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Trace the trails of Peter Rabbit in Beatrix Potter’s Lake District
Lake District walks have gotten an extra dimension now that the film Peter Rabbit has gone out in theatres across the globe. The live-action/computer-animated film of Peter Rabbit was part shot in the English Lake District in places like Windermere (on our Dales Way walking holidays).
Let the big screen inspire you to explore the timeless landscapes of Beatrix Potter’s Lake District – and her beloved character!
The story was originally introduced to the public in 1902 in ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and has captivated the imagination of readers of all ages for more than a hundred years. The new feature adaptation was partly filmed in the Lake District. This is a true ode to the character’s creator as Beatrix Potter had spent many holidays in the area, most likely she would have done the same Lake District walks as we take today. Potter is also widely credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.
For those who like to get a first-hand experience of Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, the highlights below of the Cumbrian Way walk may convince you to take a walking holiday to the region.
Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District
Follow in the footsteps of Peter Rabbit on a classic walking introduction to the charms of the world famous ‘Lakeland’, England’s largest and most visited national park. Highlights include:
· A celebrated landscape, hailed over the years not only by Beatrix Potter but also poets, authors and painters such as Wordsworth, Tennyson, Ramson and Wainwright.
· The first national park in the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, inscribed to protect a landscape that has been “greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards”.
· Follow the shores of quintessentially English lakes and find out why larger bodies of water are generally named as ‘mere’ or ‘water’, whilst smaller ones are denoted by ‘tarn’.
· Walk through sensational woodlands and forests that provide habitat for native English wildlife, including the red squirrel, one of the UK’s best-loved species.
· Cross typical stiles and ‘kissing gates’ along the footpaths on your way to tiny, centuries-old hamlets and traditional lively market towns, such as Ulverston and Keswick.
· Visit the traditional fell village of Caldbeck, where many of its old mill buildings, a testament to its glorious industrial past, are still in use.
· Stop at Hoad Monument – this concrete structure, built in 1850, commemorates statesman and local resident Sir John Barrow, and offers scenic views across Morecambe Bay.
· Fairly short distances covered each day, allowing for time to pause and admire the scenery; the route avoids upland areas, where navigation may become a problem in poor weather.
· Cosy handpicked accommodation throughout, including traditional pubs, rural family-owned guesthouses, as well as a Georgian townhouse
Or consider the Dales Way walking trail if the new film inspires you to explore the timeless landscapes of Peter Rabbit.
For more details and booking requests to explore Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, please contact our team of travel experts today.
4 active holidays to discover the other side of the French Riviera, behind all the glitz and glamour
There is more in southern France than the Cannes Film Festival and, especially beyond the seaside town, there is plenty of choice for active south of France holidays. Traditionally, the world-renowned festival takes place at the beginning of May and this is also a fantastic time to go out and explore some of the 60.000km stretch of tracks and trails that France is known for.
So, if the Cannes Film Festival has put you in the mood to discover the other side of France, behind all the glitz and the glamour, you can choose from a selection of self-guided week-long breaks across the southern part of the country…
On the Massif Central, above the broad valley of the Rhone, lies a walker’s paradise of hills where the Ardèche, Loire and Haute Loire regions meet. This little-known watershed for some of France’s great rivers is a land of steeply terraced slopes, half-hidden valleys and tumbling streams. Massive ruined farmhouses seem embedded into the landscape and the bleat of goats and call of the wild birds are often the only sounds you will hear on your hike. This active holiday in the south of France begins to unfold with breath-taking views across the enchanting Doux Valley from Le Crestet, a medieval fortified village built on a rocky hill, and is available over either 8 or 10 days, with the longer option taking in the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Chateau de Rochebonne overlooking the River Eyrieux.
>> Find all active holidays in Ardeche
Gain a unique insight into rural French life as you walk the secret hills and gorges of the Luberon – some of which plunge to depths of 30 metres. This region in the south of France brings holidaying walkers the pleasure of discovering mas (stone Provençal farmhouses) and ochre coloured hilltop villages. Starting in the heart of Papal Avignon, you will cross a revolving landscape through magnificent forests filled with oak, maples, cherry and fig trees, but also butterflies, owls and eagles. The famed Luberon Nature Park also includes a Geological Nature Reserve, whereas Buoux is one of the most famous rock climbing areas in Europe.
>> View our active and introductory walking holiday in the Luberon
Did you know? In France the carpooling app Bla Bla Car is a great way to cheaply and quickly travel between places if you like to save money on taxi rides and save time on train journeys.
In the autumn of 1878 Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cévennes accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”. His journey inspired Travel with a donkey in the Cévennes, which has since become a travel classic. Starting in the Auvergne, this south of France holiday follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, sad romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt.
>> Find out about two walking holidays in the Cevennes
Along footpaths dotted with cypress trees, crumbling farmhouses and lone chapels, this trip follows in the footsteps of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Take this southern France holiday to walk from St-Rémy to Les Baux-de-Provence and onto Arles, where the painter famously cut off his ear. Take in the sublime images of the region, with highlights including the Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery (where Van Gogh painted 150 paintings in a year!) and the painter’s much loved second home, the city of Arles, where he lived in the late 1800s.
