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10 of the Best Walks and Hikes in the Cotswolds

Lockdown has meant that everyone has been walking more than usual lately, and I’ve certainly taken advantage of the big outdoors during the past year. Living in Oxfordshire means I am very close to lots of beautiful countryside and the surrounding Cotswolds, and I’m very lucky to be able to take lots of regular walks in my local area. If you’re planning a summer staycation or a Cotswolds Road Trip later on in the year you can be sure to find plenty of exciting local walks to enjoy. Whether you’re just looking for a gentle stroll with the kids or are up for a bit more of a challenging hike with friends, I’ve put together 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds in this handy blog post. So grab your snacks, rucksacks and walking boots, fill up your water bottles and get out into the beautiful Cotswolds countryside for a whole lot of exploring…

Asthall Leigh to Swinbrook

 

 

First up on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds starts in the tiny village of Asthall-Leigh, where you can park for free along any of the roads surrounding the Maytime Inn. This scenic 5 mile walk is perfect for all ages and abilities. There are some steep hills and inclines but most of the walk is on flat grassy/stony paths. There are some stunning views across the Windrush Valley as you pass through the tiny hamlet of Widford and this walk is particularly beautiful during April and May when the bluebells are out in full swing. This walk doesn’t get too muddy so waterproofs aren’t essential but that does depend on the unpredictable Great British weather! Finish up at either The Swan at Swinbrook or the Maytime at Asthall-Leigh for a delightful post walk dinner and drink.

 

Chipping Campden to Broadway Tower

 

I couldn’t write about 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds without giving a special mention to the Cotswold Way, one of the most popular walking routes in England. Spanning 100 miles of quintessentially British countryside, the Cotswold Way is completed by thousands of keen walkers every year and offers truly stunning views from all angles. The starting point of the Cotswold Way is this walk from Chipping Campden to Broadway Tower, a steady six mile route which takes you between an ancient market town and a classic Cotswolds tower. Starting at Chipping Campden’s market square, where a plaque officially marks the start of the Cotswolds Way, this walk takes you to the top of Dover’s Hill, through enchanting woodland (which is covered in bluebells if you’re visiting in May) and then into the thriving village of Broadway. Finish up at Broadway Tower, where you’ll spot Bambi in the deer park and can admire magnificent countryside views from the top of the 65ft high tower.

 

Minster Lovell to Crawley

 


This gentle 3.5 mile walk starts at the wash meadow in Minster Lovell (free parking) and continues on to the next village of Crawley. Cut through the wash meadow or walk along the road past a row of the prettiest thatched cottages where you’ll cross farmland and follow a footpath which takes you all the way to Crawley. Be sure to take wellies or waterproof boots on this one if it’s recently rained as the river levels can get quite high and the pathways are extremely muddy after a lot of rainfall. After crossing the main road in Crawley (by the traffic lights) make your way back towards Minster Lovell by following the river Windrush as it runs alongside you. You’ll soon arrive at the Minster Lovell Hall and Ruins, an English Heritage site which dates back to the 12th century, and has its original Dovecot in tact. The Ruins sit right next to the river Windrush and are a lovely place to visit with a picnic at any time of year, making this walk perfect for families and children.

 

Leckhampton Loop

 

 

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Back to the Cotswold Way now which features twice on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds, but this time its all about the Leckhampton Loop, a four mile circular walk which is moderately easy but offers stunning countryside views along the way. Starting and finishing at the layby opposite the Seven Springs pub just outside Cheltenham, this diverse walk passes through endless green fields, beautiful nature reserves and tranquil woodlands. Clamber up an Iron-Age hill fort to reach the top of Leckhampton Hill and take a moment to breathe in the far-reaching countryside views. If you want to tick off another classic Cotswolds landmark, follow the waymarkers and you’ll end up at Devil’s Chimney, a limestone rock formation which stands above a disused quarry. This walk is great for all ages with only a few steep sections and no annoying stiles to navigate – download this free map route for specific directions to make the walk even easier.

 

Charlbury to Finstock

 

 

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Starting and ending in Charlbury’s village centre, this pleasant five mile walk crosses two pretty Cotswold villages and is easily accessible for all ages. Park the car down Church Street in Charlbury and walk through the village towards Cornbury Park, a stunning Cotswold country estate encompassing farmland, forest and a deer park. Follow the tree lined Cornbury Park all the way until you reach the village of Finstock, where you’ll need to take care whilst crossing a major B road. As you make your way back towards Charlbury from Finstock you’ll pass by rolling hills and glorious countryside views, the river Evenlode and the Cotswold Line railway. There are four excellent pubs dotted along this route – the only question is which one (or four) will you choose to stop off at during your walk?!

