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Do you love being surrounded by flowers in bloom? Whether you’re thinking of a spring getaway to the English countryside or a trip to Europe later in the summer, we have a number of trips departing in the next few months that will allow you to experience nature in all its glory.
From bluebells and daffodils to orchids and edelweiss, this is where you need to head to enjoy nature’s beautiful spectacle of colours…
DAFFODILS IN NORTH YORKSHIRE | BEST TIME: MARCH-APRIL
Daffodils may be typically associated with the English countryside but for the genuine wild variety (two-tone yellow flowers, narrow trumpets and forward pointing petals) head to North Yorkshire to walk the Cleveland Way. The daffodils at Farndale Valley are reputed to have been planted by the monks of the nearby Rievaulx Abbey and there is even a dedicated mile-long ‘daffodil walk’!
Find out more about the Cleveland Way
BLUEBELLS IN THE COTSWOLDS | BEST TIME: APRIL-MAY
The Cotswolds are on the finest regions to enjoy these quintessentially English carpets of blue. The Cotswolds landscape features a range of gentle hills extending northeast of the city of Bath through Cheltenham to Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. Along the way you’ll encounter villages lined with stone-built houses and unspoilt woodland, often covered with bluebells during the spring months .
Find out more about walking in the Cotswolds
A carpet of bluebells
LAVENDER IN PROVENCE | BEST TIME: JUNE-AUGUST
With colours varying from violet to indigo and everything in between, the lavender fields of Provence are guaranteed to take your breath away and awaken all your senses. The heady scent of lavender is strongest in the height of summer, when the fine stalks wave in the wind, with prairies in bloom stretching as far as the eye can see.
Discover our Rambling in the Luberon trip
Lavender in Provence
Lavender in Provence
SUNFLOWERS IN TUSCANY | BEST TIME: JULY-AUGUST
It’s hard not to fall in love with sunflowers: they give a sense of happiness, like a sun shining on a beautiful summer’s day. Sunflowers in bloom are a striking sight and in Tuscany they are an icon of the region. Follow the backroads in the warm summer months and spot the sun-loving ‘girasoli’ among cypresses, vineyards and traditional Tuscan architecture.
Find out more about walking in Tuscany
A field of sunflowers
EDELWEISS IN THE ALPS | BEST TIME: JULY-SEPTEMBER
The national flower of Switzerland, edelweiss takes its name from the German words ‘edel’ (noble) and ‘weiß’ (white). It is probably Europe’s best known mountain flower, mostly seen between the months of July to September. It grows in rocky limestone places and its scarce, often short-lived bloom can be found in remote mountain areas of the Alps. There plenty of other wild flowers that adorn the meadows of the Swiss Alps throughout the summer.
Find out more about walking in Switzerland
An Alpine meadow
ORCHIDS IN MADEIRA | BEST TIME: YEAR ROUND
Rising steeply from the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira’s subtropical climate and rich volcanic soil make for perfect growing conditions and orchids here enjoy an impressive year-round flowering season. There is a dedicated Orchid Garden with more than 7,500 species, while a week-long Flower Festival takes place every spring. This year the festival takes place from 2 - 19 May.
Find out more about walking in Madeira
Orchids in Madeira
If you’re considering a walking holiday but you’re hesitating because you’re not sure if you’re fit enough – don’t worry! It’s an understandable concern – and whilst it’s true that some of our trips require an excellent level of fitness, others are much more gentle on the legs. We’ve picked out a few UK-based trips for different fitness levels to help you work out your own level and find the one that’s just right for you. All of our trips include a suitability guide on the main trip information pages.
Gentle Trips for First Time Walkers
The Cotswolds, as well as being picture-perfect, are an ideal introduction to walking in the English countryside. The terrain is hilly rather than mountainous, and you’re rarely too far from a pretty village in which to stop for a rest and refreshments. The walking days are generally up to around 20km – comfortable for most reasonably fit people. The Cotswolds are a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, and as you meander through the countryside visiting medieval villages built in golden limestone, it’s easy to see why.