>> Find all active holidays in the Provence or learn more about Van Gogh’s Provence
If these active south of France holidays have given you some ideas to add to your travel bucket list or if you have any questions on any of the above-mentioned suggestions, please feel free to get in touch with our team of dedicated travel experts.
We love Scotland and clearly we are not the only ones, as the country was represented with 12 entries in ITV’s Top 100 Britain’s Favourite Walks – a survey taken by more than 8,000 people. Out of these 12 places we have composed our own personal top 6 of the best hikes in Scotland.
Whether you are interested in short hikes to undertake in one or a couple of days, or for those who are after some of Scotland’s best long-distance walks, we hope that the list appeals to each and every one of you.
#1 Ben Nevis
Britains’ highest peak, Ben Nevis can be readily ascended in a day and is rightfully so leading our list of best hikes in Scotland. Much loved by not just the Scots but most of the population in the British Isles, Ben Nevis stands at 1,345m and its summit is actually the collapsed dome of a very ancient volcano. Different hikes lead to the top of the mountain of which the Pony Track is by far the most popular route. If you don’t succeed in your first attempt, perhaps you can get some inspiration from the 19th century poem written in the visitor’s book of the Ben Nevis hotel.
Want to know what the word ‘ben’ means? Read about it in this very handy list of hiking terminology.
>> Take a little detour when you are walking the West Highland Way or Great Glen Way and include a hike to the top of Ben Nevis.
#2 Great Glen Way
The Great Glen Way takes walkers to explore the heart of Scotland on foot. The route follows a fault line that was created 380 million years ago (read more about this here) and stretches for 73 miles (117 km) through the Scottish Highlands. In eight days, we take you to explore Fort William, the shores of the famous Loch Ness, paths along canal towpaths, forests and eventually to discover the ‘capital of the highlands’: Inverness.
>> Follow the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions between April – October.
#3 Falkirk Wheel
One of the 10 highlights on the John Muir Way is Falkirk Wheel, a unique structure as it’s the world’s only rotating boatlift. The lift only opened in 2002 and allows boats to efficiently connect between the Union Canal and Canal of Froth & Clyde. In the past this took up almost an entire day when boats had to negotiate through a flight of 11 lochs. The design of wheel has been described as “a form of contemporary sculpture” by the Royal Fine Arts Commission for Scotland and by modeller Kettle as “a beautiful, organic flowing thing, like the spine of a fish.”
If you book in advance you can go up on a boat in the wheel, ask our team for details.
>> Find the Falkirk Wheel on Scotland’s Coast to Coast walk, in itself a fantastic route that we think should actually have been included in the list of Britain’s Favourite Walks.
The Memorial Park in the pretty Victorian spa town of Pitlochry is the end of the Rob Roy Way. There are various walks to and around town and with Sherpa Expeditions you will follow an old railway line embankment through forest and including a steep descent. Once in Pitlochry, you will understand why this is such a popular town amongst visitors. It became popular as a tourist resort from the mid-1800s when Queen Victoria started to visit and a railway line was opened. The town has a population of below 3000 and much of its old-world charm is still visible today through many stone Victorian buildings and a shelter made out of cast iron on one side of the high street.
>> Hike the spectacular Rob Roy Way and finish in the pretty Victorian spa town of Pitlochry.
#5 West Highland Way
From the south of Loch Lomond to Fort William and Ben Nevis, this famous footpath connects Britain’s largest lake with its highest mountain. The route is a step back into history: many stages follow military roads that date back to the 1700s and used to link the Highlands to the Lowlands, as well as hotels that originated from droving inns that operated for centuries. All in all, it proves to be one of the best hikes in Scotland.
>> Learn much more about the West Highland Way, from the best time to visit, culinary highlights and some of our favourite viewpoints.
#6 Arthur’s Seat
From Arthur’s Seat, a volcanic hill near Edinburgh, you have fantastic views over the city. Besides this, you’ll even be able to look over the port of Leith, part of the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge and the waters of Firth of Forth fjord. Arthur’s Seat today is basically surrounded by Edinburgh so it makes for an easy-to-arrange hike, for example as an add-on to your walk or when you spend extra days in the Scottish capital. After an initial climb, you can easily do a loop around the hill. If you do this anti-clockwise up the steps for the steeper section and then follow the slope down from the summit, you can then wind down on the easier track to return to your start point. On a leisurely pace and including time to take in the views, this should take you no more than two hours.
>> Do a diversion on day 9 of the John Muir Way and walk up Athur’s Seat for fantastic views.
We have some suggestions for further reading for those that are interested to know more about the best hikes in Scotland or ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks. Or if you have any queries, please do contact our team of travel experts.
Every month our resident guide, John Millen, brings you an anecdote, update, or tip on the gear you are likely to use on a walking or cycling holiday. Always from his personal point of view. This month he has chosen to give you eight very useful travel photography tips. No matter what type of camera you use on your hike or bike ride, these beginner’s tips may help improve the tangible memories of your active Europe holiday.
People these days live through their cameras, mainly for gleaning memories and showing off to friends and families on Facebook or Instagram. However, sometimes the habit of taking a picture makes people forget to actually look at or see much of the subject matter. Nowadays even basic mobile phones have quite good cameras and only the keen photographers would carry with them a big single lens reflex (SLR) camera. In the middle ground, there are plenty of people using compact cameras. Whatever your preference is to travel with, here are a few travel photography tips that will most likely help you take even better travel photos.
