News & Inspiration

Inspiration and Advice for Walking in Europe Information, reviews and advice on Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk in England. Amalfi, Cilento, Tuscany, food and more Sherpa travellers share their reviews and experiences. Information, reviews and advice on Madeira walking holidays Information, reviews and advice on walks in the Cotswolds
rss

European Holiday News

The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on walking and cycling holidays in the UK and Europe..
Return to Blog Home >>

 

Travel Novels for Holiday Inspiration

travel novels - sherpa walking holidays

 

You may have booked a walking holiday and like to get in the mood for your upcoming trip. Or maybe you are looking for inspiration for new trails to walk on your time off. Reading a novel that is set in one of our destinations can really help create an image of the region and bring it to life. Whether it is about a famous or iconic person from the area, a route or pilgrimage that is being followed or highlights a specific town, travel novels can be a great holiday inspiration.

To help you find your way around in the large offer available, we have listed below a small selection of travel novels that relate to destinations in England, France, Cyprus and Austria.

 

The John Muir Way

There are plenty of books about John Muir and to get a glimpse of the man himself, we like to suggest the publications ‘Wilderness Essays’ (John Muir, 2015), or ‘Journeys in the Wilderness’ (2009). If you like reading, a terrific book that you can still find second-hand is ‘John Muir Eight Wilderness Discovery Books’ (1992).

For those that like graphic novels, there is a superb one available free to download as a PDF called ‘John Muir, Earth, Planet, Universe’ by Julie Bartagna and William Goldsmith.

               Discover John Muir’s native Scotland on the 12-day John Muir Way.

 

Cyprus

Although strictly set in the northern and now Turkish part of Cyprus, we did want to include Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus in this list of travel books. The work was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize in 1957 and probably belongs to the most famous write ups on Cyprus. If you like to get an idea of what the island was like in the 1950s, how Durrell loved living there and how it changed in the few decades during the Enosis movement for independence of Britain, add the autobiography to your reading list.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, Lawrence Durrell (Faber and Faber Ltd) 

Retrace the steps of author Lawrence Durrell on the 8-day Winter Walking in Cyprus holiday.  

 

The Way of St James

The origins of the Camino de Santiago trail rest with the supposed remains of St. James who is enshrined at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. There were four major routes to Santiago, of which the first recorded was the route commencing in Le Puy, France. This route is today known as the Way of St James. In his book Clear Waters Rising, Nicholas Crane summarises the history of St James and how Santiago developed into a famous pilgrimage site.

Clear Waters Rising, Nicholas Crane (Penguin) 

               Walk the Way of St James in France from Le Puy to Conques.

 

read novels about hiking - Sherpa Expeditions

 

travel novels for holiday inspiration - Sherpa Expeditions - Active Europe

 

Cornish Coastal Path

When picking up one of the novels in the Poldark series by Winston Graham, you’ll travel in a time machine to step out into 18th century Cornwall. Author Graham spent more than three decades of his life in Cornwall where he spoke with local fishermen, farmers and miners, walked the coasts and explored the towns. His first-hand knowledge of Cornwall really gives an accurate and lively image of the region and can be a real motivation to go hiking in Cornwall. The first book, Ross Poldark, was published in 1945 and is still a novel that inspires to travel to this southern England county. In 2016, a new BBC One series was produced based on the books.

Ross Poldark, Winston Graham (Pan Macmillan)

               Experience ‘Poldark’ countryside for yourself on one of the 6 walking & cycling holidays in Cornwall.

 

Austria & the Dachstein Alps

We all have heard of the story of Maria von Trapp who left Austria during the First World War with her husband and family. What you may not be aware of is that the world-famous musical The Sound of Music is based on the memoirs that Maria von Trapp wrote after some gentle but necessary pressure of a friend. Initially she didn’t feel a need nor confident for the story to be told, but she appeared to have a natural talent to write and produced the best-seller The Story of the Trapp Family Singers in 1949. Today a version of the book is available with pictures of the original version.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria A. von Trapp (Doubleday) 

               Has this novel inspired you to go hiking region Austria? You may be interested in the 8-day Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps walking holiday.

 

Cevennes

In the autumn of 1878, the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (famous for his travel novels ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Kidnapped’), found himself spending a few weeks in Le Monastier, in France’s Auvergne. It is from here that he set off to walk a trail south across the Cevennes accompanied by ‘a small grey donkey called Modestine, the colour of a mouse with a kindly eye’. It took this pleasing pair eleven days to complete the trip, and the book that Stevenson wrote about their journey, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes has since become a travel classic. 

Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, Robert L. Stevenson (Penguin) 

               Follow in the footsteps of R.L. Stevenson and choose from an 8 or 10-day walking holiday on the Stevenson’s Trail: The Cevennes.

