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Walking in the Cotswolds

Walkers in the Cotswolds, near Mickleton

Walking in the Cotswolds

With the launch of our new Exploring the Cotswolds Guided Walk, we thought it was time to re-visit this region of fine walks and quintessential English countryside. Along with an introduction to walking in the Cotswolds, this article contains some great tips from our resident guide, Jon Millen, to help you get the most out of your visit.


Introduction to the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds conjure up a vision of honey coloured stone walls, green rolling fields and pretty villages, and yet the human component of the landscape is largely derived from the Enclosure Acts 1700-1840 which partitioned the fields here with the famed dry stone walls. The name ‘Cotswolds’ comes from the word for the stone sheep shelters or ‘cots’ and ‘wolds’ mean hills. Most of the towns precede the regions namesake enclosures and are charming places to visit. Highlights on our walks in the Cotswolds include places with extraordinary names and old world features; such as Chipping Campden, Bourton on the Water, Lower Slaughter, Moreton in the Marsh, Stow on the Wold and Stratford upon Avon. The lovely stone that is characteristic of the Cotswolds was held in such high regard that it was sent far afield to build St. Paul's in London, many of the Oxford colleges and even the Melbourne Cathedral in Australia.


The Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way is a 100 mile route from Bath, along the Cotswolds escarpment, to the market town of Chipping Campden. Our Cotswold walking holidays do not walk the official Cotswold Way but cross over it on some of the days. Our trips instead have been designed to follow more localised paths to take in the more interesting villages in the Cotswolds itself, such as Bourton on the Water, which the Cotswold Way does not visit. Our route also gives clients the opportunity to visit places such as Hidcote Manor & Gardens.


Cotswolds - Steam Train near Winchcombe


Our Favourite Towns in the Cotswolds

Here are the highlights of a few of our favourite towns and villages that you can visit on a walking holiday in the Cotswolds. 


Chipping Campden

Famous for its High Street filled with beautiful honey-coloured stone buildings, it’s often described as the most perfect High Street in England. Anyone searching for the heritage of the Middle Ages, will find it here, as in the space of a hundred metres or so you’ll find excellent examples of Elizabethan, Georgian, Jacobean, Regency and Victorian architecture.


Attractions include the church of St James, a landmark for miles around, to the north of the town. It is a magnificent example of an early perpendicular wool church (churches built on the proceeds of the wool trade, which was prospering at the time), rebuilt in the 15th century. Next to the church are the lodges and the gateway to the old Campden House, built by Sir Baptist Hicks in the 17th century and burnt down during the Civil War. The long, broad and curved terraced Chipping Campden High Street contains many superb Cotswold stone buildings built by wealthy merchants between the 14th and 17th centuries.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Chipping Camden High Street



This is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ and the ‘Show Village of England’ because of its sheer beauty. The ‘broad way’ leads from the foot of the western Cotswold escarpment with a wide grass-fringed street lined with honey coloured limestone buildings dating back to the 16th century. The village became a busy staging post on the route from Worcester to London as coaches had to harness extra horses for the long pull up Fish Hill. Back then as many as 40 inns existed within the village to service the many travellers passing through.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Deli at Broadway


Guiting Power

This village is run by a self-administering self-help housing trust that has preserved the village in its beautiful present state because it has restricted building and also been instrumental in keeping people born in the area in rented housing. These are ancient manorial lands and archaeologists assume that there are the remains of a Roman Villa under the manor house foundations. The church of St. Michael's has a well preserved Norman doorway with an hourglass motif. In the field next to the church you can see the mound of a Bronze age burial, as well as the foundations and alter of the original Saxon church, which you could perhaps get 12 people in.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Guiting Power



During the 18th century when the wool industry was in decline Blockley turned to silk production. By 1884 six silk mills powered by the fast-flowing Blockley brook provided work for about 600 people preparing silk for ribbon-making factories in Coventry. The village is a unique collection of buildings reflecting its past glory of mills and silk production and is quite different in, character to other north Cotswold villages.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Blockley


Stow on the Wold

A pretty market town and has a memorial Stone to the Battle of Stow 1646 during the English Civil War. Stow stands exposed on a 700 feet high hill at a junction of seven major roads, including the Roman Fosse Way. At the height of the Cotswold wool industry the town was famous for its huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time. Around the village’s vast market square the visitor is faced with an elegant array of Cotswold townhouses.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - St. Edwards Church at Stow on the Wold


Lower Slaughter

The name of this quaint village stems from the old English name for a wet land or ‘slough’ upon which it lies beside the little Eye stream and is known for its unspoilt limestone cottages in the traditional Cotswold style. The stream running through the village is crossed by two small bridges and the local attraction is a converted mill with original water wheel selling craft type products. There is the Low Scarp Manor that has a bar and does afternoon teas and of course the inn.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Lower Slaughter



Some call this (optimistically perhaps) the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds,’ but it is one of the showplaces of the region, attracting visitors again and again with its special charm with its expanded river, tiny bridges and glassy waters The oldest town houses date back to the 17th century. But if its cottages are of no great antiquity, the village can trace its story from pre-Roman times, when there was a military camp here at Salmonsbury. A number of ancient trackways converged on Bourton. The most important of these was - and still is - the Roman Fosse Way, which starts from the mouth of the Humber and ends in Devon.


Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Burton on the Water


Our Tips for Walking in the Cotswolds

We asked our resident walking guide, Jon Millen to give us his top tips for walking in the Cotswolds:

  1. A plastic cleaning brush for your boots can be useful as after  the rain the trails in places become sticky  clay. 
  2. The Cotswolds can be surprisingly cold , always carry warm clothes even in good weather.
  3. Make full use of the wonderful pubs for reasonably priced evening meals etc.
  4. National Trust members bring your membership cards to visit some of the attractive gardens such as Hidcote.
  5. In Stratford Upon Avon (worth an extra day) you can get multiple entry tickets to visit places such as Anne Hathaway’s cottage.
  6. Binoculars are always handy, bird varieties seem to be improving especially the Red Kite which is now quite a common sight.
  7. Drop into some of the gorgeous churches, St. Edwards in Stow on the Wold is one of my favourites and is famous for its hobbit style door  between two yew trees.
  8. Climb the Broadway tower in good weather for the views and a cup of tea in the café on the top.

Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Stratford Upon Avon

Our Walking and Cycling Holidays in the  Cotswolds

Cotswolds Walking Holiday - Broadway Tower

Walking in Switzerland

Matterhorn Walking Holidays Switzerland

We talk to our resident guide Jon Millen on why he’s looking forward to a busy season of walking in Switzerland.

What I like about walking in Switzerland is that the environment remains so pristine at so many levels. The agriculture in the mountains, surrounding villages and towns is essentially conservative and labour intensive with people still hand raking and hand scything grass, often necessitated by small fields and steep slopes. This maintains the parcel patchwork of fields and forest areas, which form an apron to direct the eye to the chains of snowy peaks high above. Without human intervention scrub forest would surely take root in no time at all. Switzerland is almost all set up so that the walker can appreciate the landscape to its best effect. Trails are well maintained and clearly marked (perhaps the best waymarked in the world) often with signs naming destinations, alternatives and giving approximate times. With a number of different regions offer a vast breadth of trails, catering to all levels of experience.


Highlights of the great Swiss walks would have to include the views from the great passes which often bend perspective, like from the rocky portal of the Bundechrinde Pass, looking back to the great expanse of the Oeschinensee compressed into a hanging valley. The ice dripping peaks of Blumlisalp above them and yet somehow poking out beyond them, the great triptych of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Then there are those late afternoons, drinking a well-earned ‘Weissenbiere’ out on the hotel terrace above the Gental Valley. The clouds roll away to reveal the bulk of the Wetterhorn gold then pink in Alpenglow, mist dissolving around its frozen flanks, and yet even beyond that the Gspaltenhorn sits in a glowing haze.


Walking Holidays in Switzerland



As you would expect, Switzerland is served by a number of airlines (low cost and otherwise), trains and buses from a multitude of European and international destinations. Depending on the region you are going to, we recommend heading to Geneva, Basil or Zurich, where you will find onward local connections.


Switzerland has one of the most comprehensive (albeit expensive) and scenic public transport systems in the world, making it an ideal place for a walking holiday. While transport is fairly pricey and there are a number of discount cards for getting half price deals on Swiss rail, post buses and cable cars. However even these passes (the most useful being the Swiss Card) are quite an investment and you should take care to make sure whether you will not be out of pocket using them. This is particularly the case if you are a purist walker and don’t intend to use much public transport.

If buying a Swiss Card we would recommend buying them at the Swiss Travel Centres at the railway stations of the airports such as Zurich and Geneva when you arrive, so that you can discuss your needs in detail. The range of options is extensive and you want to make sure you get the right one to suit your specific travel plans.


Walking in Switzerland


June is just about the best time of year for flowers, but a lot of the higher routes are often still closed by snow, however good stands of natural flowers can be found up to late July. By late July/August most of the flowers have gone to seed, died back or been scythed down for hay at least twice! There are some exceptions of course at different altitudes and with different species. 

The early rule: Although walking departure times are more or less set by when your hotel starts breakfast, in normal stable weather conditions the earlier you start, the better will be your day, as convectional clouds and perhaps instability bubbles up usually from midday.

On a clear day attractions like the Jungfraujoch railway are said to be a must, and of course attract a premium price and a premium crowd. Always go early, the Swiss Card will always give you half price travel. However don’t go just because you feel you ought to if the weather is bad and you have little time. Fortunately these days, weather forecasting is particularly sophisticated and usually a hotelier will be able to tell you what the weather will be like. 

There is a TV station on in most hotels (especially in the Bernese Oberland region) that will show you what it is like up all the popular lifts in real time. If there is nothing to see, it is not worth going unless you know from a forecast that it is just passing through. 

On that note remember that Swiss weather has a variety of influences and may do anything over a couple of days, storms for example can be very localised between valleys etc.


Wildflower in Switzerland




Food is very expensive in Switzerland, but apart from at a few basic hotels and mountain huts; most of the hotels do terrific buffet breakfasts with fantastic ‘Bircher Mueslis’ where the oats, nuts and fruits are soaked overnight in yoghurt. There are nearly always a selection of cheeses, pastries, breads and cured meats. So go early to breakfast, eat your fill, have a little rest and then start walking. You probably won’t want much or anything for lunch and this can save a load of money.

