Friday, 11 January 2013

Frugal Fun for Everyone

Frugal Fun, Fitness and a Holiday in the Highlands.

It isn't often that Frugaldom talks of holidays, so this is a rather exciting prospect for me in 2013. For some of us, it's a trip of a lifetime, something that's been on the 'to do' list for some time but without the opportunity ever arising - until now. Everything has fallen into place and looks 'good to go', right down to the fact that I've just finished about 5 years of work for the same company and that work has now finished.

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

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


  1. gosh you are organized and it sounds like it will be a lot of fun......


    1. Should be fun in the fact that a bunch of middle-aged women are bunking down in a hostel for the weekend - I think the poor hostel manager is already pulling his hair out and wondering what he's let himself in for in May. (Poor Ryan, we apologise in advance for all silliness. LOL)

  2. Now that sounds like my perfect holiday xxx I wish I was coming, Love Froogs xxx

    1. Froogs, if you can get up to London, I believe there's a coach with special offers that travels direct to Fort William and costs a fraction of what it's costing us to get there. :)

  3. its the best time of year for northern Scotland. we always used to go kayaking up there at that time of year but there was usually still snow on Ben Nevis - it looks like a snow goose from a distance.
    its great that youve got suitable clothing and boots too withi your budget. Now just keep up the Training - walking or cyling up hills.
    Best wishes
    Brenda in the Boro

    1. Brenda, that little sloping lane in the bottom photo is the steepest hill we have here until the ground dries out eough to climb the tiny fells to the trig points. We've arranged an Easter walk up the Merrick, which is the highest hill we have in southern Scotland. I'll can compare that climb to my August one to see how much fitter I've managed to get. At the moment, there's absolutely no way I could cycle up that lane. LOL

    2. I looked up where Port William is. WE cycled up to the isle of Aran or is it Arran? - a couple of years ago. We cycled to Creetown and stayed one night in my brother's caravan before heading up through Newton Stewart and the Glentrool Forest. Now that was a bit tough but we had a great time. Never been to your bit though. It doesn't look to hard either. Just keep plodding away and you will get there.

    3. Determination will get me there, assuming nature doesn't throw anything too untoward in my direction. :)

  4. This sounds more amazing everytime I read more about it! :)

    You can do it!!! Such bargains on buying your kit too :)

    Have a great weekend. :)

  5. Fab that has been on my list of walks to do for a long while now. One day i will and thanks to your organisational skills i too have now acquired some frugal buys from said outlet store. :-)

  6. Well done in finding some frugal buys, gillibob, hope you ued all the cashback and discount options. :)

    Had an OK weekend, managed to get out and do 20 miles but haven't managed to get around to blogging about it, as I have McGonks to make. :)


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