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Travellers' Tales: The Great Glen Way with Becky Witt

 
Becky Witt from Colorado walked Scotland's Great Glen Way in May this year. She shared the story of her walk with us, including a rather surprising method of permanently marking her achievement!
 

What is your walking history? 

I am from Colorado and love hiking in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. I also enjoy walking in my suburban neighborhood. I have done one long-distance hike several years ago on the Colorado Trail. The hike was a guided hike which consisted of ascending and descending mountain passes for six days which was about 90 miles. We camped at the end of each day and I had to carry a day-pack. Our tent/luggage was transported for us. 
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

My hairstylist walked The Great Glen Way a couple of years ago and loved the walk. She told me about how beautiful the highlands are, the flavourful food and the friendly Scots. Also, she said if I didn’t find anyone to walk it with me, then she would. This didn’t make sense  to me because there are so many countries to explore. But now, I get it. I, too, would walk it again!
 
 
Becky Witt and her travelling companion on the Great Glen Way
 

How did you prepare?

I started physically preparing for the hike five months in advance. I started walking about four miles a day, five days a week. I did one long walk on the weekend. I started at four miles and worked up to 14 miles, which was about two weeks before the walk. I started upper body weights five months in advance, once a week. On occasion I missed daily walks, the long weekly walk and lifting weights. I also started carrying my backpack on my last four long walks. I felt physically prepared for the walk and I was able to complete each day, feeling tired, but not exhausted. I did not have any blisters or injuries during the walk. At the end of each day, I did stretch. Mentally, I prepared by reading literature on The Great Glen Way, listening to podcasts about travel in Scotland and watching a couple of documentaries on Scotland. 
 
 
Becky Witt on the Great Glen Way
 

What was your favorite destination?

Truly, I had several favourite destinations. I loved walking in the big northern woods. The elms, oaks, maples and pines were majestic. I loved walking through the meadows seeing sheep and so many wildflowers blooming: foxgloves, thistles, bluebells, broom, gorse and poppies were a feast for the eyes. Also, there are so many unbelievable waterfalls and all different types of bridges. Of course, coming into Inverness and seeing the end trail marker was bittersweet, but a favourite.
 
 
The Great Glen Way
 
 
Great Glen Way waterfall
 
 

Best food & drink?

I had a variety of fish twice a day and sometimes three times a day. Whether it was salmon, haddock, or herring, and whether it was smoked, poached, fried or fresh, it was delicious. The salmon was so flavourful, creamy and rich tasting. I never tired of eating fish. Cullen Skink chowder was phenomenal. Also, I had the sticky toffee pudding close to every night, which was amazingly rich and sweet. 

I was not a Scotch drinker before I went, and actually did not like it at all. We went to the Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William, where The Great Glen Way begins, and I learned how to drink it with one to two drops of water in the Scotch. I can now say, I like Scotch.

Also, every morning we asked our hosts to fill our thermos with hot tea and then we added Ben Nevis whisky honey, and that tasted wonderful during our mid-morning break!
 
 
Kippers on the Great Glen Way
 
 

Biggest surprise?

I had a couple of surprises. First, I had no idea how much self-care long distance walking gave me. I did not have headphones in for the walk and I was not on my phone at night. I truly was present in each and every moment. I read Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfections every night which gave me food for thought the next day. I had time to self-reflect about my career, family, friends and future travel for my wanderlust! I definitely had some insights which led to personal intentions.  

The second surprise was that you can walk in Scottish rain. It did rain most days, but a gentle rain and not for long. We were able to do whatever that day’s walk held in the rain and we did not get one midgie bite!
 
 
Walking in the rain on the Great Glen Way

Another surprise was that I tried haggis, kippers with eggs, bircher muesli and Scotch and that I loved them all. I wasn’t brave enough to try blood pudding - perhaps next time!

The last surprise was getting The Great Glen Way trail marker tattoo on my forearm!
 
 
Great Glen Way tattoo
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The day we were walking into Spean Bridge during a heavy downpour, we missed the path and ended up walking on the paved road, which was a challenge. We did not read our route notes carefully the night before and took a wrong turn. We looked at the route notes later that night and yes, there it was very clearly spelled out, how to take the path and not the road. So, definitely read the route notes every night!
 
 
The end of the Great Glen Way
 
 
 

10 of The Best Long-Distance Walks in the UK

In the UK a trail is often considered ‘long distance’ when it is at least 30 miles (48km) long. However, we like to stretch this a little and will look in this article at those paths that are over 70 miles or about 100km. Spread throughout all corners of Britain, you can find a diverse range of long-distance walks. 

 

A long-distance path in the UK is traditionally waymarked but won’t necessarily follow established footpaths and as such, walkers will often find themselves traversing pastures, fells, river shores or beaches. It's exactly that why we love some of our walks so much.

 

At the same time, going on a long-distance walk allows you to really travel deep inside a region and experience the real character and spirit away from outside borders.

 

Inspired by iconic figures, historical boundaries or geographical regions, read on for some of the UK’s best long distance walks.