Conversely avoid trying to take breakfast materials for a packed lunch, it is the hallmark of bad manners as one person (not me I may add) was reprimanded by the landlady as she had costed the bread rolls between the guests to the nearest Franc! Remember that the ubiquitous nature of the breakfast may not be quite so ubiquitous when others reach the table.

Also, unlike in Britain and some other places, most Swiss hotels do not have kettles in the bedrooms. If you like your post walk cuppa and do not want to pay four francs for a cup, just bring a small container with your favourite teas and purchase a travel kettle or an element kettle with obviously an un-meltable cup e.g. the ‘Design Go Travel Cup Boiler 240 Volts’.


Food and drink in Switzerland


Alpine Pass Route 
The complete Alpine Pass Route extends east-west from the Liechtenstein border to Lake Geneva and is part of the classic trail the Via Alpina, which starts in Monaco and finishes in Trieste, describing a great arc through the Alps. The Alpine Pass Route takes you over some of the most beautiful passes in Switzerland with some seriously outstanding views. It is a challenging route with some long segments quite often on steep rocky paths and one day with 1400 metres of ascent and a similar descent. Great rewards though for the walker as you pass the great mountains of the Bernese Oberland including the Titlus, Wetterhorn, Shreckhorn, Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau, Blumisalpenhorn and Wildstrubel. For our Alpine Pass Route walking holidays we have selected the most spectacular central section between Engelberg above Lake Luzern and Lauenen above Gstaad. The Start at Engelburg is reached by train from Zurich/Basil/Geneva Via Lucerne. You can depart at the end from the train station in Saanen, near Gstaad.


Alpine Pass Route Walking Holidays Switzerland

Walker's Haute Route
The Haute Route (High Route) from Chamonix to Zermatt is steeped in mountaineering legend, a route first taken by British climbers at the end of the 19th century and is one of the best known winter ski tours in the world. Sherpa Expeditions offers a section of the walkers' version of the Haute Route located in the scenic Swiss canton of Valais and visits some of the most beautiful valleys, villages and mountains in Switzerland between Arolla and Zermatt.


This is a nine-day segment of the classic Haute route from  Chamonix to  Zermatt and is designed to avoid glacier sections and also extended backpacking, to make it easier for self-guided people. Another challenging walk with a pass even higher than anything on our Alpine Pass Route, the Col de Torrent 2918m, but not harder! Lots of rocky trails throughout beautiful meadows and apart from Zermatt, quiet villages. The start is in the small alpine village of Arolla accessed from Geneva by train and bus .The tour ends in Zermatt, travel to Geneva or Zurich by train. 


Walker's Haute Route Walking Holidays Switzerland

Wildstrubel Circuit
The Wildstrubel Circuit is an eight-day loop around the Wildstrubel massif, where the trails apart from around the resort town of Kandersteg, are generally a lot quieter than most our alpine walks. This hike embraces the cantons of Bernese Oberland and Valais, dropping between German and French speaking villages. There is great scenic variety from high ice capped mountains to vast views across Valais Crans Montana. This is a moderate to challenging route, with some long days and once again big passes, sometimes following a high level irrigation canal path called ‘Bisse du Rou’. The climax of the week is the Rawyl Pass (2429m) under the Mittaghorn (2685m), which is the highpoint of the trek. Transport to and from Kandersteg via hourly train service to Zurich/Geneva changing en route in Bern. 


Wildstrubel Circuit Walking Holidays Switzerland

Bernese Oberland
The German speaking Bernese Oberland is magical region of classic Alpine landscapes, 3000-4000m high peaks, thundering rivers and waterfalls, hanging valleys and  the longest glacier in Europe. It's location in the heart of Switzerland makes an ideal location for centre-based walking and Sherpa Expeditions offer a number of self-guided walking holidays here to help you get the most out of your time in the region. There are walks to suit all people as there is so much public transport that they can often be shortened using post buses or trains. Harder walks also exist, such as the ‘Eiger Trail’ or the ‘Schynige Platte’. It is an area of famous peaks with famous climbing histories, such as the Wetterhorn, Jungfrau and of course the notorious Eiger whose North wall - the ‘Nordwand’ - still exerts a huge pull and challenge to the best climbers in the World. Make sure you allow time to take the Jungfraujoch train up high onto the Monch and Jungfrau and walk under the ‘Nordwand’ of the Eiger as well as have a beer and pizza in Grindelwald watching the Alpenglow on the Shreckhorn. Meiringen is the hub of the Bernese Oberland and is easily accessed from Zurich or Basel, although Geneva is also a possibility. 


Bernese Oberland Walking Holidays Switzerland

This sits at the head of the Mattertal Valley in the canton of Valais. The Matta Vispa river running from the town is one of the tributaries of the River Rhone. It is right on the Swiss / Italian border, but separated by a huge wall of glaciers and mountains including the Briethorn, Matterhorn and Monte Rosa. Conditions tend to be a bit drier than the Bernese Oberland and the flora is slightly different. The town is hugely developed for tourism and just keeps growing. A whole range of trails radiate out from the high street and suburbs leading high into the mountains where you will find Mountain Ibex and the occasional Chamois. Arriving and departing from Zermatt is done by a picturesque train ride via Geneva/Zurich/Basel etc. via Visp or Brig. Our Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls guided/self-guided walking holidays combine the Bernese Oberland with walks in Zermatt.