 

 

Shilton to Burford circular

 

 

Up next on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds is one of my personal favourites and the walk that I do most often as it is closest to my home! Most of the time I start this one from my house and leave the car at home but to save a bit of time you can start from the tiny village of Shilton and park in the centre of the village right next to the ford. Take the footpath that runs alongside one of the houses opposite the war memorial and cut through the fields over towards Burford. You’ll be treated to rolling hills and miles of green countryside before reaching Burford Golf Club which you can walk behind to reach the A40. Cross the road carefully (the A40 is notoriously busy) and follow the hill down towards Burford high street where you can stop off in some of the shops or enjoy a pub lunch before heading back to your start point in Shilton. This walk is  moderately easy and fairly flat until you get to Burford hill, but it is quite a long one (7-8 miles in total) so just be prepared for that.

 

 

Bourton on the Water and The Slaughters

 

 

Another of my favourite local walks, this 7.5 mile loop starts and ends in pretty Bourton on the Water, also known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, and passes through the tiny  villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter too. Park in the chargeable public car park next to Birdland and from the village green in Bourton make your way towards the parish Church where you’ll walk alongside a clearly marked footpath. You’ll soon reach the picturesque village of Lower Slaughter, which is home to a 19th century mill with original water wheel, and two bridges criss-crossing their way over the little Eye stream. Continue on the footpath that runs alongside the mill and, after crossing three fields, you’ll find yourself in Upper Slaughter which is just a mile away. Residing on a grassy slope above the little Eye stream which connects the two villages, Upper Slaughter features the ruins of a Norman motte and bailey castle and a 15th century manor house which is now a hotel. After leaving Upper Slaughter you can make your way back to Bourton on the Water to end up right where you started.

 

 

Badbury Clump 

 

 

 

This walk is a new one for me as I only recently discovered it after meeting my friend Flo here for a New Year’s Eve stroll last December but I absolutely loved it! Start at the National Trust car park on the B4019 (£2 for 3 hours) and make your way around the pink route, which is a gentle 1.2 mile stroll covering endless woodland and taking in some stunning countryside views. Directly opposite the car park you’ll see the ancient Iron Age hillfort which is said to have been a battle site between the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons back in the Dark Ages. Badbury Clump does get extremely busy with hikers and dog walkers during peak times, and even more so in the month of May when the bluebells are out in full bloom and the hillfort is painted a gorgeous shade of purple.

 

 

Uffington White Horse Hill 

 

 

Another National Trust site nearby (£2 car parking for 3 hours) is Uffington White Horse Hill, an Iron Age hillfort which stands 860 feet above sea level and is the highest point in the whole of Oxfordshire. I have been visiting White Horse Hill for walks and picnics since I was a toddler but it’s only in my adult life that I’ve learnt to appreciate its sheer beauty. A series of burial mounds dating back to the Neolithic period can be found on White Horse Hill, and legend has it that nearby Dragon Hill was the site where St George slayed his famous dragon. White Horse Hill boasts my favourite view across the whole of Oxfordshire and, on a clear day, these stunning views even reach as far as six counties! There are a number of walking trails you can follow around the site all varying in length but I usually just walk a couple of miles and spend the rest of the time drinking in the scenery.

 

 

Blenheim Palace circulars

 

 

Last but not least on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds is beautiful Blenheim Palace. If you haven’t got a Blenheim Palace annual pass you can only do part of this walk by using the side gate at Woodstock and entering part of the grounds, but please be aware that you can only get so far by using the public footpath. If you try to make your way towards the palace you’ll run into staff members who stop and search at certain parts throughout the grounds so if you haven’t got a pass be prepared to be asked to leave! If however you have got an annual pass you can enjoy several wonderful circular walks around the palace grounds and in the formal gardens themselves. I usually walk around the top and bottom lakes which each take a couple of hours in total to complete. Look out for lots of  birds and wildlife within the palace grounds and pass by the ‘finest view in England’ as described by Sir Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim and is buried at St Martin’s Church in nearby Bladon.

 

I hope some of these routes have given you some serious walking inspo that you can look forward to planning on your next visit to the glorious Cotswolds countryside. These are just a tiny handful of some of my favourite local walks and there are soooo many more that I could have picked but there is definitely not enough room for all of them on one single blog post! I could write for hours and hours about all of my favourite local walks but my pick of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds will have to do for now. Have you ever been walking in the Cotswolds before? I’d love to hear where your favourite place was!

