It is an early morning start from Colombo and we reach Kandy in time for a hearty breakfast, before we embark on the Pekoe Trail.

As an avid hiker and determined to make the most of my 60s, I can’t resist the opportunity to explore this much talked about 300-kilometer Pekoe Trail and document my experience on Mihipedia. The trail is broken up into 22 stages, and today I will tackle Trail 01, from Hanthana to Galaha. My aim is to walk all 22 stages eventually.

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As I step onto the Pekoe Trail 06, I’m immediately struck by the beauty that surrounds me. Towering trees loom above me, casting dappled shadows across the winding path ahead.

My hiking companions and I set out from Watagoda, eager to explore the 14.8 kilometer trail that will lead us to Kotagala.

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It is four days since my last Pekoe Trail, but I am here again, lacing up my travel boots and readying for Pekoe Trail 05. I have high hopes for an exciting adventure, although the reality of the journey may be far from my expectations.

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After a restful night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we set out with eager hearts and renewed energy to conquer the Pekoe Trail 02 from Galaha to Loolcondera, a distance of 14.6 kilometers.

Known for its ‘moderately challenging’ terrain and breathtaking vistas, this trail was divided into two sections: Galaha to Deltota and Deltota to Loolcondera. We were yet to find out what ‘moderately challenging’ was!

Me, Hemanthi and Anoma at Galaha town

As we began the trail from Galaha, a charming town nestled in the hills of Sri Lanka, the day dawned bright and early.  Accompanied by fellow hikers Hemanthi and Anoma, we embarked on our adventure, eager to experience all that lay ahead.

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It is the steep and formidable stone stairway that makes this fortress unique. The stone steps are narrow (in width) and are at a 70-degree angle reaching up to a height of about 92m (300ft). Although I am not scared of heights, I am careful climbing up because a misstep would mean an unnecessary tumble.

This is Yapahuva, another of Sri Lanka’s ancient capital strongholds. Initially built to serve as a military outpost for  Senapathi General Subhapabbota during the reign of King Buvanekabhahu I (1271 – 1284) its height and vantage point was useful as a sentinel during south Indian King Kalinga Magha’s (1215-1236) invasion of Sri Lanka along with 24,000 of his soldiers.

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I’m in Ireland for a week. Belfast to be exact because I would need a different visa to get across to Dublin.

Of all the things I’ve heard about Ireland, it is “The Troubles” that stand out most. The Troubles took place during a period of ethno-nationalist conflict and political violence in Northern Ireland that lasted roughly from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. It was primarily fought between elements of the republican movement, who wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland, and unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

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As I embark on my journey across Scotland, I can’t help but be struck by the vibrant colours and beauty of the wildflowers that dot the countryside. From the rolling hills to the rugged coastline, every turn in my journey is accompanied by a colourful array of blooms.

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Having left Aviemore, we proceed northwards along the A9. The Scottish landscape is extremely picturesque and colourful. We are en route to the farthest end of the country.

But along the way, we stop to visit the Urquhart Castle, one of medieval Scotland’s largest castles and important strongholds.

The Castle was built in the early 13th century on a rocky hilltop overlooking the Loch Ness, home to the famous Loch Ness Monster (who was not around during my visit, unfortunately). Read More

Scotland is lovely. Actually, Scotland is more than just lovely…it is unreservedly friendly, full of unpronounceable words and has some absolutely fascinating history.

My journey into Scotland begins in Stirling.

Located between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirling is a quiet, laidback city in central Scotland with its own share of history.

Wallace Monument

On the Abbey Craig outcrop stands the 19th-century National Wallace Monument, and overlooks the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace defeated the English. This is also where the Battle of Bannockburn took place when Robert the Bruce adopted ‘hit and run’ guerrilla tactics and largely succeeded in driving the English from Scotland.

At the heart of its old town is the medieval Stirling Castle, its impressive architecture and historical value making this one of Scotland’s grandest castles.

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I just love the outdoors. Spaces and landscapes that include gardens, lakes, mountains, oceans, long winding roads, turn me on! It’s pure exhilaration and gratuitous peace. So two days into my visit to Stirling, I am in the back of a rented car on a road trip across Scotland.

After three hours of driving through some beautiful Scottish highlands, we finally reach Aviemore, and the Cairngorm National Park beside Loch Morlich.

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