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Gear Matters: Camping Knives & Multitools

Different countries in Europe are famed for their own style of the camping knife or pocket tool and in this month’s Gear Matters blog article, John takes you on a tour to learn about the various types of blades, potential usage of pocket knives on a cycling or walking trip, EU law, and maintenance.

 

Some people don't use them, others can't live without them on a walking or trekking holiday. They may be left alone in their pouches for the whole trip or maybe used several times in a single day. A camping knife or pocket tool is available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. With Christmas fast approaching, a new knife or multi-tool could make for a beautiful compact gift. Often you can even have them inscribed for the Ray Mears, Bear Grylls or Mykel Hawke in your life.

Most of us get attached to our knives over time, but the stories of people leaving their forgotten prized piece of cutlery in their hand luggage when taking a flight and losing it going through security are legion. For me especially on camping trips, a good knife or multitool combo is more or less essential.

 

Knives with a Tang

tang camping knives for active holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

A good quality knife should have a sharpened edge on one side and be made of high carbon or stainless steel. I think it is best to avoid ceramics, they can shatter and break easily. The finest forged knives (e.g. from Norway or Sweden) have a cutting edge of differing hardened steel which is sandwiched in a layer of softer steel. A good outdoor or bush knife will have a 'tang' (the handle end) that extends into the end of the handle and that can be heavy duty plastic, wood or even horn. This will then be attached via brass rivets which will resist oxidation. Knives like these are superb for cutting and wood carving; the handles offer good grip to be used quite safely for controlled cutting. The Swedish Fällkniven forest knife can even be used for splitting small pieces of wood in lieu of an axe and some have claimed that these are the best bush knives in the world. Similarly, Norwegian Helle knives are great for carving. These can be bought in Flam on Sherpa's Fjordland trip. The camping knives of this brand are great for bush-craft and they make an excellent range including a beautiful model with curly birch, leather and antler handles. Their blades come in different lengths, materials and thicknesses and are handmade.   

 

Folding & Multitools

folding camping knives for active holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Then we have the category of folding knives and multitools. These are generally a sandwich of aluminium and steel plates. The main blades are always a bit of a compromise, as they will never be as strong as a full tanged knife. Swiss army knives are rightly very popular; being very compact and having some wonderful useful features. They are ubiquitously available on all of our walking holidays in Switzerland an in every town in various guises. They have been used in the Swiss military since 1897. I have personally possessed three Victorinox Swiss Champ knives in the past 35 years. Two, you've guessed it, lost going through the customs x-ray in hand baggage by accident. I have used every blade for all manner of things including clearing ice from cross country ski binding cleats, to removing ticks, making holes in leather belts, opening cans and bottles, and even filing down bike spoke ends. There is a tiny driver that tightens all those minute screws that people always lose from their glasses and take it or leave it, the standard toothpick! The main blades are 'Inox' steel and very good quality, the scissors are the best of any multitool that I have seen and the can opener works really well. The downside is that with most Swiss army knives (and there are some exceptions) the blades do not lock, so you have to be very careful during any cutting activity that the knife doesn't fold onto the fingers. Also the classic acrylic side panels of the handle engraved with the Swiss flag, can scratch easily, although they are surprisingly durable.

 

Plier Multitools

plier multitools for active holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Then there are the multitools based upon pliers, the most famous ones being from manufacturers such as Leatherman and Gerber. These normally have a main plier with the auxiliary blades and tools folding neatly into the handles of the body. The better ones have mostly or all locking blades. These are great, but I have sometimes been a little disappointed with the quality of some models: flimsy knives, scissors with poor action and hard to use tin and bottle openers. The hinges can loosen over time and you may need to remember to take a specialised tool to tighten them.

 

Simple Folding Knives

simple folding camping knives for active holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Some people are very happy with a simple folding knife on their travels, such as the Victorinox 'Hunter' or even the more basic and popular French made 'Opinel.' These are great for cutting cheese and salami on picnics. The latter one has a nice wooden handle with a simple twist lock that kind of half locks the blade, so some care is needed. Recently, Opinel have jazzed up the camping knife with coloured handles including a built-in whistle and a main blade with an unusual spanner aperture for tightening sail shackle pins of all things!

Some walkers may like to carry a beautiful French handmade knife and on our Way of St James walking holiday in France, you will go very near to where the Laguiole knives are being manufactured. Several village shops in the region will sell this charming model and it makes a great memento of your trip.

 

Camping Knife Maintenance

All knives and multitools require periodical maintenance: wash and dry them thoroughly and use a light machine oil on hinges and smeared on blades, especially if you will store your knife for some time. Vaseline is also quite useful in this regard. Wooden handles, leather pouches or sleeves should also be waxed occasionally. Follow the manufacturer’s sharpening instructions; knives should be sharp and without burrs.

 

Knives & EU Law

Most countries in the EU have their own laws on knives. The UK, quite rightly, has enforced laws over carrying knives, although it is pretty vague. The basic rule is that 'you cannot carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge 3 inches long or less.' If you have a long fixed bladed knife or a multitool with a locking mechanism on the blades (which just about covers all multitools sold from outdoor or tool shop), they 'are not classed as folding knives and are illegal to carry in public without good reason.'

