Stop Plastic pollution caused by single-use plastic bottles on National Refill Day
National Refill Day is a public awareness campaign aiming to stop millions of single-use plastic bottles from polluting our streets and oceans. The day is encouraging people to carry a reusable water bottle and refill on the go.
Brought to you by City to Sea as part of the award-winning Refill Campaign, National Refill Day is an awareness campaign to get the UK public to stop bottling it when it comes to our drinking water. Refill want to create a new social norm for refilling on the go – saving us money, keeping us hydrated and preventing millions of single-use plastic bottles at source.
This is something that we are big advocates for and want to encourage everyone to do. We have all the seen the disastrous effect that plastic pollution is having on our planet and it is imperative that we all do our bit to protect our planet.
On June 19th the Refill campaign will be asking the public if they’ve #GotTheBottle to stop buying single-use plastic bottles and replace them with a reusable bottle instead. If just 1 in 10 Brits Refilled once a week, the country would save around 340 million plastic bottles a year.
💧 An estimated 700,000 plastic bottles are littered every day in the UK
💧 Plastic bottles are the most commonly found single-use item on beaches in Europe
One of our core missions at Water-to-Go is to reduce the environmental devastation caused by single-use plastic bottles. Just one of our 75cl filters will replace 400 single-use plastic bottles. Just think of the difference this could make.
Additionally, the bottle’s unique filtration technology means you can fill up from any non-salt water source, such as rivers, lakes and mountain streams, to access safe drinking water. So no matter the situation you won’t need to revert to single-use plastic bottles for accessing clean drinking water.
Water-to-Go Marking National Refill Day
As part of National Refill Day, we’re showcasing some of our favourite places our customers and ambassadors have refilled their Water-to-Go bottles.
Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has refilled his Water-to-Go bottle from the Yangtze river in China on his world-first #MissionYangtze expedition to walk the whole length of the Yangtze river.
Water-to-Go ambassador, Chaz Powell, fills his Water-to-Go bottle from the Gambia river on his recent expedition to become one of the first to walk the whole length of it.
Water-to-Go bottles making an appearance at Glastonbury Festival. If you are at a festival this year, make sure you stay well hydrated and plastic free with a Water-to-Go bottle.
Have a look at our Summer packing list with all the essentials you will need to keep you single-use plastic free. (To get festival ready with Water-to-Go, use discount code: FESTIVAL19)
Tim Kroeger filled up his bottle from a tap whilst on a trip in a village in West Africa.
Keenan Williams refilling his Water-to-Go bottle from a lake in the Brecon Beacons.
Holly from The Outdoor Guide fills up from the snow mountains whilst on a trip in Switzerland.
Tarran Kent-Hume refilled his Water-to-Go bottle from the Rio Negro whilst on an expedition kayaking the Amazon River.
Jule from The Happy Choices drinking water straight from a waterfall whilst on a walk in the Canadian wilderness.
Our Blue 75cl bottle getting a top-up from a mucky puddle whislt on a hike in South Korea.
This refill of the green bottle is straight from a standpipe whilst on a charity trek in the Pyrenees.
Becky the Traveller fills her pink 50cl bottle from a mountain stream whilst on a hike in the Lake District.
Send us your pictures filling up your Water-to-Go bottle from questionable sources and we will feature them on our social media channels.
After many years of travelling and after pursuing many different life changing adventures, I soon realised I needed more and soon realised I needed ‘The Wildest Journey’ and something that would stretch me far out of my normal comfort zone.
I knew I wanted to discover wild lands that were little known to others, lands where people daren’t venture due to tales of danger, mystery and the unknown. Something that would take me to a whole new level of exploration and be my ultimate adventure.
So, in 2016 and 2017 I spent a combined duration of 137 days walking for over 3000km from source to sea along the mighty Zambezi river. An expedition that for me was the ultimate test – To walk the length of Africa’s wildest river….
Walking the Zambezi
The expedition had taken two years of strict planning and during those 2 years, I’d managed to find myself a local guide, who had also seemed passionate about walking the length of the Zambezi river and tackling this wildest journey by foot.
But after reaching the river’s source and coming face to face with the reality of walking through remote lands for the next 5 months. He quickly changed his mind and succumbed to his fears, saying that this was a crazy idea and it can’t be done! He then turned back in the direction we had come and left me alone to walk the length of the Zambezi river, I never saw him again.
After the shock of being left alone in these strange lands, I soon got my head together and started walking. Remembering why it was I had taken on this challenge and knowing I needed to try and embrace every second of this great journey.
From then on, I spent time in the remotest of settlements with the humblest of people. People who had absolutely nothing in their lives but seemed to give absolutely everything. I came to rely on these people not only to help guide the way, but also for the incredible hospitality I received on a near daily basis. But this wasn’t without hesitation, as I was often mistaken for being a demon, a witch, a diamond smuggler and even a reincarnation of the great David Livingstone. I was the first white person many had ever met, so it came as quite a shock to see me walking through their remote lands.
During my great journey, I faced many a challenging obstacle along the mighty river. From crossing the 400-mile long swampy Barotse floodplains, near-death experiences in the Zambezi gorges, and being held hostage in a small remote village in Mozambique. All of these challenges moulded me and saw me overcome all the fears that I’d built up before tackling this mighty quest. I’d reached the Indian ocean and my end goal knowing that I wanted to continue to take on more wildest journeys and to raise awareness for the devastating loss of wildlife and wild lands across the continent of Africa and throughout the world. I knew it was my passion to explore and discover and I’d now continue to do so to fight for the voiceless.
