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Memories in a bubble

It’s been two days since we arrived home in Sweden.  For the past three weeks we’ve been living in a bubble and now we’ve all gone back to reality. The remote scout centers where we lived during the round trip contributed to the bubble and the simplicity gave a break from the everyday life. It made us spend a lot more tome together which brought us closer and resulted in a lot of new friends that  will missed a lot. You established friendship based on so many different things, whether its personality, interests, surnames or craziness doesn’t matter when you miss them when it’s over.


The moments after I posted my last post, we (me and my hiking partners Philip and Fredrik) met the most incredible person during our hike. We were just to leave the pub when the owner came to us and started to talk with us, and it all ended up with us staying in his backyard (we didn’t need to ask, he just said we could sleep there), getting the possibility to shower for the first time in many days, but most of all we got a late night with nice conversations, free pizza and coke that ended after midnight with the offer of a full English breakfast the next morning at the time we wanted. The next day we were full of new energy even though it didn’t become many hours of sleep but with the breakfast eaten and photos taken we set of. Later all three of us agreed that this was just what we needed to make it the last part to Carlisle.


On our way from Wales to England again, we stopped for a very wet activity. It was arranged for us to go gorge scrambling. And if you don’t know what that is, like I didn’t, it’s simply climbing up waterfalls, descending a river and jump from the edge down in pools. It was something really special and much more fun than I could imagine. One of the instructors took me and Linnea to his secret, which meant getting through a tiny passage under a stone which included getting your head under water.
Linnea getting into the secret passage

We then continued our journey to Oxford and we had no clue of why we were there until we saw the invitations to the belt ceremony the next day, which I’m leaving to Nils to talk about. 

Elin

The climb is hard, but the view is great

A 100 miles later, with hurting knees and blisters all over our feet we crossed the finish line in Carlisle last Friday. We both crushed mental barriers and climbed too many hills, but we did it. We survived Explorer Belt with just a pinch of stubbornness.


After playing cricket, watched the rest of the group play around at the local swimming pool, done some gardening at Susan's farm (and met local scouts from Carlisle), had an awesome and fun day at Blackpool Pleasure Beach we travelled to Yr Hafod (a scout center) in Wales to spend three days just to relax until we continue our trip back to England.


The surroundings here is just breathtaking and when you've climbed the rocks and hills the view's amazing. I wished we could stay here for longer, although the upcoming days attract me.


Yesterday me and Amanda took "a stroll" and ended up on the other side of a massive hill after climbing a bunch of rocks. I love the fact that the sheep just wandering around here, enjoying themself and can as us - relax.


Still I can't understand that this is a part of our Explorer Belt, that we get this opportunity to see all of United Kingdom and I can't understand that nature created all of this.
  Today me, Anna and Johanna decided to explore a waterfall nearby and we ended up climbing it. This hill climbing never seems to end, but now I love it instead of fear it.


Tomorrow we'll be leaving Wales behind, but first we all need to have dinner. Karl surprised us with flipping his pancakes in the air, just look how focused he is!

 

Take care, wherever you might be
 Jenny 

Second half

Two days ago the participants’ hike came to its end. They all gathered outside Carlisle cathedral (which was the finishing point, set by the leaders) and there was a constant and pleasuring chatter as stories were shared on the way to the sports centre where we stay. The pleasuring chatter lasted throughout the evening and has not yet stopped. There always seem to be someone you didn’t discuss with earlier or else you just remembered some other thing worth telling that happened during the past ten days.



 
















Both me and my three leader colleagues (Linnea, Klara and Johanna), all agree on that it was nice spending time in Lake District when the scouts were out hiking. We also agree on (however), that it is great fun to see all the participants again! Hearing their stories make me remember my own stories from when I participated in Ireland.

The hike came to its end, but the adventure is not yet over (we’re only about half way through). In just a few minutes we are off to visit an organic farm a couple of miles outside Carlisle and the scouts will meet a woman who runs several social, ecological and cultural projects at this farm. The second half of the journey contains different kinds of activities and places to see. We do hope that we succeeded in creating a programme where, if not all then the vast majority of, 37 scouts will be satisfied!
  