The 'without good reason' part explains it all; it's about perceived intended use. For example, you can buy a 20-inch carving knife from a hardware shop (a public place) and walk with it back home through a high street or mall (another public place). It is unlikely that you will ever be inquisitioned. Although police can be arbitrary at times; it is a question of being sensible if you are on a walking, backpacking or cycling holiday. To make things simpler your camping knife should be sheathed and in your backpack not about your person.

 

For more advice on the gear to bring on a cycling or walking holiday, contact our team of travel experts.

For more in John’s series of Gear Matters blog posts and tips and advice for cycling and walking gear, see the full overview of outdoor gear articles from the past months.

 

 

Europe Travel Deals – Now for Less than £600

With the Spring promotion currently running, many of the Sherpa Expeditions holidays can now be booked for less than £600. The list is long, offering you plenty of choice in coastal walks, hiking the Swiss Alps, traditional English walks and even cycling around the UK.

To find a trip that best suits your interests and requirements, why not use the Holiday Search Wizard on which you can narrow down per destination, price, duration and start or finish dates.

>> To the Holiday Search Wizard

 

Traditional English Walking

England walking holiday travel deals - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Exploring the Cotswolds (8 days) >> was £640 now £575

A delightful short walk through quintessential English landscapes and villages in the charming Cotswolds -- A week long walk in the picturesque Cotswolds of southern England.

Or opt for the 5-day version

 

Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen >> was £600 now £535

Follow the Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to the historic villages and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.

Or find one of the other Coast to Coast trip options

 

The Dales Way >> was £620 now £555

Walk through the Pennines and Lake District in the Yorkshire Dales staying at inns and farmhouses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

 

Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District >> was £650 now £585

Walk from Ulverston to Keswick in the English Lake District, with views across Lake Coniston and Derwentwater. Visit Langdale and Borrowdale two of the prettiest Lakeland valleys.

 

Isle of Wight Coastal Walking >> was £630 now £565

A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight.

 

Scotland

scotland travel deals - Sherpa walking holidays

 

West Highland Way (8 days) >> was £650 now £585

Walk through the stunning Scottish Highlands from Loch Lomond to Ben Nevis on this iconic route.

               Or choose the 10-day version of this walk in Scotland

 

Great Glen Way >> was £630 now £565

Walk through the heart of the Scottish Highlands at your own pace.

 

Lochs and Bens (cycling in Scotland) >> was £650 now £585

Cycle the picturesque Scottish Highlands.

 

European Coastal Walks

Europe coastal walking holidays travel deals - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen >> was £600 now £535

Follow the Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to the historic villages and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.

Or find one of the other Coast to Coast trip options by bicycle or on foot


Cinque Terre Villages >> was £600 now £535

A coastal walk on the Italian Riviera with a centre based stay in Monterosso. Choose from a selection of walks or just saunter around the beaches and clifftops.

 

Exploring Crete >> was £620 now £555

Discover Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands. Walk in Samaria and Imbros Gorge and hike in the White Mountains.

 

Isle of Wight Coastal Walking >> was £630 now £565

A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight.

 

Swiss Alps

centre based travel deals - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps (5 days) >> was £650 now £585

Walk beneath the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau for unrivalled panoramas of the Swiss Alps during a selection of daily hikes on this centre based, self guided walking tour.

               Or check out an 8-day version and all other trips in the Swiss Alps

 

Cycling in the UK

cycling holidays travel deals - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Lochs and Bens (cycling in Scotland) >> was £650 now £585

Cycle the picturesque Scottish Highlands.

               Or find the complete offer of holidays in Scotland


Cotswolds by Bike >> was £655 now £590

Cycle through the heart of England in the Cotswolds. Discover quaint stone built villages, ride across rolling hills between village pubs and old coaching inns.

               Or check out all active holidays in the Cotswolds

 

For the complete offer of cycling and walking holidays in Europe, use the Holiday Search Wizard, or if you like to speak to one of our travel experts for tailored advice, contact us by email or phone

 

Get 2018 Off to a Great Start & Save on Travel

Make Your 2018 New Year’s Resolution to Travel More

Start Off with an Active Spring Breakaway

Sherpa Expeditions discount walking holidays

 

Get 2018 off to a great start and immediately realise your New Year’s Resolutions!

>> Receive a Discount of £65 per person when you book before 29 December 2017

>> Have your 2018 active getaway organised now

 

With another new year in sight, most of us will soon be thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions. For us in the Sherpa Expeditions team, there is one resolution that always tops the rest and that is quite obviously to Travel More!

 

We hope you have this New Year Resolution somewhere on your list and we are here to help you realise your goals for 2018. Receive a discount of £65 per person* when you book before 29 December 2017 for a trip departing before 31 May 2018. This way you can already look forward to travelling more in 2018 and enjoy Europe when the paths and trails are still relatively quiet and flowers begin to bloom. Or, why not start even sooner and discover on foot the sunny islands of southern Europe when other places are still covered in snow.

  

Top 10 Popular European Destinations to Visit before June 2018

1.      Walking in Cyprus

2.      Coast to Coast Walk Self Guided

3.      Madeira Island Walking

4.      Tuscany  walking & cycling

5.      Exploring the Cotswolds

6.      Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne

7.      Tenerife on Foot

8.      Isle of Wight

9.      Amalfi Coast

10.   Cornwall Coast Path

 

*Terms & Conditions:

  • Book a holiday departing on or before 31 May 2018 and receive a discount of £65 per person.
  • Booking must be received before 29 December 2017.
  • Only valid for trips departing on or before 31 May 2018.
  • Valid on land portion of the trip only and not valid on extensions, supplements or extra services.
  • Only valid for bookings made with Sherpa Expeditions directly, not valid for bookings made through third parties.
  • Only valid for new bookings received between 1-29 December 2017.
  • Only valid for Sherpa Expeditions operated trips, eg. not valid on UTracks operated trips.
  • Not valid with any other discount or offer.
  • Offer applies only once per person per booking.
  • Subject to availability and on guided trips also subject to minimum numbers reached.
  • Booking Terms & Conditions apply.
  • Quote code ACTIVESPRING18 at the time of booking. 