After a long 2-day journey we eventually reached the source of the Gambia river. The river itself starts in the remote highlands of the Fouta Djallon in Guinea-Conakry, and is a wild, rugged landscape consisting of steep hills and remote settlements. Paths along the river’s banks were minimal and we were often forced into climbing the steep tracks away from the river itself! This was the beginning of what would turn out to be an incredible yet wildest journey, where we found ourselves tackling this challenging environment, but were treated like kings in this land of warmth and kindness. Leaving us feeling overwhelmed and fascinated by the amazing cultures and the hospitality we received from the most humble of people.
Soon the river started to widen and consisted of numerous twists and turns. Its presence left us feeling overwhelmed and in a fascinating state of isolation along its wild banks. We came to rely on it not just for the water it gave us to drink and cook with, but for the sense of freedom it bestowed upon us with its beauty and grace. It was home to not only the good people who accommodated and fed us whilst we hiked its waters edge. But also to the wildest of animals and the most magnificent of ever changing wild landscapes.
During my journeys I relied on drinking straight from the rivers with my trusty Water-to-Go bottles. There was several sections of river where the water was just too contaminated. So whilst using my bottle it gave me both the confidence and tools I needed to survive in the most remotest of regions.
One of the most incredible parts of our journey was walking through the Niokolo Koba National Park. After nearly being denied access into the park, but by some miracle managing to secure a last-minute permit. We hiked and skirted along the river’s edge until reaching the parks gates. On arrival we were accompanied by two game rangers and started by far the wildest section of our trek. Unfortunately, during those 4 days I felt at my lowest. My appetite had disappeared and the heat/lack of food was seriously draining my energy supplies. But these guys got me through and made it by far one of the most memorable moments of our source to sea journey.
When times became difficult, it was often the good people we met along the way that would lift our spirits and inspire us to keep pushing forward with our journey. People who had very little in the way of possessions but would often open their doors and hearts to us to make us feel welcomed. This kindness of strangers is what motivated us through the difficult times, and the good people of Guinea-Conakry, Senegal and The Gambia made this expedition one of greatest journeys I’ve ever made.
On reaching the Atlantic Ocean and the end of our 1120km, 47-day source to sea journey by foot. We were left feeling a huge sense of satisfaction, elation and overwhelming joy. We had become the first known people to take on and complete this mammoth task, and we knew that this difficult, yet humbling challenge had all been worthwhile.
We had hiked through some of the wildest regions in Western Africa and been welcomed by all that we had met on our path. This was an adventure that will stay with me forever and one that will be difficult to compare with any of my future ‘the wildest journey’ expeditions.
What next for The Wildest Journey?
In September 2019 myself and (potentially) a small team will be setting out in an attempt to walk not only the width of Madagascar, but also source to sea along the country’s longest river – The Mangoky.
Starting on the East Coast of Madagascar we will walk to the source of The Mangoky River and then follow its 564-kilometer (350 mi) length all the way to the Mozambique Chanel on the country’s Western Coast. We will be heading out on this epic adventure to not only take on an incredible journey. But also to raise awareness and funds for the loss of wildlife and wild lands throughout the region…
So there is a lot to look forward to. Keep up to date with all of my adventures and expeditions on Instagram and Facebook.
Water-to-Go and Ramblers Walking Holidays are delighted to have raised over £1000 that will go towards charitable projects and initiatives that Ramblers support. Dave Shanks, Director of Water-to-Go, presented the Heart & Sole team with a cheque for £1,150 as a donation based on the number of Water-to-Go bottles purchased by their clients in 2018.
Ramblers and Heart & Sole
We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to peoples’ lives. Ramblers Walking Holidays have a scheme called Heart & Sole, managed by their office staff, and their aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries they visit. Their hope is to make a long term, direct impact on these communities, particularly in less developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way. Heart & Sole will be able to use these funds to continue supporting ventures at home and in the countries they visit around the world.
Heart & Sole offers much-needed support to projects and charities in the UK and overseas, dealing with both large issues such as animal welfare as well as small, and more personal, ventures such as providing schools equipment to village communities. They are currently working with SPANA in Morocco, Cockermouth Mountain Rescue, SOS Children’s Villages in Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Malawi and Morocco.
In South Africa, Heart and Sole support the Royal Drakensberg primary school, in St Lucia a school breakfast club and Andros Routes in Greece. Most recently, they delivered donated items to an orphanage in Tanzania and foster homes in San Jose, Costa Rica. By travelling with Ramblers Walking Holidays, in addition to experiencing the joy of visiting new places, you can help make a difference in these communities.
Seeing the World on Foot with Ramblers
Ramblers Walking Holidays have been providing great value small-group guided holidays in spectacular locations around the globe for 70 years that allow you to discover the essence of the place you are visiting. They are all about seeing the world on foot, offering everything from lowland ambles to high mountain trekking, from short sightseeing walks to challenging long-distance trails.
Ramblers Walking Holidays also want to encourage sustainable practices in the destinations they send their travellers. They are advocates of responsible tourism in accordance with AITO and are extremely aware of the social and environmental impact of travel. By encouraging clients to buy a Water-to-Go bottle, they hope to reduce plastic waste and do their bit for the environment.
