Tentipi: Camping for the spacious at heart

Whether you're heading out on a micro adventure, a long-distance expedition or have a garden party to organise, here's a look at what Swedish outdoor experts Tentipi have to offer this season.

Hiding out with a 1000 miles of Norwegian coastline under the belt

Hiding out with a 1000 miles of Norwegian coastline under the belt

As the warmer months approach it's natural to spend more time outside, which for me means figuring out a variety of different ways to sleep in nature. I've always loved the Scandinavian approach to camping and since meeting a super chilled-out Torsten Gabrielsson midway through my Hobie kayak trip from Oslo to Helsinki in 2014, I've been a big fan of the company he runs marketing for, Tentipi. 

I should say up front that while there are cheaper tents on the market I've always preferred spending a little bit more on a product that lasts. The cheap tents of my twenties always ended up with broken zips, torn tightening-straps and a cluster of snapped pegs, so a tough waxy rainfly, bomb-proof pegs and a zip that two rhinos couldn't pull apart always gets my vote. 

With this in mind, when Tentipi asked if I'd like to write about their range I was more than happy to do so, they've been in my adventure bag for the last four years and I can't be more of a fan.


My Tentipi love affair began with the first iteration of the Olivin 2, the smallest tent in their range and a reminder that a little extra space makes for a more comfortable wind-down after a long day's work. Made for two people + bags, the Olivin 2 is plenty high for sitting upright and getting changed in, boasts a built-in inner tent and vents in the roof and sides. At a gentle squeeze you could sleep a 2 child family or swing three cats in there; your choice. 

Stockholm, September 2014 - Image by Torsten Gabrielsson 

Stockholm, September 2014 - Image by Torsten Gabrielsson 

In fact, during the first year of the YesTribe, the Tentipi crew challenged us to break the 'world record' for the amount of people that could fit inside an Olivin 2. Believe it or not, we managed 25!


The Olivin 2 weighs in at 3.4kg with the inner tent so it's not a backbreaker, and I'm still surprised at what comes out of that bag. There's such a power in carrying a temporary home on your back (or in a kayak or panniers) and I love that process of creating a basecamp. Turning a bag into a shelter is beautiful, and there's nothing more simple than putting up a tipi like an Olivin. Eight pegs, one pole. Welcome home.

Read more about the Olivin 2

Erecting a tipi

One of the factors that draws me to a tipi is the ease of putting it up. No longer are there multiple stringy poles to feed through tight sleeves, instead you peg out the octagonal tent first and then give it some shape with just one chunky (but lightweight) pole. The process is just delicious, I adore simplicity (it goes very well with my intelligence levels) and a 90-second put-up average makes bad weather and fatigue days more bearable. 

The Zirkon

The Zirkon family of tents is seven strong. There are four CP tents, which are heavier and built for comfort, and three Zirkon light tipis are exactly what they say on the tin - they're lighter and more manageable. 

A northern Norway camp. Photo by Yellow Matilda

A northern Norway camp. Photo by Yellow Matilda

Last Summer I decided to carry a Zirkon 5 Light tent for a 9 week expedition along Norway's coastline. It gave me loads of room to spread out clothes dampened by a long day on the water, and even without the inner tent it provided more than adequate shelter for those moments when I got sick of the gorgeous views outside (*this never happened). 

View the full run-down of the Zirkon range

Hekla Firebox

I rarely came off the water dry in Norway, so the option of enjoying a fire inside was a big attraction to the Zirkon. In full transparency, it was a fairly warm Summer/ Autumn in Norway so I barely used the Hekla firebox, but it's pretty cool to get a fire going inside and I'm looking forward to some cosy winter camping with this set-up in future.

Why a tipi is worth considering over another type of tent

  • They look really, really good
  • Plenty of space inside
  • Hard-wearing
  • Simple to erect
  • Stoke up a fire inside (model and size dependent)



The Canopy

Adding a Tentipi canopy to your Nordic tipi gives you more room to hang out and it works great as a stand-alone too, if you really want to pack light.

Rucksack Frame

Okay, some of Tentipi's larger tents are a bit heavy so this year they built a rucksack frame to easily carry them to base camp. Of course, you can use it to transport logs, water containers or your best buddy as well.

The Half Fleece Floor


Tired of cold feet and dirty shoes? Tentipi's new half fleece floor has a cosy surface, even for bare skin. 

It is fully damp-resistant, like all their other floors. Having half a floor in your Nordic tipi means you can have a surface with floor to sleep and hang out on, and one without floor where you put your dirty shoes.

They are also fitted with Velcro so you can join two half fleece floors together to make a whole floor, or combine a fleece floor with a half ordinary floor.