 

Want to learn more about Sherpa Expeditions cycling and walking holidays? Feel free to contact our team of travel experts with any queries you may have.

 

 

On Track – Q&A on A Hadrian’s Wall Walk

To give you a deeper understanding of our cycling and walking holidays in Europe, we like to introduce you to the On Track feature. This is a series of quick Q&A’s on a specific trip from the Sherpa Expeditions offer.

Today’s frequently asked questions are answered by resident guide John, who went on a Hadrian’s Wall walk himself.

 

Why was Hadrian’s Wall built?

We know from tablets that Emperor Hadrian wanted to keep "intact the empire", which had been imposed on him via "divine instruction." The wall was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in AD 122 and used for around three centuries. The wall was built by 15,000 men in under six years and runs from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. From here the Romans could command their resources and control the raiding skirmishes of the Northern Britons.

 

Hadrian's Wall Trail - Sherpa Expeditions

 

What is special about walking Hadrian's Wall Trail?

Hadrian's Wall is the finest surviving frontier construction of the Roman Empire. Although by no means continuous in its current state, the long-distance footpath that we know as Hadrian’s Wall Trail stretches for 83 miles from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Bowness on Solway. Over this distance, over hill and dale you will find milecastles, barracks, ramparts and forts, in ever changing scenery. If you have a good imagination you will enjoy a walk in history. There are plenty of museum sites and other things to see as well including mediaeval castles, old villages, the bridges over the River Tyne and a look round Carlisle.

 

Can you see much of the wall when you walk it?

People may have in their mind something that looks like the Great Wall of China; but the ravages of time and use of the dressed stone from the wall for urban building, stone walling and road construction have all reduced its size. The final third of the wall to the west, was a mud embankment originally. You only see a tiny section of wall in Newcastle, a bit more in Heddon on the Wall, and then the stone walling really takes off as we walk into the undulating central section of Hadrian’s Wall.

 

Do you actually walk on Hadrian’s Wall?

The wall is a UNESCO recognized monument and the path does not walk directly on it to avoid damage, although there are places where you cross it or walk on it to visit museums, milecastles etc. The ditch built by the Romans beside the wall is often associated with a modern road, so you do actually walk parallel with roads for much of the first couple of days and the last day especially. Apart from where these are quiet lanes however, you will be walking generally on a specially created footpath beside the road or beside the wall.

 

What impressed you about this trip?

I love the section between Milecastle 31 at the Temple of Mithras and Milecastle 49B, at Birdoswold. There are so many great views and classic landscapes such as looking over Crag Lough - a lochen at the base of crags. There is 'Sycamore Gap' where an iconic sycamore tree grows at a gateway in the wall. Other surprises include minor things: walking past rock crags and cliffs where they quarried the stone 2000 years ago and seeing holes where 'pincers' were used to lift cut rock. Also seeing the substantial foundations of the Roman Bridge at Chollerford, was quite a surprise.

 

Hadrian's Wall walk with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Sherpa Expeditions' Hadrian's Wall walk

 

Who would you recommend to go for a Hadrian’s Wall walk?

Anyone with a good level of fitness can enjoy this walk, but it will especially appeal to people with an interest in history. There will be good opportunities to make the most of the historical sites along the way. A Hadrian’s Wall walk is also an excellent first time long-distance path to take. The hike is well waymarked as it is a 'National Trail' and so navigation is rarely an issue. It is also another coast to coast walk as you start on the tidal River Tyne and finish by the Irish Sea. For some, it may be an alternative to well known 'Wainwright's Coast to Coast,' that takes two weeks to walk from coast to coast.

 

Is Hadrian’s Wall Trail very popular?

On large sections of the walk you will not see many people at all, but the middle section around Housteads Fort and the hills of Steel Rigg get a lot of walkers and day trippers who walk and visit the forts such as Housteads, Vindolanda (off route), Birdoswald and Chesters.

 

Are there extra costs involved when I want to hike Hadrian’s Wall?

We choose to exclude lunches and dinners on this trip as there are many options to choose from along the way. Also Visits to the museums, open air or otherwise, do add up and you should decide locally whether you have the time and energy to visit them. Admissions vary and apply to Segedunnm (£5.95), Vindolands (£11), Housteads (£7.50), Birdoswald (£6.50), and Chesters (£6.60) – prices valid at the time of writing. The last three are run by 'English Heritage' and it might be worth your while to become a member of them if there are more things you want to see that they run in England.

We hope this information has indeed answered some of the questions you may have had on doing the Hadrian’s Wall walk. If you have other queries, please get in touch with John and the Sherpa team via phone or email.

 

Did you like this Q&A and would you like to get similar details of one of our other active Europe holidays? We’d be happy to hear about your suggestions.

