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Preview: A Regular Travel Digest from Mark Moxon

A Regular Travel Digest from Mark Moxon

A selection of travel tales by Mark Moxon.

Published: Wed, 26 Jul 2017 07:05:01 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2017 Mark Moxon

Northern Scotland: Inverness to Dingwall

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 26 July 2003, 14 years ago. I don't know whether it was the effects of last night's alcohol or the hostel that did my head in the most, but at 7am this morning I gave up trying to get a proper night's sleep and got ready for the off. Inverness Youth Hostel might be one of only two hostels in Scotland to receive a five-star rating from the Scottish Tourist Board, but that doesn't mean their beds are any better than normal. To say that the bunks creak in Inverness is an understatement; once again I can't believe how...

Australia: The Kimberley

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 25 July 1996, 21 years ago. Everything you've heard about the Kimberley area of northern Western Australia is true (unless you're thinking, 'The Kimberley, what the hell's that?', in which case bear with me). It's generally very inaccessible, unless you have a four-wheel-drive, tons of spare fuel, spare tyres coming out of your ears and a lot of balls, and as the only one I have of that lot comes in a pair, I haven't seen the half of it. However, what I have seen of the area has been spectacular; it's another place I'd...

Australia: Broome

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 25 July 1996, 21 years ago. 'Slip into Broome time,' they say, and figured I might as well do just that. I liked Broome so much that I stayed an extra day, which gave me two days of lazing around doing very little except soaking up the rays and lounging on the beach. Actually I got a bit of sunburn on my upper right thigh on the first day – I'd been writing a letter lying on my side, and of course you can't just swap hands and turn over, so without realising it I'd burned my rump – so I spent the...

Northern Scotland: Drumnadrochit to Inverness

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 25 July 2003, 14 years ago. Oh, how disappointing the end of the Great Glen Way turns out to be. For the last few days I've been happily following forest tracks and quiet canals, and after my lack of enthusiasm for the West Highland Way it's been such a relief to find that the first three days of the Great Glen Way make a lovely little walk. But I'm afraid the last day from Drumnadrochit to Inverness is a turgid, pathetic affair that only exists so the organising committee can say that the Way links Fort William with...

Northern Scotland: Alltsigh to Drumnadrochit

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 24 July 2003, 14 years ago. Apart from some stunning viewpoints over Loch Ness towards the start of the day, the walk from Loch Ness Youth Hostel to Drumnadrochit is pretty forgettable. Luckily those views more than make up for the rest of it; Loch Ness is best appreciated from high up, and up high is exactly where the Great Glen Way goes from Alltsigh. Thank goodness man-made forests get cut down every now and then, because without the timber wastelands that the chainsaws leave behind, walkers through Forestry...

Central Line: Debden to Epping

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 24 July 2008, 9 years ago. Wow, what a day! This is easily a contender for my favourite tubewalk, as from start to finish it's a classic countryside walk through rolling farmland, pretty villages and ancient woodland... and all of this in zone 6, too. That's the same zone as Upminster, Heathrow, West Ruislip, Northwood and Uxbridge, none of which come close to being this rural; it's much more like the countryside walking out on the Metropolitan line at Chesham, but that's in zone 9; you get a lot of bang for your Oyster...

Northern Scotland: South Laggan to Alltsigh

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 23 July 2003, 14 years ago. Today wasn't such a great day in terms of scenery, not because it wasn't there, but because most of the time it was cleverly hidden behind the pine trees of the Forestry Commission forests that line the Great Glen. Still, I can't complain; the rain that the weatherman predicted for Scotland turned out to be nothing more than a little bit of spitting around lunchtime, and I managed to walk another colossal distance with only one blister to show for it. There were no muscular traumas, no...

Central Line: Leytonstone to Debden

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 23 July 2008, 9 years ago. This is a very enjoyable part of the world to walk through. It helps that Epping Forest cuts a huge swathe through the suburbs to the west of the main Central line to Epping, and it also helps that, for the most part, the locals have money to spend on their houses, making the suburbs tidy, attractive and, in some neighbourhoods, impressive. Having good weather is important out here, too, as this would be quite a trudge in the rain; forests might provide you with shelter, but in continuous...

French Polynesia: Tahiti

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 22 July 1997, 20 years ago. Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, is the biggest settlement on Tahiti and the only place in the territory that can be called a city (with a population of around 150,000). It is also a mixed bag. I found the very idea of a population explosion delightful after such a long spell in the enforced hermitage of Zeke, and as we approached the city lights, the smell of thousands of bodies and their excretions drifted across the tide. I instantly recognised it, a combination of exhaust, sewage...