On Track – Q&A on Walking in France’s Tarn and Aveyron Region

Today’s frequently asked questions are answered by walking blogger Charles Hawes, who was in the French region of Aveyron in September to walk along some typical French villages on our Medieval France: Tarn and Aveyron walking holiday. If you like to read more about the trip, have a look at this Traveller Tale or at Walking the Blog on which Charles made a separate post for each walking day and illustrated the walks with many professional photographs.

 

most-beautiful-villages-in-France-with-Sherpa-Expeditions

 

#1 What was the weather like in autumn and was it good for walking?

Temperature wise the weather was near-perfect when I did this walk in late September 2017. Not too hot or cold. When it was sunny, we were walking comfortably in T-shirts/base layers. We had several days when it started off quite misty but by midday it was sunny and warm. We had just one morning when it rained but that blew over by early afternoon.

 

#2 What is special about trekking in this part of France?

This walking holiday in France is for the most part gentle rolling countryside; though you will cross some quite steep river valleys. One of the things that struck me and my travel partner, and we enjoyed, was that it was so quiet! So even when walking on minor roads, you will seldom be passed by any vehicles. I think we came across other serious walkers just once in 5 days. It can give a quite special feeling like having the place to yourselves! The route takes you through many tiny hamlets and small villages and many, many abandoned buildings. Even the smallest places had great character. But the main villages – several of which are listed as some of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France” – were all exceptionally pretty.

 

locals-walking-holidays-in-France-with-Sherpa-Expeditions

 

Cordes-walking-holidays-in-France-with-Sherpa-Expeditions

 

#3 Is it easy to communicate with the local people?

On this walk, you will probably not see that many other people! For a large part you will be on a Grand Randonnee (GR46), but it would likely not be very busy at any time of the year. All the bed & breakfast and hotel owners were very friendly, welcoming and helpful. I guess it all depends how good your French is. Mine is pretty poor but we got by OK.

 

#4 Are there enough places on the route to go for a drink or a snack?

There are very few places that you walk through during the day where you could stop for a drink or a coffee. Most of the time I didn’t mind this except for once or twice when we would have loved to have found a café. In the larger villages you will have more options though; we enjoyed a lovely break at Penne in a café with a fabulous view over the river valley.

 

#5 What 3 items should others definitely pack for this walking holiday in France?

Do make sure you are carrying enough water. There are very few public toilets or drinking taps along the route and though I am sure anyone would be happy to fill up a water bottle for you, you may not find anyone to ask. Talking of toilets, I always carry toilet paper and a plastic trowel – much nicer to make sure your visit is not noticed! A French phrase book or translation app on your phone is handy.

 

walking-holidays-in-France-with-Sherpa-Expeditions

 

#6 How would you describe the landscape of Tarn & Aveyron?

On this walking holiday in France, you will find a landscape that is well-wooded with familiar species of trees – oaks and chestnut, for instance. There are a lot of Buxus (Box trees) throughout the area, which is relatively unusual in the UK. The architecture is very different from the UK, which makes this part of France so interesting.

 

#7 What extra costs did you make on this trip?

The only things you will need to pay for will be your drinks and some of the evening meals. With the value of the pound having dropped by over 20% in recent months gone are the days of bargain menus and cheap wine. Wine in restaurants was probably the same as we’d pay in the UK, but the beers were eye-wateringly expensive almost everywhere – it was not unusual to pay 4 euros for a small beer.

 

#8 Can you describe this trip in one sentence?

This circular walk has impressively well been put together; it was a delight from start to finish.

 

 

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

 

Picture This! Carol's Coast to Coast Walk

Wainwright's Coast to Coast is an all-time popular walking path in the English Lake District. Travellers Carol and Mona set off on foot to explore the coastal paths, moors and country towns of northern England in May this year. Their photos give a fantastic image of what walking the Coast to Coast Path looks like and we are enthusiastic and were thankful of them for sharing their English Lake District pictures with us.

 

If you’re curious to understand a little more what walking in the English Lake District and following Wainwright's Coast to Coast looks like, check out the images below.

 

Signboards on Wainwrights Coast to Coast

start of wainwright's coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions pictures

 

walking the coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions

 

pictures of walkers in lake district - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Fat Betty on the Coast to Coast - Sherpa Expeditions

 

complete the Coast to Coast Walk - Sherpa Expeditions

An image of Lake District Fauna

English lake district pictures_Osmotherley_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Lake District pictures pheasant - Sherpa Expeditions

 

English Lake District sheep - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Geese & goslings on Coast to Coast walk with Sherpa Expeditions

 

rabbit crossing - lake district pictures - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Accommodation on the Coast to Coast Walk

walking into Grasmere - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Lion Inn - English Lake District pictures - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Black Lion Hotel Richmond - walk coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Mosscrag guest house on Coast to Coast walk - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The Buck in Reeth - lake district - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Lake District Paths in Pictures

english lake district pictures - sherpa Expeditions

 

High route to Grasmere - Sherpa Expeditions

 

photos of coast to coast walk - sherpa expeditions

 

walk to Robin Hood's bay - Sherpa Expeditions

 

image of sheep in lake district - Sherpa Expeditions

 

walking near Kirkby Stephen - Sherpa Expeditions

 

english lake district picture perfect - Sherpa Expeditions

 

english town on coast to coast path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

 

Carol and Mona did the self guided Coast to Coast Walk in 16 days and walked in the spring of 2017, from 3-18 May. 

