Brit travel blogger Paul Steele, a.k.a the Bald Hiker, is certainly no couch potato. The avid outdoorsman has clocked up many miles exploring the picturesque terrain of the United Kingdom and has also trekked around the rest of Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia. We were recently lucky enough to chat with this nature enthusiast about his favourite hikes, his recommended country hotels and the one place he”s still dying to discover:
If you had to pick just one, which trek would you say has been your favourite?
Wow, such a difficult one to answer, in fact it is impossible for me to narrow it down to ONE… The three days across the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland was a trek I shall always remember in awe. The sunrise from Kilimanjaro is a moment that is truly indescribable. Aconcagua in the Andes, Argentina brought views and feeling beyond imagination. There are so many more miles and memories I cherish and fondly remember…
Were you passionate about the outdoors growing up?
Very much so. Growing up in Oldham [UK], it is a point in the North West that can easily lead in any direction to the outdoors. The Lake District, Snowdonia and the Peak District are all within good reach. Of course on the doorstep is Saddleworth Moor, a place I still describe as my playground. My father had me out on hills and mountains very young. I thank him for that.
What advice would you give to travellers about to embark on their first multi-day trek?
The first can be daunting to many. How much kit, will I cope, am I fit enough? So many unknowns whirling around. If you are going with a company… ask as many questions as you can or want, nothing is ever too silly, really. Everybody has done their “first” trek so should know how it feels. One thing is for sure: Most people get the bug for them after one, plus lots of experience to go on with.
Have there been any treks that have intimidated you?
When I was young I was, strangely enough, scared of heights. Mountains and some other mad things I have done have cleared all that away. I never feel intimidated, I get excited by any trek. I just love being out there. What intimidates me is admin weeks at home base itching to get out 🙂
There are some really stunning photos on your site. What are your tips for achieving the best landscape photography?
Thank you, however, I do not count myself as a true photographer. I put myself down as someone who likes to photograph a journey and show it. Something I always do is take pics whenever I am struck by a view, not just wait for “the” shot. I may have 200 pics for every one I use but then I can show how I felt at each step better.
As someone focused on the outdoors, how important is eco-friendly travel to you? What steps do you take to reduce your travel footprint?
A question that I find a quandary. Yes I fly to get to places then hike, writing about pure nature. I drive to the mountains then discuss how peaceful a certain spot is after hiking away from the road. Travel “to” a start point is something that in this world can”t be stopped. If we wish to enjoy and marvel and thus appreciate how fragile and small we are, we have to burn some miles somehow I suppose. That being said, one pet hate is that many hikers assume banana skins and orange peels are good to throw into the wild after their lunch on the trails. They take a couple of years to decompose and are never good for grazing sheep and other animals too.
What’s been your best rural resort/inn/hotel experience to date?
I am not a five-star traveller, it is nice now and then though of course. In Britain I love quirky, even historic places, with escapism close at hand. Waitby School Holiday Cottage in Cumbria is perfect for that. For an island escape, Sark, in the Channel Islands has no cars and is gorgeous to walk and explore, Sark Island Hotels give rural and luxury a fantastic mix away from crowds. In the middle of Dartmoor is the Prince Hall Hotel. Log fire, luxury, history and some of the best hiking trails out the door I have had the pleasure of coming across.
Britain is full of old Inns that still offer Bed and Breakfast. I think they are a great way to get off the busy beaten track and enjoy calm rural breaks with great food too! The Yorkshire Dales, Lake District, Northumberland, Scottish Highlands etc etc…. Never hard to find a cosy local rural retreat.
What destination is still on your bucket list?
The South Pole! Number one want for me.
To keep up to date with Paul”s journeys, visit his website at www.baldhiker.com and follow him on Twitter @Paul_Steele. And to find great deals on the sort of bed and breakfasts that Paul recommends, be sure to browse the UK section of our site: http://www.hotelscombined.com/Place/United_Kingdom.htm