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The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
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Sherpa Shows: Sandy Beaches & More of Guernsey

On day 4 of our Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way, you’ll undertake a relatively flat and long walk. The route follows the bays of the west coast of the island and allows you to complete a full walk around Guernsey before you arrive back in St Peter Port.

 

 

Visit Guernsey created this fantastic video of the stretch between Grandes Rocques and Port Soif, passing sandy beaches and historical fortifications. Watch the video to get an idea what a walking holiday in Guernsey may be like.

 

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of travel experts or find more on our 7-day Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way walking trip. 

6 Things to Do in Provence – By an Enthusiastic Local

Things to Do in Provence, France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner, our walking holidays in Provence bring you an immersive experience of a region that is known for its lavender fields, charming hilltop towns, rolling vineyards, medieval chateaux, bright sunflowers and the nearby beaches of the Côte d’Azur. Being such a diverse region, there are many things to do in Provence. Enthusiastic hiker Sonja became a Provençal resident 14 years ago and therefore we asked for her top reasons to visit and besides discovering the French region on foot, what else there is to do.

 

Local Markets & Provençal Specialties

Visit the French markets in Provence - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

In France, make sure you do visit one of the lively local markets. It is the perfect place to purchase delicious Provençal specialties for your picnic break from walking. In the route notes that we provide, you can find an overview of the exact market days and of course the best places to get fresh goat cheese, charcuterie, quiche lorraine, wine, olive oil and where the baguettes are the best. With so many delicacies at hand, it’s easy to let the outstanding Rhone Valley cuisine and wine do the pampering for you.

 

Doze Off

walking holidays in Provence - Sherpa Expeditions

 

After your picnic along the trails, why not stretch out on one of the lavender or thyme-laden hills? Slip your backpacks behind your heads, hat over your eyes, and enjoy the chant of cicadas soothe you into a quick nap. If you go between March until May, you'll experience the thyme in full bloom and between mid-June to mid-August, the lavender fields colour beautifully purple.

 

Avignon

visit Avignon in Provence - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Discover Avignon, the papal seat before it moved to Vatican City after the French Revolution. Avignon is the ideal place to visit ahead of your walking holiday and both the In Van Gogh’s Footsteps trip and Rambling in the Luberon holiday start just outside the historical town. Meander through its cobbled streets and walk on the famous St Benezet bridge – remember to sing the famous song: “Sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse…”

 

Van Gogh Legacy

visit Provence for Vincent van Gogh legacy - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

In 1888 painter Vincent van Gogh moved from Paris to Arles in Provence. The move was the start of his most ambitious and productive period of his life and he loved the region with so many things to do. Follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps to some of the places that he painted and knew well: cross historic Arles – the painter’s hometown, charming Les Baux, the Alpilles landscapes made famous by his paintings, and visit St Paul de Maussole and St Remy where Van Gogh spent his last years.

 

Provençal Wines

Provence wines on a walking holiday in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Learn more about the famous Côtes du Rhône Wines on a visit to Provence. Stroll through the vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and walk from one wine estate to another, perhaps with a wine expert who can unveil the secrets of the mysterious concept of terroir. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is without a doubt the most prestigious of the Rhône Valley’s wine-making villages. The best part about a tour is getting into the heart of the countryside: cycling or walking along farm tracks between the vines of Grenache and Syrah, taking you past some of the most fabled estates. And of course, a wine-tasting.

 

The Colorado in Provence

Explore the Colorado of France in Provence - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Colorado Provençal nearby the village of Rustrel (finishing point of the Rambling in the Luberon walking holiday) is a real surprise to first time visitors. The area covers a wide area right in the heart of Provence which have featured in many films including Cliffhanger and Westerns. Visit this part of Provence to see the canyon-like quarries dotted with pillars in all kinds of forms and shapes. 

 

The best thing to do in Provence, we believe, is to walk its timeless hiking trails far from the crowds and at your own pace. The self guided walking holidays in Provence come with well-written and easy-to-follow instructions and practical information. Learn about the villages along the way, where to buy your picnic fare, where to go to get the best bottles of wine and olive oil. Of course, we also asked Sonja for some of her most favourite addresses and have included a selection of restaurants, wine estates, olive oil mills, and other places of interest and “must see” visits.

