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As we approach St George’s Day on 23 April, it’s time to roll up your trousers and get out and about to explore England’s most beautiful corners.
For a small country, England offers a huge amount of variety when it comes to walking and cycling. Mountains, great lakes, dramatic coastlines and picture-perfect villages are all on offer as you choose your ideal way to explore the countryside.
Here are a just a few of our favourite holidays in England, now booking for 2019.
Described by Alfred Wainwright as “one of the world’s great walks”, the iconic Coast to Coast is widely considered nowadays as the most classic of all UK long distance trails. Nearly 200 miles and traversing three National Parks, this is the quintessential English hill-walking and long-distance trail experience. Typically taking two weeks to complete, the walk starts near the red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head in Cumbria, and finishes at the fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the North York Moors coast.
We offer self-guided and guided Coast to Coast trips, with itineraries lasting 15, 16, 17 and 18 days, as well as shorter sections of the trail, and the Cyclist’s Coast to Coast.
Known for its beaches, pirates and Cornish pasties, Cornwall is very much a holiday county, enjoying the mildest climate in the UK. From Padstow to Land’s End through Lizard Point, the southernmost point on mainland Great Britain, this cycling journey takes you through a patchwork of landscapes, from inland heaths and downs to tumbling coastlines and sheltered coves. The daily rides are not that long, allowing plenty of time to see Cornwall the way you want to!
We also offer several self-guided walking holidays along the Cornish coast.
There is no dedicated way-marking throughout this route but that is part of its appeal. Covering 69 miles, The Richmond Way is a picturesque, yet unofficial, long distance trail along ancient trading routes that crossed the Pennines. From the medieval Lancaster Castle, passing through quaint villages, the trail traces the Lower Lune Valley before entering the Georgian town of Richmond, ending below the keep of Richmond Castle, one of the greatest Norman fortresses to be found in Britain.
Find out more about walking the Richmond Way
From Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy, Dorset has inspired generations of authors. Crossing unspoilt rural villages, this trip follows the coast as it stretches eastwards, along fossil-encrusted cliffs and the famed Golden Gap, a 190-metre headland of orange sandstone. Explore a timeless landscape of hidden valleys and hill forts before dropping down to the beautifully preserved village of Abbotsbury, which does not even have street lighting!
Find out more about walking our Dorset & Wessex Trail.
A British icon protected by UNESCO since 1987, Hadrian’s Wall today stands as the largest remaining artefact from Roman times anywhere in the world. A must-see for history aficionados, it can also be followed on foot along the adjoining 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path, taking hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, from Whitley Bay in the east to Carlisle in the west. The undulating, well-waymarked walk follows the ancient Roman Wall – with a largely a rural feel!
We offer 8-day and 10-day itineraries along the Hadrian’s Wall Trail.
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; and taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line.
Find out more about our Isle of Wight Cycle trip. We also offer a coastal walking tour of the island.
A coastal walk is a very special experience. If you love the sea, there’s nothing better than a walk that takes you along cliff tops, beaches and peninsulas, with the crashing waves or crystal clear sea an ever-present companion as you make your way.
If looking out across the ocean to the horizon is an important element of your walking holiday, take a look at some of our favourite coastal walks.
The South West Coast Path, at 630 miles, is the longest National Trail in the UK, and the majority of it winds its way along the spectacular coast of Cornwall, regularly voted Britain’s favourite holiday destination. Despite Cornwall’s popularity, you can easily escape the crowds, dipping in and out of coves and harbours and ascending beside dramatic cliffs, up to high viewpoints, along promontories and back down to expansive beaches which out of the high season can be all but deserted.
Sherpa Expeditions offers several trips along different sections of the South West Coast Path, each one offering something special as you pass through delightful fishing villages, larger towns and some of the most stunning scenery to be found anywhere in the UK.
Read more about all of the trips we offer on the South West Coastal Path here.
The Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the quintessential Italian holiday - with stunning scenery and mouth-watering food. Pastel coloured fishing villages are perched on the staggering cliff side overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
You can walk along the Amalfi Coast using the extensive web of footpaths and mule tracks that thread along the cliffs, and a wealth of natural and cultural treasures can be reached relatively easily. The walking routes pass close to nature reserves, beautiful monasteries, caves and ancient farmhouses. You will also have the chance to walk through the historic towns of Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Scala Praiano and Positano, all little pearls set in a fantastic landscape.
Sherpa Expeditions offers the Classic Amalfi Coast as a 6-day, 8-day or 11-day trip – and you can also combine it with the best of the neighbouring Cilento region in our new Cilento and Amalfi Highlights 10-day trip.
Starting in France and finishing in Spain, this walk along 'La Cote Vermeille' follows the steep coastline where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean. Taking in the culture and cuisine of French Catalunya and Spanish Catalonia, the trip visits beautiful coastal villages, including Collioure, where the colourful Fauve school of painting began, and follows waymarked paths between the vineyards of Roussillon and through heavily scented maquis to the seaport of Banyuls, home of the great French sculptor Aristide Maillol.
After crossing the frontier into Spain, you continue past rocky bays and then climb inland over a high col and along the mountains to the monastery of San Pere de Rodes, before descending steeply, passing ancient Dolmens to the attractive fishing village of Port de la Selva. From here the trails become more remote as you head into the recently established Natural Park of Cap de Creus - into the beautiful whitewashed old town of Cadaques.