Although this trip is gentle on the legs, you will need to be a fairly competent map-reader.
This trip is available in 5-day and 8-day versions – and if you prefer wheels to feet, you can also explore the Cotswolds by bike.
Traditional Cotswolds houses
If walking in the Scottish Highlands sounds like the preserve of the super fit, then think again! Despite taking in some of Scotland’s most dramatic and breath-taking landscapes, most of the walking on The Great Glen Way is actually fairly straightforward – much of it along canal towpaths and forest tracks. The walking becomes a little more challenging on the last 3 days – but you can avoid a particularly steep climb on the last day by taking an optional taxi transfer. The days range from around 13km to 29km. This trip is a great way to sample the splendour of the Scottish Highlands without pushing your body to the limit.
Along the canals of the Great Glen Way
Moderate Trips for the More Active
If you’re looking for a trip in this category, you’re spoilt for choice, as the majority of our trips are classed as moderate. But here are a couple you might like to take a look at.
Although the daily distances on the St Cuthbert’s Way vary from 8.5km to 22.5km, the walk includes some steep ascents and descents, and some boggy terrain, which make it a little more challenging than the distances suggest. But with that little bit of extra fitness comes the reward of some delightfully unspoilt countryside and historic towns. Starting in Melrose in Scotland, and stretching across to the Northumberland coast and the island of Lindisfarne, this is a walk deep in historical and religious significance, as well as a route that takes in some beautiful countryside away from the hordes.
This trip is available in 8-day and 10-day versions.
Lindisfarne (Holy Island) at the end of St Cuthbert's Way
With some fairly long days (24 to 27km), and steep climbs and descents, not to mention some unpredictable weather, Hadrian’s Wall represents a moderate challenge – and you’ll need a bit of walking experience behind you to take it on. This is a walk rich in history – the Roman Emperor Hadrian began building the wall in 122AD to keep out his enemies to the north, and is now the world’s largest Roman artefact and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk in the Romans’ footsteps, you’ll discover some of England’s finest landscapes, towns and villages.
This trip is available in 8-day and 10-day versions.
Challenging Trips for Experienced Walkers
The sheer length of the entire Pennine Way (429km) makes it a pretty serious challenge, before you factor in the long days, remote sections, some fairly basic accommodation and lack of shelter from weather that can be very unpredictable. But this classic of British walking is rightly regarded as one of the world’s greatest – stretching through three national parks and encompassing fells, rivers, dales and waterfalls. The Pennine Way should be on the bucket list of any serious walker with a good level of fitness.
You can make the Pennine Way a little less challenging by doing just the Southern or Northern sections.
The Pennine Way
Although the Coast to Coast is offered in extended versions (up to 18 days) for those that like to take things at a slightly slower pace, the classic 15-day version includes some long days (an average of 25km per day), with 6-9 hours a day of walking at a steady pace to cover the distances required. But the Coast to Coast is our most popular walk for a reason – three national parks, charming towns and villages, stunning landscapes, and the sheer achievement of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea has given this route legendary status.
We offer several versions of the Coast to Coast – both guided and self guided, ranging from 15 to 18 days, and you can also do shorter sections on their own.
The Coast to Coast
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.
5 Long Weekend Break Ideas for Europe
If you’ve only got a few days of holiday left this year, it does not mean there are no options to go away anymore. For those who’ve got at least 2 days of annual leave available and are looking for a weekend break in Europe, we gathered a few really short breaks across the continent and in England.
All of these short breaks depart daily, so it is entirely up to you to choose when you like to go. Perhaps you’re combining a break with a visit to overseas family and friends or saw a good flight offer. Our team in London can quickly support you with your request, leaving you to pack your bags and get ready for places like Tuscany, England’s Yorkshire Dales and the Swiss Alps.
Italy | Cycle San Gimignano to Siena
Delve into the magic of Tuscany from the walled medieval hill town of San Gimignano to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval towns, Siena. This iconic bicycle ride takes you through the typical landscapes that characterise this part of Italy. The trip is specially designed for those who want to experience the best of Tuscany’s palette of colours at handlebar level, but who only have a few days available.
