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Walking on the Isle of Wight

 

Walking on the Isle of Wight

With the launch of our new walking and cycling holidays on the Isle of Wight our resident guide Jon Millen explains what makes this part of the British Isles so special. Find out more about our new Isle of Wight walking and cycling holidays >>

   
The Isle of Wight is a great place for experienced and beginner walkers alike, with a generally mild climate, bracing hilly downs, sections of woodland and great sea views across 525 km of footpaths on an island of 381 square km. It is also home to the ‘Caulkers’: named after the people who used to proof the boards and hulls of the ubiquitous boats that plied between the island and the mainland or went fishing in its waters, it is used today to describe the indigenous people of the island whilst projecting the image of the separateness of the place. Despite being geographically close to the cities of Portsmouth, Southampton and even Greater London, it is still surprisingly detached. Although there is talk of building a new road bridge, economic benefits are debated and speculated, as a lot of the local people still want the isolation and the quasi-independence that the rising waters of the Channel and the flooding of the River Solent gave to the island 8,000 years or so ago.

 

 

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE ISLE OF WIGHT?

I remember back in the 1970s and ’80s people were joking that resorts on the Isle of Wight were just like how the British seaside used to be in the 1950s. On my most recent visit in 2015, people were still comparing it to, well, British resorts in the 1950s – however that may be a little harsh! Although much of its modern tourism is based upon its original Victorian and Edwardian infrastructure and of course sailing, the Isle of Wight has pioneered outdoor, farm-based rock festivals since 1968, attracting upwards of 150,000 people – you will even find a statue of Jimi Hendrix at Freshwater Bay!

Nowadays many of the seaside towns have modernised their image so you will find some great pubs and restaurants with very appealing fayre. Ventnor has reinvented itself as a health spa town and Cowes is fashionable for shopping as well as a yachter’s cornucopia. But other areas trade much more upon their historical past. Freshwater Bay reflects its links with Alfred Lord Tennyson, Blackgang Chine reminds us that it is the oldest theme park in Britain (dating from the 1840s!) and who can forget Queen Victoria’s beloved Italianate Osborne House… Why go to the Italian Riviera when you can stand overlooking the Solent with a bag of fish and chips from the ‘Cod Father’ takeaway?

You may even stay in a pub which was built from the timbers of a ship wreck – dozens occurred around the island and was one of the sporadic ‘benefits’ of living here!

 

 

WHAT ABOUT WALKING IN PARTICULAR?

The island is perfect for leisure walking. The single most important thing to remember is that the island is conservative and the countryside is very well preserved, with more than half of the island designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But much of the rest is similarly very attractive, even down to some of the old brick-built seafront villages, such as Seaview, or the beautiful micro-fishing village of Steephill Cove, which is hidden away in a coastal crenulation with some thatched cottages and a great fish restaurant.  

There is also a lovely Coastal Path, threading its way between the wonders of the island. Coastal erosion means that, for safety reasons, there are some diversions in place that take you inland around the areas of collapsing clay cliffs and boggy slumps.

FAVOURITE TIME TO WALK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

I would recommend April to late June, before the schools break up, and September and October. The spring and early summer often has low rainfall and beautiful spring flowers within the woodlands with bright emerald leaves on the trees, while the autumn period has a more rustic golden charm. Of course sea fogs can be notorious and can roll in at any time!

It is best to avoid the heaving summer ‘bucket and spade’ season and the August Cowes weeks – although the trails can be quiet, resorts and towns are very busy. There are several music, walking and cycling festivals taking place in May, so similarly that month can vary in terms of busyness.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF A WALKING HOLIDAY ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Any given day along the Coastal Path will take you through some wonderful areas. Osborne House is quite a sight, especially the ‘Durbar Room’ and the beautiful paintings of some of Queen Victoria’s ‘Indian subjects’. You can walk down to her private beach for a peek of her original ‘swimming machine’, which has been recently restored or visit the nearby Quarr Abbey, an astonishing brick-built abbey.  

There is also an interesting chain ferry that takes you from East to West Cowes across the River Medina. There has been great resistance to building a bridge, as tradition is very important.

Three hours walking from Cowes you arrive at a village called Newtown. Today this is merely a street of houses, an attractive church and a town hall owned by the National Trust but it used to be the biggest town and busiest port on the island – that is until 1377, when the French sacked the place! However it is best known as a ‘Rotten Borough’: despite only a few families living here, until the 1832 Reform Act it could elect 2 MPs into the English parliament, the same as cities such as Birmingham.

