IMG_2215 As much as I love hill walking, it got put on the back burner after my Italy trip (despite the fact that on holiday, I constantly said I was missing the hills…crazy!). A few weeks after I got back, I decided to get a grip and attempt a smaller hill to easy myself back into it, so I chose the 454m high hill, Ben A’an in the Trossachs area.

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There is currently a temporary path leading to Ben A’an from the Ben Venue car park, which is pretty muddy, so decent shoes are definitely needed for this walk. I haven’t used the usual path, so I can’t tell you what I think about it, but the current one is decent – just don’t wear your best clothes!

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Parking in the Ben Venue car park is £3, although a nice man gave me his ticket (shhh), so I didn’t have to pay.

loved this walk. It took me approx. 1 hour 30 mins to reach the top, but I was constantly stopping to film, take photos and talk to people, so it’ll vary for everyone else. Unfortunately, I had my fair share of embarrassing moments…

  1. As I began to walk up the path I heard someone shout, “EXCUSE ME!” and when I turned back, the man who gave me the ticket yelled “YOU’VE LEFT YOUR CAR DOOR WIDE OPEN!”. So I headed back down, red-faced and realised that I’d left my driver’s side door wide open. What an idiot. Only about 6 or so people witnessed it though…cringe.
  2. About 10 minutes into the walk, I had the overwhelming urge to pee, so I veered off the path to search for a decent bush to do my business behind. It seemed that every bush was visible to other walkers and I was starting to give up until I looked round and saw an old couple staring at me from the path. They were obviously wondering what the hell I was doing, so I pretended to be looking for something. Ugh.
  3. On the way back down, I was trying to avoid slipping in the mud but it was inevitable. I slipped, landed smack down on my bum and fisted the mud with both arms. God.

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Once I’d reached the top, (after being overtaken by quite a few elderly men… putting me to shame!) the views over Loch Katrine were incredible. I spent about half an hour at the top eating my lunch and it was just so peaceful. Where I was sitting, not a soul passed me, and who wouldn’t want to eat lunch while looking at this view?

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I would definitely recommend this hill for someone who doesn’t feel fit enough to climb a Munro. Good practise! Although steep, it’s a great wee climb, not too strenuous.

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If you’re interested in seeing some footage, here is my Ben A’an vlog:

On  the 20th August 2015, my boyfriend and I embarked on a two week trip to Italy, the majority of which was spent in the city of Florence. For 13 nights, we stayed in a lovely little apartment in the centre of the city. It was a 10 minute walk from the Duomo Cathedral and 25 minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station, which helped us travel to different cities in Italy over the course of the trip. I filmed our entire trip and will include the video at the end of this blog post. It includes more information and you can experience the trip with us!

FLORENCE

With it’s fascinating history and countless attractions, Florence is a beautiful city filled with stunning architecture, fantastic restaurants and plenty of streets to explore – or in my case – get completely and utterly lost in. 

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Fraser and I at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo

Some people say the best view of the city is from the Duomo, but we took a short (but steep) walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a square with stunning views of Florence. There is a bar at the top where you can relax, drink some cocktails and appreciate the view.

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The Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria Dei Fiore

Florence Cathedral (or the Duomo) is hard to miss when walking through the centre, with its impressive exterior and sheer size. However, as much as we wanted to see inside it, we didn’t think the hour and a half – 2 hour wait was worth it, especially since we saw a good few cathedrals throughout our trip, which were all stunning and didn’t have a queue. Another visit to the city to see the Duomo (and other things we missed) is definitely on the cards in the future, although perhaps not in peak tourist season.

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Outside the Duomo

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Santa Croce

The Basilica of Santa Croce is a must-see, where the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Marconi and many other iconic Italians are found. Like the Duomo, the exterior is impressive and there is plenty to explore inside and outside.

My boyfriend was reading a lot about the Medici family before the holiday and he was desperate to see the Museum of the Medici Chapels. We decided to do it on one of our last days and despite not being enthusiastic about it at first, I would highly recommend it. The museum consists of many treasures belonging to the family, the crypts and lots of information about all the artifacts, which were fascinating to me. The main chapels were under renovation, but they were spectacular. I hadn’t heard much about this chapel, but I feel like it’s a bit of a hidden gem (if you can even call it that, it’s probably really well known!).

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IMG_0974Uffizi Gallery

I’m not an arty person but I enjoyed visiting the two main galleries, the Uffizi and the Accademia. Hours could easily be spent walking about these galleries and admiring the vast amount of amazing sculptures and paintings. The highlight of the Accademia is of course, Michelangelo’s David, which is absolutely fascinating. The work that was put into this sculpture can be shown by how insanely detailed it is, e.g. the veins in his hand and the stance – brilliant!

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David

IMG_1430Boboli Gardens

I read quite a few mixed reviews about the Boboli Gardens, the main negative ones being about the entrance fee (€10), which in my opinion was fair. It gives you access to a few museums within the gardens, and there is plenty to see. The walk to the top is quite steep, but perfectly manageable, and the views are lovely. For us, this was a more relaxing day, and we managed to fit in some sunbathing at the top.

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FLORENCE TIPS

1. We found that many museums have a reduced price for EU citizens under 26, so make sure to find out which ones do before you go.