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Where do you put your dirty shoes when camping?  The new half innertent from Tentipi creates two rooms inside your Nordic tipi, one to sleep in, and one for cooking, wet dogs and smelly socks.

Safir 7 CP

This is the classic Safir 7 cp from Swedish tent maker Tentipi. You can have an open fire inside or fit it with a stove for really cold nights. It's made out of cotton and polyester which keep rain out while letting condensation vent away. You can fit up to seven people in this one and it's full standing height even for tall guys, at the same time as packing down into a kayak or rucksack.

Stratus 72

Okay, I know that you're not going to bring this one on your next kayak expedition around the Shetland islands, but in case you discover true love on that trip you might need somewhere to celebrate your wedding! You can rent these amazing Stratus 72 tents all over the UK and in many other countries.

And in case you're tired of your 9-5 at the office, why not change careers and start your own Tentipi rental? Just sayin'...

The Zirkonflex

For basecamp or for garden parties, the Tentipi Zirkonflex can be folded up half way for panaorama views or all the way to use as a sun roof on warm days.

And finally, for a full rundown of Tentipi's products or just a sumptuous browse of gorgeous pictures of tipis in beautiful places, check out

Said Yes More: 2017 in Review

Another year down. So much happened in 2017 it's taken me the first two weeks of 2018 to recall it all. I've visited thirteen countries, camped under the stars 52 times and spent 183 nights at home this year. Ticked off two more non-motorised journeys over 1000 miles (that's 14 in total, now!) and became engaged to my partner in crime (life).

Behind the scenes it hasn't always been easy and I touch on this at the end, but all in all I've been lucky enough to have another super year and would rather focus on the positives; the results of lots of hard work and a few well chosen yeses. Here goes...



I started the year with a delicious spell of man flu, but once movement was possible Emms and I explored London using our non-motorised fleet, including Swifty and Trikey.


The first show of the year is usually the Adventure Travel Show in Olympia, and this was no exception. My role as host is to introduce speakers on the main stage and interview the main guest. This year, Extreme Fisherman Robson Green and a few professional adventurers joined the stage.



A brand new mindset project kicked off in early February, where SayYesMore partnered with Way of Nature for the first Winter Quest. We headed to a gorgeous remote base in eastern Iceland with a group of twelve lucky souls.


In early February I started hosting regular workshops on Enigma, passing on skills like planning big adventures, making a living from a passion and filming with a smartphone among them. I really enjoy these sessions, especially seeing the subsequent growth of participant's careers and skills.



It's always a privilege to receive an invite to speak at a TEDx event, especially when it's one of the biggest on the continent. I really struggle to retain new information and credit to Emms for helping drum a new 12 minutes of content into my tiny brain. And a big thanks to Tegan Philips, who skilfully illustrated several slides of this speech with her fun, quirky style.


TEDx Square Mile

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With a stroke of luck, or perhaps the opposite, a week after TEDx Brussels I took to another TEDx stage, at the Square Mile in the centre of London. This talk, again pounded into my head by Emms, was inspired by a single line fired in my direction by my brother at four years old - "Dave, you're a waste of sperm." I've been determined to a live a life unworthy of that accusation ever since.


This month should only be started by testing out how gullible your friends are. First, an announcement that training has begun for a cross-ocean run in a hamster ball.

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And then a cruel promise to the YesTribe that the community would soon be owning a herd of Alpaca. I must admit, it took me a few days to build up the courage to come clean on this one - mainly because everybody absolutely loved the idea! 

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The early signs of summer always do wonders for my motivation, so I started a regular blog called Self Propelled which honed in on adventure planning, gear reviews and regular articles about non-motorised transport, including the wonderful Halfbike.

Tentsile make some awesome tree tents and after an old film I made for them translated into a few sales they sent me their latest companion, the Trillium. It's a three-sided hammock and seemed like a good item to take on the YesTribe's April campout. 


And then Em and I took the SayYesMore ICE trikes on a little weekend micro adventure around the south of London. This film was filmed and edited entirely on an iPhone...

That little trip got the legs moving for a much bigger one. We ended the month by heading over to southern Germany, where the annual Spezi event plays host to an endless array of special bikes, recumbent trikes, and non-motorised contraptions the rest of the world haven't cottoned onto yet.


Our idea was to leave this awesome show on a form of tandem bicycle, and we asked Facebook to vote on which one we should choose - just so we couldn't take the blame if everything went badly.



On the 1st May we left Germersheim and our annual hosts to embark on what would become my 13th thousand mile journey, and the first Em had completed with me. We zoomed East (once we'd gotten used to the Hase Pino hybrid tandem) and followed the Danube to Budapest.