Further on is Yarmouth, a town with some mediaeval features and noted for a swashbuckling past. Privateering, or more commonly known as pirating, was very prevalent. One of the Governors of Yarmouth sailed out and captured a French ship carrying a marvellous marble statue of Louis XIV, which was to be presented in Paris to the Sun King. Instead, the Governor had its face knocked into his own image and installed it within the local church!

The trail winds past a fortress with a construction of a huge nuzzle loaded canon. These ‘Palmerston Forts’, named after the warmongering minister, are also dotted around the coast and point to a time as late as the 1850s and ’60s, when  Britain still feared attack from France. There are great views over the Portland and the huge defensive complex, where once Charles I was held prisoner during the English Civil War.

 

 

The walk undulates over cliffs and downs to pass through The Needles Park, where the chalk backbone of the island dives into the sea like a dragon’s tail with chalky sea-stack scales. If you decide to continue further downlands you will find Victorian memorials, a thatched church, as well as gun placements from World War ll.

The Isle of Wight is also home to the only surviving mediaeval lighthouse in Britain, which can be found at the St Catherine’s Oratory. The steep walk up is definitely worth it. Coming here at sunset is a beautiful experience as you can follow the coastline all the way back to The Needles!

 

FAVOURITE FOOD AND DRINK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

The Isle of Wight is known for its fresh seafood, which these days translates at crustaceans more than anything else! Any self-respecting pub or restaurant on the island will make the best of its seafood menu, with the Crab and Lobster Inn in Bembridge probably being the most famous of all. For more of an authentic marine experience, just before a causeway crosses Bembridge Harbour on the east of the Isle, there is the floating seafood The Best Dressed Crab restaurant at Fishermans Wharf, where you can taste fresh lobster or have a crab and prawn sandwich washed down with a zingy tasting beer.  You can also try the seafront Boat House Restaurant in gorgeous Steephill Cove and there are of course great takeaways such as the aforementioned ‘Cod Father’ in Ryde.    

 

 

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

Bring your binoculars with you, as you will need them for coastal observations and also looking at bird life. If you belong to the National Trust don’t forget your membership card for the Old Battery on The Needles and if you are a member of English Heritage use your card for entry to Osborne House and Yarmouth Castle. Take a boot brush with you – wet conditions are not uncommon on the island, often resulting in plenty of muddy clays. On the contrary, if you expect hot weather, pack your swimming costume, water shoes and maybe even bring a kite, in case you decide to spend the day on the beach!

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on visiting the Isle of Wight visit our Walking & Cycling Holidays on the Isle of Wight page.

 

Have you ever been on a Sherpa Expeditions walking or cycling holiday?  If yes, send us your story and get £50 off your next trip... 

 

Check out  more Travellers' Tales >>

Beat the European Winter

Beat the European Winter!

Are you looking for an active break combined with some winter sun? Here are some of our trip destinations that enjoy a much milder climate and warmer temperatures in the winter.


SOUTHERN TRAILS OF LA GOMERA

La Gomera is a year-round breathtaking destination. The variety of the landscapes that you will see in such a small area is amazing and Gomeran hospitality is truly memorable. This trip covers the south – and sunnier! – side of the island and the shorter walking days will give you the opportunity to do other activities such as relax by the sea, snorkelling, kayaking or whale watching. La Gomera has a good infrastructure of roads, amenities and services, including good restaurants and small, family-run hotels. Find out more >>

 

MADEIRA ISLAND WALKING

The Portuguese island of Madeira lies well out in the Atlantic, where the Gulf Stream affords it a mild and equable year-round climate. Volcanic in origin, the rugged interior rises abruptly to over 1,800 metres/6000 feet. A characteristic feature of the island is the elaborate system of ‘levadas’ (irrigation channels), which over the centuries has extended to more than 2,000km of channels and 40km of tunnels. Many of the levadas can be followed on foot and these together with a network of local trails make even the most remote parts of the island accessible. Find out more >>

 

 

TENERIFE ON FOOT

Tenerife is the highest island in the Atlantic and the largest of the Canary Islands. Your first view of the great volcano Mount Teide, Spain's highest mountain and the third tallest volcano in the world will probably be from the aeroplane window… and a few days later you will be there, walking across the massive crater of Cañadas del Teide! Hiking on North Tenerife is hugely varied – from banana plantations to pine forests and from laurisilva cloud forests to lava fields – and our aim is to show you as much as possible. Find out more >>

 

 

CYPRUS: THE TROODOS MOUNTAINS & AKAMAS - 8 DAYS

Cyprus is an island of natural beauty in a region with an abundance of ancient and modern civilisations and cultures. Away from the cosmopolitan towns and beach resorts you will find large areas of natural, unspoilt countryside. Rugged, conifer-clad mountains, woodland and gentle orchards and vineyards are interspersed with tranquil, timeless villages. The people extend a warm and friendly welcome and their hospitality will add greatly to the enjoyment of your tour. Find out more >>

Active Mediterranean

Active Mediterranean

 If you are after an activity break with a dose of some salty sea air, the great islands of the Mediterranean offer from windswept cliff-top bicycle rides to more leisurely seaside strolls. Here are three of our favourite trips.


