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The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
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Our Top Trips for Winter

Winter Trips

 

Now don’t get us wrong – we love winter in the UK. Cold, crisp mornings, roaring fires, hearty stews and if we’re lucky, a covering of soft fluffy snow. But here’s the thing – winter lasts quite a long time. And it’s not always blue skies and frost – a dark, cold morning with the sleet stinging your face is enough to make the most ardent winter-lover dream of warmer times.

 

That’s where a winter walking trip to southern Europe comes in. A week or two soaking up some warm sunshine, topping up the vitamin D levels and experiencing some fabulous food, nature and culture is the perfect way to break up the winter. Plus, a winter walking holiday will help you burn off some of those comfort food calories.

 

So, as you reach for your slippers and turn the central heating up a notch, take a look at our top picks for a warm winter break.

 

Madeira Island Walking

Best known for its gourmet food and wine, year-round, mild, sunny climate and breath-taking scenery everywhere you look, Madeira is the ideal destination to visit at any time of year. Our walking holiday in Madeira is focused on the south and eastern parts of the island, where you’ll have the chance to stay in small charismatic villages full of friendly locals, explore lush green levada walking trails and feel on top of the world as you perch on the highest peak in Madeira.  

 

Find out more



Exploring la Gomera

Available as an 8-day or 11-day trip.

 

La Gomera is a spectacular volcanic island, away from the hustle and bustle of the busier neighbouring islands. Because of its relative lack of beaches, La Gomera has escaped the levels of development that other parts of Spain and its islands have experienced. As a result La Gomera has an old world, rural feel to it with homesteads, small vineyards, layers of terraces and large rocky peaks set in an amazing crown of Laurisilva - a laurel cloud forest. 

 

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Tenerife on Foot

Walking in Tenerife is hugely varied and the aim of our walking holidays is to show you as much as possible. From the ancient university town of La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the elegant resort of Puerto de la Cruz on the north coast, we have selected a programme of varied walks. Your trip includes a walk to the crater of Mount Teide, a spectacular 3,718m high volcano.

 

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Winter Walking in Cyprus

Cyprus may be best know for its popular, and busy, seaside resorts – but head a few kilometres inland and you’ll find an older, sleepier world of villages, farms and forests. The trip is focussed around the Akamas Peninsular, a beautiful nature reserve populated by friendly, welcoming people. If you’re there at the end of winter, you’ll witness the bloom of wild flowers that cover the landscape from February onwards.

 

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Hiking the Vermillion Coast

This walk along the Vermillion Coast starts in France and finishes in Spain, taking you along the coastline where the mountains of the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean. You’ll experience pretty fishing villages, amazing French and Spanish cuisine, and spectacular coastal landscapes. This is also a region with a strong artistic heritage – from the French sculptor Aristide Maillol to Spanish master of surrealism, Salvador Dali.

 

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Southern Trails of La Gomera

The daily walks on this trip are relatively short, giving you plenty of opportunities to relax or try some of the many activities available on La Gomera, such as swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or whale-watching. The places you’ll visit are peaceful and unspoilt, with plenty of family-run restaurants to help you sample the delights of the local cuisine as you make your way around the south of the island.

 

Find out more

 

Tour de France 2018 Dates: When to Be Where

Tour de France 2018 dates are slowly approaching and before you know, the official start from Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile (just off the coast of the Vendee) on July 7th will be here! It’s a unique opportunity to watch the Tour de France live in one of France’s charming towns. Spending some time with similar tour enthusiasts in high anticipation of the cyclists and then witnessing their speed and recognising famous participants will make for a lifetime memory.

 

follow tour de france 2018 - sherpa expeditions cycling holidays

 

This year, why not plan your summer holiday around the Tour de France dates and combine an active holiday in France with witnessing Le Tour for real? Whether you want to walk between vineyards in the Loire Valley, get lost in the Pyrenees – once a hideout for the Cathars, outperform yourself on Mont Blanc or traverse the remote countryside of Cevennes, below are six of the very best trips to combine with the Tour de France this year.

 

10 July: La Baule – Sarzeau >> Loire Valley

The ever-popular Sauvignon Blanc was one of the very first fine wines to be commercially bottled with a screw cap and the Loire Valley is known to be producing some excellent delicate varietals – especially the Upper Loire areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Pick a nice terrace in the shade and with a cool glass of white in your hand, watch the Tour de France cyclists pass by on one of the first stages between La Baule and Sarzeau.

