Søndagstur in St Ives

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It’s been quite a while since I took and edited the photos from this trip but I thought that I would post them today anyway as a memory of long weekend days with Ragnhild,  exploring the Cornish coast, to counter the much shorter and dark winter days of December.

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St Ives was as busy as I always remember it but here and there we snatched little pockets of peace we turned down a wee ope or rounded a corner. I was on the hunt for good photos on this trip and although the weather wasn’t quite what I had in mind when we planned our visit, I am still very happy with some of the little detail shots I managed to capture in the end.

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So far we have barely dinted the coastal path directly out of St Ives so I am excited to be back there again after Christmas and maybe we can venture a bit further down the coast and maybe catch that funny green bus back to the town in time for the train home.

Millican Travelogue Illustrations

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This year I had the pleasure of working with Millican bags on a number of very exciting projects. My favourite was producing the cover and map of the world for their new Travelogue publication!

I am really hoping to land some more map jobs this year so the timing for the project was perfect. There was also lots of research to be done for the different travel locations but this is always my favourite part of map illustrations!

Since doing some research into traditional Welsh quilt making at the beginning of the year I was really eager to use some of this inspiration in my Illustration work. The wonderful design team at Millican were amazing to work with and let me run with my ideas for the cover which definitely has some of these lovely pattern influences in it!

The travelogue is going to be sent out with Millican product orders and used at trade fairs and I am really excited to hear people’s reactions to it!

 

 

A Cornish Søndagstur

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We are now living in sunny Cornwall! We have arrived as late summer is coming in and have been blessed with some amazing weather. So on our first weekend we decided to head out into some coastal nature to keep up one of our favourite cosy Norwegian traditions – Søndagstur!

In Norway pretty much everybody heads out into their local woods, mountains or lakes on a Sunday. This is Søndagstur! People are kitted out for all weather and bring plenty of treats and usually a flask or 2 of hot chocolate or coffee. (The snacks are perhaps my favourite part!)

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So we very excited to be adapting this tradition to our new home in the South West of England! Unlike most Sundays in Norway, we didn’t need so much rain gear on this particular walk but we did bring our towels and went for a peaceful dip in the sea, where we were surrounded by a huge shoal of sand eels (slightly surreal!) adding an interesting flavour of nature to our trip.

Already we are noticing the days are growing shorter and how fast darkness seems to set in this part if the world. It is going to be very interesting adjusting to the change in landscape and climate but I am already looking forward to it and Søndagstur is the perfect way to settle in!

Poster for Lost and Found

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A couple of weeks ago I worked with Lost and Found brewbar and cafe to create an updated poster for their new food venture – Pizza Night!

I had a lot of fun working with them with their Feast event poster last year. I really love their appreciation of good design and ethos around quality local food so was very excited to work with them again.

I hope the poster brings across the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of their food events and wish them all the success for the future with their evening events. Coleraine isn’t very lively place at night (yet!) and I think it would be amazing to see some continental cafe culture making its way across the sea to Ireland!

Ride Journal – Cycling up Lifjell

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At the start of summer I finally took my bike up to the top of Lifjell – the steep and rocky hill that I could see from the door of my flat in Stavanger and a summit from which I had dreamt of seeing the view back to the city and surrounding islands for too long!

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To get there I first had to pedal my way around the edge of Gandsfjorden to the start of the mountain track. This came to around 35km each way and had a few hills but nothing too steep. On the way I passed Vaulen my local swimming spot. It lies just beside a lovely shared-use bike path from which I happily took in the views and celebrated cheerfully the lack of busy traffic. This is just one of many amazing shared-use paths that run south of Stavanger and I can’t praise them highly enough!

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Then it was time for the steep gravel or “gris” climb to the summit of Lifjell at 282 moh. The track is for access to the radio mast but it also makes for great white knuckle downhill gravel riding too! I tried to wave home but unfortunately it appeared that I had chosen a day when fate had it that I was hidden inside a misty cloud on the top, so no mountain-to-city contact was made.

The initial road climb to the carpark and trackhead of Lifjell was more tough than I had imagined but all in all it was a very fun ride and I would recommend it to anyone who only has a few hours but is looking for something a bit more challenging in the close vicinity of Stavanger and Sandnes! (It is very flat to the south!)

Writing this is making me miss Rogaland quite a lot as I have some exciting news to share – I am moving back to Cornwall with my girlfriend! It is going to be lovely to be back where I studied and met so many nice people but I am going to miss Norway a lot too! So Cornish adventures coming up on the blog and maybe even some Celtic/Cornish themes finding their way in to my work soon!

Illustration for PNT Bicycle Magazine

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This month I am really excited that my work has been published in the Polish cycling and bikepacking magazine PNT! The whole publications is laid out and designed beautifully with some amazing photography!

As always, I am so pleased to be able to take part in spreading the word on the benefits and fun that can be had when exploring nature and the outdoors on two wheels! Dzięki PNT!

Ride Journal – Egersund to Stavanger

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A few weeks ago I took the train down to Egersund to explore a length of the North Sea Cycle Route on my bike. I had heard lots of nice things about it and knew that Nordsjørittet – one of the most popular gravel races in Rogaland is held along much of the route. I was excited to experience riding the entire length of the Jæren region for the first time, known for its farmland and fields of glacial boulders, as well as feeling slightly nervous to be doing my first long ride in a good while. An hour or so of comfortable train ride later and I was pedalling out of town.

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The route starts out on an old railway track of gravel at Egersund (it was about 30% gravel over the whole 80km route) winding its way to the amazing beaches at Ogna. I really wanted to stay by the beach for longer but decided to keep on as I had no idea how slow I would be along the route!