MAJORCA: SIERRAS AND MONASTERIES

The Sierra de Tramontana is a rugged limestone mountain range, which runs parallel to the northwestern coast of the Majorca island, forming one of the most spectacular coastlines of the Mediterranean. Mountain tops are bare, lower slopes are thickly forested, while in the settled valleys there are ancient terraces of olive, orange and almond groves. Our tour is based on three centres, the Santuari of Lluc, the cathedral town of Soller and Valldemossa, famous for its Carthusian monastery. Find out more >>

 

CYCLING IN SARDINIA

Plunge into the wild yet romantic beauty of southwestern Sardinia and cycle beside empty beaches and sand dunes in total freedom and at your own pace. The terrain is rugged in parts, with high cliffs ascending from the coast, interspersed with long sandy beaches, grass covered dunes and breathtaking views. The ride commences through the fascinating Sinis wetlands, home to colonies of pink flamingos, and concludes along the beautiful Costa del Sud, with its gleaming white beaches and a visit to an ancient Phoenician settlement. Find out more >>

 

VOLCANOES OF SICILY - GUIDED

To the north of Sicily is the beautiful Aeolian Archipelago, made up of 7 diverse islands. Its active volcanic cone dominates the horizon but you will also find dramatic cliffs and winding coastline, black beaches and thermal hot springs, a deep blue sea and charming port towns. Four days have been set aside to explore these islands on foot, including a guided ascent of Stromboli, while back on the mainland of Sicily the focus shifts to the famous volcano of Mount Etna, where the 2002/03 eruption opened a line of gaping craters. Find out more >>

 

Walking in Tarn & Aveyron with Eric Martin and Julie Gardinier

 

Walking in Tarn & Aveyron with Eric Martin and Julie Gardinier

Sherpa Expeditions travellers Eric Martin and Julie Gardinier share their experience on our Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron holiday.

 

What is your travelling/walking history?

We love to both bike and hike and most of our travelling adventures involve one of these activities, plus some amount of time spent visiting museums or historical sites. We like to combine physical activities with learning experiences of other countries and cultures when we are on holiday and we have travelled in most of Asia, Africa, South America, Western and Eastern Europe. We have been on many wonderful Sherpa Expeditions trips before so we knew that the Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron walking trip would be great.

 

                                                                

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

We decided to go on the Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron walking trip because we have never been to that area of France with beautiful Medieval villages, fields, forests and farms, and we are very interested in the history of the region concerning the Cathars and the bastide villages. We also wanted to improve our speaking and understanding French. The descriptions of the villages and the accommodations really appealed to us, as did the variety of walks and terrain. Walking through very old villages with homes made of stone and shopping at the local ‘alimentation generale’ for our pain, fromage and saucisson for our picnic lunches was great fun and so delicious. We were definitely not disappointed and actually loved every minute of the trip.

 

 

How did you prepare for this trip?

In preparation for this trip, we increased our walking distance and made sure that we walked up and down hills as steep as we could find. We also made sure that we walked 7 miles at least once or twice a week. The most important thing was to make sure that our hiking shoes were in good shape and very comfortable. Socks are very important too, especially wool socks, as they keep feet dry and cushioned. Other than these things, we followed our usual walking and biking routines. We usually do not walk with a backpack, but for a couple of days we added weight to our backpacks and walked with them on to make sure they fit well and were comfortable.

 

Which was your favourite destination?

So many experiences and places stand out in our mind… I think all of the villages and areas of the Tarn were so amazing and interesting that we really don't have a favourite.

 

 

Where did you have the best food and drink on your trip?

Most of the food that we had was delicious and some meals were outstanding and quite different from our usual fare. The food in Vaour was all homemade and wonderful (bread baked in their own oven, duck confit, lasagne, boudin noir, pork rillette, apple tart) and the dinner in Bruniquel was outstanding. The owner prepared ‘loup de mer’ (Mediterranean seabass) in a mild curry sauce with shallots, oranges and cream. Delicious! We also had very interesting local wines with the home dinners.

 

 

What was the biggest surprise on your trip?

The biggest and most wonderful surprise was that instead of just serving us dinner at these two places (Vaour and Bruniquel) the family actually sat and ate with us. Of course they only spoke limited English – so we could practice our French! – but they were so helpful and we learned so much. Plus they were truly interesting people and we so enjoyed being with them and learning about them and their lives.

