Nissan e-NV200 campervan cabin heating (and cooling)

One of the benefits of an EV campervan is a built-in HVAC (heating ventilation and cooling) system. This system runs directly from the HV (high voltage) traction battery and can be used when parked up and sleeping overnight in the van to provide heating, ventilation, dehumidification and even cooling.
Many conventional campervans have diesel or propane heaters, besides being smelly and a source of carbon emissions these heaters usually heat the air inside the van rather than provided heated fresh air from the outside which results in poor air quality and lots of condensation.

In an electric van, the HVAC system works just the same as when the van is being driven, providing warm fresh air with no condensation. If there is a lot of humidity in the van e.g. when cooking or drying wet clothes the A/C can be used in conjunction with heat to provide dehumidification. 

Cosy winter camping in -4 degC in Austria

Induction hob cooked pancakes for breakfast before a day skiing :-)  

Nissan e-NV200 Campervan HVAC operation 

The e-NV200 has a PTC (positive temperature coefficient) resistive heater and an A/C compressor with cabin heat exchanger. Other vehicles may have a different heating system, e.g. the Nissan Leaf had a PTC + heat pump heating system which is a bit more efficient at heating in a mild climate. As far as I'm aware I don't know of any EV vans which have a heat pump. 

For the rest of this post I'll focus on heating in the e-NV200, but the same procedures also apply to cooling:

Battery Upgrade 24kWh > 40kWh Nissan e-NV200 Campervan

As you know, our van is a fully electric 2015 Nissan e-NV200 with a 24kWh battery pack, this was the only size battery available 7 years ago. We bought the van 2nd hand 6yrs ago in 2016 and converted it to a campervan

The original 24kWh battery gave the van a range of 60-80 miles depending on driving style and road conditions. Despite the relatively low range it's not stopped us clocking up 63,000 miles including several long campervan trips around Europe as far as Slovenia, Hungry, several trips to Southern Spain and many to Northern Scotland. As we've proved and documented in this blog, the van with the original 24kWh battery is quite capable of long-distance travel provided this is done at a relaxed pace, and on the whole we’ve found public charging to be available and reliable even in more remote parts of continental Europe. 

In 2018 Nissan introduced a 40kWh battery pack for the e-NV200 with almost double the energy capacity. Even though our original 24kWh battery pack is still very functional with currently 83% of its original capacity remaining, the prospect of upgrading our van to double its current range at a reasonable cost was very appealing. When the opportunity arose to obtain a 40kWh battery from a salvage vehicle, we decided to go ahead with the upgrade. I enlisted the help of an EV friendly local garage to help with the heavy lifting to do the physical swap then I did the electrical wiring work myself.  

Removing the old 24kWh battery

848 miles in a 11.5 year old Tesla Roadster: EV batteries can last a long time!

On 18th September 2021 I was involved in a mission to drive a 11.5-year-old 2010 Tesla Roadster with the original battery pack 848 miles across the entire lengths of the UK from Lands End to John O'Groats to prove that EV batteries can last a long time. The car managed the trip easily and did it in 21.5 hrs which is far faster than this car originally did the same trip back in 2011!

This particular Tesla Roadster is rather special to me, since it was the first EV I ever saw. Back in 2013 I attended a National Trust Hydro and ZeroCarbonWorld EV charge point launch event in Snowdonia, North Wales. I remember being blown away when Kevin told me the car had a range of about 200 miles! This experience sowed the seed from my enthusiasm in electric vehicles.

A Guide to Climbing Trips in Europe by Train

My partner Amy recently wrote an article for UKC about how to use trains to go on climbing trips. Here's a link to the original article. The article was based on the experiances Amy and I have had taking the train to climbing destinations all over Europe and even all the way to China!  Here's a copy of the article:

Ihave done quite a few climbing trips by train in the last 10 years and find myself talking to people who are interested in it for different reasons, but who are unsure of practicalities and logistics. I thought I would write an article to share some of my top train tips and suggested trip ideas.