Or if you like to be among the firsts to hear about the latest On Track Q&A destination, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.  

 

 

Dates Announced for Guided Walks on the Coast to Coast in 2018

Decide quick if you were planning to join a guided Coast to Coast walk next year.

Coast to Coast guided - Sherpa Expeditions

 

If you were planning to join a guided walk on Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast path in 2018, we advise you to make a quick decision. Even before the exact dates for next year were announced, fellow walkers had already signed up for this popular walking holiday in the English Lake District.

Places on our guided Coast to Coast 2018 walks are selling out fast: the 18-day departure in May is on waiting list and we currently only have three spots left for the 17-day departure in July/August. At the same time, we are happy to announce that in 2018 you can choose from four dates on the 15-day version of this stunning walk.

 

We hope that the below overview of all guided Coast to Coast walking holidays in 2018 comes in handy when planning your walking holiday for the coming summer.

 

Coast to Coast Guided Walk

15 days walking with departures on:

  • 10 June – 24 June
  • 15 July – 29 July
  • 5 August – 19 August
  • 9 September – 23 September

 

Coast to Coast Guided Explorer

17 days walking with a departure on:

  • 29 July – 14 August >> limited availability

 

Coast to Coast Guided Rambler

18 days walking with a departure on:

  • 6 May – 23 May >> waiting list

 

Individual walkers can choose from even more lengths to walk Wainwright’s Coast to Coast with durations between 8 to 18 days that depart between March until September. For more information, have a look at the complete overview of self guided walking holidays in the UK or contact our team of travel experts

 

10 Interesting Sights on the John Muir Way

Apart from the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the ‘father of national parks’, there are plenty of other reasons to walk what is known as Scotland’s Coast to Coast. The John Muir Way stretches for 134 miles (215km) from Helensburgh in the West of Scotland to Durban in the East making it one of Scotland’s best known long distance trails. With so much length to cover, you conveniently will walk past many fascinating sights that make the John Muir Way a truly interesting walk to undertake.

 

From John Muir’s hometown and a Roman wall to the heritage of famous war poets and the world’s biggest Northern Gannet colony, read on for a sneak preview of the fascinating sights you will encounter along the John Muir Way.

 

1. John Muir’s Port of Departure

hometown of John Muir, Helensburgh - Sherpa Expeditions


Handsome buildings, wide elegant tree-lined streets, a long promenade and attractive parks & gardens create a pleasantly distinguished atmosphere in Helensburgh. It is from this town that the Muir family is said to have left to go to the USA. The town operated the world’s first steamship ferry service in 1812 and reputedly a quarter of Britain’s millionaires resided in this handsome holiday resort during Victorian times.

 

2. Garbeth Chalets

chalets on John Muir Way - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays


After World War I local land owner, Barnes Graham, gave land near Glasgow to returning soldiers. The idea was for them to be able to build summerhouses so they could get some fresh air away from the city. The scheme at the time attracted socialists and communists and until today, the low-impact lifestyle that people at the Garbeth Chalets follow is highly-prized and protected.

 

3. Kirkhouse Inn

Kirkhouse Inn on John Muir Way Scotland - Sherpa Expeditions


Originally built in 1601 as a stables and tavern, the Kirkhouse Inn has undergone several transformations over the years and has had its fair share of scandals and hidden treasures, even the sighting of a ghostly aberration! The Kirkhouse was the scene of secret correspondence between King James VI of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth I of England that eventually led to the Union of the Crowns.

 

4. The Antonine Wall

Antonine Wall, Scotland - Sherpa walking holidays


The northern-most limit of the Roman Empire stretched all the way to present-day Scotland. Like the better-known Hadrian's Wall to the south, it formed a solid barrier right across the country. The northern boundary can still be seen today when walking the John Muir Way and passing the Antonine Wall and Kirkintilloch fort. This is now a designated World Heritage Site. The Wall's location is prominently shown. A high mound in the park marks the site of a mediaeval castle whose moat still survives.


5. Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel, Scotland - Sherpa walking holidays


Opened in 2002 this is the world’s only rotating boatlift and an ‘engineering icon throughout the globe.’ Falkirk Wheel reconnects the canal of Forth and Clyde with the Union Canal for the first time since the 1930s and is part of the Millennium Link project. Inspirations for the design include a double-headed Celtic axe, the propeller of a ship and the ribcage of a whale.

 

6. The Ship that Never Sailed

John Muir Way - Blackness Castle, Scotland walking holidays


Blackness Castle is one of Scotland's most impressive strongholds. It was built in the 15th century by one of Scotland's most powerful families. Since it became crown property in 1453, the castle on the John Muir Way served as a state prison, one of the most advanced artillery fortifications of its time in Scotland, and ammunition depot. Because of its site and shape, Blackness Castle has been characterised as "the ship that never sailed".