 

 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

This was quite a challenging trip for us because it was exactly one year ago that I had fractured my femur and broke my collarbone on a bicycle accident – but after a year of physical therapy, daily exercises and a regimen of walking to build up miles, we were very excited to take this trip! The first day of 13 miles was a challenge just because of the distance (I was still having some difficulty walking) and on two days we did shorten the distance by hiring a taxi with a very nice man who accommodated our schedule. There were rocks, stones and tree trunks to negotiate going from Bruniquel to Puycelci but it was a beautiful walk and I am glad that we walked the entire length. I do think the hikes are not difficult. On one day, we walked on a very small local road as the regular walk was too steep and muddy (it had rained the night before) but we were fortunate not to have any rainy days.

 

 

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

I would also add that an extension to Albi for two days was really a great thing to do. Katia from Sherpa Expeditions helped us with the arrangements and her recommendation of the small 2-star hotel in the centre of Albi was just perfect. We also added a rest day in Puycelci, which was a wonderful village to wander around. We went inside the beautiful church across from our hotel, visited a local potter, walked around the fortifications and shopped in a local ‘epicerie-boulangerie’. I would definitely recommend this trip. It was truly exceptional and will always be remembered.

Cycling around Finland's Turku Archipelago

Cycling around the Turku Archipelago - Header

 

Cycling Around Finland's Turku Archipelago

Cycling holidays in Finland's Turku Archipelago are becoming more and more popular. We chat with our Finnish specialist Heidi about what she loves about the region and what travellers can expect on a cycling holiday there.

 

Turku in the South-western corner of Finland is the oldest city and the first capital of the whole country. The Turku Archipelago is certainly one of the most prolific in the world: a total of some 20,000 islands and skerries, most in their pristine natural state, are scattered from Turku all the way out to the Åland Islands. Much of the Turku Archipelago is encompassed in the Archipelago National Park, ensuring that the region retains it’s natural beauty. Inhabited islands in the Turku Archipelago can be reached by inter-island ferries making many islands accessible by bicycle and meaning there is little traffic to contend with.

 

I personally am really fond of history, and that’s why the region really speaks to me. The Ice Age has left it’s marks to the archipelago: the land is rising 50cm in a century, which is changing the landscape and coast-line continuously. There are also lots of archaeological discoveries such as ship wrecks to prove that Vikings and Hanseatic merchants had made their way through the archipelago in centuries past.

 

Aurajoki in the Turku Archipelago

 

Best Time of Year for Cycling around the Turku Archipelago

The summer season is the best time to visit the archipelago, since the weather is warm and nature is blossoming. Long daylight hours also help you explore the outdoors. It is definitely worth booking early if you would like travel here as unfortunately this season is quite short (between June-August) and accommodation often books out.

 

TOP EXPERIENCES IN THE TURKU ARCHIPELAGO

Are there any villages, specific spots or experience that you really enjoy in the region. We are particularly interested in anything that you think travellers would not normally experience if they didn’t have inside knowledge.

 

The whole route is filled with amazing sights, but perhaps the most impressive of them is the intriguing island of Seili. Seili was the island where the mentally ill and those with leprosy were sent in the 17th century. Grimly, anyone who was banished there was required to take their own coffin boards since most of them never returned!

 

The old town of Naantali is also one of my favourites. Its buildings are from the 18th century and the atmosphere is astonishing. For those interested in architecture the place is a heaven. You can find many kinds of unique and typical features of Finnish architecture and design in Naantali. The Old Town on the harbor is well worth a visit and there is a viewing tower there where you can look out over many beautiful villas.

 

The islands of Iniö too are naturally beautiful and are home to a lot more to a lot of sights, including Sofia Wilhelmiina’s church, old, idyllic village sceneries and Åselholm’s saw and windmills.

 

Ferry in the Turku Archipelago

 

Favourite Food & Drink in The Turku Archipelago

You have to taste the archipelago bread (a unique type of black rye bread), it is not only good but also healthy. The Turku Archipelago is also famous for its seafood, which you can find fresh in most of the harbour towns. Restaurants Stallbacken and L´escale, both in Nagu are two of my favourite restaurants in the archipelago and are both well worth a visit if you can.


Houses in the Turku Archipelago

Further Advice for Cycling in the Turku Archipelago

The Turku Archipelago is ideally suited to cycling  and while you should be in at least average shape, the terrain is gentle (though more hills than you would expect) and you can travel at your own pace. Remember it can get quite warm in summer and so keeping hydrated is essential.

