Our Radventures

Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@_scott_norris) // summer 2018

The view from the summit of Kamagatakeyama

Radventures begun when Hollie and I climbed our very first mountain together in the Brecon Beacons. I wasn’t much of a writer or photographer, but something clicked and I was beyond inspired by the curves and drama of the sandstone giants.

We wanted adventure. Just finished uni, we were far from ready to start a nine to five. We ripped out the back seats of my old VW Polo and replaced them with sun lounger cushions. The passenger window was taped up with duck tape to stop it falling down and I needed to re-glue the inside mirror every now and then, but we had ourselves a home on wheels.

We had set aside two weeks to explore the national parks of the UK. We simply wanted to know what our country looked like. Those two weeks slipped quickly away from us and turned into longer.

Our makeshift home, complete with seagull

Not long after starting out, the car ignition busted, but that didn’t stop us. It just meant we had to park on a hill so we could push start the car when we needed to move. This often involved calling on the aid of willing locals. We continued our trip in that fashion, touching down on the Brecon Beacons, Peak District, Lakeland, Snowdonia and Scotland. The car evolved as we picked up gifts and memorabilia. We strung bungee cord across the ceiling to carry instruments and fashioned a toilet roll holder from the roof handles.

The feeling of freedom in those months was unparalleled. We started making plans to make that trip more permanent. The idea of a hiking website was starting to crystallise and when Hollie suggested it be called ‘Radventures’, we started to get excited. That was in 2014. Since then, I’ve lived and travelled throughout Asia, converted an ex Royal Mail van into a camper and taught myself how to code. All in the hope of bringing this dream alive.

Everything was put on hold however over 2017/18 when I developed a combination of Tension Myotosis Syndrome and Myofacial Pain Syndrome. It sounds as bad as it was. I was crippled by pain throughout my arms. No campervan DIY, no coding, no job prospects. I had to move back in with my parents and was basically confined to a sofa, relying on my mum/dad to use the TV remote for me. Towards the end, I was seeing a neurologist/spinal surgeon who prepared me for the seemingly inevitable: that sometimes there just isn’t a visible structural problem and I might have to live with the pain. I couldn’t take this diagnosis and searched for progressively more alternative means of medication. Eventually I found the answer, but it took over a year to get to the bottom of the pain. The dream that had died was reborn from the ashes.

Our makeshift home, complete with seagull

That’s pretty much where I am now. I’m writing this from a house sit in Snowdonia a week after my pain has cleared up. I’m looking after the incredible mountain dog, Otter (he blitzed Crib Goch yesterday!) and we're ironing out new routes together. Hollie returns from months exploring New Zealand next week. We're talking about hiking the Coast to Coast walk.

I’ll keep updating Radventures with new routes, maps and gpx files for as long as I can. And, it will always be free. I want us all to hike the world together. There’s no greater way to feel connected to our planet and each other. I firmly believe that if everyone climbed mountains we’d live richer, more purposeful, more fulfilling lives. We might stop polluting our oceans with plastic and warming our atmosphere. We might all learn to live with animals instead of crushing them under the weight of ego and progress.

When first out in the mountains for a few days, you begin to wonder what you were ever doing before. Mountains ground you. They help you grow. They are infinite wells of inspiration, positivity and beauty. So go, explore. Find a double rainbow. Watch a sunrise explode across the sky. Marvel at winds strong enough to blow waterfalls upwards and icicles taller than humans. See a waterspout. Spot a golden eagle. Ford a rushing river by rope. Walk with fireflies or through a tunnel of snow or along a ravine-defying footbridge. Wake to stars, the milky way, the aurora. Stand above the clouds. Be so still a dragonfly lands on your shoulder or a bird lands on your outstretched hand. Battle your way through a tropical monsoon. Traverse a frozen waterfall. Climb a mountain. Have a radventure!

Peace, Scott