This is a great opportunity to explore a lesser-known, but beautiful, stretch of European coastline. Find out more about the trip here.
Sardinia is an inspirational island of natural beauty, with a mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. Walking from the black mountains of Montiferru to the Sinis wetlands you will discover beaches, bays, headlands, ancient ruins and historical sites. This is a gentle walk crossing a variety of terrain and home to much bird life, especially in the spring. The Montiferru mountains, a basaltic area famous for green forests, clear spring water and local 'red' beef provide wonderful walking opportunities with sweeping coastal views, charming accommodation and plenty of places to swim.
Bird watchers will be entertained by the large colonies of grey herons, pink flamingoes and a wealth of other bird life, while the ancient Spanish watchtowers, small villages and the ancient site of Tharros occupied by the Phoenicians, Punics and Romans offer welcome distractions for those keen to learn more about the island's history and culture.
Find out more about the trip here.
With Sherpa Expeditions you can walk or cycle the entire coastline of the Isle of Wight, a jewel of an island off the south coast of England, where you can visit historical places on scenic coastal paths and cross hilly grassy down land, through ancient woodlands, and past rustic farms.
Famous for its sailing regattas, white chalk cliffs and Queen Victoria’s holiday home, Osborne House, the Isle of Wight seems to exist in its own time. Beyond the big tourist towns of Shanklin and Sandown, and the sophistication of Cowes harbour, everything is on a manageable scale - no huge towns, or big industrial blights, but long chalky downs, sandy beaches and enchanting woodlands. Seaside rock, ice cream and fish ’n’ chips of course, but also great pubs and restaurants, quiet paths, historical churches and gems of villages.
Whether you choose to walk or cycle around this island, you’re sure to have a quite charming experience. Find out more here.
The Cleveland Way isn’t an entirely coastal walk – but fans of walking along cliff tops overlooking the sea will have plenty to entertain them, as over half of the walk follows the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
This is the second of the UK’s National Trails, dating from 1969 and is rooted in the North York Moors National Park and Yorkshire Heritage Coast. Along its length there are contrasts in walking between field-quilted farmlands, forest patches, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, bleak moorlands and the highly eroded coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs. Apart from busy coastal towns such as Scarborough, it remains a tranquil area, bolstered and protected by the presence of the National Park of which about 80% of the walk occupies. Highlights of the Cleveland Way include, the remains of the Norman Rievaulx Abbey, and 13th century Whitby Abbey (but dating from the 7th century!), the Captain Cook Monument and Robin Hoods Bay with its cliff-hanging cottages.
Find out more about walking the Cleveland Way here.
Enjoy some of the finest coastal walking in Europe on this the most beautiful section of the Italian Riviera. The five charming villages of the Cinque Terre - Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore have been praised by artists and poets for centuries. They have celebrated the tiny aquamarine inlets that serve as fishing harbours and the ancient terraces rising steeply out of the coastal crags in words and pictures.
The trip is perfect for walkers who enjoy being based at a single centre. You’ll stay in a traditional style ‘albergo’ in the small resort of Monterosso close to the sea, where regional dishes are very much the speciality. The idea is that on most days you either walk from the hotel or take the train from Monterosso to start the next walk. If you don't feel like walking, or if you want to reduce the length of the existing walk, you can always spend time on the beaches or more time discovering the beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre more intimately, with each village boasting its own unique character and flavour.
Find out more about Cinque Terre Villages here.
Cornwall is one of the UK’s most dramatic, visually breath-taking and romantic counties – and so it’s no wonder that this beautiful place has served as the setting for novels, films and TV series over the years. Cornwall is regularly used as the backdrop for films or TV programmes that aren’t even set there – as it provides the perfect backdrop for anyone looking for a rugged, dramatic landscape.
But here we take a look at some films and TV series actually set in this unique coastal county, including some of the locations you can visit when on a walking holiday in Cornwall with Sherpa Expeditions.
Ladies in Lavender
Directed and co-written by Charles Dance, and starring Dames Maggie Smith and Judy Dench, 2004’s Ladies in Lavender’s credits read like a who’s who of British film royalty.
Set in 1930’s Cornwall, the film tells the story of aging sisters Ursula and Janet, whose peaceful lives are turned upside down when they find a nearly-drowned Polish man lying on the beach, and decide to nurse him back to health.
Locations in which the film was shot include St Ives, the Lizard Peninsular and Prussia and Keneggy Coves near Porthleven, all of which can be visited on our Marazion to Mevagissey Walk.
Poldark was originally a popular British TV series in the mid-1970s, but it’s the recent remake that launched in 2015 that has made the series a global hit. It stars Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, who returns home to Cornwall from fighting in the American Revolutionary War. It follows his trials and tribulations as he tries to forge a new life back in Cornwall.
The stunning Cornish coastline is a major aspect of the show’s visual impact. Filming locations include St Just, Land’s End, Charlestown, Helston, Lizard Point and Porthcothan. Many of these locations are visited on our walks along the South West Coast Path – so if you’re a fan of the show you can really immerse yourself into Poldark’s world.
The 1939 film based on Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel of pirates, rogues and smugglers, is the definitive, and most famous version, although there have been more recent remakes for both film and TV.
This classic film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara. The setting for the story, Jamaica Inn itself, is still very much around and open to visitors – built in 1750 as a coaching inn for travellers crossing Bodmin Moor.