You can take this European weekend break from March-November and it is graded as a moderate-challenging cycling holiday, find more info here >>
England | Yorkshire Dales Mini Break
Escape to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales in northern England and stay at the Old Brewery, a tastefully decorated house that retains its old-world charm, yet offers every modern comfort. The bed & breakfast is a stone’s throw from the River Swale, at the foot of the castle hill, and just a short walk from the cobbled market place. This little break is perfect for several days walking surrounded by peaceful trails, quiet country lanes and sleepy villages.
You can take this trip year-round and it is graded as an introductory-moderate walking holiday, find more info here >>
England | Isle of Wight Cycle
Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the Isle of Wight, and let your holiday begin! This European mid-week or weekend break is deal 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 British island.
You can take this short break in Europe from March-October and it is graded as an introductory-moderate cycling holiday, find more info here >>
Switzerland | Meiringen: Panorama’s of the Swiss Alps
Swiss Meiringen is famous for the Reichenbach Falls, a spectacular cataract that was the setting for the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. A natural transport hub situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland’s major passes, getting around is easy and it is possible to set out each day in a different direction using a network of cable cars, postbuses and mountain railways. A perfect setting for you a quick weekend break in Europe. The high places can be reached quickly without long uphill climbs out of the valley and you can fill a week with excellent day walks, from gentle strolls to high ridges.
You can take this short break in Europe from May-October and it is graded as a moderate walking holiday, find more info here >>
England | Exploring the Cotswolds
An itinerary specially crafted for those who want a soft introduction to walking in the English countryside. Highlights include the medieval wool town of Bourton-on-the-Water, the picture perfect village of Guiting Power, the atmospheric ruins of Hailes Abbey (destroyed under Henry VIII) and the still inhabited Sudeley Castle.
You can take this weekend break from April-October and it is graded as an introductory-moderate walking holiday, find more info here >>
More information? Download the complete trip notes via the blue button on the trip page or contact our team of travel experts for a chat.
Budget Holidays in Europe
You may already know from previous experience that early in the season, often you will have the tracks and trails of Europe to yourself. Guesthouse and restaurant owners have more time for a chat and the atmosphere can be more relaxed. To help you profit from the spring season, we have selected five budget holidays in Europe that cost less than £500 (and don't compensate on value) so that you can easily squeeze them in at the start of the year (or later on, as most run until late autumn!).
Isle of Wight >> From £420
5 days of island cycling in the UK
Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the island, and let your budget trip in the UK's Isle of Wight 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 (taking place early August); the astonishing brick-built Quarr Abbey; and taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line.
>> Find out more >> Isle of Wight Cycle
The Balkan Mountains >> From £480
8 days of mountain walking in Bulgaria
The narrow roads of the Central Balkan National Park meander through valleys, forests and villages that have not changed for centuries. Along the self-guided Balkan Mountains walking route, you will see several of Bulgaria’s most significant Orthodox monasteries and churches with colourful murals. On the final day, you will ascend Petrahilya Peak, the highest mountain in the area, and enjoy panoramic views of Teteven and the Central Balkan National Park.
>> Find out more >> Balkan Mountains Walk
Yorkshire Dales >> From £270
4 days of relaxing walking in England
Escape to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales staying at the Old Brewery, a tastefully decorated house that retains its old-world charm, yet offers every modern comfort. A stone’s throw from the River Swale, at the foot of the castle hill, and just a short walk from the cobbled market place, you can set off to explore peaceful trails, quiet country lanes and sleepy villages of the Yorkshire Dales. With just four days, this is a perfect and short budget holiday in the UK.
>> Find out more >> Yorkshire Dales Mini Break
English Cotswolds >> From £360
5 days of easy walking in friendly England
An itinerary specially crafted for those who want a soft introduction to walking in the English countryside and have a limited budget for it. Highlights include the medieval wool town of Bourton-on-the-Water, the picture-perfect village of Guiting Power, the atmospheric ruins of Hailes Abbey (destroyed under Henry VIII) and the still inhabited castle of Sudeley. You will stay in charming, family-run B&Bs on this budget walking holiday in the Cotswolds.