 

Coast to Coast Walk

 

 

Entire Length: 309 km / 192 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: late spring until early autumn

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

One of Britain’s classic walking routes, the Coast to Coast, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the English Lake District. Walk this trail for the feeling of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, and to explore the national parks of the Lake District, Pennines and North York Moors.

 

“High points were the challenge, the people we met, sense of achievement and hospitality. Keep up the good work.”F. O’Sullivan from Paynesville, Australia

 

Channel Island Way

 

 

Entire Length: 177 km / 110 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: walk the Channel Island Way between April and late October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Each of the eight Channel Islands have their own separate character, and in terms of scenery resemble some of Cornwall’s nicest features. This long distance walk along the isles to the south of England takes you island hopping to see well preserved WWII fortifications, rugged cliffs, quiet villages and a fantastic range of pubs.

 

John Muir Way

 

 

Entire Length: 215 km / 134 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: between April and early October is the best time to undertake this British long distance walk

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

The John Muir Way is a route that symbolically links Dunbar (John's hometown) with Scotland’s first national park (Loch Lomond) and the Trossachs with Helensburgh (from where John and his family departed for the USA) in the west. Both towns are located by the sea and as such the trail is known as the Scottish Coast to Coast. Along the way, you are rewarded by views over Ben Lomond, an exploration of Edinburgh, and lots of historical features. There are many highlights on the John Muir Way - read about 10 interesting sites.

 

Hadrian’s Wall Trail

 

follow Hadrian's Wall Path in England - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Entire Length: 133 km / 83 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: the climate of Northern England is renowned for being unpredictable, but the best time of year to walk Hadrian’s Wall Trail is between April and early October, with June being the sunniest month

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

A reason for hikers to choose to walk Hadrian’s Wall is the rich Roman history along the way, as it’s not just the wall itself that you will see, but also remains of important Roman forts and good museums. This walk brings you scenic variety that stretches from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle and from the barren heights in Northumberland to the lime green pastoral scenes of Eden Valley.

 

“Great experience but hard work. However, the feeling of ‘we did it’, made it all worthwhile!” – M. Murphy from Tewantin, Australia

 

Rob Roy Way

 

long distance walks uk Rob Roy Way

 

Entire Length: 124 km / 77 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: for a long distance walk in Scotland like this, travel in the UK's spring and summer - between April and October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

The Rob Roy (MacGregor) Way takes hikers through areas where the notorious cattleman & outlaw used to reside, and on routes where his family drove their cattle towards market towns. This long distance trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of a Scottish legend while taking in highland scenery, famous lochs, and pretty Victorian villages.

 

Great Glen Way

 

walking the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 117 km / 73 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: walk this long distance trail between April and October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

The Great Glen Way long distance trail was opened in April 2002 and passes the foot of the UK’s highest mountain (Ben Nevis), follows the shores of Loch Ness (will you spot Nessie?), and crosses the Scottish Highlands. The forts and castles scattered along the way are witness to Scotland’s turbulent past.

 

“This was our first multi-day walk so we were a little apprehensive but we had a fantastic time and will definitely be doing more in the future.” - J. Taylor, Bolton, UK

 

South Downs Way

 
 
 

Entire Length: 161 km / 100 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: as the south of England is one of the sunniest places in all of the UK, you can enjoy the South Downs Way from as early as mid-March and until the end of October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Most of the route of the South Downs Way is ancient, made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of the region. On the way ‘Dew Ponds’, ring forts, cross dykes and tumuli reflect a history stretching back into the mists of time. What better way to take in the rolling landscapes and areas of outstanding natural beauty of Southern England than on foot?

 

“A wonderful range of terrain & experiences. Lovely scenery. Gorgeous villages full of history. We loved it! Terrific walking - challenging & interesting. Thank you for a great holiday. We'll be back.” – M. O'Rourke, Auckland, NZ

 

South West Coastal Path

 

walk the South West Coastal Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 579 km / 360 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: late March until the end of October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Cornwall is very much a holiday county with beaches, famous Cornish pasties, pirates, shipwrecks and the roaring sea. It has been voted Britain’s favourite holiday region for many good reasons. By following on foot one of the UK’s longest walks, you can let yourself be surprised by the tropical scenery.

“Loved how the walking tour created a more intimate connection with the towns, people, area & community. High points: scenery of coastal Cornwall and The Tinners Arms - loved it! Would have liked to have another day included at the end of the tour to get to St Michael's Mount.” – R. Masters, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, USA

 

Offa’s Dyke Path

 

Offa's Dyke - walking in the UK - Sherpa expeditions

 

Entire Length: 285 km / 177 miles
Country: Wales
Best time to go: the best time to walk Offa’s Dyke Path is between April and September

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Offa’s Dyke Path takes you through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats. Add to that historic castles and abbeys and you have yourself a fantastic introduction to Wales.

 

West Highland Way

 

walk historical west highland way with sherpa expeditions

 

Entire Length: 155 km / 96 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: from late March until the beginning of October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Embark on a hike on the West Highland Way and you step back into history - most of the stages follow the famous droving and military roads that linked the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands. Many of the hotels you find today have originated from the droving inns that have operated for centuries. On this long distance trail you’ll also walk to the foot of Ben Nevis and past the shores of the UK’s largest lake, Loch Lomond.