 

We also include historical & cultural information about the towns visited, monuments passed, as well as information about local plants and wildlife, geology, agriculture, and all sorts of other interesting topics along the way.

 

Provence is a fantastic place to go for a walking holiday, whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner.

 

Interested in a Provence Walking Holiday Yourself?

  • For another walking holiday, the 7-day Rambling in the Luberon trip starts and finishes in Isle sur la Sorgue and takes in places like Fontaine de Vaucluse, Bonnieux and Buoux. 

 

 

In Praise of Trail Blazers

Finding the right route on a walking or cycling trip in a new environment is not always straight forward. The maps and route notes that you receive on Sherpa's self guided cycling and walking holidays allow you to take the right decision on the trail. Another useful aide are trail blazes, as writer Richard Mellor describes in this article. 

 

Walking in Italy Cilento Coast - Sherpa Expeditions

By Richard Mellor

Do you ever wander about waymarks (or trail blazes, as they’re called outside of the UK)?

I mostly spend my hikes looking for these symbols, feeling either triumph when one appears, or a growing trepidation that I’ve gone astray amid their continued absence.

 

trailblaze in Italy - Sherpa Expeditions

 

trail blazers waymarking in Italy - Sherpa Expeditions

 

But occasionally – as with this section of Sherpa’s Cilento Coast & Mountain walk that I am currently undertaking [red. May 2017], following a high ridge down from mighty Monte Stella, the sea glittering far ahead – I have a rare certainty of being on-track, and can instead ponder these universal hiking signposts.

 

The Cilento’s paths mostly utilise the classic red and white bars, plus some same-coloured wooden arrows. To install these, trail blazers must therefore have had to stride long sections lugging a large tin of red paint, a large tin of white, brushes for each and, for the arrows, lots of nails to sink into trees or rocks.


Monte Stella ridge walk - Sherpa Expeditions Cilento walking holiday


Waymarks on the Cilento Coast Italy - Sherpa Expeditions

 

They’ll also have been needing all the stuff I carry: water, extra clothing, maps, food (my main luggage fortunately was transferred by the Sherpa team).

 

Which means – I realise while crossing butterfly-rich heather, the stone-built village of Galdo now visible ahead – they’re probably hauling heavy loads around for long distances, and often up and down steep hills. Ouch. Suddenly, waymakers seem like heroes.

 

Last year I hiked in northwestern Spain, and let’s just say the waymarks were intermittent. At certain forks invisible on my map, there they, er, weren’t.

 

At the time, I blamed wild boars or rogue farmers. But now I’m imagining that perhaps the daubers simply ran out of paint, or were conserving their last precious blobs for a tougher junction.

 

Who are these blazers anyway? Is waymarking an official thing, only to be done by official people? I make a mental note to find out this evening. (Wikipedia, it later turns out, suggests a mixture of volunteer and local authorities)

 

Also, how often are waymarks updated – some smudges here are very faded, yet others so fresh I swear I can smell paint – and who decides? Do they travel in pai...

 

blazes lead to historical villages in Italy, Cilento - Sherpa Expeditions


Hang on a second. I’m now entering Galdo and, now I think of it, when was the last waymark? Uh-oh. Let the worrying commence…

 

Richard describes the panoramic day walk along the Monte Stella ridge on day 4 of the Cilento Coast & Mountain walking holiday. Superb views of the Amalfi Coast and Capri, an abandoned fortress, and charming historical villages like Celso, Cannicchio and Galdo characterise this day’s walk.

 

Like to know more about the Cilento Coast route in a remote section of Italy? Find the trip details, grading and cost of the Cilento Coast & Mountain walk now


Richard Mellor is a freelance writer and copywriter on mainly travel related topics. He gives lectures on journalism and you can read his articles in Metro, The Times, The Guardian, Telegraph Online and many more. Early May 2017 he walked solo Sherpa Expeditions’ 5-day Cilento Coast & Mountain trip in Italy. Follow Richard on Twitter.