As the name (Explorer Belt UK) reveals, we will not stay in England the whole time, although from now on we travel all together and the participants know where they will spend the night. The remaining days are the time for friendship to grow and develop, for stories to be shared and for sore feet to be taken care of.



Now it's time to leave for the farm. Rain is pouring down and we appreciate this genuine British experience!

Lisa 







Against all odds

My Explorer Belt started in a small village without any stores and it was the same with the small villages we passed before enteringa big forest that took us two days to get through. There my Explorer Belt could have ended since my feet ggot swollen of my boots and I had to ride back with the leaders. Thankfully it got better and three days later I could continue with another pair (trio) that also took a little break.

But loosing three of ten days and with six days, whereof two half and having 75 miles left to cover left us against all odds to make it to Carlisle with 100 miles walked, based on that most of us had problems with our feet. After losing one teammate we could step up the tempo which made us walk 20 miles on one day. So now two days before finnish in Carlisle we've only got 20 miles left and we don't want anything else that to make it. And we've established that there is always another hill.

Due to our pressed time schedule we have gone wild camping every night  sleeping along public footpaths. Arriving late and going up early. But I had one fantastic night at a lovely couple's house the first night of the hike, where we talked a lot and they loved to share their stories and served us nice food. They let us slept on their floor and served breakfast before we left in the rain.

Soon on the road again
Elin

Uphills and downhills.

First of all, I don't think I've introduced you to my partner of this adventure - Amanda. 
  We were put together as a team since we both applied as singles. We've never met each other before (except the pre-meeting in May) and I were, to be honest, a bit scared. (Not of her but to be paired with someone I've never met before in my life). Now that we've faced a handful of challenges, I feel we've become closer friends and couldn't ask for a better teammate. 


Since we got dropped off we've faced a lot of uphills. The ones on narrow roads on steep hills which never seems to end and the uphills where the locals act very weird and not helpful at all. Especially when you need water to survive the physical hills. We always try to be kind and understandable but when you're tired and just want to find a place to sleep for the night, nothing seems to be hopeful. 

The downhills, the easy parts of our now 5 days journey are that we've met a great couple of people, kind and tea-loving Brits whom wants to get to know us and understand what we're doing. They've helped us with not only find the best place to stay the night (mostly in their gardens with access to their toilet) but also give us tea, snacks, biscuits, dinner and hope for the upcoming days. 


Today it's the fifth day of our journey and soon we'll be leaving the countryside and find our selfs in a few bigger cities. 


Cheers! 
Jenny




The start of our journey

Stiff, sore, tired, and happy, did we finish our second day in the shelter of a kind Dianne. A man called Nigel found us walking along the road in the harsh-and-too-cold-for-June-wind, and when we asked him if he knew a good place to put up our tent, he drove us the last little bit to Dianne's house.

From Stockholm's airport Arlanda we flew, nervous and excited, to Edinburgh this Monday. After spending the night, we were shipped by bus across Scotland, and yesterday me and Karl were dropped off in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We received three maps, our tasks and a hug. We were then left to find our way to now the finally revealed destination of this expedition, namely the town of Carlisle! With the help of a a nice local couple who were biking past us, we found where our location on the map, and started following the Southern Upland Way, a hiking trail that crosses Scotland from coast to coast. Since then we have walked almost 30 kilometres along the trail, slept amongst midges (a particularly annoying breed of flying bugs), walked past lochs, eaten a Terry's Chocolate Orange, and met several extremely nice people.

Our first night was, to be completely honest, quite awful. It was wet, bug-filled, and a little bit claustrophobic, since my rucksack took up half my sleeping space. Tip to future Explorers: do not buy the cheapest tent you can find, even though it might seem like a good deal to pay £10 instead of £200. You do not realise how nice it feels to be dry until it is too late. After being woken by the alarm of Karl's phone, featuring both Simon & Garfunkel and Shakira, we almost literally fled from the campsite, away from the midges and the dampness. 

