If truth be told, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes taking part in extreme sports and adventure activities. I don’t like heights, I don’t like putting my head underwater, and I’m not so keen on things that go too fast, that drop you, or basically anything where the control is out of my hands. But I am a big believer in facing up to fears and I know just how awesome it can feel when I do take myself out of my comfort zone. So when I was set the AliKats’ Bucket List Challenge to compose my ultimate adventure bucket list I knew that it was time once more for my wimp to (wo)man up!
A couple of years ago I set myself the challenge of taking 40 days of holiday throughout the year of my 40th birthday. But I didn’t want just any old holidays; I wanted to go places I hadn’t been before, do things I hadn’t done before and share the experience with my husband and two kids. We went to Iceland to swim in the Blue Lagoon. We took a road trip around the UK and Scotland where we tried canyoning and traversed across a waterfall on the Via Ferrata. We took a desert safari in Dubai, ate with the locals in Singapore, experienced an earthquake in Bali and to top it all off I ran a half marathon at Disneyland Paris with a friend. It was awesome! I surprised myself with how brave I was, how much I enjoyed the thrill of it all, and it showed me that holidays needn’t just be about lazing around a pool, cocktail in hand. I mean don’t get me wrong, that’s great as well but it’s left me feeling as though I need more from a holiday now.
I’ve got no desire to do a bungee jump, jump out of a plane, swim with sharks or anything crazy like that, however I would love to expand my horizons once more and show the kids what’s out there in the world while making some truly remarkable memories for us all. So with that in mind, if I were to suddenly win the lottery tomorrow, here’s what would be on my ultimate adventure bucket list:
The ancient Incan citadel of Machu Pichu, set high in the Andes Mountain in Peru has long been on my bucket list of places I would love to visit before I die. I know it sounds like an obvious choice, but even so there is just something that excites me abut trekking to a mysterious settlement that’s high up in the mountains, hidden above the clouds. It takes 4 days to hike along the paths leading up to Machu Pichu, and whilst I wouldn’t expect my kids to do this nor would I want to put myself through the moaning and groaning that would inevitably occur, I’m going to save this one up for when they’ve left home and me and the husband can start having adventures on our own again.
I am an outdoorsy girl at heart. I love forests, mountains and anywhere that escapes the hustle and bustle of our modern times. The chance to go off grid is few and far between but if I were to get the opportunity this would be the dream. Part of me worries that Machu Pichu may have become too touristy and that if I did end up going there it would be a disappointment and wouldn’t live up to the expectation I’ve set in my head. But then on the flipside if I don’t go soon, who knows how much longer this modern wonder of the world will be around for. For now it’s staying firmly on my adventure bucket list!
Trail Running in the Highlands
I’ve been running now for about three years and regularly go out 3 to 4 times a week either on my own or with the running group I’m part of. I do a mixture of road and trail running, but it’s the trails that really get my heart pumping and my face smiling. Whether it’s through woodland, across fields, dodging muddy puddles, or climbing up windy hills, I just love how freeing a trail run makes me feel. Way more interesting than running on the roads, as there are so many more beautiful sights to see and the different terrain means you have to concentrate so much more, which is great as it takes my mind off of how hard it can be at times!
I’m not a fan of big organised running events; medals don’t really do it for me and I’m not fussed about beating anyone else or even myself for that matter. For me it’s simply a question of getting out there and doing it. For me. On my terms. I am way more driven to set myself personal challenges, such as making it to the top of a hill, than by trying to smash a PB on Strava, and so trail running somewhere remote with a few tricky inclines is more how I roll.
I’ve always loved the Lake District and that would have made it onto my bucket list in a heartbeat had I not discovered the Highlands a couple of years ago. Take the Lake District, supersize it, throw in even more stunning views, even more hills and mountains, even more Hobbit-esque landscapes and still you are only halfway to imagining what it is like. It literally has to be seen to be believed. And even though I have already been there, it still deserves a place on my bucket list as I would absolutely love to get the chance to go back and tackle some trail runs there and try out some more adventure sports like rock climbing, canyoning and abseiling.
Zip Line Over Niagara Falls
As I mentioned, I’m not great with heights. However in some weird sadistic way that makes me more determined to do stuff that involves climbing up really high with only a safety rope and a few clips to keep me safe. When we rock climbed in the Highlands a couple of years back, I’m not going to lie, I was proper pooping my pants. But when your kids are there and they’re feeling a bit anxious about it, you have to do what any good parent would do and that’s to pretend everything is hunky-dory and just crack on with it. Which of course is what I did. Inside I was petrified, but I did it. And it felt amazing at the end. Knowing that not only was it over (and I’d survived) but also that I had risen to the challenge and for that fleeting moment, conquered a fear. We were all buzzing afterwards, which is why I feel like we have more climbing challenges within us.