Seeing as tandem bikes are known as 'Divorce Bikes' it was just as much an achievement for our relationship to be strengthened by this journey as it was to ride 1000 miles together. So it seemed fitting to take things to another level on the last day of the trip. You'll just have to watch this film to find out what happened...

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For the first time the annual Etape Caledonia bike race opened their weekend with a series of talks. I was honoured to open up the schedule ahead of the always motivating Chris Boardman. I remember being a kid and watching this guy zooming around a track in a futuristic helmet, and now my head was bigger than his body on a poster!

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At the end of May Em and I joined our favourite adventurous family for a weekend of swimming down a little river. Fellow Ordnance Survey Outdoor Champions The Meeks were completing a big old triathlon; running 1000km, cycling 1000km and swimming 17km in 2017, and it seemed like a great reason to squeeze into the old wetsuit and spend a few hours underwater. 


In early June another attack in London claimed eight lives and filled the city night with sirens and horror. How are we supposed to feel in the aftermath of a terror attack? I wrote this blog the next morning. 


The YesBus

For over a year the mighty Chris Barnes had been leading the renovation for SayYesMore's new countryside HQ, the YesBus. Turning a double decker bus into a co-working, learning and events space was never going to be easy, so we decided to wait until the renovation was close to completion before trying to raise the money and support needed to make the project work.

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In June we launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the YesBus, thanks to a wonderful group of volunteers, and other people and brands who offered up prizes in return for donations. On the opening and closing day of the campaign we drew a prize every single hour, won by someone who had donated in the previous 60 minutes.

All in all we raised just over £22,000 towards the ultimate £50,000 goal, enough to get the project finished off. The rest of the total will be raised in the first months of 2018 once the YesBus opens up a regular programme.


My first speaking gig in July was at the awesome Sunday Assembly community, a kind of church for the positive. With SayYesMore and the YesTribe taking up so much of my time and admittedly, becoming an extreme struggle periodically, it's always nice to see other communities working well - ideas a plenty to take home.



In July the UK's most famous explorer, Ranulph Fiennes, was kind enough to send a message of support ahead of my 14th non-motorised journey over 1000 miles. Very kind of him.

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Before the journey started, though, I had one more speaking gig, this time on the eclectic Sunday Papers Live stage at the Citadel Festival. What a great venue and a superbly engaged crowd, nestled into sofas and bean bags. Awesome!

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To norway

At the end of July I jumped onto a plane and flew to Tromsø, Norway, then boarded the MS Finnmarken, a Hurtigruten ship heading north to Kirkenes. A couple of days later I began a journey by Schiller Bike, a water bike built in San Francisco.


Emms and I live on a boat in London, and every couple of years the boat needs to be taken to a dry dock for the hull to be repainted. There are a lot of boats vs not so many dry-docks in London and it was impossible to shift our booking, which had been made long before I decided to water bike the Norwegian coast. So I took a few days off, flew home and didn't get much rest at all. Turns out painting a boat is more than a full time job!



I returned to Norway a few days later and continued south, encountering endless kindness from the Norwegians I met alone the way. When people have a big connection to the nature around them it brings out there own good nature, and the people, as always, left me with so many fond memories.


Perhaps my favourite moment of the trip was being invited dinner by a farmer named Marten.

While I was there a new addition to his herd was born. Seeing as it was a redhead and a bull, he decided to call it Dave!


Another chance meeting meant that I ended up spending a night at Fordypningsrommet, otherwise known as The Arctic Hideaway. Created by musician Håvard Lund, my favourite hut in his retreat was fondly nicknamed The Nest and I resolved to return and write a book about this journey in the spectacular hut, raised up on a single shaft.

Travelling Norway's coastline by waterbike was undoubtedly one of the toughest missions I'd ever taken on. But for any mild hardship on this waterbike, I loved spending the best part of nine weeks getting absolutely nailed by a raw, gorgeous, ruthless coast.

Spending the Summer as the smallest 'ship' in Hurtigruten's fleet was made all the more special as the other ships started to outdo each other. The MS Lofoten dropped a goodie bag down to me. The MS Richard With sent out a tender with a takeaway meal, and the MS Spitsbergen opened up their tender deck and set up a table for one, serving me a burger as the hotel manager rode around on the Schiller Bike and hundreds of passengers stared in bemusement at this weird chap holding up their schedule. Magical!


Due to bad weather I made the call to halt my journey to Bergen 90 miles early. The back end of hurricanes that had ravaged the Caribbean and Southern USA had made their way across the Atlantic and going the distance was simply impossible without putting myself in danger. With much more important things in life than adventure, it was definitely the right call. 