 

For more information on the English Lake District, have a look at all blog articles related to Wainwright's Coast to Coast >>

For more impressions of Sherpa Expeditions' walking holidays, check out the Picture This! series >>


 

The People Behind Europe’s Most Famous Hiking Trails

Legendary and influential personalities from the past were the inspiration for many of the famous hiking trails that we find today scattered all over Europe. Roman emperors, artists, environmentalists and kings & warriors, these famous names have all left their legacy in places that are still attractive to discover on foot today. If you like to follow in the footsteps of legends, below overview of popular hiking trails may bring you some ideas for your next walking holiday.

 

John Muir

The walk: John Muir Way

John Muir, the great bushy bearded man, was born into a strictly religious household. As a child, he developed a deep love for the natural world around his home. He was known to escape from his bedroom window into the Dunbar countryside to enjoy the natural wonders of Scotland.

As a grown up, he moved to the United States where he founded the Sierra Club, convinced politicians to create the Yosemite National Park, and raised the cry for conservationism and environmentalism decades before it was fashionable to do so.

John Muir and famous hiking trail in Scotland - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Scotland, this trail is also dubbed as Scotland’s Coast to Coast walk

Distance? 216.2 kilometres / 134 miles

Highlights of the Walk: Beautiful coastal walking around Dunbar and North Berwick, time spend at the city of Edinburgh, pretty Scottish fishing villages and historical sites such as the Antonine Wall, Roman forts and castles.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of John Muir >>

 

Emperor Hadrian

The walk: Hadrian’s Wall Trail

Publius Aelius Hadrianus Augustus as his full name was, ruled the Roman Empire between 117-138. The emperor spent a great deal of time with the military among ordinary soldiers, visited basically all corners of the empire and is known to have been one of the ‘good emperors’. To separate the Romans in Brittania, as the UK was known in the time, from the ‘barbarians’ in the north and to keep intact the empire, he called for the construction of the wall. In this way, trade between the border could be controlled and it also helped regulate immigration.

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.

famous hiking trail of Hadrian's Wall with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? North England, an alternative English Coast to Coast route between Carlisle and Whitley Bay

Distance? 133 kilometres / 83 miles

Highlights of the Walk: To start with, the wall itself of which much can still be seen today and along which many other interesting Roman sights such as bath houses, forts and bridges. Then we like this famous trail because of the scenic variety from the modern cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the red sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle, from industrial Tyneside to the quiescence of Bowness on Solway.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of the Roman emperor Hadrian >>

 

King Ludwig

The walk: King Ludwig’s Way in Bavaria

Also known by names such as the Swan King, Mad King Ludwig or ‘der Märchenkönig’ (the Fairytale King), King Ludwig was the head of Bavaria in Germany for 20 years until his death in 1886. He never got married or had any heirs and during his reign, he was mostly occupied by the construction of castles and other buildings, as well as art & music. He was so taken by his passions, that he spent all of his royal money on this and even borrowed extra to realise his projects. All this probably explains his nicknames.

Luckily for us, today his legacy can still be admired in the German region of Bavaria by means of, for example, Linderhof Palace, Herrenchiemsee and his architectural masterpiece Neuschwanstein Castle. King Ludwig was a keen walker himself and you will pass the lake where his body was found in 1886.

walking in Bavaria and Neuschwanstein Castle - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Bavaria in Germany and close to the border with Austria

Distance? 96.5 kilometres / 60 miles

Highlights of the Walk: Being one of the famous longer walks in Germany, the trail takes you past two scenic lakes, baroque architecture, plenty of castles, gorges, a limestone wall, fine viewpoints and finally King Ludwig’s superb Neuschwanstein Castle.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of the German King Ludwig >>

 

James Herriott

The walk: James Herriott Way

James Alfred Wight was born on 3 October 1916, in Sunderland, County Durham, England. In 1939, at the age of 23, he  qualified as a veterinary surgeon and in July 1940 he took on a position in the town of Thirsk where he spent the rest of his life. The practice was located close to the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, where he spent a lot of his time.

Today we know him as James Herriot and the author of a series of books based on his personal life: ‘If Only They Could Talk’ or perhaps better known as ‘All Creatures Great and Small.’ In 1977 filming started for a TV series of the books and the majority of this was shot in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

James Herriot in Yorkshire Dales - sherpa expeditions

©Jim Wight

Where? The Yorkshire Dales National Park in England

Distance? 80 kilometres / 50 miles

Highlights of the Walk: For a fantastic exploration of England’s Yorkshire Dales, this walk brings you attractive fell walking, contrasting Dales (valleys), typical English villages, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and moorlands.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of James Herriott (or James A. Wight) >>

 

Bishop St Cuthbert

The walk: St Cuthbert’s Way

St Cuthbert’s ministry began around 650AD and he became the prior of Lindisfarne where he was famous for his healing powers. In his life, he increasingly craved for more solitude so he decided to retreat to St. Cuthbert's Isle, just off Holy Island, and later to Inner Farne where he lived as a hermit in a small enclosure.