Lace Up Your Boots: New in Walking Holidays

Scotland’s take on the Coast to Coast and the French flair of the Channel Islands

New UK walking holidays_Sherpa Expeditions


New in our walking holidays offer are the John Muir Way in Scotland and part of the Channel Island Way in Guernsey.


If you are planning a trip to Scotland this summer and wasn’t sure yet what part to cover, consider the new John Muir Way that links the east and west coasts of the country. As such, it is also affectionately known as the Scottish Coast to Coast. Visit historical features including the Antonine Wall and Roman Forts, follow in the footsteps of a Scottish legend and walk past lochs and bens of the Scottish Lowlands.  


Much further south, close to the French coast of Normandy, is the island of Guernsey. You already have the possibility to go on a three-centre cycling trip in the Channel Islands, but the offer is now complemented by a week-long walking option on the islands of Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney. The islands brim with character and are a walker’s paradise.

 

John Muir Way

new UK walking holidays_John Muir Way_Sherpa Expeditions


on the John Muir Way_Sherpa UK walking Holidays


John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, on the southeast coast of Scotland, and as a child developed a deep love of the natural world around his home. Best known for encouraging the establishment of the Yosemite National Park, Scotland has been rather slow to recognise its famous son – it was not until 2014 that he was honoured with a trail in his native land. The John Muir Way is a path that symbolically links Dunbar with Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the seaside town of Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast-to-coast route.

The John Muir Way 12-day self guided walking holiday launches in April >> View trip

 

The Channel Island Way

walking in Guernsey _ Sherpa Expeditions


Sunset in Guernsey - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays


This week-long walking tour around the islands of Guernsey is the longer half of the Channel Island Way. Originally part of the Duchy of Normandy but bequeathed to the English Crown by William the Conqueror, today they are independent in many ways yet maintaining a special relationship with the UK. Expect long sandy beaches and beautiful undulating cliff paths leading to tiny coves with sparkling rock pools, with forts of various sizes, some dating back to the 1600s while others, more recent, were created by the Nazis during their occupation of the islands in World War II.

Guernsey Islands – The Channel Island Way 7-day self guided walking holiday launches in April >> View trip

 

Read More

 

Contact our team of travel experts for more information on these new UK walking holidays and for booking details. 

This Year Only: Hadrian’s Wall Path & Cavalry Exhibition

New exhibition offers rare insight in the role and daily life of the Roman Empire’s cavalry forces

Hadrian's Wall Walk with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Walking Hadrian’s Wall Path this year will give you the opportunity to gain a rare insight in the role and daily life of the cavalry forces of the Roman army. Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site hosts a temporary new exhibition: Hadrian’s Cavalry, which launched in April 2017.

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall forms part of the ‘Roman Limes’, which represent the border line of the Roman Empire when it was at its greatest in the 2nd century AD. At present, remains of this border line can be found in Germany, Scotland, and of course England. Protected by UNESCO since 1987, Hadrian’s Wall today stands as the largest remaining artefact from Roman times anywhere in the world.

Hadrian’s Wall Walk

A must-see for history aficionados, Hadrian’s Wall can be followed on foot along the adjoining 84-mile (135km) Hadrian’s Wall Path. With Sherpa, you have two options, an 8-day and a 10-day version, that can take you on a self guided walking trip across the rugged countryside of Northern England, from Whitley Bay in the east to Carlisle in the west.

Roman bridge on Hadrian's Wall Path - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

Waymarks on a Hadrian's Wall walk in England with Sherpa Expeditions


The undulating, well-waymarked walk follows the ancient Roman Wall with a largely rural feel. Enjoy stunning vistas from places like Newcastle Keep, Highshield Crags and Bowness-on-Solway and walk in the Northumberland National Park. At night, enjoy the hospitality of country B&Bs brimming with personality and local charm. Self guided Hadrian’s Wall walking holidays depart daily between April and October.  