 

Along the route, for much of the time, there are separate cycling paths, specifically for bikes. These are marked with a white bicycle symbol on a blue sign, and sometimes painted on the road in white. These cycle-only roads keep you and your bike separate from the cars, and can be located on the right or left side of the road (sometimes crossing over from one side to the other). On occasions, the cycle path veers away from the car road for a short period before returning again. Sometimes the cycle road is split with a pedestrian pavement. They are clearly indicated - take care to ride along the correct one.

 

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on cycling around the Turku Archipelago visit our Cycling Holidays in Finland page. You can also check out the video from Visit Finland below, which looks at the destination from a slightly different perspective. 

 

Most Popular Cycling Holidays in 2015

Popular Cycling Holidays for 2015

Inspired by the Tour de France? Here are the details of our five most popular cycling holidays for 2015:

 

Cyclist's Coast to Coast - 8 Days

Wainwright’s “Coast to Coast” walk has long been a classic, and it was perhaps inevitable that cyclists would also look at interesting ways of crossing beautiful, scenic northern England. The original ‘C2C’ stretches from the lighthouse at Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to the lighthouse at Sunderland on the shores of the North Sea. Our Coast to Coast cycling holiday is a 144 mile itinerary combining the Cumbria Cycle Way Route and the popular C2C cycle route, offers a superb week's cycling amidst great scenery.  Find out more >>

 

 

Cycling the Turku Archipelago - 7 Days

Our self-guided cycling holiday in Finland makes the most of the favourable conditions, gentle terrain and frequent ferry services to provide a unique trip across the Turku Archipelago. The Turku Archipelago is one of Finland’s most stunning natural phenomena - 20,000 islands stretching out into the sea from the city of Turku in the southwest part of the country. Cycling a circular route around the main islands is made easy, and exciting by a system of local and free ferry services, most of them constantly going back and forth, acting like bridges.  Find out more >>


Turku Archipelago

 

Cotswolds by Bike - 8 Days

This holiday is intended to appeal to those who want a gentle introduction to cycling in the English countryside, as the Cotswold’s are hilly rather than mountainous. A week of marvelous rides will take you through one of the most beautiful and historic parts of England. Honey coloured stone villages, open wolds, wooded valleys and Roman roads are the background to pretty villages, “wool” churches, famous gardens, a Roman villa and welcoming inns.
Find out more >>

 

Cotswolds by Bike

 

Cycling in Sardinia - 8 Days

Plunge into the wild yet romantic beauty of south-western Sardinia and cycle beside empty beaches and sandunes in total freedom and at your own pace. The terrain is rugged in parts, with high cliffs ascending from the coast, interspersed with long sandy beaches, grass covered dunes and breathtaking views. 
Find out more >>

 

Cycling in Sardinia

 

Vineyards of Bordeaux

Mention Bordeaux and you will spark thoughts all around the world of good wine. As you travel through the vineyards by bike on carefully chosen routes you will experience this and much more. This is an easy-going, hotel-based on-road cycle tour exploring the delights of the Gironde region. Find out more >>


Bordeaux Vineyards Walking Holiday

Walking South of Siena with Julia and Gordon Blackwell

Walking South of Siena Header

 

Sherpa Expeditions travellers Julia and Gordon Blackwell share their experience in Tuscany on our Walking South of Siena holiday.

 

What is your travelling/walking history?

At the ages of 65 and 71 we had some initial reservations as to whether we were up to this tour, even though our previous walking experience has included treks in Switzerland, Austria, Nepal, Iceland, and Canada. Our customary afternoon stroll usually covers about 7 km, and we also go 'fast walking' for an hour each week with friends. I would therefore describe ourselves as reasonably fit and experienced, but with some age related restrictions. In the event, the 'Walking South of Siena' tour turned out to be totally do-able – some days quite strenuous, but we were never seriously overstretched. Above all, it was totally enjoyable.

 

Views of Siena

 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

 

We had wanted to visit Siena for a long time, and also wanted to spend some time in the surrounding countryside exploring the villages and tasting the local food and wines. The self-guided tour 'Walking South of Siena' seemed to be an ideal way to combine these wishes, walking from one village to another at our own pace and without stress – accommodation and luggage transport being taken care of by Sherpa.

 

Old Square in Bagno Vignoni

 

How did you prepare?

A few weeks before the tour we checked our fitness by walking increasingly long distances every few days, up to the maximum length of a day on the tour. In addition we studied the directions and the maps so that we knew what possible problems to expect, and what we might especially want to see on the way. We also looked at alternative maps, and as a backup entered the routes into a GPS navigator. Although the instructions provided by Sherpa were generally good, the Italian maps were sometimes difficult to read or unclear and the GPS proved its worth more than once in helping us to keep on the track – or to deliberately deviate from it when we chose to. Although most hotel staff spoke English, the few key Italian phrases we learnt proved to be useful in shops and cafés.