 

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A Little Life Update: My 2021 UK Travel Plans

 

The days are getting longer, the sun is setting later and spring is well and truly on its way. After last month’s announcement from the UK Government and our roadmap out of lockdown, I’ve finally started to feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not going to lie, I have found the last few weeks extremely difficult, and have struggled for most of this third lockdown. However, with the vaccine rollout going incredibly well and new timescales to work towards, I can actually see a way out of this darkness and am finally starting to feel a bit more positive! I took a little break from blogging, and from social media, for most of January and February and it’s helped me to reset and start making new plans for the year ahead. I am now looking forward to spring and summer and already have a few loose 2021 UK travel plans lined up for the rest of this year. Here’s what I’ll (hopefully) be getting up to over the next few months, and what I think travel will look like this year…

With overnight stays in self contained accommodation permitted from 12th April here in the UK, I think we’ll see huge numbers of bookings for cottages, caravans and Airbnbs over the next few weeks and staycations will be booming this year. Although you can only stay with people in your household, I still reckon people will make bookings just to get away and to enjoy a change of scenery after months of being stuck at home during lockdown. Since I moved out last summer I now live with my sister, but I don’t think we’ll book to go away together just the two of us in April as places will be so busy and prices will be ridiculous! I do hope that tourism for these overnight stays brings a much needed boost to the travel industry though and it’ll be interesting to see how many people book to go away after 12th April.

 

 

17th May is the date that I am working towards as we will hopefully be able to meet up with friends and family indoors and I can’t wait to go for dinner with my mum and dad or out for drinks with my pals! In terms of travel plans, we have two bank holidays in May so I may take advantage of those and book an overnight stay somewhere by the sea with friends if I can, although I haven’t confirmed anything yet. I’ve got my eye on Southampton as I’ve never been there before and it’s only an hour and a half away so it’ll make the perfect place for a short one nighter! Looking ahead to June I’ve got my cousin Amy’s hen do pencilled in for the end of the month, with an overnight spa break in Cheshire planned – we have had to postpone it twice already because her wedding has been delayed so fingers crossed it’s third time lucky and we can actually go this time.

In July I’ve booked a week by the sea for my dad’s 60th birthday celebrations and this is the trip I am most looking forward to this year! I’m going with my mum, dad and sisters and we’ll be spending the first few nights in a secret location – I can’t tell you exactly where it is because he reads my blog and it’s a surprise! – but the second half of the week will be spent in Tintagel in Cornwall which I am super excited about because I’ve never been there before. I’m hoping to enjoy long walks along the South West Coast path, plenty of beach trips and will try to squeeze in a visit to King Arthur’s Castle too. At some point this summer I also hope to be reunited with my friend and fellow blogger Rachel, I have been planning to visit her in Scarborough for the past two years now and have day trips to Whitby and York on the cards too – if I ever get up there!

 

 

I’ll (hopefully) be heading back to Liverpool at the end of July for my cousins wedding and then in August I’m due to climb Pen y Fan as my latest charity challenge with The Pituitary Foundation. I hiked the Four Falls Trek with them last year and climbed Mount Snowdon a couple of years before that, so I’m looking forward to heading back to Wales again for another weekend break, and another exciting challenge! I’m also due to visit my best friend in Brighton at some point in August and have booked a couple of days annual leave at the end of the month so I can take full advantage of the last summer bank holiday of the year. I have no idea what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be going yet but I thought it would be good to take some time off so I can getaway if I fancy it closer to the time.

I haven’t really thought further ahead than August to be honest as I’m not sure how things will be here in the UK in a few months time. I’m very hopeful that the roadmap is still realistic in terms of dates and fingers crossed that we can aim for some normality to return by the summer! Some of the places that are high up on my UK wish-list for this year are Dorset, Devon, Whitby and Cambridge so I’m hopeful that I can make some loose plans to visit them later on in 2021.

 

 

One thing I do know for sure though is that I WILL be going abroad next year as I have just booked a summer holiday for 2022 – another Mediterranean cruise with my family. Last time we went from on the Marella Celebration’s Sail the Three Seas itinerary from Dubrovnik – Dubrovnik taking in the likes of Kotor, Messina, Kefalonia and Valletta, but next year we are visiting Rijeka, Split, Koper and Venice on the Marella Explorer 2’s Adriatic Affair cruise. I am sooo excited to have a proper holiday to look forward to and cannot wait to make more memories with my amazing family!