 

And a bonus 11th long-distance walk - The Pennine Way

 

Entire Length: 268 miles / 429km
Country: England
Best time to go: late spring to early Autumn

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 
 
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first British National Trail on April 24th 1965. It stretches from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, through the Cheviots and down into Scotland. It is iconic because it was the product of the post First World War mass trespass movement of often working class walkers with a socialist outlook.

 

 

We hope your bucket list hasn’t grown too much after reading about these favourite long-distance walks. If you'd like our support planning your walk, choosing the best hike for you, or have any other queries, please feel free to contact our team in London directly. 

The National Parks at 70

 

With 2019 marking 70 years since the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, the recently revamped ‘Discover National Parks Fortnight’ – as promoted by National Parks UK – offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and discover the length and breadth of Britain’s  countryside.

 

Here are some of our favourite walks in the UK’s magnificent National Parks.

 

SOUTH DOWNS 

National Parks UK says “A real haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Get inspired by the rolling hills, dramatic cliffs and picturesque villages found throughout the National Park.”

 

Exactly 100 miles of downland walking separate the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and Winchester, the former Saxon Capital of Wessex and England. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in crowded southern UK, this ancient route follows the chalk ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.

 

Find out more about walking the South Downs Way

 

south downs way

Photo: Joseph Pearson

 

YORKSHIRE DALES

National Parks UK says “The majestic rolling hills, old stone villages and farming heritage of the Yorkshire Dales truly showcase the best of the British countryside.”

 

A circular walk that threads its way around the valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale and over the mountains and moorlands between these two emerald dales. The 50-mile route has been designed to take in some of the beloved 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 about walking the James Herriot Way

 

James Herriot Way

 

 

LAKE DISTRICT

National Parks UK says “Rugged yet beautiful. An awe-inspiring landscape of high fells, deep glacial lakes and quaint rural villages.”

 

Celebrated by the poetry of Wordsworth and the stories of Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, the Lake District is the first National Park in the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. In between quaint market towns, the trail leads past the peaceful depths of Coniston Water and Derwentwater lakes, as well as the superb Tarn Hows, set in picturesque wooded hills.

 

Find out more about walking the Cumbria Way

 

The Lake Dsitrict

 

 

NORTHUMBERLAND

National Parks UK says “The perfect place to get away from it all. Fascinating ancient monuments, tranquil rolling moorland and the beautiful uplands of The Cheviot Hills”

 

Reflecting the life of the 7th century monk, the St Cuthbert’s Way takes you to the northernmost national park in England. Set between the Scottish borders in the north to just south of Hadrian's Wall, it is one of the least visited and least populated of the UK’s National Parks. It is home to England’s cleanest rivers and clearest air, as well as Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.

 

Find out more about walking St Cuthbert’s Way

 

 

 

LOCH LOMOND & THE TROSSACHS

National Parks UK says “One of Scotland’s most-loved landscapes. Home to the largest lake in the UK, multiple stunning lochs, extensive forests and dramatic mountain ranges.”

 

John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, on the southeast coast of Scotland, and as a child developed a deep love of the natural world around his home. The John Muir Way is a path that symbolically links Dunbar with Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the seaside town of Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast-to-coast route. 

 

Find out more about walking the John Muir Way

 

 

Alternatively, you can take in the beauty of the North York Moors National Park on walks such as The Cleveland Way (one of the UK’s earliest official National Trails), the iconic Coast to Coast and The Pennine Way, a new addition for 2019.


 

Seven of the Best Lakeside Trips for 2019

Lakeside Trips

 

There’s something very calming about walking beside a lake. The stillness of the water, and the views to the hills or mountains rising up from the far side of the lake can give a wonderful sense of space. And whether in the UK or Europe, lakeside towns and villages are often some of the most picturesque you’ll come across.

 

We offer a number of walks that include significant stretches of beautiful lakeside walking – here are a few of our favourites.

 

Lake Como Rambling

The Italian lakes are stunning – beautiful blue ribbons of water carving their way through majestic mountains, with classic coastal towns and villas dotted along the shores. Lake Como is one of the most famous, and has been a popular destination since the days of the Romans. As well as ancient Roman villas, the lake boasts grand hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era.

 

Our trip starts in Como, and includes several walks that take you to some of the most attractive towns and villages on the lake’s shores, offering plenty of opportunities to drink in the magnificent views and sample the delicious food and wine.

 

Lake Como

 

Find out more about Lake Como Rambling here.

 

Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District

Undoubtedly the best way to enjoy Cumbria’s breath-taking natural beauty and refreshingly clear air is at a leisurely pace walking the Cumbria Way.


This tour provides an excellent introduction to the charms of English Lakeland, England’s most mountainous area, and one if its most beautiful regions. Walking is unquestionably the best way to see this celebrated landscape, hailed over the years by the likes of poets, authors and painters. Wordsworth, Tennyson, Arthur Ramson, Beatrix Potter and Wainwright have all left their mark. 

 

Starting in Ulverston and finishing in Keswick, the walk takes in views of Lakes Coniston and Derwentwater, as well as Langdale and Borrowdale, two of the area’s prettiest valleys.

 

The Lake District

 

Find out more about walking the Cumbrian Way here.

