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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
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Pleasant European Winter Tours for the Active Traveller

If you are after an activity break with a dose of some salty sea air this Christmas, consider the great islands and coastline of Europe’s seas and oceans. From windswept cliff-top bicycle rides to more leisurely seaside strolls and walks off the mainstream tourist radar, you will be surprised of the options for a pleasant break during Christmas. For the active traveller wanting to visit Europe, winter tours a great option to consider.

 

Europe winter tours - Sherpa Expeditions

 

walking trips - winter holidays europe - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Popular year-round holiday destinations because of their excellent conditions for outdoor activities such as walking and cycling, these places do tend to attract a fair number of travellers during the winter season. Here is an overview of our favourite active winter trips in Europe.

 

Active Europe: Winter Tours

  • Southern Trails of La Gomera | Relatively short walking days exploring the southern trails of La Gomera & leaving time to relax.
  • Madeira Island Walking | Year round self guided walk following the Levadas and trails through the dramatic and rugged mountain scenery on the island of Madeira.
  • Exploring La Gomera – 11 Days | Experience La Gomera's lush plantations, mountains and whitewashed villages.
  • Walking in the Canaries | Year round walking opportunities exploring the mountains and coasts of Spain's most exotic islands.
  • Hiking the Vermillion Coast | Discover the coast and mountains along the edge of the Pyrenees. Walk through beautiful seaside towns enjoying famous Banyuls wine and seafood.
  • Exploring La Gomera – 8 Days | Experience the lush plantations, mountains and whitewashed villages of exotic La Gomera.
  • Cycling in Sardinia | Cycle along the spectacular southwest coast of the island biking past white quartz beaches and towering sand dunes, Phoenician Ruins and Ancient Mines.
  • Dingle Peninsula Walk | Experience on foot the history and natural beauty of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula.
  • The Portuguese Road – Coimbra to Porto | Walk the quieter trails between historical Coimbra and Porto on stage two of the Camino Portuguès.
  • Rota Vicentina – the Fishermen’s Trail | Traverse the Atlantic coastline of Portugal to reveal a landscape of deserted beaches, fishing villages and dramatic cliffs on foot.

 

Or How About these..

 

Especially during the Christmas period, accommodation is in high demand. We therefore advise to secure your winter break as early as possible. To discuss any special requirements or to chat about the best options for you, please feel free to drop by at our office in London (we’re located right along the Thames Path), give us a call or send us a message.

Gear Matters: What to Bring on a Hiking Trip

Gear tips for walking holidays with Sherpa ExpeditionsEvery month our resident guide, John Millen, brings you an anecdote, update, or tip on the gear you are likely to use on a walking or cycling holiday. Always from his personal point of view. This month he has chosen to give you ten ideas of what to bring on a hiking trip. Especially with mountain trips in mind, but also useful to those that plan to walk outside the mountains, these items to pack on your walking holiday can certainly help you enjoy your holiday in the European outdoors even more.

 

Bookmark this list of 10 things to pack on your alpine walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions and keep it handy for your next holiday in Europe.

 

 

Clothing

Wear several layers of thin clothing such as a thin merino top under a shirt and then a thin or thick fleece that can be taken off to adapt to the ambient temperature. Also, have a waterproof coat ready and waiting. Quite a nice item to have if you are prone to feeling the cold, is a down 'gillet' which is like a puff jacket without the arms. These can be packed away easily and can be brought out if you have gotten very cold. 

 

Boots

Take comfortable broken in, but not broken-down hiking boots with some cushioning either in the insole, outsole or both! Trail or fell runners maybe used to tackling alpine paths in trail shoes but for travellers on our trips, trainers or running shoes do not give enough support for the rocky, uneven terrain. Hiking boots come in different categories of stiffness (based on the difficulty of the terrain for which the shoes are designed). On particularly stony trails, a pair of short gaiters called ankle gaiters, can be fitted to stop your boots filling up with stones.

 

>> Bonus: Tips on cleaning your boots

 

gear tips for walking in the alps _ Sherpa Expeditions

 

what to bring on a hiking trip - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Hat

Wear a hat to protect your face from the sun. Some have flaps to protect your ears and neck as well. The best hats are the ones that not only dry fast but retain their shape once you have stuffed them in your bag. Tilley hats for example are expensive, but they are very good.

