Expedition Lapland: Q&A With Tom Young
Back in the summer, we were contacted by Tom Young - an ambitious adventurer and wildlife film-maker based in the UK, who was about to set out on the journey of a lifetime: walking hundreds of miles from north to south through Lapland - one of the most beautiful and rugged regions on Earth.
More than happy to support Tom on his solo adventure, we eagerly followed his stunning photo updates on Instagram as his journey progressed, whilst the weeks racked up and the weather threw everything it could at him!
Now back on home soil, Tom took the time to answer some questions about the expedition, as well as sharing some more amazing photographs!
You recently finished your expedition - tell us the basics. How far? What was your goal?
The idea of the trip was fairly simple; to walk solo across the length of Lapland, through some of the wildest and most untamed lands in Europe. Excluding the odd detour, I hiked 800 miles across Lapland, the Arctic circle region of mainland Europe.
Why did you do this trip?
The trip was an adventure to push my boundaries and experience wilderness on a scale that no longer exists in the UK where much of it has been destroyed. I hoped the trip would raise awareness for the concept of rewilding in the UK, a movement where land is given a chance to recover and function as a natural ecosystem once again. Lapland still has many of the wild plants and animals that have been wiped out of the UK, including bears, wolves, lynx, moose, beavers, boar and an abundance of bird life.
Did you do the trip by yourself? How many miles or kilometres did you average a day?
I hiked alone for 800 miles, carrying all I needed on my back, camping in the wilderness over 66 days, averaging 12 miles per day through glacial mountain ranges, dense forests and Arctic tundra.
There must be a lot of logistics with a trip like this. How did you re-supply gear and food along the way?
Having to carry everything including food, water, camera equipment, camping equipment and emergency kit meant that my rucksack weighed between 26 and 30 kg depending on how much food and water I had consumed. I planned each camp based on available water sources and every two weeks my route passed through a road or small town that I could resupply and potentially rest if needed.
What were your top 3 favorite spots along the 1,000-mile journey?
There were some exceptionally beautiful landscapes throughout my journey, but without a doubt my favourite had to be the wonderful Norwegian Reisa National Park; a huge, steep-sided valley with numerous gigantic waterfalls powering into the river below and surrounded by mixed forest of pines and birches. Wild raspberries and blueberries were abundant throughout and added some much needed fresh food to my porridge in the mornings. Sarek National Park in Sweden was stunning too, it's sheer scale of free flowing rivers, glacial mountains and forests were exciting enough, but knowing bears, lynx, moose and occasionally wolves passed through and lived here was enchanting.
I was also impressed with Knivskjellodden, my starting point, where huge barren headlands of rock jutted out at the most northern point of mainland Europe.
What was most surprising about the journey?
Something I wasn’t expecting was the immense kindness of the people I met. It wasn’t often, but when I did meet strangers in the wilderness they would quickly feel like friends, and would often offer to help in some way. Whether it was donating me chocolate, making me a much needed coffee or even cooking me an entire dinner. It was overwhelming at times and truly inspirational.
What was the hardest part of the journey?
The first two weeks was immensely difficult, both physically and mentally. Knowing there was so far ahead, and not used to carrying so much weight for such long periods of time was exhausting. 24 hours of sunlight and searing heat up to 35℃ added to the intensity and made for an incredibly challenging start to the expedition.
Which DD Hammocks kit did you use and how did you find it?
The DD Hammocks Superlight Frontline Hammock and Superlight Tarp XL were excellent companions on my trip and allowed me to have a versatile camp that was extremely light to carry - an exceptionally important factor when you are carrying everything on your back to keep you alive and well in the wild. Around half my camps were bivvy-style setups using the tarp and my walking poles to create a shelter, and the other half were spent blissfully (apart from when I got hit by a huge storm!) hanging between trees. The kit survived some real tough conditions, wind storms through ice valleys that had tent-goers packing up and walking on at 2am, as well as keeping out the horrendous swarms of mosquitoes and large midges (their bites scarred for weeks!). The hammock was a joy to set up and I was amazed at the ease of being able to tweak the lengths to get the comfiest lay.
You are back home now? And working on a film about the expedition?
Now I am home I am working on a talk to tour schools with about wildlife and adventure whilst working on a short adventure documentary about the expedition, ready for the New Year.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you want to check out more of my photos and video clips from the trip, as well as keep an eye out for any new updates, head over to www.tomyoungwildlife.com
Or search for Tom Young Wildlife on Facebook & @tom_willy_young Instagram.
We are certainly going to be following Tom as he shares his story across the UK. Check out the links above to read in further detail about this expedition, or click below to see more information about the DD gear used by Tom in our online shop:
Have you got a story you want to tell? Drop us a line and let us know for your chance to be featured!
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About the writer
Growing up in the far Northwest Highlands of Scotland, Ewan is no stranger to the Great Outdoors. As part of the DD Hammocks team with a passion for cycling, hillwalking and outdoor sports, Ewan is super keen to spread the joys of the outdoor lifestyle to all!