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Picture This! Carol's Coast to Coast Walk

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

 

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

 

Signboards on Wainwrights Coast to Coast

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

 

walking the coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions

 

pictures of walkers in lake district - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Fat Betty on the Coast to Coast - Sherpa Expeditions

 

complete the Coast to Coast Walk - Sherpa Expeditions

An image of Lake District Fauna

English lake district pictures_Osmotherley_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Lake District pictures pheasant - Sherpa Expeditions

 

English Lake District sheep - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Geese & goslings on Coast to Coast walk with Sherpa Expeditions

 

rabbit crossing - lake district pictures - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Accommodation on the Coast to Coast Walk

walking into Grasmere - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Lion Inn - English Lake District pictures - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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

 

Mosscrag guest house on Coast to Coast walk - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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

 

Lake District Paths in Pictures

english lake district pictures - sherpa Expeditions

 

High route to Grasmere - Sherpa Expeditions

 

photos of coast to coast walk - sherpa expeditions

 

walk to Robin Hood's bay - Sherpa Expeditions

 

image of sheep in lake district - Sherpa Expeditions

 

walking near Kirkby Stephen - Sherpa Expeditions

 

english lake district picture perfect - Sherpa Expeditions

 

english town on coast to coast path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

 

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

 

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

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


 

The People Behind Europe’s Most Famous Hiking Trails

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

 

John Muir

The walk: John Muir Way

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

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

John Muir and famous hiking trail in Scotland - Sherpa Expeditions

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

Distance? 216.2 kilometres / 134 miles

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

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

 

Emperor Hadrian

The walk: Hadrian’s Wall Trail

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

The wall was built by 15,000 men in under six years and runs from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. From here the Romans could command their resources and control the raiding skirmishes of the Northern Britons.

famous hiking trail of Hadrian's Wall with Sherpa Expeditions

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

Distance? 133 kilometres / 83 miles

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

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

 

King Ludwig

The walk: King Ludwig’s Way in Bavaria

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

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

walking in Bavaria and Neuschwanstein Castle - Sherpa Expeditions

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

Distance? 96.5 kilometres / 60 miles

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

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

 

James Herriott

The walk: James Herriott Way

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

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

James Herriot in Yorkshire Dales - sherpa expeditions

©Jim Wight

Where? The Yorkshire Dales National Park in England

Distance? 80 kilometres / 50 miles

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

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

 

Bishop St Cuthbert

The walk: St Cuthbert’s Way

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

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

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

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

Distance? 147 kilometres / 91 miles

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

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

 

Offa, King of Mercia

The walk: Offa’s Dyke Path

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

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

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

walking Offa's Dyke Path with Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Wales

Distance? 125 kilometres / 79 miles

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

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

 

Alfred Wainwright

The walk: England’s Coast to Coast Trail

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

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

walking Wainwright's Coast to Coast - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? England

Distance? 315 kilometres / 195 miles

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

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

 

St James

The walk: The Way of St James

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

walking the Way of St James to Santiago - Sherpa Expeditions

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

Distance? 200 kilometres / 124 miles

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

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

 

Rob Roy MacGregor

The walk: Rob Roy Way

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

famous hiking trails: Rob Roy Way - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Scottish Highlands

Distance? 124 kilometres / 77 miles

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

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

 

Vincent van Gogh

The walk: In Van Gogh’s Footsteps

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

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

famous hiking trails - Provence Vincent van Gogh - Sherpa Expeditions

Where? Provence, France

Distance? 48-56 kilometres / 30-35 miles

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

Gear Matters: Outdoor Winter Jackets - Fleece or Duvets?

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

 

 

 

 

 

A Step Back in Time

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

 

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

 

down jackets for hiking - gear advice - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Down the Line

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

 

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

 

Down vs Fleece Jacket

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

 

outdoor winter jackets for cycling - Sherpa Expeditions

 

winter hiking jackets for the Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions

 

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

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

 

Same, Same..