>> Find out more >> Exploring the Cotswolds - 5 Days
The James Herriot Way >> From £450
6 days of walking around Wensleydale & Swaledale in England
Launched only in 2016, this new trip in the Yorkshire Dales, a six-day version of the James Herriot Way, is considered by many as ‘the best short long-distance walk in the UK’. The 50-mile (80km) circular walk has been designed to take in some of the countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot, was so fond of.
>> Find out more >> James Herriot Way
For more information and ideas for other budget holidays in Europe, please download the trip notes or get in touch with our team of travel experts by email or phone.
What to Do In the Cotswolds? 5 Places in Pictures
Planning a trip to the Cotswolds in England? Sherpa Expeditions team member Els recently visited and looks at what to do in the Cotswolds on your active holiday in the UK.
1. Quaint Villages
The villages of the Cotswolds are truly charming. Emerging from the woods or reaching the top of a hill and looking down into yet another yellow-bricked settlement to walk up to is a rewarding way of walking. There are many, many of these villages scattered around the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) of the Cotswolds so it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. You can find an overview of what to do in the Cotswolds villages from platforms like Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswolds Tourist Information Site. Some of our most favourite villages in the Cotswolds are:
Snowshill: The village of Snowshill overlooks the Avon Valley and the Midland Plain. It is home to Snowshill Manor, a Tudor house that is home to a collection of curiosities from around the world such as furniture pieces, Samurai armour, toys and bicycles. If you are walking with children, this may be one of their most favourite things to do in the Cotswolds.
Bibury: This village on the River Coln has been described as the most beautiful in England. Arlington Row is a 17th Century row of weavers’ cottages and Arlington Mill is a corn mill from the same century. Its machinery is still working!
Lower Slaughter: A beautiful village on the Windrush. Spend some time here to take in the peacefulness of this Cotswolds settlement and walk around to look at the well-kept cottages and ducks in the Windrush. The manor house in Lower Slaughter has a fine dovecote.
Naunton: A beautiful village with its long street running parallel with the Windrush stream. There is a fine stone dovecote with four gables near a barn, close to the pub. The church of Naunton is a perpendicular ‘wool’ church that has a 15th Century pulpit .
Chipping Campden: Visit Chipping Campden and you will find a very fine Cotswold wool town built by local craftsmen in the typical local yellow stone. The High Street of Chipping Campden is full of beautiful buildings and a 17th Century market hall. Have some extra time to spend and not sure what to do in this Cotswolds beauty? Visit the Woolstapler’s Hall Museum, the 17th Century almshouses and lovely church just outside town.
Guiting Power: A quintessential Cotswold village situated in the Heart of England, between Winchcombe and Stow on the Wold. Guiting Power has an ancient stone cross on the village green, mossy roofs, roses and wisteria clambering up the mellow walls. The village looks much the same as four centuries ago.
2. Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon
On the river Avon just north of the Cotswolds area lies the historic town of Stratford Upon Avon. It is the birthplace of the world famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. The centre of the town has preserved many of the buildings from Shakespeare’s time and it is a very attractive, quaint English town to visit before or after you Cotswolds walking holiday.
When in Stratford Upon Avon, there are plenty of things to do. For example, you can sit in the exact room where Shakespeare was inspired to write literature and join a Tudor school lesson at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, stroll around Shakespeare’s family homes from his birthplace to Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Mary Arden’s farm, and watch one of the plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
3. Hidcote Manor Garden
Walk around in the Hidcote Manor Garden and you’ll find a different atmosphere or vista with every turn you take. The garden is developed by Lawrence Johnston (1871-1958) and showed experiments with novel plant combinations. Today the garden is a National Trust heritage and attracts visitors, worldwide gardeners and students to enjoy the enchanting spaces.