 

Shades

Take along suitable sunglasses: they should be wrap-round style and rated Category 3. For those of you that plan to go particularly high or into snow then 'Category 4' and, preferably, a pair with side protection is recommended.

 

Waterproofs

Always remember to bring on your active European holiday a rainproof top and trousers. Rain showers are quite regular in the Alps and you do not want to be caught out in the wet. It is amazing how many people return or replace Goretex and other 'breathable' garments because they think that they no longer breathe. It is usually the case however that the garment is fine, but the fabric works on a humidity gradient and sweat will always build up in conditions where you work yourself hard, or there is a high level of ambient humidity. However, make sure that you check the taped seams are in place and wash the piece regularly. 

 

Socks

Wear thick socks, preferably loop stitched and seamless ones. This can prevent your feet from getting blisters and adds cushioning to your walk. Tip of the expert: carry a spare pair on you.

 

Detailed Paper Map & Compass

GPS is generally accurate and reliable, however when it goes wrong it is great to have the back-up of a real map and compass. Although high end GPS and some phones have good mapping features, it is often difficult to view the LCDs in bright sunlight and also to see 'the big picture'. Don't forget a waterproof map case (e.g. Ortlieb) to protect the maps that we prepare for you on your walks and cycling days.

 

maps for walking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

bring a water bottle on your hiking trip in the mountains with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Alarm

Bring for example a whistle to warn people in the area if you are in trouble. The emergency signal to use if you need help is 6 signals per minute followed by a one-minute break. You should repeat this until help arrives or until you get an answer of 3 signals per minute followed by a one-minute break. In case you don't have a whistle, you can use a torch (flashlight).

 

Ruck Sac

Put all these items in a comfortable day pack, there are many makes at so many different prices. You will be generally better off having a bag that is a bit bigger than all that you put into it, to avoid crushing items. So if you know that your 30 litre pack is crammed full, get a 45 or 50 litre one. Bags with a chest harness as well as waist harness give better stability while you are walking or moving downhill. If you like your photography and are used to carrying your camera, then you should have enough room to stow it during bad weather.

 

Waterproof Drybags

Very few makes of rucksack are waterproof and during a big shower some water can penetrate even if you have a raincover. So, a bag for delicate items such as First Aid Kit, camera, passport etc, are really useful.

 

 

And Then…

  • First aid kit, including a rescue or Bivouac bag or blanket, in case you have to stop in an emergency.
  • Mobile phone with important phone numbers at hand, even though alpine areas may have no mobile coverage, there may be others near you with satellite phones.
  • Trekking poles are convenient for both descending and ascending as well they are indispensable on difficult terrain. Poles can be used to preload your weight as you descend and save pressure on the knees. It is likely in the Alps that you will be crossing path sections with scree or even snow patches.
  • Sufficient amount of food and drinks: a water bottle with at least 1-liter capacity, normally there are plenty of places to fill up with in the mountains to avoid dehydration. Also bring with you some spare food such as energy bars, nuts, dried fruit etc.
  • If you wear shorts, don’t forget to also pack a lightweight pair of long trousers to protect against the sun, cold and insects. Trousers are also useful when walking through thicker vegetation.

 

 

Top 10 Places to Visit in Cornwall

In the southwest of England, you can find the longest and, perhaps, the finest trail of the country: the 630-mile long South West Coastal Path. Almost half of which covers the stunning county of Cornwall. Made famous through the Doc Martin TV series and the Poldark books & TV series, there is a plethora of interesting places to visit in Cornwall.

 

walking in Cornwall with Sherpa Expeditions

 

White sandy beaches, turquoise waters, rugged cliffs and even palm trees dot the long coastline that also has kept enough space for cute fishing villages to try a famous Cornish pasty. With a mild climate (that is classed as oceanic according to the Köppen classification), Cornwall is a holiday region that comes with many things to do for the active visitor.

 

If you are searching for holiday inspiration, we believe that the below ten places to visit in Cornwall will certainly trigger your interest.

