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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.

I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

We've climbed Mount Everest

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel the world with a difference. We hope to get a taste of many countries without adding to climate change (with needless emissions from aeroplanes) or having to waste hours of holiday time in airport terminals. We hope our adventures inspire you to take a Grand Tour of your neighbourhood. This post is from Nicola (pic shows our caterpillar friends)

The huge mountain dominating the Lakeland town of Keswick is Skiddaw. Unlike most mountains you don’t need a map up as there’s an easy path to the summit. But the route still climbs a massive 931 metres high (more than 3,000 feet). Over the past year our family has made several unsuccessful attempts to climb it – only to be driven back by rain, cloud, connecting bus links and a mystery vomiting outbreak. No wonder we think of this mountain as the most challenging in the world, Everest.

Weather conditions were perfect: cool and clear on the fell slopes and up at the top enough whispy cloud and freezing wind to know you are just about at the top of Britain. The girls powered up using pear drops (lola) and minstrels (nell). Fabulous distractions included fell runners (training to complete 43 peaks in 24 hours…), plus chats with a fit woman who had recently coaxed her five-year-old up Snowdon in Wales, a Dutch couple wheeling their pram down the mountain and anyone with a dog.

Yet again the animals were stars. On the way up it was the Herdwick sheep (a Lakeland breed) which helped lure the kids towards the summit, and just when we were in the “death zone” – that bit at the top where logic says turn back, but emotions insist you must go on even if it’s certain death to continue (think Mallory in his tweeds on Everest) the caterpillars turned up.

This month only on the highest slopes of Skiddaw (and apparently Hellvelyn too) there are thousands, maybe millions, of brown striped antler moth caterpillars chomping through the grassy hillside. It’s a phenomenon that occurs once a decade – utterly amazing to see until you get blasĂ© about the quantities. The girls gave several a hitch-hike in their wooly hats (Catriona, Katya and the singer/songwriter Cat Stephens) up the slopes until they were suitably disgusted by the discovery that caterpillars do many green dot poos.

After three and a half hours Lola bagged the summit first, Pete at the tail end. As Nell pointed out this was because he was so busy “talking to dragons”. Lola who is developing a penchant for sarcasm added that he only talked to the ones in claret and blue…

If you want to climb a mountain with kids then this is the one. Or hedge your bets and go up Snowdon which has a train service to the top, and a cafĂ©! All the training you need is the daily walk to school…

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