“Plant only the best forms of any plant” – Lawrence Johnston, founder of Hidcote Manor
It took about 30 years to transform the area around the home of Hidcote Manor, acquired by his mother in 1907, into one of the UK’s best known arts and crafts gardens. Travelling around the world on journeys that took him to places like South Africa and China, Lawrence brought back rare plants and species that can still be seen today. Hidcote Manor Garden is located south from Stratford Upon Avon very close to Chipping Campden in the Gloucestershire part of the Cotswolds. So if you were thinking what to do in the Cotswolds on our walking holiday, Hidcote Manor can certainly be added to your list.
4. Broadway Tower and Impressive Views
Situated on the Cotswolds Way walking path, Broadway Tower is a unique place for a breather on our Cotswolds walking holidays. It takes about 1,5 hours walking to reach the top of a hill from where you can have the first glimpse of Broadway Tower. You’ll still have some walking through the stunning Cotswolds to do though until you reach this 18th century folly and that gives you plenty of time to think about what to do when you get there.
The tower is on Fish Hill (312m) and is a magnificent viewpoint from which, it is said, thirteen counties can be seen with impressive views of the Cotswolds that encompass the Vales of Evesham and Gloucester, and on a clear day as far away as the mountains of Southern Wales. Broadway Tower houses exhibitions to artists William Morris and printer Sir Thomas Phillips and there is a café that serves, of course, a selection of fine teas, cakes and savoury dishes. If you want to ensure you tick off absolutely everything there is to do in the Cotswolds, you can descend into the secret bunker that was used during the Cold War next to the Broadway Tower.
5. The Pubs!
There is no lack of traditional English pubs in the Cotswolds and some of our favourites include:
Hollow Bottom, Guiting Power – Said to be doing the best bar meals in town and it also does good real ales. It is located almost next door to the place where you can overnight on our walking and cycling holidays in the Cotswolds if you are staying in Guiting Power, or stay in the pub itself!
Mount Inn and Guild House, Stanton – At the top of the street in Stanton is the Mount Inn. The pub opens at noon and is excellent to visit. The view from the pub terrace of beautiful Stanton is perfect to enjoy food and drinks.
The Great Western Arms, Blockley – It has an excellent pub restaurant with a wide selection of dishes, which are all deliciously prepared. The ‘Real Ales’ normally include two types of Hook Norton.
The Lion, Winchcombe – Situated on North Street, this is a very good diners pub and comes highly recommended by our Sherpa team members. In Winchcombe there is a long and fascinating history reflected in the architecture of the town that is worth a visit.
Dirty Duck, Stratford upon Avon – Shakespeare’s hometown boasts a fine selection of bars and pubs. Perhaps the most famous of these is the “Dirty Duck”. Situated close to the theatres, the pub is a favourite haunt of thirsty actors, many of whom can be recognised from the photos on the walls in the right-hand bar.
For further readings to get to know more about the Cotswolds in England and what to do in the Cotswolds, why not have a look at our general information about the Cotswolds and articles about bluebells in the Cotswolds, walking in the Cotswolds, or cycling in the Cotswolds and England. If you have more questions, you can contact our team of travel experts in our London office.
Spring is well on its way with prospects of a beautiful summer in the United Kingdom this year. Perhaps this got you started flirting with the idea of a cycling holiday in the UK in the coming months. With this in mind, we choose below some of our favourite cycling holidays across the UK .
Rolling Through the Cotswolds
Also known as the ‘Heart of England’, a journey to the Cotswolds will present visitors with a mix of rolling hills, picture-perfect villages, wooded valleys, Roman roads and rustic old pubs for leisurely lunches.
When exploring this charming part of England by bicycle, it’s a good idea to start in elegant Cheltenham. The village is dotted with Regency buildings and beautifully landscaped gardens. Because there is so much to see in the Cotswolds, it’s possible to cycle the landscape and sights that interest you best. What to think of classic wool towns, roman villas and stone churches, or riding down through colourful valleys for your next UK cycling holiday?
>> Learn more about cycle tours in the UK's famous Cotswolds
Scottish Highlands at Handlebar Level
Picture yourself cycling along scenic paths and quiet forest trails - spotting native wildlife such as red deer, stag or golden eagle. It’s all possible on a cycling holiday in the Scottish Highlands.