1. Change Your Angle
Most people take the same shot from virtually the same angle as everybody else! Try something different, get low, lie on the ground and look up, get high in a building and look down, take the picture at a rakish angle. Once you have your standard shot try something new. Change your perspective, add blur. Change aperture for depth of field effects.
2. Add Some Effect
With SLRs and compact cameras a selection of graduated filters make interesting and easy effects: accentuating colours, darkening clouds etc. Some mobile phone cameras have effect changes that you can do after you have taken the main picture, for example increasing colour saturation, or turning pictures into paintings. Sometimes it is a bit gimmicky but other times these effects can be very effective. You may have noticed how a lot of travel photos these days look, well a bit too bright, a bit too unworldly: places are marketed with really clean looking shots which are not really 'how it looks'. Some extra advice, all JPEG type pictures can be transformed by degrees in Photoshop or Lightroom type software and it all depends upon what you want to achieve and how long you wish to spend doing it.
3. Filter & Zoom
With single lens reflex cameras, we advise to always carry a polarizing filter with you for those blue days of summer where you can get dramatic cloud or water effects. Just don't leave it on all the time. If you have a zoom lens, try a 'Vari zoom' technique, change to a 1:30 shutter speed, and try to zoom in or out with the lens in an even rate. This travel photography tip will help you get an effect of increasing blur towards the edges and more clarity in the middle, like the subject was rushing towards you. Other simple tips include, breathing lightly on the lens and you have a mist or fog effect that gradually clears as you look through the viewfinder.
4. The Golden Hours
Especially for outdoor photographers, weather conditions play an important role. In good weather, depending upon latitude and time of year, there is always that period when the golden light of dusk or dawn creates beautiful natural saturated colours. If you are staying overnight at a place, try to get up early, there will hardly be anyone about and you will be able to see the sites, although not always allowed to enter them, virtually on your own.
5. Tripods at Night
Before and beyond the Golden Hour, try night shots! If we are talking about how to take good travel photos, tiny but sturdy tripods can be really worthwhile packing to capture sharp night shots. Usually shots of illuminated monuments or cityscapes are usually better at dusk or dawn, just as the lights are going on or off, and before it is too dark altogether. There are tripods available even for mobile phones and of course for SLR and compact cameras.
Set your camera for the best resolution possible, memory space is comparatively cheap these days and there is nothing worse than having a superb shot and realizing that you cannot blow it up at all, unless the effect that you want to portray is that of Lego bricks!
7. A Clean Lens
John’s seventh travel photography tip is to keep things clean: carry a lens-cloth and keep your lenses clean. Mobile phone lenses often acquire a film of grime very quickly. SLRs have lens caps so that is easier, compacts often have retracting lenses that can suck dust into them if you are not too careful. Also, the sensor should be kept clean: on SLRs and some compact cameras, hair and dust can get trapped over the image sensor. This means they will appear in virtually every photograph you take in some form. Get your sensor carefully cleaned!
8. The Obvious!
Perhaps an obvious tip, not just for outdoor photographers, but useful at any moment really. How many times are you taking photographs and then at the critical time your battery fails or you run out of memory space? Carry a spare battery, a wireless phone or camera charger and memory card at all times.
Do you like the Gear Matters blog articles written by our resident guide John Millen? There are many more topics besides these outdoor photography tips. Browse to the full overview to find articles for example about how to clean your walking boots, the best water bottles in order to reduce plastic use, and what overshoes to choose to keep your feet dry.
Every month our resident guide, John Millen, brings you an anecdote, update, or tip on the gear you are likely to use on a walking or cycling holiday. Always from his personal point of view. This month he looks at choosing the best cycling sunglasses and what difference a decent pair of eyewear can make to walkers and cyclists alike.
My early days of cycling and mountain walking led me very quickly to realise the value of wearing sunglasses. Cycling fast, I had various run-ins with bees and flies with a combined impact speed probably around 45mph! Then there have been those times on cycling holidays when a series of tiny fly flew into my eyes and started to dissolve leaving me to have to emergency-stop and flush the critter out before I swerved to the wrong side of the road. My early days on walking holidays in the mountains with inadequate sun protection resulted in squinty, tired and gritty feeling eyes. Soon I was investing in decent cycling sunglasses!
One should note at this stage that when we talk of sunglasses, very few brands these days are actually made of glass. Ray Ban, Persol and Vuarnet, for example still make lovely sunglasses from glass, but these may not be always so good for sporting activities; being heavier on the nose bridge than plastics. There is also the slight worry that a glass lens could break or chip in sport and get into the eyes although this is highly unlikely. Most sports sunglasses are a type of plastic such as silicon or Perspex. Generally speaking these are very strong materials, although not necessarily very resistant to scratching. Oakley were one of the companies that pioneered this manufacture and once boasted ‘bullet proof technology lenses at 10 metres’, their advertisement showing the pock marking on their lenses after a shotgun blast impact, rather than a sniper rifle! Oakley make well-loved sports glasses but may not perform or last as well as models made by manufacturers such as Julbo, Enduro, Tifosi and the likes, for a third of the price. So much for bullet proof protection, my beloved Oakleys eventually fell apart!