 


Hadrian’s Cavalry

Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition celebrates the cavalry regiments that once guarded this famous North West frontier of the mighty Roman Empire. Ten museums and venues form a unique wall-wide exhibition that takes place from Saturday 8 April to Sunday 10 September 2017. Ornate helmets, shields, decorations and weapons have been collected from museums around Europe and are now on display in various locations. Spectacular re-enactment events at different places along the Wall will also be part of the exhibition. From July, a specially commissioned piece of contemporary art will be on display at English Heritage’s Chesters Roman Fort and Museum (day 5 or 6 on our walks).

 

Temple of Minerva on Hadrian's Wall Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Walking Hadrian's Wall to see Hadrian's Cavalry - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 
For more information on Hadrian’s Cavalry and our Hadrian’s Wall Path walking holidays, contact our team of travel experts or browse information on Hadrian’s Wall, Classic Hadrian’s Wall 8-day walking holiday, or the Hadrian’s Wall Trail 10 day walking trip.








(Semi) Centre Based Alpine Walks

Besides linear or circular walking holidays, you also have a choice to opt for a (semi) centre-based walking holiday in Europe with Sherpa Expeditions.

 

Perhaps you are interested in exploring a certain region more in depth or you like to reduce the number of times to unpack and prefer sleeping in the same bed every night. The European Alps are an excellent destination to enjoy this style of travel. From the Austrian Lake District and the Dachstein Alps via Meiringen and on to the Bernese Oberland, below you can find ideas for centre based walking holidays.

 

Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps

This semi-centre based walking holiday evolves around:

  • Bad Goisern
  • Gosau
  • Hallstatt

centre-based-walking-holidays-europe-austrian-lake-district

 

Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area. The heart of Austria’s Lake District encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier, and breath-taking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through mountain forests and alongside glimmering lakeland shores as you explore alpine villages of wooden chalets decorated with colourful window boxes.

We grade this tour as moderate-challenging and although most days are easier, you will find some steep stony trails and perhaps an element of exposure on certain occasions. For those that like to avoid the challenging parts, there is public transport available between centres.

Go there on the 8 day semi centre based walking holiday Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps.

 

Meiringen

This centre based walking holiday evolves around:

  • Meiringen

centre-based-walking-holidays-europe-meiringen-reichenbach-falls - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland’s major passes, Meiringen is famous for the Reichenbach Falls, a spectacular cataract that was the setting for the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. A place for anyone who wants to see the real Switzerland, in autumn the landscape is painted with a riot of colour and in spring and summer you can find lush alpine valleys and flowers bloom. Walks here encompass all grades from gentle strolls to high ridges, while a superb integrated network of cablecars, postbuses and trams takes you in all directions quickly and easily.

The high places can be reached quickly without long uphill climbs out of the valley and, at any time of the year, you can fill a week with excellent day walks, from gentle strolls to high ridges. Choose yourself how easy or hard you care to make it.

Go there on the Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps 5 day or 8 day self guided walking holidays.

 

Bernese Oberland & Reichenbach Falls

This semi-centre based walking holiday evolves around:

  • Grindelwald
  • Lauterbrunnen
  • Zermatt

centre-based-walking-holidays-europe-bernese-oberland

 

A stunning region of rock and ice, Bernese Oberland is the perfect introduction to walking in the Swiss Alps. The route follows classic mountain trails to charming mountain refuges. Along the way you’ll be able to enjoy views from a variety of vantage points of vast glaciers that tumble from some of the highest peaks in the country, many over 4,000m!

Each day you can choose between a range of walks, often with differing grades and distances; you can also utilise the extensive mountain transport system to shorten the walks further. You also have the option to take the mountain railway to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station.
Go there on the Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls 8-day self guided walking holiday or join a small group of like-minded travellers on the Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls Guided Walk.

 

Interested in more choice of centre based walking holidays in Europe? Find out about the advantages and extra suggestions for this type of travel in the article ‘In the Centre of the Action: 4 Trips’.

 

For more information or booking requests, please contact our team of travel experts in our London office.

