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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
Easter is quite late in 2019 – it falls on the third weekend of April and is a great time to enjoy the spring sunshine all over Europe. But where are the best places to go during Easter? In Italy, Spain and Portugal, all Catholic dominated countries, there are processions and other religious celebrations for the holiday – as there are on Greek Orthodox Cyprus. Often, these are very colourful and traditional events that are well worth travelling for and to take part in or observe.
Here are some of our favourite places in Europe to celebrate the Easter holidays, that are easily combined with a walking trip.
EASTER IN THE CANARY ISLANDS – LA PALMA
On the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Easter is celebrated extensively. In Los Llanos for example, the Good Friday procession assembles behind the church on the Plaza in the centre of the town, shortly after sunset, and is conducted in silence but with the accompaniment of a slow drumbeat. School children, joined to each other by chains, lead out one of the statues from the church. All the statues from the church are taken from their normal place and displayed in the procession. Some people are bare-footed and in shackles and chains, and the cross is slowly carried along, flanked by people with cardinal-coloured gowns. Many of the other villages on the island have similar processions.
Learn more about our walking tour of La Palma.
EASTER IN FLORENCE, TUSCANY
Make sure you’re in Florence on Easter Sunday and be up and ready by 9am for the spectacular Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart). A tradition that goes back to the 12th Century, this is still an important Easter practise for the city of Florence. A cart is drawn by oxen from the Porta al Prato to the Church Square, now connected with the altar in the cathedral via a wire. Here it is lit by a dove-shaped rocket from the cathedral, causing a 20-minute fireworks show. The whole spectacle happens in traditional 15th century style with flowers, music, and clerics.
You can combine this Easter tradition with a week-long cycling or walking holiday in Tuscany. Follow the backroads in the early spring months and spot the first flowers come to bloom among cypresses, vineyards, traditional Tuscan architecture – and of course the delicious Italian cuisine.
Read more about our holidays in Tuscany.
EASTER IN KATO PAPHOS, CYPRUS
Outside the church of Agia Kyriaki in the coastal town of Kato Paphos, the Passion Play, or Way of the Cross, takes place. It is one of the many Easter celebrations taking place over the island of Cyprus. Most of the residents are member of the Greek Orthodox Church, which has its own Easter traditions. Normally falling at different dates than the Christian or Catholic Easter, in 2019 celebrations are one week later, with Easter Sunday falling on 28 April. Eat traditional lamb dishes and the Cypriot bread of flaounes and join any of the festive processions and performances.
Fly in to Paphos ahead of your 8 or 11 day Cyprus walking holiday and stay a few days to celebrate Easter. Then set off to explore the Troodos Mountains on foot and admire the rugged mountains, orchards and vineyards, profusion of exquisite, wild flowers and migratory birds that you can see particularly in spring.
Find out more about our walking holidays in Cyprus.
EASTER IN BRAGA, DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL
Braga is a short train ride from the start and end points of our 7-day Douro Rambler holiday, so it’s worth adding an extra day or two to your trip if you’re going to be there around Easter. The city hosts many concerts, dance performances, religious celebrations and street theatre activities during the Holy Week. You’ll also witness the Ecce Homo procession and many more Easter celebrations. The procession is led by coffin-bearers wearing traditional purple robes on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter Sunday. A traditional dessert to try for Easter if you’re in Porto or Braga is the Easter sponge cake of Pao de Lo.
The Douro Valley is just a 1-hour train ride from Braga and is home to the first demarcated wine region in the world. Associated primarily with Port, these days it produces just as much high-quality table wine and you can experience the importance of grapes when you stay at a beautifully restored manor that owns a small vineyard. Enjoy pretty walks in the wine county of Douro Valley in spring when nature is coming back to life and trails are usually quiet.
Read more about our Douro Rambler trip here.
EASTER IN ALGHERO, SARDINIA
Fly in to Sardinia’s Alghero airport and spend a few days to celebrate the Easter holidays. Alghero is one of Sardinia’s most famous places to go for Easter and is influenced by the Catalan culture. Celebrations revolve around the Santcristus, a wooden statue that washed ashore in 1606 and now symbolises Alghero’s religious identity. There are processions from Good Friday onwards, and on the Thursday before Easter you can witness the raising of the Santcristus at Saint Mary’s Cathedral.
