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Traveller’s Tales – The Alsace Vineyard Trails by Charles Hawes

For Charles Hawes, walking is his main recreational fun. “For me a decent walk is around 10 miles, though it very much depends on how much climbing hills is involved!” he tells us. One of the things he likes to do most, is to walk for several days at a time, travelling through the countryside and absorbing the atmosphere of a place. Last year, Charles travelled with his friend on the Sherpa trip in the Tarn & Averyron region of France for a five day walk and that was brilliant. In Spring 2018, he set off on yet another adventure: hiking in Alsace, France. Read on for his experiences on this holiday (Alsace Vineyard Trails). 

 

hiking in Alsace_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Why did you choose to go hiking in Alsace?

I love France and have visited many times but the Alsace region was unknown to me. I had an uncle (Nigel Buxton) who was a travel writer and he wrote a book called Walking in Wine Country and the Alsace was one of the regions he had covered, so I wanted to walk in his footsteps and light a few candles in his memory.

 

How did you prepare for this walking trip in France?

Ahead of the trip, I wanted to improve my French so I used an app called Duolingo to practice for 20 minutes each day for several months. It helped a bit, but I still found lots of gaps. Other than that, I do walk most days for about 30 minutes just to maintain basic fitness (I’m 62). I plotted each day’s walk onto a large scale map in my phone – I find it very easy to take the wrong path and the GPS location facility makes getting lost quite difficult.

 

hiking in Alsace with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Alsace holidays with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Your favourite destination on our Alsace Vineyard Trails?

I love hills and views and we had plenty of those on this trip. The hilltop chateaux were on or very close to the trail and had some had good information boards and were well worth the visit. What I loved best though were the hours we spent walking through the woods on the lower slopes of the Vosges. They were of such varied character and with different plants favouring different species of trees. I have never seen Lily of the Valley growing so abundantly.

 

What was the best food & drink in Alsace?

We soon found that the Alsace Riesling was nothing like the semi-sweet wines that we had had in our youth – these were on the medium side of dry but had such wonderful flavour. We also liked the red Pinot Noir served chilled. I still think that there are fewer things nicer for breakfast than fresh French pastries.

Auberge de la Meuniere at Thannenkirch was a fabulous place. A really lovely hotel with great character, friendly staff and a lovely terrace for evening drinks. Great food here!

 

What was your biggest surprise on this walking trip?

When I had got to the departure gate in Basel airport on the way home, I realised that I no longer had my wallet. I thought that I might have dropped it at check-in, so went all the way back and then to the information/lost property desk, but it had not been handed in. I thought maybe I had put it in my suitcase so they retrieved that for me but it wasn’t there. So I was feeling rather low after going through all this. I phoned the lost property desk again just in case it had been found. It had! I had dropped the wallet in the bus on the way to the airport and the driver had taken the trouble to bring it into the desk. The guy on the desk then brought it to me 10 minutes before I boarded the plane. There was quite a bit of cash in it and nothing was missing. Such kindness and good service.

On another note, Haut Koenigsbourg is a must to see and very popular. It was definitely worth the queue for tickets.

 

Chateaux on Alsace tours with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Walking in Alsace with Sherpa Expeditions

 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

There were several quite long climbs on the last two days which took it out of us. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was in the low 80s; we were grateful for the several benches that we came across and for the shade of the trees. Choosing wines was a challenge.

 

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

Make sure that you carry enough water.

 

More information on the Alsace Vineyard Trails can be found on the trip page and by downloading the trip notes there. For any specific questions or booking requests you may contact one of our travel experts.

 

>> View Trip

 

 

Useful French Phrases for Your Next Walking Holiday in France

useful french phrases on holiday with Sherpa Expeditions

 

When hiking in the French countryside on one of our grande randonnées (long distance trails), you may occasionally like to have a chat with the locals. Perhaps you like to learn a bit more about their culture and cuisine or you simply like to ask for a direction. This list of useful French phrases may come in handy on your next walking holiday in France – do not forget to work on your pronunciation though!