 

7. The Kelpies

Kelpies on Scotland coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions


Created by Scotland’s leading sculptor Andy Scott, The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage across Central Scotland. They stand 30 metres tall and as such are the largest equine sculptures in the world. The Kelpies form a dramatic gateway to the canal entrance on the east coast of Scotland and you can take a tour to experience the horses from the inside.

 

8. Bass Rock

Bass Rock on John Muir Way in Scotland


This is the biggest Northern gannet colony in the world, home to over 150,000 gannets at the peak of the season. The gannets spend most of the year on the Bass Rock, until the end of October.  The lower ledges of the Bass are home to shags, guillemots and razorbills, with seals hauling up on the rocks below. All in all, a unique spot to take in on your John Muir Way walking trip.

 

9. The Haar

Walking Scottish Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions


Along the Firth of Forth and down the coast to Dunbar, you may have to contend with ‘The Haar’. In good weather and low winds, it can give the impression that you are suddenly having terrible weather with fog banks and grey drizzly cloud. It is not an optical illusion; The Haar is a cold sea fog and usually occurs on the east coast Scotland between April and September.


10. Craiglockhart War Hospital

War poetry along John Muir Way - Sherpa Expeditions


Fans of war poets will be interested to know that when taking a little extra walk on the John Muir Way, you can end up at ‘Edinburgh Napier University.’ This was the famous Craiglockhart Psychiatric Hospital where Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met in the First World War. Their poems appeared in the hospital's own magazine called ‘The Hydra’ and were the inspiration for several books and a movie.

 

 

For more information on walking the John Muir Way, the exact route and inclusions, please have a look at the trip page or get in touch with our team of travel experts in London. 


 

English Village Pub is Best Restaurant in the World

… and is located near one of England’s finest long-distance trails, The Cleveland Way

An English village pub has just been announced as the world’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant by TripAdvisor. The Black Swan in Oldstead, close to the start of our The Cleveland Way walking holiday, became number one in the TripAdvisor 2017 Traveller’s Choice awards for best restaurant in the world.

 

Best restaurant in the world on Cleveland Way ©Black Swan Oldstead

©Black Swan Oldstead

 

This is truly exciting news for numerous reasons. First of all, the award is won through reviews and opinions from visitors to the restaurant in North Yorkshire, feedback from previous guests is often a good indicator for what you may expect. On top of that, the restaurant actually has a Michelin Star and four AA Rosettes, which backs up their newly acquired status of best restaurant in the world.

 

As British food sometimes may be frowned upon by international visitors, we are particularly proud of the fact that the restaurant serves British cuisine and that the recognition is from a global poll of millions of reviews gathered over the period of a year. Possibly the home grown produce, often native to the region, and seasonal ingredients combined with the talent of the chef have added to the success.

 

Last but not least, the fact that the restaurant is just 15 minutes away from the start of our The Cleveland Way walking holiday and on the route to Leeds airport creates a perfect opportunity for an extra night before or after your North Yorkshire walking trip (or even your Coast to Coast holiday).

 

Food - Best restaurant in the world on Cleveland Way ©Black Swan Oldstead

©Black Swan Oldstead

 

Best restaurant in the world is on the Cleveland Way _ Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

On their website, the Black Swan states: “For us, it's much more than just Michelin Star food. The focus is all about where we are and who we are - a reflection of "Oldstead" - traditional Yorkshire with a swirling mix of creativity and eccentricity.” 

 

The Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way stretches 110 miles (177km) along coast and moorland and shares a small section of the Coast to Coast walk. The Cleveland Way is the second of the ‘National Trails’, dating from 1969 and is rooted in the North York Moors National Park / Yorkshire Heritage Coast. Find more information on the 12-day The Cleveland Way walking holiday here.

 

Black Swan, Oldstead, North Yorkshire

More information on the Black Swan and their newly acquired status of best restaurant in the world by TripAdvisor can be found in this article by the BBC.  


Dare to Walk the Zermatt Suspension Bridge?

With the new and world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge, you have even more things to do in Zermatt and the Bernese Oberland

new Zermatt suspension bridge - Sherpa Expeditions

©Valentin Flauraud


With the world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge opened near the village of Zermatt in July 2017, you may have another reason to visit Switzerland next summer. The Europaweg Skywalk, also known as the Randa Suspension Bridge or Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, is about 1/3 of a mile long and only 65 centimetres (25.6 inches) wide. To us, walking this new suspension bridge is certainly high on our list of the things to do in Zermatt.

