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Walks in Dorset: Planning Your Walking Holiday

One of our favourite walks in England are the trails following the Dorset Coast Path. This route is part of the South West Coast Path an area of outstanding geological importance (named the Jurassic Coast of England) and our walking holiday in Dorset provides great variety.

To help you get a better picture of what our walks in Dorset are like and to help you plan your hiking trip, we asked Lisa, our Dorset expert, to answer a few questions. We hope it helps you on your way! 

 

Walks in Dorset with Sherpa Expeditions UK

 

What is the best way to get to the start of the Dorset walking holiday?

“Sherpa Expeditions’ Dorset and Wessex Trail walk starts in Lyme Regis. The easiest way to reach the start is by train from London’s Waterloo Station to Axminster train station. From there you can take a direct bus to Lyme Regis that stops across the street from your hotel.”

 

What is the best time to visit Dorset for hiking?

“Although you will find many quiet areas whilst walking, in summer Dorset’s coastal villages can get rather crowded. So, if you like the idea of less crowds, you should plan your walking trip in spring or late summer, until the end of September.”

 

Dorset hiking with English coastline - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

traditional English villages in Dorset walks - UK Sherpa Expeditons 

What is accommodation on Sherpa’s Dorset walking holiday like?

“When you join our walks in Dorset we will have accommodation arranged in a mixture of quaint B&Bs and rooms in traditional English pubs.”

 

What are the walking conditions in Dorset like?  

“We grade this trip as introductory to moderate and you will see that the path is like a roller coaster. Our Dorset walking holiday includes cliff walking which is very steep at times, beach walking, optional town walks, and walking in woodlands and grassy paths.”

 

To what other region in England can you compare the walks in Dorset?

“The only other walk I can compare the walks in Dorset with is walking in Cornwall due to climbing up and down the rugged cliffs. However, the scenery in Cornwall is very different and I think both are equally beautiful.”

 

Seaside towns on your walks in Dorset with Sherpa walking holidays

 

Jurassic Coast, Dorset, England - Sherpa Expeditions UK

 

If walkers have more time available, what can they combine the walks in Dorset with?

“I just mentioned Cornwall to be offering similar walking conditions as Dorset and our choice of walking holidays in Cornwall are nice walks to tag along. Cornwall is just down the coast to the west so it is easy to combine the two regions.”

 

What is the food in Dorset and south west England like?

“There are great fish & chips shops and restaurants around Dorset, which serve fresh catches from the sea daily. The Hive Café on the beach at Burton Bradstock (just past West Bay) often serves fresh lobster, not to be missed!”

 

Dorset hiking holidays in England, Sherpa Expeditions UK

 

Rewarding walks in Dorset with Sherpa walking holidays UK

 

Doesn’t it always rain in England?  

“Down south where Dorset is, the English weather is much better than, for example, Scotland. The weather is generally warmer and more settled on England’s south coast than in other parts of Britain and in Dorset it’s even warmer than in Cornwall or Devon. So the general idea of ‘it always rains in Britain’ certainly does not apply to Dorset with its temperate maritime climate!”

 

How well way-marked is the Dorset walk? 

 “The walk is very well way-marked and you follow a mixture of signs from a white acorn to coloured arrows on gates.”

 

If you have more questions for Lisa or would like to read more about our Dorset and Wessex Trails walking holiday, you can download the trip notes via the button on the trip page or get in touch with us by email or phone. Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays to Dorset depart daily between late March and late October.

 

What to Do In the Cotswolds? 5 Places in Pictures

What to Do In the Cotswolds? 5 Places in Pictures

What to Do in the Cotswolds - Sherpa Expeditions active holidays    Visit villages when walking in the Cotswolds, Sherpa Expeditions


Planning a trip to the Cotswolds in England? Sherpa Expeditions team member Els recently visited and looks at what to do in the Cotswolds on your active holiday in the UK.

 

1.      Quaint Villages

Villages in Cotswolds walking and cycling holidays - Sherpa Expeditions    Watermill in Cotswolds, active holidays with Sherpa Expeditions UK

 

The villages of the Cotswolds are truly charming. Emerging from the woods or reaching the top of a hill and looking down into yet another yellow-bricked settlement to walk up to is a rewarding way of walking. There are many, many of these villages scattered around the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) of the Cotswolds so it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. You can find an overview of what to do in the Cotswolds villages from platforms like Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswolds Tourist Information Site. Some of our most favourite villages in the Cotswolds are:

 

Snowshill: The village of Snowshill overlooks the Avon Valley and the Midland Plain. It is home to Snowshill Manor, a Tudor house that is home to a collection of curiosities from around the world such as furniture pieces, Samurai armour, toys and bicycles. If you are walking with children, this may be one of their most favourite things to do in the Cotswolds.

Bibury: This village on the River Coln has been described as the most beautiful in England. Arlington Row is a 17th Century row of weavers’ cottages and Arlington Mill is a corn mill from the same century. Its machinery is still working!

Lower Slaughter: A beautiful village on the Windrush. Spend some time here to take in the peacefulness of this Cotswolds settlement and walk around to look at the well-kept cottages and ducks in the Windrush. The manor house in Lower Slaughter has a fine dovecote.

Naunton: A beautiful village with its long street running parallel with the Windrush stream. There is a fine stone dovecote with four gables near a barn, close to the pub. The church of Naunton is a perpendicular ‘wool’ church that has a 15th Century pulpit .

Chipping Campden: Visit Chipping Campden and you will find a very fine Cotswold wool town built by local craftsmen in the typical local yellow stone. The High Street of Chipping Campden is full of beautiful buildings and a 17th Century market hall. Have some extra time to spend and not sure what to do in this Cotswolds beauty? Visit the Woolstapler’s Hall Museum, the 17th Century almshouses and lovely church just outside town.