 

Should I go left / right / straight / or turnaround?.............  

Est-ce que je dois aller a gauche / a droite / tout droit / ou bien est-ce que je dois faire demi-tour?

How far is it until the next village?........................................


A combien est le prochain village?
Where can I find a toilet?..........................................................

sont les toilettes?


When was this castle built?.....................................................



Quand est-ce que ce château a été construit?

Can I enter this church / castle / cemetery / cathedral?...  

Est que l’on peut visiter cette église / ce château / ce cimetière / cette cathédrale?

I would like 1/2/3/4 entrance tickets.....................................


Je voudrais un / deux / trois / quatre tickets.

 

What is the best restaurant in town?....................................


Quel est le meilleur restaurant de la ville?

What is this dish called?............................................................

Comment s’appelle ce plat?

Of course you'd like to be prepared to understand the answer in French. So when you're in the Luberon, you may expect to hear ratatouille as the answer, in Ardeche perhaps crique or bombine (both potato-based) and in the Cevennes soup aux chataignes (chestnut soup). When in Dordogne you may prepare for a response like cassoulet (stew), in Tarn & Aveyron aligot (cheese & potatoes), and in the Loire your dessert may well be the famous tarte-tatin.


Where can I do some wine tasting?........................................


Est-ce qu'il y a une dégustation de vin dans les environs?

What time do you serve dinner?.............................................

A quelle heure servez-vous le diner?

I am a vegetarian / vegan.........................................................

Je suis végétarien / végétalien.

I am allergic to gluten / nuts / lactose...................................

Je suis allergique au gluten / aux noix / aux produits laitiers.


Where is the nearest supermarket?......................................



Où est le super marché le plus près?


I had a wonderful sleep.............................................................

 


Dormez bien. / Bonne nuit.

Good morning! / Good evening................................................

Bonjour! / Bonsoir. 

Thank you! / Excuse me / Sorry...............................................

Merci! / Excusez-moi / Pardon

We hope these French words proof useful on your next walking holiday to the beautiful European country and that they will help you find your way around. Have a look below the image (which shows a small group of hikers doing the TMB) to find some ideas for popular walking holidays in France – or contact our team of travel experts to discuss your queries.

 

Useful french words on walking holidays in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Popular walking holidays in France


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Rooms with a View: The Mountain Hut Book

Cicerone - The Mountain Hut Book - Sherpa ExpeditionsOur friends at Cicerone publishing house have released yet another fascinating book, this time celebrating the mountain huts that dot the European Alps and Pyrenees in The Mountain Hut Book.

 

Author Kev Reynolds has been compiling travel guide books since the late 1970s and has an undiminished passion for mountains and the countryside. With his enthusiasm, personal anecdotes and authority, we at Sherpa are already a big fan of the publication.

 

The book explores the development of alpine mountain huts from primitive and often squalid beginnings to a valuable network for people who venture into the mountains. Whether you are new to the experience of staying in huts, or are an old hand, we believe that the book will bring you lots of entertainment and information.

 

Drawing on Reynolds’ long experience of staying in hundreds of mountain refuges, the new book examines hut life, what facilities to expect, and hut etiquette. For example: reserve your spots in advance, cancel if your plans change in order to make space for other hikers, bring a pair of ‘hut shoes’ to wear indoors, or make your bed once you’ve been allocated a room & spot.

 

 

congratulations

Sherpa Expeditions gave away one copy of the book following a small competition on our Facebook page that ran in May 2018. The lucky winner of 'The Mountain Hut Book' is Char Aaberg from Canada. 

Would you like to get  hold of a copy of the book as well? Head over to the webshop of Cicerone to order yours, and because we're friends, you receive a 20% discount on your order >> find more information here.

 

The Mountain Hut Book has profiles of the author’s 10 favourite huts in the Alps and Pyrenees, gives the best approach routes and offers suggestions for ascents and outings from them. 10 hut-to-hut walking tours of between 3 and 13 days duration are also outlined, including the Tour of the Bernina and the Alta Via 2.