 

Your favourite destination?

Our favourite destination is difficult to decide on, as we would willingly go back to any of them. Perhaps for pure charm of both the village and the B&B we stayed in, the overall winner has to be Bagno Vignoni. Two days here would not too long for us, especially after the long walk to get there. 

 

The old bath in Bagno Vignoni

 

Best food and drink?

This is another difficult question, as almost all the food and drink we had was excellent, and by no means expensive. A bottle of top wine for under 10€ can't be bad, and we especially enjoyed the wine from Montalcino. For beer drinkers, the Birra Moretti La Rossa can be unreservedly recommended - a wonderful red-brown coloured beer which I would go a long way to have again.

 

Biggest surprise of the trip?

I don't know why we were surprised, but the openness and friendliness of everyone we met was remarkable. One particular experience that sticks in our memory was the bus journey from Siena to Taverne d'Arbia, when almost everyone on the bus, including the driver, joined in to wish us luck and ensure that we got off at the right stop. Also unexpected was the consideration shown by drivers of the occasional cars which passed us on the sometimes dusty “white roads” or gravel tracks. Most slowed down to walking pace as they approached and passed. This minimised the dust, and we were often greeted with a friendly wave too. 

 

Enjoying a glass of wine and a beer Morreti La Rossa in Montepulciano

 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The most challenging day was undoubtedly the walk from Montalcino to Bagno Vignoni, purely because of the distance and height ascent which had to be covered – by our GPS 27 km and 850 height meters including deviations and on-route sightseeing.

 

Other days brought different challenges such as a closed section of track, a closed bridge, misleading sign posts, and difficult to find (sometimes apparently non existent) tracks across fields. However these were all relatively easily overcome with careful reading of the instructions – and use of the GPS navigator.

 

Intended deviation

 

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

Some of the days on this trek were, for us 66 and 71 year old youngsters, quite tough. We walked at a fairly constant pace of 4.0 - 4.5 km/h (excluding pauses), and most walks took us a bit longer than suggested - but after all we were on holiday and who wants to rush? In this regard, the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore between Asciano and Buonconvento is well worth a visit, and in order to arrive in time for a leisurely look around (it is closed from 12:00 to 15:00) we opted to go there by taxi from Asciano rather than walk. This also gave time for lunch in the nearby village and a relaxed walk on to Buonconvento. 

 

Although perhaps not to everyone's liking, our GPS navigator was sometimes a godsend and saved us several times from missed turnings and long diversions – just make sure you have spare charged batteries in your day pack, and a charger in your luggage! If like us you decide to ignore some of the directions on the route to Bagno Vignoni and opt to ford a stream rather than walk along a railway track to a bridge, then rubber sandals would be useful but not essential. Lastly, remember that most electrical sockets in Italy are of the Italian design (type L socket) and you will need an adaptor for either UK or European plugs.

 

Have you ever been on a Sherpa Expeditions walking or cycling holiday?  If yes, send us your story and get £50 off your next trip... 

 

Check out  more Travellers' Tales >>


Mosaics

Best Pubs in the UK for Walkers

Best Pubs in the UK for Walkers

 

Best Pubs in the UK for Walkers

The UK is famous for its historic inns and pubs, and no matter what your choice of refreshment, relaxing in one at the end of a day’s walk is an essential part of a walking holiday in the UK. We’ve asked around the office and here is a list of our favourite pubs that you can visit on one of our UK walking holidays.


CUMBRIA WAY

Image credit: http://www.odg.co.uk/

Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langsdale
Located in the Lake District, the Old Dungeon Ghyll is a famous climber’s bar that has offered accommodation and sustenance to weary fellwalkers and climbers in the midst of some of the highest mountains in England, for over 300 years. 

 

Why we like it: Stunning location and a great place to rest up with other exhausted walkers and listen to their epic tales.

 

Visit the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and more on our Cumbria Way walking holiday >>

 


 

DORSET AND WESSEX TRAILS 

Image credit: http://smugglersinnosmingtonmills.co.uk/

Smugglers Inn, Osmington Mills
This lovely old pub dates back to the 13th century and was once the home of the leader of the most notorious gang of smugglers in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries (Emmanuel Charles).

 

Why we like it: Cosy inn near the sea has some good ales and its location makes you feel miles from the real world.

