and only four beds.. Leaving two sleeping on the sofa in the only living area and one on the floor of our room. Luckily we are all pretty adaptable and with the week’s activities being quite hectic, I think we were all ready to sleep wherever we landed. Accommodation hiccup aside the week was amazing!

We spent a day learning ice axe arrests… Which, put simply consisted of us throwing ourselves down a snow slope on the side of a mountain and making sure we stopped correctly and efficiently using our ice axe… Easier said than done… Actually making the move to intentionally slide yourself down a mountain is really quite tricky and going head first on your back was particularly difficult. Yet, after a slight tumble and a second attempt to get the axe to hold, I stopped. Only to then trudge back up the hill to try again. Stuart on the other hand had no fear, committing to the cause and launching himself down, he slid with some speed but also stopped perfectly every time! You may be wondering why we need to learn how to stop ourselves using an ice axe? Are we really putting ourselves in situations where we need to know that skill? Well, yes, we will be in those situations and in fact all too soon for Stuart. On day three we spent the day on a glorious ridge walk, all geared up with helmet, ice axe and crampons; amazing invention, which make walking through snow a total breeze (unless you get the spike caught in the bottom of your trousers…. This is not ideal) unfortunately for Stuart he did just that and slipped off the ridge path, I won’t lie my heart stopped for a split second but he caught himself nearly as soon as he fell.. Phew!!!



The activities continued for the rest of the week, we snow shoed through forests, a harder workout than anticipated and sledged down every path and hill available. We also had the chance to hit the slopes and learn/practice our skiing skills. Somehow having been the only one to have skied before, I became Stuart’s mentor, the comparison to Melman the Giraffe from the film Madagascar was quite accurate, arms and legs everywhere and my apprehension for how the day would progress increased but in true Stuart fashion he got stuck straight in and went big, hitting the main slope after only 1-2 hours and he smashed it.. Forget snow plough straight in to parallel turns, not bad for a beginner! Yet another skill to add to our ever increasing repertoire!


To conclude, Poland has it all! Beautiful mountains, spectacular views and diverse culture. As well as activities to suit everyone; from the bold adventurer to the avid skier and I haven’t even mentioned that Zakopane is a thermal spa town, which makes for the perfect way to relax after all that adventuring 😉