Travels with my sister: conquering a lifetime of hearing loss

My younger sister was born three months premature and grew up with pronounced hearing loss. After a recent change for the better, she agreed to join me for a trip…

Kia’s story

I first realised that my sister was different when I was seven and she was six. Forida was told to wear hearing aids and I remember how much they embarrassed her. The chunky beige aids were conspicuous on her child-size ears and, to other schoolchildren, marked her out as different; not one of us. Continue reading

natural wonders in the uk

20 (typically modest) natural wonders in the UK

The best natural wonders in the UK may not equal those in the US, Canada or Australia, but the sometimes quirky, always striking sights are still worth seeing.

When the ArcelorMittal Orbit was foisted on the London skyline in 2012, it split opinion rather starkly. I, for my sins, thought it was quirky and interesting while Peter thought it a blight on the landscape.

“It’s so typically British,” he said – a notion that baffled me. It was so unbritish in its haphazard, loping design: a clear contradiction of the order and tradition that defines Britain.

When I told him as much, Peter explained: “I don’t mean the design but the ambition. The tower is medium height, medium size, medium everything. It’s half the size of the Eiffel Tower.” Continue reading

Britain’s-best-long-distance-footpaths-featimg

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths provide excellent access to the UK’s outdoors while showcasing the finest scenery our isles have to offer. 

When you think of the best long-distance hiking trails from around the world, little old Britain probably wouldn’t top of your list. Hikers will more likely be drawn to the Triple Crown of the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails in the US, New Zealand’s Great Walks or the famous Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal.

However, the UK does have an extensive network of long-distance footpaths. Managed by the National Trails in England and Wales and Scotland’s Great Trails north of the border, the UK has thousands of miles of tramping to be discovered – and the network continues to expand. Continue reading

best views in the Yorkshire Dales feat 3

In photos: the best views in the Yorkshire Dales

We’ve put together a selection of the best views in Yorkshire Dales National Park, home to some of England’s prettiest landscapes. 

Having just moved to the area and started our exploration of the Yorkshire Dales in earnest, we thought it appropriate to share some of the wider scenery the Dales have to offer.

Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) was designated in 1954 and extended by 24% in 2016 to cover 2,178 km2 in total. YDNP is famed for having some of the finest limestone landscapes in the UK with crags, pavements and caves set amid an expansive heather moorland of rolling hills and dramatic waterfalls, all criss-crossed with miles of dry stonewalls and picturesque villages. Continue reading

hiking Great Shunner Fell from Thwaite

Hiking Great Shunner Fell: my first ‘Dales 30’

Hiking Great Shunner Fell was my first of the Dales 30, the highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales. One down, 29 to go…

As many of you will know, Kia and I recently moved to the country. It’s taken me eight years, but I’ve finally convinced Kia that life is better away from the busy south. As such, we’ve moved to the small and charming market town of Richmond on the edge of Yorkshire Dales National Park.

As well as enjoying the delights of Richmond, the best thing for me about our move is having easy access to the countryside, right on our doorstop. It takes five minutes to drive into the national park, one of Britain’s 15 breathing spaces, while at the end of our street is a walking trail along the River Swale that gets us into the park in just 15 minutes. Continue reading

The ups and downs of our move to the country

After three decades in London, would a move to the country prove horribly wrong? We share the ups and downs of our time in the Dales.

We’ve finally settled down. After four years on the road interspersed by stretches in a tiny French village, we’re back in Britain permanently – well, kind of. We have trips to Namibia, South Africa and possibly Costa Rica planned for Nov-Dec and more next year, but we also have a permanent home. Continue reading

Star struck: exploring the world’s Dark Sky Reserves

International Dark Sky Reserves are protected areas that offer exceptionally starry nights. We review the 13 places that hold this hallowed status.

They sound like something out of Star Trek, these ‘Dark Sky Reserves’ – like they may have been conjured one evening in a lively LA writers room. Unlike the ‘Delta Quadrant’ or ‘Delphic Expanse’, however, International Dark Sky Reserves actually exist.

We at Atlas & Boots hadn’t heard of them until our recent trip to New Zealand‘s Aoraki Mackenzie, one of the world’s 13 Dark Sky Reserves. Continue reading

Climbing Carrauntoohil Irelands Highest Mountain featimg 3

Climbing Carrauntoohil: Ireland’s highest mountain

Climbing Carrauntoohil is an excellent introduction to the Reeks District, Ireland’s adventure playground.

The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in Kerry are Ireland’s highest mountain range and the inspiration behind the region’s newly renamed Reeks District, home to Carrauntoohil which at 1,038m (3,406ft) is Ireland’s highest mountain.

High cliffs, mountain lakes and fast running rivers define the range which runs 19km along the eastern boundary of the Iveragh Peninsula. Known as the backbone of the Kingdom of Kerry, the sandstone mountains have been hewn over hundreds of thousands of years by glacial erosion and extreme weather. Continue reading

adventure sailing holidays-featimg

7 adventure sailing holidays for your bucket list

Adventure sailing holidays have the ability to carry passengers to the far reaches of the world, accessing some of the most remote and magnificent scenery the world has to offer.

Having recently returned from my first tall ship sailing adventure off the west coast of Scotland, and with my interest for the high seas well and truly piqued, I take a look at some adventure sailing holidays I would love to join. Continue reading

Learning to paddleboard Scotland featimg

Learning to paddleboard in Scotland

I spent a week learning to paddleboard off the west coast of Scotland, the perfect setting for trying the world’s fastest growing water sport.