The Water-to-Go and Ramblers Partnership
We have been working with Ramblers Walking Holidays for a number of years to help keep their customers healthy and hydrated on their trips. Through our partnership, we have continued to raise money for Heart and Sole. In 2016, Heart & Sole used money donated by Water-to-Go to sponsor the building of a toilet block in Pakistan through an organisation called Toilet Twinning. In December 2017, Water-to-Go were delighted to present Heart & Sole with another cheque for £750 from bottles bought by their clients which has also gone towards their development projects.
We are delighted to be working with such a fantastic company that has a brilliant ethos and that is supporting some life-changing causes. Learn more about Ramblers Walking Holidays and our partnership here.
A Travel Health Guide designed to Protect you from Illness on your Holidays
Making sure you keep yourself healthy whilst travelling is something very important for your holidays. The last thing you want is for your holiday to be ruined by a nasty stomach bug or potentially something worse.
As a result, we at Water-to-Go have created this guide to help you stay healthy on your holidays. As a company we have worked within the travel sector for many years now, forming partnerships with travel clinics and companies such as Wild Frontiers and Explore. We’ve used this knowledge and produced this guide to give you an idea of what you need to be thinking about when planning your next trip.
Whilst we can’t tailor this guide to everyone’s specific holiday, these are some general thoughts for you to be aware of in relation to your travel health. For information about a specific country you will be travelling to, check out the Rough Guides website. They provide information for loads of specific countries and regions, such as their backpacker’s guide to India.
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It’s important to be prepared medically for whichever country you are visiting, especially if you are travelling to countries like those within Africa where there is the risk of diseases such as Malaria.
The medication you’ll need will vary depending on the country you’re travelling to. Make sure to consult your GP or visit a travel health clinic to recommend the medicines/ vaccinations you will need for your travels. Their’s nothing worse than your experience being ruined because of an illness.
Water Filter Bottle
Water can be a common source of illness on holidays, especially if you are travelling to destinations such as India or parts of Africa where the water source may not be reliable. It’s therefore important to make sure you are able to get quick and easy access to clean safe drinking water.
The Water-to-Go filter bottle is the perfect tool for the job. The bottle’s unique filter is able to filter out over 99.9% of microbiological contaminants, meaning you can drink safely from and non-salt water source with confidence you won’t catch any illnesses.
In addition to this, one filter can replace up to 400 single-use plastic bottles. Therefore, you won’t have to contribute towards the world’s plastic pollution problem in the search for clean safe drinking water.
Use Discount Code ‘SCHOOLSOUT20’ for 20% off at Watertogo.eu and stay healthy, hydrated and single-use plastic-free this Summer Holiday Season
Think about your Travel Diet
Your food can carry similar illnesses as the water you drink. To avoid symptoms like diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting there are a few precautions you can take:
Tray and avoid fruit and veg that has been washed in local water.
Don’t buy unpasteurised dairy products.
Eat fruits such as Bananas and oranges which have thick peelable skins.
If you can, avoid Ice in your drinks.
Prepare your own meals where you can.
Suncream’s health benefits
Obviously, this will primarily apply to those visiting hot countries where you’ll regularly be in the sun. It’s important to understand the strength of cream you will need and if you’re unsure, it’s better to go with a higher SPF to be safe.
There are numerous health benefits towards using sunscreen with the most obvious being you won’t be having to endure the pain of sunburn during your holiday. However, there are also long-term benefits such as reducing the chances of skin cancer, reduces premature skin ageing and preventing blotchy skin.
Carry a First-Aid kit with you
Some form of first aid kit is something that should be essential when you’re travelling, especially for those going on a more adventurous trip. This kit will help you to avoid a small injury, such as a cut or scrape, turning into anything worse that can have a bigger impact on your experience.
A great way to make the most of your first aid kit is to create your own personalised kit. By doing this you’ll be able to prepare for the specific health concerns that you’ll be facing on your trip. As well as including your own first-aid items, there are some essential items you should include. These essential items we recommend are plasters, antiseptic wipes/ cream, paracetamol, scissors and any prescription medicine you would normally take.
Travel Insurance for your Health
If you are unfortunate enough to encounter some form of illness or injury whilst on your travels you’ll want travel insurance. Dependent on the country you are visiting, it may not be worth relying on local medical care as some countries can be unreliable.
For this reason, it’s important to get yourself some travel insurance that covers your health. You should be able to find some pretty cheap and good value insurance deals online and will certainly be less expensive than if you were to receive medical attention without insurance. Just make sure to check your insurance covers everything you feel you’ll need on your trip.
Start adjusting your sleeping pattern by an hour or two (in the correct direction) before you travel.
Drink plenty of water whilst travelling.
Use an eye mask and earplugs to help get to sleep, so you can adjust your sleeping pattern.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible while travelling.
Set an alarm to avoid oversleeping.
Spend time outside during the day if you can, sunlight will help your body clock adjust.
Avoiding Altitude Sickness
This is something that won’t affect everyone however, this is something that you will have to take into account for a large proportion of holidays, such as skiing holidays or visiting places such as Machu Picchu.
In terms of counteracting altitude sickness, there are a few techniques and medications you can use. Firstly, acetazolamide is designed to prevent and treat the symptoms of altitude sickness. You’ll also want to bring some paracetamol or something similar to prevent headaches, as well as anti-sickness medication like promethazine. It’s also important if you are experiencing altitude sickness, to stay where you are and not try to climb any higher as well as drinking plenty of water. For more information about medication consult your GP.