These celebrations could form a fantastic start or end to your Saunter in Sardinia walking holiday. Your walks start in Santu Lussurgiu, 2 hrs away from Alghero, and take you around the Montiferru Mountain Range, Sinis Westlands, sea cliff of Su Tingiosu and many ancient sites as you follow romantic Mediterranean trails. The advantage of travelling in spring and around Easter is that you will find plenty of bird life, generally quieter trails and cooler temperatures.
Read more about our Saunter in Sardinia trip here.
EASTER IN PALMA, MAJORCA
As elsewhere in Spain, Majorca celebrates the Semana Santa (Holy Week) for Easter. The island is in a festive mood from the Thursday before Easter onwards, when the biggest processions take place. The most colourful one is the La Sang procession in Palma. Other Majorcan places to go for Easter are the churches, with performances by children and other special Easter events. On Easter Sunday you may find many people on the streets for their local pilgrimage and abundant picnics. Make sure to try the Easter pastries of panades and rubiols.
If you’re interested in visiting Palma, Majorca during Easter, you could add a day or two to the start or finish of our 8-day Sierras and Monasteries walk.
EASTER IN THE UK - WINCHESTER (SOUTH DOWNS WAY)
If you’re thinking of walking the South Downs Way, a beautiful walk across the rolling landscapes of Southern England, you could time it so that the start of your trip falls over Easter. That means you’ll be in Winchester, home to one of the UK’s finest cathedrals. What better place to experience an Easter service than in this stunning Norman cathedral built in 1093, which is the longest medieval cathedral in Europe, and also the resting place of Jane Austen.
Read more about the South Downs Way.
Cornwall is one of the UK’s most dramatic, visually breath-taking and romantic counties – and so it’s no wonder that this beautiful place has served as the setting for novels, films and TV series over the years. Cornwall is regularly used as the backdrop for films or TV programmes that aren’t even set there – as it provides the perfect backdrop for anyone looking for a rugged, dramatic landscape.
But here we take a look at some films and TV series actually set in this unique coastal county, including some of the locations you can visit when on a walking holiday in Cornwall with Sherpa Expeditions.
Ladies in Lavender
Directed and co-written by Charles Dance, and starring Dames Maggie Smith and Judy Dench, 2004’s Ladies in Lavender’s credits read like a who’s who of British film royalty.
Set in 1930’s Cornwall, the film tells the story of aging sisters Ursula and Janet, whose peaceful lives are turned upside down when they find a nearly-drowned Polish man lying on the beach, and decide to nurse him back to health.
Locations in which the film was shot include St Ives, the Lizard Peninsular and Prussia and Keneggy Coves near Porthleven, all of which can be visited on our Marazion to Mevagissey Walk.
Poldark was originally a popular British TV series in the mid-1970s, but it’s the recent remake that launched in 2015 that has made the series a global hit. It stars Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, who returns home to Cornwall from fighting in the American Revolutionary War. It follows his trials and tribulations as he tries to forge a new life back in Cornwall.
The stunning Cornish coastline is a major aspect of the show’s visual impact. Filming locations include St Just, Land’s End, Charlestown, Helston, Lizard Point and Porthcothan. Many of these locations are visited on our walks along the South West Coast Path – so if you’re a fan of the show you can really immerse yourself into Poldark’s world.
The 1939 film based on Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel of pirates, rogues and smugglers, is the definitive, and most famous version, although there have been more recent remakes for both film and TV.
This classic film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara. The setting for the story, Jamaica Inn itself, is still very much around and open to visitors – built in 1750 as a coaching inn for travellers crossing Bodmin Moor.
Another 1939 adaptation of a classic Daphne du Maurier novel, again directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and this time starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. The only problem with this entry on our list, is that, although set in Cornwall, the film was actually shot entirely in California! At least the 1997 remake starring Charles Dance (him again) and Diana Rigg was partly shot in Cornwall.
Rebecca tells the story of Max de Winter, who brings his new wife to live with him on his country estate in Cornwall, named Manderley. However, the new Mrs de Winter soon finds that her husband’s deceased first wife, Rebecca, still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderley.
Doc Martin has been a much-loved programme on British TV since 2004. It stars Martin Clunes as a gruff, abrupt surgeon from London, who relocates to the seaside village of Port Wenn in Cornwall.
Port Isaac is the real village that serves as the location for the fictional Port Wenn. Port Isaac is a charming fishing village just north of Padstow on the northern section of the South West Coast Path. As well as being a lovely visual showcase for life on the Cornish Coast, there is much humour to be had as Doc Martin slowly gets used to the sometimes-eccentric way of life in a small Cornish village.