Nevertheless, it is probably wise not to buy really cheap shades, slight optical imperfections can in the short-term cause headaches and may do lasting damage in the long-term. Also, importantly the lenses should be shown to block harmful UVA and UVB blue light as this has proven to cause cataracts and retinal problems.
You don’t have to buy an expensive pair of glasses for cycling or hiking, as long as perhaps they are from a reliable make, have UV protection and are manufactured for the category of light that you are going to expose yourself to. Reasonable specification glasses will normally be marked on the frames or box with ‘Category’ (or CAT) 0 to 4: indicating the Visible Light Transmission (VLT) of the lenses. So, Category 0 is like a safety glass, or a clear cycling glass for grey weather and have a VLT of 80-100% whereas a CAT 3 pair have a VLT of 8-17%, which is fine for most walkers or cyclists. CAT 4 glasses are designed for long periods on snow and ice or in bright conditions such as a beach and have a VLT at 3-8%. CAT 4 sunglasses are provided by manufacturers such as Julbo and Vuarnet – both with side pieces or wrap rounds and the latter still using some optically correct glass lenses.
Especially for cyclists it is worth considering a pair of polarised sunglasses. Ordinary tinted sunglass lenses only cut down on ambient light that reaches the eye, or VLT. However by their very nature, they cannot block glare. Only polarised lenses can block glare and not having that option could be dangerous if you are riding your bike.
Tests show that the most protective sunglasses are wrap rounds that protect the eyes from incidental ambient light entering from the side. The wrap round can either be a continuation of the lens, or plastic frame or more traditionally, leather side pieces. Quite a number of cycling shades now have some cut-outs of lens material between the frames and the lens, although this may slightly increase incidental light. The real advantage of this for cycling is that it ventilates and defogs the glasses when you are cycling or running which is really useful. Examples include the expensive Oakley Jawbreaker and the much cheaper Endura Mullet.
There is a fashion at the moment for lenses to have a tint that is as reflective as a shaving mirror. However, even on expensive glasses, mirrored tints can easily scratch and even wear off. A lot of manufacturers have their own style of tint, but fundamentally the most common lens colours are brown, then green, then grey. This is because these lenses are 'colour neutral'- they cut down on overall brightness without distorting colours thereby accentuating relief. Quite a few cycling sunglasses have a range of interchangeable lenses with different tints that can be used in different riding conditions. Oakley and Rudy Project do this at the top end and Endura, Maddison, DHB, Tifosi and others do so at the more economical end. Of course it can be a bit fiddly changing lenses, so for some people photo-chromatic lenses maybe a way forward as they darken or lighten depending upon light intensity (for instance: Julbo Aero bike glasses).
No matter how good the lenses are, it won’t help if the frames let you down - they are after all, the support for the structure. Make sure that when you try the glasses that they fit well and you don’t have to keep sliding them up the bridge of your nose like Agnes does with her glasses in Mrs Brown’s Boys. A lot of the sporting shades do have rubberised ear and nose pieces which make them more secure and stop them from bouncing around when you are doing sports. Frames bend out and fatigue; if you keep them on the top of your head when you are not using them, they will tend to overstretch and then they never fit snuggly anymore. Instead, keep them in a case clipped to your rucksack if walking and if you are not using them while cycling, do what the cycle pros do, and insert them upside down- sliding the arms through the helmet ventilation slots. Watch out also for sunglasses with ‘crystal’ frames (clear transparent plastic) as clear frame can cause light refraction at certain angles around the lens creating dazzle in your eyes.
The hinges of sunglasses will normally break under any kind of stress. Metal frames are more durable than plastic ones and some have a spring induction dampener to prevent overstraining.
Cleaning & Caring of Your Sunglasses
Sunglasses need cleaning regularly especially after cycling or walking when they may be covered in sweat-salt, sun cream, sand particles or even the tiny flies I mentioned earlier. Wash them in warm soapy water, then rinse off. Use the manufacturer’s microfibre wipe for gentle wiping off smears and breathe on the lenses and wipe for polishing. Wash the microfibre wipe regularly. Any screws keep tight, but don’t over tighten.
The more expensive glasses can be made to a prescription order at some expense. Of course, some manufacturers still produce clip-on sun lenses to go onto the frame of your standard glasses.
Some More Thoughts
Many people, such as myself, normally carry two pairs of sunglasses, just in case one pair gets sat on, gets blown off my face or has a lens or frame failure. However, I have decided not to have such an expensive pair for outdoor activities having wiped out a few pairs over the years. I just leave a nice pair of glass-lens & folding Ray Bans in my main bag for après action, chilling and sightseeing use. Sometimes walking around with cycling glasses on, just makes you look too much like a space cadet!
Just to point out that the only sunglasses that lasted me more than 10 years have been a solid pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers, with large metal hinges, and a pair of Rudy Project cycling and running glasses. There are also my beloved heavy duty Vuarnet Alpine glasses that have been with me for 15 years and I just can’t quite get rid of, even though I maybe should..!
For more of John’s Gear Matters blog articles on topics like knives & multitools, water bottles, gaiters and much more, have a look at the complete Gear Matters blog articles overview.
If you have any questions on what gear you should bring on your walking or cycling holiday, please do get in touch with John and the rest of the Sherpa team. We are happy to assist you with specific questions.