After 47 days, 1120km and 1.5 million steps, adventurer, expedition leader and Water-to-Go ambassador Chaz Powell along with his fellow adventurer and expedition photographer Tim Roberts have become the first people in known history to walk the length of the Gambia river from its source in the Fouta Djallon, Guinea to the Atlantic Ocean on Africa’s Western coast.
This epic journey took them through Guinea, Senegal and the complete length of The Gambia to become the first people in known history to walk the river’s length. The map below shows the route they took.
“It was an incredible life changing expedition that’s taken us through, wild, rugged and breath-taking landscapes from day one!”
Chaz Powell and Tim Roberts
They said it was “a challenging adventure that’s seen us trek through extreme temperatures and harsh landscapes, whilst enduring constant hunger, dehydration and walking amongst the wildest of animals! But also it’s been the most incredible of journeys where we’ve experienced unending hospitality and kindness from the most humble of people.”
Chaz is no stranger to adventure and has over 15 years of remote travel and expedition experience. In 2016/17 he spent 137 days walking the 3000km length of the Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth longest and wildest river; becoming only the second person in known history to complete this wild and dangerous journey by foot. Roberts joined Chaz on this latest wildest journey as expedition photographer and to help document this historic feat. He’s also no stranger to adventure and has walked various challenging treks all over the world.
This expedition will go down as one of their biggest challenges but also achievements to date as they have now both written themselves into the history books. Whilst they both wanted to test themselves on another wild journey, an important aspect surrounding the expedition was to experience Africa and learn about the wildlife, the culture and the people that live and depend on the Gambia River.
Chaz and Tim experienced cultures and communities first-hand that many people would not have known even existed so this adventure was able to provide a real insight to Africa that would have been completely different to what many people had experienced before.
It’s important to remember that this was no walk in the park as Chaz and Tim definitely faced a number of challenges along the way including dealing high temperatures and threats from wild animals. One of the major challenges on the expedition was finding safe drinking water. To solve this, Chaz and Tim were pleased to work with the UK company, Water-to-Go. Water-to-Go is a portable water filtration system that eliminates well in excess of 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source. This, therefore, allowed them to fill their bottles up from any freshwater stream, local tap or from the Gambia river itself to keep themselves healthy and hydrated throughout the expedition without getting ill.
Chaz has used his trusted Water-to-Go bottle on many of his adventures and this on-going partnership highlights his commitment to sustainable travel and protecting the environment. The Water-to-Go ambassador is keen to eliminate all single-use plastic bottles on his expeditions and showcase a simple alternative that everyone can use.
One of the main reason’s behind this expedition was to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and highlight serious wildlife crimes that are happening along the remote regions surrounding Africa’s rivers. Chaz partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation for this expedition, one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations that focuses on the protection of African wildlife and wildlands. Throughout his expedition, Chaz was providing his observations of Africa’s wildlife, wild lands and people to the charity.
Chaz also highlighted our partnership and current charity project with the African Wildlife Foundation whilst on this expedition. Water-to-Go are working with the African Wildlife Foundation in order to raise money and awareness of the work that they do and to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa. We have produced a limited edition bottle, that Chaz used on his expedition, to raise awareness and funds for the organisation.
If you want to get involved in the campaign, Water-to-Go’s special AWF branded bottles are still available via our website with £10 from each bottle purchased being donated to the incredible projects and programs run by African Wildlife Foundation.
“Through my ‘The Wildest Journey’ expeditions, I hope to inspire people to take note on what’s happening to the remaining wildlife and wild lands and support my journeys to help me raise the vital funds needed to ensure these places are protected and managed well for future generations.”
Chaz has a lot more expeditions in store so watch this space to see where he will be exploring next on ‘The Wildest Journey.’
Water-to-Go are delighted to announce that we are working with the African Wildlife Foundation in order to raise money and awareness of the work that they do to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa. This is an exciting new partnership for the business as we continue to grow and spread the message about Water-to-Go.
African Wildlife Foundation is improving the lives of local people alongside protecting wildlife and their habitat so both can have a sustainable fugure. AWF works directly with communities and local partners to understand the obstacles faced and find solutions specific to their needs so that livelihoods do not destroy the natural environment or threaten the survival of wildlife. By providing incentives such as economic enterprises, access to better education or sharing income from tourism, AWF’s programmes support communities to develop whilst embracing conservation. We are pleased to be supporting these initiatives through this campaign.
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has nearly 60 years of experience working to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in a modern Africa. As one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations focused solely on the continent of Africa, AWF is the primary advocate for the protection of African wildlife and wild lands.
For this campaign, Water-to-Go has produced a special edition bottle that is available via our website. We will donate £10 from every special bottle sold towards AWF’s work to protect the wildlife and wild lands in Africa.
Water-to-Go bottles protect our planet by providing an environmentally friendly alternative to single-use plastic. On his travels around the world, Water-to-Go founder Dave Shanks was shocked at the piles of plastic waste he saw that were damaging local communities and the planet. He sought to create a sustainable solution to this problem and developed a reusable, recyclable water bottle that contains a unique 3-in-1 filter that provides safe drinking water anywhere. Now, Water-to-Go are working with AWF to ensure the sustainable future of Africa’s people, wildlife and land.