Another 1939 adaptation of a classic Daphne du Maurier novel, again directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and this time starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. The only problem with this entry on our list, is that, although set in Cornwall, the film was actually shot entirely in California! At least the 1997 remake starring Charles Dance (him again) and Diana Rigg was partly shot in Cornwall.
Rebecca tells the story of Max de Winter, who brings his new wife to live with him on his country estate in Cornwall, named Manderley. However, the new Mrs de Winter soon finds that her husband’s deceased first wife, Rebecca, still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderley.
Doc Martin has been a much-loved programme on British TV since 2004. It stars Martin Clunes as a gruff, abrupt surgeon from London, who relocates to the seaside village of Port Wenn in Cornwall.
Port Isaac is the real village that serves as the location for the fictional Port Wenn. Port Isaac is a charming fishing village just north of Padstow on the northern section of the South West Coast Path. As well as being a lovely visual showcase for life on the Cornish Coast, there is much humour to be had as Doc Martin slowly gets used to the sometimes-eccentric way of life in a small Cornish village.
A bit of a left-field one – as it’s unlikely you’ll have seen it unless you’ve spent some time watching German television.
Rosamunde Pilcher was a hugely successful British writer of romance novels, whose books sold over 60 million copies worldwide between 1949 and 2000. She was born in Lelant, just outside St Ives – and her Cornwall surroundings provided the setting for many of her novels.
Her books became especially popular in Germany, where her novels have been adapted into more than 100 TV films. The popularity of these hugely successful films resulted in Rosamunde Pilcher receiving a British Tourism Award in 2002 for the positive effect that her books and the TV adaptations have had on Cornwall.
It’s no surprise that so many of the books, films and TV programmes set in Cornwall over the years have been tales of romance, intrigue and high-drama – given the highly dramatic and ruggedly beautiful nature of the county. You can experience all of it on a Cornish walking tour with Sherpa Expeditions.
We know that a lot of people like to take their holidays in the summer – and it’s true that June, July and August can be a great time to walk if you’re comfortable with the potentially high temperatures.
But April and May are wonderful months for a walking holiday, especially in some of our European destinations where it can get very hot from June onwards. April is also when most of our UK routes start running, and much of the UK countryside looks at its best and most green in the spring.
Another advantage of spring walking is that the more popular destinations are quieter than they are in the height of summer, so if a little solitude is your thing then it’s definitely worth considering. Flights are often cheaper outside of the summer holidays – although bear in mind that Easter falls 19-22 April this year, and flights are sometimes pricier during the school holidays.
Here are a few of our favourite trips for spring walking – although pretty much our entire programme is running from April onwards so you have plenty of other choices if the trips below aren’t quite what you’re after.
Cornwall is the UK’s most southerly county, and in spring the weather can be lovely, and the temperatures perfect for walking or cycling. Although, as with all coastal regions, there’s always an element of unpredictability with the weather – but that’s part of the fun!
With some of the best beaches and most popular towns in the UK, it’s definitely worth a visit outside of the high summer season, before the crowds arrive.
Cornwall is a region of dramatic beauty, spectacular coastal scenery, charming towns and villages – not to mention amazing fresh seafood and some of the UK’s finest beer! There’s a lovely atmosphere in Cornwall in spring – as if an entire county is waking up after a long, cold winter and excitedly anticipating the warm summer months ahead.
We offer several trips in Cornwall – each exploring a different section of the famous South West Coast Path. Find out more here.
Cyprus can get extremely hot in high summer – which is great for some, but for those who prefer to walk in slightly lower temperatures, March to early May is a great time to visit this beautiful island in the eastern Mediterranean.
If you’re a nature lover there are other advantages of a visit in spring – with orchids starting to flower, and migratory birds passing through. When you go hiking in Cyprus, you’ll discover sleepy villages, farms and forests with fabled mountain views, and stunning coastlines.
Legend has it that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, brought her lover Adonis to the beautiful Akamas peninsula. When walking in Cyprus, you get to experience the land of the Greek gods.
We offer 8-day and 11-day versions of this trip. Find out more here.
Spring in Tuscany is when the vegetation starts to come back to life and the beautiful colours of the flowers are at their most vibrant, making it a very rewarding time to visit this beautiful region of Italy. As with many of our southern European destinations, spring is a great time to visit if you want to avoid the summer temperatures.
It’s difficult to know where to begin when considering the highlights of a walking tour in Tuscany. Art, culture, rolling vineyards, ancient villages, and some of the finest food and wine you’ll find anywhere on the planet – Tuscany really does have it all. Which is why it can get rather busy in summer – another reason to consider a trip in spring.
This itinerary finishes in Siena, a classic Tuscan city full of ancient architecture, museums and a spectacular gothic cathedral.
Find out more here.
Andalucia, in southern Spain, is another area of Europe that gets very hot in summer, and is a perfect destination in the spring. At this time of year the fields are awash with flowers and blossoms of all colours, framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
Andalucia is a fascinating region – away from the well-known coastal beach resorts you’ll find the Moorish influence on the culture, architecture and food of this area rich in history. This trip focusses particularly on some of the more remote and unspoilt parts of the Alpujarras, a region of mountain villages clinging to the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada.
This is the perfect trip if you’re looking to experience southern Spain beyond the obvious flamenco, tapas and beaches.
Find out more here.