Besides walking the Cotswold Way, a famous national trail in the UK, another option to explore this most charming English region is at handlebar level. Go cycling in the Cotswolds and you’ll be able to cover more of the quintessential English towns and picturesque countryside in the same amount of time.
From some of the best places to take a break from your cycling to essential bike tips, read on to find out our top tips to commence cycling in the Cotswolds.
This village along the River Servern has two Saxon churches and is a pleasure to discover. The Priory Church of St. Mary was built before 804AD and much of the church dates from then. It has areas of Saxon herringbone work and a 19th Century font. The other church, Odda's Chapel, is one of the most complete Saxon churches in the UK. It has a simple rectangular nave and a smaller rectangular chancel. It was discovered in 1885 during repairs to the half-timbered farmhouse to which it is attached. There are some timber framed cottages in the village that make it even more charming.
You will find so many beautiful picnic spots when cycling in the Cotswolds, that we certainly advice to make use of the opportunity to quietly take in the countryside. Picnic materials can readily be obtained from bakeries and groceries in each of the towns and villages where you stay, and very often even en-route.
Indicate clearly to the road users what you intend to do, particularly when turning right. Look behind you, wait for a gap in the traffic, indicate, then turn. If you have to turn right off a busy road or on a difficult bend, pull in and wait for a gap in the traffic or go past the turning to a point where you have a clear view of the traffic in both directions, then cross and return to the turning. Use lights and wear reflective clothing at night and in poor light. Do not ride two-abreast if there is a vehicle behind you. Let it pass. If it cannot easily overtake you because the road is narrow, look for a passing place or a gate entrance and pull in to let it pass.
England happens to be blessed with public houses that often offer a full bar menu from lunch time until the late afternoon. These are sometimes priced so competitively that you will be hard pressed providing a similar type of meal for yourself. Especially on Sundays the traditional Sunday Roast is a good reason to start your day early and finish off in the local pub with roasted meat, roast potato, vegetable trimmings, Yorkshire pudding and sauce.
Stroud is a working town that is centred on five valleys and hills. It was a very important Cotswold cloth town and still produces green snooker baize, the cloth for Wimbledon tennis balls and red guardsman coats. When you cycle through the village, you’ll notice there is a Victorian parish church in the shambles and you can visit former working mills at certain times of year (please ask our team). Designer Jasper Conran described Stroud as ‘the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds’. https://www.cotswolds.com/plan-your-trip/towns-and-villages/stroud-p670813
Travelling with Sherpa Expeditions means you will spend a minimal amount of time on the busiest roads, but you will inevitably encounter some traffic. Be very careful cycling fast on the narrow, twisting country roads as you can suddenly come face to face with a tractor or a fuel supply lorry coming the other way. Be highly aware of what is going on around you and ensure that other road users are aware of you.
Guiting Power is a quintessential Cotswold village situated in the Heart of England, between Winchcombe and Stow on the Wold. It has an ancient Stone Cross on the village green, mossy roofs, roses and wisteria clambering up the mellow walls, much of it just the same as four centuries ago. There are two pubs in the village, both within a short walk from the Guest House. The Hollow Bottom pub and restaurant is well known for its racing connections and you are guaranteed a hearty meal and good pint. The village (recently featured in the TV series Father Brown) also boasts a local shop which offers all the essentials, as well as baking its own bread on the premises. There is a small gift shop which serves teas, coffees and a selection of homemade cakes. All in all, a fantastic town to overnight during your Cotswold cycling adventure.
Where you park your bike, what you lock it with and what you lock it to are important in protecting it from being stolen. Lock your bike to something immovable in a well-lit public place. Locking two bikes together is better than locking them individually. Use a chain with a lock to secure the wheels and saddle to the frame.
Want to explore the Cotswolds on a cycling holiday yourself? With Sherpa Expeditions you can go on a self guided Cotswold by Bike holiday between March and October. Learn more about the trip here, or contact our team of travel experts.
With Newport Jazz Weekend, Isle of Wight Festival, Jack Up The 80’s, and Eklectica all taking place this summer, could this be the year that you will discover The Isle of Wight? There are so many more things to do in the Isle of Wight than visiting one of these music festivals and a great idea is to combine a festival with a walking or cycling holiday to the Isle of Wight.
A place which in many ways exists in its own time warp, the Isle of Wight is ideal for an active break: half of the island is designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, there are more than 200 miles of cycle routes, it is easy (and cheap!) to reach and enjoys a milder-than-most-parts-of-the-UK climate.
Half of the Isle of Wight is designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’
Sherpa Expeditions Manager Tali Emdin explains about some of the things to do in the Isle of Wight:
“Everything on the Isle of Wight is on a manageable scale – there are no huge towns or big industrial blights but long chalky downs, sandy beaches and enchanting woodlands. You will find plenty of seaside rock, ice cream and fish ’n’ chips, but also great traditional pubs, quiet paths, historical churches and gems of villages.
Any given day along the famous ‘Coastal Path’ will take you through some wonderful areas...
For those that are considering what to do on the Isle of Wight, Queen Victoria’s Osborne House is quite a sight (you can even walk down to her private beach for a peek of her original ‘swimming machine’). At The Needles Park, the backbone of the island dives into the sea like a dragon’s tail with chalky sea-stack scales, while
seeing the sunset from the only surviving medieval lighthouse in Britain at St Catherine’s Oratory is definitely worth the steep walk up!”