 

Hiking near Seville: A Chat about Sierra de Aracena

Hiking near Seville - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Lucy and Ángel run and own the guesthouse in the Sierra de Aracena (Spain) that is the start to our Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena walking holiday. It gives opportunities for hiking near Seville in an area that is dotted with tiny white-washed villages and a network of 70+ year-old walking paths. We sat down with the couple to talk about their love for Andalusia, the best regional food and their favourite places of the Sierra de Aracena.

 

Can you tell us about yourself and how you ended up in the Sierra de Aracena?

We are Lucy and Ángel an Anglo Spanish couple that met in the USA almost 30 years ago, when we coincided on a working holiday at a family-run hotel in upstate New York. The seed was sown!

We lived together in Sevilla, Ángel’s home city, for over 10 years. Both teachers, we loved to escape and discover Spain whenever we could – usually on a motorbike. Trips to the Alpujarras, Sierra Norte de Sevilla, Galicia, Leon, Murcía, Jaen, Ronda, Cadiz coastline and Portugal were all memorable explorations. However, the place we kept going back to was the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva. We fell in love with the tiny village (750 inhabitants) of Alájar; its narrow-cobbled streets, the lack of mainstream tourism, the friendliness of the people, the great walking and the mild climate all concluded to us taking over the business and setting up home at the original Posada de Alájar in 2004. In 2006 our family was completed with our amazing daughter.

Ángel always says I am not here for him but for the jamón and the gambas (prawns), which I sometimes find hard to dispute! We love the feeling of being part of a community, where everyone knows each other and even when life does get a bit difficult you can get out and go talk to the pigs!

 

Posadas San Marco - Sierra de Aracena - Sherpa Expeditions

 

“We fell in love with the tiny village of Alájar: the narrow-cobbled streets, the lack of mainstream tourism, the friendliness of the people, the great walking and the mild climate.” 

What are your 3 most favourite places in the Sierra de Aracena?

We chose Alájar, so we really are very biased about our favourite place! La Posada de San Marcos is somewhere very close to our hearts. We have set up this accommodation with sustainability at the forefront and it is a favourite for us. We are proud of the fact that our carbon footprint is minimal and enjoy explaining to our visitors how everything works in terms of eg. (water) recycling, building materials like sheep wool, and renewable energy. Every little bit helps - as they say! 

The Peña de Arias Montano is a very special place with a spiritual pull and views all the way down to the coast. Aracena is our main town, it’s a bustling market town that covers most of everyone’s needs and boasts the Caves of Wonder (Gruta de las Maravillas), an amazing set of caves that are well worth a visit.

 

What do you like best about welcoming travellers to your accommodation?

The conversations! It is so interesting to chat about all sorts of things, share recipes and give tips on where to walk, eat and what to look out for. We love chatting with Sherpa’s hikers when they get back to Alájar to hear all about their walk and discuss what they have seen along the route.

 

Sierra de Aracena - Sherpa Expeditions Walking in Spain

 

Sierra de Aracena walking in Spain - Sherpa Expeditions

 

What is a typical dish for people to try when visiting the Sierra de Aracena?

The most important ingredient of the area is the Iberian ham. The Iberian pig is endemic to this area and has been farmed free-range for centuries. On a walk, you will see many roaming around the hillsides under the holm and cork oaks eating as many acorns as possible. The acorns and the air from the sierra in the drying process give the ham a unique flavour. The fresh meat is also amazing – nothing like regular pork. The noble cuts were sold to those who could afford to eat such delicacies meaning that the locals were left with the poorer cuts and therefore have developed lots of dishes based on pulses, locally grown vegetables and the wild mushrooms found in abundance given the right weather, so there is plenty for the vegetarian too.

 

Hiking near Seville, Sierra de Aracena, Spain

 

“We like to call it our secret sierra”   

Food of Sierra de Aracena - Walking in Spain - Sherpa Expeditions   

What is special about walking in this part of Andalusia?

Less than 90 minutes from the sophisticated city of Sevilla it feels like time has stopped still in La Sierra de Aracena. We like to call it our secret sierra with a greenness more likely to be found in the north of Spain and the warmth of the Andalusian sun then on a trip hiking near Seville. There is an amazing variety of flora and the area has recently been designated a starlight dark sky destination.

