Weather has been wreaking havoc across the country lately and despite many sleepless nights (howlin’ wind…) I feel grateful that, where I am, it’s safe and flood-free. My friends in Ireland keep me posted whenever it gets really bad over there and, some 18 hours later, we inevitably get hit by storms and horizontal rain. Amazingly, my IKEA delivery got here on ‘Ciara’ Sunday – I thanked the driver repeatedly for I fully expected it to be rescheduled. I spent the remainder of that day building my furniture, and watching what was going on outside, in disbelief. I have seen some nasty weather here in the UK during the last 15 years, both in the south and in the north, but this was like nothing I had experienced before. Hours and hours of relentless rain and wind. A few days later I walked to town to see what the river looked like. It looked scary. Some of the meadow footpaths are still flooded.
Changing the subject, I read with great interest an article in the March ’19 issue of TRAIL magazine, called ‘Big trips on small budgets’. I regularly buy TRAIL, and I find it full of great ideas and advice…not this time. Said article is pretty useless. In a nutshell, they tell us that in order to save our pennies we should:
- Ditch cars and use public transport. Possible only for those lucky few who already live within close proximity to National Parks, AONBs etc, providing that local buses actually stop anywhere near the routes we’re interested in. It takes me 4 hours to get to Keswick from Chester by train and bus, all 140 miles of it. There is no connection early enough to get me to Llanberris so I can start climbing Snowdon before 9 am, avoiding the crowds. Not to mention some places no bus and train go to. How are we supposed to visit isolated Scottish mountains without driving to the nearest car park first ??? ‘Perhaps cycling to the mountains could become part of your weekend adventure’...I don’t think so!
- Carpooling because ‘single person car journeys are terrible for the environment and your wallet’...OK, this isn’t such a bad idea, however some people – like me – generally prefer to spend time in the mountains alone. Also, how likely is it that we manage to find others who are going exactly where we are going, at the same time, same day? Unlikely.
- Buying cheaper, advance train tickets. Possible, I do it for my Keswick trips, which usually means getting up at 4 am and having to share a carriage on the way back with drunks heading to Lancaster or Preston for their night out. Otherwise, it’s 50 quid. Each way.
- Hitch-hiking. This is so idiotic I am not even going to comment further. Hitch-hike all the way to Penrith ? Fuck off…
- Accommodation; apparently a clean bed, a shower and a quiet night’s sleep are such extreme luxuries nowadays that we are advised to stay in hostels (not that much cheaper to be honest), sleep in tents (ok for those who enjoy camping) or sleep in a car. I rather dislike an idea of sleeping in a car having spent an entire day hiking. Wait…cars are terrible for environment. Should we sleep in a bus shelter instead ?
- Borrowing gear, maps etc. Well, in my experience it makes sense to invest in decent waterproofs, maps and books, or whatever else we might need. Bargains or not, gear is expensive. Full stop.
- Food & Drink. Actually, the advice here is sensible: stock up in Aldi or Lidl before arriving to a destination with one overpriced Co-op, such as the Isle of Skye. Then, ditch the pub, avoid cafes, bring your own snacks and drinks. The locals will hate you for it forever, as you don’t support their local economy.
- Be frugal. Cancel your gym membership, your Spotify and Netflix, and only then you will be able to afford that lovely B&B in the Lakes. Or else, you shall sleep in a car!
- Relocate! Move to the mountains. Change a job. Why earn £40k in London when you can be a pot washer on a 0 hour contract in a Cumbrian village. It’s almost funny, except it isn’t.
Like I said, I like TRAIL, however the content of article is embarassing. The reality is that holidaying in the UK is very expensive. Travelling long distances, parking, accommodation, meals, all of it combined makes a weekend in one of our national parks cost as much as a week in, say, Northern Spain, which boasts excellent roads, beautiful mountains and fantastic food. Nevertheless, I am very fond of UK’s outdoors and try to enjoy it as often as possible, despite the costs.
The only truly helpful piece of advice I can think of, is this: instead of trying to save money in a million stupid ways, GET RICHER.