Australia: Port Hedland

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 22 July 1996, 21 years ago. The day after the bushwalk, I finally hit real civilisation. Port Hedland is on the north coast of the Pilbara, and is home to a huge, deep sea port that ships out all sorts of minerals dug from underneath Western Australia: iron ore, manganese, zinc and heaven knows what else. I stayed the night with Kath, mother of Ron from Perth, and the proprietor of Kath's Kitchen, a top establishment in Port Hedland if burgers and fry-ups are your thing (which for me, they are). Unfortunately Kath had a...

Northern Scotland: Fort William to South Laggan

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 22 July 2003, 14 years ago. Today I left Fort William in what felt like spanking new gear, at least compared to my sweat-soaked and highly unpleasant journey from Kinlochleven. Fort William is a good place to stock up on bits and bobs for the trail, and as well as doing all the usual jobs yesterday like getting my form stamped at the Post Office and visiting the supermarket to drool over the aisles of luxury items, I also treated myself to a heavy-duty laundry session and – long overdue – a completely...

Australia: Pilbara Bushwalk

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 21 July 1996, 21 years ago. You know that feeling when you've always thought, 'I'd love to do that, but it's just too scary/expensive/difficult/oh, you know,' and then you actually get to do it? I'm feeling like that right now. I felt the same after I'd done my first bungee jump in a pub car park in Essex. I felt pretty much the same after eventually getting round to having sex after all those years. I suppose I felt it when I landed in Sydney, having made the big decision to go travelling. And now I've done my first...

Central Line: Liverpool Street to Leytonstone

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 21 July 2008, 9 years ago. It seems to me that it never rains in east London; every time I've stepped east of Liverpool Street, the sun has come out and stayed out to the point of sunburned noses and tantalising visions of ice cold pints of beer at the end of the day. This might be one reason why I've enjoyed every single day walking through this lesser known part of London, but I think the real reason I've been enjoying east London so much is because I didn't expect to. I'm ashamed to say that I believed the hype and...

Southern Scotland: Kinlochleven to Fort William

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 20 July 2003, 14 years ago. OK, so having just tried it, I really wouldn't advise walking 14 miles while suffering from the aftermath of food poisoning. I might have managed to get pretty much everything (and I mean everything) out of my system last night, but there's a debilitating dizziness that comes along with the nausea of food poisoning, and that takes a lot longer to shift. It's not exactly the best hiking companion I've ever had, particularly as Scotland hasn't turned out to be the easiest walking environment in...

French Polynesia: Bushwalking in Tahiti

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 July 1997, 20 years ago. On a whim, I decided to spend the afternoon of July 19th trying to get to the houses above Tahiti, from where I imagined the view would be something special; the problem was, the only map we had of Tahiti was over ten years old, and it stopped short of what was obviously a relatively new housing development. This didn't deter me, and after striking out from Papeete towards the interior, I discovered a road that I assumed would take me into the mountains. Of course, it did nothing of the sort,...

Southern Scotland: Kings House to Kinlochleven

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 July 2003, 14 years ago. Blimey, I wasn't expecting today to turn out like this. Sure, I didn't roll out of bed this morning expecting everything to be fantastic – the weather is still overcast and rainy, which makes this part of the world particularly miserable – but I didn't think I was going to spend the afternoon throwing up. It's totally scuppered my plans. I've got food poisoning – yes, food poisoning! – which is a fine way to conclude this week of physical misery. Seven...

Southern Scotland: Tyndrum to Kings House

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 18 July 2003, 14 years ago. Lady Luck must be smiling on me, because today I managed to avoid two of the most miserable things to afflict a walker. First, my leg held up throughout the day, and second, I didn't get rained on once. I should be ecstatic; behind the façade of a man who's rapidly losing interest in this walk, I probably am. Today's walk was a long one, mainly because I forced myself to take it easy. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with my left shin cramping and my mind whirling,...

Southern Scotland: Inverarnan to Tyndrum

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 17 July 2003, 14 years ago. I am a prat, and if it weren't for the shooting pains in my shin, I'd be kicking myself. You'd think that I'd have learned some lessons from the last few days, but it seems that yet again I've pushed myself too far and too fast and yet again I'm paying the price. Today should have been an easy stroll through the remains of the heatwave; instead it's been another awful day of pain and misery and I'm left here tonight worrying myself sick about whether my body is going to let me get to John...