Walking is still not a pastime in this area, it used to be a necessity and the paths between the villages show you a way and pace of life that has been lost in most parts of Europe. Walkers are surprised at how few people they actually see on the trails, which helps you feel you are discovering the area and then you come across a lovely traditional village or hamlet.

The Andalusians are happy to stop and chat and try hard to communicate, it amazes them that people are fascinated by something that is second nature to them and are even envious of what they have here.

 

What kind of people should go for self guided walking trips in Andalusia?

The walking is quite easy, there are no major climbs. We do recommend to wear boots as the once cobbled paths have now become quite stony in places. You never feel completely alone while walking as there are plenty of animals along the route and there is usually a small hamlet or village just in time for refreshment! Just 1,5 hours away from Seville, the walking route starts in Alájar and makes a circuit around the sierra. Hikers will be sleeping in other lovely whitewashed, cobblestone paved villages and return to our accommodation for the final night, which is lovely for us as we can greet you back ‘home’ and hear your stories.

 

If you like more information on hiking near Seville and the 8-day Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena walking holiday, please contact our team of travel experts.

Cicerone Introduces… Walking Offa’s Dyke Path

Cicerone and Sherpa Expeditions - walking Offa's Dyke Path

 

Have you ever considered walking Offa’s Dyke Path? Our friends at Cicerone prepared a very quick introduction to this historic trekking trail along the boundary between England and Wales and we are sharing it here with you. 


Where is Offa’s Dyke Path and how far is it?

The Offa’s Dyke Path starts in Sedbury, near Chepstow, and finishes in Prestatyn 177 miles later (285km). This well waymarked walk can easily be fitted into a two week holiday and, although long, is not too difficult. Sherpa Expeditions grades the walk as a moderate one that includes some long days and steep climbs and descends. 

Who was Offa and what is his dyke?

Offa became the king of Mercia in 757 and inherited a set of poor defensive ditches designed to protect his kingdom from invasion. Around the time of 780, King Offa organised the strengthening of the existing dykes by making the ditches deeper and piling the earth into high banks. All ‘facts’ about this are merrily disputed as there is little real evidence remaining. Still, Offa’s Dyke would have posed a considerable challenge to incomers from the Welsh side and, in some places, the bank is as high as 8 metres today.

Walking in Wales - Offa's Dyke

Offa's Dyke Walks in Wales - Sherpa Expeditions

Why should you go for an Offa’s Dyke walk?

Who doesn’t want to walk along Britain’s longest linear earthwork? Need more reasons? What about hiking in the Wye Valley (one of the southern UK’s most dramatic and scenic landscapes)? Visiting historic castles and abbeys dating from 1066? Or the fact that you are walking along the boundary of a former kingdom? 

 

When should you go?

The Offa’s Dyke Path can be enjoyed in any season but the shorter days of winter may scupper some of the longer stages. You would also need to prepare for winter conditions, particularly on the high hills. The bluebell woodlands in springtime are a particular highlight. We recommend walking Offa’s Dyke between April and October. 

 

Where should you stay?

There are areas of this walk that are remote from towns and services and accommodation must be carefully planned. Travel with Sherpa Expeditions to take away this hassle. The long-standing relationship with charming hotels and guesthouses helps getting availability, even in busy periods, such as the Hay on Wye festival or at the time of the Grand National in Chepstow. 

Walking Offa's Dyke Path - Sherpa Expeditions

Best bit:

The oldest stone-built castle in the UK just happens to be in Chepstow, the start of Offa’s Dyke Path, and is utterly spectacular.

Check out the Cicerone Extra article on How to pack for a long distance trek or find all details on our 8-day Offa’s Dyke walking holiday

 

Get a Spring in Your Step

Soles for Shoes, Choosing Walking Boots

Choosing soles for shoes - walking holidays gear adviseEvery month our resident guide, John Millen, brings you an anecdote, update, or tip on the gear you are likely to use on a walking or cycling holiday. Always from his personal point of view. Thinking about getting new footwear this spring for your walking holidays? Time to check the soles for your shoes with John! 