Soon he was appointed Bishop of Lindisfarne and was obliged to travel around preaching the gospel. He eventually returned to Inner Farne to die and, eleven years later, his coffin was opened to reveal such a miraculously well-preserved body that he was canonised. This was also the reason for the extended cult following that has developed and that is known as The Community of St. Cuthbert. The Community was responsible for the Lindisfarne Gospels; claimed by some as the greatest work of art in the Anglo Saxon period. In 875AD, during the times of Viking raids, the Community left the island with the relics of St. Cuthbert for an eight-year jaunt around the borders of England and Western Scotland. The relics were meant to have rested in a spot known as St. Cuthbert's Cave on the first night off the island and you will be able to pass the cave on the famous trail that is the St Cuthbert’s Way.

famous hiking trails - St Cuthbert's Way in Scotland - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? From the Scottish borders to the coast of Northumberland in northeast England

Distance? 147 kilometres / 91 miles

Highlights of the Walk: This hiking trail includes unspoilt countryside and the broad horizons of the Northumberland coast, small historic towns, grand castles, Tweed Valley (from where the famous tweed cloth origins), and the holy island of Lindisfarne.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of bishop St Cuthbert >>

 

Offa, King of Mercia

The walk: Offa’s Dyke Path

Offa, King of Mercia in 757 to 796 AD, may have taken some inspiration from Hadrian's Wall (which would have then still have been moderately intact) when ordering the construction of Offa’s Dyke. Originally it was about 27 metres wide and 8 metres from the ditch bottom to the bank top.

King Offa wielded a tremendous amount of power over a kingdom that effectively made him an early English monarch. His domain included the Trent - Mersey River line in the north and south to the Thames. Kent and East Anglia were also included, and although Wales, Wessex and Cornwall were all ruled by different kings, Offa strategically created a series of alliances with the Kings of Wessex and Northumbria by marrying his daughters off to them. He had diplomatic and trading links with Charlemagne, the powerful King based in Francia, and communicated with the Pope.

King Offa is famous for having established the penny as the standard monetary unit in England, with the same silver content as coins in circulation in Francia, thereby assisting both national and international trading.

walking Offa's Dyke Path with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Wales

Distance? 125 kilometres / 79 miles

Highlights of the Walk: One of Wales’ most famous hiking trails follows the boundary of Mercia and brings you to walk past historic castles and abbeys, the Wye Valley and more than 10 crossings of the border between England and Wales.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of King Offa >>

 

Alfred Wainwright

The walk: England’s Coast to Coast Trail

We know about the Coast to Coast Trail today thanks to British fell walker, illustrator and guidebook author Alfred Wainwright. He was the founding father of one of the world’s most popular and famous hiking trails when between 1955-1966 he published the seven-volume Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. In fact, the books have been available ever since. His Coast to Coast Walk guidebook (still available and a great souvenir of the trip) was the first to describe “one of the world’s great walks” and is used as a base for other publishers today. As a child, little Alfred already drew his own maps of his local area and England and at age 23 he first saw the Lakeland Fells. There are 214 of these described in the Pictorial Guides and visiting them all is a famous way of peak bagging.

Alfred Wainwright was born in 1907 and passed away in 1991 after a heart attack.

walking Wainwright's Coast to Coast - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? England

Distance? 315 kilometres / 195 miles

Highlights of the Walk: The feeling of accomplishment after crossing a country from coast to coast can hardly be beaten. Along the way, appreciate classic English countryside, the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District National Park and lakes, rocky coastline, and welcoming English village pubs.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of the British author & fell walker Alfred Wainwright >>

 

St James

The walk: The Way of St James

The name Santiago is linked to the apostle James (Santiago means Saint James) who was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He travelled to the most north-western part of Spain to preach and convert people to Christianity. After his passing in 44AD, his tomb was placed in the city Santiago de Compostela. In the 9th Century this was unearthed at which point early Christian pilgrims started to walk from their own homes to the city in Spain. Today, this famous pilgrimage is known as the Camino de Santiago, or just Camino.

walking the Way of St James to Santiago - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? France, on the old pilgrim’s route between Le Puy and Conques

Distance? 200 kilometres / 124 miles

Highlights of the Walk: This ancient pilgrims’ route goes through the Auvergne and Languedoc to let you explore rural France, the Massif Central and the green hills of the Aveyron and the legacy of the Hundred Year War.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of Saint James or known as Santiago >>

 

Rob Roy MacGregor

The walk: Rob Roy Way

Rob Roy MacGregor became a well-known cattleman at a time when cattle rustling was a commonplace means of earning a living. Defaulting on his loans he became an outlaw and a price was placed on his head. Escaping capture several times turned him into a Scottish folk hero and in later life, due to his fame or notoriety, King George gave him a pardon.

famous hiking trails: Rob Roy Way - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Scottish Highlands

Distance? 124 kilometres / 77 miles

Highlights of the Walk: The walk begins in the pretty village of Drymen, whose Clachan Inn is the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland and would have been known by Rob Roy as it was run by his sister! From there, highlights of this famous hiking trail include attractive lochs (or lakes), a Victorian spa town, forests, river paths and of course the Scottish Highlands.