 

>> Learn more about Cicerone and how you can claim 20% discount on books when you travel with Sherpa Expeditions.

 

 

Dachstein: Unique Austrian Alps Hiking Features

Austrian Alps hiking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The Austrian Alps are one of the great mountain playgrounds of Europe and the Dachstein is the most dramatic and arguably most interesting of these mountain areas in Austria. Huge pyramids of limestone pierce through the great icy expanses of the Hallstätter and Gosau Gletschers (glaciers).

Yet these peaks are often hidden by steep valley sides and flanking peaks. The glaciers of this area have been, of course, in full retreat after the last Ice Age ended some 12,000 years ago and, in their wake, they have carved out some impressive 'U' shaped glacial valleys. These valleys have been scoured deeply and over the millennia have filled with melt and rain water to create the classic and popular Austrian Lakes District.

 

It is in this setting that you will find yourself when travelling on the Austrian Lakes and Dachstein Alps walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions.

To introduce you to the mountainous region, read on for 6 unique aspects of what an Austrian Alps hiking holiday is all about.

 

#1 Viewpoint over Hallstätter See

view from Predigsthul-Dachstein walking with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Hike to a great viewpoint over the Hallstätter See and the mountains of Hoher Dachstein. Actually, the way to this climax could be considered a highlight in itself as it follows Austrian Emperors’ hunting grounds and passes the old salt working village of Salzberg. When you’ve made it to the summit of Predigstuhl (1214m), the views will be rewarding.

 

#2 Austrian Flag Waymarkers

waymarkes for hikers in Austria - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The trails on Sherpa Expeditions’ Austrian Alps hiking trip are generally well waymarked. Most of the routes that we take are numbered and waymarked by the Austrian Alpine Club and we love the symbols they use. These are either classic red & white waymarks, and regularly red-white-red – like the Austrian flag!

 

#3 Hallstatt

Walking into Hallstatt, Austria - Sherpa walking holidays

 

The old town of Hallstatt is clustered on a very steep site along the lake, while the newer parts of this stunning town are located a little further south. With an attractive market place, nice town houses, two ancient churches and a lot of traditional Austrian charm, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely beautiful!

 

#4 Gosau

Sherpa Expeditions hikers arrive in Gosau - Austria hiking holidays

 

The town of Gosau lies at 780 metres and is actually a sprawling collection of original farmsteads from the 15th century onward that have coalesced in the Gosau Valley to now form the villages of Vordertal, Mitteltal and Hintertal. Gosau is the actual centre with couple of attractive churches and good views of the Gosaukamm Mountains, which offer amazing Austrian Alps hiking opportunities. Take a few of the many ski lifts that you find in the valley for excellent views and walks – we especially like those going up the Zwieselarm.

 

#5 Hiking around Hallstätter See

Hallstatt - Austrian Alps hiking holidays

 

Whether you choose to follow the eastern or western shore of this stunning Austrian Lake, you will hopefully get some beautiful reflections of the town in the waters of the lake. On you walk, and on a good summer day, take the opportunity to go for a swim. Or take the boat over to the other side of the lake to start your walk and to add some extra romance to your day.

 

#6 The Glacial Lakes of Vorderer Gosausee & Hinterer Gosausee

Austrian Alps holidays around Gosau Lakes - Sherpa Expeditions

 

On a walk around Gosausee you will pass the glacial lakes of Vorderer Gosausee and Hinterer Gosausee. From both, the views of the Gosaukamm Mountains are just stunning. It is quite a popular route as the mountains are magical. With good weather you can hopefully get some good reflections of the peak in the lake and go for a swim in the clean waters.

 

For more information and booking requests, please download the trip notes of the Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps walking holiday or contact our knowledgeable team in London.