 

The single-file, steel-made bridge offers spectacular views of the iconic Matterhorn and is hanging 278 feet up in the air. The bridge is designed “for hikers with no fear of heights.” On the 9-day Haute Route self guided walk and 8-day Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls self guided and guided walking holidays in our offer, you will have a free day in Zermatt to walk the unique bridge. Travelling 15 minutes by train to Randa, you can enjoy an 8.7km circular walk.

If you feel this is all a little too much, Zermatt offers many more options to explore on a free day.

 

Contrasting rock with ice, the Bernese Oberland is ideal for first timers in the Swiss Alps or opt for the challenging Haute Route in the scenic canton of Valais – both trips conclude with a free day in Zermatt


Things to do in Zermatt under Matterhorn - Sherpa Expeditions


There are many things to do in Zermatt with Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

The Swiss alpine town is traffic free and all-around Zermatt you will be able to enjoy a wonderful panorama of mountain peaks, including the distinctive shape of the Matterhorn. From the route notes you will receive upon booking a walking trip in the Bernese Oberland or the Haute Route, you will be able to choose from about four walks to take around Zermatt. On top of that, our team can advise on even more walks and activities to fill your day.

 

If you want to immerse yourself in the classic Swiss mountains capes, just have a look at the different walking holidays in Switzerland or contact one of our experienced travel advisors in London.

 

Other suspension bridges in Switzerland:


Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls

A stunning region of rock and ice, Bernese Oberland is the perfect introduction to walking in the Swiss Alps, as each day you can choose between a range of walks, often with differing grades and distances. The route follows classic mountain trails to charming mountain refuges, with views along the way from a variety of vantage points of vast glaciers that tumble from some of the highest peaks in the country, many over 4,000m!

Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls (8 days) departs each year between June-September 

Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls – Guided (8 days) departs 11-18 August 2018 and similar dates each year

The Haute Route

The Haute Route is popular with skiers but there is also a walkers’ version. The scenic canton of Valais is one of the most majestic mountain regions in Europe – and compared to many other areas in Switzerland, most of the paths are little trodden! Come in the summer and you will pass under 10 of the 12 highest peaks in the Alps, visit quaint picture postcard villages, stroll through lush valleys and enjoy the colourful alpine flowers in bloom.

The Haute Route (9 days) departs each year between July-September

On Track – Q&A on Walking in Tenerife

To give you a deeper understanding of our cycling and walking holidays in Europe, we like to introduce you to the On Track feature. This is a series of quick Q&A’s on a specific trip from the Sherpa Expeditions offer.

Today’s FAQs (frequently asked questions) are answered by resident guide John, who is one of our experts on walking in Tenerife.

 

Hike up Mt Teide volcano in Tenerife - Sherpa walking holidays

 

#1 What aspects about the weather make Tenerife great for walking?

 

Tenerife has a pleasant sub-tropical climate with average daily maximums of over 20°C throughout the year, but it rarely gets too hot outside of high summer because of the prevalent north-easterly Trade Winds and because the island is cooled by the Canary Current. This means that temperatures are slightly cooler than would normally be expected at this latitude and keeps temperatures in the high-twenties rather than the mid-thirties.

The sun is very strong so you do need to use sunscreen and wear loose fitting clothes. The island is pleasant for walking year-round. Trekking on the coast and up in the mountains in winter time can be slightly colder due to winds and the altitude you gain.

 

#2 What is special about walking in Tenerife?

Clean air, fantastic lapis blue sea views over to other islands, extensive well waymarked trails, and the chance of finding a small bar or restaurant to take in a fish dish or tapas while drinking a nice glass of wine or golden beer. There is a great cheap bus service on Tenerife which enables you to really explore and do some full day walks. It doesn’t take too long to get to starting points and really get walking on some great mountain and coastal trails.

 

Walking in Tenerife - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Tenerife is great for year-round walking - Sherpa Expeditions

 

#3 What language do people speak?

Spanish is the language of Tenerife, with local dialects. It would be worth learning a few phrases in Spanish such as greetings, but many people who work in the hospitality sector speak some English. Being polite and asking if people understand English is always a virtue.

 

#4 As Tenerife is such a well-known island, are there still quiet places?

The island is quite densely populated on sections along the coast such as Los Cristianos, Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. There are also vast sections of cliffs and coast where there are just small holdings or wild terrain, you’ll discover these while walking in the Canary Island. In the interior of Tenerife, where the slopes of Mount Teide and the volcanic Caldera rise, there are very few settlements and it becomes a barren moonscape.

 

#5 Will we encounter other walkers on this trip in Tenerife?

The island of Tenerife is very popular with Dutch, German and British travellers. They usually come either for the beaches or for hiking and some of the paths do get a lot of traffic, but you will rarely feel as if you are in the crowds. At times around Mount Teide it can get busier due to the arrival of coach tourists.