Central Line: Shepherd's Bush to Liverpool Street

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 17 July 2008, 9 years ago. Blimey, my head is spinning. I might only have walked 11 miles today, but like all the other walks I've done across the centre of London, it took ages and I'm absolutely knackered. Walking through the City is like high-octane sightseeing; there's something stunning to see every few feet, and my camera is as exhausted as I am. I've also had a bit of a revelation: I'm perhaps getting a little bored of places like Soho, which I've walked through so many times that doing it all over again for my...

Southern Scotland: Rowardennan to Inverarnan

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 16 July 2003, 14 years ago. What a nice surprise! Today the weatherman is gravely handing out weather warnings for torrential thundery downpours and the risk of local flooding, but is this the forecast for Scotland? Nope; it appears that Scotland is going to enjoy the heatwave for a little longer, but Devon and Cornwall are currently experiencing major rain and the south is sweltering in severe humidity and uncomfortably high temperatures. For once it's a good thing that Scottish weather is a law unto itself; today...

Central Line: Perivale and Ealing Broadway to Shepherd's Bush

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 16 July 2008, 9 years ago. Apart from one thankless section through an industrial park from hell, this is a pleasant walk through west London, and I'd do it again. Sure, the busy A40 is a recurring and not terribly welcome companion, and it's always irritating for walkers to have to shuffle through golf courses that would make for wonderful urban parks, but I particularly enjoyed discovering parts of Ealing and Acton that I had no idea existed, and as I currently live in the former, I'm happy to say that it's opened up...

India: Delhi

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 July 1998, 19 years ago. Delhi reflects the schizophrenia of modern India perfectly. Split into New Delhi and Old Delhi, the capital manages to sum up everything that was futile about colonialism and everything that is chaotic about the developing world. New Delhi was the last architectural monster of the British Raj. Conceived and executed in much the same way as Canberra (and at about the same time) it has the same concrete ghost-town image of Australia's capital and, incredibly enough for India, about the same...

Southern Scotland: Drymen to Rowardennan

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 July 2003, 14 years ago. I really didn't want to go to work today. I never thought I'd end up classing a day's walk as a day's work, but after two months of getting up early, strapping on the boots and hitting the trail – which then, more often than not, traipses through endless bog and moor – this walk has most definitely graduated from a holiday into a full-time job. The novelty has worn off; in fact it wore off miles ago. Now, although it's a job with a large number of excellent perks, it still...

Central Line: West Ruislip to Perivale

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 July 2008, 9 years ago. This is perhaps not the most exciting walk in the world, though it does improve considerably towards the end, mainly because it reaches the Grand Union Canal, and if there's one thing I like, it's canal walking. There's also at least one lovely village green (if you can ignore the pounding traffic) and a handful of cheery parks, and some parts are pleasantly green. But there isn't a great deal to write home about, so I apologise if this isn't the most uplifting account you've ever read of a...

Northern Line: Camden Town to Edgware

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 14 July 2008, 9 years ago. There's something slightly parable-esque about the route of this walk. It starts off with the abandon of youth in carefree Camden Town and rises to the top of the pile in Hampstead, before being brought down to earth by police action around Colinwood and left to go to seed in Burnt Oak and Edgware. I'm sure Simon Mann, the old Etonian who's just been slammed into an Equatorial Guinean jail for a failed coup, would appreciate the metaphorical aspects of the journey. I was lucky enough to be...

Australia: Cleaverville Beach

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 13 July 1996, 21 years ago. On Wednesday I headed north from Millstream-Chichester, back to the highway and civilisation. I stopped in Karratha, home to the biggest shopping centre outside Perth (which only goes to show how empty the rest of Western Australia is), where I knuckled down to shop for my forthcoming Pilbara bushwalk. Unfortunately I couldn't get my lamp fixed, but everything else fell into place, and after spending a small fortune on food, bush gear and various other bits and bobs, I drove east of Karratha...

Southern Scotland: Kilsyth to Drymen

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 13 July 2003, 14 years ago. Over the last few days the weathermen and women have been glowing with the news of the hottest heatwave to hit the country in years. Their charts have been beaming with pretty yellow sun symbols and the temperatures have been soaring above 30°C, setting new records for the time of year and giving the forecasters the happy task of predicting clear skies and wall-to-wall sunshine for the next few days. It's a happy time. But poor old Scotland seems to be the odd one out. 'It's going to...

Southern Scotland: Linlithgow to Kilsyth

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 12 July 2003, 14 years ago. Today was a long day's walk, especially after yesterday's marathon; then again, I've got an even longer day tomorrow, so I'd better just ignore the painful blister on the bottom of my right heel and concentrate on the good bits. Today there were three highlights that shone out from the endless miles of silently weaving canal, all of them impressive feats of engineering that held me enthralled. Apart from these three sparks of genius today's walk was by and large a repeat performance of...