Africa loses 8 percent of its elephants to poaching every year. AWF’s programmes include training and equipping rangers, deploying sniffer and detection dogs, setting aside protected areas for critically endangered wildlife and educating the public and those responsible for law enforcement on how the destruction of habitat and illegal wildlife trade is robbing Africa of its future. You can all get involved in our project to support wildlife conservation and ensure Africa’s elephants do not become endangered.
We are delighted to be working with a charity of the calibre and influence of the African Wildlife Foundation. They align with the visions and goals of our business, and together we are committed to making a difference. Through this campaign, we are doing our bit to help protect Africa’s wildlife and wild lands.
The African Wildlife Foundation joins Water-to-Go in its vision to protect the planet by reducing single-use plastic water bottles on their member safaris, and by distributing Water-to-Go bottles to a selection of rangers protecting wildlife on the front line. Water-to-Go will be donating some of these limited edition AWF bottles to the charity so that these rangers can stay healthy and hydrated wherever they are.
Water-to-Go was delighted to be invited to the Royal Over-seas League in London to hear about AWF’s partnership with the Rwandan Development Board that focuses on Mountain Gorilla Conservation in Rwanda alongside community empowerment and development.
This is just one of many initiatives in Africa that are improving people’s lives as well as protecting the wildlife that is so important to the future of the country. It was fantastic to hear about this and to know that our campaign will be actively contributing to these projects.
We were also delighted to meet Yamina Karitanyi, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the UK, at the event who has fully endorsed our project with AWF. CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go, Dave Shanks, got the chance to speak with her about the business and our project with AWF so we are very pleased to have their backing and support going forward.
We need your help if we want this campaign to be a success. If you want to be a part of this campaign, just click the link below and keep up to date on our social media channels. Thank you in advance for your support.
UK adventurer, James Forrest, has officially climbed every 600m mountain in Ireland in just eight weeks – the fastest ever time. The 35-year-old walked over 1,000km in his mission to stand atop all 273 600m high mountains across Ireland and Northern Ireland. He ascended the height of Everest every week for eight weeks in a row, completing the peak-bagging challenge solo and unsupported in 56 days. The expedition is believed to be the first continuous ‘single round’ of the mountains of Ireland.
James, a freelance adventure and travel writer from Cumbria in England, walked up to 25 miles a day and slept wild in the mountains in a one-man tent. He began his adventure on Thursday, August 9, and reached his final summit – Knocknadobar in County Kerry – on Wednesday, October 3. He said: “I feel on top of the world to have finally completed this epic expedition. It has been the adventure of a lifetime and an incredibly tough challenge, both physically and mentally.”
“Mountains are good for the soul. I love the freedom, the fresh air, the isolation, the unpredictability, the escapism – and this journey has let me experience these joys more than most.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for him and the weather certainly wasn’t always the kindest to James. He faced his fair share of bad weather during his challenge, battling against torrential rain and gale force winds during Storm Ali. “I faced such brutal weather during this challenge at times I felt like giving up”, he added. But like the true adventurer, James soldiered on to complete one of his biggest challenges to date.
To get more of an insight into his record-breaking adventure, Water-to-Go managed to ask a few questions to the man himself.
Where did you first get the idea of climbing all 273 mountains in Ireland, and what did the planning and training involve? In 2017 I climbed all 446 mountains over 2000ft in England and Wales – the so-called ‘Nuttalls’ – in just six months, the fastest ever time. It was my first ever major peak-bagging expedition and I loved it. It was a life-affirming experience; a challenge that changed my life really. I wanted to go on a similar adventure in 2018 and the idea of Ireland popped into my head. I’d never hiked in Ireland so I was drawn to the idea of new experiences and exciting landscapes, especially in the wild, rugged, remote west and south-west of Ireland.
To be honest, I really didn’t train for the challenge, simply because I walk a lot in my everyday life, so I was already fit for hiking. And, similarly, I didn’t spend loads of time planning. I love the unpredictability of adventures and the joy of ‘going with the flow’, so I’ve never been one to over-plan. All I did really was jam-pack my car full of expedition food and camping gear (especially chocolate and Nutella) and plan routes on my phone using a GPS app. Simple.
What gear did you rely on the most during your journey?
Definitely the GPS navigation app on my phone. Many of the mountains of Ireland are pathless and, in poor weather, navigation is very tricky. My GPS certainly got me out of a few tricky situations – I might still be lost in the remote Dunkerrons in County Kerry if it wasn’t for the wonders of GPS pinpointing. I used my phone as my primary navigation tool for all 273 mountains and it never let me down. I also loved my Water-to-Go bottle, however – it went everywhere with me and enabled me to access clear water whenever I needed it on my wild camping trips. It was invaluable.
What were the biggest challenges you faced? There were, naturally, loads of lows: falling violently ill (stomach problems) after my first week in the wild; losing my wallet in Killarney (only to luckily get it back after it was handed into the police}; being berated by an angry Air BnB owner for ‘making his house smell of old socks’ after stashing my hiking gear in the room (one of the most awkward and cringy moments I’ve ever had!); and forgetting my lighter on a multi-day wild camping trip meaning I couldn’t use my stove (luckily a kind man gave me one on day two!).
But easily the biggest challenge was the weather. I faced so much rain and wind and cloud it was utterly gut-wrenching. At one point I hiked for 10 days in a row, climbing over 50 mountains, and it was torrential rain every day and I didn’t see a view from a single summit. It was horrific. I felt like giving up so many times. It was demoralising and I felt broken mentally. But I persevered, as I didn’t want to be a quitter, and I’m so pleased I kept going.
