Summer plan – 40 days of surfing

It might not even be Christmas yet but having just returned from a weeks surfing in Morocco I’ve already got a few ideas running through my head for the summer months.

One of them is to drive around the UK and Western Europe, surfing every day for 40 days. I’d live out of my car (after a few little modifications) and carry a board or two on the roof (thinking like a 9ft and maybe a 7ft, which I’ll make at the start of summer).

I was thinking of trying to combine it with WWOOFING or fruit harvesting, to fund the trip, although this needs a bit more thought.

Firstly though, route ideas… I spent a week of last summer in Cornwall with my family and had a lovely time. Spent a day surfing a longboard in Polzeath and when the sun started to set I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful location. The only issue was the crowding and, being summer, a lack of swell. The other option then is to head way further south, maybe explore W/SW France. I spent a week camping and surfing in Moliets a couple of summers ago. A tour of the west coast of France could be well on the cards then, especially it being remote enough (I think) and warm enough to be able to sleep in my car. Maybe the occasional cheeky foray into a campsite for a shower and food…

Last summer I was in Sagres, Portugal for a weeks surfing, also had a great time and found the Portuguese to be very relaxed – they do a cheese and ham toasted sandwich in any bar, any time of day or night. Add in a chilled glass of local white wine, total cost? About 3 euros! Peniche seems a decent surf spot, able to offer waves with most swell directions and isn’t too far to drive. I could do France/Spain on the way, spend a couple of weeks in Portugal then drive home in a couple of days.. SWEET!

This is the sort of route I’d like to do, totaling approx 3000 miles. At 55mpg, with the current price of Diesel, it’d cost me something like £300 in fuel (taking a route that avoids tolls). Accommodation would be free (I’m sure there’s a website out there for free campervan spots in the EU) and food would be inexpensive (eggs, tinned fish, veg..).

Sorted? Well just an idea for now but it seems promising!

Thunderboys are go!

Guidebook…. Check!

Flights…..Check!

Things are slowly progressing here at HikeHQ (my bedroom). Apart from revising like madmen for our upcoming exams (mine start in 9 days!) we haven’t been giving much thought to this adventure although we are all slowly collecting bits and pieces of gear.

The major thing to report is we now have our FLIGHTS BOOKED! Whilst originally the plan was to hitch-hike there and back, due to disapproval from parents (they still need listening to every now and then….) we have decided to fly instead. It takes the stress away of actually getting to the start of the walk and by the end of the walk the idea of a comfortable trip back will be very welcoming.

The one thing it does do is slightly restrict us time wise. The guide book says that its possible to do the whole walk in 31 days. We were thinking every 6/7 days have 1 day off to rest and relax and finally we’ll hopefully have a day or two in Menton and Nice at the end before flying home. This all fits fine but we’ll need to keep extra aware now of where we are and how we are doing progress wise.

More updates will follow as we can devote more time to this trip but for now, back to work!

Summer plans!

As is usual for me at this time of year (basically when its not summer) I start dreaming about what I want to do with my summer.

Two years ago it was my motorbike trip around Europe. Last summer I spent 6 weeks in India with two of my best friends from home. This summer….. Hiking in the Alps!

I’ve known about long distance European hiking routes ever since I learned about the long distance trails in the USA (namely the Appalachian trail, the Continental Divide, The Pacific Crest trail  –  watch the film “Into the Wild” to find my inspiration!). The one that struck a chord with me the most is the GR5 – “Europe’s most rewarding long-distance footpath”. It is part of the E2 which cuts south from Scotland all the way to the Mediterranean (E2 Route Map). The section that really caught my eye connects Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean via the Northern and Southern Alps. It ends (the GR52) in Menton on the French Riviera.

In total it is a 400 mile, 5-week trek over and under and round and through the French Alps.

I have dreamed for a long time of completing a long distance hike, carrying nothing but my backpack containing everything I need to survive. I am very lucky on this trip to have a very close friend of mine, Ben, to accompany me.

Our plan – to hitchhike to Geneva (#cheapstudents) before beginning our epic 5 week trek to the beach.

My friend has a twin brother, Mike, who is currently out in Visakhapatnam, India, teaching English at an Orphanage. This is the second time he has been out there and he is really making a difference to the lives of the children he lives with. The orphanage is funded by Children of Faith Missions, an American charity who are providing a great service and have been since 2003. A second charity has been set up, Children of Grace Home with the aim of building another orphanage to house the 15 youngest children from the original orphanage.