Guiting Power: A quintessential Cotswold village situated in the Heart of England, between Winchcombe and Stow on the Wold. Guiting Power has an ancient stone cross on the village green, mossy roofs, roses and wisteria clambering up the mellow walls. The village looks much the same as four centuries ago.

 

2.      Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon

Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford Upon Avon - Sherpa walking holidays UK    Shakespeare's classroom in Stratford Upon Avon - Sherpa walking holidays UK

 

On the river Avon just north of the Cotswolds area lies the historic town of Stratford Upon Avon. It is the birthplace of the world famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. The centre of the town has preserved many of the buildings from Shakespeare’s time and it is a very attractive, quaint English town to visit before or after you Cotswolds walking holiday.

When in Stratford Upon Avon, there are plenty of things to do. For example, you can sit in the exact room where Shakespeare was inspired to write literature and join a Tudor school lesson at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, stroll around Shakespeare’s family homes from his birthplace to Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Mary Arden’s farm, and watch one of the plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 

3.      Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Manor Garden, Cotswolds walking cycling holidays UK    Hidcote Manor in Cotswolds, Sherpa Expeditions UK

 

Walk around in the Hidcote Manor Garden and you’ll find a different atmosphere or vista with every turn you take. The garden is developed by Lawrence Johnston (1871-1958) and showed experiments with novel plant combinations. Today the garden is a National Trust heritage and attracts visitors, worldwide gardeners and students to enjoy the enchanting spaces. 

 

 “Plant only the best forms of any plant” – Lawrence Johnston, founder of Hidcote Manor  


It took about 30 years to transform the area around the home of Hidcote Manor, acquired by his mother in 1907, into one of the UK’s best known arts and crafts gardens. Travelling around the world on journeys that took him to places like South Africa and China, Lawrence brought back rare plants and species that can still be seen today. Hidcote Manor Garden is located south from Stratford Upon Avon very close to Chipping Campden in the Gloucestershire part of the Cotswolds. So if you were thinking what to do in the Cotswolds on our walking holiday, Hidcote Manor can certainly be added to your list.

4.      Broadway Tower and Impressive Views

Views from Broadway Tower in Cotswolds, Sherpa Expeditions UK    Walking to Broadway Tower, Cotswolds, Sherpa Expeditions UK

 

Situated on the Cotswolds Way walking path, Broadway Tower is a unique place for a breather on our Cotswolds walking holidays. It takes about 1,5 hours walking to reach the top of a hill from where you can have the first glimpse of Broadway Tower. You’ll still have some walking through the stunning Cotswolds to do though until you reach this 18th century folly and that gives you plenty of time to think about what to do when you get there.

The tower is on Fish Hill (312m) and is a magnificent viewpoint from which, it is said, thirteen counties can be seen with impressive views of the Cotswolds that encompass the Vales of Evesham and Gloucester, and on a clear day as far away as the mountains of Southern Wales. Broadway Tower houses exhibitions to artists William Morris and printer Sir Thomas Phillips and there is a café that serves, of course, a selection of fine teas, cakes and savoury dishes. If you want to ensure you tick off absolutely everything there is to do in the Cotswolds, you can descend into the secret bunker that was used during the Cold War next to the Broadway Tower.

 

5.      The Pubs!

English pubs in the Cotswolds, Sherpa Expeditions UK    Traditional English pubs in the Cotswolds, break on walking holidays with Sherpa Expeditions

 

There is no lack of traditional English pubs in the Cotswolds and some of our favourites include:


Hollow Bottom, Guiting Power – Said to be doing the best bar meals in town and it also does good real ales. It is located almost next door to the place where you can overnight on our walking and cycling holidays in the Cotswolds if you are staying in Guiting Power, or stay in the pub itself!

Mount Inn and Guild House, Stanton – At the top of the street in Stanton is the Mount Inn. The pub opens at noon and is excellent to visit. The view from the pub terrace of beautiful Stanton is perfect to enjoy food and drinks.

The Great Western Arms, Blockley – It has an excellent pub restaurant with a wide selection of dishes, which are all deliciously prepared. The ‘Real Ales’ normally include two types of Hook Norton.

The Lion, Winchcombe – Situated on North Street, this is a very good diners pub and comes highly recommended by our Sherpa team members. In Winchcombe there is a long and fascinating history reflected in the architecture of the town that is worth a visit.

Dirty Duck, Stratford upon Avon – Shakespeare’s hometown boasts a fine selection of bars and pubs. Perhaps the most famous of these is the “Dirty Duck”. Situated close to the theatres, the pub is a favourite haunt of thirsty actors, many of whom can be recognised from the photos on the walls in the right-hand bar.

 

For further readings to get to know more about the Cotswolds in England and what to do in the Cotswolds, why not have a look at our general information about the Cotswolds and articles about bluebells in the Cotswolds, walking in the Cotswolds, or cycling in the Cotswolds and England. If you have more questions, you can contact our team of travel experts in our London office


5X5 Tips for Your Visit to Cornwall

Tips for active Cornwall holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Our team member Trina went to visit Cornwall in September and walk parts of the South West Coast Path.

We asked her about some of the best reasons to visit Cornwall for a walking or cycling holiday and she shared with us the 5 most impressive viewpoints, 5 dishes or snacks to try, 5 favourite pubs, the top 5 villages to visit, and 5 of the best beaches in Cornwall. To learn about them all and find out where to go in Cornwall, have a look at her recommendations!  