One of the brightest moments of our day was when we paused for lunch near Loch Trool. The wind picked up, blew all bugs away and dried our damp clothes. Karl cooked up some delicious oatmeal porridge, the sun peeked out and we started feeling normal again. After that we walked, and walked, and walked, until we finally arrived at Upper Craigenbay and found a place to sleep in the shed of Dianne and her lovely family. After enjoying two cups of tea while spending two hours chatting and peering over maps in their kitchen, we are now cooped up in the "Chalet" as they called it. We are dry, tired and happy, and excited about the future. See you in Carlisle!

Cheerio, Nils.





Fitting all the pieces together

And so the time has come. It was July 2014 when I applied, hoping to become one of four leaders of the 2015 Explorer Belt edition. In September, the work began and June 2015 felt like years away, like a most uncomplete jigsaw puzzle of a UK map. In Feburary the expedition got its participants and suddenly June didn't feel like years away. Now it is June. Now it is no more than three days until we all are somewhere in the UK. Somewhere, because our destination is still secret.

For both participants and leaders this is the time when planning is converted to reality. Important documents and booking confirmations are packed next to walking shoes and waterproof clothes and and I remember the feeling four years ago, when I was packing my rucksack for Explorer Belt Ireland 2011. It's a new feeling, not knowing where the coming weeks will be spent or what they will contain. For the leaders, it means a great deal of responsability that must not be forgotten at home. In the same time, it also means great fun. It's not every day that you get to take part in the creation of lifelong memories!

Me and my friend Karin during one of our first days of Explorer Belt Ireland



















And so the time has come for all the jigsaw pieces to fit together. I am one of four leaders of Explorer Belt UK 2015 and we will head for the great adventure in no more than three days. I still rank my own Explorer Belt experience high on my fantastic-memories-toplist and I have the feeling that Explorer Belt UK 2015 will manage to get a place on the participants' own fantastic-memories-toplist.

 Over and out (into the fantastic summer weather),
Lisa
The coveted Belt: the proof that you completed the Explorer Belt challenge.



Adparatus

The day of our departure draws closer, and I am trying to prepare myself as much as possible. Preparation is key, or so we have learned, and the past week I have indulged in maybe the most fun part of preparation: shopping. I have bought a new rucksack for my hike, a new camera for documentation, and a paracord bracelet in case of rope-required emergencies. We still have a few tiny things on our shopping list, like a first aid kit or a tent to sleep in, but I felt that buying a camera was of paramount importance. Y’all want those crystal sharp images for the blog, right? Thought so. And I will be needing a good camera to film and vlog my adventures this summer, Explorer Belt as well as my trip to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan!

Still, it is all nice and well to have cool new gear – the next part is to get to know it. The easiest way to achieve this is to emulate the conditions of Explorer Belt, so I stuffed my rucksack with clothes, put on my rain jacket and trousers, and called up my hiking buddy and partner-in-crime. Introducing: Karl Bergholtz.

Karl on the left, me on the right. Taken with my cool new camera, woah!


Me and Karl (or Kalle, for ”short”) have known each other for a long time, since we both have been part of the same Scout Group, ”Höganäs Scoutkår”, for at least a decade each. We grew closer during camp in the summer of 2010, and have been great pals ever since. Taking part in Explorer Belt is something we have wanted to do for years, and we are so excited to finally be a part of it. We had a blast walking together the other day, and it was a good opportunity for me to get used to my equipment. Karl also looked the part in his vintage raincoat and Fjällräven trousers.

I call this one Boy, slightly lost, still happy. 

During our prep-walk I realised that cotton is the enemy (when damp it chafes your skin so badly!), which means I need to buy functional clothing made of wool or synthetic material. If giving up fashion for 20 days meant chafe-free shoulders and feet, I am sure even Miranda Priestly would wear grey shirts and hiking boots… At least if they were made by Prada.

Follow me on instagram for more pictures to come from Explorer Belt, and subscribe to my youtube channel to find out when I start uploading videos! 


Cheerio.