Still, I'd pedalled 1243 miles from Kirkenes, making this the 14th 1000-mile journey of my life. Another, huge tick on the list.

Here's a playlist of video diaries I made from beginning to end, in case you missed it at the time.


Without a moment's rest, I flew direct from Norway to Ontario to write an article for Active Traveler Magazine about the amazing paddling in Killarney Provincial Park. This place is absolutely gorgeous!

If you like the look of this, you can win an 8-day trip to the area with yours truly in 2018.

The YesBus comes home

Two days before Yestival, the annual SayYesMore Microfestival for Positive Change, the YesBus finally rolled down the lane into its new spot. It was quite the moment, a dream in the making for over two years and here it was, a double decker bus in a field! I was in tears as the bus parked up in its new home, wearing a brand new blue coat. What a moment!

Yestival 2017

The third Yestival went down a storm, quite literally, thanks to Storm Brian, but despite 50mph winds our largest crowd yet enjoyed a weekend in a field dripping with inspiration, kindness and stories of adventure, survival and ambition. Always my favourite weekend of the year, and this time round much more so because the SayYesMore team did the majority of the legwork, especially Andy Bartlett and Emms. Managing to pull off another single-use plastic free festival also makes the feeling richer.




I'm not sure how this number keeps getting bigger but I can't complain, it's been another full 12 months and our good friend Ged keeps providing the most incredible themed birthday cakes. This one depicted my summer's trip in Norway!



In between the odd talk in Portugal, Spain and Belgium we spent November preparing the YesBus for a busy year ahead, introducing the Schiller Bike to its new home in London, and I became a patron of The Teddington Trust - a real honour to support children and adults living with Xeroderma Pigmentosum.


Early December whizzed by and before I knew it I was back on a plane, returning to Norway. The Summer's journey had been eventful enough for a book, I thought, and Norway seemed as good a place as any to write it.

I flew into Bergen and jumped on the MS Spitsbergen, which in September had so kindly stopped and served me a burger on their tender deck. I'm now known as 'The Burger Man' on that vessel!


It was great to soak up the coastline from a higher, more comfortable viewpoint. Three days later, in Bodø, I jumped ship and headed back to The Arctic Hideaway, where I spent Christmas with Em and New Year with a few extra friends. 

Perfect bedroom, swaying in the wind. And not a bad place to write, either...

Perfect bedroom, swaying in the wind. And not a bad place to write, either...

Snowstorms, northern lights, epic sleeps and a raw, remote environment was just the ticket after a long, successful but sometimes draining year.

Jane having a beer in style at the Arctic Hideaway

Jane having a beer in style at the Arctic Hideaway

Floating in a survival suit in near freezing waters and hanging out with cool people on an arctic island. What a place to see 2017 out. 

With friends on the last day of the year. Photo: Spike Reid

With friends on the last day of the year. Photo: Spike Reid

the other side of things

It should be said, it's so easy to sum up a year with pretty pictures and a record of the cool things that happened. In time, we tend to look back on the best bits of our years and when it comes to saying yes it's the things we chose to make happen that carry the bulk of our memories.

Of course, there's another side to life. I'm still learning to lead a community and this has an adverse impact on my stress and energy levels throughout the year. I give over half my time for free to making SayYesMore what it is and thankfully in 2018 we're building a stronger platform for volunteers to join the team. Personally, I'm aiming to spend less time online and carve out a more creative role at the top of the SayYesMore tree. I've not created enough this past year and it's down to doing too much without enough me-time. This is so important, lesson learned.

I've also suffered since returning from the summer trip in Norway. That coastline took a lot out of me and I've had a more-than-average stretch of blues in the back end of 2017. At the same time, my 'day job' is to speak to audiences about adventure and positive mindset, and although turning on a performance for an hour is possible, it saps the energy. I gave over 60 talks in 2017 and it has taken its toll, so I'll be winding that commitment back in 2018.

Luckily, I have the most amazing fiancé to keep me smiling and help me with SayYesMore admin. I couldn't do any of this without Emms, and seeing as she's to become my wife in 2018 my aim for the next year is to be as much of a support to her as she is to me.

Here's to making life count, and spending our time with the people who make us most alive.

Three Days on the MS Spitsbergen

After several weeks exploring the Norwegian coast this Summer, following the Hurtigruten route between Kirkenes and Bergen in possibly the slowest fashion possible, last week I swapped my Schiller Bike for the comfort of Hurtigruten’s newest ship, the MS Spitsbergen.

The last (and only) time I had been onboard the Spitsbergen, I was being served the most bizarre meal of my life on the tender deck, one foot above sea level. That water bike drive-thru will remain one of the standout moments of a memorable journey, and apparently it had made an impact on the crew, as well.