Whether you are looking for an Isle of Wight holiday on foot or by bike, you can choose one of the following two trips with Sherpa Expeditions:
ON TWO WHEELS | Isle of Wight Cycle
Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the island, and let your holiday begin! Ideal for anyone looking for a short town-and-country cycling break, the circular route is undulating and distances are kept fairly short, giving you time to stop and explore. Highlights include sophisticated Cowes, world famous for its regatta; the astonishing brick-built Quarr Abbey; taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line; the tidal estuary at Newport, known for its chain ferry; and Chale, the shipwreck capital of the island.
Learn more about the Isle of Wight holiday: 5-day Isle of Wight Cycle >>
ON FOOT | Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
Spend a week circumnavigating the island and taking in its great natural beauty, enjoying glittering sea views across the Solent and the English Channel, its well-known white cliffs and sea-stacks around The Needles and of course miles of beaches. Following mostly public footpaths and minor lanes, there are several attractions to break down each walking day, including a visit to the holiday home of Queen Victoria, Osborne House; the thatched church at Freshwater Bay; timeless seaside resorts such as Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown; and the great Palmerston fortresses.
Learn more about the Isle of Wight holiday: 8-day Isle of Wight Coastal Walking >>
Isle of Wight music festival dates
Newport Jazz Weekend: 30 May – 3 June 2018
Isle of Wight Festival: 21 – 24 June 2018
Jack Up The 80’s: 10 – 12 August 2018
Eklectica: 7 – 9 September 2018
Both holidays join in Ryde, Isle of Wight. For more information on these trips and for bookings please contact our team of travel experts by email or phone or click through to the trips:
>> Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
>> Isle of Wight Cycle
Tour de France 2018 dates are slowly approaching and before you know, the official start from Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile (just off the coast of the Vendee) on July 7th will be here! It’s a unique opportunity to watch the Tour de France live in one of France’s charming towns. Spending some time with similar tour enthusiasts in high anticipation of the cyclists and then witnessing their speed and recognising famous participants will make for a lifetime memory.
This year, why not plan your summer holiday around the Tour de France dates and combine an active holiday in France with witnessing Le Tour for real? Whether you want to walk between vineyards in the Loire Valley, get lost in the Pyrenees – once a hideout for the Cathars, outperform yourself on Mont Blanc or traverse the remote countryside of Cevennes, below are six of the very best trips to combine with the Tour de France this year.
10 July: La Baule – Sarzeau >> Loire Valley
The ever-popular Sauvignon Blanc was one of the very first fine wines to be commercially bottled with a screw cap and the Loire Valley is known to be producing some excellent delicate varietals – especially the Upper Loire areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Pick a nice terrace in the shade and with a cool glass of white in your hand, watch the Tour de France cyclists pass by on one of the first stages between La Baule and Sarzeau.
Travel on the Vineyard Trails of the Loire and watch the Tour de France live >>
17-19 July: Annecy – Alp d’Huez >> Mont Blanc Region
This extended itinerary circumnavigates Mont Blanc and explores the surrounding alpine region. Faced with picture postcard vistas from every vantage point, this trek affords unsurpassed views of the different faces of the Mont Blanc massif, as well as the highest point on the Tour of Mont Blanc, the Grand Col Ferret at 2,537m. Take in glittering glaciers and spectacular mountainscapes – your bags and supplies will be transported for you, allowing for plenty of time to explore en route. Add some extra days to see the Tour cyclists climb some of France’s highest mountains.
Travel on the Tour de Mont Blanc and watch the Tour de France live >>
21 July: Saint-Paul Trois-Chateaux – Mende >> Cevennes
In the autumn of 1878 Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cevennes accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”. His journey inspired Travel with a donkey in the Cévennes, which has since become a travel classic. Starting in the Auvergne, this trip follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, sad romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt. Ahead or after your walking holiday, visit Mende to watch the tour de France live.
Follow Louis Stevenson’s Trail and watch the Tour de France in Cevennes >>
24 July: Carcassonne – Bagneres-de-Luchon >> Crusaders Cathar Castles
Joining in Toulouse, this walking quest in the foothills of the Pyrenees delves into the rich history of the Cathar Country of the Foix, Aude Valley and Corbières areas of Southern France. The trip follows the tragic fate of the Cathar heretics, whose parfaits or priests were burned at the stake or driven into hiding. As well as its rich and evocative historical heritage, the area offers outstanding scenery of wild flowers and fine local dishes and will make for a mountainous stage 16 of this year’s Tour.
Trace the footsteps of the Crusaders’ Cathar Castles and watch the Tour de France >>
24-26 July: Bagneres-de-Luchon – Pau >> Tarn & Aveyron
Our walking route winds between the ‘Bastides’ (fortified towns) that sprung up during the Wars of Religion: rich in history and situated in spectacular settings on rocky promontories, here every stop has a tangle of narrow medieval streets to wander and sweeping views from the rocky hilltops or ancient walls. The start and end point of this circular walking tour, through the departments of Tarn and Aveyron, is Cordes-sur-Ciel, the first and most important of the ‘Bastides’, founded in 1222.
