Last week I was invited to experience a truly unique automotive and outdoor experience to celebrate the launch of the Hyundai KONA and to launch the KONA challenge – the world’s first daring challenge to drive to and climb 10 volcanoes across the UK in just 72 hours fronted by ultra-athlete, Sophie Radcliffe.
My journey began early doors in Chester, where I was joined by John from The Everyday Man at the ABode Chester, where we were briefed on our day of our adventure. The plan was to drive from Chester to Mount Snowdon via a few points of interest along the way, before eventually reaching base camp for the evening.
John and I were given the manual KONA 1.0-litre TGi in dark grey to complete our adventure in, as well as a Polaroid camera to capture moments throughout the day.
Our first point of interest was a beachside restaurant called Dylan’s, where we tucked into a lunch of fresh bread, lobster and a trio of desserts, before taking a moment to appreciate the views and topping up on caffeine before hitting the road again.
…Or should I say beach! as our next stop was Black Rock Sands. Where John and I drove our KONA across the sand (10 miles per hour). Despite the grey weather and winds, it was a real euphoric moment driving across the sand and after wrapping up in our parka jackets, we jumped out the car to capture the moment.
After the beach, we drove to an old private miner’s route (Pen-y-Pass), which was specially opened with our adventure. Although a little scary at times due to the width of the roads (one of those moments where you don’t look out the window and keep looking forward!) but, one HELL of an experience! This is where the car showed its power in getting us over rocks and up steep hills.
After a day of driving, it was off to base camp, which John actually spotted from the car when we were driving higher up in the valleys. On arriving a the specially created base camp, we were greeted with cocktails and canapes before joining TV personality Dr Michael Scott and adventurer and ultra-athlete Sophie Radcliffe around the campfire to learn all about the KONA challenge.
We learnt that for 72 hours, Sophie will drive and conquer ten of the UK and Ireland’s most famous volcanic landscapes in the inaugural KONA challenge.
The route starts at Mount Snowdon in Wales, before heading across the sea to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, via a trip to Croghan Hill, termed ‘the navel of Ireland’. It then crosses to Scafell Pike, England’s highest elevation, and then on to Scotland to take in the stunning surroundings of North Berwick Law in East Lothian. From there it’s to Edinburgh – and both Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat. Glen Coe is next, whose volcanic history dates back 420 million years, before reaching the impressive Ben Nevis, confirmed by Ordnance Survey as the highest mountain in Britain and Ireland. The route then heads to Ardnamurchan before finally, the wilds of Skye and the inaccessible Cuillin Ridge, the site of the last clan battle in the Isle of Skye, signal the end.
Shortly after learning about the challenge, we were shown to our glamping-style tents, before dinning in the main teepee, on a three-course meal provided by Catherine Skate’s – a bespoke caterer that specialises in fresh, local Welsh ingredients. They also provided a delicious breakfast (including blueberry pancakes) but hitting the road again in the morning.
There was something quite special about camping under the volcanos and meeting Sophie and Michael, who were both so worldly and shared great stories over dinner. John and I took in the fresh air for the last time whilst driving back to Chester to finish our Hyundai KONA adventure.