Frugal Fun, Fitness and a Holiday in the Highlands.
Renovations are nowhere near complete, income has halved and I have more challenges on the go than ever before but, fortunately, this particular challenge means I can roll a few of the others together - mainly the 'Get Fitter, Not Fatter' and the current year's Frugaleur challenge, the McGonks. The holiday is a long weekend over the bank holiday at the end of May and it's being done on a very strict budget, but one that I feel is fair and affords a few extras along the way.
I have set my personal budget at £200 to include EVERYTHING - clothing, travel, accommodation, food and fun! A friend from the village is my travel companion from here and we're meeting the others (9 of us booked so far) in Fort William, so this exciting adventure has been aptly named my Port to Fort Challenge. (For the benefit of those who don't know, we live in the Port William area of southwest Scotland.)
'Port to Fort' began when the booking was made on 4th January, giving us 140 days to prepare and get fit enough to walk up Ben Nevis. I'm taking Beag McGonk, as you'll have seen if you follow that blog, and a special Ben Nevis edition McGonk is being designed this weekend to accompany us. In addition to this, we hope to raise a few pounds by way of donations and sponsorship to help support our local lifeboat. (Details on www.mcgonks.com)
Fort Wiliam is just over 200 miles from Port William and, after much research and number crunching, it works out at a fraction of the price and less half the time if friend takes her car. We have budgeted for 12 gallons of fuel @ around £6.50 per gallon and rounded it up to £80 to be on the safe side. That's £40 each as opposed to over £100 each on coaches and trains!
Most of us have booked into a hostel for 3 nights, so the accommodation should cost at most, £67.50 each, depending on whether we choose bunks or opt for private rooms. Taking the car means we can pack the weekend's supply of food and drink from home at no extra cost and allow ourselves some 'play money'. So far, that's a total of £107.50
I wasn't planning on buying anything new to wear but then thoght better of it - safer with a spare pare of walking shoes or boots, so off I went to check for cashback, voucher codes and discounts.
What a result!
Going via TopCashBack, I visited the Regatta Outlet, where they have up to 70% off in their current sale. There's 4% cashback for using the TCB site PLUS if you use code RJMS20 before 13/01/13, you get another 20% off the reduced prices. BRILLIANT! I have just spent £45.55 including delivery for a new waterproof jacket, pair of trousers that zip into shorts if it happens to be warm and a spare pare of walking boots! I am seriously impressed! I already know their walking shoes are good as they carried my safely up the Merrick and have trodden many, many miles since then. Total cost now standing at £153.05
Next stop was checking out the list of basic essentials, as late May is still liable to be sub-zero on the summit with the possibility of thick snow.
For anyone interested, this link will lead you to the .pdf check list for the essentials. along with safety instructions I have printed us each off a copy and will laminate these. I already have most of what's listed but popped onto Amazon and invested in a couple of extras, paying for them with vouchers already accrued from Topcashback. Total spend on Amazon was £5.55 as I opted for free delivery. Total cost now standing at £158.60
The 'Port to Fort' budget of £200 for the 4 day break and think that is sufficiently frugal to pay for a once in a lifetime experience. I just hope we don't get rained, fogged or snowed off during bank holiday weekend.
I also need to hope that I can get fit enough quickly enough to survive the trip. Port William area isn't known for its hills, In fact, this is about as steep as it gets - a couple of miles walk that has a category 5 climb up the slope of the lane. The Fort William hike, from our hostel, is 13.44 miles up and back down the highest mountain in Britan. I'll need to be fit enough to trot along my little Port William route at least five times consecutively in order to come anywhere close to conquering Ben Nevis.
I have much work to do!
Ben Nevis Photo credit: overgraeme / Foter / CC BY