Read more about this hiking trail made famous because of Rob Roy MacGregor >>

 

Vincent van Gogh

The walk: In Van Gogh’s Footsteps

In 1888 Vincent van Gogh moved from Paris to Arles in Provence where, after a 16-hour train journey, he started the most ambitious and productive period of his life. He worked under luminescent skies and the bleaching Provencal Sun painting the fields, drawbridges, cypress trees, cafes, local folk and ancient Abbey Ruins.

Living at Arles, his technique modified as he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense colours that you see in works like ‘Bedroom at Arles’ (1888), and ‘Starry Night’ (1889). He seemed to imbue visible phenomena with vitality. In his enthusiasm he encouraged the painter Paul Gauguin to join him, but within weeks they began to have violent disagreements, culminating in a quarrel in which van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor. It was on that night, when in deep remorse, Van Gogh famously cut off part of his own ear. 

famous hiking trails - Provence Vincent van Gogh - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Provence, France

Distance? 48-56 kilometres / 30-35 miles

Highlights of the Walk: The reason why Van Gogh spent so much time in this part of France becomes obvious when you walk along vineyards and olive groves, medieval villages, beautiful Avignon and Arles, and the small massif of Les Alpilles.

Read more about this area in France made famous because of painter Vincent van Gogh >>

 

Inspired? Contact our team of travel experts with all queries you may have regarding these famous hiking trails and we are happy to assist you more.

 

 

 

Gear Matters: Outdoor Winter Jackets - Fleece or Duvets?

walking gear reviews by travel guide - Sherpa ExpeditionsLeaves are falling from the trees and bonfire nights, Halloween, country walks and hot soup remind us that the cold weather is approaching. Now is the time we start to think about winter clothing, whether or not we are intending to walk into the high mountains or stick to the lower trails along to the country pub.

 

 

 

 

 

A Step Back in Time

Thirty years ago, most of us outdoor types wore more simple fibre pile (polyester fibre-hair lined) jackets from Helly Hanson or Berghaus. The large duvet (puffa) jacket was very much the provenance of the mountaineer. Companies such as Mountain Equipment produced amazing down-filled duvets at the higher end with Gore-Tex shells which would keep you warm in Scottish, Alpine or Himalayan conditions. The level of insulation was determined by the quality and weight of the duck or goose down mix. Most of these were way too warm as soon as the temperatures became slightly bearable and all of these winter jackets commanded a high price tag, unless you opted for the Dacron (artificial fibre) filled alternatives which were heavy.

 

Some common points were that the fibre piles when soaked became a sponge and heavy and had to be carefully rung out. Duvet jackets once wet became like huge tea bags, lost their insulatory value and had to be left to dry and re-lofted.

 

down jackets for hiking - gear advice - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Down the Line

All these years down the line, technology has meant these things have changed at least to some degree! Fibre pile has largely disappeared being replaced by compact fleece jackets often with stretchy 'Polar tech' fabric, some with hoods, extended thumb loop sleeves and hand warmer pockets. Fleeces are ubiquitous, competitively priced and are usually easy to compare in the shop just by putting on and testing what feels best. They come in many different thicknesses, all the main brands do them and the price is directly proportional to the brand name and the complexity of the product. 

 

Duvet jackets are back in favour with loads of manufacturers offering different takes on design. You can decide whether to look like the ‘Michelin Man’ or maybe something a bit sleeker. We are concerned in this discussion about duvets from outdoor gear manufacturers rather than with those of fashion companies. The mountain duvets are generally lighter and have a better cut to allow movement than they ever used to.

 

Down vs Fleece Jacket

In making a decision about jackets, you should have a budget in mind and also know how you feel the cold. A duvet jacket can easily cost five times as much as a fleece and If you overheat easily, a duvet may not be for you in most cold conditions; a fleece might be a better option. Good quality duvets are rated by numbers which refer to the amount of down to the volume of the jacket and is quoted 500, 600, 800 etc. These jackets can be extremely compact and light and can be carried in a rucksack in addition to having a fleece if you want to invest in a possibly lifesaving piece of kit or perhaps something for the base camp on a high walking holiday. The Montane Featherlite jacket is very impressive in this category. 

 

outdoor winter jackets for cycling - Sherpa Expeditions

 

winter hiking jackets for the Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions

 

New developments to increase the efficiency of down jackets include the use of mixed linings as a compromise between weight price and the thermal range of a jacket such as in the Berghaus Asgard Jacket.

Some jackets now use 'Hydrophobic downs' that are meant to absorb less water, see the Mountain Equipment Dewline range or the Rab Microlight for example. Synthetic duvets have got a lot more compact than they were and of course keep you warmer when soaked than purely down jackets. Examples include the Rab Altus or Montane Prism.

 

Same, Same..

Some things obviously have not changed: fleeces and duvets still succumb eventually to rainfall and will need to be worn under, or in some cases zipped into, good waterproof jackets. This can make duvets impossible to wear if you are doing anything active.

Duvets need quite a bit of care in order to keep them in good condition - don’t wash too regularly, use special down detergent and be careful to fluff out or re-loft after washing and drying so that all the down is not concentrated in a few places.

Also don't store them in their stuff sacs for prolonged periods as this can damage the fill.     

 

 

For more advice on the gear to bring on a cycling or walking holiday, contact our team of travel experts.

For more in John’s series of Gear Matters blog posts and tips and advice for cycling and walking gear, see the full overview of blog articles from the past months.