What was the best moment? There were so many highs and ecstasies: the freedom and escapism of the mountains, the nature, the solitude and tranquility of walking alone, the magic of sleeping wild under the stars, the sense of achievement that comes with a big challenge, the heartwarming generosity and kindness of the strangers who gave me lifts when I was hitchhiking around, the unpredictability of a big adventure (and the joy of overcoming the mishaps and obstacles in my way), and the beauty of the wild landscapes of Ireland. But my most euphoric moment was waking up to a perfect cloud inversion on a mountain called Knockowen in the Beara Peninsula. I unzipped my tent and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was truly beautiful, like waking up heaven. I will remember that moment forever.
Anything you can tell us about your next expedition – or are you taking the chance to rest and recover for a bit first? Well, I’ve now climbed all of the mountains in England and Wales in 2017, and all of the mountains in Ireland in 2018. So, perhaps, the past 719 mountains have just been training for the inevitable – an attempt on the Munros in 2019 maybe. But, for the time being, I’m planning on spending a lot of time with my sofa, watching Netflix and eating Dominos pizzas. I think I deserve the rest!
James, whose expedition was supported by outdoor clothing brand Salomon and expedition food company Summit To Eat, hopes to write a book about his adventures in Ireland. His debut book Mountain Man – about his 446-mountain challenge in England and Wales – will be published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2019. To follow James’ adventures visit www.instagram.com/jamesmichaelforrest or www.facebook.com/jamesmichaelforrest
UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has reached the halfway point of his massive mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. Despite everything that has been thrown at him, Ash has continued to make excellent progress and has already completed half of his third world-first and biggest mission to date.
Ash has walked 2000 miles along the river to reach this huge milestone, and along the way has faced all kinds of life-threatening dangers (landslides, bears and being tracked by a pack of wolves) as well as being held up 5 times by police/government officials.
Death-defying extreme athlete Ash Dykes reached safety at the halfway point of his mammoth world first expedition 9th January 2019, having faced immense threats to his safety whilst attempting to walk the entire length of China’s Yangtze River in just a year.
Having set off on 26th August 2018, Ash has battled the elements and overcome many obstacles to get to where he is now. There have been several times where Ash has feared for his life but has relied on his intense training regimes and wild instincts to get him through a tough first half of the expedition. Despite many tough moments, he has always had the confidence and reassurance to trust his to deliver clean, safe drinking water to keep him hydrated through his mission.
Attempting to complete this expedition and even getting to where he is now is no mean is no mean feat. The Yangtze is the longest river to flow through a single nation and stretches almost 4000 miles from west to east China, through eleven provinces, diverse ecosystems and multiple major cities including Chongqing and Shanghai.
It has taken Ash 136 days and 2000 miles of intense trekking across some of the world’s most dangerous and remote provinces to reach the halfway point in the small Chinese city of Panzhihua, having set off from the Yangtze River’s true, scientific source in the Tibetan Plateau on 26th August last year.
In one of the few remaining ‘firsts’ to be attempted by man, Ash and his team have faced huge challenges on this first half of the expedition, with eight out of nine of Ash’s teammates dropping out mid-mission due to injury, illness or fears for their safety.
The mission got off to a difficult start when Ash’s Tibetan guide suffered the serious effects of altitude sickness on the way to the source of the river and required urgent medical attention, delaying the expedition’s start date. Since then, bears travelling down the mountain to find food before hibernation have posed the greatest threat to Ash’s life; closely followed by wolves. Ash was tracked by a pack of wolves for two days straight not long after the trek began, and has faced the very real threat of aggressive wild yaks, cobras, and giant hornets along the way.
Other natural elements have also made this challenge particularly immense, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius, snow blizzards, glacial river crossings, and landslides pushing Ash to his limit and, at times, forcing him to detour and lose precious days.
Although the most remote, dangerous and uncertain leg of the expedition is now behind Ash, the remainder of the trek will pose threats of different kinds. Rather than bears, wolves and wilderness, Ash will encounter heavily populated cities and some of the most polluted areas of any river in the world. The hot, rainy season means the river is more likely to flood, and as the river widens so do its tributaries, meaning crossings will be more difficult and could lead to further detours and delays.
Despite this, Ash remains positive. He said:
“Without a doubt, Mission Yangtze has been the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken to date. Physically I was as prepared as I could be, but mentally it’s hard to get ready for the harsh and remote landscapes, sub zero temperatures, and the difficulties these bring. I have trekked through some of the most breathtaking and unspoilt parts of the world, but I’ve never felt so vulnerable to the elements and predators as I have done over the past few months.”
“China is an unbelievably diverse country, with each province I’ve crossed bringing unique terrains, climates, wildlife and challenges. I was actually stopped on five occasions by the police, as government officials worried for my security and safety. Despite having to retrace 40 miles worth of the trek after being detained, we managed to push on with the backing of the Qinghai Government and CBCGDF, and really appreciate their concern.”
“Despite the challenges, I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown by the people I’ve encountered so far. I always say that the locals make or break an adventure, and so far the Chinese have been amazing. It’s been hugely rewarding living and integrating with locals, meeting schools and families, and learning about their lives and traditions.”