Travel on the Vineyard Trails of the Loire and watch the Tour de France live >>

 

17-19 July: Annecy – Alp d’Huez >> Mont Blanc Region

This extended itinerary circumnavigates Mont Blanc and explores the surrounding alpine region. Faced with picture postcard vistas from every vantage point, this trek affords unsurpassed views of the different faces of the Mont Blanc massif, as well as the highest point on the Tour of Mont Blanc, the Grand Col Ferret at 2,537m. Take in glittering glaciers and spectacular mountainscapes – your bags and supplies will be transported for you, allowing for plenty of time to explore en route. Add some extra days to see the Tour cyclists climb some of France’s highest mountains.

Travel on the Tour de Mont Blanc and watch the Tour de France live >>

 

21 July: Saint-Paul Trois-Chateaux – Mende >> Cevennes

In the autumn of 1878 Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cevennes accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”. His journey inspired Travel with a donkey in the Cévennes, which has since become a travel classic. Starting in the Auvergne, this trip follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, sad romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt. Ahead or after your walking holiday, visit Mende to watch the tour de France live.

Follow Louis Stevenson’s Trail and watch the Tour de France in Cevennes >>

 

24 July: Carcassonne – Bagneres-de-Luchon >> Crusaders Cathar Castles

Joining in Toulouse, this walking quest in the foothills of the Pyrenees delves into the rich history of the Cathar Country of the Foix, Aude Valley and Corbières areas of Southern France. The trip follows the tragic fate of the Cathar heretics, whose parfaits or priests were burned at the stake or driven into hiding. As well as its rich and evocative historical heritage, the area offers outstanding scenery of wild flowers and fine local dishes and will make for a mountainous stage 16 of this year’s Tour.

Trace the footsteps of the Crusaders’ Cathar Castles and watch the Tour de France >>

 

24-26 July: Bagneres-de-Luchon – Pau >> Tarn & Aveyron

Our walking route winds between the ‘Bastides’ (fortified towns) that sprung up during the Wars of Religion: rich in history and situated in spectacular settings on rocky promontories, here every stop has a tangle of narrow medieval streets to wander and sweeping views from the rocky hilltops or ancient walls. The start and end point of this circular walking tour, through the departments of Tarn and Aveyron, is Cordes-sur-Ciel, the first and most important of the ‘Bastides’, founded in 1222.

Travel on the Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron trip and watch the Tour de France >>

 

27 July: Lourdes – Laruns >> Pyrenees

When the Greenwich Meridian was agreed upon as the international standard, the fact that it was passing through some of the most spectacular corners of the High Pyrénées was probably not a major consideration. Trip highlights on include the dramatic, natural ‘amphitheatre’ of Cirque de Gavarnie and the famous Brêche de Roland, a natural rock doorway into Spain. The latter location is closer to the 25 July stage of the Tour de France that finishes in Saint-Lary-Soulan.

Travel on The Meridian Way: Heart of the Pyrenees and watch the Tour de France >>

 

If you are curious to find the exact schedule and Tour de France dates for 2018, below map may give you some support:

tour de france dates 2018 (c)LeTourdeFrance.fr

 

For more information and booking details, please contact our team of travel experts via email, phone or drop into our office in London.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Le Tour de France 

 

 

 

 

Grande Randonnées & Other French Long-Distance Footpaths

There is an elaborate network of grande randonnées in France (literally "big hikes") that form part of the European long-distance footpaths. In the country alone, there is already a network of 60,000km of GR trail to discover. If that’s not enough, France has many other interesting long-distance footpaths that offer fabulous walking conditions.

Below, we selected five French long distance footpaths for you. No matter if you like to complete them in one go, like to break them up in separate sections, or just cover the best parts, as usual, our team in London can assist with your wishes.

 

Way of St James

Full Length: 1500km / 935 miles

 

French long distance footpath_Way of St James_Sherpa Expeditions

 

Rustic and charming, this is one of our most popular trips, ideal for anyone who wishes to explore some of the more unusual, less visited landscapes of rural France, coupled with a flavour of the past and a dose of religious history. It covers a large swathe of the uplands of the Massif Central, taking a path that the early pilgrims walked to reach Santiago de Compostela about 1500 kilometres later.