 

 

5x Cornwall’s Interesting Food

Tips to eat in Cornwall: Cornish Pasty - Sherpa walking holidays

©metaphoricalplatypus.com

 

1.      cornish pasty

It is only fitting that a local bakery, the Chough Bakery in Padstow are the 2016 Cornish Pasty World Champions.  This traditional bake was carried down the mines by the tin miners. Originally some had one side savoury with a fruit or jam end for desert. The crimpled side was held onto but then discarded uneaten as it would be tainted by toxins on the hands from the mining operation especially arsenic. Today you can eat it all!

 

2.      treleavens ice cream

They have produced ice cream using traditional methods in Cornwall for the past 15 years: ingredients include milk from Trewithen Dairy near Lostwithiel and Tamar Fruits for berries. Flavours include After Eight, Gooseberry Fool and of course the classic Cornish Vanilla. Their ice cream is sold in shops and cafes throughout Cornwall.

 

3.      Starey Gazey Pie (if you dare)

A pie with pilchards or sardines’ heads looking at you from the crust. It is most notably linked to the village of Mousehole, where pies are prepared on the 23rd December in memory of Tom Bawcock. The romantic story goes that one winter after storms had kept the local fishermen on dry land, the villagers were close to starving. A local widower, Tom Bawcock, decided enough was enough, and that he would take out his boat, along with his crew, and faithful cat Mowzer, to brave the rolling seas. He returns home with 7 different types of fish to feed his community; the landlady of the Ship Inn created a pie for the families, and the infamous dish was born.

 

4.      Fish & Chips

Again a staple in Cornwall! One of the best places is ‘Roland’s Happy Plaice’ in Porthleven, named one of the ‘best places to eat Fish & Chips in Britain’. The ’Plaice’ has an eccentric range of Cuckoo clocks, which instead of Cuckoos coming out, have elephants and cows and other animals. If you're on the stunning Roseland Peninsular and you're looking for fish and chips track down the Atlantic Fryer van. He's in Portscatho every Tuesday and Friday. The fish and chips are simply mouthwatering, amazing cod loin fried in an amazing light batter cooked in beef dripping accompanied by great chips. 

 

5.      Cornish Cream Tea

It is different to the Devon one as the cream is on the top of the jam! In Cornwall, cream tea was traditionally served with a "Cornish split", a type of slightly sweet white bread roll, rather than a scone. But nowadays the scones and clotted cream used throughout tearooms in both counties are very similar and therefore the main difference is how you choose to have it. However, for Cornish Cream Teas it’s easier to spread and you can taste the cream better on top! You wouldn’t put cream on the bottom of a fruit salad, would you?

 

5x Impressive Viewpoints on Your Walks in Cornwall

Tips for best viewpoints in Cornwall - Sherpa Expeditions active holidays

 

1.      Above Zennor Cove

A beautiful rugged cove described by D.H Lawrence as: "At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock-mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself. Zennor is a most beautiful place: a tiny granite village nestling under high shaggy moor-hills and a big sweep of lovely sea beyond, such a lovely sea, lovelier even than the Mediterranean..... It is the best place I have been in, I think".  

 

2.      The View Above St Ives Harbour

Looking down across the crystal waters to beach and bay and the archetypical whitewashed terraced seaside town is a beautiful outlook.

 

3.      Kynance Cove

A stunningly beautiful spot. Formed from the distinctive geology of the Lizard peninsula. Clear greeny-blue waters, white sand and a collection of stacks and islands projecting out of the bay make it easy to see why it was so popular with Victorian artists.

 

4.      Porthcurno

A sandy beach set in an amphitheatre of weathered granite, Porthcurno is also known for its turquoise waters. As if that wasn’t enough, overlooking the cove is the open air Minnack theatre built by Rowena Cade and friends in the 1930s, hewn into the cliff top.

 

5.      Coverack Cove

The view over the beach and sea to the notorious Manacle rock, and over the village's little houses and quaint harbour, will be in your memory forever.

 

 

5x Cornwall’s Best Pubs

Best pubs in Cornwall by Sherpa Expeditions walking cycling holidays

 

1.      The Golden Lion

in Padstow is the most famous inn in the town and essential for the 'Obby 'Oss' ceremony. The inn dates back to the 14th century and is the oldest in Padstow. It is a friendly oldie-worldly pub, with an open fire and parquet flooring in the public bar.

 

2.      The Old Albion Inn

in Crantock, is a 400-year-old English pub. An entrance to a smugglers hole which passes under the village and is now blocked in for safety’s sake, may be found under the blue stone fireplace in the lounge, originally the kitchen. Both main fireplaces have an original pasty oven, and until a few years ago the house drew its water from a deep well under the old bar.

 

3.      Seaford Cafe

in St Ives, not exactly a pub but is a popular place as you can enjoy fresh seafood caught that day.  On the harbour of St Ives you can also find the 'Sloop Inn', a 14th century pub - a bit of a squeeze but it has a great ambiance!  

 

4.      The Tinners Arms

in Zennor near St Ives. The pub was built in 1271 to accommodate the masons who constructed St Senara's Church, which is famous for its mermaid. With its open log fires, stone floors and low ceilings it has changed little over the years and now offers a traditional pub experience with real Cornish ales and carefully prepared food using the best of local ingredients.

 

5.      Ben’s Cornish Kitchen

restaurant in Marazion was the Good Food Guide 2016’s Restaurant of the Year in the South West region and was Voted Best Restaurant in the South West at the 2013 Food Magazine Readers Awards! Ben’s Cornish Kitchen restaurant is a chilled out place to eat. Dress up – or down – it doesn’t matter. The food will always be fabulous.