The Douro Valley is one of the finest wine regions in Europe, and spring is the perfect time to explore it. Not only are the temperatures perfect for walking, the whole area comes to life with the first bright green vine leaves emerging, and the hillsides covered in almond blossom.
Another highlight of this trip is the opportunity to spend a day exploring the lively city of Porto, with its maze of ancient streets, traditional town squares, and iconic blue and white azulas tiles.
If wine tasting is your thing, you’ll have the option to visit some of the many wine estates of the region – in fact the Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated and regulated wine region in the world.
Find out more here.
For this month’s photo gallery, we’re delighted to have teamed up with photographer Andy Cox, whose website
cornwallwithacamera.com features some of the most stunning shots we’ve ever seen of this truly beautiful part of the UK. Andy has lived there for nearly all of his life – few people know the magic and charm of Cornwall’s breath-taking landscapes better than him. All of the photos you can see in this gallery, plus many more, can be purchased as prints and photo gifts from his website, and you can also find him on Facebook and Instagram. Andy has also taken many photos of other parts of the UK, most notably the Isles of Scilly, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands.
Most importantly, every location featured in this gallery is visited on one or more of our Cornwall walking or cycling holidays – so you can enjoy the magnificence of these places in the flesh. Booking for 2019 is now open, so what are you waiting for?
Cheesering at sunset
Godrevy Lighthouse at sunset
Godrevy Lighthouse in a storm
Bodmin Moor in golden light
High tide sunset at St Michael's Mount
Poly Joke, Pentire
Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes
As proud supporters of the South West Coast Path in Cornwall, we are excited to announce that this year the English long-distance trail is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The path spans 630 miles between Minehead and Poole and is one of the UK’s National Trails. We have divided it up in several sections for both walkers and cyclists and these trips cross landscapes with special status. There are, for example, the UNESCO listed areas of Jurassic Coast in Devon and the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape.
Originally, the path had served as a route for coastguards to trace smugglers and their activities on the sea. The coastguards walked between lighthouses, often at the end of the cliffs to be able to look down into the coves and bays. The creation of the trail that we can hike today was done in sections, with the last section completed in 1978. It still follows much of the original route and thanks to England’s right-of-way laws it even allows visitors to pass through private property. Walkers along the South West Coast Path follow undulating trails, walk through moorlands & charming fisherman towns, and can take in panoramic views of the Bristol Channel, English Channel and Celtic Sea from the high viewpoints.
To mark the occasion, the team at South West Coast Path Association who maintain the path, have created a challenge of raising £40,000 by the end of October 2018. If you are planning to walk the path this year, you will find along the trail many other activities to celebrate the path. And if you are feeling generous, you can find information of how to donate to the path here.
Walk the Highlights of the South West Coastal Path with Sherpa Expeditions
Cycle the South West Coast Path with Sherpa Expeditions
For more information on each section, please download the trip notes from this website or feel free to discuss your queries directly with our team in London.
In the southwest of England, you can find the longest and, perhaps, the finest trail of the country: the 630-mile long South West Coastal Path. Almost half of which covers the stunning county of Cornwall. Made famous through the Doc Martin TV series and the Poldark books & TV series, there is a plethora of interesting places to visit in Cornwall.
White sandy beaches, turquoise waters, rugged cliffs and even palm trees dot the long coastline that also has kept enough space for cute fishing villages to try a famous Cornish pasty. With a mild climate (that is classed as oceanic according to the Köppen classification), Cornwall is a holiday region that comes with many things to do for the active visitor.
If you are searching for holiday inspiration, we believe that the below ten places to visit in Cornwall will certainly trigger your interest.
Bustling with people aspiring for St Michael's Mount, Marazion has some claim to be the oldest town in Britain. At least it was mentioned by Siculus in the 1st Century BC as the port from which tin was shipped to Brittany in France. The monastery sits on the civil parish of St Michael’s Mount and can only be reached via man-made causeway during low tide. It was probably built sometime between the 8th-11th Centuries under the rule of Edward the Confessor. Not surprisingly, it was a dependence of Mont St Michel in France that you can visit on one of UTracks’ cycling trips in Brittany.
Porthleven is a pleasant harbour town that mainly developed during the last century. Today it is still a working port and one of the great places to visit in Cornwall. It houses a fascinating three-section harbour that gets closed off with wooden baubles in stormy weather, usually out of season. Loe Bar, Loe Pool and Penrose Estate are all worth to explore on foot if you arrive early.
If you are looking for some charming places to go on your visit to Cornwall, may we suggest to consider Gunwalloe to the west of Lizard peninsula? It is here that the first transatlantic radio signals were transmitted by Marconi, the inventor of the radio. Visit Poldhu Point Monument and the Marconi Centre for more information on this achievement.
The Church Cove right between Gunwalloe and Poldhu is where the Church of St Winwalloe squats beside the beach. The church has a separate bell tower, which is dug into the cliff wall and also well worth a visit.
Portloe: Step Back in Time
A very popular place is Portloe, which, thankfully, due to the lack of horizontal space has changed little over the years. It is said that only one new house has been built since the Second World War, leaving the layout and feel of the town virtually as it was over 200 years ago. This harbour of an inlet sits in a 'cramped and dramatic situation' where smuggling, fishing and drinking used to go hand in hand. You can almost still smell the rum when you navigate its picturesque old streets.