               >> See More & Walk this Long-Distance Footpath

 

GR20

Full Length: 180km / 112 miles

 

Walk the grande randonnee GR20 in France's Corsica with Sherpa walking holidays

 

Dense maquis, mountain ridges and granite peaks that soar to 2,700m create a rugged terrain that is tempered by deeply wooded valleys, pine forest and cascading streams. This toughest of all grande randonnées in France starts in Corte’s old town, which clings to the steep slope below its majestic citadel. It then leads from the heart of the mountains across the north-south watershed to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way you will pass ancient villages that preserve century-old traditions and visit iconic rock formations such as Les Calanches.

>> See More & Walk this Grande Randonnée

 

Tour de Mont Blanc

Full Length: 170km / 106 miles

 

Mont Blanc walking holidays with Sherpa Expeditions

 

This self-guided, extended itinerary circumnavigates Mont Blanc via a network of footpaths to explore the surrounding alpine region. Faced with picture postcard vistas from every vantage point, on a two week trek you can enjoy unsurpassed views of the different faces of the Mont Blanc massif. The trails also lead you to the highest point on the Tour of Mont Blanc, the Grand Col Ferret at 2,537m.

>> See More & Walk this Long-Distance Footpath

 

GR70 | Stevenson’s Trail

Full Length: 274km / 170 miles

 

Walk in Cevennes - GR70 - grande randonnee walks with Sherpa Expeditions

 

In the autumn of 1878 Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the book Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cevennes region of France accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”. His journey inspired Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, which has since become a classic travel book. Starting in the Auvergne, this French long distance footpath follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, sad romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt. Today it is known as the Stevenson’s Trail or Chemin Stevenson.

>> See More & Walk this Grande Randonnée

 

GR10 | The Meridian Way

Full Length: 866km / 538 miles

 

French long distance footpaths - Meridian Way - Sherpa walking holidays

 

When the Greenwich Meridian was agreed upon as the international standard in 1884, the fact that it was passing through some of the most spectacular corners of the High Pyrenees was probably not a major consideration. Today, the line forms part of the grande randonnée GR10 that goes through the Haute Pyrenees. Highlights of the route include: the dramatic Cirque de Gavarnie, a natural amphitheatre 1,400m high; the spectacular Grande Cascade, whose 423m drop makes it the longest in Europe; and the famous Brêche de Roland, a natural rock ‘doorway’ into Spain.

>> See More & Walk this Grande Randonnée

 

 

You can find more information in the trip notes, which you can download via the blue button on each trip’s page. Or for other details and booking information, please do contact our team of travel experts by phone or email. 

 

Picture This! A Cathar Castles Tour

Joining in Perpignan, this walking quest in the foothills of the Pyrenees delves into the rich history of the Cathar Country of Corbières area of Southern France. The trip follows the tragic fate of the Cathar heretics, whose ‘Perfects’ or priests were burned at the stake or driven into hiding. As well as its rich and evocative historical heritage, the area offers outstanding scenery of wild flowers, forest, charming French towns and fine local dishes.

 

If you’re curious to understand a little more what a walking tour of the Cathar castles in this part of southern France looks like, check out the images below.

 

 

Way-marks on a Cathar Castles Walk

Waymarks on Cathar Castles tour in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Waymarks on Cathar Castles tour in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Waymarks on Cathar Castles tour in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Waymarks on Cathar Castles tour in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

 

Hilltop Castles & Forts in the French Pyrenees

Castle Ruins in Pyrenees in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Hilltop village in Corbieres, France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Castle Ruins in Pyrenees in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Village in Corbieres, France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Cathar castle Ruins in Pyrenees in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Castle Ruins in Pyrenees in France - Sherpa Expeditions 

 

 

Ancient Trails of the Cathars

Ancient trails of Cathars, French Pyrenees - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Ancient trails of Cathars, French Pyrenees - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Ancient trails of Cathars, French Pyrenees - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Ancient trails of Cathars, French Pyrenees - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

 

French Wining & Dining

Restaurant in the shadow, walking in France with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Cheers with French craft beer on a walking trip with Sherpa Expeditions

 

appetiser in France - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

A break on our Cathar Castles Tour in France - sherpa expeditions uk

 

fresh french pain - Sherpa walking holidays

 