 

See Marazion

Bustling with people aspiring for St Michael's Mount, Marazion has some claim to be the oldest town in Britain. At least it was mentioned by Siculus in the 1st Century BC as the port from which tin was shipped to Brittany in France. The monastery sits on the civil parish of St Michael’s Mount and can only be reached via man-made causeway during low tide. It was probably built sometime between the 8th-11th Centuries under the rule of Edward the Confessor. Not surprisingly, it was a dependence of Mont St Michel in France that you can visit on one of UTracks’ cycling trips in Brittany.

 

Explore Porthleven

Porthleven is a pleasant harbour town that mainly developed during the last century. Today it is still a working port and one of the great places to visit in Cornwall. It houses a fascinating three-section harbour that gets closed off with wooden baubles in stormy weather, usually out of season. Loe Bar, Loe Pool and Penrose Estate are all worth to explore on foot if you arrive early.

 

Marazion in Cornwall with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Discover Gunwalloe

If you are looking for some charming places to go on your visit to Cornwall, may we suggest to consider Gunwalloe to the west of Lizard peninsula? It is here that the first transatlantic radio signals were transmitted by Marconi, the inventor of the radio. Visit Poldhu Point Monument and the Marconi Centre for more information on this achievement.

The Church Cove right between Gunwalloe and Poldhu is where the Church of St Winwalloe squats beside the beach. The church has a separate bell tower, which is dug into the cliff wall and also well worth a visit.

 

Portloe: Step Back in Time

A very popular place is Portloe, which, thankfully, due to the lack of horizontal space has changed little over the years. It is said that only one new house has been built since the Second World War, leaving the layout and feel of the town virtually as it was over 200 years ago. This harbour of an inlet sits in a 'cramped and dramatic situation' where smuggling, fishing and drinking used to go hand in hand. You can almost still smell the rum when you navigate its picturesque old streets.

 

things to do in Cornwall - Sherpa Expeditions

 

places to visit in Cornwall - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Relax in Falmouth

Falmouth is a leading resort on the south west coast and allegedly the third largest natural harbour in the world. The Cornish town has many things to do and you can for example wander its bustling waterfront, relax at one of its four bathing beaches, or visit for example Pendennis Castle, constructed by Henry VIII. Other things to do in Falmouth are sailing, golfing on the golf course, visiting a former post office packet station, gardens, or the maritime museum to learn more about the strong maritime tradition of the town.

 

Experience Veryan

Well worth visiting in Veryan are its round houses: 19th Century circular buildings with thatched roofs and a cross. Besides that, there are an interesting church, an art gallery and a tumulus at Carne, which is the supposed burial mound of King Geraint. Nearby Caerhays Castle is designed by John Nash and has famous gardens which are open between mid-February and June.

 

Learn about Porthallow & Porthoustock

The secluded coves on the east of Lizard Peninsula between Porthallow and Porthoustock are notable for angling. Closeby St Keverne is a pleasant village that you may like to make a detour for. It has a pleasant village square and is known for its remarkable churchyard in which 400 shipwreck victims of the nearby Manacle Reef are buried. Check out the beaches at Porthallow, Porthoustock, Housel Bay and Kennack Sands.

 

active holidays in Cornwall with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Visit Mevagissey

Still very much a fishing port, Mevagissey is the largest city in St Austell Bay. Cob cottages spill down to the harbour walls from the steep sided valley and you can visit the beaches at Portmellon and Gorran Haven. Mevagissey also houses an interesting model railway exhibition.

 

Travel to St Mawes

If you are keen about sailing, one of the places to visit in Cornwall is St Mawes. It is a popular sailing centre on Roseland and overlooks Falmouth. The port is quite sheltered and is relatively remote. Spend some time at the small beach and fine cloverleaf St Mawes Castle that dates back to 1542 and is open year-round.   

 

Secluded Helford

The picture postcard village on Helford River is not to be missed on your walking holiday in Cornwall. It is a yachtsman’s haven full of activity and you can take it all in during a lunch at the pub near Frenchman’s Creek made famous by author Daphne du Maurier.

 

On the Cornwall Coastal Path you can really escape the crowds, dipping in and out of coves and harbours and ascending beside dramatic cliffs, up to high viewpoints, along promontories and back down to expansive beaches.