So those are my 2021 UK travel plans. Have you booked any trips for this year yet, or are you waiting until closer to the time? I’d love to hear what your travel plans are for 2021!

Love Jess x

 

 

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Hiking the Four Falls Trail in Wales: Exploring the Brecon Beacons

Back in September, I went on my first post-lockdown stay right here in the UK, where I visited the Brecon Beacons for the very first time. I have wanted to visit the Beacons for ages, and even included them on my recent UK staycation wishlist, so I’m really glad I got to experience a weekend there whilst the weather was good this summer. I was in Wales to take part in my 5th fundraising challenge for The Pituitary Foundation, a charity extremely close to my heart who I am proud to be an ambassador for. After all their fundraising challenges got cancelled due to Covid this year, I was determined to help them raise some vital funds and was excited to take part in this group event, which was to hike the Four Falls Trail in Wales. I have previously climbed Mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis with the Foundation, both of which left me totally exhausted, so when they were hosting a walking challenge instead of a climbing one I was desperate to sign up as I am so much better at hiking than I am at climbing! Here’s how our day went…

 

 

I travelled up to Wales from home with my mum and dad and we stayed in the pretty Nant Ddu Lodge Hotel & Spa, which is perfectly positioned right on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Located just a 10 minute drive from Pen Y Fan, the hotel enjoys a spectacular location from which to explore the surrounding Welsh countryside. I was gutted that we only had 1 night as I really wanted to climb Pen Y Fan whilst we were there, but we didn’t want to tire ourselves out ahead of the Four Falls Trail the next day so opted for a relaxing stroll around the grounds and a hearty lunch and dinner at the hotel instead.

The next morning we drove 20 minutes to one of the start points of the Four Falls Trail, The Angel Inn in  Pontneddfechan, just west of Merthyr Tydfil. We didn’t park in the pub as this is not encouraged but there is plenty of on-road parking directly opposite on the main road. The other starting point, should you wish to go from there instead, is the Four Falls car park Gwaun Hepste, which is about halfway from the Angel Inn start point.

 

 

After our safety introduction and Covid-19 briefing about social distancing during the walk we met with our guides and Jay, the fundraising manager for the Foundation, as well as all the other walkers who had decided to join the event. We set off at around 9am and were immediately greeted by small waterfalls and pretty streams as we meandered our way through the first leg of the Four Falls Trail in Wales. I couldn’t believe how beautiful some of the scenery was already; they don’t call this place Waterfall Country for nothing! We were taking this route as pictured below, which is approximately 15km in total:

 

 

Comprising of, yep you guessed it, a series of four waterfalls, this trail is located within the Fforest Fawr, right at the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Passing four rivers along the way (the Mellte, Hepste, Pyrddin and Neath Fechan), the rivers meander downwards towards the waterfalls which can be seen from the pathways, although they of course look much more impressive the closer you get to them.

After a couple of hours we had a toilet stop and enjoyed our packed lunches next to the pretty green countryside. I hadn’t realised just how many hills we would pass during our walk, I knew the Brecon Beacons were mountainous, but I thought we would just be following the waterfalls and that the scenery between them wouldn’t be that special – how wrong I was! I loved every minute of the Four Falls Trail, from seeking out the waterfalls and following the rivers to being immersed in the surrounding countryside and seeing beautiful trees and hills at every turn.

 

 

The four waterfalls that we passed on the Four Falls Trail in Wales were called Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gqyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and the mighty Sgwd-yr-Eira which was by far the most powerful and certainly the most impressive. Although it was super busy with other walkers at Sgwd-yr-Eira, we waited our turn and were able to step behind the cascading waterfall to take some fantastic photos with the water tumbling in front of us. It was truly magical and I have never seen a waterfall as beautiful as this one.

The walk usually takes around  3-4 hours to complete, but we took just over 6 hours mainly because we were in a group of about 15-20 with people of all ages and abilities so we had to make sure everyone could keep up and no one got left behind. It was also stupidly hot for late September with the sun beaming down on us, so it took a little longer as it’s seriously hard work lugging your backpack around in the heat whilst trying not to slip by the waterfalls! By the end of the walk we were relieved to make it back to the car park in one piece, despite having huge blisters, and I really wanted to stop for a pub meal at the end but unfortunately we had to jump in the car and drive straight home as it was nearly 5pm by the time we had finished.