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Take a Hike Day

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

 

take a hike day - walking in spain - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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

 

winter walking in Cyprus - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

©senza senso

 

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

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

 

 

Happy Take a Hike Day! 

 

winter walking in Europe with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Find flowers in winter in Europe - Sherpa Expeditions

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

traveller review on walking in France with Sherpa Expeditions

 

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

 

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

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

 

walk in the most beautiful villages in france - sherpa expeditions

 

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

 

How did you prepare for this walk in France?

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

 

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

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

 

Best French food and drink on this walk?

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

 

walking in france with sherpa expeditions walking holidays

 

most beautiful villages in france - sherpa walking holidays

 

What was your biggest surprise on this walking holiday?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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


 

Travel Novels for Holiday Inspiration

travel novels - sherpa walking holidays

 

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

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

 

The John Muir Way

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

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

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

 

Cyprus

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

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

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

 

The Way of St James

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

Clear Waters Rising, Nicholas Crane (Penguin) 

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

 

read novels about hiking - Sherpa Expeditions

 

travel novels for holiday inspiration - Sherpa Expeditions - Active Europe

 

Cornish Coastal Path

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

Ross Poldark, Winston Graham (Pan Macmillan)

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

 

Austria & the Dachstein Alps

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

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

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

 

Cevennes

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

Why was Hadrian’s Wall built?

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

 

Hadrian's Wall Trail - Sherpa Expeditions

 

What is special about walking Hadrian's Wall Trail?

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

 

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

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

 

Do you actually walk on Hadrian’s Wall?

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

 

What impressed you about this trip?

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

 

Hadrian's Wall walk with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Sherpa Expeditions' Hadrian's Wall walk

 

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

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

 

Is Hadrian’s Wall Trail very popular?

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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Find All Dates for Guided Walks on the Coast to Coast in 2018

Decide quick if you are planning to join a guided Coast to Coast walk this year.

Coast to Coast guided - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Coast to Coast Guided Walk

15 days walking with departures on:

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

 

Coast to Coast Guided Explorer

17 days walking with a departure on:

  • 29 July – 14 August >> limited availability

 

Coast to Coast Guided Rambler

18 days walking with a departure on:

  • 6 May – 23 May >> waiting list

 

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

 

10 Interesting Sights on the John Muir Way

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

 

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

 

1. John Muir’s Port of Departure

hometown of John Muir, Helensburgh - Sherpa Expeditions


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

 

2. Carbeth Chalets

chalets on John Muir Way - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays


After World War I local land owner, Barnes Graham, gave land near Glasgow to returning soldiers. The idea was for them to be able to build summerhouses so they could get some fresh air away from the city. The scheme at the time attracted socialists and communists and during WWII it was here that many people took refuge at the time of the Clydebank Blitz. Today, the low-impact lifestyle that people at the Carbeth Chalets follow is highly-prized and protected.

 

3. Kirkhouse Inn

Kirkhouse Inn on John Muir Way Scotland - Sherpa Expeditions


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

 

4. The Antonine Wall

Antonine Wall, Scotland - Sherpa walking holidays


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


5. Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel, Scotland - Sherpa walking holidays


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

 

6. The Ship that Never Sailed

John Muir Way - Blackness Castle, Scotland walking holidays


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

 

7. The Kelpies

Kelpies on Scotland coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions


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

 

8. Bass Rock

Bass Rock on John Muir Way in Scotland


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

 

9. The Haar

Walking Scottish Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions


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


10. Craiglockhart War Hospital

War poetry along John Muir Way - Sherpa Expeditions


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

 

 

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


 

English Village Pub is Best Restaurant in the World

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

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

 

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

©Black Swan Oldstead

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

©Black Swan Oldstead

 

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

 

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

 

The Cleveland Way

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

 

Black Swan, Oldstead, North Yorkshire

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