 

 

5x Towns to Visit in Cornwall

Best towns to visit in Cornwall - Sherpa Expeditions travel tips

 

1.      St Ives

This famous little town began life as a tiny fishing community in prehistoric times. Its name is believed to derive from St Ia, an Irish Christian missionary of the 5th or 6th century who is said to have sailed across the Irish sea on a 'leaf'. This is possibly a fanciful reference to the vessels of the time, which were often made of interleaved animal hides. During the Medieval period St. Ives prospered, mainly from pilchard fishing, an industry that has done much to shape the context of Old St. Ives and the enchanting area of 'Downlong', that clusters around the harbour. When the railway reached the town in 1877, it became a magnet for early tourists, and for distinguished artists. As fishing declined during the early 20th century, tourism along with the town's growing international reputation as an art 'colony', transformed the old fishing port into one of Europe's most distinctive holiday resorts, within which the enduring character of a much older St Ives still survives.

 

2.      Mousehole

Dylan Thomas (1930) described Mousehole as 'the loveliest village in England'. Mousehole developed around its harbour (and of course the fishing fleet that sustained it), appearing in the record books as an important fishing port from as early as 1266. There are very few places that can be found in the United Kingdom that have retained their original character and charm in the way that Mousehole has. Pronounced "Mowzel", it has a stunning collection of yellow-lichened houses. A few hundred yards along the coast from the village lies a huge cave, which, some people say, gives rise to the name of the village (Mouse Hole!).

 

3.      Helford

This is one of those places where you can still sense the 17th and 18th centuries: you can almost smell the wood smoke at this most attractive former smugglers’ haunt. There are some resplendent cottages nestling together around a creek, surrounded by woodlands and steep slopes.

 

4.      Marazion

Although the town is nothing out of the ordinary by Cornish standards, the real star is the view and visit to the iconic St Michael’s Mount, with its low tide causeway. Marazion also has two fabulous beaches and magical sea views and has some claim to be the oldest settlement in England.

 

5.      Charlestown

Something completely different are the harbour and buildings of Charlestown developed in the Georgian era as a new town. It was built to facilitate the transport of copper from nearby mines but its main function became the export of china clay from the region's quarries. By the early 1990s the china clay trade declined and the harbour was hardly used. In 1994, it was bought by Square Sail as a base for their ships. Much of Square Sail's business now involves using the harbour and their ships as film sets. The place can look so interesting with the square riggers, and the twisting harbour wall is unique.

 

 

5x Cornwall’s Best Beaches

Active holidays in Cornwall - best Cornish beach - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

1.      Whitsand Bay

A short walk over the cliffs from Land's End, Whitsand is a long, sandy beach that offers excellent swimming and surfing opportunities. At low tide the beach joins up with its neighbour to provide over a mile of golden sand, so that even on hot summer days it is usually possible to find plenty of space to spread out.

 

2.      Porthmeor Beach

In St Ives, Porthmeor Beach is a long stretch of beautiful beach with white sands and turquoise seas. Even on a wet rainy day it still looks stunning. Porthmeor is also St Ives’ most dramatic beach facing the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and is flanked by rugged headlands.

 

3.      Godrevy Beach

The northernmost and most dramatic section of the three-mile long sandy beach that stretches from Hayle to Godrevy Head should definitely be mentioned here. The beach terminates with a low rocky headland that offers great views of Godrevy lighthouse, which was the real-life inspiration for Virginia Woolfe's novel To the Lighthouse.

 

4.      Praa Sands Beach

The mile-long sandy beach of Praa Sands is backed with sheltering sand dunes and its easily accessible position is enjoyed by families having fun in the shallows, while further out the surf brigade take on some surprisingly big waves. There are some pretty good stop off points to sit back and soak up the fun seaside vibe.

 

5.      Watergate

At low tide, the beach at Watergate Bay becomes a vast expanse of unbroken golden sand backed by high cliffs. Watergate can be considered the first of a succession of fabulous beaches leading to Newquay. The bonus is with its size and distance from the town (2 miles) you can still find a quiet piece of sand to yourself.

 

For more information on Cornwall you can download the trip notes on the page of the holiday you are interested in or if you like to speak to Trina and our team, you can contact us by phone or email.

 

 

Gear Matters: How to Clean Hiking Boots

Resident Guide explains How to Clean Hiking Boots

Every 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 looks at the best ways to make your walking shoes winter ready as he gives you 7 tips on how to clean hiking boots. Whether you have new shoes or have been using them for years, whether you wear synthetic or leather hiking boots, John knows what to do.

 

Walking in winter time puts some of our frontline gear – hiking boots particularly – to the test. Especially after hiking in muddy, wet environments you may want to know about the best way to clean your shoes. For best results to keep your walking gear in tip – top condition for their next use, a degree of care is needed.

 

Cleaning hiking boots or shoes can be a reflective and therapeutic exercise, but it is one many walkers have been neglecting for too long, so see below tips on how to clean hiking boots and start today. 

 

1.      Cleaning Mud Off Your Shoes

Peaty soils in particular contain acids that can attack stitching and caked mud can affect leather or fabric. After a muddy walk, the best way to clean shoes is to wipe your boots with a wet cloth or sponge and use a soft nylon brush to remove stubborn soils. A hard brush can damage stitching so is not advised. Your walking boots might already be soaked; in that case, it is a good idea to rinse your boots briefly under a tap. I don’t think it is advisable to soak them until they are supersaturated as that will take some time to dry out.


Cleaning Hiking Boots is important for walking holidays


How to Clean Hiking Boots: Maintain the soles of your shoes

 

2.      Remove Oily Dirt from Your Shoes

To remove oil-based dirt from your hiking boots, for example excess wax and stubborn grime that will not be cleaned by plain water, use something like Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel and a nylon brush. Be sure to clean the linings of your boots with a warm damp cloth after each use as well. Salt from perspiration can pass into the lining rapidly destroying the leather of your shoes and making it dry and cracked.