 

Experience Cornwall for yourself on any of the below trips:

 

  • Cornish Coastal Path (North): Padstow to St. Ives - 8 days
    A beautiful part of the South West Coastal Path, this northern section undulates along the coast between the popular resorts of Padstow and St. Ives, visiting the surfer’s paradise of Newquay.
  • Cornish Coastal Path (West): St. Ives to Penzance - 8 days
    This section of the Cornwall Coast path contains generally shorter days than either our Cornwall North and South tours, allowing you more time to spend in coves, on beaches, or up on the cliff moorlands.
  • Cornish Coastal Path (South): Marazion to Mevagissey - 8 days
    Explore the most scenic and varied part of the Cornish coast, on either side of Lizard Head, the southern-most tip of mainland Britain.
  • Cornish Coastal Path: Padstow to Penzance - 13 days
    Enjoy a stunning 106 miles/170 km walk along the Cornish Coastal Path. Dip in and out of coves and harbours, ascend beside dramatic cliffs to panoramic viewpoints, idle along promontories and explore the expansive beaches, which out of the high season, can be all but deserted.
  • Cornish Coastal Path: St Ives to Mevagissey - 14 days
    This section of the South West Coast Path encompasses a vast array of coastal landscapes from the dramatic cliffs of Lands End, the impressive coves of Mullion and Kynance, famous resort towns such as St Ives & Penzance and smaller fishing villages.

Picture This! Sub-tropical Guernsey

Sherpa's Nathalie walking in Guernsey

 

Guernsey is a unique place with a stunning coastline. Not legally a part of the UK and in close proximity to Normandy in France, the Channel Island is a mix of both countries and this will show when you leisurely discover the island on foot. Our team member Nathalie visited Guernsey just a couple of weeks ago for a check on the services we deliver and came back with a camera full of stunning images.

 

Of course, we wanted to share these with you as soon as possible and have therefore compiled this elaborate photo album to give you a bit of an idea what walking in this part of the British Isles, south from England, can also be like.

 

From a two-celled prison and German WWII bunkers to cosy pubs and the most spectacular trails, scroll down to view some splendid shots.

 

Stunning Scenery of Guernsey

relax on Channel Island Way walk_Sherpa Expeditions

 

bluebell woods and sea at Guernsey_Sherpa Expeditions

 

quiet bay in Guernsey_Sherpa Expeditions

 

>> Show me the Guernsey walking holidays

 

sunshine on Guernsey walks_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Historical Interest in Guernsey

bunker on Guernsey_Sherpa Expeditions

 

German WWII legacy on Guernsey_Sherpa Expeditions

 

2-celled prison on Sark_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Renoir used to holiday on Guernsey_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Where to Eat along the Channel Island Way

food on the Channel Island Way - England

 

quintessential English: cider fish chips_Sherpa Expeditions

 

simple pub lunch on Channel Island Way_Sherpa Expeditions

 

>> Discover Guernsey on foot

 

The Channel Island Way of Life

waiting for the ferry_Sherpa Expeditions

 

car free Sark_Sherpa Expeditions

 

walking in Guernsey_Sherpa Expeditions

 

heading to the beach on Channel Island Way_Sherpa Expeditions

 

steps leading up - Guernsey _Sherpa Expeditions

 

>> Find out how you can organise your Guernsey walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions

 

A Quinta-essential Walk: 5 Reasons to Take a Douro Valley Holiday

Visit Portugal’s Douro Valley and walk in the amazing wine terraces and Quinta wine estates high above the Douro River. Read on to find out about 5 reasons for spending your active holiday in Douro Valley.

 

visit douro valley with Sherpa Expeditions

 

douro valley holidays with Sherpa Expeditions

 

The Douro Wine Estates

Walking in the Douro Valley should be regarded as a ‘Quinta-essential’ walk: it takes you deep into the working wine estates of golden terraces laced with vines and wires to support them. The local people will be busy picking the grapes in September/October while at other times in the year, there are activities taking place such as pruning, training, spraying or weeding. Some times of the year, you will hardly see a soul about. Most of the Quintas, estates or inns in the Portuguese countryside, produce their own wine. The area is of UNESCO World Heritage interest, and there are some amazing Escher-type perspective views of the vine terraces from across the hills in certain lights, dissected in places by roads and paths.