About to board the ICE 19 from Brussels to Cologne  © Glyn Hudson
About to board the ICE 19 from Brussels to Cologne
© Glyn Hudson

This article was still in draft form in March, so I put it on hold (because who would want to be thinking about travelling in the middle of a pandemic?). However, 3 months later and I'm starting to hear people talking about their ideas for future trips, wanting to make plans they can dream about and look forward to. Across Europe restrictions are lifting, travel corridors are opening and train services are resuming. The European Commission has also proposed making 2021 the European Year of Rail, to support the delivery of its European Green Deal objectives in the transport field, and the European Council is supporting it. So maybe this is as good a time as any to be sharing a bit of train information and inspiration!

*Remember to check travel restrictions and COVID-19 regulations in each country you travel to/through before booking a trip and keep up-to-date while en route - the situation may have changed.

How I got into train travel and my motivations

My first international train journey in relation to a climbing trip was actually both for convenience and the pure glee of putting a whimsical idea into practice. I was planning how I would get home from Italy while my partner continued on his European van trip. We would be climbing in Finale Ligure and I saw on Google Maps that there was a local train station right on the coast. A bit of investigation showed me that I could go from Finale all the way to Bristol city centre by train! So a few months later, after a day's climbing and eating dinner on the beach, I strolled into the station, hopped on an evening train to Milan, caught a sleeper, woke up in Paris, took the Eurostar to London and was home in Bristol that afternoon. I had read my book, sorted out photos, chatted with a nice Italian family whom I was sharing the sleeper compartment with, slept, eaten a croissant from a French bakery, looked out the window and arrived back with my mind gently transitioned from holiday to home mode. It was an amazing journey and my partner had headed off to Céüse without me causing him any awkward airport detours.

For that trip environmental motives were far from my mind, if there had been an airport in Finale Ligure I probably would have flown. However, in recent years my attitude has changed as I have learned more about the impact my travel choices have. For those unaware of the carbon differences, here is a graph comparing the travel options between Manchester and Avignon, France (assuming you are not considering cycling with all your climbing gear!).

Carbon Emissions from Manchester to Avignon (per person, one-way)  © zerocarbonadventures

European EV Road Trip Part 2: AC Charging Cables

This post was written from the perspective of a Welshman travelling from Wales in the United Kingdom to mainland Europe. 

Following on from my previous post in this series European EV Road Trip Part 1: RFID, Apps and Planning, this post will cover what EV charging cables and accessories we've used while travelling around Europe in an EV.

The first part of the post will cover what cables I would recommend for a normal EV car travelling in Europe, while the 2nd part of the post will cover the charging setup I use in our e-NV200 EV self-converted camper van

European EV Charging Cables (AC)

The Short version (TLDR): No, special cables required! 

Just use the normal (Type-2) EV charging cable that came with your EV, that will work on all public AC  charging stations in Europe. DC Rapid charging doesn't require any cables since the cables are attached to the rapid charging unit. 

EV Charging Station in Hungary

European EV Road Trip Part 1: RFID, Apps and Planning

I've been getting a number of questions from people who have seen our EV campervan European trip videos asking what apps and RFID cards we used to activate charge points. I will attempt to answer these questions in this post. I will also do a 'part 2' post on cables and accessories we used to charge an EV safely from campsite hookups and European sockets.

Note: his post was written from the perspective of a Welshman travelling from Wales in the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, YMMV.

Activating Charge Points (RFID and APPs)


In general mainland Europe has much better interconnectivity (roaming agreements) between charging providers than the UK, for many countries a single ChargeMap Pass RFID will activate almost all charging points.

Rapid charging on Fastned network in Germany, one of the best charging networks in Europe 

Transport Carbon Emissions: Which is best? Plane, Train, Car, EV?

Travel is at the heart of the outdoor community. Travelling to explore new places and experience new things is very enjoyable and has many positive benefits. However, it's undeniable that the way we choose to travel can significantly contribute to climate change which is damaging the outdoor environments that we love. I recently read a very well written article by Rosie Watson: Building a sustainable outdoor community after COVID-19. Quote: 

"COVID-19 has driven the message home to appreciate the local, but more importantly, climate science is telling us clearly that flying for adventures or sport cannot be justified. Therefore, flying for adventures should not be communicated as a desirable behaviour within our culture, no matter how intrepid or boundary-pushing the trip was."