“The Yangtze has also been incredibly clean so far, as the Tibetan people will not so much as fish out of the river, let alone throw rubbish in it. I know the second half will be far more polluted, but it’s a common misconception that the entire Yangtze River is being destroyed by the effects of industrialisation. I’m really interested to see how China’s wild west compares with its more industrial and densely populated eastern region.”
“The expedition hasn’t been straightforward but it’s been an incredible experience so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing and learning even more about this amazing country as I enter into the second half of the mission. Bring it on!”
We are delighted to hear that Ash has already completed half of his most ambitious expedition to date and is continuing to make excellent progress. We can’t wait to hear what happens on the rest of his mission and look forward to providing updates throughout. Make sure you keep up to date from Ash himself on his social media channels and pinpoint where he is along the Yangtze on his live tracker.
10 Terrific Pieces of Adventure Travel Kit used by our Ambassadors
Over the past few years, Water-to-Go has worked closely with a wide range of travellers, explorers, travel bloggers, volunteer workers, etc., travelling with them around the globe.
As a result of their travels, we’ve been able to find some brilliant pieces of travel gear used by ambassadors such as Ash Dykes, Chaz Powell, Emily Luxton and many more. This guide will help you decide on the best items to choose when travelling and which items are right for your destination.
Adventure Travel Tent
Having a reliable, convenient place to sleep is essential for any adventurer, and for those travelling off the beaten track having a high-quality tent is extremely important.
Vango’s tents are a great travel item for anyone that will need to camp during their travels. Vango produces a wide range of tents from family tents, with some designed to fit up to 8 people per tent, to solo one man tents for the lone adventurer.
Originating in the Highlands of Scotland, Vango has a history when it comes to producing adventure tents. The tents are designed to be easy to set up and take down so that you can spend more time trekking, mountain biking, cycling or doing whatever it is you have planned.
With such a range of tents, Vango is ideal for anyone who is in need of a tent from large parties of adventurers to solo trekkers.
Lightweight Portable Charger
Being able to have your phone or camera with you is a great way to capture the memories of your adventure. So, it’s important to make sure you’re able to keep these devices charged by using a portable charger.
The power traveller is a lightweight portable charger that’s powered using solar energy. The device is a great way to make sure your phone, camera, tablet, etc. are able to capture the best moments of your travel experience. After all, you’ll only need sunlight to keep your devices fully charged.
The use of solar energy also means you can help reduce your carbon footprint when travelling by avoiding non-renewable sources of electricity.
Whilst perhaps better suited to holidays off the beaten track where access to electricity is limited, the power traveller is also a great little device for those more environmentally conscious travellers.
Water-to-Go Personal Filtration System
Has bad tap water ever made you ill and ruined your experience? Well, the Water-to-Go filter bottle is able to filter out 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, chemicals and pesticides from any non-salt water source. This means it can provide safe, clean drinking water from any river, lake, mountain stream or even bad tap water.
The bottle is also a great way to reduce your plastic footprint. Instead of buying more and more single-use plastic water bottles, the reusable Water-to-Go bottle can be used to replace them without having to worry about getting ill from a bad water source.
Additionally, with each filter being able to process 130 or 200 litres of water (dependent on filter size) the bottle will only cost you around 5p per litre. So you can also save yourself some extra money to spend on your travels.
Coming in both an everyday use 50cl bottle and a larger 75cl bottle, there is a bottle for both the casual day-tripper or the hardcore adventurer.
Now that your drinking water is sorted, you’ll need to think about the food you’re going to eat along your journey. A great way for adventurers to prepare their meals is through Firepot’s food parcels.
Firepot provide healthy, dehydrated food that comes in lightweight meal pouches. Firepot say their goal is to create a healthy hearty meal that won’t weigh you down on your adventures. Their recipes have been developed to maximise nutrition within each parcel as well as providing great tasting meals. Therefore, Firepot is great for anyone who will be spending extended periods of time off the beaten track away from other food sources.
Specialised Travel Backpack
With all your travel equipment you’ll need a means of transporting all these important items. A great specialised product for this purpose is an Osprey Travel Backpack.
Originating in California, Osprey has been designing backpacks for adventurers since beginning in 1974. The innovative and high-quality backpacks offer any adventurer a fantastic way to travel with all of their gear. Osprey also design their backpacks for long life, meaning you will be able to use it again and again as opposed to having to constantly repair or replace the product.
Additionally, Osprey design backpacks specifically for different types of adventure travel. These include backpacks for snowsports, climbing, hiking and biking.
The high-quality and long-lasting nature of these backpacks means it will be for you if you are serious about adventure travel and are ideal if you are in need of carrying big loads of equipment.
Outdoor Durable Phone
Having a phone that can cope with your terrain can be an incredibly useful tool, especially when travelling across more extreme areas.
Land Rover’s ‘Outdoor Phone’ is possibly the toughest phone out there. The phone is extremely durable having been tested in temperatures from -30C to +60C. You also won’t have to worry about dropping your phone in puddles, rivers or even the sea as the phone is waterproof even in salt water.
With an extra-long battery life, the phone will suit anyone who is away from a power source for an extended period of time. A range of specialist apps also makes this a great companion for any explorer.
An ideal product for those that are out and about in rough terrain with a high chance of their phone getting bashed about. Or it could be good if you are just clumsy when it comes to your phone!
Cold Weather Clothing
Your clothing can be a vitally important part of your travels, particularly when travelling to colder regions where it’s important to wrap up warm.