There are some steep hills on the Cycle Way of the Great Glen that lead to magical views of Loch Ness. Via moorland and quiet country roads cyclists reach delightful Scottish towns. Bike riders can step off their bicycle at Fort William to ascend Ben Nevis or to ride in a historical steam train and of course to experience some of the distilleries along the cycle paths!
>> Want to know more? Check out this Scottish Highlands cycle holiday
Isle of Wight Cycle
Ideal for anyone looking for a short town-and-country cycling holiday. Because the Isle of Wight is so small, it’s great for a circular cycle tour in the UK. The terrain is undulating and distances are kept fairly short, giving cyclists enough time to stop and explore.
Highlights of cycling on the Isle of Wight 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.
>> Learn more about this cycling holiday on the UK's Isle of Wight
From Padstow to Land’s End through Lizard Point, this British cycling route goes to the southernmost point on mainland Great Britain. Cyclists get the chance to pedal through a patchwork of landscapes: from inland heaths and downs to tumbling coastlines and sheltered coves.
Cyclists who take eight days for this route will see that the daily bicycle rides are not that long. This is perfect to go and explore the best of Cornwall’s sheltered coves and beautiful rivers, castles and gardens by bicycle.
>> Find out about this cycling holiday in Cornwall
Want to know much more about cycle holidays in the UK and England or are interested to see our full range of self-guided cycling holidays in the UK? Contact our team of travel experts in our London office, or have a further browse at our cycling holidays in the UK.
Do you love being surrounded by flowers in bloom? If you are thinking of a spring getaway to the English countryside, the next few months may well be the best time to travel for you! This is when the bluebell woods (forests with the floor covered in purple bluebells) pop up all over the UK.
Bluebell: England's Favourite Flower
The bluebell has been voted as England’s favourite flower and it appears in many British organisations, such as the logo of the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, hospitals, tea & bakery shops, accommodation providers, a brewery, kitchen company and even a vintage train company!
It is estimated that 25-50% of the world’s common bluebells are found in the UK, so what better place to appreciate this charming lavender-coloured flower than in Sherpa Expedition’s homeland!
To best enjoy these quintessentially English carpets of blue, you travel to the Cotswolds. The landscape features a range of gentle hills extending northeast of the city of Bath through Cheltenham to Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. The region is dotted with unspoilt woodland, National Trust gardens and picturesque villages lined with stone-built houses – and of course bluebells!
On one of our self guided cycling holidays, you start in elegant Cheltenham, with its Regency buildings and beautifully landscaped gardens, to explore the Cotswolds along your choice of routes. Let the day’s bike ride depend on how energetic you feel. >> view trip
From only GBP 360 per person, you can witness the blue flower in a five day self guided walking holiday to the Cotswolds. This trip departs daily in April and May and there is an 8-day version of this walking holiday available for those with ample time. >> view trip
Dramatically reduced over thousands of years, many parts of Yorkshire once were covered in woodland. However, do not worry as today the preservation work of organisations like wildlife trusts and the UK National Trust help keep ancient, mixed forests thrive today. On the Coast to Coast walking trail for example, when you're coming down from Reeth and walk into Richmond, you will find woodland that is covered with bluebells in the spring months. For other areas in Yorkshire to see bluebell flowers, please contact our team of travel experts.
Go walking in Cornwall in the spring months of March, April and May, and you will come across tiny pockets of woodlands with bluebell carpets. Also along the cliff tops and in trees and gardens, you will notice the purple layer covering plots of land. As the weather is excellent in this southern part of England, you can already enjoy the popular flower from late March onward. Check out this overview of all walking and cycling holidays in Cornwall.
South Downs Way
At other times of the year the woodlands around Cocking may be dark and sometimes muddy, travel in the spring season though, and you will find a carpet of bluebell flowers. On both the 8-days South Downs Way walking holiday or the 10-day version of this long distance trail, you will pass through Cocking and find several other patches of wood that are home to bluebells in the spring months.