 

 

I would highly recommend the Four Falls Trail to anyone looking for a low impact hike in the stunning Welsh countryside. Despite the paths around the waterfalls being a little rocky and slippy, this route is not particularly challenging and is suitable for all ages and abilities. The 15km length can be a little strenuous at times, but if you take it at your own pace and enjoy plenty of stops and food breaks along the way, the walk is easily achievable within a few hours. In terms of kit to take, I would make sure you wear waterproof walking boots with good ankle support, a waterproof jacket as you will definitely get wet at the Sgwd-yr-Eira waterfall, and take a rucksack which can hold plenty of snacks and at least 2litres of water.

I thoroughly enjoyed hiking the Four Falls Trail in Wales and I hope these photos and handy insights give you an idea of what the walk is like. Have you ever hiked it before? I’d love to hear how your experience was! I’m proud to say that our team raised over £5000 for The Pituitary Foundation which is absolutely AMAZING and will really help to boost funds that were lost this year due to every other event being cancelled during lockdown. To find out more about why I am a proud ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, please read one of my previous pituitary related blog posts.

 

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100 Days of UK Lockdown: How Coronavirus Has Changed My Life

Day 100 of UK lockdown. Can you believe we have been officially locked down for 100 days now? I can. It feels like day 1000 though, not day 100. Everyone has either made TikTok videos, baked banana breads or played virtual Zoom quizzes. Remember that Houseparty app right at the start? Nope, me niether! In some ways it’s gone quickly, but when I think back to the 23rd of March, the day Boris Johnson announced the country was to go into immediate lockdown, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since then. In the world, in the country, in my life. Coronavirus has turned our planet upside down, and I didn’t realise how much of an impact it would have upon me personally too. Although it’s been a tough three months, there have been some happy times too. I wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly on this blog post so I can look back in a year’s time and remind myself of how I coped during lockdown. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past 100 days of UK lockdown, and how Coronavirus has totally changed my life…

 

The Positives:

I’ve bought a house

 

 

 

Ok let’s start with some good news because something very exciting happened to me during these 100 days of UK lockdown… I only went and bought a HOUSE!! After saving up a deposit for the past 5 years, I have finally decided to put down some roots here in beautiful Oxfordshire and have bought a 2 bed house with my sister Hannah. After our offer got accepted at the end of November, little over 6 months later, on 1st May 2020, we completed our purchase and collected our keys from the estate agents (socially distanced, of course!) Over the past 8 weeks we have completely transformed what was once a run down, neglected property in to a pretty little semi detached house that is now our cosy home! Huge thanks to our mum, dad and our sister Sophie for all their help with painting/cleaning/gardening over the past 2 months – we absolutely could not have done it without you!

 

I’ve gained a qualification (almost!)

 

 

I’ve had to put almost because the qualification isn’t quite mine yet, but in April I enrolled on a course with to become an online English teacher and I am so so close to finishing it! I’m currently on unit 9 of 10 and have completed 2 assignments out of 3, so I just have 1 unit and 1 assignment to go before the course is finished and I am qualified to teach English online as a foreign language. I have thought about being an online English teacher for a while now but have never really had the time to dedicate to an intensive course before, so spending 100 days of UK lockdown putting my energy into something new has been really fulfilling and I am hopeful that I can start teaching online as soon as I am qualified! The course I am taking is the Level 5 168 hour one with the TEFL Academy, which is the UK’s leading level 5 course and is the most recognised in terms of quality. I was inspired by my friend and fellow blogger Gabbi to take up the course this year after seeing her become an online English teacher with mobile company Palfish, and her fab blog post exactly explains how she did it – it’s well worth a read if you are thinking of becoming an online English teacher too.

 

I’ve become a volunteer

 

 

As soon as the government announced they needed 250,000 volunteers for their nationwide NHS Volunteer Responder programme, I signed up right away. I knew I wanted to try and help people during this pandemic, and really wanted to do something useful and worthwhile during my time on furlough. After a whopping 750,000 people signed up (!!) I was chosen to be a Check in & Chat volunteer through the NHS /Royal Voluntary Service and I was even featured in this news story by the Daily Mail. I have spent the past 12 weeks taking calls from people who are isolating and just want a friendly chat with someone to brighten up their day, which I have enjoyed so much! As well as being an NHS volunteer, I am now a volunteer within my local community and have been collecting and delivering shopping and prescriptions to local people in my town who are shielding/vulnerable. Finally, I have also been doing some remote work and fundraising for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity I am an ambassador for, and it has been an honour to help them through these tough times. Being a volunteer for these 3 organisations has been extremely rewarding during the past 100 days of UK lockdown and I hope I can continue to help them even after Coronavirus is over.