When it comes to sub-zero weather clothing Rab is brilliant at keeping the cold out. Rab produces high-quilty specialist outdoor clothing with a focus on mountaineering. Their clothing is made up from high-quality materials and fabrics specially designed to be the best at insulation and keeping you warm.
Some great kit for those travelling to colder destinations, such as ski holidays, and will particularly suit mountain adventurers.
Alternative Adventure Travel Clothing
If you’re looking for something perhaps slightly cheaper than Rab’s range, then Craghoppers is a great alternative. Whilst slightly cheaper than Rab’s range, Craghoppers still produce high-quality clothing specialising in the outdoors.
Craghoppers say they aim to make their clothing as practical and comfortable as possible, enabling travellers to stay outside for as long as possible. Whilst Craghoppers focus on outdoor clothing designed to keep you warm, they also produce lightweight warm weather clothing with a range of trousers specifically designed to deter insect bites.
Excellent product range for those spending time travelling outdoors, with clothing ranges for both cold and warm weather conditions.
Appropriate Travel Footwear
Just as important as clothing, you will need footwear appropriate to the environment you are travelling in.
Keen are a footwear company that offer a range of footwear types to choose from. They specialise in footwear for different types of travel, from urban casual trainers to specialised hiking boots.
Keen’s variety of footwear means you should be able to find whatever you’re looking for on your next adventure.
Digital Mapping System
Whilst technically not a physical item, there is an excellent range of digital maps provided by Ordnance Survey (OS). These maps are an excellent way to travel in the more remote locations of the UK.
Starting as simply the producer of world-famous paper maps, Ordnance Survey now use data to produce digital maps across the UK. The OS maps aim to provide a comprehensive map of the ever-changing British landscape, doing so in extraordinary detail.
As well as their maps, OS produce online route planning, sharing services and mobile apps to aid in your travel experience.
Sadly for those travelling abroad this service is only available within the UK. However, it is a brilliant tool for those wanting to explore the more remote areas of the UK.
Olivia Furner is a Reigate based Personal Trainer, who also has a strong interest in environmental change and in particular trying to reduce her consumption of single-use plastic which has a devastating effect on our oceans, and its wildlife.
Olivia works as a personal trainer, blogger and Sweaty Betty ambassador. She uses her influence to spread the message of health, fitness and sustainability to those who follow her. So far, she has helped others make simple swaps and hopes her work will help to bring about further change. Olivia is keen to show people it doesn’t need to be difficult and encourages small steps, such as swapping your usual plastic bottle for a reusable option such as Water-to-Go.
Every year, July brings about the global movement “Plastic Free July”, which has millions of people around the globe giving up single-use plastic for one month. To mark this, Olivia aimed to run a half marathon every week, to raise further awareness and to fundraise for the UK based charity Surfers Against Sewage. She hopes this challenge will inspire people to embrace simple lifestyle changes.
Whilst she follows a life focused around health and fitness, taking care of the world is something she has been actively sharing with others. She follows a prominently plant-based diet, and have been taking steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
“In the past year I’ve been making changes to my lifestyle, by reducing the amount of single-use plastic I consume. Whilst living plastic free isn’t an easy task, reducing is something we can all do. Whilst on this mission, I came across Water-to-Go who have been a driving force in this space a for a while now! Their bottles, have a filtration system that ensures 99.9% of bacteria is removed from the water you drink. This is a game changer to reduce plastic when you’re on the go, but also when out of the UK. I often get asked what bottles I use, and as many people don’t like drinking just tap water my top recommendation is always Water-to-Go!”
Whether you are trying to use less plastic when travelling or just in daily life, Water-to-Go is perfect for you. Our reusable, refillable bottles have a 3-in-1 technology filter inside that eliminates harmful contaminants such as viruses and bacteria from any non-salt water source in the world so you can have safe, drinking water wherever you are. So whether you don’t like the taste of tap water or want to stay safe on your travels, Water-to-Go is perfect for you. Furthermore, by using a Water-to-Go, you will be saving on hundreds of single-use plastic bottles every year that pollute our rivers and oceans.
Olivia is passionate about staying fit and healthy and works to helps others do this as well. She endeavours to make training sessions and exercises fun for everyone so it doesn’t really feel too much like hard work.
If you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level, Olivia is the person for you. Whether you’re looking to strengthen your running, achieve your first pull up or maintain a regular training pattern with three different packages, she can offer you the support and accountability you need to achieve your goals.
Something else that also drew Olivia to the Water-to-Go bottle was that as far as we are aware, Water-to-Go are the first water filter bottle to become Halal certified. Our products have gone through a rigorous process of examination that has confirmed that we use no animal products or by-products. Halal certification also ensures integrity and ethical way of doing business by eluding harm to the environment. In addition, although there is no mechanism for it, the bottles are also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
If you are wondering about how to become more sustainable especially in the run up to Christmas, Olivia has that covered as well! Make sure to check out Olivia’s guide to a more sustainable Christmas where she also recommends Water-to-Go as a way of reducing plastic waste amongst other great gift ideas.
Whilst I keep on about this, I still see so many people with plastic bottles. My recommendation would be Water-to-Go
In her spare time, Olivia also creates a lot of interesting recipes that everyone can try in order to maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Check out this fantastic but simple bakes and dishes to impress your friends and family.
We are delighted to be working and collaborating with Olivia to promote the message of sustainability and show how everyone can make a difference in their daily lives. If you are interested in learning more about Olivia and her brand, click on the picture below.