 

Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps

Welcome to beautiful Upper Austria in the hinterland of Mozart’s city of Salzburg. The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best ‘typical’ alpine hiking in Europe. 

 

After a few days in the mountains you’ll descend to the waters of Lake Hallstattersee, and the ancient, picture-perfect lakeside town of Hallstatt. From here you’ll be able to explore the fascinating local area, and swim in the lake if the weather is warm enough.

 

Austrian Lake District

 

Find out more about the trip here.

 

The Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way is Ireland's oldest waymarked trail, pioneered by a famous hill walker, J.B Malone over 40 years ago and reveals some of Irelands finest views - Powerscourt Waterfall, Luggala, Loch Dan, Glenmalure and historical Glendalough. 

 

The Wicklow Way explores unspoilt trails, remote scenery, lakes, glacial valleys, forests and gentle farmland – before finishing in the famous city of Dublin. Along the way, you’ll pass through the spectacular Glendalough valley, with views of the two lakes that sit at the bottom of the valley. 

 

Wicklow Way

Photo: Magdalena Smolnicka

 

We offer 7-day and 9-day versions of the Wicklow Way.

 

The Great Glen Way

Loch Ness hardly needs an introduction – Scotland’s second largest loch stretches for 23 miles along the Great Glen, which links Fort William in the south to Inverness in the north, and contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.

 

Whilst walking the great Glen Way, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Loch Ness, as well the other lochs, and the majestic surrounding mountains, including, of course, Ben Nevis itself, the UK’s highest peak. Along the way, you’ll be treated by famous Scottish hospitality, and traditional food.

 

Great Glen Way

 

Read more about walking the Great Glen Way here.

 

The Fjordland

Not technically lakes, the Fjords are great coastal grooves, gouged out by retreating glaciers from the last ice-age. What they definitely are though, is spectacular – providing a breath-taking walking experience that will live with you forever. There are a wide range of walks to take in the highlands, which lead you right up onto the glaciers edge; it is even possible to go out onto the ice to take an excursion. There are also the lusher walks down into the pastoral settings of the Flam and Aurland Valleys. These are furnished with forests, farmsteads, cascades and churches.

 

You’ll also visit Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world.

 

Fjordland

 

Find out more about walking in the Fjordland here.

 

Lochs and Bens

One of our self-guided cycling holidays, this trip takes you through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, which have long been a favoured destination for cyclists and walkers keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. Along the way, you’ll visit beautiful lochs Tay and Earn, as well as the River Tay and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead and Killin.

 

En route there are opportunities to take a forest walk or visit one of the many castles and ancient monuments to be found along the way.

 

Lochs and Bens

 

Find out more about cycling the Lochs and Bens.

Seven of the Best Mountain Walks for 2019

There’s nothing quite like walking in the mountains to reconnect yourself with nature. The majesty and vastness of a mountain landscape helps to remind us of our place in the world, and many people who spend a holiday amongst the magnificent peaks often describe it as a life-changing experience. 

Although some mountain walking routes sit towards the challenging end of the spectrum, you certainly don’t need to be a mountaineer to take them on. 

 

Here are a few of our favourite mountain walks for 2019.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

The region around Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe (4,810m/15,780ft), is home to some of the best alpine walking and trekking in Europe, providing walkers with an opportunity to sample the culture and flavour of the three different countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. Our trekking holidays around Mont Blanc are dominated throughout by views of the highest peaks in the Alps. The traverse of the high passes takes you beneath spectacular glaciers and at other times you pass through picture-perfect Alpine villages and summer meadows. 

 

Tour du Mont Blanc


Read more about the Tour du Mont Blanc.


You may also like: The Alpine Pass Route, The Wildstrubel Circuit, The Bernese Oberland & Reichenbach Falls, The Haute Route.

 

Walking in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe. The Dolomite peaks are gigantic, chiselled monuments to the powerful forces of glacial erosion. Continuous sheer cliffs flank most of the peaks. Although not exceptionally high (the highest peak is Marmolada at 3,342m), they are amongst the most striking of all European mountains, coloured in weathered hues of rose, yellow, white and grey and rising in steep spires of fantastic form. Below lie bright green meadows alive with wild flowers all summer.

 

Walking in the Dolomites


Read more about Walking in the Dolomites.


You may also like: Dolomites Guided Walk

 

Corsica: Mountains & Sea

The mountains form the backbone of this rugged island. Interesting and varied long distance footpaths cross the mountains from east to west. Based on old mule tracks and ancient routes of transhumance, these routes traditionally connected mountain villages with each other and with high level pastures. Crossing intermediate ridges and following forested valleys, they take the walker into the heart of the mountains, past tumbling rivers, mixed woodland and through attractive villages.

 

Corsica


Read more about Corsica: Mountains & Sea


You may also like: A Saunter in Sardinia


Alto Aragon: The Spanish Pyrenees

This tour is a good choice for a summer hike, in a fascinating and generally quiet mountain region that is well off the beaten tracks of the higher Pyrenees. The route is truly spectacular in places, taking in some of the finest landscapes in Spain on the fringes of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. You cross two passes of over 2,000m, which are normally free of snow by mid-June. On the way are forests, plateaus, terraced hillsides, charming villages, deep canyons and broad valleys. 