“I thought you looked familiar when you joined us last night,” a young waiter told me at dinner, “and the switch has just gone off. It’s really nice to meet you.”

“Ah, the burger man!” Frederick, the Hotel Manager and the mind behind setting up the table for one, had chuckled as he bustled into the lounge with Sonny, the Bar Manager who had also been present on the tender deck two months earlier. And then Tommy, the chef who had presented me with that famous meal, turned up to say hi. 


Although my water bike journey had been peppered by endless encounters with kind, welcoming Norwegians, the trip could not have been considered comfortable. So it was that as Hurtigruten’s ships passed daily, I had asked myself a regular question: would I prefer to be down here, or up there?

The answer varied, depending on the wind, current, rain or sun, and sometimes the time passed since my last shower. 

What I can say is that now, two months on with the fatigue of an attritional mission still present in my joints, it is a pleasure to be sailing north with a comfortable cabin nearby, three meals a day, and regular port stops which require no prior-thought on where to dock and safely leave my transport.

My personal Hurtigruten experience so far has been unusual, of course, but beyond appreciating the home comforts taking this more traditional route has just bolstered an opinion that this is just as much a family as a company. Hurtigruten don’t stress the ‘cruise’ element of their voyages along the Norwegian coast or, indeed, along their other routes which include Greenland, Alaska and Antarctica, but boy they do it well.

The ships are well conditioned and simple, with passenger experience at the fore of Hurtigruten’s mission. Most amenities are kept to the fifth floor on this ship, which keeps navigation simple, and with less than 300 passengers on board the atmosphere is intimate and familiar. 


Various excursions and tours are available at the long-stops in port, or guests can choose to explore on their own. In Alesund I joined three Americans on a slippy ascent to the Aksla Viewpoint, which offers a gloriously snowy panorama over the town and its surrounding fjords and islands. 

At lunch the communal water dispenser has run dry and one of the kitchen staff must have noticed my fly-by. I’d diverted my attention to the buffet and returned to the table to find a full glass of water waiting. It’s the little things.


Every couple of hours I wrap up warm and wander up on on deck, where a giant lit-up Christmas decoration welcomes those who are taking in the vast expanses. I study each stretch of water knowingly, once travelled at a little less than walking pace. The Norwegian winter comes with added bite, but an endless range of snow-capped mountains, glaciers and dark, wild fjords are no less impressive just because the nearest coffee is two flights of steps away.


On Day Three we cross the Arctic Circle and the passengers are invited to the aft deck, where one member of crew is dressed as Neptune and two officers ‘welcome’ any willing passenger into the Arctic with a handsome delivery of ice cubes down the neck. The range of distinctly uncomfortable faces and accompanying shrieks are as entertaining as the line of volunteers is impressive.

I’m only on board for half of this voyage and am invited to give a presentation about my water biking exploits, the night before I disembark at the port of Bodø. While it is an opportunity to reminisce and prepare the story structure ahead of three weeks of book writing on the same topic, sharing tales from the coast is the ideal ice-breaker. The next morning a few people stop by around the ship, to say thanks and to share their own adventures. I make a point of asking them about their journey with Hurtigruten and the reaction is never ordinary. 

One lady stared out of the window at the painting-worthy scene and paused before whispering, “this has been a dream of mine for so long,” her eyes filling with tears. “It’s even more beautiful than I hoped,” she smiled shyly, embarrassed at her reaction.

Another man, a solo German named Joe who earlier told me that he has an addiction to mountain biking, perched in the jacuzzi at the ship’s stern wearing a contented smile beneath a grey beanie. “Does it get better than this?” he laughed, lifting his arms from the water and moving them simultaneously towards the horizon.


Visit the Hurtigruten website to start dreaming about your perfect voyage

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Expedition Norway Part 6: Rørvik to Bergen

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For the first time since leaving Kirkenes the wind was directly behind me, and I couldn’t have been more thankful. If I’d been paddling north I wouldn’t be moving. Leaving Rørvik, I pedalled beneath a high, majestic bridge, a guilty pleasure I revel in when travelling on water. I adore the anonymity of passing beneath a train of traffic, nobody up there having a clue what strange craft is down below.

The sea state was uncomfortable that day, waves crashing around but, crucially, into the back of my bike, propelling us forward. I sought refuge that night in a community roundhouse in a tiny village called Utvorda, delighting in the shelter that had been built by the local government years earlier for village concerts and summer drinking by the water. On that wet, dark night I was just grateful for cover.