 

Walking in Tenerife with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Try local food in Tenerife - Sherpa walking holidays

 

#6 To what other region in the world can you compare Tenerife?

Well, you can compare a walking trip in Tenerife to the other volcanic islands around: such as La Gomera, La Palma, Hierro, Gran Canaria, and of course Madeira and the Azores, although these latter are much greener islands. Then globally, you can compare the landscape to the volcanic areas in Central America: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and parts of Mexico, these also have similar Spanish or Portuguese colonial heritage.

 

#7 What extra costs will I have on Sherpa’s Tenerife walking trip?

You can find very keenly priced restaurants and well-priced drinks as well as some very expensive places. What is nice is discovering a traditional restaurant that the locals are using and having a meal with a local wine for under EUR 25. Buses are cheap and you can purchase a Bono travel card for EUR 15-25 on arrival and keep it topped up for bus transfers. There is 1 bag transfer to Puerto de la Cruz (EUR 75) on day 3 of our Tenerife walking holiday, this has to be paid directly to your hotelier on arrival.

 

We hope this information has indeed answered some of the questions you may have had on walking in Tenerife. If you have other queries, please get in touch with John and the Sherpa team via phone or email.

 

Did you like this Q&A and would you like to get similar details of one of our other active Europe holidays? We’d be happy to hear about your suggestions.

Or if you like to be among the firsts to hear about the latest On Track Q&A destination, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.  

 

Waymarked trails in Tenerife for walking - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Pietra, the Corsican Chestnut Beer, Comes of Age!

With so many micro-breweries popping up these days, drinking a pint has been taken to the next level and many flavours and brews are available. From vanilla bourbon and cherries to citrus and chestnut beers, it seems there’s a beer to any taste.

 

The people around the Mediterranean were far ahead of their time and beer, known as the ‘liquid bread’, was an important part of people’s daily staple back in the day. It took however until 1996 for the island of Corsica to produce their own beer when Armelle & Dominique successfully opened their brewery. This year, at 21 years young, their first brew Pietra has come of age and is now typically found all over the Mediterranean island.


walking in Corsica with Sherpa Expeditions

 

The chestnut beer came about after several years of studying, testing and tasting, which taught the brewers that chestnut has good brewing qualities. Today, the nuts give the beer its beautiful golden colour and distinct taste. Some of the supply must definitely come from around the charming old chestnut town of Evisa on the westside of Corsica.


Prime spot for a chestnut beer when walking in Corsica - Sherpa Expeditions


Corsican chestnut beer (c)Brasserie Pietra

©Brasserie Pietra

 

Besides the offering of beer brewed with chestnuts, Corsica has always been a fascinating land with its 1,000km long coastline and more than 200 beaches that surround a mountainous (86 percent) interior. The Corsican mountains feature 21 summits of over 2,000m, as well as the GR20 (Grande Randonnée 20), the toughest long-distance trail in Europe and part of the European network of long distance trails. Another famous trail on the island is the Mare a Mare, or "Sea to Sea", which crosses the mountains from east to west. The island hosts lots of small festivals throughout the year and with its rich cultural heritage and dense forests is a fantastic walking destination.

 

Whether you are in search of a personal challenge or looking for an excuse to have an ice-cold ‘Pietra’ (the local beer made of chestnuts), finding a good reason to visit the third biggest island in the Mediterranean shouldn’t be difficult.  The 8-day Corsica: Mountains & Sea walking holiday departs until October this year and then again in May.

 

For more information or booking inquiries, please contact our team of travel experts in London.


Corsica walking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Madeira in Autumn: Apples, the Organ & More

Few places in Europe celebrate autumn in such a dynamic way as Madeira…

 

Through a wide range of festivals, you can experience a lively autumn in Madeira. Most likely, your main reason to visit Madeira in September, October & November is exploring the Portuguese island on foot. But there are many more things to do in Madeira in autumn besides navigating the island’s ancient levadas and walking paths. From wine and apple cider festivals to celebrating the organ and stunning nature, below find an overview of some of the festivals to attend this autumn.

 

Madeira Wine Festival

visit Madeira in September for the wine festival - Sherpa Expeditions


When >> 27 August – 10 September 2017

Where >> from Estreito de Câmara de Lobos to Funchal (start & finish of the Madeira Island Walking trip)

What >> The wine festival has been running since the 70s and coincides with the island’s Wine Harvest Festival, European Folklore Week and street entertainment in Funchal. Late August/early September is when the annual grape harvest takes place in Madeira and attending these is certainly a reason to plan your travel dates accordingly. There are musical performances, ethnographic parades, demonstrations of old-style viticulture tools and even the opportunity to join in treading the grapes!