 

Often people have just one pair of outdoor footwear and this may mean that they end up wearing a less appropriate shoe for their particular activity.

 

Soles that are too heavy for faster low level walking can leave you with blisters, whereas soles that are too light for 'proper' mountain walking could leave you lame. The development of extremely lightweight running shoes and boots with light fabrics have changed the landscape in this area completely, giving you so much choice flexibility. For a lot of walking holidays, we always advise on a degree of ankle support. Numerous people with a running background will probably have quite flexible ankles though, so could cope with less protective footwear. A good place then to look at are the Salomon Speed Cross range for example, or various trail running models from Merrell, Vaude etc. There are also shoes called 'approach shoes' in this category, which have more of a traditional walking-shoe-look about them. Some of these come with Gore-Tex fabric, which helps on wet days, although some may prefer more quick draining, faster drying shoes. The type of material is important if you are going walking in warm or cold conditions, where ventilation rather than waterproofness may be a bigger concern.      

 

Soles for Shoes When Doing Easy-Moderate Walking

A lot of the easier to moderate walking tours that we offer involve farm and gravel tracks, through fields, forests and over downs and through dales. Generally, lowland-walking does not include sustained steep trails or climbs, or a lot of rocky paths, so the appropriate soles for these shoes and boots should be quite bendy. This will give you a lot of spring on your fore step. These types of hiking boots often wear comfortable straight out of the box. Inevitably there will be some road walking on our tours, so have as much cushioning as possible. The running-style footwear is very suited to this. Some of the soles on lightweight shoes or boots have a grippy sole of differing materials, which can mean that parts of the sole wear quite quickly. Also, on the grip part there may only be a thin 'skin' on a compressed foam midsole, which can tear or separate if it is used for mountain usage. These are quite good types of shoe for say walking in Tuscany, Burgundy, Tarn or doing the South Downs Way, or the lowland parts of the Coast to Coast or Dales Way

 

soles for shoes when doing easy walking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

buy hiking boots, soles needed for shoes - walking holidays

 

Soles for Shoes When Doing Moderate-Challenging Walking

When it comes to the more moderate to challenging walks, often in national parks going uphill and on steep slopes, soles for shoes or boots should be much more rigid, flexing slightly at the ball of the foot. Vibram soles are the most famous in this department, usually with one type of hard rubber used on soles with large rubber cleats for gripping mud and moor, and the welt well bonded with the fabric or leather. There may be a cushioning element in the heel or even forefoot, but often if you want better cushioning, you may want to invest in a cushioned insole. Bear in mind though that this may reduce the clearance between the top of your toes and the roof of the shoe. This offers your foot, ankle and even calves more support. The sole of a hill-walking boot will often be much tougher and stronger than a standard rambling boot, as they are built to take on tougher terrain. See Meindl Bhutan or Scarpa GTX  for example. These are ideal for tours such as the Alpine Pass Route, Tour du Mont Blanc, or the upland bits of the Coast to Coast.

 

Soles for Shoes When Doing Challenging Hiking

Now we come to choosing the right soles for big mountain tours like the Mont Blanc Ascent, Aconcagua, Mera and Island Peak. At this point, insulation becomes more of an issue and so does having a rigid sole. There is very little flex at the ankle and you walk around like C-3PO (the Star Wars character). However, the sole is usually a pretty solid Vibram unit, good for kicking steps in the snow or using crampons. These types of soles have become a lot lighter over the years with new materials used. My advice would be to use boots like Scarpa Mantas and Scarp Charmoz on the Scottish and Alpine peaks and chunky Scarpa Vegas or Phantoms (with integrated insulated gaiter) for winter mountaineering and bigger Andean and Himalayan peaks.  

 

If you have booked a walking holiday with us and are unsure of the type of shoes needed for your trip, or if you like some general advice on soles for shoes, please don’t hesitate to contact John or other members of our team.

 

Choosing soles for boots - walking holidays advise - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Did you know? When you book a trip with us, you receive a unique discount code for shopping at Cotswold Outdoor (with stores online and all over the UK). 