 

Alto Aragon - The Spanish Pyrenees


Read more about Alto Aragon: The Spanish Pyrenees


You may also like: Mountains to the Mediterranean

 

The Troodos Mountains and Akamas

Cyprus is an island of natural beauty in a region with an abundance of ancient and modern civilisations and cultures. Away from the cosmopolitan towns and beach resorts you will find large areas of natural, unspoilt countryside. Rugged, conifer-clad mountains, woodland, orchards and vineyards are interspersed with tranquil, timeless villages. The Troodos Mountains cover much of the southern and western part of the country and this walk takes you from walking in the high mountains down to the coast, starting from an altitude of about 1,100m. 

 

Cyprus


Read more about The Troodos Mountains and Akamas – available as an 8-day or 11-day trip


You may also like: Zagoria – The Secret Villages

 

West Highland Way

Claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles, The West Highland Way follows a national trail through some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes. Starting at the village of Drymen just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to somber Glencoe, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day).

 

West Highland Way


Read more about The West Highland Way – available as an 8-day or 10-day trip


You may also like: The Great Glen Way, The Pennine Way

 

Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps

The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational - especially in the crisp, stable weather that this region often acquires during the period of this tour. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best alpine hiking in Europe. The lower slopes of alpine pasture are dotted with picturesque lakes and villages including gorgeous Halstatt, whilst the high triangular mountaintops are smothered with glacial ice.

 

Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps


Read more about The Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps


You may also like: The Fjordland

How Fit Do I Need To Be? Part 1 - UK

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

Exploring the Cotswolds

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.

 

The Cotswolds

Traditional Cotswolds houses

 

The Great Glen Way

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.

 

Great Glen Way
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.

 

St Cuthbert’s Way

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.

St Cuthberts Way

Lindisfarne (Holy Island) at the end of St Cuthbert's Way

 

Hadrian’s Wall

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.

 

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall

 

Challenging Trips for Experienced Walkers

The Pennine Way

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.

 

Pennine Way

The Pennine Way

 

The Coast to Coast

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.

 

Coast to Coast

The Coast to Coast

Across the highlands and lowlands: six of the best holidays in Scotland for 2019

Scotland

 

With new, comfortable Caledonian Sleeper trains entering service on both ‘Lowlander’ (from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow) and ‘Highlander’ routes (from London to Fort William, Inverness and on to Aberdeen), there’s now another reason to plan an active break that will take in the majesty of Scotland’s great outdoors.

 

Tackle the Scottish version of the Coast to Coast

Best known for encouraging the establishment of the Yosemite National Park, Scotland has been rather slow to recognise its famous son – it wasn’t until 2014 that John Muir was honoured with a trail in his native land. The John Muir Way is a path that extends from Dunbar, on the southeast coast, to the seaside town of Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast-to-coast route. 

 

John Muir Way

 

John Muir Way

 

Relive the legend of notorious Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor

Rob Roy MacGregor was a notorious outlaw and a folk hero, who escaped capture several times. The 80-mile Rob Roy Way takes you through classic Highland scenery and areas that were his old haunts. It begins in Drymen, whose Clachan Inn is the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland and would have been known by Rob Roy as it was run by his sister!

 

Rob Roy Way

 

Rob Roy Way

 

Find your favourite loch along the Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way is an exhilarating long distance trail starting at Fort William and concluding at Inverness, Scotland’s northernmost city. Following mostly canal and loch-side footpaths, it passes by the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. Scattered along the shores of Loch Ness, the centuries-old forts and castles remain a silent witness to the country’s turbulent past. 

 

Great Glen Way

 

Great Glen Way

 

Spot native wildlife as you cycle through the heart of the Scottish Highlands 

The Scottish Highlands Cycle is a week-long trip that will see you cycling along scenic paths and quiet forest trails where you can spot native wildlife such as red deer, stag or golden eagles. At Fort William a day is set aside to rest, (or ascend Ben Nevis!), followed by a train journey that takes you across Rannoch Moor to Loch Rannoch. The trip concludes at the riverside city of Perth.

 

Scottish Highlands Cycle

 

Scottish Highlands Cycle

 

Discover the diversity of Scotland’s ‘Big County’

Enjoy majestic mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. On our Lochs and Bens trip, you’ll take Scotland’s backroads and country paths, explore peaceful villages and rural towns, take a forest walk and visit castles and ancient monuments found along the way. The trip focuses on Perthshire, known as Scotland’s ‘big county’ because of the wide variety of landscapes that can be found here.

 

Lochs and Bens

 

Lochs and Bens

 

Follow the old military roads of the West Highland Way

From the south of Loch Lomond to Fort William and Ben Nevis, the famous West Highland Way connects Britain’s largest lake with its highest mountain. The route is a step back into history - many stages follow military roads that date back to the 1700s and used to link the Highlands to the Lowlands, as well as hotels that originated from droving inns that operated for centuries.

 

West Highland Way

 

West Highland Way

 

Browse all of our Scotland holidays here.