The weather wasn’t much better the next day, fishermen rubbed their eyes in amazement as I bounced past on the waves, but that afternoon a series of passes from Hurtigruten ships began that would shape the culmination of the journey. First, in the fjord north of Bessaker, the MS Lofoten stalled to a halt, the passengers waved over the starboard side and crew opened a side hatch and lowered down a dry bag on a stick. “It is a gift from all of us,” shouted the house manager, “something to eat, something to drink and something to wear.”

I spent that night in Bessaker, in a room above the local shop that the manager, Torhild, led me straight to after my arrival, but not before offering me a choice of the breads that the next day would pass their sell-by date.

The next day, the MS Spitsbergen opened up their tender deck in the open water beyond Stokksund and again, with all the passengers up above waving flags and snapping photos, I was beckoned to approach. But this time I was invited on board, where a single table and chair had been set up on the tender deck. Tablecloth and ice bucket and all the dressings, and a medium-rare burger and a side of potatoes and salad served to my amazement. I must admit, it was quite awkward eating with the crew and passengers staring down, knowing that the ship was halting its schedule for me, but the kindness, execution of a bizarre idea and the audacity to support my trip this way sums up Hurtgiruten as company. They’re family. You simply wouldn’t get this service from a typical cruising company.

At Lesøysundet the owner of the local Brygge kindly offered me a room, and the next day I was delighted to reach my primary goal for this expedition, passing the 1000 mile mark and ticking off the 14th different non-motorised journey over 1000 miles of my life. It takes a lot of time, energy and support to reach that distance without a motor, and such has been the resolve needed to make this journey a success, I can safely say I’ve never been so grateful to reach the 1000 mile mark - for so long it had seemed an unbridgeable distance away. The Norwegian coast can be as brutal as it is beautiful.

Later that day I got another treat, my fiancé Emma and good friend Andy were waiting on shore having driven from England to support my last two weeks, and they’d be there for each of the remaining nights whatever the weather.

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Hurtigruten’s MS Richard With sent a tender boat out with a takeaway meal for me north of Kristiansund, a gesture to rival its fellow ships. A local journalist asked me to try a sweet Svele snack in a film for his Kristiansund-based paper, we were treated to a night in the dreamy Hotel Brosundet in Alesund, and then woke up to the local TV2 crew waiting in the lobby - the resulting segment going out on national TV and ensuring that everyone we met for the rest of the journey would know about the ‘crazy man on the waterbike.’

The weather treated us kindly as I rounded Stadt, a peninsula famed for its rough waters, and then, on the final straight south to Bergen, I passed the remaining Hurtigruten ports, Måløy and Florø, names that had justifiably felt a great distance away when I started this journey two months earlier in Kirkenes.

Originally, I’d imagined that this journey would take six weeks and as I left a small marina on the west side of Florø the ninth week of the trip began. I had less than a week to go before further commitments back home began, and the tail end of the hurricanes that had left a trail of destruction across the Atlantic were now feeding into weather patterns in the eastern Atlantic. The forecast didn’t look great for the coming days and I decided on a dash south from Florø into hopefully calmer waters. Two hours later I realised I’d made a mistake as winds gusted up above 35 knots and hungry waves removed bags from my bike’s pontoons.

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Thankfully I retired behind a sea wall on the island of Askrova. For an hour I’d battled conditions that threatened to finish me off and I promised myself that given the same situation again, I’d opt to stay on land. I’ve been travelling under my own steam for over a decade and the joy of youthful freedom has evolved into life where adventure is still important, but not as important as life with a loving fiancé. Typically, under the shelter of a roof kindly offered by a local, I spent two days weighing up the increasingly poor weather against the importance of finishing what I’d started, and eventually I opted to stay safe, to call the journey 80 miles north of Bergen.

Norway is a country famed for its wild beauty, but all too often that rugged country can be taken for granted. Mobile phones don’t work everywhere. Weather can change in an instant. As important as it is to experience wide open landscapes and push our boundaries, there is no point risking our lives for the sake of reaching a goal. I chose to take on this journey for the same reason behind the other 1000+ mile expeditions I’ve enjoyed so far - to be alive.

And so, with a little tickle of relief in my belly, it seemed fitting to cover those last miles between Askrova and Bergen with my best friends and the biggest supporters of this incredible journey down the Norwegian coast; Hurtigruten. Several weeks earlier the MS Polarys has arrived into Kirkenes with my Schiller Bike on board, and here we were, riding the ship south through raging winds and angry waters. Not one thing I saw from the decks made me want to be back out there on the water and although the journey had ended prematurely, the memories I’d gathered since leaving Kirkenes will stay with me for a lifetime.