 

I’ve spent quality time with my family

 

 

Despite moving house and leaving my family home, I have been able to spend sooo much time with my mum, dad and sisters during these 100 days of UK lockdown and it has been an absolute blessing. We are a very close family anyway, but this has just brought us even closer together. We’ve watched film after film, enjoyed many a countryside dog walk here in our beautiful county of Oxfordshire and have done more after dinner quizzes than we care to remember! A particular highlight of ours was celebrating VE Day sharing afternoon tea and prosecco in our garden with our lovely neighbour across the wall! The sun was shining, We’ll Meet Again was playing on the radio and it was such a beautiful day. It has been really fun to spend more time at home during lockdown and it definitely gave us more quality time to enjoy together before Hannah and I moved into our new home last weekend.

 

 

The Negatives:

I’ve lost my confidence

 

 

Although there have been a lot of positives from the past 100 days of UK lockdown, there have undoubtedly been some low points too. I’m not sure why, but I just feel like I have totally lost my confidence with certain aspects of my life, including the way I look, how my low moods make me feel and how I have not exactly been successful with finding a new relationship lately. This pandemic caught us completely unawares, and I was at a point in my life where I was really happy with how my work and personal life were going, but now it feels as though all of that has been taken away and it has definitely knocked me for six. Here’s hoping things improve once Coronavirus is over. One thing that has helped massively though is walking, I have been enjoying so many walks in the countryside and it’s definitely helped to improve my state of mind (and my fitness!)

 

I’m possibly being made redundant 

 

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New week, new month, new JOB! 😬 Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. 🌎 I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office 🙈 Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too ❤️ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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Another reason for me feeling so weird lately is because tomorrow I will find out whether or not I have been made redundant from my job. On the day that would have been my 1 year work anniversary, I will be told whether or not I will be staying or going, and I am just completely gutted! I absolutely adore my job at a local luxury travel company in Oxfordshire and the thought of losing it is filling me with dread. I have no idea what the outcome will be tomorrow, but whatever happens I just have to remember that everything happens for a reason. As one door closes, another one opens, so I will be keeping that mindset tomorrow and crossing fingers that things will turn out okay.

 

I’ve missed my old life

 

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Another Monday, another week of lockdown! I think we are on day 89 of lockdown now but it definitely feels more like day 889 😳 As the weeks go on, I start to get abit restless and miss life being 'normal'. I miss going on day trips and weekends away and holidays. I am however feeling really anxious about the idea of travelling again, and I'm pretty sure I won't be setting foot on a plane until at least next summer! ✈️ But in order to get my wanderlust fix I'm planning on taking a few UK staycations right here, whenever we are able to travel safely around the country again 🚘 There are so many places in Britain I haven't been to yet, so I've put together my ultimate UK travel wishlist which you can read right now on the blog! (Link in bio) 💻 Where's your favourite place in the UK? I can't wait to explore more of our home shores. In the meantime, here's a throwback of me loving life and running around the beautiful Lake District last summer 🇬🇧 . . . #lakedistrict #thelakes #lakedistrictlife #lakedistrictnationalpark #lakedistrictuk #lakedistrictwalks #lakedistrictcumbria #igerslakedistrict #cumbria #cumbrialife #visitcumbria #igerscumbria #cumbrianfells #england #weloveengland #visitengland #englandtravel #england_insta #englandtourism #englishlakes #englishtravel #lovegreatbritain #visitbritain #instabritain #bbcbritain #greatbritain #capturingbritain #beautifulbritain #uktravel #ukshots

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When I feel a bit down I start to reminisce and think about my past, and sometimes it’s nice to sit back and reflect but other times it really does get me down. I think about things I did in the past which I really took for granted, like going out for a meal with my friends or popping to the pub for a few drinks on a Friday night. I also miss travelling a LOT. Last year I spent 13 weeks abroad visiting Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latvia. Not leaving the country since December has kind of got to me this week, and I really miss going on holiday! I have decided, however, that I definitely don’t want to venture abroad until 2021, but I am looking forward to planning plenty of UK staycations to satisfy my wanderlust until I can travel properly again. There are sooo many places that I haven’t explored in this country yet, so I’m going to try and tick as many places off my British bucketlist as I can during the rest of 2020 (if I am able to!)

 

I’m worried about my future

 

 

I think my biggest worry at the moment is the thought of losing my job. Without my job, and my regular income, I cannot pay my mortgage, my bills or my car finance which is something that is making me super stressed. It is such bad timing having just bought a house, but I do have some savings which should tide me over for a couple of months. If the inevitable happens and I do get made redundant I know I’ll have to get another job asap, whether it’s working in a supermarket, taking temp jobs or working in retail until something more permanent comes along, although there are not many jobs in my area at all at the moment. I just feel a bit in limbo and don’t really know what to do so I will probably make a decision about what type of work I want to apply for next week. Times are strange at the moment, aren’t they! Fingers crossed it’ll all work out in the end.