Things to Do in Guernsey: 5 Attractions

Rugged coast of Guernsey - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

Walking the Channel Island Way

When you’re planning a walking holiday on the Channel Island Way, you will notice there are many things to do in Guernsey and its surrounding islets of Sark, Herm, Lihou and Alderney. The area is steeped in history with influences of French and English monarchies, World War II, and European aristocrats like Victor Hugo and Renoir. Add to that the beautiful seascapes taken in from the many bays, rugged cliffs and endless beaches, and a selection of eclectic pubs and quiet villages, and your Guernsey attractions list is complete. Here is a top 5:

 

1.   L'Eree Bay

L'Eree Bay - Guernsey attractions - Sherpa walking holidays

 

The coast section between L’Eree Bay and Perelle Bay is a special marine reserve (Ramsar site). With its many rock pools L'Eree Bay is an important place for wading birds. Try to take in some of the amazing sunsets when looking towards Lihou Island. If you have time, you can go rock hopping in search for crabs and sea anemones. Other things to do in this part of Guernsey is to go and explore the trench defenses near Fort Saumarez.

 

2.   Bluebell Woods

Things to do in Guernsey: Bluebell woods in spring - Sherpa Expeditions

 

There is a rare stand of deciduous forest on Guernsey Island, situated in a sheltered dip south of St Peter Port. This one does exactly what it says it does on the map: it becomes a breathtakingly - beautiful dense 'Bluebell Wood' between April and May. Quite a contrast with much of the seaside flora that you will see when walking elsewhere on the island. The Channel Island Way passes directly through this unique Guernsey attraction and it draws a host of photographers and romantics at that time of year.

 

3.   Petit Bot Bay

Things to do in Guernsey: walking along Petit Bot Bay

 

Descending from the cliff path on the first day of the 7-day Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way walk, you reach the small but perfectly formed Petit Bot Bay. It is a sheltered sand and shingle beach on the south coast of Guernsey. There is of course a nice cafe to go for a cuppa, or pint later in the day. Petit Bot Bay also has a defensive tower, which actually dates from the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) when France, which had joined the war in support of the fledgling USA, threatened to send over waves of invading ‘visitors’. You can read more about Guernsey's fascinating history in the guidebook by Paddy Dillon.

 

4.   Cobo Bay

Guernsey attraction: Cobo Bay - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Another excellent Guernsey attraction for sunsets are Cobo Bay and Saline Bay. They run as a wonderful stretch of white sandy beaches up to a Victorian fort in the dunes. Many of the things to do in Guernsey are related to the beautiful scenery and Cobo Bay is no exception to this. Large sections of the Channel Island Way can be accomplished on beach sections such as Cobo Bay. Watch sublime scenes from the terrace of the superb hotel-restaurant you will find along the way. Out of the high season you have beaches like this nearly all to yourself.

 

5.   Sark

The island of Sark, visit on Sherpa Expeditions Channel Island Way walk


Just about everywhere on Sark is a brilliant part of the Guernsey islands! Sark is just so different, with its quasi feudal laws, and mainly because there are no cars it is so peaceful. What you’ll hear is just the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves and the occasional rumble of a tractor (they are allowed). The landscapes of Sark island are generally quite rugged and also pastoral. These reflect the boundaries of the original settling families of the island who arrived in Tudor times. Paths go out to the various gorse clad headlands with some amazing sea cliffs. From the north, you can see Guernsey and Herm islands. La Coupée is an interesting feature: a narrow road that connects to Sark’s baby neighbour, Little Sark, which will one day be a separate island. The walking trails are lovely as well - oh, there is no street lighting on Sark either, so bring a torch (flashlight).

 

Are you a big fan of the island just like us and like to find out about other things to do in Guernsey and beautiful places to see when walking on the island? The guidebook publisher, Cicerone, has 5 more beautiful places in Guernsey and along the Channel Island Way that we believe should be on your radar. 

 

For more information on the 7-day self-guided walking holiday in Guernsey that we highlighted in this article you can have a look here and download the trip notes, or get in touch with our team of travel experts with your queries.