Switzerland Hotels


Sherpa Expeditions offers a range of guided and self guided walking holidays in Switzerland to suit all experience levels and interests. For more information on these trips visit our Switzerland Walking Holidays page


Travellers Tales

Travellers' Tales Header

Have you been on a Sherpa Expeditions trip lately?

Travellers’ Tales are a great way for other travellers to learn more about specific trips, helping them decide which holiday would best suit their interests - we try to publish as many as we can. If you'd like to share your story, simply email us with a selection of your prettiest images and the answers (can be as short or as long as you like) to the following questions.


As a little thank you, when your travel review is published we'll give you £50 towards the cost of your next Sherpa Expeditions operated trip


Perhaps you like to give us shorter feedback, you can do so by leaving a Google Review or recommendation on Facebook

  1. What is your travelling/walking/cycling history?
    We’d love to know what kinds of holidays you have taken in the past and the level of walking/cycling you do regularly. Please be as general as you would like. It is good to just paint a picture for other travellers to help them relate their experiences to yours.

  2. Why did you choose to walk/cycle where you did?

  3. How did you prepare?
    What physical preparation did you do to make sure you would enjoy the trip? If this was nothing different from your normal routine, then please just mention what this involves. We’d also like to hear of any other preparation (or lack of it!) that you thought helpful.

  4. Your favourite destination?
    Did you have a favourite village or area on your trip?

  5. Best food and drink?
    What was the best food/drink that you had on the trip and where did you have it?

  6. Biggest surprise?
    Did you have any nice surprises or serendipitous experiences?

  7. What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
    (i.e. a specific hill or the overall distance .. or coming back to the real world!)

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


Check out all Travellers' Tales  >> perhaps there is one on the cycling or walking holiday that you are interested in!


Norway's Fjordland with Chris Weiss

Chris and his son Evan on Fjordland walking holiday in Norway


Sherpa Expeditions traveller Chris Weiss shares his experiences in Norway, with his son Evan, on our Fjordland walking tour.

Why did you choose your trip?

My son has some Norwegian ancestry and lives in a part of the U.S. that is heavily populated by Norwegian immigrants (ya!). We've talked about traveling to Norway for a long time, but the logistic hurdles always seemed too overwhelming until we found Sherpa. We were looking for a rugged adventure in a cool climate where we would not have to carry all the equipment required to backpack. The Fjordland tour offered by Sherpa seemed ideal for us.


The Fjordland walking holiday in Norway

How did you prepare?
Sherpa was very helpful. The detailed logistical reference book that Sherpa provided prior to our trip answered almost every one of our questions. It included topographic maps, step-by-step hiking directions and provided the flexibility to choose a variety of hikes at each location. Although the maps provided by Sherpa were very adequate, we ended up buying the original Norwegian maps in Geilo which gave us a broader perspective of the tour.

Riding the Flam Valley on Fjordland holiday in Norway

Before the trip we watched the weather closely using internet resources and packed our clothing in anticipation of a wide range of predicted conditions. We're used to hiking in the Rocky Mountains and understand the need for lightweight, breathable clothing that can be layered for both summer and near-winter conditions on the same day hike. On our day hikes, we each carried 4-5 light weight upper layers and 3 lower layers that included a rain proof shell (and we used them all on more than one occasion). We've been stranded by weather in the outback before and always carry enough water, food, shelter and fire starters to make such an event tolerable if not comfortable. The trick is getting all this along with a hearty lunch all in a very small day pack!

Kayaking near Aurland on Fjordland holiday in Norway

What was the best part of your trip?
We loved so many parts of the trip, especially Finse and the Flam Valley. We chose to depart from the plan a bit and rented bicycles rather than walk the road through the Flam Gorge. I would recommend adding this option for anyone who enjoys the Fjordland adventure. The biking was beautiful and provided lots of time for stopping and enjoying lunch and the amazing views along the way, including the opportunity for several side trips. We also loved Aurland! The hike from Ostebo to Vassbygdi (out of Aurland) was a huge highlight. The next day, we added a kayak rental in Aurland from a very relaxed operation along the shore in town. The weather was so marvellous that we kayaked to the other side of the fjord and went cliff diving into the deep cool waters there.

...and the most challenging part?
The hike from Ostebo to Vassbygdi was marked as "challenging" in your logistic notes and it certainly was! At the same time, it was a huge highlight of our trip.

Evan on the way to Vassbygdi on Fjordland walking holiday in Norway

Your favourite destination?
Finse was stark and wonderful. The hikes to the north of the lodge are like nothing we've ever experienced. The contrast between the rock and the colourful mosses and lichens made the place seem unworldly. Our bike ride through the Flam Gorge was breathtaking. We plan to return there next March to ice climb the waterfalls and frozen seeps along the valley walls. Aurland was very sleepy and relaxing but the hikes from there were the best, so rugged and beautiful. We especially loved kayaking along the fjord opposite Aurland's shore, diving and swimming in the frigid waters at the base of 1000ft waterfalls there. We also chose to take the Express Ferry from Aurland to Bergen rather than return to Oslo through Flam and Myrdal. Doing so, we saw the entire length of the beautiful Sognefjord as a fitting end to our journey.