More >> madeirawinefestival.com

 

Columbus Festival

plan your walking holiday in Madeira around Columbus Festival - Sherpa Expeditions

 

When >> 14-16 September 2017

Where >> the island of Porto Santo northeast of Madeira (ask our team for details on how to get there)

What >> The world-famous explorer once called home Porto Santo Island and each year in September, the island close to Madeira organises many events evolving around the epic Portuguese discoveries from the 15-16th century. You can for example witness the ‘disembarking of Columbus’, browse a 16th century market for food & craft, listen to orations as they were held at the time, and join in many of the other things to do at this time of year. Expect to be drawn back in time when visiting this small island close to Madeira in September.

More >> festivaldocolombo.visitmadeira.pt

 

Apple Festival & Apple Cider Festival

Madeira walking holidays and apple cider festival - Sherpa Expeditions


When >> 16 & 17 September 2017

Where >> Ponta do Pargo (on the far west of the island)

What >> In its 33rd year in 2017, the Madeira Apple Festival is a rural event to celebrate the ‘pêro’ – what Madeirans commonly call the apple. The small festival takes place in Ponta do Pargo in the western tip of Madeira and attracts apple farmers from the surrounding farmsteads. Festivities usually include apple cider tasting, a street parade, exhibitions, and several musical performances. Besides the festival, Ponta do Pargo is a charming town to visit on its own.

 

Madeira Nature Festival

madeira nature festival is one of the things to do in madeira in October - Sherpa walking holidays


When >> 3-8 October 2017

Where >> around the island of Madeira (check the stand at the Largo da Restauração for more info)

What >> Just like the Madeira Flower Festival in spring, the island’s nature festival celebrates all activities on the island that involve nature. The natural heritage of the island is rich thanks to its subtropical climate and rich volcanic soil and Madeira is even nicknamed ‘Garden Island’ or ‘Ilha Jardim’. Everything that you can do during the Madeira Nature Festival takes place on the land, in the air or in the sea and includes activities like birdwatching, mountain biking, levadas walks, sailing, and short leisure flights.

More >> madeiranaturefestival.visitmadeira.pt

 

Madeira Organ Festival

attend Madeira Organ Festival on a Madeira walking holiday


When >> 20-29 October 2017

Where >> Funchal, Machico & Porto da Cruz (which you’ll visit at the beginning of the walking holiday)

What >> The organ is a relatively unknown part of Madeiran heritage and can be found in several churches and cathedrals across the island. A series of 12 concerts will be held to showcase the instrument and beautiful music it can produce. The festival will have Portuguese and internationally renowned master organ players perform in stunning venues like the Cathedral of Funchal, College Church, Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Church of St Peter.

More >> festivaldeorgaodamadeira.com

 

Madeira is a year-round walking destination with pleasant temperatures to be in the outdoors and there are lots of things to in Madeira apart from walking. For more information and advice on planning your holiday, feel free to contact our team of travel experts in London.

The 8-day Madeira Island Walking holiday departs daily, year-round.

 

More Madeira

 

10 Things to Do in Majorca

Discover the Surprises of a Majorca Walking Holiday

When browsing through the images we took on our recent inspection of the paths and accommodation in Majorca, we can feel the travel bug start itching again. With so many fantastic places, viewpoints and things to do in Majorca, the island is a perfect getaway for a week of walking. Good times to visit are the European spring (March, April, May) and late summer or autumn (September & October).

 

Whether you are interested in culture and history, agriculture, nature and geography, or are a foodie, the island of Majorca, with all its different facets, offers something to any type of walker. To give you an idea, we wanted to share some of our images with you so that you can see for yourself all that you can do in Majorca on your walking holiday.

 

1.      Santuari de Lluc

Santuari de Lluc in Majorca - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

When you search for things to do in Majorca, one of the top highlights that come up is Santuari de Lluc, or Lluc Monastery – and rightfully so. The monastery in the north-west of the Spanish island is the most important pilgrimage site of Majorca and is surrounded by impressive high mountains, forests and a network of walking trails. The 13th century building offers a hospitable place to stay and will be your personal sanctuary at the start of your trip.

 

2.      Forests

forest walks in Majorca with Sherpa Expeditions

 

The northwest part of Majorca is the most forested and when walking in or out of the mountains, you’ll often find pretty holm oak forests, but also woods of myrtle, arbutus and pine. The forests that cover the hills of this part of the island hide some interesting features, such as a forest nursery with an educational building, the 500-year-old ‘Encina d’en Pere’ (Oak of St Peter), and several sitjes. A sitja is a circular earth mound ringed with stones, which was used to make charcoal. Sometimes you can even find the remains of a stone hut dwelling near such a sitja.