The impact of travel varies significantly depending on the chosen mode of travel, I often get asked by friends and family what is the difference in carbon emissions for different forms of transport. This is a topic that I'm very interested in, I always try to include a comparison chart embedded in each of my travel related blog post. However, these charts are difficult to reference therefore this blog post will be dedicated to the cause! 

I created this chart myself since most of the online carbon calculators are not very accurate. Here is a link to my Google Spreadsheet so you can follow my calculations and data sources for yourself and modify to fit your specific journey.

I choose the journey between Manchester to Avignon as an example since it's a common journey for UK climbers to reach the French climbing destinations. It's also a journey which can easily be made by train or plane since Manchester has an airport and mainline train station. This makes calculations easier. Valence is one stop earlier on the train and Marseille is one stop later. 

Here are the assumptions and details for each transport type:

DMM Article: Do Climbers Dream of Electric Vans?

DMM a local climbing hardware manufacturer recently published an article I wrote about my electric campervan. Read the original article on DMM's website here.

Growing up in Snowdonia North Wales DMM has always been one of the local companies I admire the most: their ethos of in-house designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art climbing hardware resonate with me. The DMM factory being located on the shore of Llyn Padarn a leisurely 5min bike ride of my house. 10 years ago when I started my own company I was keen to where possible manufacture locally to keep transportation energy to a minimum. This is worked out well, we still manufacture all our electronic energy monitoring and EV charging hardware in a factory in Bangor, local manufacture has lots of benefits.

It was an honour to write an article for DMM. The reception of the article was very positive, hopefully it will help inspire others to lower the ecological impact of travel. Here is a copy of the article:

Chuilla Spain via Electric Campervan in time for Christmas

Rather bizarrely our Christmas holiday hit the local news! Myself, my partner and our dog traveled to a famous climbing area called Chulilla near Valencia in Spain over the festive period. What caught the attention of the Daily Post is that we travelled there and back in our electric van. It’s a second hand Nissan e-NV200 with a 24kWh battery that we have converted into a camper. This was the 3rd road trip we’ve done in Europe since converting it.

Our van is an early Nissan e-NV200 model with a small battery (24kWh) compared to new electric vehicles (EVs), which have ranges of 200+ miles (longer than most people’s bladder range!), but the fact that even low range EVs like ours can do long journeys shows how extensive the charging infrastructure in the UK and Europe actually is.

Electric Campervan Euro Climbing Roadtrip: UK > Austria > Hungary

This summer we went on a long trip European trip in our e-NV200 electric campervan. The main motivation for the trip was to attend a friends wedding in Hungary. We took the opportunity to make trip out of it and visit some climbing locations along the way.  I made some video edits of the trip, mainly to try to show what its like to travel around Europe in a fully electric van, a 24 kWh Nissan e-NV200.

On the way we climbed in:

Austria (Zillertal): Ewige Jagdgrunde Bergstation - awesome granite crack climbing, wish we had longer here. The bouldering in this area looked fantastic. Sadly it started raining. The Zillertal area had an excellent guidebook.

Italy: Napoleonica - amazing location high above Trieste, a bit hot and polished

Slovenia: Misja Pec / Osp - Totally awesome, been on my wish list to visit for many years. Did not disappoint. Great climbing in a beautiful location and nice campsite. Keen to return when temperatures are a bit cooler.

Part 1: Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿, England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿, France 🇫🇷, Belgium 🇧🇪, Germany 🇩🇪, Austria

Tesla Trip to S.Fance & Céüse

Recently we were lucky enough to be to invited to a friends wedding in the south of France. The most obvious mode of transport would be to hope on a plane, however being aware of the environmental impact of flying I've managed to avoid flying for the past 5yrs. A single return flight to the South of France would emit 75% of a persons annual carbon allowance if we are to halt the effects of climate change.

Train travel and EV travel are very low carbon in comparison to flying, especially in France where most of the electrical energy is generated by low carbon sources (mostly nuclear).

A train is a very good option for travel to the south of France, it's possible to get a direct train from London to Marseilles, we've done this trip via train several times before. It's very quick an easy. However, we were keen to squeeze in a days climbing in the alps and would require a car to travel around and reach the wedding venue.