 

Landmark Bridges

Discover the two famous ironwork bridges when you’re visiting the Douro Valley. They both date back to the late 1800s. Walk across the Gustav Eiffel Bridge that connects both sides of River Pinhão and that is also a main landmark in the charming village of the same name. The bridge was designed by, surprise-surprise, Gustav Eiffel who was also involved with the ‘Luis I Bridge’ in Porto. Nowadays, the bridge is considered as a national masterpiece. 

When you visit Douro Valley, you can also walk high above the magnificent Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge. This is Porto’s most recognisable landmark over the river Douro. The iron bridge was designed by Seyrig, one of Gustav Eiffel's co-workers, in 1886.

 

Cruise along the Douro River

Relax and take a replica Barco Rabelo, wine boat for a little cruise along the Douro River while passing numerous wine estates that advertise themselves via large riverside boards. You can slouch in a bean bag quaffing a tawny port, watching riverside birds. To break your walking days, you could hire a boat to visit the village of ‘Tua’. There are a couple of restaurants there, which are excellent to have some lunch at before catching the train back to either Pinhão or Oporto.

 

porto walking with sherpa expeditions

 

douro valley walking holidays - sherpa expeditions

 

Porto, O Pretty Porto

Get lost in Oporto (Porto)! This is a must on your Douro Valley holiday. Having survived through periods of European war, Porto has a maze of ancient streets and old buildings focussed on the River Douro. It is a proud and friendly city bursting with cafes, bars, restaurants and some unusual stores selling things like Portuguese guitars.

Check out some of Porto’s ornate churches that are decorated with blue and white azulejos tiles such as the Igreja de Sto Ildefonso church. The railway station, Estação de São Bento, is also internally decorated with a mass of these tiles illustrating Portuguese landscapes and train travel.

There are lovely squares, and terraced vistas. Always you will find good restaurants (ask around for tascas) where you can taste famous national dishes such as bacalhau, dried and salted cod, in its varying preparations.

 

The Port Lodges

Visit a couple of Port Lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. This town is a separate entity to Porto (just across from the river and easily accessible); most importantly, this is where all the traditional factories of the wine estates exist. Here, the port is made by adding spirit to stop the wine fermentation process and the finished product is then aged, usually in oak barrels. A visit to a couple of the estates is recommended, they often have the most beautiful premises and outlooks. There is a small entry charge that includes tasting a few ports or wines. There are so many lodges to choose from including Dutch and German brands. For Anglophiles perhaps the most famous are Sandeman, Grahams, Croft, Churchills, Ferreira, Taylors, Offley and Cockburns. Some also do food, which is just as well before you wobble back to your hotel!

 

The best times to visit Douro Valley for an active holiday are spring, between mid-March until June, and autumn (fall) from around September until mid-October and when also the annual grape harvest takes place.

 

Learn More

 

 

Like No Other: Travel Experience in the Luberon Mountains

Hike in the Luberon Mountains with Sherpa Expeditions


Walk alongside imposing cliffs before taking a cobbled mule track descending in hairpin turns to the base of the Aiguebrun Valley where you will find your overnight accommodation on this week of hiking in the Luberon Mountains.

 

At the base of the Aiguebrun Gorge in the Luberon Mountains, there is a breath-taking 17th century goat cheese farm that is now restored and converted into the most unique hotel in the Luberon. The Auberge des Seguins is in harmony with the original buildings that are found in this enchanting region in southern France.


Auberge des Seguins - Luberon - Sherpa Expeditions


hikers in the luberon mountains - sherpa expeditions

 

The hotel offers a lovely escape from modern life where you can enjoy your surroundings and it is here that we stay at for one night during our Rambling in the Luberon hiking holiday.

 

History

The name of the hotel is chosen for a reason. Seguins derives from the Waldensian, which is a reformed religious group. A family of the same name lived in the area centuries ago. In the 16th century however, the Waldensians were massacred throughout the Luberon mountains.