Go Ape feels like a piece of piss now if I’m honest, so how amazing would it be to climb up the side of Niagara Falls in Canada and then zipline down the 2,200 foot stretch to the bottom. It makes me feel sick just thinking about it, but the good kind of sick, the adrenaline fuelled, butterflies sick that you know will turn out good in the end. I mean if you’re going to visit Niagara Falls you might as well go all out, right?
On a completely different note, I would absolutely love to go on a proper ghost hunt and if I had the guts, stay overnight at one of the many haunted properties in the UK. I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and my guilty pleasure is settling down to watch a bit of Most Haunted of an afternoon. And while I know for a fact I would be so, so scared, I am also so incredibly intrigued by it that I would love to experience it for myself to see if there is any truth behind some of the claims people have made.
Arguably not as adventure packed as some of the things on this list, however you’ve got to admit hearing things that go bump in the night first hand and even just spending time walking around empty properties in pitch darkness is pretty damn fear inducing.
I’ve been to Edinburgh a couple of times and both times we did a tour of the underground streets of Mary Kings Close which is said to be haunted. It certainly feels spooky when you are down there and the whole history surrounding it adds to the back story and helps create a spine chilling atmosphere. I think the fact that you are underground makes it feel scarier as there’s that claustrophobic sense of being trapped and out of control. So if I do get around to arranging a ghost hunting tour, it would be great to go somewhere that explores another underground area in the UK.
Sleep In An Ice Hotel In Sweden
Up until a year ago the thought of going on a snowy holiday filled me with dread. I mean why use up precious holiday days going somewhere that is colder than the UK!?! I was very much about the sunshine and the tan. That all changed when we went on holiday to Iceland. And now I feel like I need both a sunny and a snowy holiday every year!
Snow holidays are very different to sun holidays, but they have so much to offer when it comes to adventure. In Iceland we did a bit of caving, swam in the famous Blue Lagoon and we drove and trekked across some amazing snowy landscapes. It has certainly whet my appetite and expanded my horizons as to what I expect from a holiday. Now I feel much more confident to go off grid in countries that wouldn’t usually be on my radar. I would definitely like to explore more of the Scandinavian countries and if that involved staying at the Ice hotel in Sweden then that would be the icing on the cake.
The Ice Hotel is located in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, and is open all year round. Most of it is a permanent structure, however parts of it are rebuilt each year with brand new features, so even if you’ve stayed there before it will never be the same on your next visit. Features include negative five degree rooms, art suites, a ceremony room and of course an ice bar. I’m not entirely sure I’d get the best night’s sleep, although they do provide you with reindeer furs so you know, if it’s good enough for the Eskimos it’s good enough for me, but oh what an experience it would be!
Kayak in the Norwegian Fjords
And leading on from that, another Scandinavian adventure to make it onto my list is to go kayaking through the Norwegian fjords. The waters are tranquil, the mountains are high and there is green everywhere, and the best place to see it all in its majestic glory is by kayak. I would like to wait a few years until my kids are slightly older, as I think my youngest would struggle a little bit with it, and then combine the kayaking with some camping (OK, maybe glamping…. I can be a slight princess at times!), some hiking, and of course a bit of trail running.
Galdhopiggen is the highest peak in Norway and the path up to the top involves lots of forests (my ultimate happy place) a traverse across the Besseggen Ridge and you even get to walk across the fairytale-esque Svellnosbrean glacier. There is also the opportunity to go dog sledding, which to me sounds like perfection!
I’ve got so many places on my list that I can’t include them all. So many places, so little time. Ultimately, I want to try and visit somewhere new every year and expose my kids to as many different places as possible to show them that the world is bigger than their street, their town, their country. That there are so many incredible things to see out there, so many experiences to be had. This is a mere glimpse of what’s on my adventure bucket list, but hopefully it’s enough to make you feel inspired to try out some new challenges and travel experiences yourself.
What would be on your Adventure Bucket List?
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Becky Stafferton is a full time blogger over on her website The Art of Healthy Living, mum of 2 and certified Queen of the hashtags. She continually strives to promote a realistic, sustainable and positive image of how to lead a healthy life. When she’s not writing she can be found swigging Prosecco from the bottle, running through muddy puddles, making lists of lists, having a good old moan, scoffing flapjacks and squatting like her life depends on it.