Relax in Falmouth
Falmouth is a leading resort on the south west coast and allegedly the third largest natural harbour in the world. The Cornish town has many things to do and you can for example wander its bustling waterfront, relax at one of its four bathing beaches, or visit for example Pendennis Castle, constructed by Henry VIII. Other things to do in Falmouth are sailing, golfing on the golf course, visiting a former post office packet station, gardens, or the maritime museum to learn more about the strong maritime tradition of the town.
Well worth visiting in Veryan are its round houses: 19th Century circular buildings with thatched roofs and a cross. Besides that, there are an interesting church, an art gallery and a tumulus at Carne, which is the supposed burial mound of King Geraint. Nearby Caerhays Castle is designed by John Nash and has famous gardens which are open between mid-February and June.
Learn about Porthallow & Porthoustock
The secluded coves on the east of Lizard Peninsula between Porthallow and Porthoustock are notable for angling. Closeby St Keverne is a pleasant village that you may like to make a detour for. It has a pleasant village square and is known for its remarkable churchyard in which 400 shipwreck victims of the nearby Manacle Reef are buried. Check out the beaches at Porthallow, Porthoustock, Housel Bay and Kennack Sands.
Still very much a fishing port, Mevagissey is the largest city in St Austell Bay. Cob cottages spill down to the harbour walls from the steep sided valley and you can visit the beaches at Portmellon and Gorran Haven. Mevagissey also houses an interesting model railway exhibition.
Travel to St Mawes
If you are keen about sailing, one of the places to visit in Cornwall is St Mawes. It is a popular sailing centre on Roseland and overlooks Falmouth. The port is quite sheltered and is relatively remote. Spend some time at the small beach and fine cloverleaf St Mawes Castle that dates back to 1542 and is open year-round.
The picture postcard village on Helford River is not to be missed on your walking holiday in Cornwall. It is a yachtsman’s haven full of activity and you can take it all in during a lunch at the pub near Frenchman’s Creek made famous by author Daphne du Maurier.
On the Cornwall Coastal Path you can really escape the crowds, dipping in and out of coves and harbours and ascending beside dramatic cliffs, up to high viewpoints, along promontories and back down to expansive beaches.
Experience Cornwall for yourself on any of the below trips:
- Cornish Coastal Path (North): Padstow to St. Ives - 8 days
A beautiful part of the South West Coastal Path, this northern section undulates along the coast between the popular resorts of Padstow and St. Ives, visiting the surfer’s paradise of Newquay.
- Cornish Coastal Path (West): St. Ives to Penzance - 8 days
This section of the Cornwall Coast path contains generally shorter days than either our Cornwall North and South tours, allowing you more time to spend in coves, on beaches, or up on the cliff moorlands.
- Cornish Coastal Path (South): Marazion to Mevagissey - 8 days
Explore the most scenic and varied part of the Cornish coast, on either side of Lizard Head, the southern-most tip of mainland Britain.
- Cornish Coastal Path: Padstow to Penzance - 13 days
Enjoy a stunning 106 miles/170 km walk along the Cornish Coastal Path. Dip in and out of coves and harbours, ascend beside dramatic cliffs to panoramic viewpoints, idle along promontories and explore the expansive beaches, which out of the high season, can be all but deserted.
- Cornish Coastal Path: St Ives to Mevagissey - 14 days
This section of the South West Coast Path encompasses a vast array of coastal landscapes from the dramatic cliffs of Lands End, the impressive coves of Mullion and Kynance, famous resort towns such as St Ives & Penzance and smaller fishing villages.
If you're looking to settle yourself down for a few days to get that true experience of a small place that seems to have stood still in time, there's no need to look any further. Here are 10 charming coastal villages that offer exactly that.
Often a small market square where the local delicatessen shop is your go-to point for the best cheeses, the olives served are as fresh as you've ever had and shaded terraces serve wines directly from the vineyard… all this in close proximity to our friendly guest houses and family-run hotels. These types of villages along the coastlines of Europe form a great base for a few days of exploring on foot or by bike as they are a pleasant distance to rugged cliffs, quiet beaches, inland woods and pastures, groves, and mountain foothills.
Breathe in Europe through 10 of its most charming coastal villages.
Agios Georgios tis Pegeias – Cyprus
Agios Georgios tis Pegeias is situated about 400m from the coast and has a small fishing harbour and beach area. The surrounding area is mainly agricultural with bananas and citrus fruit, a few tavernas, two churches and the ruins of an early Christian basilica.
It is locally claimed that the sunset from Agios Georgios tis Pegeias is the most beautiful on the island of Cyprus. Perhaps the best place to be to view this spectacle is above the cliff next to the St. Georges Restaurant, above the fishing harbour or on the coast itself.
Flam – Norway
When you walk down to Flam, you’ll experience a beautiful trail that follows the lush valley route through woods and pastures in Norway. There’s always the sounds of rushing waters and when you eventually drop down to the Aurlandsfjord, a branch off Sognefjord, you’ll enter Flam.
The small coastal village of Flam has several restaurants serving local & traditional Norwegian meals (think of berries and salmon) and one of Norway’s most popular craft beer breweries can be found here. Out of town, enjoy a panoramic view of the Aurlandsfjord, take one of the most scenic bicycle rides in Norway, and hop on the famous Flam Railway.
Collioure – Vermillion Coast, France
Flower-decked Collioure is a very pretty little town set against the foothills of the Alberes Range near France’s Vermillion Coast. It has an idyllic setting with sun, sea and sky attracting lots of travellers each year. The seaside town consists of two little fishing ports separated by the mediaeval castle on a spur.