Breakfast on the Cathar Castles tour with Sherpa Expeditions

 

 

Flora & Fauna

poppy fields in French Pyrenees - sherpa walking holidays

 

bird on a cathar castles walk with Sherpa Expeditions

 

French cattle near Corbieres - sherpa expeditions

 

cathar castle ruins in France - Sherpa Expeditions

 

butterflies in French Pyrenees - Sherpa Expeditions

 

roses on a walking holiday in France with Sherpa Expeditions

 

For more information on Cathar castles walks, how to get to and from Perpignan and any other queries you may have, please contact our team of travel experts or download the trip notes. 

 

Traveller's Tale: Alto Aragon, Spanish Pyrenees

Traveller's Tale: Alto Aragon - Walking

Traveller's Tale: Alto Aragon, Spanish Pyrenees

Sherpa Expeditions travellers Tony Powell and Glenys Hughes share their experiences on their Alto Aragon: The Spanish Pyrenees holiday.  

   

Why did you choose to walk in Alto Aragon in the Spanish Pyrenees?

We chose Alto Aragon after talking to Jon from the Sherpa Expeditions team. Having previously walked on the French side of the Pyrenees we had heard that the Spanish side was completely different – and it was! In comparison it is surprisingly green and forested.

 

I also wanted to prove to myself that I can still do a challenging walk. The rest of our walking group thought that we were completely nuts, Glenys admits to being 50-something and I am a fit 79 years old!

 

How did you prepare?

We walk most weekends in the hills and mountains of South Wales, close to where we live. We expect to walk for 5 hours at least, it is good cardio-vascular exercise. In preparation for this trip, I had attempted Fan Brycheiniog, the highest peak in the Black Mountain region of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the week before. It was an incredibly wet day and blowing a gale but I struggled on. Glenys hadn't walked for a fortnight but she had been scuba diving, not much help but thankfully she is a strong walker anyway.

 

 

 

Which was your favourite destination?

We kicked off with a 1,200m climb from Bielsa, a small town on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees that was heavily bombed in the Spanish Civil War, to a major pass called Portillo de Tella. This walk was breathtaking in more ways than one, no sooner had we arrived when a couple of eagles soared close overhead followed by several griffin vultures. In the distance we could see at least 60 chamois (mountain antelopes) proving to both of us that this region is filled with fascinating nature at every turn. 

 

After staying a while to enjoy the views we then started the 1,500m descent into a hamlet called Hospital de Tella, you might think we needed a hospital but there is only a simple guesthouse and a few holiday houses. In fact, this was our favourite stop, we couldn't wait to get into the river to cool off, thankfully for us this was located directly below the accommodation.

 

We had two nights there and the food was simple country fare; no menu, no pretensions. We had what they offered and enjoyed it, not least the free bottle of wine with our meal (this turned out to be standard practice)!

 

 

 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

We saw hardly any other walkers, perhaps because they know how hot it gets in August! We could feel the weather getting hotter with each day that passed and sometimes at the end of the day we really struggled. 


Although the hotels were very comfortable and the views were amazing, often the first beer wouldn't touch the sides. 

 

What was the biggest surprise?

Our stop on the fifth day was Lafortunada, a rather strange village that supports a hydroelectric station. We thankfully arrived early just in time for a well-deserved siesta. However in the evening we decided to walk up to the 16th century church at Badain, this gave us a good view over the valley and village below. During the evening the whole village came out to celebrate their fiesta; the villagers brought food in hampers and they all sat down to eat and share their food together, the music and dancing seemed to go on for most of the night.

 

Do you have any recommendations for anyone considering this trip?

The organisation has been quite exemplary from start to finish. The maps provided by Sherpa Expeditions were very good but the way-marking and the route notes were so comprehensive that you could easily follow the route without any maps. We had absolutely no problems with route finding. 

 

There is a lot of flexibility built in so that if the weather is bad or someone just needs an easy day there are opt-outs. In the worst case, you could just travel with the baggage transfer from one hotel to the next. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and we already look forward to our next holiday with Sherpa Expeditions!

 

More information

For more information about our Alto Aragon tour please visit our website for details on how to book. For a full list of our tours in Spain visit our Self-Guided Walking Holidays in Spain page for other recommendations.