For more information on where to see the bluebells bloom this spring, or for holiday bookings to the Cotswolds, please contact our team of experts.
Inspired by the Tour de France? Here are the details of our five most popular cycling holidays for 2015:
Wainwright’s “Coast to Coast” walk has long been a classic, and it was perhaps inevitable that cyclists would also look at interesting ways of crossing beautiful, scenic northern England. The original ‘C2C’ stretches from the lighthouse at Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to the lighthouse at Sunderland on the shores of the North Sea. Our Coast to Coast cycling holiday is a 144 mile itinerary combining the Cumbria Cycle Way Route and the popular C2C cycle route, offers a superb week's cycling amidst great scenery.
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Our self-guided cycling holiday in Finland makes the most of the favourable conditions, gentle terrain and frequent ferry services to provide a unique trip across the Turku Archipelago. The Turku Archipelago is one of Finland’s most stunning natural phenomena - 20,000 islands stretching out into the sea from the city of Turku in the southwest part of the country. Cycling a circular route around the main islands is made easy, and exciting by a system of local and free ferry services, most of them constantly going back and forth, acting like
bridges. Find out more >>
This holiday is intended to appeal to those who want a gentle introduction to cycling in the English countryside, as the Cotswold’s are hilly rather than mountainous. A week of marvelous rides will take you through one of the most beautiful and historic parts of England. Honey coloured stone villages, open wolds, wooded valleys and Roman roads are the background to pretty villages, “wool” churches, famous gardens, a Roman villa and welcoming inns.
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Plunge into the wild yet romantic beauty of south-western Sardinia and cycle
beside empty beaches and sandunes in total freedom and at your own pace. The
terrain is rugged in parts, with high cliffs ascending from the coast,
interspersed with long sandy beaches, grass covered dunes and breathtaking
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Mention Bordeaux and you will spark thoughts all around the world of good wine. As you travel through the vineyards by bike on carefully chosen routes you will experience this and much more. This is an easy-going, hotel-based on-road cycle tour exploring the delights of the Gironde region. Find out more >>
Walking in the Cotswolds
With the launch of our new Exploring the Cotswolds Guided Walk, we thought it was time to re-visit this region of fine walks and quintessential English countryside. Along with an introduction to walking in the Cotswolds, this article contains some great tips from our resident guide, Jon Millen, to help you get the most out of your visit.
Introduction to the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds conjure up a vision of honey coloured stone walls, green rolling fields and pretty villages, and yet the human component of the landscape is largely derived from the Enclosure Acts 1700-1840 which partitioned the fields here with the famed dry stone walls. The name ‘Cotswolds’ comes from the word for the stone sheep shelters or ‘cots’ and ‘wolds’ mean hills. Most of the towns precede the regions namesake enclosures and are charming places to visit. Highlights on our walks in the Cotswolds include places with extraordinary names and old world features; such as Chipping Campden, Bourton on the Water, Lower Slaughter, Moreton in the Marsh, Stow on the Wold and Stratford upon Avon. The lovely stone that is characteristic of the Cotswolds was held in such high regard that it was sent far afield to build St. Paul's in London, many of the Oxford colleges and even the Melbourne Cathedral in Australia.
The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way is a 100 mile route from Bath, along the Cotswolds escarpment, to the market town of Chipping Campden. Our Cotswold walking holidays do not walk the official Cotswold Way but cross over it on some of the days. Our trips instead have been designed to follow more localised paths to take in the more interesting villages in the Cotswolds itself, such as Bourton on the Water, which the Cotswold Way does not visit. Our route also gives clients the opportunity to visit places such as Hidcote Manor & Gardens.
Our Favourite Towns in the Cotswolds
Here are the highlights of a few of our favourite towns and villages that you can visit on a walking holiday in the Cotswolds.
Famous for its High Street filled with beautiful honey-coloured stone buildings, it’s often described as the most perfect High Street in England. Anyone searching for the heritage of the Middle Ages, will find it here, as in the space of a hundred metres or so you’ll find excellent examples of Elizabethan, Georgian, Jacobean, Regency and Victorian architecture.
