“Life is an adventure, it’s not a package tour.” – Eckhart Tolle.
It’s far too easy these days to choose a travel company and walk away with a catered holiday. Every eventuality is laid out in front of you and you are no longer encouraged to stray, alter or be challenged. Sometimes it’s best to mix things up, by either trying new things or looking at existing ones from a different angle. If you make sure homework is done and planning is made, you will find yourself with a proper adventure on your hands.
In a new two-part (mini) blog series, Aspire have compiled and collected a handful of adventures for each season of the year.
PART ONE: Inter-seasons
Spring and autumn are the seasons in which nature is at its most active, they bridge the gap between the hot and the cold, prompting both wildlife and scenery to go through drastic change. Being able to witness this is a joy alone, but even better experienced alongside outdoor pursuits. You may end up with unpredictable weather and subsequently varied conditions, but no matter which side of summer you’re on, you’re bound to have a good time.
Running the Tour du Mont Blanc – France
As the first of the milder weather systems start hitting the Alps, Mont Blanc quickly becomes a hot spot for summer alpine pursuits. Mountain biking and hiking trails thaw and refuges that have been hibernating all season start opening their doors.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most spectacular trekking experiences available in Europe. The path runs an oval around the massif, winding between France and Italy. Along the way, there is an abundance of idyllic hotels, hostels and mountain huts where you can hang your muddy boots up at the end of the day. How long you take to complete the trail is completely up to you, but because this is an adventure travel feature, we’ve decided the best way for you to enjoy both the views and challenge yourself, is to run the whole thing.
Kit & Accommodation
Packing superlight will be essential no matter how quickly you plan on running the route. Try and choose huts with good facilities so that you don’t have to worry about taking any camping kit, these tend to be more expensive, but by running the trail you cancel out many of the stops and so the cost of staying at huts should balance out. Most importantly, make sure you own a pair of well-seasoned and suitable trail shoes that can handle the changeable mountain weather and terrain (leave your waterproof shoes at home unless you’re planning on running the whole thing in the rain as non-proofed shoes will dry quicker and offer superior breathability), and if you don’t own a pair or haven’t been trail running before, try it out at home before committing to any big runs as trail is very different to road.
Plan your Trip
The route is a challenging 168km, ascending around 9000 vertical meters. This means that preparation will be very important, as well as knowing your capabilities, be realistic with what distances you can do in a day. The good news is that you can cater your trip for your induvial needs quite easily, either extending certain days, or shortening strenuous ones, depending on where you choose to stay overnight.
Have a look below for information on all the refuges and their rates, as well as an example of a trip from Challenge Sophie.
Refuges, with rates and contacts – http://www.autourdumontblanc.com/en/index.cfm/tmb-huts-accomodation.html
Mountain bike touring – Scotland
Scotland?! Yes Scotland. Having been voted Rough Guides most beautiful country in the world 2018 by their readers, you would be mad to disagree. It’s surprising how many Brits have never ventured up north of the border to explore the highlands and beyond. With amazing travel links, epic scenery and an endless playground for outdoor activities on offer, Scotland has to be on the bucket list.
Plan your Trip
Autumn is a great time of year to visit, particularly in September as you will still have the lighter evenings. The midges will have started to retreat, and towns and villages throughout the country say goodbye to the tourists for the year, welcoming cooler and quieter days. Seeing the country by bike is an incredible way to travel, you’ll be pedaling through some of the most stunning mountains in the world. Scotland has hundreds of miles of trails to explore so picking one route can be tricky. To make this process easier, simply pick a start point and an end point, then get the relevant OS maps and find out which paths connect the two, e.g. Ullapool to Applecross via Kinlochlewe, Torridon etc.
Ensure your bike is in good condition and well serviced, the trails can be rough with rain quickly turning dry dusty tracks into a mud bath. There are many examples online on what kit to bring, have a look around and research what will best suit your trip. Above all else, pack for unpredictable weather. Know your ability and plan accordingly, certain bike trails will be considerably more difficult with some being incredibly technical, so make sure you prepare and have an idea of what obstacles your going to face on your travels. As we said before, there is an abundance of mountain biking terrain in Scotland, so you should be able to find a suitable route whatever your level.
The trip in terms of accommodation may be slightly more than the others, purely as we recommend opting out of camping. The weather as we all know is very changeable in the mountains, and even more so in Scotland (especially in Autumn), the last thing you want is to be lugging wet clothes and camping kit with you along the way, so splash on a hostels or self-catered lodging.