 

3.      Drying Your Hiking Boots

Once the boots have been cleaned to the best of your ability let them dry out naturally – in an airing cupboard, or a bedroom. Take insoles out, remove the shoe laces etc. Whatever you do, don’t force-dry your footwear with localised heat, such as an open fire, because that can cause the leather to dry and crack.


Cleaning Hiking Boots - England


Clean Hiking Boots in the Italian Dolomites on a walking holiday - Sherpa Expeditions

 

4.      Walking Shoes Maintenance

If your walking boots or shoes are quite worn, now is a good time to do some shoe maintenance. Check whether the soles of your shoes need gluing. If rands are peeling, use shoe glue or superglue to seal them. Deep cracks in leather or damaged stitching can also be strengthened with a conservative use of superglue.

 

5.      Maintaining Synthetic Shoes

If your footwear is synthetic, I have other tips on how to clean your hiking boots. You can now apply various products, usually sprays which embed the fabrics of your shoes with waterproofing chemicals which help to bead water droplets. Often these can be applied on wet shoes so that the chemicals are drawn into the fabric or suede leather. I like to use for example Nikwax Sprayon Waterproofing for Nubuck and Suede which is available in the UK via Cotswold Outdoor.

 

6.      Maintaining Leather Boots

With leather boots if you have worn areas, it might be an idea to use polish to restore the colour. Otherwise now is the time to start to apply the shoe creams and pastes rubbing into the leather to make it suppler and apply water resistance. Grangers and Nikwax make different grades of product for this cleaning purpose. Especially massage into leather that is creasing (usually on the sides or around the ‘hardware’ like the lace eyelets etc.) as the creases can dry out into cracks.

 

7.      Making Your Hiking Boots Waterproof

Once you have applied lighter creams and pastes to your walking boots and left to dry a bit, it is time to smear on the heavier-duty waterproofing, once referred to as dubbing. This part of the cleaning process you can build up in layers and there is no need to try to remove it the next time you clean the boots. In fact, with several layers the boots become easier to clean at least to a point, when soil and grit becomes ingrained. Pastes and waxes will change the colour appearance of your boot.

 

Now that you know how to clean hiking boots and of course are done with your own shoes, you can forget about them until your next active adventure holiday!

 

Like to get more tips on walking and cycling gear from John? Read about all his tips and advice on active adventure holidays in his Gear Matters blog series. If you feel that with your clean hiking boots, you’re ready for a new adventure, have a look at these walking holidays in the UK and Europe for inspiration. 

England’s Coast to Coast Walks Cheat Sheet: A quick guide to choosing your walk Part I

stunning views on Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk - Sherpa Expeditions

 

England's Coast to Coast Walks Cheat SheEt: Planning Your Coast to Coast Walk

 

When you’re planning a walking holiday on one of the UK’s most epic trails, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, you’ll probably start with doing research on general information on the trail. For instance, you may wish to know a bit more about the walking conditions on Wainwrights’ coast to coast walk, the remoteness of the routes, the presence of signage, and who Wainwright actually was. Another aspect of your coast to coast walk planning will likely be the grade of the walk and how challenging or comfortable Wainwright’s walk can be. To help you answer all these questions, we have prepared  a detailed cheat sheet on things to know before you begin your Coast to Coast walk planning.

 

Which Coasts Are Linked On This Walking Trail in England?

The Coast to Coast walk in the United Kingdom crosses from West to East on one of the narrowest parts of the island. The route begins in St Bees on coast of Cumbria near the huge red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head, which overlooks the Irish Sea. From here it crosses the three national parks, the Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park, to finally reach Robin Hood’s Bay overlooking the North Sea.

At Sherpa Expeditions we offer a number of travel options along the Coast to Coast trail that differ in duration (15 up to as many as 18 day trips) and that are either guided or self-guided walking tours.

 

Completing the Coast to Coast walk in England, Sherpa Expeditions

 

Who Is Wainwright?

Alfred Wainwright is the author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District among which is the first guide ever written on the Coast to Coast walk. Wainwright was an illustrator as well. His most famous publication is the series of seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells of the Lake District and in which he describes 214 fells, today known as The Wainwrights.

He lived and worked most of his life in Kendal, a few hours south from Patterdale, which is on our route of the Coast to Coast Walk.

 

What Are the Walking Conditions Underfoot on the Coast to Coast Like?

  • St Bees to Ennerdale 23.5km / 14.5 miles: mixed walking mainly on farmland
  • Ennerdale to Rosthwaite 26.5km / 16.5 miles: a hard day and rugged underfoot
  • Rosthwaite to Grasmere 13.5km / 8.5 miles: steep walking and it can be boggy depending on rainfail
  • Grasmere to Patterdale 12km / 7.5 miles: steep and rocky underfoot
  • Patterdale to Shap 26km / 16 miles: the hardest part but easier underfoot apart from the long step section down from Kidsty Pike
  • Shap to Kirkby Stephen 33km / 20.5 miles: a grassy trail
  • Kirkby Stephen to Keld 24km / 14.5 miles: can be boggy
  • Keld to Reeth 20km / 12.5 miles: good underfoot
  • Reeth to Richmond 20km / 12.5 miles: good underfoot
  • Richmond to Osmotherley 39km / 24 miles: easy underfoot but a long distance
  • Osmotherley to Blakey 34km / 21 miles: a hard walk and quite rocky underfoot
  • Blakey to Egton 16km / 10 miles: can be boggy, but it is on grassland and goes largely downhill
  • Egton to Robin Hood’s Bay 25.7km / 16 miles: through heath, woodlands and on roads

 

Varied walking conditions on Wainwright's Coast to Coast

 

Break at Coast to Coast England

 

How Remote Are the Routes on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast?