Did you know? This former fishing port was the birthplace of the Fauve movement of painters in the early 20th century, led by Matisse, and today still is a colourful place attracting painters and photographers alike.
St Peter Port – Guernsey
St. Peter Port, Guernsey Island’s capital, is a bustling, friendly place with a row of attractive harbours and marinas set under a steeply terraced townscape, with some remarkably well-preserved buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. Visit Castle Cornet, the 800-year old fortress, the restored Victorian Gardens, the house where Victor Hugo stayed, or just relax along the promenade with its array of pubs and restaurants.
At certain high points in the coastal town you can see the other Channel Islands of Herm, Sark and Alderney - and the coast of Normandy in France.
Riomaggiore – Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, perhaps the most interesting town of the five Cinque Terre villages, is occupied by little fishing and day trip boats. The Italian seaside town has mediaeval tower blocks that are crammed together overlooking an inlet of intense aquamarine colour. The buildings are all painted in bright pastel shades, complementing the natural Mediterranean light.
Bowness-on-Solway – Scotland
The views from Bowness-on-Solway on the border between Scotland and England are special for several reasons. This is the western end of the Hadrian’s Wall tour - behind are rolling hills and country lanes while in front is the beautiful expanse of the Solway Firth.
The coastal village of Bowness-on-Solway has less than 100 houses and is the site of the Roman fort of Maia.
Ajaccio – Corsica, France
Ajaccio, the capital town of Corsica, lies on the island’s rugged west coast. Although a busy cosmopolitan Mediterranean coastal town, it is a pleasant place to spend a few days. Enjoy the impressive harbour and old winding streets where you’ll have plenty of choice of little restaurants and boutique shops.
Did you know that it was on this seaside town that Napoleon Bonaparte was born? You can visit his home, which is now a museum.
St Ives – Cornwall, England
In England, magical St Ives is a town of art, ice creams and fish ‘n’ chips. Protected from Atlantic storms, St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall, but like elsewhere on the surrounding coast, by the beginning of the 20th century, the fish stocks became depleted and the fishing fleet largely disappeared.
However as early as 1811 Turner visited to paint the seascapes and by the late 1880s there were several artists installed, and the town became famous for its vibrant artists’ colony. This perhaps reached its peak during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Today their work can be seen in the St Ives Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Bernard Leach Gallery. We offer several holidays that include a stay in St Ives.
Porto – Portugal
In Porto, famous for its port and wine, there are lots of traditional tascas (taverns) that serve marine cuisine. Explore for example vibrant Ribeira district down by the quays. The city is located right between the Green (Costa Verde) and Silver (Costa de Prata) coasts of Portugal and forms part of the Douro Valley.
To get the best idea of this Portuguese coastal city with a small-town feel, we suggest a walking itinerary taking in the famous sites such as the Cathedral and churches of 'Igreja de sto Ildefonso' and the 'Igreja Clerigos' with its monumental tower. Maybe walk along the upper and lower spans of the famous Luis I Road Bridge and admire the riverside districts of the old towns on both river banks. For those with extra time in Porto, why not take a trip across the river to the other town, 'Vila Nova de Gaia'.
Santa Caterina – Sardinia, Italy
When you descend from the Montiferru Mountains on a walking holiday in Sardinia, you’ll walk into Santa Caterina di Pittinuri, located on the coast. Santa Caterina is a quiet bay surrounded by oak forests, olive groves and quiet pastures. This is a small coastal village, with just one small shop and a couple of bars. There’s also a nice 4-star hotel located right on the coast on a cliff at the edge of the beach with an excellent restaurant overlooking the sea. What more do you need besides a good glass of local wine, fresh produce from the island and the charming village life passing by?
One of our favourite walks in England are the trails following the Dorset Coast Path. This route is part of the South West Coast Path an area of outstanding geological importance (named the Jurassic Coast of England) and our walking holiday in Dorset provides great variety.
To help you get a better picture of what our walks in Dorset are like and to help you plan your hiking trip, we asked Lisa, our Dorset expert, to answer a few questions. We hope it helps you on your way!
What is the best way to get to the start of the Dorset walking holiday?
“Sherpa Expeditions’ Dorset and Wessex Trail walk starts in Lyme Regis. The easiest way to reach the start is by train from London’s Waterloo Station to Axminster train station. From there you can take a direct bus to Lyme Regis that stops across the street from your hotel.”
What is the best time to visit Dorset for hiking?
“Although you will find many quiet areas whilst walking, in summer Dorset’s coastal villages can get rather crowded. So, if you like the idea of less crowds, you should plan your walking trip in spring or late summer, until the end of September.”
What is accommodation on Sherpa’s Dorset walking holiday like?
“When you join our walks in Dorset we will have accommodation arranged in a mixture of quaint B&Bs and rooms in traditional English pubs.”
What are the walking conditions in Dorset like?
“We grade this trip as introductory to moderate and you will see that the path is like a roller coaster. Our Dorset walking holiday includes cliff walking which is very steep at times, beach walking, optional town walks, and walking in woodlands and grassy paths.”
To what other region in England can you compare the walks in Dorset?
“The only other walk I can compare the walks in Dorset with is walking in Cornwall due to climbing up and down the rugged cliffs. However, the scenery in Cornwall is very different and I think both are equally beautiful.”