 

 

Take a Hike Day

Each year on the 17th of November you will find lots of people going out to celebrate Take a Hike Day. Originally initiated by the American Hiking Society in 2013, the day is mostly known and observed by our north American friends.

 

take a hike day - walking in spain - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Aim for the day is, perhaps not too unexpectedly, to go out for a hike and appreciate the outdoors. By dedicating a specific day in the year to go out on a walking trip, more awareness and attention will be given to the benefits of walking. Not only is going out for a walk good for your personal well-being, by actually going to the outdoors, hikers will at the same time learn more about nature and their surroundings.

 

winter walking in Cyprus - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

©senza senso

 

Autumn days in November can be beautiful, crisp and sunny, with the colours of orange, red and brown dominating the European countryside. In southern Europe there are even islands at this time of year where sunshine is almost guaranteed and there are flowers flourishing.

If Take a Hike Day inspires you to explore even more and go on a walking holiday for a week or two, have a look at the below trips that depart daily throughout the year or in the coming months:

 

 

Happy Take a Hike Day! 

 

winter walking in Europe with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Find flowers in winter in Europe - Sherpa Expeditions

Traveller’s Tale: Along the Most Beautiful Villages in France

traveller review on walking in France with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Since he was in his teens, Charles Hawes has been walking for fun. In recent years, he has re-discovered the pleasure of walking and Charles calls himself fortunate in having the Brecon Beacons and Wye Valley on his doorstep in south Wales. “I especially enjoy the rhythm of a good day’s walk (10-12 miles) to get to a new place, staying a night at a pub or Bed and Breakfast and then walking on. I completed the 870-miles Wales Coast path this way over nearly three years,” he recalls. According to Charles, perhaps the most enjoyable way of completing a long-distance walk, is to have all one’s creature comforts transported for you and to walk with a light day pack. That is how he did 10 days on The Way of St James in France with Sherpa and most recently how he did our circular walk along some of the most beautiful villages in France (Medieval France: Tarn and Aveyron). The latter is what Charles shares his memories on after coming back from the trip in early October.

 

Why did you choose to walk in France’s Tarn & Aveyron region?

I was introduced to France as a child and have loved it ever since. In my teens I hitch-hiked through the country, picking apples in the Loire. I love the language (though speak it badly), the food, the countryside with the typical French villages and the culture.

 

walk in the most beautiful villages in france - sherpa expeditions

 

traveller review of walking in the most beautiful villages in France - Sherpa walking holidays

 

How did you prepare for this walk in France?

I had been suffering from a bad back so I did daily strengthening exercises ahead of the trip. I also found a great app for my smartphone, which is called DuoLingo. A few weeks before the trip departed, I did half an hour of French lessons each day – it certainly made a difference.

 

What was your favourite or most beautiful village in France’s Aveyron region?

My favourite place must be Puycelci. We arrived at lunchtime on a sunny day with nothing better to do than have an omelette and frites and a cool beer and enjoy the views.

 

Best French food and drink on this walk?

Without question the best food I had was at the wonderful chambre d’hôte a little outside the village of Vaour. Our host, Nathalie, is married to a chef who trained under one of the Roux brothers. A tomato flan was followed by steaks from her brother’s herd of Aubrac cattle, a wonderful cheeseboard and a simple apple and pear pudding. And needless to say, a local French wine.

 

walking in france with sherpa expeditions walking holidays

 

most beautiful villages in france - sherpa walking holidays

 

What was your biggest surprise on this walking holiday?

From time to time we saw wild colchicums (autumn crocus) growing along the paths. I knew about these plants before and asked a passing lady what they were called in French. The word is the same, but she then sang me a little song about the flower!

 

What aspect of this walk in the Aveyron region did you find most challenging?

I think the hardest climb was after a leisurely visit we made to the extraordinarily pretty village and castle at Penne. That pull up the hill opposite felt unrelenting. It wasn’t really; we had just relaxed in this beautiful French village just a bit too much!

 

Do you have any advice for travellers thinking about walking the Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron trip?

Pay careful attention to the written notes you are given ahead of your trip, carry plenty of water, don’t be in a rush.

 

Our walking holiday along some of the most beautiful villages in France departs on any day you like during the European spring, summer and autumn months from May until the end of September. To learn more about the walk that Charles and his friend took, have a look at the full description of Medieval France: Tarn and Aveyron, or as always, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or write an email to our team of travel experts in the London office


 

10 of The Best Long-Distance Walks in the UK

In the UK a trail is often considered ‘long distance’ when it is at least 30 miles (48km) long. However, we like to stretch this a little and will look in this article at those paths that are over 70 miles or about 100km. Spread throughout all corners of Britain, you can find a diverse range of such walks. If you are looking to learn about some of the best, in the overview below you can find 10 of our favourite long distance walks in the UK.

A long-distance path in the UK is traditionally waymarked but won’t necessarily follow established footpaths and as such, walkers will often find themselves traversing pastures, fells, river shores or beaches. It is exactly that why we love some of our walks so much.

At the same time, going on a long-distance walk allows you to really travel deep inside a region and experience the real character and spirit away from outside borders.

Inspired by iconic figures, historical boundaries or geographical regions, read on for some of the UK’s best long distance walks.

