Located only 20 minutes’ train journey from Victoria is a complex subterranean network that has seen all periods of London’s history. Underneath the sleepy market town of Chislehurst in an incongruous residential area lies chalk-mines-turned-caves that feature everything a city could want, from a church, hospital, rooms, even cultural attractions such as a music venue and sacrificial altars. Indeed, Chislehurst Cave’s maze of caves could take equally as long as a city to explore. With this in mind, we donned our coats and grabbed a lantern, and descended into Chislehurst’s underground caverns.
With its varied terrain and altitude, Peru can be very difficult to pack for, particularly if you are hiking and have to keep weight to a minimum. Listed below is a recommended list of stuff to take with you in general, as well as a recommended list for trekking.
First and foremost, choosing our big #take12trips challenge was easy; Peru has Macchu Picchu, varied scenery and some of the best food in the world. Choosing how to get to Macchu Picchu however was more difficult. For ages we thought the only way of reaching Macchu Picchu was through the Inca Trail or by train, but after speaking with the good folk at G Adventures we were all on board with the Salkantay Trek.
Peru is undoubtedly famous for its Incan site, Macchu Picchu, and the Inca Trail that takes visitors there. However, there are a wealth of sites just outside of Macchu Peru in Cusco, that are well worth a visit with fewer crowds.
When we chose Peru as our blockbuster #take12trips challenge, we dreamt of adventures filled with long hikes through mountains, Incan ruins and the obligatory llama sightings. Little did we know that adventure was laying just around the corner from us in the capital of Peru, Lima.
After sleeping off the jetlag at 511 Hostel in Miraflores, we meandered through the Parque de Amor on the coast. In between the mosaic love notes and the statue of the kissing couple we spied the forms of surfers and paddleboarders catching some waves.
After seeing the Cairngorms peeking at us from the horizon the day before, we were eager to reach the end of The Speyside Way and begin on our next adventure: exploring the Cairngorm National Park. And so, the early morning light found us briskly walking through the residential part of Boat of Garten and towards Aviemore, the last stop of the trail.
When deciding how to divide up the different walking sections of The Speyside Way, the trail between Grantown-on-Spey and the Boat of Garten left us perplexed. Unlike the previous days’ sections, this portion was flat and straightforward, and as a result many people had combined it with the last section to Aviemore, the end of the trail and only an additional six miles. Given that we had walked 25 miles in the past two days though, we decided our legs had probably earned a rest day and decided to only do the 11 miles to Boat of Garten.
After a heavy session of hiking the day before, our eyes and limbs were reluctant to recognise the morning light coming through our window. This unwillingness was further exacerbated when we remembered that today was the most difficult section of the Speyside Way: 13 miles of hillwalking in the searing heat. However the rumbling sounds of trucks from the Cragganmore distillery next door soon alerted us to rise and shine.
The next section of The Speyside Way, from Craigellachie to Ballindalloch, is a long, straight stretch of 12 miles that follows the old railway route. In fact, throughout most of it, the old station platforms, railway arches and even remnants of discarded railway machinery remained, yet to be claimed by nature.
Just like the Speyside region, whisky is a pretty big deal in our household. We hold regular whisky nights, it’s become the de facto gift people give us for holidays, and our table has become so overrun with whisky bottles that one of my writing desks drawers has become a mini whisky cabinet. So the opportunity to see how one of our favourite drinks is made, and explore it in the gorgeous landscape of Scotland no less, gave us the impetus to rise early and make our first stop of the day: the Macallan Distillery.