Even though most parts of the region you are walking in are relatively thinly populated, you will still find plenty of infrastructure to make sure you don’t have to camp or bring your own food. You can walk for a few hours without coming across any settlements, but then you’ll walk into one of the charming British villages for a bite and a break before continuing on.

If you are on a self-guided trip, you will need to concentrate on your map much of the time because of sudden changes and twists and turns of the route.

 

What’s The Most Challenging Coast to Coast Walk?

That would be the shortest version of the walking holidays we offer, which is our 15-day Coast to Coast Walk (available as both escorted and self-guided). It’s the most challenging version of the Coast to Coast Walk because you do the full length of the route in just 13 days of walking. The walking distances and times are longer than on any of our other trips.

 

What’s the Most Comfortable Option to Choose When Planning the Coast to Coast?

As opposed to the shortest trip being our most challenging option, the longest 18-day version of the Coast to Coast Walk is the most comfortable option. Walking distances are shorter so you have more time to rest and take in the scenery. For those of you who like to take it even more relaxed, you can decide to split up the route in two different sections that you can cover independently of each other. Of course it’s also always possible to add in extra resting days in any of our itineraries, just ask us.

 

Deer on Wainwright's Coast to Coast

 

Birdlife on Wainwright's Coast to Coast

 

Sheep on Wainwright's Coast to Coast

 

What About Signage Along the Coast to Coast Route?

The Coast to Coast trail varies in its signage. The walk is not an official long distance footpath and because of that there are no official waymarks. When you pass through the towns and villages, most often you will find wooden sign posts. In the Dales there are some Coast-2-Coast signs and in the Cleveland Hills you can partially follow certain waymarks. However, especially in the Lake District and in parts of the Dales you must be prepared as there are no waymarks whatsoever. This means that you do need to be able to navigate with a map and compass, especially when visibility is poor.

The Coast-to-Coast crosses a number of other routes such as the Cumbrian Way and Herriot Way so you can’t assume the person in front of you is going the same way.

 

What Do I Do If I’m Short On Time?

If you’re short on time and still like to enjoy the Coast to Coast Walk in England, we advise you walk the first part of the route in eight days. This stretch shows you the Lake District and is considered the best part of the Coast to Coast Walk. The first few days will take you over some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain of the Lake District. You will pass Helvellyn (950m), England’s third highest mountain. You can decide to walk to the summit on a detour and on a clear day you may be able to see Scotland and Wales from its top.

 

 

We hope that this information will provide a good start to your Coast to Coast walk planning. Of course there's always our background information on the Coast to Coast trail as well and our team of travel experts is available to answer any questions from our London office. 

If you are interested in more information on Wainwright's Coast to Coast, you may want to bookmark this page as we'll here be answering more questions on planning the Coast to Coast walk at a later stage. 


Break in English ruins on a Sherpa Expeditions Coast to Coast walk

 

Walk back in time in Tarn & Aveyron

This summer, Sherpa Expeditions team member Katia, visited the medieval towns of France's Tarn & Aveyron. She had an excellent time with good walking conditions and great conversations with her hosts over dinner. In this blog entry, Katia shares some of her experiences with you. 


Walking in Tarn & Aveyron with Sherpa Expeditions


The last couple of years I have been arranging your walking holidays to Tarn & Aveyron (Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron) from our office in London. This summer I visited some of the charming medieval villages along this walking tour. They are called ‘bastides’, which means fortified towns. And indeed, the towns that I visited are perched on tops of hills and circled by walls, testimony of the religious wars that afflicted the area for centuries. 

 

From the city walls you can have amazing views of rolling hills and gentle valleys as far as the eye can see. When asked which village on this walking trip was my favourite, I just wouldn’t be able to decide! They are all as beautiful as each other, with their winding cobbled streets, houses with timbered walls of brick stones, and flowers at the windows. Each of them had quaint little squares, dotted with peaceful churches and their blue ceilings. 

 

Sherpa Expeditions walking from Vaour to Penne in France

 

Albi and River Tarn on Sherpa Expeditions Walking Holiday in France

 

Albi, which is an optional extension on the Tarn & Aveyron walking holiday is worth including. Rightly named La Ville Rouge (the Red City), it stands proudly on the banks of the river Tarn. After visiting the amazing fortress cathedral and the Toulouse Lautrec museum, I strolled in the manicured gardens which connect with the fortifications overlooking the river, taking in postcard views of the old bridge and its surroundings at the end of a summer day...   

 

Below are some of my pictures and if you have any questions on this charming part of my beloved France, do call or send me an email for more information. I’d be happy to talk about our Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron walking holiday. 

 

Excellent views when walking in Tarn and Aveyron

View over Tarn & Aveyron region, France


Villages of Tarn and Aveyron, France

Charming French streets in the bastides of Tarn & Aveyron

 

Restaurant with a view, walking in Tarn & Aveyron, France

Enjoy the view on a break at our Tarn & Averyon walking holiday

 

Blue ceilings in the churches of Tarn and Averyon on Sherpa's walking holiday

Blue ceilings in the churches of Tarn & Aveyron

 

The gardens and river Tarn in Abli, France - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

The gardens of Palais de la Berbie in Albi, on the extension to our Tarn & Aveyron walking holiday in France

 

Restaurant in Cordes, Tarn & Averyon, France - Sherpa Expeditions

Dinner in Cordes sur Ciel overlooking the beautiful Tarn & Aveyron countryside


Walking holidays Tarn Aveyron, France

Village life in the Tarn & Aveyron region


River Tarn - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays in France

The river Tarn on our walking holiday in France


Abbeys and churches in France

The Tarn and Aveyron region is dotted with churches and abbeys


Quaint villages in Tarn and Aveyron on a walking holiday in France

Come across charming villages with cobbled streets and flowers at the windows of traditional French houses.