If walkers have more time available, what can they combine the walks in Dorset with?
“I just mentioned Cornwall to be offering similar walking conditions as Dorset and our choice of walking holidays in Cornwall are nice walks to tag along. Cornwall is just down the coast to the west so it is easy to combine the two regions.”
What is the food in Dorset and south west England like?
“There are great fish & chips shops and restaurants around Dorset, which serve fresh catches from the sea daily. The Hive Café on the beach at Burton Bradstock (just past West Bay) often serves fresh lobster, not to be missed!”
Doesn’t it always rain in England?
“Down south where Dorset is, the English weather is much better than, for example, Scotland. The weather is generally warmer and more settled on England’s south coast than in other parts of Britain and in Dorset it’s even warmer than in Cornwall or Devon. So the general idea of ‘it always rains in Britain’ certainly does not apply to Dorset with its temperate maritime climate!”
How well way-marked is the Dorset walk?
“The walk is very well way-marked and you follow a mixture of signs from a white acorn to coloured arrows on gates.”
If you have more questions for Lisa or would like to read more about our Dorset and Wessex Trails walking holiday, you can download the trip notes via the button on the trip page or get in touch with us by email or phone. Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays to Dorset depart daily between late March and late October.
Our team member Trina went to visit Cornwall in September and walk parts of the South West Coast Path.
We asked her about some of the best reasons to visit Cornwall for a walking or cycling holiday and she shared with us the 5 most impressive viewpoints, 5 dishes or snacks to try, 5 favourite pubs, the top 5 villages to visit, and 5 of the best beaches in Cornwall. To learn about them all and find out where to go in Cornwall, have a look at her recommendations!
5x Cornwall’s Interesting Food
1. cornish pasty
It is only fitting that a local bakery, the Chough Bakery in Padstow are the 2016 Cornish Pasty World Champions. This traditional bake was carried down the mines by the tin miners. Originally some had one side savoury with a fruit or jam end for desert. The crimpled side was held onto but then discarded uneaten as it would be tainted by toxins on the hands from the mining operation especially arsenic. Today you can eat it all!
2. treleavens ice cream
They have produced ice cream using traditional methods in Cornwall for the past 15 years: ingredients include milk from Trewithen Dairy near Lostwithiel and Tamar Fruits for berries. Flavours include After Eight, Gooseberry Fool and of course the classic Cornish Vanilla. Their ice cream is sold in shops and cafes throughout Cornwall.
3. Starey Gazey Pie (if you dare)
A pie with pilchards or sardines’ heads looking at you from the crust. It is most notably linked to the village of Mousehole, where pies are prepared on the 23rd December in memory of Tom Bawcock. The romantic story goes that one winter after storms had kept the local fishermen on dry land, the villagers were close to starving. A local widower, Tom Bawcock, decided enough was enough, and that he would take out his boat, along with his crew, and faithful cat Mowzer, to brave the rolling seas. He returns home with 7 different types of fish to feed his community; the landlady of the Ship Inn created a pie for the families, and the infamous dish was born.
4. Fish & Chips
Again a staple in Cornwall! One of the best places is ‘Roland’s Happy Plaice’ in Porthleven, named one of the ‘best places to eat Fish & Chips in Britain’. The ’Plaice’ has an eccentric range of Cuckoo clocks, which instead of Cuckoos coming out, have elephants and cows and other animals. If you're on the stunning Roseland Peninsular and you're looking for fish and chips track down the Atlantic Fryer van. He's in Portscatho every Tuesday and Friday. The fish and chips are simply mouthwatering, amazing cod loin fried in an amazing light batter cooked in beef dripping accompanied by great chips.
5. Cornish Cream Tea
It is different to the Devon one as the cream is on the top of the jam! In Cornwall, cream tea was traditionally served with a "Cornish split", a type of slightly sweet white bread roll, rather than a scone. But nowadays the scones and clotted cream used throughout tearooms in both counties are very similar and therefore the main difference is how you choose to have it. However, for Cornish Cream Teas it’s easier to spread and you can taste the cream better on top! You wouldn’t put cream on the bottom of a fruit salad, would you?
5x Impressive Viewpoints on Your Walks in Cornwall
1. Above Zennor Cove
A beautiful rugged cove described by D.H Lawrence as: "At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock-mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself. Zennor is a most beautiful place: a tiny granite village nestling under high shaggy moor-hills and a big sweep of lovely sea beyond, such a lovely sea, lovelier even than the Mediterranean..... It is the best place I have been in, I think".
2. The View Above St Ives Harbour
Looking down across the crystal waters to beach and bay and the archetypical whitewashed terraced seaside town is a beautiful outlook.
3. Kynance Cove
A stunningly beautiful spot. Formed from the distinctive geology of the Lizard peninsula. Clear greeny-blue waters, white sand and a collection of stacks and islands projecting out of the bay make it easy to see why it was so popular with Victorian artists.
A sandy beach set in an amphitheatre of weathered granite, Porthcurno is also known for its turquoise waters. As if that wasn’t enough, overlooking the cove is the open air Minnack theatre built by Rowena Cade and friends in the 1930s, hewn into the cliff top.
5. Coverack Cove
The view over the beach and sea to the notorious Manacle rock, and over the village's little houses and quaint harbour, will be in your memory forever.