Our Nissan e-NV200 EV campervan is currently in a bodyshop getting new rear doors and a bumper after being rear-ended last month. The E-NV200 is totally capable of making a trip to the south of France (we drove across France on our way to Spain). However, with a 24kWh battery and 70 mile range it would have taken us 2.5-3 days from N.Wales to travel to the south of France; obviously not ideal if only going for a short period. We were very lucky that my in-laws kindly offered to lend us their Tesla Model S for the trip, we did not need much persuading to take them up on this very kind offer! Since the Tesla is a 2015 model it's got free supercharging which meant our total fuel cost for the trip was less than £5 (charging at home). It's possible to rent a Tesla Model S for £80/day with free supercharging.

Driving a Tesla long distance is very smooth and easy, the in-built sat-nav automatically navigated us to supercharging locations and told us how long to charge in each location. The Tesla Models S60 has a range of 200 miles, we found this to be plenty, we often felt like we wanted a break from driving before the car needed charging! Most supercharging stops where less than 30min after 3hrs of driving at 80 miles when road conditions allowed with A/C running since it was over 30 deg C outside! Autopilot was engaged taking control of accelerating / braking and steering while on the motorways, this made the drive very easy and relaxing.

Here's a video edit of the trip:

Climbing in Jaén, Electric campervan trip to Southern Spain (2500 miles)

I love rock climbing, however living in North Wales means it's almost impossible to enjoy climbing outside for half of the year during the winter, it's wet cold and generally miserable. Climbing indoors at indoor climbing centers is fun but no substitute to the real thing. For this reason it's a real treat to travel somewhere sunny and warm during the winter months to go rock climbing. I've managed to avoid flying for 5 years, instead in recent years opting to take the train to Spain, Morocco or Sicily

At the end of last year (2018) we converted a Nissan e-NV200 electric van into a fully electric campervan. We figured this winter would be a good opportunity to go away for a trip to the van. Traveling in the van rather than the train would allow us to take our Spaniel dog with us. Sadly due to  last minute change of dates lack of ferry doggy cabin availability meant we had to leave our dog behind :-(

Great Van Camping Spots In Jaen

We had heard about a new (for us) climbing area near Jaén in Southern Spain, some good friends of ours visited recently and gave the area high praise. Also, being in Andalucia it's south enough to have a good chance of being warm and sunny, a very important criteria for us!

Nissan e-NV200 Vs. Peugeot Partner Electric Van Comparison

For the last two years, we've been a fully electric vehicle household driving over 40,000 miles around WalesScotland, Paris and the French Alps without burning any petrol or diesel, saving us a substantial amount of money and reducing emissions. We charge our vehicles overnight from a green energy electricity tariff and I often charge at work directly from solar PV.

As you can tell, I'm totally sold on the benefits and practicality of EVs, even living in rural Snowdonia range and public charging has not been an issue. I discuss these issues in depth in my Zero Carbon Future post.

We've been driving a 2014 24kWh Nissan LEAF and more recently a 2015 24kWh Nissan e-NV200 both of which we bought 2nd hand. We recently converted the e-NV200 to a campervan, it's been a super fun project. We've got some exciting EV campervan trips planned soon!

Since we got our first EV, 8 of our friends who live within a 10-mile radius in Snowdonia have also made the transition. I'm happy to say that recently my dad has decided to swap his 14yr old diesel pickup for an electric van! He decided to go with a Peugeot Partner Electric van since it has 3 seats in the front. With the help of Jonathan from we managed to purchase a 2015 Peugeot Partner Electric in an auction. I picked up the van a few days ago.

Electric Campervan DIY conversion: Nissan e-NV200

Recently I've been working hard on converting a Nissan e-NV200 24kWh electric van into a campervan. I'm happy to report that the conversion process is nearly finished.

Reaching southern Spain after driving the e-NV200 campervan from North Wales UK

I used to own a diesel Citroen Dispatch campervan which I converted myself many years ago. This van served me well on many trips, however, as soon as we got a Nissan LEAF electric car a couple of years ago I sold the Dispatch campervan. I couldn't justify the high cost of running a diesel van compared to an EV and driving an internal combustion vehicle just felt old and wrong. The future is certainly electric. Switching to an EV is one of the most effective ways of reducing personal CO2 emissions, see my blog post Zero Carbon Future (low carbon present).