Interested to learn more? Read this Traveller's Tale on walking in Tarn & Aveyron by Eric Martin & Julie Gardinier or find background information on walking in Tarn & Aveyron here

 

Gear Matters: 10 Outdoor Essentials to Bring on Your Walking Holiday

walking guide gives tips on outdoor gear essentialsIn the remote places you visit on a walking holiday, there may be little shops available. In order to be prepared for unexpected situations, guide John this month brings you 10 outdoor essentials to pack on your cycling or walking holiday.

 

No one ever wants anything to go wrong on a walking holiday, but in remote areas there is always the possibility of losing a trail and getting disorientated. Perhaps because it is getting dark or misty, maybe the weather is on the turn, or you had to slow down for other reasons. Especially in Western Europe this is likely to be a temporary affair. But fear and worry are enemies as much as the environment and a clear head is what is needed to adapt to the situation. This is always helped by carrying some outdoor gear essentials, so let me give you 10 tips for items to bring on an active holiday to the outdoors.

 

1. Firstly, always have a compass, and if you have a local map from the tour it is highly unlikely that you have walked off the page! You may be able to interpret features that you can see and estimate where you are. Back track along the trail until you find the next sign, waymark, or habitation and your compass will prove to be a very helpful outdoor gear to have on you.

 

2. GPS devices are also useful, and a lot of phones now have GPS and mapping apps. With this in mind, you should invest in a Lithium battery recharger such as a 'Powermonkey' and charge it up at every opportunity. Depending on the capacity of this outdoor item, they can charge a phone, GPS or camera 3 or 4 times to keep you going longer in the wild. It is worth knowing that mobile phones will usually pick up the emergency services such as 112 or 999, even if there is no network reception.

 

3. Other important items to take are water purification tablets, you can use a buff or kerchief to filter the worst elements of water before applying tablets.

 

4. As well as a normal litre water bottle, you can get silica type water bottles that pack and compress to nothing, they are used by ultra-runners and can act as an emergency extra reserve if you have to wander far from a water source on your outdoor adventure.

 

5. Take a pocket knife, preferably one which includes at least a serrated blade for easier cutting of small branches, sticks etc. 'Victorinox' do some good ones and in my opinion should definitely on your outdoor gear essentials packing list.

 

Essential outdoor gear for walking holidays

 

Walking gear essentials - pack a pocket knife

 

Walking gear outdoor essentials - water

 

6. Being able to light a fire is a useful thing for signalling or keeping warm, you can shave sticks with a knife for kindling (called fire sticks) and it is worth carrying a flint sparkler or a lighter.

 

7. Lightweight head torches are almost an essential thing to pack, if only to find your way back from the pub from some village. Makes like 'Petzl', 'Black Diamond' and 'Silva' have a good beam and long running times. They are useful for signalling and some have red LEDs for maintaining your night vision.

 

8. The next outdoor essential to have is an emergency bivvy bag, these don’t have to be heavy plastic sheets, there are new types developed for runners with much better insulation such as 'Blizzard Bags.' These are feather light and vacuum packed, so once you get them out, they can't be recompressed to their original dimensions!

 

9. Take a basic first aid kit, both 'lifesystems' and 'Ortileb' do compact kits in waterproof casing which are a great addition to your gear list. 


10. Finally, take high energy bars and rehydration powders and carry them in a waterproof bag.

 

All these outdoor gear essentials you may never need to use, but may make all the difference when you do need to. It is always reassuring to have the right ensemble of kit and, as the old scouting motto exclaimed, 'Be Prepared!' 

 

Like John's Gear Matters blog articles? There are more! If you're interested in navigating, cycling gear, walking poles, or walking boots & sandals, check out all outdoor gear blog posts here

2017 Guided Walks Now Live

Popular Guided Walking Holidays in Europe for 2017


The 2016 walking season may be close to an end, but we’ve already sold out on some of our guided walking holidays in 2017!

Dates for our guided walking holidays in the summer of 2017 are now live and bookable on our website. With new trips and extra departure dates, there is a fantastic pool of 5 different trips for you to choose from for next year! Make sure to be among the firsts to plan your walking holiday for next summer and book your place in order to join the dates you prefer.

 

overview of guided walking holidays for 2017:

 

Guided Walking in the Dolomites

Guided walking holidays europe - Dolomites with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Italy, the Dolomites rugged mountains

What? Hiking beneath dramatic limestone peaks of the Dolomites, alpine pasteures & mountain passes, and the peaks of Tre Cime, Tofana and Sella mountains.

When? September 2017

Take me there >>

 

The Alpine Pass Route Guided Walking Holiday

Guided walking holidays europe - Alpine Pass Route, Switzerland, with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Switzerland

What? Swiss alpine walking at its best, new views every day, a variety of passes to cross – from easy to challenging, comfortable accommodation.

When? July/August 2017

Take me there >>

 

The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls Guided Walk

Guided walking holidays europe - Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Switzerland, Bernese Oberland

What? A fantastic introduction to the delights of walking in the Swiss alps, trek around the famous peaks of Wetterhorn, Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau & Matterhorn, undertake a variety of walks and make use of the ubiquitous local transport.

When? August 2017

The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls 

 

Wainwright's Coast to Coast Guided Walk

Guided walking holidays europe - Lake District England, Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? England, the Lake District

What? The dramatic landscapes of the Lake District with majestic lakes & rugged mountains, classic English rural countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, walk from the Irish Sea to the North Sea coast in 15 days.