Norwegian Rasberries near Flam on Fjordland walking holiday in Norway

Best food and drink?
The food was great. The best were the wonderful roadside markets and the buffets in Geilo and Finse. The beer and wine was a bit too expensive for us and we were hiking too hard to partake in anything but a small taste of the local brew. The clear water that spills everywhere along the trails was clean and wonderful to taste (after we zapped it with a bit of UV light, just in case). Now, I should say that I was able to obtain an extremely rare bottle of Larsen's Arctic XO cognac in Oslo, the report for which must wait for this winter's holiday season.


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Moss above the Hardanger Glacier on Fjordland walking holiday in Norway

Scotland with Laurie Berg Sapp

Sherpa Expeditions traveller Laurie Berg Sapp

Sherpa Expeditions traveller Laurie Berg Sapp travelled to Scotland with her husband and combined our Great Glen Way and West Highland Way trips with an ascent of Ben Nevis.


Why did you choose your trip?
We chose the walk because I had never been to Scotland and was intrigued by the history, the incredible number of famous writers in the country and the rugged beauty. We also liked the idea of combining the 2 hikes, attempting to climb the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, and going with Jon (Millen) – he is a great guide and a lot of fun.

How did you prepare?
We prepared by taking long hikes in our home state, Arizona, some as long as 12 miles. We traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona, which has an altitude of 7,000 to train in elevation to get our lungs ready. I hike 2 or 3 times a week love to enjoy the great outdoors!


Great Glen Way and West Highland Way Scotland

What was the best part of your trip?
The best part of the trip was feeling like you were in another world – so isolated, so wild and beautiful, away from all that’s familiar. It’s very different from where we live! The people on the trip were fun, and the people in Scotland could not have been any nicer.

...and the most challenging part?
The most challenging was definitely trying to climb Ben Nevis. We set out to make it to the top, but when it started to rain and blow 50 mile an hour winds, Jon took us on a loop to circle back down the mountain. I was almost blown over! We were wet, tired, and then we had to cross a river before we finally found some shelter. Typical Scotland – as we were climbing back down the sun came out!


Our Group on Great Glen Way and West Highland Way Scotland

Your favourite destination?
I loved Drumnadrochit (on the northern shore of Loch Ness) where we stayed in the little church bed and breakfast. It was a lovely place and the food that night was the yummiest!

Best food and drink?
Neeps and tatties! I still dream about those turnips and potatoes. My husband loved all the different beer and enjoyed drinking his way through the Scottish pubs.

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Alpine Pass Route Guided Walk with Sara Cockrell

Sara Cockrell on Sherpa Expeditions The Alpine Pass Route

Sherpa Expeditions traveller Sara Cockrell shares here experience in Switzerland on our Alpine Pass Route Guided Walk.


Why did you choose your trip?
I had trekked the Swiss Walker’s Haute Route (self-guided) from Chamonix to Zermatt in August, 2010, and enjoyed the stunning scenery, mountain cabanes, alpine villages & ease of Swiss transport so much that I wanted to return on a less-crowded route.

Our Group on the Alpine Pass Route with Sherpa

How did you prepare?
Since I am retired, I road bike, canoe, hike or xc ski for 3 hours, 5-6 days each week, when I am home in Michigan, so I have a good fitness base. Before I go on a trek, I like to hike L-O-N-G in the Rocky Mountains, with a lot of elevation, so I hiked 56.4 miles with 11,400 ft gain and loss in 4 days at the end of June in Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming USA. But, my “real” training was trekking 3 weeks in the French Pyrenees, followed by a 2-week trek on the GR20 in Corsica, before I arrived in Switzerland.

Mountain Refuge on the Alpine Pass Route with Sherpa

What was the best part of your trip?
The camaraderie of the group, our outstanding guide, Jon Millen, and of course, the scenery, an unbeatable combination!


...and the most challenging part?
The most physical challenge is hiking from one valley over a pass to the next valley everyday, so there is a lot of elevation change, climbing all morning, then descending all afternoon. The most mental challenge was the steps down from Sefinenfurke, and the steps up to Hohturli for Casey and me since we both had a little fear of falling.

Steep climb on the Alpine Pass Route with Sherpa

Your favourite destination?
Taking the Jungfraubahn to the “Top of Europe” was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, such an amazing engineering feat! But, my passion is snow-covered mountain vistas, so my 2 favorites were The Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau on the way down from Kleine Scheidegg to Lauterbrunnen, and from above Murren, and the views of Blumlisalp Massif and Oeschinensee on the way down from Hohturli to Kandersteg, and again, as we ascended to Bundechrinde Pass the next day. Perfect picture postcards, oh-la-la!

Mountain vistas on the Alpine Pass Route with Sherpa

Best food and drink?
The rest of the group were doing a “Pub Crawl”, so I cannot attest to the best drinks on the trip. But, the hotels where we stayed served delicious gourmet dinners & hearty breakfasts each day, especially exceptional in Engelberg, Lauterbrunnen, Golderli, Kandersteg, and Adelboden.


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Friendly locals on the Alpine Pass Route

Guided Coast to Coast Walk with Jac Lofts

Guided Coast to Coast Walk with Jac Lofts

Sherpa Expeditions traveller Jac Lofts share hers experience on our Coast to Coast - Guided (15 days) trip.


Why did you choose your trip?
I wanted to get out and experience the English countryside with some fellow walkers.