Exploring Norway by Train & Tesla!

Norway, a country of stunning coastlines, impressive mountain ranges, extensive wildernesses, 24hr daylight and the world’s hardest sport climb. A place that generates 98% of their energy via renewable sources and is the world leader in EV adoption. A land of top-notch cinnamon buns and the hygge culture, creating spaces and moments of cosiness, comfort and contentment.

Visiting Norway is something that we had been talking wistfully about for the past few years. Our honeymoon seemed like the perfect excuse to finally splash out (we knew a trip to this amazing country would be more expensive than a typical European adventure). So this summer we made it happen.

Paddling back after a day climbing at Flatanger, still baking hot and super sunny at 9pm!

Still having all the fun...just with less impact

This evening I watched a this fantastic film from Salomon. It epitomises everything I enjoy:

I can relate to the uneasy feeling of doing environmental damage while having outdoor adventures. I made the decision a number of years ago to give up flying, drive an electric car and become veggie...I still travel and climb just as much, just with slight less impact and greater fulfilment.

Thanks to my friend Terry Taylor for posting this video with his own words:

Nice to see that other people in the industry are aware of their footprint. I'm a professional skier based in France, and drove to the Alps from North Wales in my 24kw LEAF EV, with a seasons worth of kit, 7 pairs of skis, and a house plant called Barbara. The car has been mega in the snow, and we've had the biggest winter in 30+ years. The cold not a massive problem (-28 at times), and remote climate control is amazing! The local charger is supplied from the hydroelectric dam. Best decision I ever made.

Morocco Overland (Climbing in Talambote/Akchour)

Talambote Valley
I'm currently travelling at 300 km/hr, sitting on a TGV fast French electric train on my way back to the UK after a couple of weeks climbing and exploring in Morocco. We travelled overland to keep our carbon footprint to to minimum*; first via electric car to London then high speed electric trains through France and Spain and finally a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

Overland Travel

We followed the excellent Seat 61 London > Morocco train booking guide for advice on booking trains and ferries. Seat 61 is an amazing source of information for everything train related. We have their knowledge to book trains as far as Sicily (see blog post) and even China (see blog post)!  

Overland Route to Morocco
To maximise available time we left home on Boxing Day. Since there were no trains running we drove to London in our Nissan LEAF electric car. We have done this 280 mile drive many times before; there are so many rapid charging options at motorway service stations the journey is straightforward even in our 2013 24kWh Nissan LEAF (80-90 miles of range in summer and 70-80 miles in winter). However, on Boxing Day the weather was terrible: heavy rain and snow and freezing temperatures, which made the journey slightly more exciting than expected and meant we had to stop to charge a little more often than usual.

North Wales to Fontainebleau Paris via Electric Car in winter

We recently took a trip to Fontainebleau, a magical forest just south of Paris that contains lots of awesome sandstone boulders which a great for climbing on.

Unfortunately it was a bit damp (100% humidity!) therefore we didn't do much bouldering. We did however do some tricky boulder trainer ascents and fantastic fell running and forest exploring, the highlight being the awesome 25 Bosses Trail (17km, 830m ascent).

We drove to Fontainebleau from North Wales in our Nissan LEAF electric car (EV), a return trip of 1300 miles (including driving around at our destination) in winter. It wasn't very difficult (even in our 'old' 2nd hand 24kWh EV), however a bit of prior planning goes a long way.

Electric cars emit significantly less carbon than petrol/diesel vehicles and can be close to zero carbon if charged from renewable sources e.g solar PV  / wind. I charged the EV from a 100% renewable tariff at home, the UK ElectricHighway rapid charge network is also 100% matched renewable and the French Sodetral network is very low carbon because of France's extensive nuclear power. See my blog post Zero Carbon Future (low carbon present) for an in-depth comparison of EV Vs. ICE (petrol / diesel). 

