What is special about the Rila Mountains? The magnificent views, the sharp contrast between rocky peaks and fields of purple wildflowers; the ice-cold water; the sensation of walking in snow and in the warm sun; the feeling of being on top of the world. And, more than anything else, the wonder of discovering the breathtaking natural beauty of Bulgaria.
Although the prestigious peak is widely revered as an area of outstanding beauty, it is not actually protected with a conservation strategy consistent accross all three parent countries. In France, Mont Blanc was designated a 'site classé' in 1951, preventing development, camping and also supervises amenities.
You may think it strange that winter is my favourite season to visit Cumbria - but this is the time of year its' landscapes are most dramatic. Dawn mists rising over the lakes, crisp frost glistening on the heathers, and serene muted winter tones. It's breathtaking - sometimes, curiously haunting...
Somewhere near Dohuk and the 4,000 year old town where the three wise men possibly began their journey to Bethlehem is a Christian monastery set high on a mountain with commanding views of tremendous scenery. Sadly, our driver had no idea where it was and I only managed to get directions by e mailing a friend in Hawaii.
My name is David Tait - I'm an NSPCC Trustee and 'charity mountaineer' having now successfully climbed Mount Everest four times - in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. I climb to raise both awareness and money for the many violated kids - one of which was me. This is my first of many dispatches that will accompany my effort to summit for the fifth time.