Walking on Guided Coast to Coast Walk

How did you prepare?
I did lots of full day walks at home (Sydney, Australia) and I’m really glad I did. The coast to coast throws a bit of everything at you – rain and mud and bog. The walks are quite long so particularly for the full end to end walk, it’s a real test of one's endurance.


Accommodation on Guided Coast to Coast Walk



What was the best part of your trip?

I loved the mix of accommodation – the B&Bs & pubs etc. Also the bonding over a beer each evening to compare stories, photos and our various aches and pains!


Food and drink on Guided Coast to Coast Walk


Your favourite destination?

I really liked Patterdale, just a tiny little town but the 400 year old pub we stayed in has a lovely setting surrounded by hills and pastures , a nice river, plus great food - and, if you’re lucky like we were, some local musicians for entertainment.


Scenery on Guided Coast to Coast Walk


Best food and drink?

Fish & chips featured on most menus so most of our group had this at least once. My fish & chips at the Red Lion in Grasmere was excellent – best hand cut chunky chips ever. Trying the various local ales at each stop was an enjoyable daily ritual.


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Views of  on Guided Coast to Coast Walk

Cornish Coastal Path with Mary & Joe Richardson

Cornish Coastal Path with Mary & Joe Richardson


Sherpa Expeditions travellers Mary & Joe Richardson talk to us about their journey to England and their experiences on our Cornish Coastal Path - Marazion to Mevagissey trip.


Why did you choose your trip?

I have wanted to walk the coast of Cornwall ever since reading Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier as a young teenager. Later, a more mature interest in history enforced my fascination with the area.

However, we had another reason for taking this particular trip – my husband I have somehow become senior citizens, and we were looking for a walk that would be a bit easy on our old bodies yet still be fascinating and beautiful. My husband has a brand new stainless steel knee, and I have a condition which affects balance. So, he was pokey climbing up hills and stairs, and I was cautious coming down - walking together we were slow as mud. We looked at each day and found ways to shorten the walk to accommodate our disabilities – and we still had a great time.


How did you prepare?
We live near the Louisiana coast in the United States. The elevation is 13 feet above sea level and there's not a real hill in the whole state, so we relied on the gym for training almost every day. None of the machines are a good substitute for walking real hills on uneven terrain, but it was the best we could do.

What was the best part of your trip?

Before talking about the scenery, I have to admit that one of the reasons I love Sherpa walking tours is the accommodations. Each night I could count on a room that not only had a hot shower, but also a hair dryer and good smelling shampoo. Moreover, each place is always lovely and has personality. The inns' owners are enviably helpful and give loads of information about where to go, where to eat, and what to make sure we don't miss (special thanks to the wonderful people at Gallentreath in Porthallow and at Bacchus B&B in Mevagissey).


Then there was the scenery. We experienced cliffs in a variety of ways, each with charm. There was only one bright-blue-sky day, which was of course gorgeous. One day we walked in deep fog. We could hear the surf crashing below us, but we couldn't see it. We were cocooned in a white mist that made every flower stand out in sharp relief and every bird call sound like it was just out of reach. Then, every once in a while, the fog would part and we got a glimpse of grey blue sea and shoreline before it closed in again. That day was lovely.

Another day, the wind was blowing at gale force and the red warning balls were up. I felt secure because the wind was blowing us toward the land, not over the cliffs. It gave us a sense of the power of nature in Cornwall. The many stories of shipwrecks on the reefs below seemed very real.


A personal highlight was going into all the Anglican churches along the path and in the villages. One not to be missed is the Little Church of St. Winwalloe (Day 3). It dates mainly from the 15th century and older, and is still being used. It is tucked right into a cliff near the beach. The stained glass windows in the Church of England in St. Mawes are outstanding and well worth a climb up the hill.

We happened to be in the village of Portloe on a Sunday and I attended a Church of England service (hiking clothes are considered church-appropriate). The people were exceptionally welcoming, and I got to see the preparations for a wedding between two families who had lived in the area for centuries. Attending Sunday service in this historic Anglican/Methodist church was my most intensely moving moment of our trip.


The single most beautiful place for me was the tiny beach at Mullion Cove. We were pleasantly tired from the descent, and we joined several other hikers on a little wooden bench facing the sea. The sun broke out and hikers started peeling jackets, loosening hiking boots, and breaking out granola bars in companionable silence. The combination of warm sun, blue water, fresh breeze, rocky cliffs, and old stone houses made me realize why people are passionate about Cornwall. I just wish there had been time for a nap.


...and the most challenging part?
The most challenging part was figuring out how we could see as much as possible with our physical limitations. We knew that if a walk was listed as “six hours” in the Sherpa guidebooks, it might take us 12. And in most places we couldn't get a really early start because breakfast wasn't served until around 8 am; each breakfast was so good that skipping wasn't an option.

We shortened each day, usually by substituting walks along country roads for the worst of the ascents/descents from cliff to beach. We augmented the maps supplied by Sherpa with local road maps, and these were very helpful. We also caught rides part way on two occasions. We were always afraid of missing something spectacular, and I'm sure we did. However, each shortcut brought its own special experiences and encounters with people, their dogs, and in one case, a blueberry picker who offered us a ride.