Britain’s Favourite Walks: Best Hikes in Scotland

We love Scotland and clearly we are not the only ones, as the country was represented with 12 entries in ITV’s Top 100 Britain’s Favourite Walks – a survey taken by more than 8,000 people. Out of these 12 places we have composed our own personal top 6 of the best hikes in Scotland.

Whether you are interested in short hikes to undertake in one or a couple of days, or for those who are after some of Scotland’s best long-distance walks, we hope that the list appeals to each and every one of you.

 

#1 Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis hike in Scotland

 

Britains’ highest peak, Ben Nevis can be readily ascended in a day and is rightfully so leading our list of best hikes in Scotland. Much loved by not just the Scots but most of the population in the British Isles, Ben Nevis stands at 1,345m and its summit is actually the collapsed dome of a very ancient volcano. Different hikes lead to the top of the mountain of which the Pony Track is by far the most popular route. If you don’t succeed in your first attempt, perhaps you can get some inspiration from the 19th century poem written in the visitor’s book of the Ben Nevis hotel.

Want to know what the word ‘ben’ means? Read about it in this very handy list of hiking terminology.

>> Take a little detour when you are walking the West Highland Way or Great Glen Way and include a hike to the top of Ben Nevis.

 

#2 Great Glen Way

Great Glen Way hike in Scotland

 

The Great Glen Way takes walkers to explore the heart of Scotland on foot. The route follows a fault line that was created 380 million years ago (read more about this here) and stretches for 73 miles (117 km) through the Scottish Highlands. In eight days, we take you to explore Fort William, the shores of the famous Loch Ness, paths along canal towpaths, forests and eventually to discover the ‘capital of the highlands’: Inverness.

>> Follow the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions between April – October.

 

#3 Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel on one of the best hikes in Scotland_Sherpa Expeditions

 

One of the 10 highlights on the John Muir Way is Falkirk Wheel, a unique structure as it’s the world’s only rotating boatlift. The lift only opened in 2002 and allows boats to efficiently connect between the Union Canal and Canal of Froth & Clyde. In the past this took up almost an entire day when boats had to negotiate through a flight of 11 lochs. The design of wheel has been described as “a form of contemporary sculpture” by the Royal Fine Arts Commission for Scotland and by modeller Kettle as “a beautiful, organic flowing thing, like the spine of a fish.”

If you book in advance you can go up on a boat in the wheel, ask our team for details.

>> Find the Falkirk Wheel on Scotland’s Coast to Coast walk, in itself a fantastic route that we think should actually have been included in the list of Britain’s Favourite Walks.

 

#4 Pitlochry

Pitlochry ©sedoglia

©sedoglia

 

The Memorial Park in the pretty Victorian spa town of Pitlochry is the end of the Rob Roy Way. There are various walks to and around town and with Sherpa Expeditions you will follow an old railway line embankment through forest and including a steep descent. Once in Pitlochry, you will understand why this is such a popular town amongst visitors. It became popular as a tourist resort from the mid-1800s when Queen Victoria started to visit and a railway line was opened. The town has a population of below 3000 and much of its old-world charm is still visible today through many stone Victorian buildings and a shelter made out of cast iron on one side of the high street.

>> Hike the spectacular Rob Roy Way and finish in the pretty Victorian spa town of Pitlochry.

 

#5 West Highland Way

west highland way scotland-sherpa expeditions


From the south of Loch Lomond to Fort William and Ben Nevis, this famous footpath connects Britain’s largest lake with its highest mountain. The route is a step back into history: many stages follow military roads that date back to the 1700s and used to link the Highlands to the Lowlands, as well as hotels that originated from droving inns that operated for centuries. All in all, it proves to be one of the best hikes in Scotland.

>> Learn much more about the West Highland Way, from the best time to visit, culinary highlights and some of our favourite viewpoints.

 

#6 Arthur’s Seat

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh - Sherpa Expeditions

 

From Arthur’s Seat, a volcanic hill near Edinburgh, you have fantastic views over the city. Besides this, you’ll even be able to look over the port of Leith, part of the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge and the waters of Firth of Forth fjord. Arthur’s Seat today is basically surrounded by Edinburgh so it makes for an easy-to-arrange hike, for example as an add-on to your walk or when you spend extra days in the Scottish capital. After an initial climb, you can easily do a loop around the hill. If you do this anti-clockwise up the steps for the steeper section and then follow the slope down from the summit, you can then wind down on the easier track to return to your start point. On a leisurely pace and including time to take in the views, this should take you no more than two hours.

>> Do a diversion on day 9 of the John Muir Way and walk up Athur’s Seat for fantastic views.

 

We have some suggestions for further reading for those that are interested to know more about the best hikes in Scotland or ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks. Or if you have any queries, please do contact our team of travel experts.

 

Britain’s Favourite Walks: Sherpa’s TOP 10

It’s been quite the show in the UK recently and the talk of the town: Britain’s Top 100 Favourite Walks. Voted for by 8,000 Brits, the final list was presented on national television last week during a 2-hour lasting show. For those that have access to ITV, you can watch the programme online until the end of February 2018.

For us it was quite exciting to see such a mix of walks spread around the island and as far as Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. Out of the Brits’ favourites, we selected our personal Top 10 Best Walks in the UK for you.

