I hadn’t camped in fifteen years prior to my #GOCation camping with GO Outdoors in June. I’d never stayed in a hostel or done watersports prior to my recent #WMGlobalTravellers adventure and, the thought of both chilled me to the bone – Yet, here I was signing myself up for a travel lovers trip to the Lake District where I would not only be staying in a hostel, but I would be hiking and participating in various watersports.
In fact, I’m so not the sporty type I shouldn’t have been surprised when my Mum and close friends all burst out laughing when I told them I’d signed up for such an active weekend. Laughter quickly turned to shock and then worry…Was I in the right frame of mind? Did I have the necessary sportswear? Was I fit enough and would I actually stay the night in a hostel?!
I had to admit their worry made me worry. Was I kidding myself that I would actually be able to manage such an active weekend given I can’t climb out of swimming pools and my fiancé Adam sometimes calls me Slothie..?
Why oh why did you sign yourself up for this, I can hear you asking and, I’d be lying if the thought hadn’t crossed my mind a few times since I’d initially paid my deposit.
Where’s Mollie Global Travellers
I’d signed up because my favourite travel blogger, Mollie Bylett (Where’s Mollie) had formed the Where’s Mollie Global Travellers group and was hosting the event. Mollie is truly an inspiration, as not only did her Croatia posts inspire me to visit Croatia this year (check out my Top 5 Things to do in Dubrovnik), her passion for travel, friendly personality and lust for life is contagious.
As I’m looking to take more of a travel angle with my own blog (after all, that’s why I started blogging) it made sense to gain some inspo from my fave travel blogger & see if her sense of adventure could entice me out of my comfort zone!
I was seriously contemplating pulling out of the trip the week before. Not only had the girl I was potentially car sharing with pulled out, the thought of travelling on my own added to my woes. The furthest north I had travelled in the U.K. is shamefully Nottingham…and whilst I am happiest on a plane, the thought of driving somewhere with poor GPS or changing trains freaked me out. Luckily, I had the support of my mate Chris who loves activities like this and managed to convince me to go in with a positive mind, try everything once and that I could do it!
Chris’ motivation as well as thoughts of my New Year resolutions blog post, where I vowed to get myself out of my comfort zone this year spurred me on. My train tickets (with the help of Chris) were booked and I purchased an array of new sportswear from GO Outdoors to go with the walking boots I picked up from the MK store opening.
There was no turning back!
My direct train from Milton Keynes to Oxenholme station took a little over three hours and after a short train journey on a Northern line train from Oxenholme to Windermere, I was so pleased to run into others attending the #WMGlobalTravellers weekend.
Travelling solo like me, Lizzie, Jon and Meredith, who had flown all the way from Washington DC (how mental is that) formed a bond right from the outset.
Us girls were put in the same room and were joined by Jess, Jade and Zoe.
We all got on so well that we stuck together all weekend and despite our various ages, the fact that we all came from different areas of the country (or different countries, yes you Meredith) it was like we’d known each other for years.
L-R: Jade, Lizzie, Jess, Me, Zoe & Meredith 📸:Lydia Collins
L-R: Jade, Lizzie, Jess, Me, Zoe & Meredith 📸:Lydia Collins
Despite my fears of staying in a hostel and sharing a room with five other girls no less, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at YHA Ambleside.
Mollie 📸:Lydia Collins
The hostel overlooks Ambleside Pier with picturesque scenery and, is within walking distance to shops & pubs (weekend away staple!)
The hostel is clean & tidy, has a well-stocked bar and good grub (I had bangers & mash one night & chicken tikka another and both were very tasty!) To my utter surprise, my single bed was very comfy and I had a great sleep both nights. All the beds in the room had their own plug and light, which saves the arguments on who gets to charge their phone! Though the shower and toilet were not ensuite, they’re only located next door. Lucky, as I forgot to take my towel with me on my first trip to the shower!
Paddleboarding & Kayaking
Now I knew when I took up this adventurous weekend that I was never going to blow anyone away with my sporting capabilities, but I was damn well going to give it my best shot!
One thing for sure was that I didn’t want to find myself falling in the lake! When we were advised there were some wetsuits going spare, I put initial reservations aside and put one on. Luckily, the windbreaker jackets available covered any lumps up and bumps!
Outfit ready, now who was going to pick me when it came to teaming up for the activities…
It goes without saying when it came to teaming up on a very scary, large paddle board that us roomies plus Jon were all going to stick together! Paddleboarding was one of the activities I was most scared about but it was much less scary with my new found friends.