Your favourite destination?
We were so fascinated with the town of Mevagissey that we were glad we came to it at the end of the hike and could stay a couple extra days. Many of the original stone 17th century buildings have been repurposed into restaurants and stores (including the best Cornish ice cream stand of the whole walk), but it is still a working fishing village. You can buy raw, fresh-caught fish on the dock. The tide, as everywhere in Cornwall, is a force to behold. In the inner harbour, fishing boats would be perched on dry harbour-bottom, then, 12 or so hours later, they would be floating almost even with the sidewalks. There is a quirky museum filled with local artefacts, and a charming little aquarium housed in an old lifeboat station. I liked the aquarium because it displayed the fish that people actually catch in the area; I could see what the filets I had been eating looked like when they were still swimming.


Best food and drink?
Pub food is fantastic! We learned early on to avoid the cheaper fish and chip places, and head to the pubs. Although the fish and chips at the 15th century Fountain Inn in Mevagissey were the best of our entire stay in England. The overall best pub was The Five Pilchards Inn in Porthallow. The menu includes all manner of seafood including king prawns and mussels, not to mention what I ordered – Fillet of Hake with crushed new potatoes and mange tout, served with a Crab, White Wine & Saffron Sauce. That was followed by a made-just-for-me (honest!) Summer Berry Pavlova with Clotted Cream. 
I had not known that pubs were family affairs. Small children and dogs were plentiful, and very welcome. Fish and eggs are both fresh in Cornwall. A sign in The Ship Inn in Portloe said, “Tomorrow's menu is still in the sea” and I believe it was. At breakfast, the eggs were almost always free range.



  • Look at the shirts the bartenders in the pubs are wearing. Often they will have an insignia for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which is a volunteer organization that saves lives at sea. These young men are involved in the welfare of their fishing communities.
  • A very important note about ferries: An “on demand” ferry means that you are supposed to turn a sign on a billboard to let the ferry operator know you want to go across. We were at the ferry at Helford (Day 5) for a long time. I didn't mind because it was near the location of “Frenchman's Creek” and I wanted to look around. But when the ferry finally came, the operator told us we hadn't flipped the sign – if someone on the other side hadn't wanted to cross, he would never have come.
  • Buy hiking pants that zip off at the knee. Most of the dirt, mud, and sheep dung will be on the lower parts of your pants, so you can unzip them and wash just the most dirty parts in the sink. It works beautifully.
  • If you are from the United States, don't mention the Doc Martin TV show, no matter how much you like it. People in Cornwall think it's stupid. One told me it makes Cornwall residents look “dense.” I'm looking at that show differently now.


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Walking in Madeira

Walking in Madeira

is place of great dramaticWalking in Madeira 1 walks with Atlantic views, of mysterious coastal and highland mists, of intricate water canals and the innate friendliness of the Madeiran / Portuguese people themselves. The jagged peaks flanked by forests of pine and laurel, rise up to over 1800 metres and betray their volcanic origins. Through these peaks thread the 2000 km of levada channels bringing water down to the coastal settlements. During spring and autumn a myriad of colourful flowers and trees are in bloom: Jasmines, Begonias, Freesias, Magnolias and Camellias form just part of the spectacular flora. Walking routes in Madeira follow paths and levadas through the peaceful pastoral countryside and traversing the terraced hillsides. More challenging trails traverse the coastline and climb up to the rugged peaks of the interior including Pico Ruivo 1860m - the highest summit. Highlights of a trip here include having look around some of the interesting villages and towns including Funchal and a wicker sled ride down from Monte to the capital, which is an interesting experience, as is a visit to a Madeira wine lodge or the food and flower markets bursting with colour.

When to walk in Madeira

Anytime is an ideal time to go walking on the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira. Surrounded by the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, 400km north of Tenerife, it's warmed by the Gulf Stream and enjoys a pleasant sub-tropical climate all year round. During spring and autumn especially, there is more chance of the unstable weather associated with Atlantic fronts than during the summer, although they may only last an hour or so and then there may be a complete reverse back to glorious sunshine. So although it is generally bright and warm in this region each year, you should be prepared for rain, cold weather, high winds, and a particular Madeiran speciality: mountain and coastal mists.


A little on the history of Madeira

Madeira was discovered by sailors in the service of the Infante Prince Henry of Portugal (soon to become known as Henry the Navigator) in 1419, settled in 1420. The name Ilha da Madeira (English: Madeira Island) literally means 'Island of wood' in reference to the dense forest of laurisilva trees that covered the island. Interesting historical facts about Madeira:
  • Madeira is famous for it's unique fortified Madeira Wine.Madeira WineOriginally created by accident, its unique charactistic comes from the introduction of grape spirits (added to prevent the wine from spoiling) and the excessive heat and movement that the wine was exposed to as it made its way across the seas in ships headed for the New World or East Indies.
  • The UNESCO-listed Laurisilva Forest of Madeira dates back to the Ice Age and is the largest surviving laurel forest in the world. It's also home to a very unique ecosystem of flora and fauna including the native Madeira Long-Toed Pigeon which lays only a single white egg.
  • In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte stopped off to buy Madeira wine in Funchal en route his final destination and exile on the island of St. Helena. Winston Churchill came here on holiday to paint and write his WWII memoirs in 1950, and former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and husband Dennis spent
  • their honeymoon in Madeira 1951, returning 50 years later to celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary.
  • Madeira Cake doesn't actually come from Madeira. It was named after Madeira wine which was popular in England during the 19th century and was often served with a slice of golden-yellow 'Madeira' sponge cake.