 

Visit the Smugglers Inn and more on our Dorset and Wessex Trails walking holiday >>

 


 

DALES WAY

Image credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1096359-d245465-Reviews-Red_Lion_Hotel-Burnsall_North_Yorkshire_England.html

Red Lion, Burnsall
The Red Lion in North Yorkshire was originally a Ferryman’s Inn from the 16th century and on top of some delicious real ales the pub also serves up a tasty selection of local game and produce. Image from Tip Advisor

 

Why we like it: Good old-fashioned pub with great food, nestled right by the old bridge. 


 

Visit the Red Lion pub on our Dales Way walking holiday >>


 

GREAT GLEN WAY

Image credit: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/accommodation/glenmoriston-arms-hotel-p187761

Glenmoriston Arms, Glenmoriston
Another pub that was originally a Drover’s inn, the original hotel built on the site dates back to 1740, six years before the battle of Culloden.

Why we like it: Great old bar with over 100 varieties of single malt Whisky, including some from extinct distilleries.

 

 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.fiddledrum.co.uk/

Fiddler’s, Drumnadrochit
This renowned whisky bar has a huge range of single malts to choose from and friendly bartenders who can talk you through the tasting of Scotland’s national drink.

 

Why we like it: Great food and whiskey (obviously) and a relaxing place for a meal after a visit to Urquart Castle.

 

Visit the Glenmoriston Arms, Fiddlers and more on our Great Glen Way walking holiday >>

 


 

WEST HIGHLAND WAY

Image credit: http://www.kingshousehotel.co.uk/

Kings House Hotel, Glencoe
The Kings House hotel is one of the oldest (and most remote!) licenced inns in Scotland and offers an extensive bar with magnificent views of the hills. It even has a sneaky climber’s bar round the back.

 

Why we like it: Location, Location! This pub has one of the most famous backdrops in Scotland (Buchaille Etive Mor).

 

Visit the Kings House Hotel and more on our Great Glen Way walking holiday >>


 

COAST TO COAST

Image credit: http://www.buckhotel.co.uk/

Buck Hotel, Reeth
Originally a coaching Inn dating back to around 1760, the Buck in has been refreshing weary travellers for centuries. Inside you’ll find a cost bar with many of the original features still in tact.

 

Why we like it:  Good range of well-kept beers/ales on draught and great zippy food. 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1071702-d1567236-Reviews-Black_Bull_Hotel-Reeth_Yorkshire_Dales_National_Park_North_Yorkshire_England.html

Black Bull, Reeth
Older still than the Buck Hotel, the Black Bull dates back to 1680 and offers a wide selection of hand-pulled ales and good hearty food. 

 

Why we like it: The Black Bull’s position on the village green makes for a great spot to rest in the sun (if you’re lucky!) and the pub is also amusingly famous for its ‘Old Peculiar on draught’; two pints of which apparently and you are anyone's! 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.lionblakey.co.uk/visitorsphotos.htm

The Lion, Blakey
The Lion Inn on remote Blakey Ridge is a 16th Century freehouse. Located at the highest point of the North York Moors National Park, it offers breathtaking views over the valleys of Rosedale and Farndale.

 

Why we like it: This cavernous old pub in the middle of nowhere has a great feel to it inside with open fires and low beams, and outside in the beer garden you have some great views over the dales. 

 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.egtonbridgehotel.co.uk

Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge
 The 18th century Horseshoe Hotel sits on some stunning grounds on the bank of the River Esk, in the quaint English village of Egton Bridge. Catering to walkers it is a great place to relax and replenish your energy. 

 

Why we like it: You always hit this old fashioned pub right about when you feel like a drink! It’s beautiful beer garden is a great place to rest your weary feet before you contemplate crossing the Esk on stepping stones!

 

Visit these pubs and more on one of our Coast to Coast walking holidays >>


 

HADRIAN’S WALL

Image credit: http://www.theboathousewylam.com

Boathouse, Wylam
The Boathouse is a traditional pub, with low-beamed ceilings, stone floor and a dark wood bar decorated with tankards, pump-clips, and paintings. 

Why we like it: Extraordinary range of 12 varieties of real ale or cider on hand-pulls and great home-cooked meals.

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g1068896-d2259351-i100156555-The_Twice_Brewed_Inn-Bardon_Mill_Hexham_Northumberland_England.html

Twice Brewed Inn, Once Brewed

 

Overlooked by Steel Rigg, one of the best stretches of Hadrian’s Wall, the Twice Brewed Inn’s setting in rural Northumberland is quite unique. There are many theory’s surrounding it’s unique name that you can learn more about on your visit.

 

Why we like it: Once a brewery, this pub lives up to its name with a range of tasty ales. 

 

Visit the Boathouse and Twice Brewed Inn on our Hadrian’s Wall walking holiday >>


Image credits: Some images used in this article were sourced from the pub's website, Trip Advisor or Visit Scotland.