Attractions include the church of St James, a landmark for miles around, to the north of the town. It is a magnificent example of an early perpendicular wool church (churches built on the proceeds of the wool trade, which was prospering at the time), rebuilt in the 15th century. Next to the church are the lodges and the gateway to the old Campden House, built by Sir Baptist Hicks in the 17th century and burnt down during the Civil War. The long, broad and curved terraced Chipping Campden High Street contains many superb Cotswold stone buildings built by wealthy merchants between the 14th and 17th centuries.
This is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ and the ‘Show Village of England’ because of its sheer beauty. The ‘broad way’ leads from the foot of the western Cotswold escarpment with a wide grass-fringed street lined with honey coloured limestone buildings dating back to the 16th century. The village became a busy staging post on the route from Worcester to London as coaches had to harness extra horses for the long pull up Fish Hill. Back then as many as 40 inns existed within the village to service the many travellers passing through.
This village is run by a self-administering self-help housing trust that has preserved the village in its beautiful present state because it has restricted building and also been instrumental in keeping people born in the area in rented housing. These are ancient manorial lands and archaeologists assume that there are the remains of a Roman Villa under the manor house foundations. The church of St. Michael's has a well preserved Norman doorway with an hourglass motif. In the field next to the church you can see the mound of a Bronze age burial, as well as the foundations and alter of the original Saxon church, which you could perhaps get 12 people in.
During the 18th century when the wool industry was in decline Blockley turned to silk production. By 1884 six silk mills powered by the fast-flowing Blockley brook provided work for about 600 people preparing silk for ribbon-making factories in Coventry. The village is a unique collection of buildings reflecting its past glory of mills and silk production and is quite different in, character to other north Cotswold villages.
Stow on the Wold
A pretty market town and has a memorial Stone to the Battle of Stow 1646 during the English Civil War. Stow stands exposed on a 700 feet high hill at a junction of seven major roads, including the Roman Fosse Way. At the height of the Cotswold wool industry the town was famous for its huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time. Around the village’s vast market square the visitor is faced with an elegant array of Cotswold townhouses.
The name of this quaint village stems from the old English name for a wet land or ‘slough’ upon which it lies beside the little Eye stream and is known for its unspoilt limestone cottages in the traditional Cotswold style. The stream running through the village is crossed by two small bridges and the local attraction is a converted mill with original water wheel selling craft type products. There is the Low Scarp Manor that has a bar and does afternoon teas and of course the inn.
Some call this (optimistically perhaps) the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds,’ but it is one of the showplaces of the region, attracting visitors again and again with its special charm with its expanded river, tiny bridges and glassy waters The oldest town houses date back to the 17th century. But if its cottages are of no great antiquity, the village can trace its story from pre-Roman times, when there was a military camp here at Salmonsbury. A number of ancient trackways converged on Bourton. The most important of these was - and still is - the Roman Fosse Way, which starts from the mouth of the Humber and ends in Devon.
Our Tips for Walking in the Cotswolds
We asked our resident walking guide, Jon Millen to give us his top tips for walking in the Cotswolds:
- A plastic cleaning brush for your boots can be useful as after the rain the trails in places become sticky clay.
- The Cotswolds can be surprisingly cold , always carry warm clothes even in good weather.
- Make full use of the wonderful pubs for reasonably priced evening meals etc.
- National Trust members bring your membership cards to visit some of the attractive gardens such as Hidcote.
- In Stratford Upon Avon (worth an extra day) you can get multiple entry tickets to visit places such as Anne Hathaway’s cottage.
- Binoculars are always handy, bird varieties seem to be improving especially the Red Kite which is now quite a common sight.
- Drop into some of the gorgeous churches, St. Edwards in Stow on the Wold is one of my favourites and is famous for its hobbit style door between two yew trees.
- Climb the Broadway tower in good weather for the views and a cup of tea in the café on the top.
Our Walking and Cycling Holidays in the Cotswolds