 

We’d love to hear your comments in the box below and see which are your favourite walks of Britain.

 

#1 Helvellyn | Lake District, England

best uk walks - helvellyn sherpa expeditions walking

 

On a great walk over Grisedale Pass and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn to Patterdale, you could opt to include a two-hour detour to summit Mount Helvellyn. Explore England’s most popular mountain, located in the Lake District, for breath-taking views.

>> Take it in on the Coast to Coast Guided Walk

 

#2 South Downs Way | Surrey & Sussex, England

south downs way - britain's favourite walks - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The complete South Downs Way, stretching for 100 miles over a rare large area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in southern Britain, follows a route that is for most of the part ancient. The Way is often made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of southern England. At intervals the hilly downlands are broken by ‘wind gaps’ or river valleys, mixing the ridge walking with some meandering visits to beautiful rivers with their associated villages. We are happy with this listing in Britain’s best walks.

>> Follow the South Downs Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#3 Broadway Tower | Cotswolds, England

broadway tower, cotswolds - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The unique Broadway Tower offers remarkable views of the Cotswolds and is fantastic to combine with the charming village of Chipping Campden. Broadway itself is a beautiful and picturesque town and the main street is lined with magnificent stone-built houses as well as some great antique shops.

>> Take in Broadway Tower on a walk to explore the Cotswolds

 

#4 Hadrian’s Wall Path | Northumberland, England

best walks in uk - Hadrian's Wall Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Officially opened in May 2003 after many years of negotiations with landlords and farmers to finalise the exact route which stretches 83 miles/133 km across town and country, forest and moorland, World Heritage Site and National Park. Omnipotent along this route, which belongs to the best walks in the UK, the Wall snakes its way, in sections interrupting a housing estate here, or popping up under a road there. Then, from being little more than a grassy bank, it transforms into stone and rollercoasters over crag tops and down into impressive fort like structures such as at Birdoswald and Housesteads.

>> Follow Hadrian’s Wall Trail with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#5 Offa’s Dyke | Monmouth & Hereford, Wales and England

best walks in uk - offa's dyke path - Sherpa Expediitons

 

The remaining 80 miles of Offa’s embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument and the basis of a famous walk: crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times on the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path. This walk in the UK is a journey packed with interest. Walk through an ever changing landscape through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats, home of buzzards and the rare Red Kite.

>> Follow a part of Offa’s Dyke with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#6 West Highland Way | Highlands, Scotland

walking the west highland way - sherpa expeditions

 

At Sherpa Expeditions we take you to follow most of the 92-mile national long-distance trail of the West Highland Way through a part of the Scottish Highlands. It is claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles and as such, its spot in the list with Best Walks in the UK is justified. The route includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland. But also Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest peak), Fort William and Glencoe – famed for its massacre of the MacDonald Clan.

>> Follow the West Highland Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#7 The Needles | Isle of Wight, England

the needles, isle of wight - Sherpa walking holidays

 

This is a great walk with some fantastic views, if the weather is good, eventually over much of the Isle of Wight. Enjoy a walk that takes you to visit the Needles Park, where you can view the famous sea-stacks and the military batteries, also the site of Britain's Rocket testing from the 1950s.

>> Take in The Needles on the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking trip

 

#8 Great Glen Way | Highlands, Scotland

uk's most favourite walks - Great Glen Way

 

Scotland, about 380 million years ago, saw the creation of the Great Glen Fault: a line splitting the highlands and leading to open water at either end. In 1822 a man-made canal was built that ran through the fault and connected lochs Lochy, Oich and Ness. The Great Glen Way basically follows the fault line and walking this trail will show you plenty of examples of elegant bridges and locks which reflect the early period of the Industrial Revolution. Together with the scenery of the Scottish Highlands, this is one of Britain’s most favourite walks.

>> Follow the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#9 St Cuthbert’s Way | Northumberland, England

st cuthbert's way - uk walking holidays

 

The St Cuthbert’s Way is a long-distance path that was established in 1996. The route reflects the life of the 7th century monk, extending from Melrose Abbey in the Scottish borders to the island of Lindisfarne just off the coast of Northumberland in northeast England. The ‘Way’ includes a variety of delightfully unspoilt countryside: the Tweed Valley, the Eildon Hills & Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland coast with its broad horizons and sandy beaches. The standard route is intended to be walked in 4 long days, but we have made several modifications to make the day stages slightly shorter and perhaps more interesting.

>> Follow St Cuthbert’s Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#10 St Ives to Zennor | Cornwall, England

cornwall - sherpa expeditions

 

The seascapes around St Ives Head are beautiful! This walk in the far western part of England roller-coasts through a series of steep dips between St Ives and Zennor. It is one of the best walks in the UK and shows you some of the most stunning parts of Cornwall. The town of Zennor has a quaint church, a small museum on Cornish life and a great old pub called The Tinner’s Arms. 

>> Take in this stunning part of Cornwall on our Cornish Coastal Path West: St Ives to Penzance

 

Curious to find the full list? Find Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100 here. Inspired to go for a walking holiday in the UK this year? Browse our website for all destinations and routes in the UK that you can explore with us, or contact our team of travel experts for more information.