Thoughts 19 days ahead

I have a countdown on my phone for the start of our adventure. Today it's 19 days until we leave for the United Kingdom. Only 19 days??!! I haven't even start writing lists of what to bring, buy the last pair of socks or even touched the bag since my last adventure with it.

My days since our first meeting almost three weeks ago I've kept filling them with scouting and other great adventures. So what to learn from those I've decided to talk about my fears and hopes for Explorer Belt and why I took the biggest step to apply for it.

Last year my life took one of the biggest turns ever. I graduated upper secondary school, started my leadership training, tried to start study again, got a job and in between this also work with my scout troop. I decided to challenge myself to my maximum and sign up for Explorer Belt. 160 kilometers in 10 days and also walk together with a completely stranger to me. Do I manage to do that? I hope so!
After a few months an email landed in my inbox telling me that I was one of the lucky and whom my partner would be. I was glad and felt very excited about it, but here all the preparations started. Not only the physical, but also the mental.

I've been on my nerves all since and I'm getting more and more nervous about this adventure as every day passes by. My biggest fear is to forget something important, like not bringing enough medicines or a raincoat. Another thing is that I'll get ill during the hiking or not be able to follow through it. I'm a fighter but sometimes I'll get very grumpy! But not to be all skeptical to all this, I also think we'll have an amazing time together and this adventure will be a great experience to all of us. I do hope to get to know my partners, learn more about myself and also be able to see the United Kingdom with new glasses (not literally, but figuratively)!

So 19 more days until this year biggest adventure starts. 19 days of packing, preparing and planning! I really need to be structured if I'll be able to get away safe and sound. (I also hope my luggage won't look like this, as it did when I went away on my last scout leadership training)


Hopefully this blogpost didn't bore you out. But since I've been only thinking scouting for the last weeks, I'm not used to write down my thoughts yet, but I think during the hike I'll be post more fun things!


Until next time, take care!!

// Jenny 


Explorer Belt for the layman

For decades, Explorer Belt has been an annual expedition arranged for Senior Scouts in different parts of Europe. The expedition's name is derived from the actual belt awarded at the completion of the endeavour. The setup of Explorer Belt differs between the countries, but the general idea is to promote "adventure and self-reliance in an international context." (Explorer Belt, wikipedia.org).

The Swedish Explorer Belt has been performed annually since 1963, each year held in one or two European countries. The scouts hike in pairs for ten days, but do not know either starting or finishing place beforehand. With ten days and approximately 160 kilometres (100 miles) covered, everybody meets at the finishing place. Stories are shared, blisters are taken care of and ten days of touring begin. We are four bloggers from the expedition, happy to share our stories with you:


I'm Lisa, one of four expedition leaders who have been planning for this since the end of last summer. It gets more exciting everyday and soon we’re ready for take-off! I completed the Explorer Belt challenge in Ireland four years ago and would gladly do it again if I could. 


My name is Elin and during my 19 years in life I've been a scout for nine of them. During my years as scout I've had time for many adventures. For this summer’s Explorer Belt, I’m standing in front of a lot of challenges I haven’t faced with the scouts before. To make it even more exciting, I will go with a guy that I don’t know from before.


Hey! I'm Nils and I'm so excited to finally be a part of the legendary Explorer Belt expedition. Basic info about me: 19 y/o, been a scout for 11 years, lives in Lund, born in Amsterdam, studies Japanese, has several dream jobs where one is "adventure blogger" (so SCORE)!  My favourite crisps are salt & vinegar and my favourite drink is champagne. See you in Britain!


Hi! My name is Anna Jenny, or for short Jenny. I've been a scout for 12 years now, and planning to keep this lifestyle going for the rest of my life. I'm very excited for Explorer Belt and all of the assignments we'll be given. It's the first time I'm going abroad on a bigger international adventure with a scout troop.


You are more than welcome to follow us on our adventure in the United Kingdom!


Below: photos from our meeting in Stockholm.

Scouts making fire with Light My Fire's fire steel.

Singing about a horse with yellow ears at the campfire.

Pre-meeting in Stockholm in May.