 

3.      Sierra Tramontana Mountain Range

Sierra de Tramontana is a must-see in Majorca _ Sherpa walking holidays

 

The Sierra Tramontana, or locally Serra de Tramuntana, forms the backbone of north-west Majorca. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and with 90km long it covers some 30% of the island and is home to several 1,000m peaks. The highest are Puig Major (1,443m), Puig de Massanella (1,348m), Serra d’Alfàbia (1,069m), Es Teix (1,064m) and Galatzó (1,026m) and we recommend ascending the peaks of Es Teix and Puig de Massanella for impressive scenery and views.

 

4.      Església de St Bartomeu

Visiting the St Bartholomew church is one of the things to do in Majorca with Sherpa Expeditions

 

The façade of this cathedral on the main square of the picturesque town of Soller is designed by Juan Rubio, a follower of Antonio Gaudi who designed the world-famous Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona. The church was built before 1236 and has seen several amendments over the years. It has features of different architectural styles and part of the Church of St Bartholomew even made up a section of Soller’s defence wall. Inside, the rose window with its stained glass is beautiful.

 

5.      Wine & Vineyards

vineyards in Majorca - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Perhaps less expected, but Mallorca is home to two wine-growing regions. A little south from the route of our walking holiday, you can find several vineyards that are part of the Vino de la Tierra Serra de Tramuntana – Costa Nord. There also are the more inland vineyards, which are part of the Binissalem Denomination of Origin. It is believed that wine was introduced to the island by the Romans back in the 15th or 16th century. Why not try some local wine during one of your meals...

 

6.      Trails & Coastal Walkways

Discover coastal trails on a Majorca walking holiday - Sherpa Expeditions

 

In Mallorca, the main walking routes are part of the GR (Gran Recorrido, or in French Grande Randonnée) network, which stands for long distance paths. Virtually all the walking we do in Majorca is carried out on this network of paths and trails, and wherever possible, we avoid the use of tarmac roads. With the peaks of the Sierra de Tramontana on one side and the north-west coast of Majorca on the other, this is one of the most spectacular coastlines of the Mediterranean. Walk in Majorca and you will follow bare mountain paths, the Archdukes’ Way and even an old mule path, interchanged by shaded forest paths and trails through terraces of olive, orange and almond groves.

 

7.      Valldemossa

Visit Valldemossa as one of the things to do in Majorca - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The villages of the mountains, such as Valldemossa, Soller, Deia, Biniaraix and Fornalutx are particularly attractive, with their mellow stonewalls and flower-bedecked balconies. In Valldemossa we’ll stay in one such old house with good views over the village and surrounding hills. The town used to be home to Chopin and his mistress George Sand and the monastery where they used to live is now a museum open to the public. Out of Valldemossa, you can also follow the Camino de Arxiduque (Archduke’s Way), which is one of the first examples of a path built for recreational purposes.

 

8.      Oranges & Orange Groves

Oranges in Majorca - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

The descend into Soller town from Mirador de ses Barques, is a very pleasant walk amid orange and lemon groves. You’ll walk through the town’s important history as Soller prospered because of the export of oranges. You’ll be able to get a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for just a couple of euros, or try the locally produced orange liqueur. Another thing to do in Soller is to take the tourist train to La Palma. Originally, the tramway was built in the early 1900s by orange growers to transport their fruits to the port of La Palma. We think the scenery is worthy and it makes for a enjoyable return day trip.

 

9.      Seafood & Grilled Meats

Enjoy local cuisine as one of the things to do in Majorca - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Majorcan cuisine is hearty with plenty of grilled meats marinated in garlic and chunky stews loaded with fresh vegetables providing you with the perfect source of energy to get you through a day of walking. Since Majorca is an island, seafood is also a common staple throughout. Sea bream and monkfish are the two most popular fish dishes served grilled and smothered in all kinds of exciting sauces. 

 

10.   Casa de Robert Graves

visit Casa de Robert Graves on a Majorca walking holiday - Sherpa Expeditions

 

In Deia, close to Soller, you’ll find the house where Robert Graves (1895-1985) lived on and off for 52 years. The famous British poet and author served in the British army during WWI, studied at Oxford University, and moved to Majorca in 1929. In his house in Deia he wrote two extremely successful historical novels, I Claudius (1934) and Claudius the God (1934), which were the base for a popular television series in both the UK and USA. A visit to Casa de Robert Graves allows you to tour the house and garden to experience it as it was in the mid-40s. 

 

Visit Majorca on a walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions for a piece of mind and to have your accommodation booked, bags transferred and maps & route notes in hand. 

 

If you like to enquire about the possibilities of walking in Majorca or like to learn more about the 8-day Majorca: Sierras and Mountains holiday, do get in touch with our team of travel experts and they will be happy to assist you more.