My only experience of standup paddleboarding (SUP) was the odd paddle at a beachside resort here and there. I’ve never liked surfing (I know that’s so uncool to admit) but I have always enjoyed kayaking whether it has been along the Thames in London or kayaking in more far-flung destinations.

So when I joined the Lady of Avenel for a tall ship sailing adventure recently, I was excited to learn it would be part of a wider paddleboarding trip organised by London-based SUP enthusiasts Active360.

Continue reading

Tall ship sailing adventures-Scotland-featimg

Tall ship sailing adventures off the west coast of Scotland

I joined the Lady of Avenel for a week of tall ship sailing adventures around the Inner Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland.

This summer I joined the tall ship Lady of Avenel to sail around the Inner Hebrides archipelago. When the sails were furled we put kayaks and paddleboards overboard and headed for land, exploring wild beaches, craggy coves and traditional fishing villages en route.

Unhindered by ferry schedules, busy roads or hiking trails we could access some of the most remote scenery in Scotland; scenery that only the sea has passage to. The unique approach to tall ship sailing adventures provided by the Lady of Avenel combines traditional sailing with outdoor activities. Continue reading

Best-National-Parks-in-Europe-featimg-3

Wild continent: the best National Parks in Europe

The best national parks in Europe are home to the wildest scenery and most thrilling outdoor pursuits the continent has to offer.

Europe’s finest wilderness has quite rightly been enshrined and protected in its national parks. Great glaciers, soaring mountains and primeval forests stretch across Europe’s 50 sovereign states. We take a look at the wildest and best national parks in Europe. Continue reading

Best-viewpoints-in-the-New-Forest-National-Park-featimg

Best viewpoints in New Forest National Park

We reveal the best viewpoints in New Forest National Park in Hampshire, perhaps the UK’s most underrated park.

We recently spent a few days exploring the New Forest and unearthing the best New Forest cycling routes in the process. Despite the poor weather during our trip (welcome to England!), we did manage to find some great views en route; views that are no doubt incredible on a summer’s day of blue skies and sunshine. Continue reading

best-national-parks-in-Britain-feta-img

5 best national parks in Britain

Having visited all 15 national parks in Britain, we take a look at our favourite five.

It was tough whittling down the list to just five. I had to leave out the Broads, Britain’s largest protected wetland which also happens to be in my home county of Norfolk. Likewise, the mountains and moorland of the Brecon Beacons or the idyllic New Forest cycling routes didn’t quite make the cut.

All 10 of Britain’s national parks that I’ve excluded arguably deserve a place in this list as they all offer something unique in their outstanding natural beauty. Continue reading

New-Forest-cycling-routes-featimg

5 of the best New Forest cycling routes

We explored one of the UK’s newest national parks by bike. Here’s our pick of the best New Forest cycling routes for those of all abilities.

The UK is home to 15 national parks in total. Established in 2005, the New Forest in Hampshire is the UK’s second newest national park and one of the easiest to explore by bike. The park is just an hour and a half from London by train and is home to over 160km (100mi) of excellently maintained (mostly gently) undulating cycling paths – ideal for cyclists of all abilities. Continue reading

Tackling London’s empathy gap

As we head to London in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno, the class divide is heavy on our minds.

In Greek mythology, Chimera was a fire-breathing creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Today, her name has come to denote anything composed of very different parts: a collection of things that don’t belong together.

It’s a fitting way to describe how I felt after graduating from university. I’ve explained in Checking my privilege and Asian girl, English boy that I had a very simple childhood. My family was poor but so was everyone else’s. My parents were immigrants but so were everyone else’s. There was a uniformity that precluded envy, tension, or confusion about my identity. I was Bangladeshi and I was poor. Hey ho. Continue reading

Largest-islands-in-the-world-featimg

Colossal coasts: 10 largest islands in the world

We take a look at the largest islands in the world, from deserted Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Circle to metropolitan Honshu in Japan.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time on islands. Not only were we born and raised on one, but island destinations appear to be a reoccurring theme on our travels.

In 2014, we started Atlas & Boots with a six-month journey across the South Pacific via Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Hawaii. Our latest extended trip has seen us spend a month in Sri Lanka shortly followed by another in Mauritius. Continue reading

hiking-the-south-west-coast-path-featimg-3

Hiking the South West Coast Path: Newquay to Penzance

The South West Coast path, Britain’s longest national trail, has long been on my hiking to-do list. It’s one of the finest long distance hiking trails in the world and showcases Britain at its best. Tent on back, I set off for a taste this summer.

I would love to spend a couple of months hiking the entire path but I didn’t have time for a thru-hike this summer, so decided to complete a section between Newquay and Penzance in Cornwall. Continue reading

passport stamps of the world

11 cool passport stamps of the world

Some unusual passport stamps to collect on your travels including microstates, geographical landmarks, inaccessible lands and a range of historical sights

It may not be fashionable but I’m a bit of a box-ticker when it comes to travel. I have a list of the countries I’ve visited and I keep track of memorable places such the highest, lowest and driest I’ve visited. I’m also rather proud of my passports (past and present) that have filled up with the stamps I’ve collected.

The standard entry and exit stamps from most countries are fairly mundane. However, beyond the typical destinations are some unusual (and brag-worthy) passport stamps to collect on your travels including microstates, geographical landmarks, inaccessible lands and a range of historical sights. Continue reading