Earlier in the summer we drove our Nissan LEAF EV to Ceuse in the French alps using the auto-train to transport the car from Paris to Marseilles (see my original Céüse 2017: N.Wales to French alps in an Electric Car blog post for full details of French charging networks, European charging cables and connectors etc). This trip took pretty much the same route to Paris as before but this time we took the opportunity to film and document the journey. Here is a video edit of trip; apologies in advance if it's a bit long, however I was keen to try and incorporate useful details e.g. how to activate French rapid chargers.

New North Wales Bouldering guidebook launch!

On Saturday I attended a meetup and party to celebrate the long awaited and much anticipated launch of the new 2017 North Wales Bouldering Guidebook!
Now available from V12 Outdoor.

North Wales has some of the best bouldering in the world. In 2004 Simon Panton published the first proper bouldering guidebook to the area:

I can remember my excitement 12 years ago (in 2006) getting hold of a copy. I grew up in North Wales and was just starting to lead climb outside. The guide opened my mind to the possibility of bouldering - another style of climbing I could try. Over the proceeding years I've visited almost all areas in the old book and enjoyed climbing many fine problems and visiting some special hidden areas of forrest and mountainside I would not have otherwise explored.

Diamond Days

Here in North Wales the outdoor roped climbing season is pretty much over. Cold, wetness and darkness are prevailing. Ah well, a change of scene is always good. I'm enjoying the Beacon Climbing indoor winter bouldering circuits and looking forward to getting outside bouldering.

I've finally managed to find some time to edit the video footage I shot climbing on The Diamond crag on the Little Orme in Llandudno.

The Diamond is one the best sport climbing crags in the UK. It's a shame due to bird nesting restrictions, tides and conditions it's only really possible to climb on it a few months of the year. These restrictions do make those rare days when all the stars align even more magical. 

Here's a short video edit of Luke Brooks and I climbing on The Diamond towards the end of the summer. 

Luke's project is actually Skip of Fools 8a+ (incorrectly labelled in the video) and my route is The Brute 8b. Both us made good progress but didn't manage to send our projects before winter took hold. I'm actually fine with this, I've been really enjoying the process of red-pointing and it's a good motivation to train over the winter to have an open project! Roll on next summer..

Here's a few photos from The Diamond:

Llanberis 'Driving With Electricity' EV Event: My Experience after 20K EV miles

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at a CPRW Electric Car event at Electric Mountain in Llanberis. My presentation covered my experience driving an EV and the ins and outs of charging.

Here's a copy of my slides:

Here's a copy of the agenda:

Filming The Future is Electric: Tesla EV in Snowdonia

Recently I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to make a couple of promo videos for Whitecar a Tesla EV rental company.

Tesla Model X filming on Black Rock Sands Porthmadog

I first hired one of their Tesla Model S EV's to surprise Trystan Lea. We're both EV enthusiasts currently driving Nissan LEAF's. It was amazing to experience the power, range and high tech features of a Tesla e.g. self-driving auto pilot, self-park etc. Not that had any doubt before but the future is most certainly electric transport! I made a short video of our time with the Model S driving around Snowdonia with a few drone shots.

Whitecar liked the video so much they asked me to make a similar clip for the Model X. Unable to resist a chance to experience a Model X for a few days I agreed. The filming over two days was a lot of work, I enlisted Ryan Brooks to help me. The weather was terrible for the two days we had the car, super high wind and driving rain! Ryan did an amazing job flying his Mavic Pro drone in extremely challenging environments. Two days of filming generated 85GB's of footage, it took me weeks to review and edit it all.

Céüse 2017: N.Wales to French alps in an Electric Car!

I'm writing this post on a rest day while on a climbing trip in Céüse in the French alps having driven here from North Wales in our Nissan LEAF electric car (EV) fully loaded with 4 people plus camping and climbing gear. As always climbing and hanging out at Céüse was very pleasurable, it's one of my favourite places.

Here's a little video edit I made of Céüse and the climbing, shot using a DJI Spark mini drone (new toy!):

On top (and above) Céüse at sunset

Driving to Céüse in an Electric Car (EV) 

On the news today there has been much talk about EV's as the government has announced a ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2040. This is great news. Although I expect no one will want to drive a petrol car long before then after experiencing an EV. The government announcement today has sparked lots of concern from non EV drivers that it's not possible to travel long distance in an EV. I hope this trip will demonstrate otherwise, albeit with a bit of planning.