Travel on the Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron trip and watch the Tour de France >>
27 July: Lourdes – Laruns >> Pyrenees
When the Greenwich Meridian was agreed upon as the international standard, the fact that it was passing through some of the most spectacular corners of the High Pyrénées was probably not a major consideration. Trip highlights on include the dramatic, natural ‘amphitheatre’ of Cirque de Gavarnie and the famous Brêche de Roland, a natural rock doorway into Spain. The latter location is closer to the 25 July stage of the Tour de France that finishes in Saint-Lary-Soulan.
Travel on The Meridian Way: Heart of the Pyrenees and watch the Tour de France >>
If you are curious to find the exact schedule and Tour de France dates for 2018, below map may give you some support:
For more information and booking details, please contact our team of travel experts via email, phone or drop into our office in London.
©Le Tour de France
It’s been quite the show in the UK recently and the talk of the town: Britain’s Top 100 Favourite Walks. Voted for by 8,000 Brits, the final list was presented on national television last week during a 2-hour lasting show. For those that have access to ITV, you can watch the programme online until the end of February 2018.
For us it was quite exciting to see such a mix of walks spread around the island and as far as Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. Out of the Brits’ favourites, we selected our personal Top 10 Best Walks in the UK for you.
We’d love to hear your comments in the box below and see which are your favourite walks of Britain.
#1 Helvellyn | Lake District, England
On a great walk over Grisedale Pass and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn to Patterdale, you could opt to include a two-hour detour to summit Mount Helvellyn. Explore England’s most popular mountain, located in the Lake District, for breath-taking views.
>> Take it in on the Coast to Coast Guided Walk
#2 South Downs Way | Surrey & Sussex, England
The complete South Downs Way, stretching for 100 miles over a rare large area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in southern Britain, follows a route that is for most of the part ancient. The Way is often made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of southern England. At intervals the hilly downlands are broken by ‘wind gaps’ or river valleys, mixing the ridge walking with some meandering visits to beautiful rivers with their associated villages. We are happy with this listing in Britain’s best walks.
>> Follow the South Downs Way with Sherpa Expeditions
#3 Broadway Tower | Cotswolds, England
The unique Broadway Tower offers remarkable views of the Cotswolds and is fantastic to combine with the charming village of Chipping Campden. Broadway itself is a beautiful and picturesque town and the main street is lined with magnificent stone-built houses as well as some great antique shops.
>> Take in Broadway Tower on a walk to explore the Cotswolds
#4 Hadrian’s Wall Path | Northumberland, England
Officially opened in May 2003 after many years of negotiations with landlords and farmers to finalise the exact route which stretches 83 miles/133 km across town and country, forest and moorland, World Heritage Site and National Park. Omnipotent along this route, which belongs to the best walks in the UK, the Wall snakes its way, in sections interrupting a housing estate here, or popping up under a road there. Then, from being little more than a grassy bank, it transforms into stone and rollercoasters over crag tops and down into impressive fort like structures such as at Birdoswald and Housesteads.
>> Follow Hadrian’s Wall Trail with Sherpa Expeditions
#5 Offa’s Dyke | Monmouth & Hereford, Wales and England
The remaining 80 miles of Offa’s embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument and the basis of a famous walk: crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times on the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path. This walk in the UK is a journey packed with interest. Walk through an ever changing landscape through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats, home of buzzards and the rare Red Kite.
>> Follow a part of Offa’s Dyke with Sherpa Expeditions
#6 West Highland Way | Highlands, Scotland
At Sherpa Expeditions we take you to follow most of the 92-mile national long-distance trail of the West Highland Way through a part of the Scottish Highlands. It is claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles and as such, its spot in the list with Best Walks in the UK is justified. The route includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland. But also Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest peak), Fort William and Glencoe – famed for its massacre of the MacDonald Clan.
>> Follow the West Highland Way with Sherpa Expeditions
#7 The Needles | Isle of Wight, England
This is a great walk with some fantastic views, if the weather is good, eventually over much of the Isle of Wight. Enjoy a walk that takes you to visit the Needles Park, where you can view the famous sea-stacks and the military batteries, also the site of Britain's Rocket testing from the 1950s.
>> Take in The Needles on the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking trip
#8 Great Glen Way | Highlands, Scotland
Scotland, about 380 million years ago, saw the creation of the Great Glen Fault: a line splitting the highlands and leading to open water at either end. In 1822 a man-made canal was built that ran through the fault and connected lochs Lochy, Oich and Ness. The Great Glen Way basically follows the fault line and walking this trail will show you plenty of examples of elegant bridges and locks which reflect the early period of the Industrial Revolution. Together with the scenery of the Scottish Highlands, this is one of Britain’s most favourite walks.
>> Follow the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions
#9 St Cuthbert’s Way | Northumberland, England
The St Cuthbert’s Way is a long-distance path that was established in 1996. The route reflects the life of the 7th century monk, extending from Melrose Abbey in the Scottish borders to the island of Lindisfarne just off the coast of Northumberland in northeast England. The ‘Way’ includes a variety of delightfully unspoilt countryside: the Tweed Valley, the Eildon Hills & Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland coast with its broad horizons and sandy beaches. The standard route is intended to be walked in 4 long days, but we have made several modifications to make the day stages slightly shorter and perhaps more interesting.
