Way back at the beginning of the year I breathed new life into this blog with a reflective look at my current motivations and attempted to set a course for the new decade which would see me focussing on what I enjoyed and discarding that which I didn’t. Since penning those words I’ve been doing my best to live up to the commitments I made including plenty of photography, writing and walking, plus a daunting dive into the world of nocmigging for which a series of dedicated blogs will be heading your way soon. That being said perhaps the section which excited me most from that rambling entry was where I listed a few of my long held dreams, experiences rooted in the natural world which one day I hope to fulfil.

Inevitably the idea of putting together a more thorough list began to form (I am a birdwatcher at heart after all) so when Alikat’s got in touch asking if I’d like to take part in their Bucket List Challenge, now seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. Before we proceed however I want to make it clear that this list is not simply there to allow items to be ticked off. I mean obviously that’s part of it but not my sole motivation. Instead my bucket list represents a set of experiences and memories yet to be made, things which I hope will enrich me as a person and push me to live life to its fullest.

Walk Offa’s Dyke

Back in 2013 I completed my first long(ish) distance walk with a two day assault on the Gower Way. At thirty five miles this was by far my greatest walking challenge to date and despite a few aches and pains it well and truly whetted my appetite. So much so that I went straight to the bookshop and purchased a guide covering the Offa’s Dyke Path which stretches 177 miles along the Welsh/English border. Unfortunately that’s as far as things went and after seven years without any long distance walks, this one is right up there on the ‘to-do’ list.

Climb Ireland’s highest mountain

Last summer we successfully climbed Ben Nevis rounding off the three highest peaks in Britain having summited Snowdon and Scafell Pike previously. Next in our sights is Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain standing at 3,407ft. 

P1050975 - Climbing Ben More, Isle of Mull
Watch the Northern Lights dance

I’ve longed to see the Northern Lights ever since I first discovered their existence and yet, despite several late night jaunts into the Brecon Beacons when conditions looked promising, I still have not succeeded. To see them properly requires a trip north to either Norway or Iceland, two countries which should probably feature on this bucket list as entries in their own right. Standing amidst a frozen landscape watching the lights dance overhead is a dream that one day I hope to fulfil.

See Orca’s in the wild

Sighting sea mammals of any kind is always cause for celebration but for me one species sits above all others. Orcas, or Killer Whales as they are often better known, have long fascinated me and this curiosity led to the creation of a personal connection. Back in my youth we spent several family holidays in Florida of which trips to Sea World were a key feature. I can still clearly remember being soaked by one of the Orca’s during a show and marvelling at how their trainers could interact and swim with such fearsome creatures. Of course in these more enlightened times I now realise how wrong this setup was and it almost feels like putting things right to go and enjoy these animals in their natural habitat.

Sail a narrowboat over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

I’ve walked the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct but am yet to sail a narrowboat across it. Can you really say you’ve experienced this world heritage site at its fullest until you have?

P1070627 - Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Kayak the Pembrokeshire coast

Events rather curtailed our kayaking adventures last year but the little time we have spent on the water around Permbrokeshire has confirmed that I want to do it a whole lot more. I’m not proposing that we kayak the entire coastline in one go but it would be brilliant to have nosed our way in and out of all its caves and coves at some point.

Go mountain biking in the French Alps

Whilst my other half is definitely not a fan of cycling I thoroughly enjoy it and have spent many happy summer evenings cruising our local routes. One day though I’d like to take things to another level and tackle some serious downhill action with great scenery to match. The French Alps offer plenty such opportunities and being just across the channel, an ideal destination to sate my adventurous side.

Overnight stay on Skomer

Skomer island is one of the jewels in the Welsh wildlife crown and we’ve enjoyed many day trips there over the years. However, a small island full of visitors doesn’t feel all that isolated and as brilliant as Puffins are, the real stars of the show don’t come out until after dark. Skomer is home to half the world’s breeding population of Manx Shearwaters, some 300,000 pairs, and to fully experience these birds you need to stay on the island overnight. Hearing the air fill with their calls as they return from a day’s hunting sounds simply fantastic.

P1130144 - Skomer Bluebells
Drive Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Now that our self-built campervan conversion is complete we’ve been enjoying it to its fullest and last summer spent a couple of weeks exploring the NC500 around Scotland’s northern coast. That trip is the most fun we’ve had in years and next in our sights is Irelands’s Wild Atlantic Way. At 1,600 miles it’s a considerably lengthier undertaking but the scenery looks amazing and it will be a whole country that we’ve never before explored.

P1220267 - Waiting for the ferry
Complete the Wales coast path

Another walking challenge but this time definitely not one to tackle all at once. Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog will know that we love the Welsh coast and since it opened I’ve wanted to walk all sections of the Wales coast path. Due to its length and our limited annual leave we plan to take on this mammoth route in sections, starting in the south at Chepstow. Stay tuned for a new series following our progress coming later in the year.

Go on an African safari

This is a big one. I’ve grown up watching nature documentaries focussing on the wildlife found in Africa and simply must see it all for myself one day.

Find a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker

Why’s this on my bucket list I hear you ask? Simply because it’s the last native British bird species I haven’t seen that I really want to. And trust me it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve been visiting Ynys Hir for years and despite regular reports each spring I’ve always failed to connect. One might even begin to think that these are in fact mythical creatures, but surely that’s just crazy talk……

Visit an active volcano

Self explanatory but I would love to climb an active volcano. Ever since school I have been fascinated with the fragile construction of our planet and nowhere better symbolises this than a volcano. I have no particular preference as to which I visit but Mount Etna does appeal.

Drive a lap of the Nurburgring

Given the focus for the rest of my bucket list this one may stand out as a little odd but I can’t deny my affinity with cars and speed. In today’s world of speed cameras and dash-cams however there are few places left to enjoy driving in its purest form. All hail then the Nurburgring, twenty kilometres of fearsome tarmac to test man and machine alike.

There’s undoubtedly more that I could include here but as a starter for ten I think this represents more than enough motivation to see me through the day job and to begin planning. I’ll be returning to this list every few months to update on progress and make new additions but in the meantime, why not have a think about what might be on your own bucket lists. Trust me, it’s a great way to banish the winter blues.

This blog is my entry to the Alikat’s Bucket List Challenge.

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