 

Selection of Other Walks in the UK

 

 

10 Interesting Sights on the John Muir Way

Apart from the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the ‘father of national parks’, there are plenty of other reasons to walk what is known as Scotland’s Coast to Coast. The John Muir Way stretches for 134 miles (215km) from Helensburgh in the West of Scotland to Durban in the East making it one of Scotland’s best known long distance trails. With so much length to cover, you conveniently will walk past many fascinating sights that make the John Muir Way a truly interesting walk to undertake.

 

From John Muir’s hometown and a Roman wall to the heritage of famous war poets and the world’s biggest Northern Gannet colony, read on for a sneak preview of the fascinating sights you will encounter along the John Muir Way.

 

1. John Muir’s Port of Departure

hometown of John Muir, Helensburgh - Sherpa Expeditions


Handsome buildings, wide elegant tree-lined streets, a long promenade and attractive parks & gardens create a pleasantly distinguished atmosphere in Helensburgh. It is from this town that the Muir family is said to have left to go to the USA. The town operated the world’s first steamship ferry service in 1812 and reputedly a quarter of Britain’s millionaires resided in this handsome holiday resort during Victorian times.

 

2. Carbeth Chalets

chalets on John Muir Way - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays


After World War I local land owner, Barnes Graham, gave land near Glasgow to returning soldiers. The idea was for them to be able to build summerhouses so they could get some fresh air away from the city. The scheme at the time attracted socialists and communists and during WWII it was here that many people took refuge at the time of the Clydebank Blitz. Today, the low-impact lifestyle that people at the Carbeth Chalets follow is highly-prized and protected.

 

3. Kirkhouse Inn

Kirkhouse Inn on John Muir Way Scotland - Sherpa Expeditions


Originally built in 1601 as a stables and tavern, the Kirkhouse Inn has undergone several transformations over the years and has had its fair share of scandals and hidden treasures, even the sighting of a ghostly aberration! The Kirkhouse was the scene of secret correspondence between King James VI of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth I of England that eventually led to the Union of the Crowns.

 

4. The Antonine Wall

Antonine Wall, Scotland - Sherpa walking holidays


The northern-most limit of the Roman Empire stretched all the way to present-day Scotland. Like the better-known Hadrian's Wall to the south, it formed a solid barrier right across the country. The northern boundary can still be seen today when walking the John Muir Way and passing the Antonine Wall and Kirkintilloch fort. This is now a designated World Heritage Site. The Wall's location is prominently shown. A high mound in the park marks the site of a mediaeval castle whose moat still survives.


5. Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel, Scotland - Sherpa walking holidays


Opened in 2002 this is the world’s only rotating boatlift and an ‘engineering icon throughout the globe.’ Falkirk Wheel reconnects the canal of Forth and Clyde with the Union Canal for the first time since the 1930s and is part of the Millennium Link project. Inspirations for the design include a double-headed Celtic axe, the propeller of a ship and the ribcage of a whale.

 

6. The Ship that Never Sailed

John Muir Way - Blackness Castle, Scotland walking holidays


Blackness Castle is one of Scotland's most impressive strongholds. It was built in the 15th century by one of Scotland's most powerful families. Since it became crown property in 1453, the castle on the John Muir Way served as a state prison, one of the most advanced artillery fortifications of its time in Scotland, and ammunition depot. Because of its site and shape, Blackness Castle has been characterised as "the ship that never sailed".

 

7. The Kelpies

Kelpies on Scotland coast to coast - Sherpa Expeditions


Created by Scotland’s leading sculptor Andy Scott, The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage across Central Scotland. They stand 30 metres tall and as such are the largest equine sculptures in the world. The Kelpies form a dramatic gateway to the canal entrance on the east coast of Scotland and you can take a tour to experience the horses from the inside.

 

8. Bass Rock

Bass Rock on John Muir Way in Scotland


This is the biggest Northern gannet colony in the world, home to over 150,000 gannets at the peak of the season. The gannets spend most of the year on the Bass Rock, until the end of October.  The lower ledges of the Bass are home to shags, guillemots and razorbills, with seals hauling up on the rocks below. All in all, a unique spot to take in on your John Muir Way walking trip.

 

9. The Haar

Walking Scottish Coast to Coast with Sherpa Expeditions


Along the Firth of Forth and down the coast to Dunbar, you may have to contend with ‘The Haar’. In good weather and low winds, it can give the impression that you are suddenly having terrible weather with fog banks and grey drizzly cloud. It is not an optical illusion; The Haar is a cold sea fog and usually occurs on the east coast Scotland between April and September.


10. Craiglockhart War Hospital

War poetry along John Muir Way - Sherpa Expeditions


Fans of war poets will be interested to know that when taking a little extra walk on the John Muir Way, you can end up at ‘Edinburgh Napier University.’ This was the famous Craiglockhart Psychiatric Hospital where Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met in the First World War. Their poems appeared in the hospital's own magazine called ‘The Hydra’ and were the inspiration for several books and a movie.

 

 

For more information on walking the John Muir Way, the exact route and inclusions, please have a look at the trip page or get in touch with our team of travel experts in London.