“What’s next?” is always the question people ask the moment a journey finishes, and my answer for now, is to rest and then, when I’m ready to take on this journey one more time, to write a book. I pedalled 1243 miles in 9 weeks, camped on the most beautiful of remote beaches, met hundreds of strangers who I’m now glad to call friends and enjoyed one of the most memorable chapters of my life. Norway will always be a special place and this a special time, where it was normal to spend my days two miles offshore, only to come back to the mainland where the locals would take one, amused look at my bike and ask, “are you crazy?”

And my answer: “I’d be crazy not to do this.”


Expedition Norway Part 1: Kirkenes to Kongsfjord

Image by Yellow Matilda

Image by Yellow Matilda

One hundred people stood on the front deck as Hurtigruten’s MS Finnmarken approached Kirkenes on the morning of 21st July. I was one of them scanning the horizon as the final islands passed by, but I supposed I’d be the only one leaving our new destination under my own steam. And, I was pretty confident, there definitely wouldn’t be anyone else leaving on a waterbike.

For over a decade I’ve been led by a quest called Expedition1000, a project to undertake twenty-five different journeys over 1000 miles in distance, each using a different form of non-motorised transport. From skateboarding across Australia to paddle boarding the length of the Mississippi, my memories are now shaped around those moments spent mid adventure; the wild campsites, battling violent headwinds, chance meetings and serendipities with strangers that would become friends, and the milestone events on each journey - the beginning, the thousand-mile mark, and the end.

Kirkenes is where I begin my 14th journey over one thousand miles, and my transport this time is a Californian-built Schiller Bike, a bicycle set up on two inflatable pontoons, which moves along thanks to a pedal-powered propellor. Strange, you might think, and you’d be right. In fact, should I make it through the inevitable challenges Norway’s vast coastline has to offer, this will create a new world record for the longest distance travelled by a bicycle on water.

Image by Yellow Matilda

Image by Yellow Matilda

After three days of prep, based out of the Thon Hotel in Kirkenes, I pedalled away from the beach just one hundred metres from the MS Richard With, named after Hurtigruten’s founder, who began his first journey from this very city in 1893. I was very aware, in those blissfully calm first miles, that I would be retracing a journey known as the world’s most beautiful voyage, but that my experience would be much slower than the thousands of lucky Hurtigruten passengers who experience this coast each year.

My first week on the water has seen 135 miles pass under my bows. I’ve been joined by dolphins and seals, found hidden beaches and rocky bays, shipwrecks that could tell decade-long stories and abandoned cabins with views that most millionaires would dream of.

Patches of snow still cling to the north-facing grooves of the cliffs that plummet straight into the ocean, a reminder that even though the days are 24 hours long at present, the Winter and its corresponding darkness will be back again soon.

Image by Yellow Matilda

Image by Yellow Matilda

Compared to my surroundings, I am small and insignificant as I pedal slowly (at around 4mph) around headlands and across fjords, but the friendliness of everyone I have met these last few days makes me excited to visit each new town, village and shoreside hamlet. From fishermen to artists and owners of guesthouses and bistros, the Norwegians have an air of calm about them, a spirit riddled with the positivity one needs to get through the long cold of Winter but the grounding that only nature of this beauty can bestow upon a human.

Image by Yellow Matilda

Image by Yellow Matilda

It’s hard to take for granted the scale of the mountains and the power of the waves, and the resulting respect for life and nature carries its way through everything the locals do.

My only previous visit to Norway was a two day spell kayaking along the Oslo fjord, but the north, this place they call Finnmark, it is spectacular. If you need to climb high to get a good view, then this is almost the top of the ladder. I’ve felt like I’ve been travelling around the edge of the world some days, coastline to my left and endless hungry sea to my right.

In one week I have pedalled through soaking rain, sunshine that had me down to my t-shirt and shorts, deep fog and the flattest of wide ocean. I can’t imagine what is too come in the next seven weeks, but I’m ready for this experience to become a part of me.

The Schiller Bike - fit for travel

The Schiller Bike - fit for travel

I'm a week into this Schiller bike journey around Norway's coast and the unusual craft that I first tried one week ago today has now become familiar, and seeing as 90% of the questions I've faced so far revolve around my waterbike, here's an attempt to outline just how fit it is for travel.

Blog 1 - Alice Cooper


This Summer I'm exploring the Norwegian Coast like nobody ever has, by travelling 1500 miles along the Hurtgruten route between Kirkenes and Bergen, using a Schiller Bike. If successful this journey will be a world record distance by bike on water.

If you ever need to break away and give yourself some fresh headspace, travel. 

Do something new; jump on a bike or a plane, in a car or a train, hope aboard a ship and take in a coastline from the best possible angle - from the sea.