I was already pretty tired, as the gravel section veered inland just before the beaches of Ogna and headed up into the steep rocky hills. I didn’t mind getting off to push as it gave me an excuse to take a lot of photos! I was the only person around for miles! Just me, an empty track and sunshine!

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Then I was properly heading up into Jæren! I made use of the wee villages dotted along the route to pop into a supermarket for some lunch and then started along the coastal gravel section. There were so many nice things about this route that I would be hard pushed to pick a favourite. However, the company of the sparkling sea to my left and beautiful Lapwings calling to their young in the fields to my right made this section of the coast (Kongevegen ) particularly special!

Freewheeling down from the eerily silent uplands to the lush fields filled with birdsong was a little like cycling into spring. I was glad that it was finally here!

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Obrestad lighthouse provided a welcome (if very windy) stop to savour a few pieces of Swedish chocolate biscuit. From then on it was a case of winding my way up the many cycle paths that line most of the main roads in northern Jæren up to Sola and then Stavanger. However, I made a wee diversion out to Vigdel strand to dip my toes in the sea.

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Vigdel Strand has to be my favourite cove on the whole of Jæren so far! There was a perfect spot to bivvy up on the headland and I can just see myself getting up out of my sleeping bag and going for a swim in the calm morning sea as the sun rises!

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I am hopefully going to have the opportunity to explore the Jæren coast a bit more on my bike soon, (Hå Prestegård in particular!) but for now here is a map I drew up showing my route and of course – I had to paint some Lapwings!

Jæren Coastal Walk

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I have been really taken recently with the Norwegian tradition of a Sunday family walk or ‘Søndagstur’. I like how enjoying nature seems so normal here in Norway and how young children are often part of the walk, so people are often dandering around at a very relaxed pace which means plenty of time for chatting and resting.

I am also really enjoying researching the Jæren coast here in Rogaland and looking for interesting walks along the shore. So when my girlfriend’s mum was visiting one misty Sunday this spring, we got together and headed out for a slow family walk by the sea!

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The walk starts at Tananger Indre Havn which is just outside Stavanger. I really want to come back to the harbour again in low evening light as there are quite a few lovely old buildings on the wharfs. From here on the rocky seashore scrambling begins!

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And what fun that scrambling is! It can be quite slow going on the sometimes slippy rocks but it is nice to slow down the pace. That way you  can enjoy the views out to sea and look out for seabirds and passing ships. Not that we could see the sea very much! (We could hear the ‘ghost ships’ though!)

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Returning to our car at the harbour we stayed a while to enjoy the first signs of spring and sip some lovely Norwegian filter coffee we had brought with us in a flask. I love this ‘Søndagstur’ tradition so much; I would love to try and do it as much as possible this year!

 

Mountain running plans for the year

Last winter I had my first try at a hill race at the Kendal Mountain festival. I really enjoyed it but as the winter has gone on I have been pondering what direction to take my running next.

So far I have learnt that my favourite part of fell running has to be fun technical downhill running! However, I currently (and hope to continue!) only travel around by bike and public transport, (mainly with environmental concerns in mind) and realise that to compete in even just a few fell races each year would mean a lot of travelling for me.

However, a big inspiration for me is the idea that by running I can explore more mountainous/upland terrain in one go and connect routes that would have previously been a logistical nightmare to walk. Hiking Pádhraic would have had to attempt such areas section by section and to return by public transport, which in many cases is pretty much impossible.

So this is where this year’s plans come in.

I grew up looking up at Slemish. It’s a wee rocky mountain overlooking a broad valley and I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have climbed it! It is a very special place for me. It also lies at the end of a long distance footpath called the Antrim Hills way. I have yet to explore many parts of the route and have never walked the whole 35km. So this summer I am aiming to find a good dry spell,(roughly a third is pathless bog!) get up really early and run/fast walk all the way from my door to the end at Glenarm (maybe dip myself in the sea too!). An afternoon bus later and I will be home for tea!

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I am also very lucky to be going on a wee holiday to Sognefjord for my Birthday next month! My bike can’t come with me unfortunately so I am planning to do loads of exploring on foot. I am not making many definite plans as the weather can still be quite wintery above 500m there in April but I do have one goal. To run up Storehaugfjellet!

The summit lies at 1173m and has beautiful views over Sogndal and across the fjord. I attempted to run it in December but ran out of daylight and turned back at around 900m. Once I left the tree line I did feel like some snow spikes (something I don’t own at the moment) would have been helpful but I think in similar conditions I will still be in a safe position as long as I give myself enough time to go very slowly and carefully on the steeper snow sections.

I have many more ideas but these are my main goals for this year. Keep an eye out on my twitter for updates or even just to have a wee chat. I would love to hear what running adventures people have planned for the coming year!

Norwegian Bikepacking Book – Villmarkssykling

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Last year I had the pleasure to work with Mikkel Soya Bølstad on his latest book about adventures by bike in the wilderness and nature of  Norway. I have been following his adventures and photography for a while on instagram so was really excited to work with him.

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I was initially just working on the maps of the bikepacking adventures he features in the book but at the end of the project I was asked to illustrate the cover as well! The designers did a really nice job on the cover so I was very happy with this surprise extra work!

I went to the book launch in Oslo and got my first look at the finished book and it was everything I had been dreaming of and more! In my second year of uni, just after I completed my first solo bike tour in the Hebrides, I searched all over the internet for beautiful photography showcasing adventure cycling. I was really hungry for visual inspiration but I hardly found anything at all!

Fortunately, there has been a lot of positive interest in bikepacking recently, and now websites like bikepacking.com are doing a great job at providing beautiful stories and photography to inspire you to get out there on your next adventure. I think Mikkel’s book perfectly embodies all those things I was looking for when I first started getting into travelling and camping with my bike. Now I just have to up my Norwegian translation skills so I can read it!