 

The oldest buildings of our accommodation and those that are still standing today were built in the 17th century, long after the Seguins had left. Fast-forward to 1850 when the hamlet was shared by three farming families. Jumping another 100 years or so and we arrive in 1960. At this time the hamlet in the Luberon Mountains was run as a goat farm until it was purchased by the Pessemesse family to convert it into a hotel.  

The Pessemesse family still runs the Auberge today, and when you visit, you may meet one of the sisters Amélie and Estelle or brother Simon.

 

Luberon Mountain Life

The accommodation is located at the base of the Aiguebrun Gorge, both storybook scenic and peaceful. Both to and from the hotel, we expect you to find the hiking to be beautiful. Off the beaten path and far from tourist crowds, you can enjoy limestone karst mountains, quaint oak forests and imposing cliffs. Savouring dinner family-style and with home-cooked Provençal specialties, such as lamb shoulder braised with olive purée served in a large casserole for the whole table. Breakfast is also communal and eaten on large farm tables with no bells and whistles, but with the freshest breads and tasty homemade jams.

 

All that is left doing - watching the swifts dance atop the soaring limestone cliffs, and relaxing in a lounge chair in the open field, facing the centuries-old golden stone buildings. Sounds like you? Check out our 7-day Rambling in the Luberon walking holiday.



Madeira Walks: 5 Things Not to Miss

Beautiful scenery, well selected hikes, expertly handled logistics. It was so hard to leave Funchal!- E & K Pavlik from Canada

Madeira, the Portuguese island, is famed for its excellent walking temperatures – year-round! But there are many more reasons for the island to be popular, besides its good weather. If you are interested in the rich Portuguese history, a varied landscape that ranges from rugged coastline to pine forests and a wealth of flowers then read on and find out what Madeira walks can look like.

 

Madeira walks with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Escape to excellent walking temperatures. Madeira, just over 3.5 hours away from London, less than 2 hrs from Lisbon, and 7 & 8 hours from Toronto & Miami respectively, is one of your best options in Europe. The island enjoys an impressive year-round flowering season thanks to its subtropical climate and rich volcanic soil. For example, October and November still see well over 10 hours of sunshine daily and temperatures in the low-20oC. In comparison, the average temperature for England is half of that.  

When thinking of exploring Madeira, walks are a good option and below you can find 5 reasons to go.

 

Enjoyed the great views, the way the tours were laid up so we had very different walks each day.- J Brandstrom from Sweden

#1 Levadas

follow levadas in Madeira with Sherpa Expeditions

©Leo-setä


Rising steeply from the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Europe and Africa, Madeira offers both a mild year-round climate and a 1,350-mile network of ‘levadas’ to discover on foot. Follow ‘levadas’ through a peaceful pastoral countryside or traverse terraced hillsides; dating back to the 16th century, these irrigation channels or aqueducts are specific to Madeira, originally built to carry water to the agricultural regions. Read more about the levadas of Madeira.

 

#2 Flora

explore the flora of Madeira on a walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions

©cudipeich


Volcanic in origin, Madeira’s rugged interior rises abruptly to over 1,800 metres (approx. 6,000 feet) with forests of pine and laurel flanking its jagged peaks. The island is home to a myriad of colourful flowers and trees, such as jasmine, begonias, freesias, magnolia and camellias.

 

#3 Pico Ruivo

hike up a mountain in Madeira - Sherpa Walking Holidays


Walk up to Pico Ruivo, Madeira’s highest peak, from where there is an exceptional ridge walk following the backbone of the island. The views to either side over the island and ocean are very rewarding.

 

#4 Orchids

visit Madeira's flower festival - Sherpa Expeditions


Loose count of how many orchids you can see in the dedicated Orchid Garden – there are more than 7,500 species! Madeira’s subtropical climate and rich volcanic soil make for perfect growing conditions and orchids here enjoy an impressive year-round flowering season. A dedicated weeklong Flower Festival takes place every spring.

 

#5 Funchal

visit Funchal on Madeira holiday with Sherpa Expeditions


Spend time in the bustling little capital of Funchal: visit a Madeira wine lodge, explore colourful food and flower markets and enjoy superb fish restaurants to finish off a week of impressive Madeira walks.