5x Cornwall’s Best Pubs
1. The Golden Lion
in Padstow is the most famous inn in the town and essential for the 'Obby 'Oss' ceremony. The inn dates back to the 14th century and is the oldest in Padstow. It is a friendly oldie-worldly pub, with an open fire and parquet flooring in the public bar.
2. The Old Albion Inn
in Crantock, is a 400-year-old English pub. An entrance to a smugglers hole which passes under the village and is now blocked in for safety’s sake, may be found under the blue stone fireplace in the lounge, originally the kitchen. Both main fireplaces have an original pasty oven, and until a few years ago the house drew its water from a deep well under the old bar.
3. Seaford Cafe
in St Ives, not exactly a pub but is a popular place as you can enjoy fresh seafood caught that day. On the harbour of St Ives you can also find the 'Sloop Inn', a 14th century pub - a bit of a squeeze but it has a great ambiance!
4. The Tinners Arms
in Zennor near St Ives. The pub was built in 1271 to accommodate the masons who constructed St Senara's Church, which is famous for its mermaid. With its open log fires, stone floors and low ceilings it has changed little over the years and now offers a traditional pub experience with real Cornish ales and carefully prepared food using the best of local ingredients.
5. Ben’s Cornish Kitchen..
restaurant in Marazion was the Good Food Guide 2016’s Restaurant of the Year in the South West region and was Voted Best Restaurant in the South West at the 2013 Food Magazine Readers Awards! Ben’s Cornish Kitchen restaurant is a chilled out place to eat. Dress up – or down – it doesn’t matter. The food will always be fabulous.
5x Towns to Visit in Cornwall
1. St Ives
This famous little town began life as a tiny fishing community in prehistoric times. Its name is believed to derive from St Ia, an Irish Christian missionary of the 5th or 6th century who is said to have sailed across the Irish sea on a 'leaf'. This is possibly a fanciful reference to the vessels of the time, which were often made of interleaved animal hides. During the Medieval period St. Ives prospered, mainly from pilchard fishing, an industry that has done much to shape the context of Old St. Ives and the enchanting area of 'Downlong', that clusters around the harbour. When the railway reached the town in 1877, it became a magnet for early tourists, and for distinguished artists. As fishing declined during the early 20th century, tourism along with the town's growing international reputation as an art 'colony', transformed the old fishing port into one of Europe's most distinctive holiday resorts, within which the enduring character of a much older St Ives still survives.
Dylan Thomas (1930) described Mousehole as 'the loveliest village in England'. Mousehole developed around its harbour (and of course the fishing fleet that sustained it), appearing in the record books as an important fishing port from as early as 1266. There are very few places that can be found in the United Kingdom that have retained their original character and charm in the way that Mousehole has. Pronounced "Mowzel", it has a stunning collection of yellow-lichened houses. A few hundred yards along the coast from the village lies a huge cave, which, some people say, gives rise to the name of the village (Mouse Hole!).
This is one of those places where you can still sense the 17th and 18th centuries: you can almost smell the wood smoke at this most attractive former smugglers’ haunt. There are some resplendent cottages nestling together around a creek, surrounded by woodlands and steep slopes.
Although the town is nothing out of the ordinary by Cornish standards, the real star is the view and visit to the iconic St Michael’s Mount, with its low tide causeway. Marazion also has two fabulous beaches and magical sea views and has some claim to be the oldest settlement in England.
Something completely different are the harbour and buildings of Charlestown developed in the Georgian era as a new town. It was built to facilitate the transport of copper from nearby mines but its main function became the export of china clay from the region's quarries. By the early 1990s the china clay trade declined and the harbour was hardly used. In 1994, it was bought by Square Sail as a base for their ships. Much of Square Sail's business now involves using the harbour and their ships as film sets. The place can look so interesting with the square riggers, and the twisting harbour wall is unique.
5x Cornwall’s Best Beaches
1. Whitsand Bay
A short walk over the cliffs from Land's End, Whitsand is a long, sandy beach that offers excellent swimming and surfing opportunities. At low tide the beach joins up with its neighbour to provide over a mile of golden sand, so that even on hot summer days it is usually possible to find plenty of space to spread out.
2. Porthmeor Beach
In St Ives, Porthmeor Beach is a long stretch of beautiful beach with white sands and turquoise seas. Even on a wet rainy day it still looks stunning. Porthmeor is also St Ives’ most dramatic beach facing the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and is flanked by rugged headlands.
3. Godrevy Beach
The northernmost and most dramatic section of the three-mile long sandy beach that stretches from Hayle to Godrevy Head should definitely be mentioned here. The beach terminates with a low rocky headland that offers great views of Godrevy lighthouse, which was the real-life inspiration for Virginia Woolfe's novel To the Lighthouse.
4. Praa Sands Beach
The mile-long sandy beach of Praa Sands is backed with sheltering sand dunes and its easily accessible position is enjoyed by families having fun in the shallows, while further out the surf brigade take on some surprisingly big waves. There are some pretty good stop off points to sit back and soak up the fun seaside vibe.
At low tide, the beach at Watergate Bay becomes a vast expanse of unbroken golden sand backed by high cliffs. Watergate can be considered the first of a succession of fabulous beaches leading to Newquay. The bonus is with its size and distance from the town (2 miles) you can still find a quiet piece of sand to yourself.
For more information on Cornwall you can download the trip notes on the page of the holiday you are interested in or if you like to speak to Trina and our team, you can contact us by phone or email.