I'm doing just that. After a year of challenges that have tested me in ways I've never before had to deal with it has taken just a day and a half to (almost) switch off. I left London yesterday morning and touched down briefly in Stockholm before descending three hours later through heavy cloud cover above snow-speckled peaks above Tromsø, Norway.

The coolest man in the world was sitting beside me on the plane, everything about him just screamed rock star - the long hair, wide brimmed hat, necklaces, rings and slow, drawling American accent. He even held his iPad like a dude. Turns out Alice Cooper have a gig in Tromsø this weekend and my plane neighbour is the lead guitarist in the band.

I told him what I was doing and he held out his hand, "You're living the life, man, that is a loooong trip."

This stuff doesn't happen when you stay at home, and if by some freak of chance it does, the story wouldn't have been half as good.

I'm ready to play a part in some new stories. The FlyBuss dropped me on a slick sidewalk a few metres from the water and as if it had been rehearsed there was the MS Finnmarken, looming into port, with little painted nostrils and singular fangs on its bow, as if to say 'this is me, deal with it.' 

Hurtigruten, the parent company of this vessel and another eleven that patrol the Norwegian coast between Kirkenes and Bergen, are the reason that I'm here, and their attitude as a company has been exemplified by two people who pushed the idea of this journey and turned it from a throwaway suggestion into reality.

Marcella saw me speak on another (much uglier and larger) cruise ship in the Mediterranean last year and Ant has forced through the proposal, as well as bringing Visit Norway in on the act. These things are always because of the people, and along with Judah and Robyn from Schiller Bikes in San Francisco, and Neal and Tim and Stephanie and Cheese and Carl and David and Jenna and tens of other people who believed in this trip, I'm about to do something bonkersly brilliant.

And while I'll be solo on the water for much of this journey, I won't be alone. As per usual I'll be sharing tales daily on social media, and I'll also have company nearby in the shape of a Yellow VW van named Yellow Matilda, a wise young dog named Angus, and their owners Adam and Laura. Team Yellow Matilda are currently making their way north on the roads between England and Kirkenes, some 2500 miles.


A new challenge 

I was ready for something new, a challenge that didn't just extract the rust from the old joints, but provided a real test in the midst of a dramatic, unfolding story. 

These characteristics always come with risk and the risk here is the sea, and that's why I find myself boarding the MS Finnmarken, because over the next two days we'll be sailing north and east along the route I'll soon be pedalling.

Fear and danger are always greatest from afar, and from afar is where the thinking and planning is done. On this journey, beyond keeping a beady eye on the weather and keeping my head on my shoulders when wind and sea state will undoubtedly force crucial decisions, the biggest challenge is the unseen. Especially for the first 400km, the current is against me. The wind almost certainly will be, too, but keeping a positive mindset is a matter of balance and expectation - pedalling against the tide and trying to measure gains by the movement of the land to my left, that's going to hurt some days.

Scouting the route gives me a chance to see what's to come (which isn't something I'd usually choose to do - often when you know what's next on a self-propelled journey it would put you right off), to ready my mind, to pick out those few-and-far-between camp spots and safe havens on a notoriously aggravated, difficult shoreline.

The scale up here is other-worldly. The Hurtigruten route is known as The World's Most Beautiful Sea Voyage and while it's easy to brush aside a gorgeous marketing line, the 24 hours I've now spent on board have confirmed three things: yes, this is an utterly gorgeous corner of the planet. Yes, this is going to be a huge challenge, and yes, no matter how many journeys I make my way through, there is always another way to stretch out the comfort zone.

In fact, the only pieces left in the puzzle that makes up the pre-trip conundrum, are Schiller Bike-shaped, in as much as the tracker on the DHL website stopped updating on Tuesday afternoon. I was hoping that my Schiller Bike would be ready and waiting in Kirkenes in time for my arrival tomorrow morning but I haven't yet been sent confirmation of delivery, so this looks unlikely.

No journey on this planet has ever begun with every detail nicely sewn up weeks in advance, and that's all part of the show. Roll with the punches, adapt to your surroundings, be prepared to change a plan when the wind demands and most of all, understand that you can try to plan an adventure as much as you like but when it comes down to it, you're never fully in control.

If you don't love that feeling and all that comes with it, I hope you still enjoy following this journey from the comfort of the familiar. Just don't expect Alice Cooper to sit down next to you.

The best ways to follow Expedition Norway:

  1. Everything you could possibly need and more on
  2. Daily video diaries on
  3. Images on
  4. Tiny 140 character thoughts, snippets and snapshots on

And when you finally succumb to the temptations of Norway, please use the excellent resources on Visit Norway to plan your trip, and consider Hurtigruten as the perfect introduction to this wonderful land.