>> Follow St Cuthbert’s Way with Sherpa Expeditions
#10 St Ives to Zennor | Cornwall, England
The seascapes around St Ives Head are beautiful! This walk in the far western part of England roller-coasts through a series of steep dips between St Ives and Zennor. It is one of the best walks in the UK and shows you some of the most stunning parts of Cornwall. The town of Zennor has a quaint church, a small museum on Cornish life and a great old pub called The Tinner’s Arms.
>> Take in this stunning part of Cornwall on our Cornish Coastal Path West: St Ives to Penzance
Curious to find the full list? Find Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100 here. Inspired to go for a walking holiday in the UK this year? Browse our website for all destinations and routes in the UK that you can explore with us, or contact our team of travel experts for more information.
Selection of Other Walks in the UK
Even for the most seasoned walkers and hikers, the terminology used to describe directions on walking holidays may be different from what you are used to back home. Whether you need a reminder, would like to take a little quiz with your travel mate, or simply are not familiar with some of the terminology in the notes, below are some hiking terms that can be useful on your next trip in the outdoors.
Hiking Terms - Gates
Stile A little step that allows you to easily climb over a fence. They come in different forms.
Kissing gate A gate that opens out to only allow one person through at a time so that two people passing through on either side would have to 'kiss'.
Swing gate A little narrow gate in a fence which has a spring to reset it once open.
Offset gate A gate with an open entrance and two overlapping parts to restrict motorised access.
Copse/ Coppice/ Plantation A wood or plantation of similar trees, normally quite small.
Hedgerows These are the, often ancient, shrub fences that exist as field boundaries and that can be seen all over the United Kingdom.
Dry stone walls These serve the same purpose as hedgerows, but are made of un-cemented stone. Together with sheep they make up a large part of the Scottish landscape.
Cwm/ Corrie/ Cirque A generally rounded glaciated or post glaciated valle – in the mountains of Wales we use the word ‘cwm’ for this.
Beck or Burn A little stream, unless in spate.
Fell An English word that is probably related to the old Norse word fjall – a fell is a hill or a mountain.
Tarn This is a mountain lake or pool that is generally formed in a cirque that was excavated by a glacier.
Dale A valley, beautiful English dales are found along the Dales Way in the Yorkshire Dales.
Crag An outcrop of rock, or cliff strata.
Dry valley This is a valley cut into chalk or limestone that does not have a permanent stream running through it.
Ben/ Bein This is what the Scots call a mountain, the most famous one being Ben Nevis, which you’ll pass when following the Great Glen Way, West Highland Way and Lochs and Bens cycling trip.
Shoulder Literally the flank or lower sloping part of a hill or mountain, which often facilitates a pass.
Col/ Pass A low point or easier point of access on a shoulder of a hill or mountain which may facilitate an opening for a path or road so that it is easier to travel between valleys.
Breche / Notch A clear break in the rock strata in the mountains which often facilitates a pass for a footpath. A breche or notch is a type of col (see above).
Summit The highest point on a mountain; besides the one summit, there can be several peaks on one mountain, often called ‘false summits’.
Hiking Terms for Signage
Trig point A triangulation pillar used for surveying. Trig points are usually about 5 foot (150cm) high and made of concrete. Normally you can find these on top of hills and ridges.
Cairn Used for marking the trail, this is a pile of stones that is especially easier to see in bad weather circumstances.
Blaze An indication made with paint on a tree or part of a rock, again to show directions on the trail.
Fingerposts Wooden posts on hills or in fields, which have the waymark on them often via one to four ‘fingers’.
GR/ PR These red-white and yellow-white signs and paint blazes splatter the trails of the grande randonnée routes in France, Spain and Italy.
Wanderweg/ Bergweg Yellow and red-white waymarked trails in Switzerland and Austria. Wanderwegs are usually the lower and easier trails, while a bergweg tends to be used for a mountain path.
Hiking Terms for Underfoot
Bog A bog usually involves saturated peaty, mossy walking conditions.
Scramble An easy rock climb where hand and footholds are large and a rope is normally not required.
Moor A tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather, sedge grass and moss.
Scree These are small loose stones that usually cover a slope and can make the walk up a bit harder.
Tarmac If you are American you will know this as asphalt and an Australian may be more familiar to the term sealed road... it covers the ‘better’ roads & paths.
Limestone pavement A strata of limestone on the surface, usually eroded and partially dissolved into blocks and cracks called ‘Clints and Grykes’.
Ridge and furrow This is a medieval farming method of piling up ridges and creating ditches in between. You will see such forms in the pastures of the British countryside.
Sinkhole A hole in the limestone that is created by water solution, some go to great depths into extensive cave systems.
Right to Roam In England and Wales a ‘right to roam’ area is where you can walk freely, such a way may be covered by a signage to indicate your rights. It is a different right to that associated with a footpath that crosses private land.
Bridleway A permissible route to be used by travellers on foot, horse or bicycle, but not motorised vehicles. Keeping this in mind, you may spot the occasional trail biker or green-laner.
Stinging nettles These are mostly found around footpaths and stiles; they will inflict a mild sting if they are brushed against – don’t worry they are nothing like Poison Ivy! (In Latin agonious extremis or - because it ‘urts - urtica).
Have we missed anything? Or do you have extra questions on this? Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email so that we can assist you more. Contact our team of travel experts here.