We drove a 2nd hand 2014 Nissan LEAF with a 24kWh battery, all new EV's have significantly larger (30-40kWh+) battery, therefore can travel further per charge making long journeys like this even easier. 

The Journey, EV driving in blue, EutoTrain section in red

Nissan LEAF at 1500m below Petit Céüse

When I started driving an EV at the end of last year the plan was to 'electrify' and reduce the carbon emissions for our daily commutes to work and local driving around N.Wales e.g. cragging on the Orme, Pass, Tremadog, Gogarth etc. I had calculated that these local journeys added up to account for many more miles average over the year than one or two longer trips away in the van e.g. to the alps. Initially my plan was to keep my van for longer trips.

However, it soon became apparent that our electric car was capable of much more than just a local run-around. Roll on 8 months and 12,000 electric miles later we have we have now ditched both my diesel van and our diesel car in favour of a single fully-electric 2014 24kWh Nissan LEAF. After experiencing driving an EV it felt like a step backwards to take my van for a long trip. It was difficult to justify the vastly increased carbon and particulate emissions, noisy, less comfortable driving and massively more expensive option of driving my van. See my previous blog post "Zero Carbon Future, Low Carbon Present" comparing the emissions and running cost of EV Vs petrol / diesel cars.

Mid Wales Electric Car Video Series

Last year Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig ran a pilot program to install five 7Kw electric car charging points at accommodation and tourist providers in Meirionnydd.

I got involved using our Nissan LEAF electric car and a Renault Twizy rented from the Eco Travel Network in the Brecon Beacons to create three short videos to promote the charging points and outdoor activities in the area, it was great fun!

Even though mid-wales does not currently have many rapid charging facilities (50kW) there are plenty of fast charge locations (7kW) that will charge a car in 3-4hrs. Checkout to view the locations of the charge points.

Here are the videos we made:

Day 1: Getting There..

Snowdonia From Above

Recently I acquired a 2nd hand DJI Phantom 3 drone, it's great fun! Really been enjoying shooting some photos and videos around N.Wales with added perspective:

Llyn Padarn

Llyn Padarn Swimming

Llanberis Pass 

Zero Carbon Future (low carbon present)

It’s well agreed that in order to avert dangerous climate change we must reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century. The next 20 years are set to be an incredibly exciting time as we work hard to switch our energy systems away from fossil fuels to a zero carbon energy system. As climbers, mountaineers and adventurers we can see first hand the damage climate change is already having on the mountains we love.

This transition to a zero carbon future does admittedly sound daunting. The good news is that there is a lot of evidence that this transition can be done in a way that is socially and economically beneficial with no loss in living standards using technology that we currently have today. See the Zero Carbon Britain Report for a tangible plan for how this can be achieved. A key component of every zero carbon strategy I’ve seen is the electrification of transportation and elimination of flying.  It's amazing the carbon reductions that we as individuals can currently achieve with minimal effort.

For example, taking my annual pilgrimage to the 'best crag in the world' in the French Alps as an example:

Sold: Citroen Dispatch Campervan

UPDATE: Van has now been sold

With a heavy heart selling my beloved camper van. I'm just not getting use of it anymore after getting an electric car. It's been a reliable companion for many adventures for the last 7 years. I bought the van in 2010 and converted it myself. It passed an MOT and service last week with flying colors. I've kept a full service history.

Catalonia and Riglos: Fiesta de los Biceps

“How is it possible to get pumped on holds this big!” I shouted up to Chris as I hauled myself up the penultimate pitch of the aptly named route Fiesta de los Biceps. Shaking out, locked-off at the elbow on a stuck-out giant gient protruding ball I gazed over my shoulder at the Griffon vultures swooping by and the picturesque village of Riglos below, what an awesome position!