 

It’s been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? The past 100 days of UK lockdown has been a huge challenge for me, and it has affected me much more than I thought it would. Some days I wake up totally fine and feel grateful to have my health and my family. Other days I feel so low I don’t even want to get out of bed. I try to remind myself that it’s okay to feel that way. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. We’ve never experienced anything like this before. However, with no end in sight, and no vaccine, I have to admit I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay positive. I know these feelings will pass, but right now I am struggling. I am not ashamed to admit that. If you’re feeling the same as me, please remember that it’s okay not to be okay.

Here’s to a more positive few weeks in the hope that Coronavirus will leave us all alone very soon! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and well and that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post!

Love Jess x

 

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Looking back on 6 YEARS OF TRAVEL BLOGGING!! I can't believe Journeys with Jessica turns 6 today! 🎈 Seeing as we can't travel anywhere anytime soon I've been looking back at some of my adventures and reminiscing about my favourite trips from the past 6 years ✈️ I'm lucky enough to have explored 30 countries, spent 5 weeks road tripping across America, 6 weeks roaming around Australia and countless weeks inter-railing all over Europe during the past 6 years and I wouldn't change a single thing ❤️ When I started my blog I just wanted somewhere to write down my thoughts and to share my trips with friends and family. Little did I know that it would soon be read by almost 7,000 people a month and I'd clock up nearly 10,000 followers on social media, and that I would meet so many amazing people along the way because of it! ✨ Starting my blog was the best thing I ever did and, although I'm missing travel and am excited to explore new places again one day, right now I just want to focus on planning some U.K. adventures that I can enjoy once all of this is over! My favourite place in our beautiful country is Cornwall, and I'm just itching to get back there to enjoy the sea when it is safe to be able to do so! 🌎 But for now I'll stay at home and reminisce about my past trips, like I've done in my recent blog post, which you can read right now! (Link in bio) 💻 Thankyou SO much for everyone who's ever read my blog, it means the absolute world to me. Here's to the next six years! 🌎

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6 of my Top Travel Highlights from 6 Years of Travel Blogging

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all keeping safe and well during this global pandemic! We’re on day 479800605 of lockdown here in the UK and I’m writing this on the eve of my blogging anniversary. Tomorrow marks six years since Journeys with Jessica was launched, and I still pinch myself every year when the date of 27th May comes around! If you’ve been with me since the start, you’ll know how much I adore travel. I have been lucky enough to explore some amazing places in the world; from 5-6 week stints in America and Australia to inter-railing adventures across Europe and long weekends in the UK. As I’m approaching six years of travel blogging, and as I’m not going to be travelling anywhere for the foreseeable future due to Coronavirus (!!!), I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and share six of my top travel highlights for each year my blog has been running. Here goes!…

 

Bank Holiday in Barcelona, 2014

 

 

Back where it all began, the first holiday I ever blogged about, and the reason I started my blog in the first place! A long weekend away in Barcelona with two of my best friends was exactly what I needed back in May 2014, and I have such fond memories of this Spanish city. La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, the beach – I loved it all! Granted, I spent most of the three days throwing up and recovering from an almighty hangover/alcohol poisoning/sickness bug so I didn’t get to see too much of the city, but I eventually returned five years later in May 2019 with my sister and got to do it all over again (minus the horrendous hangover because I am old now hehe). Pic from my most recent visit because I didn’t have Instagram back in 2014!

 

A Week in Cornwall, 2015

 

 

I spent a week in Cornwall with my family back in July 2015 and it was one of the best family holidays we have ever been on. My mum and dad have taken me and my sisters to St Ives almost every year since we were babies, and for that reason it remains one of my favourite places in the world. We hadn’t been to St Ives for a few years until we spent a week there in 2015, and it made me fall in love with it all over again. The weather was amazing, the beach was bliss and the scenery was stunning. The cobbled streets, long sandy beaches and gorgeous blue sea makes St Ives the perfect place for a UK summer beach break, and I am itching to get down there again when lockdown is over as my last visit was for New Years celebrations back in 2017!