 

Intrigued? With Sherpa Expeditions you can visit the Portuguese island on an 8-day trip called Madeira Island Walking. Learn more about it by downloading the trip notes here or contact one of our travel experts in the UK office.


Traveller’s Tales – The Alsace Vineyard Trails by Charles Hawes

For Charles Hawes, walking is his main recreational fun. “For me a decent walk is around 10 miles, though it very much depends on how much climbing hills is involved!” he tells us. One of the things he likes to do most, is to walk for several days at a time, travelling through the countryside and absorbing the atmosphere of a place. Last year, Charles travelled with his friend on the Sherpa trip in the Tarn & Averyron region of France for a five day walk and that was brilliant. In Spring 2018, he set off on yet another adventure: hiking in Alsace, France. Read on for his experiences on this holiday (Alsace Vineyard Trails). 

 

hiking in Alsace_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Why did you choose to go hiking in Alsace?

I love France and have visited many times but the Alsace region was unknown to me. I had an uncle (Nigel Buxton) who was a travel writer and he wrote a book called Walking in Wine Country and the Alsace was one of the regions he had covered, so I wanted to walk in his footsteps and light a few candles in his memory.

 

How did you prepare for this walking trip in France?

Ahead of the trip, I wanted to improve my French so I used an app called Duolingo to practice for 20 minutes each day for several months. It helped a bit, but I still found lots of gaps. Other than that, I do walk most days for about 30 minutes just to maintain basic fitness (I’m 62). I plotted each day’s walk onto a large scale map in my phone – I find it very easy to take the wrong path and the GPS location facility makes getting lost quite difficult.

 

hiking in Alsace with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Alsace holidays with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Your favourite destination on our Alsace Vineyard Trails?

I love hills and views and we had plenty of those on this trip. The hilltop chateaux were on or very close to the trail and had some had good information boards and were well worth the visit. What I loved best though were the hours we spent walking through the woods on the lower slopes of the Vosges. They were of such varied character and with different plants favouring different species of trees. I have never seen Lily of the Valley growing so abundantly.

 

What was the best food & drink in Alsace?

We soon found that the Alsace Riesling was nothing like the semi-sweet wines that we had had in our youth – these were on the medium side of dry but had such wonderful flavour. We also liked the red Pinot Noir served chilled. I still think that there are fewer things nicer for breakfast than fresh French pastries.

Auberge de la Meuniere at Thannenkirch was a fabulous place. A really lovely hotel with great character, friendly staff and a lovely terrace for evening drinks. Great food here!

 

What was your biggest surprise on this walking trip?

When I had got to the departure gate in Basel airport on the way home, I realised that I no longer had my wallet. I thought that I might have dropped it at check-in, so went all the way back and then to the information/lost property desk, but it had not been handed in. I thought maybe I had put it in my suitcase so they retrieved that for me but it wasn’t there. So I was feeling rather low after going through all this. I phoned the lost property desk again just in case it had been found. It had! I had dropped the wallet in the bus on the way to the airport and the driver had taken the trouble to bring it into the desk. The guy on the desk then brought it to me 10 minutes before I boarded the plane. There was quite a bit of cash in it and nothing was missing. Such kindness and good service.

On another note, Haut Koenigsbourg is a must to see and very popular. It was definitely worth the queue for tickets.

 

Chateaux on Alsace tours with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Walking in Alsace with Sherpa Expeditions

 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

There were several quite long climbs on the last two days which took it out of us. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was in the low 80s; we were grateful for the several benches that we came across and for the shade of the trees. Choosing wines was a challenge.

 

Do you have any other advice for travellers thinking about travelling on this trip?

Make sure that you carry enough water.

 

More information on the Alsace Vineyard Trails can be found on the trip page and by downloading the trip notes there. For any specific questions or booking requests you may contact one of our travel experts.

 

>> View Trip

 

 

Useful French Phrases for Your Next Walking Holiday in France

useful french phrases on holiday with Sherpa Expeditions

 

When hiking in the French countryside on one of our grande randonnées (long distance trails), you may occasionally like to have a chat with the locals. Perhaps you like to learn a bit more about their culture and cuisine or you simply like to ask for a direction. This list of useful French phrases may come in handy on your next walking holiday in France – do not forget to work on your pronunciation though!