When? June, July, August & September 2017  Note: the July trip has already sold out

Coast to Coast Classic Guided Walk - 15 Days

 

Coast to Coast Guided Rambler

Guided walking holidays europe - Wainwright's Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? England, Lake District

What? Walk across England on Wainwright’s Walk on one of the world’s great walks and experience the English Lake District, Pennines & North York Moors in 18 days.

When? May, July/August 2017 Note: both trips are selling out fast!

Coast to Coast Guided Rambler - 18 Days

 

2017 dates and prices are now available on Sherpa Expeditions website! Browse around for the trips that you like and book early to avoid disappointment. Contact our team of travel experts today for any questions or trip details.


Away from the Crowds: Quiet European Coasts

With so many gorgeous islands scattered all over Europe, they are perfect holiday destinations attracting tourists from all over the world. Whether interested in culture, history, sunbathing, the delicious food or more active activities like walking and cycling, they offer something for any type of traveller. Sometimes there’s a risk of islands getting packed and we therefore thought it a good idea to list below a few little known and remote European islands that are great for walking holidays off the beaten path.

 

Isle of Wight

European coastal walking holidays - Isle of Wight

Ideal for anyone looking for a short town-and-country cycling or walking break, the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom is your go-to European island! Routes are undulating and distances on our walking and cycling holidays on the island are kept fairly short, giving you time to stop and explore. Highlights on the Isle of Wight include sophisticated Cowes, world famous for its regatta; the astonishing brick-built Quarr Abbey; and taking the path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line.

The island is easy to reach from mainland UK and the only time of year it’s flooded by travellers is during the annual Isle of Wight Festival that’s been running since the 1960s.

Visit the Isle of Wight between April and October >>

 

La Gomera

European coastal walking holidays - La Gomera

 

If you have been walking on the Spanish mainland, or have been to the Canary Islands before and you come to La Gomera, you will probably notice that this, the second smallest island of the Canaries, is something special, altogether quite different.

Some people liken it to Spain in the 1970s and others feel there’s Latin American elements to recognise in the villages and landscapes of this remote European Island. La Gomera is a relaxed, unsophisticated island with a population of around 20,000 people who live mostly in the capital and villages of the north. The island has a good infrastructure of roads, amenities and services, including some good restaurants and small family run hotels. It is off the mainstream tourist radar so you won’t encounter many other visitors.

Visit La Gomera yearround

 

Zagoria  (we know, not quite exactly an island)

European coastal walking holidays - Zagoria in Greece

 

Treasures of vernacular architecture, many of these late 18th century stone-built villages are within what is today a designated conservation area in northwestern Greece: Zagoria. The area is brimming with dramatic wilderness of striking peaks, deep chasms and extensive natural forests. The virtually virgin Vikos Gorge, sometimes referred to as the Greek Grand Canyon, is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width.

By western European standards Zagoria is a relatively wild and remote area. However, the footpaths have been marked and with our route notes and a detailed map you will be able to find your way easily. 

Visit Zagoria between May and early October

 

Majorca

European coastal walking holidays - Majorca

 

Away from the burgeoning coastal resorts, the majestic Sierra de Tramontana is a massif of limestone peaks tumbling to the turquoise waters. Venture forth on a series of hikes through shady forests, olive groves and ancient farmsteads, visit tiny sun-drenched beaches and spend the night in a traditional monastery, listening to the sound of nightingales from your bedroom window.

Follow parts of the restored Pilgrims’ Way along the Sierra de Tramontana in Majorca, have a look here for a picture impression. On our Sierras and Monasteries walking holiday, three nights are spent at the atmospheric Santuari de Lluc monastery - the most important pilgrimage site on the island. Guests can attend the choral singing in its church, which takes place on most evenings. 

Visit Majorca between March and October

 

For more information and booking details, please have a look at the webpage of your chosen trip or get in touch with our team of travel experts in our London offices. 

 

More Choice on Our Most Popular Mont Blanc Walking Holiday!

Mont Blanc Walking Holidays with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Over the past seasons our team in London has regularly been asked for a shorter version of our most popular Mont Blanc walking holiday, the 14-day Tour du Mont Blanc. As quite some of you want to keep walking once they’re on speed, we are now proud to announce a “faster” 11-day version:

Trails of Mont Blanc!

 

On this brand new option you follow exactly the same route as on the Tour du Mont Blanc. We’ve obviously made sure that you can enjoy the exact same impressive scenery (some of the finest in the world), you cross the three contrasting countries of France, Italy & Switzerland, and of course that you will savour the delicious food and wine of this part of the alps.

 

Mont Blanc Walking Holiday_Sherpa Expeditions_walking around Mont Blanc in France

 

Mont Blanc Walking Holiday_Sherpa Expeditions_waymarks on Mont Blanc in France

 

So what are the differences and which Mont Blanc walking holiday suits me best?

  • on the new 11-day trip we took out all of the rest days, so that you have a continuous walk
  • an added advantage is that this requires you to take only 2 weeks off work
  • the level of our new Trails of Mont Blanc is challenging as you have back to back long walking days with an average of 7-8 hours walking per day
  • on this new Mont Blanc walking holiday you finish off in Chamonix to explore the picturesque mountain village on your last day
  • the walking days are exactly the same as on our classic Tour du Mont Blanc walk
  • on the new Mont Blanc walk, you’ll walk eight days in a row, while the 14-day walking holiday includes a rest day after the 3rd, 5th, and 8th day of walking
  • the new Trails of Mont Blanc finishes in Chamonix and so the last bit of the TMB (walking back to Les Houches) is not included
  • you still walk with a maximum of 15 people at the same time and have your luggage ready waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive.

For the new Trails of Mont Blanc walking holiday there are only four departure dates, and you can now be among the firsts to secure your spot on this trip!

If you like to receive more information or booking details, please have a look at the trip notes on this page, or of course get in touch with our team of travel experts directly.