 

An American Road Trip, 2016

 

 

The holiday that really kick-started my love for solo travel was this American road trip back in 2016. I quit my job and flew to Los Angeles on my own then travelled with Contiki from LA to NYC on an epic 28 day adventure across 23 states and had the absolute time of my life! I made life long friends on this group trip and it was the best way for me to dive into a totally new style of travel which would soon become one of my favourite ways to explore the world. Highlights included helicoptering over the Grand Canyon, parasailing over Daytona Beach, running around Walt Disney World, partying in Las Vegas and sightseeing in New York. I would love to go back to America one day to explore the other side of the country and I would also like to visit Canada too!

 

Must See Menorca, 2017

 

 

This was my first press trip with my blog and I remember having to pinch myself on the way to the airport because I could not believe that I was about to embark on a group trip with 50 other travel bloggers in beautiful Menorca! I was selected to attend by the team at Traverse Events and the Spanish Tourism Board when I attended Traverse 18 in London and was so excited but also super nervous! I needn’t have worried though, everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I made amazing friends on that trip who I still talk to now most days. We spent two full days conferencing and then the other five days seeing all that Menorca had to offer. As a child I had been to Menorca 3 times between the ages of 8 and 12 (it was the first place I ever went abroad!) but re-visiting it as an adult made it even more special and I would love to return again some day.

 

My Mediterranean Cruise, 2018

 

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Doing the Titanic pose all by myself cos this Rose doesn't need a Jack in her life 😎 I've been home for just 24 hours and I'm already missing being at sea 🌊 Words can't describe the amazing experience I had on my first ever cruise 🚢 I was so nervous before going as I suffer so much with travel sickness (ironic as I'm a travel blogger) but luckily I was absolutely fine and kept well the entire time! It's only now that I'm home I'm suffering with motion sickness despite being back on land! What is THAT all about?! 😩I think it means I need to book another cruise asap, I'm a total convert now and loved waking up in a new place each day, but my favourite thing was spending hours looking out at the blue waters, with nothing but the ocean staring back at me 🐬 Can I go be a mermaid again please? #cruiselife #titanicpose #takemeback #marellacruises

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I had always been curious about cruising and a bit weary of booking one, but when my family suggested a big get together for my mum’s 50th and my grandad’s 80th birthdays how could I refuse?! 12 of us decided to book together and we chose a Mediterranean voyage with TUI’s Marella Cruises which was the perfect choice for a first time cruiser like me. We sailed on a round trip from Dubrovnik to Dubrovnik, passing Kotor, Kefalonia, Messina and Valletta along the way, and we had the most amazing time. It totally opened my eyes to a new way of travel and I loved waking up in a new destination every single day. I would really love to do another cruise some day soon, but maybe in a few years time once Covid has well and truly passed – the thought of being stuck in the middle of the ocean on a ship gives me so much anxiety!

 

An Australian Adventure, 2019

 

 

Probably my most favourite trip of the last 6 years, and definitely the most memorable, is my 6 week Australian adventure that I embarked on last year. Starting in Melbourne and ending in Sydney, I explored Adelaide, Alice Springs, the Outback, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Brisbane and Bondi Beach in between and had the most amazing time! I did a mixture of group and solo travel, as well as reuniting with friends I had met on my Contiki around America back in 2016. Highlights included snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, sleeping under the stars in the Outback, driving the Great Ocean Road and admiring Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. This trip felt totally life changing for me and it came at the perfect time – it gave me my confidence back, it helped me fall in love with travel again and it opened my eyes to just how amazing our world can be! Australia, you have my heart. <3

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed going back in time with me and reliving some of my travel adventures from the past six years, it’s certainly made me realise how lucky I am to have visited some of these amazing places. With everything going on in the world right now though, I’m more than happy to take a bit of a travel break and can’t really see me wanting to go abroad until all of this is over, which makes me think 2021 will perhaps be the next time I venture overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m missing that feeling of packing for my next trip and getting excited to tick new destinations off my bucket list, but if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what is right in front of us.

I have spent the past ten weeks enjoying long countryside walks in my local area here in Oxfordshire, reading book after book in my garden, and just trying to take things back to basics by appreciating the little things in life. I am so grateful that my family and friends are all happy and healthy, and I can’t wait to visit them when we are allowed to travel round the country again. For that reason I want to focus my energy on planning UK adventures for the rest of 2020, if we are able to, and I’m eyeing up a trip to Cornwall in the autumn and perhaps an Edinburgh Christmas market getaway too, but who knows what will happen between now and then?! In my six years of travel blogging, this has definitely been the weirdest one yet, but Journeys with Jessica is still going strong, and that’s all thanks to YOU, my lovely readers. Here’s to the next six years!

Love Jess x