Our walk will help to raise money for this cause with 100% of everything donated going towards the charity. We are aiming for £2000 – a very large target but one we hope we can meet. If 100 people sponsor us 20p/mile we’ll have made it. We can fund our own food/accomodation/travel/etc but we feel by having a good cause behind us we will feel even better about what we are doing and will help support the lives of some very special children along the way.

For more information about the charity we are supporting please watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hqOBr3o7Qg

The route for our trek: Route map

I will endeavour to update this blog with further plans and ideas and start putting together a kit list of things we’ll take with us. Also as soon as it is set up (waiting for the Government to give us the green light) I will include a link to our JustGiving page so any one who is interested and passionate about what we are doing can donate.

Stay tuned!

Map of India

Having a lazy reflective day today, I was just looking back over some of the incredible photos we took while away on our trip to India and I decided to make a map of all the places we visited:

I’ve got Eanna and Foxley to add as many places as they can remember too.

If I get clever enough ill even link up the locations with the route we took although Google Maps is not being very helpful with this!

Helsinki

I left home in major rush, as usual. I did most of my packing in the 10 minutes before we were meant to leave but I think I’ve got most things!

We left Heathrow in the evening and by 10PM we were in Helsinki, our stop off (to keep flight costs down!) The one issue, we were stuck there for 21 HOURS! I attempted to sleep on a sofa, only to wake dripping with sweat and surrounded by young scouts… a bit odd. I was then woken at 4AM by the cleaner and told to move on… that ended my nights sleep.

The next day we decided to head into the city center than be stuck in the airport all day long. It was 12 euros for an all day travel ticket and i spent the rest of my 20 on lunch. We got a ferry out onto Suomenlinna Island and had a wander and a gander and just laid around drinking duty free Baileys (the hazelnut flavor wasn’t bad) and eating sweaty cheese and ham sandwiches.

We had a nice day just bumming around the city, I got to try my first bit of reindeer (not bad!) and just enjoyed the clean and friendly atmosphere, something we were sure would change as we traveled onwards!

So back to the airport and aboard our flight – India here we come!

Packing!

The nerves have begun, we leave in 5 days time!

Packing is under way and I’ve decided to do something I have been thinking about for a long time – packing light! I was going to take my 65L bag and my 35L as a day bag, leaving the big one in hostels while we’re out exploring, instead I’ve decided to pack everything into the 35L and take an even smaller bag for the days out –  all I’ll need is camera, sun cream and water.

I was looking into what to take to India and I stumbled across this website: http://www.travelindependent.info/whattopack_short.htm which confirmed the thoughts I was having – I can literally take the bare essentials and ease my mind of a lot of stress and worry by not carrying extra “what if…” items. Ill take the minimum necessary and the lack of empty space in my bag will mean I don’t end up carrying around a ton of souvenirs that I don’t really need.

99% of the time ill be bumming around in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops, if I need anything specialist I can buy it out there! Apparently  in India you can buy clothing by the kilogram, although realistically ill end up buying a t-shirt or two to replace old disgusting ones.

Simples!

Research for India!

Now I have been doing a bit of research and reading but I’d got it into my mind that we would keep this trip reasonably open-ended. I have a book, Vagabonding by Rolf Potts (www.vagabonding.net) and the basic summary of the book is this: keep an open mind, don’t plan too much and talk to as many people as possible to ensure the trip as a whole is a great experience rather than a rush from point A to B to C for a photo of this and that.

This is what I basically did for my motorbike trip – I had a rough plan of places I wanted to visit/people I wanted to meet but I made actual decisions on the spot. I could stop for lunch, for the night, go here or that at my own will. It worked out fine, only had issues with closed or full campsites and things like that.

I’d like to keep this same philosophy for this India trip. We land in Delhi at 5.30 AM on 2 August. We want to visit:

  • The Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra, Jaipur
  • Go north to the Ladakh region of India – Leh is the main town
  • South to the region of Goa – we’ll leave this till the end of the trip for the rains to have passed
  • Varanasi

The plan is to train or bus between these places, with maybe an internal flight from Goa to Delhi to get home on time. So we would have a few days in each place, exploring at chatting to other travellers and then book up a train ticket to our next destination.

One worry at the moment is the availability of trains – I thought we could turn up at a station/do it online and reserve our ticket a day or two in advance no problem. After doing some research it seems people book their tickets weeks and months in advance.

I’m now in two minds – to keep the trip open and just go with the flow and whatever we encounter, or to book up some trains now to ensure we’re not stuck somewhere for a week waiting for the next free train but then loosing out on the option to change our plans at the last minute. Hmm……

 

Also I have found a nice blog of a couple who also had 6 weeks in India, they travelled all over by train and the pictures they took are great!

http://indiabytrain.mattaranha.co.uk/