In Search of Cornish Cider

In Search of Cornish Cider

 

Cornish cider is famous the world over and a trip to Cornwall isn't complete without sampling some of the county's finest ciders and scrumpy (matured cider with a higher alcohol level). Here are a few of our recommendations for a visit either during your walking/cycling holiday in Cornwall or just while you are in the West Country. Find out more about our walking and cycling holidays in Cornwall >>

 

Image from: http://thecornishcyderfarm.co.uk/

Healys Cornish Cyder Farm,Penhallow

One of the biggest producers in the region, Healys is most famous for its ‘Rattler’ and offers a big visitor centre and museum where you can find all about the history of the cider production in the region, learn about the process of making cider and of course sample the local brew. 

 

Find out more >>




Image from http://www.haywoodfarmcider.co.uk/

Haywood Farm,St. Mabyn

A family run orchard and press in the beautiful Allen Valley, near the village of St. Mabyn, approximately 4 miles from Wadebridge. The farms cider press has been producing the Westcountry's favourite drink for centuries. The Bray family who run the farm offer orchard tours and cider tastings. 

 

Find out more >>

 

 


Image from https://www.polgoon.com/tours-and-tastings

Polgoon Cider Orchard and Vineyard, Penzance

Polgoon offers a modern twist on the traditional art of making Cornish cider. Originally starting up as a winery Polgoon turned their focus to cider making and is renowned for its artisanal sparkling ciders. Polgoon offer tours of their orchard and vineyard over summer and it makes for a delightful way to spend an afternoon in Penzance. 

 

Find out more >>

 


Image from http://www.cornishciderfestival.co.uk/

CornishCider Festival, Lostwithiel

For the true cider aficionado or indeed anyone who likes all things cider, the Cornish cider festival in Lostwithiel offers a change to taste a huge range of ciders and juices from around the region and is well worth a visit if you are in the region around the third week of September. 

 

Find out more >>



Dramming on the Rob Roy Way

Dramming on the Rob Roy Way Walk

 

Dramming on the Rob Roy Way

After a recent trip to Scotland resident guide Jon Millen shares tips on enjoying a wee dram on the Rob Roy Way. Find out more about our Rob Roy Way walking holidays >>

 

The Clachan Inn

On the Rob Roy Way, there are a few connections with alcoholic beverages, at  the start of the  walk in Drymen sits the Clachan Inn,  the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland. Clachan means “a building of stone”, a more permanent construction of its time when many buildings were made of turf and timber. In 1734, it was the first of its kind to have its own still to distil and sell its own whisky. The first licensee of The Clachan was Mistress Gow, one of Rob Roy’s sisters! Find out more >>

 

Clachan Inn on the Rob Roy Way

 

Aberfeldy Distillery

Later on in the walk, leaving Aberfeldy, one passes the Aberfeldy Distillery: the only distillery built by the Dewar family. Steeped in history and craftsmanship, since 1898 the stills have produced a beautifully balanced single malt whisky. Distillery tours take place throughout the day and include access to their atmospheric warehouse and heritage centre. You can browse the distillery shop for limited editions or even ‘fill your own’ bottle of exclusive Aberfeldy Single Malt whisky.  Find out more >>

 

Dewars Aberfeldy Distillery

 

Eradour Distillery

On the last day in Pitlochry there are a beautiful couple of optional walks that you can do. One takes you past the Black Spout Waterfall and up to the Edradour Distillery, renowned as the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland and arguably the most unique. Dating back to 1825, it stands alone as the last stronghold of handmade single malt whisky from a farm distillery still in production today. Despite this small scale production, Edradour uniquely boasts over 25 distinctive expressions of Highland single malt Scotch whisky with their wonderful characters and flavours. Find out more >>

Edradour Distillery

Blair Atholl Distillery

Also in Pitlochry along the road you can visit the Blair Atholl Distillery which commenced in 1798. The rich, nutty 12 year old signature malt is distilled here then added to the popular blend known as Bells, the most popular blended whisky in the UK. Find out more >>


Rob Roy Blair Athol Distillery


The Moulin Inn & Brewery 

If you need a break from whiskey (not likely, but it could happen!) we recommend an extra day in Pitlochry to make the most of extra walks. You can ascend a peak called Ben y Vracki. On the way down you pass an old hotel called The Moulin Inn, which has its own brewery started in the 1990s, which supplies beer to this and another hotel. The beers are of excellent quality and include the quaffable ‘Brave Heart Ale’. You can visit the tiny brew house behind the hotel and even by a pack of the different beers. Find out more >>

Moulin Inn Pitlochry