 

Coast to Coast Walk

Wainwright's Coast to Coast in England - Sherpa walking holidays


Entire Length: 309 km / 192 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: late spring until summer, which is between April and September in the UK

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

One of Britain’s most classic walking routes, the Coast to Coast, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the English Lake District. Walk this trail for the feeling of crossing England from sea to sea and to explore the national parks of the Lake District, Pennines and North York Moors.


“High points were the challenge, the people we met, sense of achievement and hospitality. Keep up the good work.” – F. O’Sullivan from Paynesville, Australia

 

Channel Island Way

Walk the Channel Island Way long distance trail in UK - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 177 km / 110 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: walk the Channel Island Way between April and late October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Each of the eight Channel Islands have their own separate character and in terms of scenery resemble some of Cornwall’s nicest features. This long distance walk along the isles to the south of England takes you island hopping to see well preserved WWII fortifications, rugged cliffs, quiet villages and a fantastic range of pubs.

 

John Muir Way

Scottish coast to coast long distance walk UK - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 215 km / 134 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: between April and early October is the best time to undertake this British long distance walk

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The John Muir Way is a route that symbolically links Dunbar (John's hometown) with Scotland’s first national park (Loch Lomond) and the Trossachs with Helensburgh (from where John and his family departed for the USA) in the west. Both towns are located by the sea and as such the trail is known as the Scottish Cost to Coast. Along the way, you are rewarded by views over Ben Lomond, an exploration of Edinburgh, and lots of historical features. There are many highlights on the John Muir Way and you can read about 10 interesting sites.

 

Hadrian’s Wall Trail

follow Hadrian's Wall Path in England - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Entire Length: 133 km / 83 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: the climate of Northern England is renowned for being unpredictable, but the best time of year to walk Hadrian’s Wall Trail is between April and early October, with June being the sunniest month

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

A reason for hikers to choose to walk Hadrian’s Wall is the rich Roman history along the way as it’s not just the wall itself that you will see, but also remains of important Roman forts and good museums. This walk brings you scenic variety that stretches from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle and from the barren heights in Northumberland to the lime green pastoral scenes of Eden Valley.

 

“Great experience but hard work. However, the feeling of ‘we did it’, made it all worthwhile!” – M. Murphy from Tewantin, Australia

 

Rob Roy Way

long distance walks uk Rob Roy Way

 

Entire Length: 124 km / 77 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: for a long distance walk in Scotland like this, travel in the UK spring and summer between April and October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The Rob Roy (MacGregor) Way takes hikers through areas where the notorious cattleman & outlaw used to reside and on routes where his family drove their cattle towards market towns. This long distance trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of a Scottish legend while taking in Highland scenery, famous lochs, and pretty Victorian villages.

 

Great Glen Way

walking the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 117 km / 73 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: walk this long distance trail between April and October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The Great Glen Way long distance trail was opened in April 2002 and passes the foot of the UK’s highest mountain (Ben Nevis), follows the shores of Loch Ness (who will spot Nessie?), and crosses the Scottish Highlands. The forts and castles scattered along the way are witness to Scotland’s turbulent past.


“This was our first multi-day walk so we were a little apprehensive but we had a fantastic time and will definitely be doing more in the future.” - J. Taylor, Bolton, UK

 

South Downs Way

South Downs Way long distance walk in UK - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 161 km / 100 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: as the south of England is one of the sunniest places in all of the UK, you can already enjoy the South Downs Way from as early as mid-March and until the end of October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Most of the route of the South Downs Way is ancient, made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of the region. On the way ‘Dew Ponds’, ring forts, cross dykes and tumuli reflect a history stretching back into the mists of time. What better way to take in the rolling landscapes and areas of outstanding natural beauty of Southern England than on foot?

 

“A wonderful range of terrain & experiences. Lovely scenery. Gorgeous villages full of history. We loved it! Terrific walking - challenging & interesting. Thank you for a great holiday. We'll be back.” – M. O'Rourke, Auckland, NZ

 

South West Coastal Path

walk the South West Coastal Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 579 km / 360 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: late March until the end of October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Cornwall is very much a holiday county with beaches, famous Cornish pasties, pirates, shipwrecks and the roaring sea. It has been voted Britain’s favourite holiday region for many good reasons. By following on foot one of the UK’s longest walks, you can let yourself be surprised by the tropical scenery.


“Loved how the walking tour created a more intimate connection with the towns, people, area & community. High points: scenery of coastal Cornwall and The Tinners Arms - loved it! Would have liked to have another day included at the end of the tour to get to St Michael's Mount.” – R. Masters, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, USA

 

Offa’s Dyke Path

Offa's Dyke - walking in the UK - Sherpa expeditions

 

Entire Length: 285 km / 177 miles

Country: Wales

Best time to go: the best time to walk Offa’s Dyke Path is between April and September

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Offa’s Dyke Path takes you through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats. Add to that historic castles and abbeys and you have yourself a fantastic introduction to Wales.

 

West Highland Way

walk historical west highland way with sherpa expeditions

 

Entire Length: 155 km / 96 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: from late March until the beginning of October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Embark on a hike on the West Highland Way and you step back into history; most of the day stages follow the famous droving and military roads that linked the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands. Many of the hotels you find today have originated from the droving inns that have operated for centuries. On this long distance trail you’ll also walk to the foot of Ben Nevis and past the shores of the UK’s largest lake, Loch Lomond.

 

We hope your bucket list hasn’t grown too exponentially after reading about these favourite long-distance walks. If you like our support planning your walk, choosing the best hike for you, or have other queries, please feel free to contact our team in London directly.