This special route is unique and has been on our bucket list for many years; it did not disappoint.
The conglomerate rock towers of Mallos de Riglos are 300m high and despite appearance are surprisingly solid! Fiesta de los Biceps (6a, 6c+/7a, 6c, 6b+, 6b+, 6c+, 6a+) takes the steepest line up Visera tower. Locating the base of the route is easy, the permadry snail trail chalk line can be seen from the town!

Rocca Senghi Italien Via Ferrata

Last week I went to Turin (via train...of course!) to give a talk about OpenEnergyMonitor and run an energy monitor build workshop at the GreenTo sustainable universities event at University of Turin.  The event was interesting, although being able to speak more Italian would have been useful! We were well looked after by the organiser of the event, visiting a city and staying with local people is so much more fun!  

I managed to persuade Ryan to come with me to help out, promising tasty Italian food/wine and a day out in the alps...The promise did not disappoint! 

Berdorf, Luxembourg

After a recommendation from a friend, we discovered a great little climbing area in Luxembourg called Berdorf. The climbing area is perfectly positioned to break up the drive to the alps. It's possible to reach Berdorf in a 4hr drive from Calais.

The climbing is in a forest on soft well-bolted sandstone. The climbing area is quite small, just one line of crags so probably a few days climbing here would be enough. However, I really enjoyed the couple of half days we spent climbing here, once on the drive out and one on the return journey.

Useful Info

Frankenjura: Kaffee + Kuchen

After a short stop off in Konstanz for a friend's birthday party we headed north through Germany to an area known as Frankenjura (Franconian) located in Bavaria NE of Nurenberg. 

I had heard so much about Frankenjura climbing with rich history: the origin of the 'redpoint' and home to legendary routes such as Action Direct the world's first 9a graded climb. This UKC article and DMM video give a good intro of the area.  

What was not apparent before we arrived in Frankenjura was the distributed nature of the climbing. There are lots and lots of crags (over 1000 apparently with over 10,000 routes) but all crags are quite small; often with only a handful of worthwhile routes per crag. It took us a while to realise to get the best out of the climbing in Frankenjura you need to move around, lots! Most days we visited at least two different crags, often three! The crags are often very close together with short (10min max) walk-ins so this is not a big problem; it's actually a good thing since it gives time to rest in between routes and have some Kaffee and Kuchen! However, there is a fair amount of logistics and decision making trying to decide which crags to visit depending on the weather conditions each day. 

Frankenjura is known for short and powerful routes on finger pockets, a style epitomised by Action Direct. While this is generally true there are actually long routes in Frankenjura, there a quite a few crags with routes over 30m long. However, there are no slabs in Frankenjura, all the crags are verticle to overhanging. 

We were a bit unlucky with illness, injury, van breakdown and weather in Frankenjura: First Amy was ill, then I tweaked my finger, then the van broke :-(.  To start it was almost too hot to climb then it was too wet, it rained for three days non-stop! In between all this we did manage to do some climbing and some biking. However, since there was only the two of us and the climbing was all single pitch I don't have any climbing photos, only crag shots:



Krottenseer Turm


Amazing steps up to Obere Schlossbergwände

Any discussion about Frankenjura should also include mention of Kaffee & Kuchen (coffee and cake) .....and beer! The area is famous for a culture of great homemade cake made with local fruit. The area also has the highest density of local traditional breweries in Bavaria, a high accolade indeed!


While in Frankenjura my exhaust dropped off my van. I managed to find a local garage which I reckon was the most picturesque garage I've ever seen! The garage like most buildings in Germany was totally plastered in solar PV... very inspiring. The garage welded my exhaust back together for 20 euros :-D

Picturesque garage in Frankenjura (Richard Grüner in Obertrubach)

Van making strange noise....ah that would be why! DMM cam and crabs to the rescue...

20 Euro german welding job....back on the road :-D

Useful Things 

  • Rock Store in Betzenstein is a well-stocked climbing shop with fast free WiFi, cheap good beer, a climbing wall, friendly staff who speak English and happy to recommend crags. 
  • All shops close all day on Sundays and most restaurants and cafes are also shut on Monday
  • It's possible to get drinking water to refill my van 25L bottle from the public toilets in Neuhaus, pliers are needed to turn on the tap. 
  • We hired bikes from Pension Mühle in Egloffstein