 

Should I go left / right / straight / or turnaround?.............  

Est-ce que je dois aller a gauche / a droite / tout droit / ou bien est-ce que je dois faire demi-tour?

How far is it until the next village?........................................


A combien est le prochain village?
Where can I find a toilet?..........................................................

sont les toilettes?


When was this castle built?.....................................................



Quand est-ce que ce château a été construit?

Can I enter this church / castle / cemetery / cathedral?...  

Est que l’on peut visiter cette église / ce château / ce cimetière / cette cathédrale?

I would like 1/2/3/4 entrance tickets.....................................


Je voudrais un / deux / trois / quatre tickets.

 

What is the best restaurant in town?....................................


Quel est le meilleur restaurant de la ville?

What is this dish called?............................................................

Comment s’appelle ce plat?

Of course you'd like to be prepared to understand the answer in French. So when you're in the Luberon, you may expect to hear ratatouille as the answer, in Ardeche perhaps crique or bombine (both potato-based) and in the Cevennes soup aux chataignes (chestnut soup). When in Dordogne you may prepare for a response like cassoulet (stew), in Tarn & Aveyron aligot (cheese & potatoes), and in the Loire your dessert may well be the famous tarte-tatin.


Where can I do some wine tasting?........................................


Est-ce qu'il y a une dégustation de vin dans les environs?

What time do you serve dinner?.............................................

A quelle heure servez-vous le diner?

I am a vegetarian / vegan.........................................................

Je suis végétarien / végétalien.

I am allergic to gluten / nuts / lactose...................................

Je suis allergique au gluten / aux noix / aux produits laitiers.


Where is the nearest supermarket?......................................



Où est le super marché le plus près?


I had a wonderful sleep.............................................................

 


Dormez bien. / Bonne nuit.

Good morning! / Good evening................................................

Bonjour! / Bonsoir. 

Thank you! / Excuse me / Sorry...............................................

Merci! / Excusez-moi / Pardon

We hope these French words proof useful on your next walking holiday to the beautiful European country and that they will help you find your way around. Have a look below the image (which shows a small group of hikers doing the TMB) to find some ideas for popular walking holidays in France – or contact our team of travel experts to discuss your queries.

 

Useful french words on walking holidays in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Popular walking holidays in France


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Rooms with a View: The Mountain Hut Book

Cicerone - The Mountain Hut Book - Sherpa ExpeditionsOur friends at Cicerone publishing house have released yet another fascinating book, this time celebrating the mountain huts that dot the European Alps and Pyrenees in The Mountain Hut Book.

 

Author Kev Reynolds has been compiling travel guide books since the late 1970s and has an undiminished passion for mountains and the countryside. With his enthusiasm, personal anecdotes and authority, we at Sherpa are already a big fan of the publication.

 

The book explores the development of alpine mountain huts from primitive and often squalid beginnings to a valuable network for people who venture into the mountains. Whether you are new to the experience of staying in huts, or are an old hand, we believe that the book will bring you lots of entertainment and information.

 

Drawing on Reynolds’ long experience of staying in hundreds of mountain refuges, the new book examines hut life, what facilities to expect, and hut etiquette. For example: reserve your spots in advance, cancel if your plans change in order to make space for other hikers, bring a pair of ‘hut shoes’ to wear indoors, or make your bed once you’ve been allocated a room & spot.

 

 

congratulations

Sherpa Expeditions gave away one copy of the book following a small competition on our Facebook page that ran in May 2018. The lucky winner of 'The Mountain Hut Book' is Char Aaberg from Canada. 

Would you like to get  hold of a copy of the book as well? Head over to the webshop of Cicerone to order yours, and because we're friends, you receive a 20% discount on your order >> find more information here.

 

The Mountain Hut Book has profiles of the author’s 10 favourite huts in the Alps and Pyrenees, gives the best approach routes and offers suggestions for ascents and outings from them. 10 hut-to-hut walking tours of between 3 and 13 days duration are also outlined, including the Tour of the Bernina and the Alta Via 2.

 

>> Learn more about Cicerone and how you can claim 20% discount on books when you travel with Sherpa Expeditions.