 

 

More About Austrian Alps Hiking

Trekking Around Mont Blanc with Sherpa Expeditions

The highlights of a Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) walking holiday are without a doubt the excellent views of Mt Blanc itself and of the snow-clad alpine peaks of the Wildstrubel, Valais and Bernese Oberland, plus plenty of impressive glaciers. For others, magnets can also be the fresh cheeses & local wines, classic mountain cottages, or the fact that you’re circumnavigating an entire peak, in this case western Europe’s highest one!

 

Tour du Mont Blanc walking holiday - Sherpa Expeditions

 

But why go trekking around Mont Blanc with Sherpa Expeditions? To give you a better idea of how our Tour du Mont Blanc walking holiday stands out, we made this short overview that helps explain how our trip works:

 

  • 10 fixed departure days in this summer’s season
  • Walk independently, but at the same time as a small number of other Sherpa travellers
  • Enjoy the benefits of support from our team members who live in the area
  • Stay in good value for money accommodation while trekking around Mont Blanc
  • Receive maps and very detailed route notes that include options to walk different trails
  • Lots of background information and tips for local establishments
  • Complete circumnavigation of Mont Blanc; from Les Houches to Les Houches
  • Meet & greet at the start of the Tour du Mont Blanc
  • Are you a single traveller? Make use of the option to share a room with another single traveller of the same gender and avoid paying a single supplement
  • A suitable choice for first-timers on a self guided walk
  • En-suite facilities in the accommodation we selected for you (except for the nights in a guesthouse & auberge)
  • Days at leisure on which you can choose to rest, explore museums, go shopping or undertake more walks
  • The personal support of our friendly team in London, before, during and after your trip

 

 

Have you got any questions on this? Do feel free to contact our friendly team in London via phone, email or drop by if you are in the area.

 

 

You May Be Interested in This Too

 

hiking to La Fouly on Tour du Mont Blanc

Visit Guernsey & Receive a Free Novel

Guernsey holiday deal with Sherpa Expeditions


The long-awaited film adaption of the international bestselling novel ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ will premiere in UK cinemas next week, on the 20th April 2018. To celebrate the occasion, we are giving away free copies of the book by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer.

 

Book on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way  or Jersey: The Channel Island Way walking holiday and receive the novel that the film is based on*

Book before 31 May 2018 on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way or Jersey: The Channel Island Way walking holidays and travel before 25 October 2018 and we will send you the novel together with your Final Documentation.

 

Directed by BAFTA-award winning Mike Newell and starring Lily James and Michiel Huisman, the film shines a light on Guernsey’s occupation during World War II. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles that were under German control during the war and evidence of their stay is still widely visible today.


Guernsey walking holidays with Sherpa Expeditions


Guernsey walking holiday deals

 

Sherpa Expeditions Manager Tali Emdin explains:

 

“The Guernsey Occupation, between June 1940 and May 1945, shaped the islands into what they are today. It left a lasting legacy and, to this day, the coastline still bears testament to this time, dotted with well-preserved fortifications built by German soldiers.

 

History aficionados will find that the island’s heritage, including those five tempestuous years, is depicted in stunning detail through a whole host of museums, which aim to recreate those dark days with gripping exhibits.

 

The German Military Underground Hospital, the largest construction in the Channel Islands, was built by slave workers during the occupation; the German Occupation Museum features a recreation of an occupation-era street; while La Villette Underground Military Museum is set in a series of tunnels used for U-Boat fuel storage during the occupation”.

 

If ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ inspires you to discover the unique history of the Channel Islands, activity holiday specialist Sherpa Expeditions can take you there.

 

>> View all details about Guernsey Islands – The Channel Island Way

>> View all details about Jersey: The Channel Island Way

 

holiday deals for Guernsey - Sherpa Expeditions

 

*Terms & Conditions:

  • Book on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way or Jersey: The Channel Island Way walking holidays departing on or before 25 October 2019 and receive a free copy of the international bestselling novel ‘The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Schaffer.
  • Bookings must be received before 31 May 2018.
  • Only valid for departures on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way and Jersey: The Channel Island Way trips on or before 25 October 2018.
  • The book will be included in your pre-departure information.
  • Only valid for bookings made with Sherpa Expeditions directly, not valid for bookings made through third parties.
  • Only valid for these specific trips operated by Sherpa Expeditions.
  • Offer applies only once per booking, eg. you will receive one (1) copy of the novel per booking.
  • Trips and book are subject to availability.
  • Booking Terms & Conditions apply.
  • Quote code POTATO at the time of booking.