2. If you’re visiting Florence for a short time, consider buying a Firenze card, which costs €72, lasts for 72 hours and grants free entry to major attractions. Just make sure to calculate the total cost of the museums you want to visit and decide whether the card is worth it.

3. Learn the lingo.

4. If you visit in tourist season, be prepared to be caught up in crazy crowds wherever you go. Queues galore!

5. In relation to the previous tip, book museums in advance. We booked most things online.

6. Explore the markets. Lots of great little souvenirs!

7. Eat gelato and drink Limoncello. YUM.

8. When using trains or buses, make sure to validate your tickets at the machines beforehand, or you could face a hefty fee.

9. People constantly approach you to try and sell you things – avoid them. It’s illegal to buy from them.

10. While dining, some restaurants/bars put snacks on your table but usually you’ll find that they’ll be included on the bill at the end of your meal.

11. EXPLORE AND ENJOY!
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One of the excellent things about Florence is the easy access to other parts of Italy from the city. We took great advantage of this and travelled to Fiesole, Pisa, Lucca, Siena and Rome, all which took around an hour and a half on the train, apart from Fiesole which was a very short bus ride from Florence city centre.  I will be covering these trips in another blog post but in the meantime, I’ll be sharing all my photos from the trip on my instagram page!

MY ITALY VIDEO

 

Last month, Macb asked me to be a part of their campaign, Unleash Your Bottle, which encouraged people to set challenges for themselves that were out of their comfort zone. My challenge was to film myself doing three things that were out my comfort zone, the first being a dancing in public video in Glasgow City Centre (where I unleashed my best “dad” dance moves and made everyone jealous of my skills). In another of the videos, I tried frogs legs, (a huge deal for me because anyone that knows me knows that I’m extremely fussy!)

I chose to attempt my first munro for my second challenge (the video will be included at the end), so after scanning a list of “easiest munros to climb”, I decided on Ben Lomond. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the word, a munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000ft high, and there are 282 of them. Ben Lomond is Scotland’s most southerly munro and is 3193ft (974m).

After having a look at the route on Walkhighlands, I figured it seemed easy enough and set off to Rowardennan, dragging my friends Zoe and Brad with me.

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To get to the bottom of the mountain, we headed through the information centre, where at the back, the path is clearly signposted. It climbs steadily through woodland for a short while, eventually reaching a clearing (which reminded me of Jurassic Park, but then again, I seem to say that everytime I hike)

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After about 15 minutes, the sweat was dripping off me (I’m so attractive) and I realised that the climb probably wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. We joined another path further ahead and continued straight up, where the views started to become gradually more and more amazing.

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 As we climbed, the clouds slowly started to surround us, eventually making everywhere look completely white, and rather eerie.

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After some rather steep parts, the path levelled out along the Sron Aonaich Ridge. Looking down, we could see absolutely nothing but white, which was actually quite peaceful. As we climbed, the temperature gradually dropped and the layers we previously stripped off were back on. 20-30 minutes later, I could finally spot the trig point in the distance.

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Climbing to the top of a mountain and being unable to experience the view gave us a good laugh, along with the ruckus we caused after an enormous insect walked across my shoulder and proceeded to fly into Zoe’s face. After eating our sandwiches, we started the descent and to our delight, the clouds began to clear.

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Overall, the climb took us approximately 3 hours and the descent lasted 2 hours. After recently climbing my second munro (Buachaille Etive Mor, which I’ll also write a blog post about), I can see why this munro is classed as an easier trek than many of the others. It was an enjoyable hike with a brilliant, straightforward path and rewarding views of Loch Lomond.

If you are planning on venturing up this mountain, remember to come prepared and don’t underestimate the Scottish weather. As you can see from these photographs, what may seem like cracking weather at the bottom, can quickly turn into the complete opposite as you get closer to the summit. Decent walking shoes are required, as some of the rocks can slip under your feet during the descent.

I would highly recommend this as a starter munro for anybody. If I can do it, anyone can!

Happy hiking 🙂

Here is my video of the experience!

Hi everyone! I was planning on jumping straight in to my first blog post without actually introducing myself. First mistake. This whole blogging thing is completely new to me! My name is Erin Doogan, I’m from Scotland and I’ve been on youtube for around 5 years, vlogging about various things such as trips around Scotland, chatty videos (tags, my catfish story, embarrassing moments), vlogs with friends and paranormal stories. Basically everything. I don’t really have a “niche” or a subject that I stick to, so this blog is probably going to be the same.

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I’ll try to keep it simple and only write about the topics my videos are based on, but I can’t promise anything. I ramble in real life and I’m aware that rambling on a blog can be a “dont”, but I know for a fact that I’ll do it anyway.

Being on youtube is great, but blogging is a bit terrifying for me because it’s a whole new world, but I thought that it was about time I started a blog for my trips, reviews and other adventures. Plus, I have SO many pictures that I’d like to share.

I greatly encourage any feedback that you guys are willing to give, especially with regards to my blog design and layout, but any feedback at all is welcome! You can leave comments on here, or email me at beautycreep@hotmail.com 🙂

You can also contact me on my social media, all of which I’ll link at the end of this post.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog, and I hope that you’ll stay and be a part of this (really strange, but fun) “beautycreep” community!

 

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