We even mustered the courage to stand up and paddle board, which with my fitness levels is no easy feat!
Of all the activities over the weekend I enjoyed paddleboarding the most. I loved the team spirit and sense of adventure as well as the opportunity to bond with the group.
Once we had paddled our way over to the island it was time to toast some marshmallows and have a warm mug of tea. Mollie had some tunes playing, whilst we all chilled out and soaked up the atmosphere.
Those that had used the paddle boards to get to the island swapped with those who had kayaked over for the journey back.
I teamed up with my bunk-bed roomie Meredith on the two-seater kayak.
As soon as we started kayaking I could feel it working my upper thighs! It was a long and very strenuous journey back to the shore! On the plus side, I didn’t fall in during any of the activities! Go me!
After getting showered back at the hostel, Mollie surprised us all with bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner & some well-needed cake!
In the evening, we all had a great laugh playing guessing game Heads Up whilst enjoying drinks at the hostel & nearby pub! Not too many drinks mind you as we all had a busy day tomorrow!
Sam: “Why the bloody hell would you do that!”
If I thought the early 8am start for the water sports was hard, it was an even earlier start for our day of hiking around the Lake District.
All this in one weekend, just the early mornings are a challenge for me normally!
After tucking into our YHA fry up it was time to hit the road ahead of our 6.5-hour hike!
A road closure and very foggy country lanes meant the journey to Ullswater wasn’t the easiest and, we all know what the GPS signal is like out in the countryside! Luckily, designated driver Jess got us there in one piece!
We met our mountain leaders who advised that due to the adverse weather conditions as a result of hurricane Ophelia we would be taking a less difficult route over lower terrain. Hurrah – no one could possibly be as pleased about that as me!
Delight quickly turned to dismay, as after climbing a near on vertical hill the mountain leaders declared that after climbing like mountain goats, they’d taken the decision to take us over the highest peaks. I was knackered and thoughts of the wolf climbing the hill in my fave Disney film The Sword in the Stone entered my head…
After seeing one girl struggle due to her cold and take the decision to do the less strenuous route, I was all set to join her. After all, my jacket was already drenched in sweat from the first leg and, stupidly I already had blisters from wearing new boots when walking around Ambleside the day before… How was I going to cope with the remaining 5 hours?!
Luckily, I was approached by avid hiker Lucy, who kindly offered to walk the rest of the hike at my pace so I could complete the same trail as everyone else. True to her word, Lucy stuck with me for the entire hike and despite her previous hiking experience, which in all honesty she could’ve been at the front with the first group of hikers, she ambled along at my pace.
(Pictured Lucy (red) with her twin Erin)
L-R: Lucy, Me, Meredith & Jon
L-R: Lucy, Me & Meredith
There were various times during the hike when I felt like I needed to give up, the path was rocky and uneven with various sections where you had to climb and pull yourself up (I’ve got the upper body strength of a kitten, in case any of ya’ll were wondering!) or climb down at awkward angles. Though, Lucy provided well-needed distractions and encouragement to give me the strength to see it through. In all honesty, I couldn’t have done it without her and I was truly taken back by her kindness helping me (a stranger) complete the hike.
Me & Lucy
I did it! Blood (I fell over), sweat and nearly tears but I’d done it nonetheless! Let me tell you, climbing mountainous terrain hiking 23km in gail force winds is not easy!
I was reassured after speaking to blogger friend Shannon, who advised the Lake District terrain was much harder than the previous hike in Snowdonia!
After the hike was complete, I could finally relax and take in the beautiful scenery I’d seen. As someone who always chooses to go abroad, I could finally see how stunning the British countryside really is!
The #WMGlobalTravellers weekend was designed to bring travel lovers together to enjoy the outdoors and switch off from the internet. With Mollie’s best friend Lydia Collins on hand to take photographs and Film Director Sam Davies capturing all our fun on film, it enabled us all to do just that. Mollie, Lydia and Sam all had lots of fun themselves and fully immersed into the group, getting to know us all individually. Mollie had even offered to lend me her hiking socks to help me carry on due to my blisters! Mollie is truly as lovely in real life as she is on social media!
The #WMGlobalTravellers trip to the Lake District was much more than an active weekend away, it helped me leave my comfort zone and try out activities I never normally would with people who love travel just as much as I do. Not only that, I was blown away by the kindness and community spirit from all who attended the weekend and I can’t wait for our next adventure together!
It should be noted that as I click publish on this post, two weeks since the adventure I am still nursing a cold! But, it was worth it!
Will you be coming on the next one?!