Channel Island Way travel deal with Sherpa Expeditions

Loving Vincent’s Provence: The Most Colourful Times to Visit

The colours that inspired famous painter Vincent van Gogh for many of his, now world-famous, paintings are especially visible during the French spring and summer months of May, June, July and August. Naturally, this makes these months some of the best time to visit Provence. If you have seen the film Loving Vincent, you may have been inspired by these vibrant colours and you may have added to your travel bucket list a visit to the French region that the painter loved so much.

 

Lavender

best time to visit provence for lavender

 

Lavender fields are perhaps the most iconic image of Provence and if you are hoping to get that picture-perfect photo of the Senanque Abbey near Gordes (on our Rambling in the Luberon walk), make sure to be there in June. When you travel in this month, you are quite sure to find a glorious purple field of lavender surrounding the beautiful abbey.

 

Poppy Red

Loving Vincent red poppies (c)Gemeente Museum Den Haag

©Google Art Project via Gemeente Museum Den Haag

 

No less spectacular are the fields of coquelicots, perhaps better known as the bright red poppies of France. For some walkers, the best time to visit Provence is in May: when fields of poppies simply explode and paint the landscape a magnificent red. At the same time, May is also that time of year when the strawberries are at their sweetest and most delicious. Ah, and for asparagus-lovers, this is your time to visit as well, when they are prepared with omelettes for example.

 

Olive Green

Loving Vincent Provence walking holidays

 

Seen in one of Vincent van Gogh’s more famous paintings, ‘Olive trees with yellow sky and sun’ is a grove of olive trees. The olive forms an important part of life in Provence and feature in tapenades, pissaladiere, quality oils and of course in many varieties as cured olives. Although the harvesting season is in winter, the beautiful rows of green-leaved trees in April and May come with a white blossom. Take a little picnic stop and take advantage of the trees’ shadow during the warm summer months.

 

Sunflower Yellow

Sunflowers in Provence _ SHerpa Expeditions

 

From all over the world, visitors come to Provence to enjoy great weather, the delicious Provençal cuisine and of course the impressive surroundings. Add to that in late summer fields on end with sunflowers and it’ll be almost without effort to position yourself in one of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. For some this is definitely the best time to visit Provence.

 

In Provence, Vincent van Gogh had the most ambitious and productive period of his life. Working under luminescent skies and the bleaching Provençal sun, he painted the fields, drawbridges, cypress trees, cafes, local folk and ancient Abbey ruins.

 

Why not theme your holiday for this year around Vincent van Gogh and combine our walking holiday in Provence with a visit to Paris and Amsterdam to visit the Van Gogh Museum, where the temporary exhibition Inspiration from Japan is on display until 24 June 2018.

 

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

Beatrix Potter’s Lake District

Beatrix Potter Lake District_Sherpa Expeditions 

 

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.


Lake District walks


Beatrix Potter Windermere - walking with sherpa expeditions


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.

 

Beatrix potter lake district_Sherpa Expeditions

More Than Cannes in the South of France

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…

 

The Ardèche

south of france holidays_Ardeche


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

 

The Luberon

south of france holidays_luberon


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.

The Cévennes

south of france holidays_Cevennes


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  

 

Provence

active south of france holidays_Provence


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.

 

 

Britain’s Favourite Walks: Best Hikes in Scotland

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

Ben Nevis hike in Scotland

 

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

Great Glen Way hike in Scotland

 

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

Falkirk Wheel on one of the best hikes in Scotland_Sherpa Expeditions

 

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.

 

#4 Pitlochry

Pitlochry ©sedoglia

©sedoglia

 

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

west highland way scotland-sherpa expeditions


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

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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.