Getting to/from Madeira

Madeira is around a 4 hour flight from the U.K. and is served by numerous airlines from most major airports across Britain. Madeira's main airport 'Funchal Airport' itself is quite an engineering feat and consists of an elevated platform partly over the Atlantic ocean. The historic town of Machico is the starting point for our Madeira walking holidays and is around 15 minutes drive from Funchal Airport.



Walking Holidays in Madeira

Sherpa Expeditions offers guided and self-guided itineraries to help you get the most out of your walking holiday in Madeira:

La Gomera Walking

Walking in La Gomera


If you have been walking on the Spanish mainland, or have been to The Canaries 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, but if you have travelled to countries of Central or South America, there are certainly Latin American elements that you will recognize in the villages and landscapes.

Sunset over Chipude on a La Gomera walking holiday

 Due to the fact that most Spanish tourism has been beach focused and that Gomera has little flat land and only a few small beaches with deep water and sometimes strong currents, it has survived from the frenzy of development seen elsewhere in the Spanish territories. As a result the island has an old world rural feel to it with homesteads, small vineyards, layers of terraces and large rocky peaks set in an amazing crown of Laurisilva - a laurel cloud forest. A remnant of the last Ice Age and Tertiary period, the Laurisilva is kept alive by trade wind rains and the sound conservation by the Garajonay National Park (which enjoys UNESCO recognition),where other islands have been largely deforested. The upper reaches of this densely wooded region are often shrouded in cloud and swirling mist, which has maintained this lush and diverse vegetation. In ancient times the local population (Guanches) used to collect the water dripping from the trees into jars and fill their reservoirs with it. Even today the tap water on the island comes from the ground water aquifers and although it is treated, it is drinkable – you don't need to keep buying bottled water. 


Landscapes of La Gomera

La Gomera is of volcanic origin and the mountainous Gomeran slopes are criss-crossed by paths, presenting varying levels of challenge to walkers and stunning views to reward the energetic. The island is roughly circular, about 22 km (15 miles) in diameter and rising to 1487 m (nearly 5000 feet) at the central peak of Garajonay. It is shaped rather like half of a peeled orange from which the segments have been parted, leaving deep ravines or barrancos which are coated with laurisilva. Between the extremes of the high cool vegetation and the warmer sun-baked cliffs near sea level, the Gomerans have for centuries farmed the lower levels, channelling water for the irrigation of their vines, fruits and vegetables, such as bananas. Because of the narrow barrancos, Gomerans have a unique way of communicating across the valleys by an amazing kind of whistled speech called Silbo. Silbo Gomero is an indigenous language, whose existence was known since Roman times. Invented by the original inhabitants of the island, the Guanches, Silbo was adopted by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century and survived after the extinction of the Guanches. When this was about to die out early in the 21st century, the local government required all children to learn it in school.


Eating your way around La Gomera

Landscapes of La Gomera Walking HolidayCanarian cooking is Mediterranean in style but with its own unique character. There is a distinct preference for traditional farm produce and meats, with low reliance on fatty foods. Gofio, a traditional staple of the Islands, has its roots in Spanish Canarian culture. Made from ground and toasted maize or wheat, gofio is highly nutritious and can be eaten as a dough mix, with savoury foods such as fish, or as a drink in milk. There are also a number of excellent cheeses made on the island, the best are those white cheeses from goats. There are a lot of pigs kept and pork is a common ingredient of succulent stews and hearty soups. Fish is probably the most common Canarian staple, be it fresh or salted and usually accompanied by one of a large selection of ‘Mojo’ sauces which range in flavour and strength, from the extremely hot and spicy to medium or very mild. ’Sancocho’ is one of the traditional fish stews made from salted sea bream, stone bass or wreck fish (this species has no English equivalent) which should be tried. Potatoes are another common ingredient and come in a variety of ways. Outstanding are the potato stews orthe ubiquitous and aptly named ‘Papas arrugadas’ (wrinkled potatoes), which are boiled in extremely salty water and eaten with hot ‘Mojo’ sauce. To round out your taste experience, there are shellfish and a variety of tropical fruits. Atypical product of La Gomera is ‘Guarapo’, the sap taken from the countless palm trees dotted around the Island which is cooked to make ‘palm honey' The local wine is 'distinctive', and complements a tapa (snack) of Gomerian cheese, roasted pork or goat meat. The better ones are the whites such as 'Asocado'. Brands to look for include 'Garajonay' and 'Roque Cano.' 


Self-Guided Walking Holidays in La Gomera

La Gomera Walking

Sherpa Expeditions offers three different trips designed to help you get the most out of your self-guided walking holiday in La Gomera.



Getting to/from La Gomera

 Looking over San Sebastian in La Gomera

The easiest way to get to La Gomera is to fly to Tenerife (not Tenerife North Airport – further out of the way) and then get the ferry or catermaran to San Sebastian. If you are pushed for time you can take a taxi from the airport to the "Ferry Los Cristianos" (25 Euros approx) which is the port at Playa de Las Américas, for onward ferry to La Gomera taking 40 minutes approx. If however, you are not pushed for time, there is a bus service that leaves from directly outside the terminal to Los Christianos interchange building, 2 Euros each way (approx) you need to check times locally. There are two main ferry operators between Los Cristianos and San Sebastion, with a number of daily departures.