A bit of a left-field one – as it’s unlikely you’ll have seen it unless you’ve spent some time watching German television.
Rosamunde Pilcher was a hugely successful British writer of romance novels, whose books sold over 60 million copies worldwide between 1949 and 2000. She was born in Lelant, just outside St Ives – and her Cornwall surroundings provided the setting for many of her novels.
Her books became especially popular in Germany, where her novels have been adapted into more than 100 TV films. The popularity of these hugely successful films resulted in Rosamunde Pilcher receiving a British Tourism Award in 2002 for the positive effect that her books and the TV adaptations have had on Cornwall.
It’s no surprise that so many of the books, films and TV programmes set in Cornwall over the years have been tales of romance, intrigue and high-drama – given the highly dramatic and ruggedly beautiful nature of the county. You can experience all of it on a Cornish walking tour with Sherpa Expeditions.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
From spring next year (2018), you will have even more choice to go on an active holiday in the UK as we will be launching several brand-new trips again.
Next year, we will be adding three new walking programmes spread out over England and the isles, plus a completely renewed cycling holiday that will follow one of the UK’s most popular walking trails.
Isle of Man Coastal Path >> new walking holiday
- Beautiful Coastal scenery on quiet trails
- Cultural heritage towns such as Castletown, Peel, Ramsey and Laxey
- Wildlife spotting opportunities
- Seascapes embracing views to England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
- Bathing opportunities
- A network of steam, electric, mountain and horse drawn railways
- Interesting histories to discover
>> View this new self guided walking trip in England now
The Richmond Way >> new walking holiday
- Magnificent Lancaster, Bolton and Richmond castles and the 'motte' (remains) of several others
- Ingleton Village and waterfalls
- Walking on ancient Roman roads
- Beautiful 'Green' villages such as Bainbridge and Reeth
- High limestone walking with views over the Yorkshire fells
- Beautiful valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale
- Ribblehead Viaduct – a mecca for railway enthusiasts
The Cyclist’s Coast to Coast >> new cycling holiday
- Ride across England from Irish to the North Sea, crossing the Lake District and Pennines
- Biking through the hills & dales of northern England
- Attractive hamlets and traditional villages
- Industrial heritage, lead mines and the River Tyne
- A satisfying and very challenging ride
>> View this new self guided cycling trip in England now
Jersey Island – Channel Island Way >> new walking holiday
- Discover legacy of wars, occupations & pirates
- Second part of the Channel Island Way
- Magnificent rock pools & sweeping dunes
- Follow rugged cliff paths sprinkled with wildflowers
- Charming seaside pubs & fishing villages
>> View this new self guided cycling trip in England now
We are currently finalising the details for these new trips, so stay tuned on this page (perhaps you like to bookmark it) for updates and to find out when the trips are available next year.
If you like to enquire or like us to send you a message as soon as the trips are available online, please contact our team of travel experts in London.
Guernsey is well known for its beautiful scenery and fantastic food, so why not join the two together on your next trip to the island?
Since 2015, Guernsey Island hosts the 2-week long Guernsey Food Festival in September. The event aims to support local food and drink producers as well as showcase the island’s wide variety of fresh produce, fabulous restaurants, well-known chefs and local delicacies. A visit to the island at this time of year is the perfect chance to taste all that Guernsey has to offer.
The festival includes plenty of events around the island for all to enjoy, ranging from beer-and-cheese-pairing to chilli-eating competitions. As different events are dotted around the island, it’s the perfect excuse to try Sherpa's great walking itinerary and burn off some of the delicious food.
The first weekend of the festival usually focuses around the Big Guernsey Market, where more than 40 food and drink stalls display the best of Guernsey cuisine along Crown Pier. There are also opportunities to join a boat trip around the oyster beds of Herm to see the island’s delicious delicacy of the Herm and Rocquaine oysters, or if you prefer to stay on solid ground, visit one of the live food shows along the pier and watch top chefs prepare their favourite dishes live on stage.
The Grape, Apple and Grain Festival traditionally takes place over the second weekend of the festival and is when you can enjoy a variety of craft beers, real ales & ciders, and sample a variety of street foods from all over Guernsey, whilst enjoying the live music and entertainment.
Capital St Peter Port offers a range of restaurants where you can have a bite to eat before venturing to one of Guernsey’s treasures: Castle Cornet, guarding Guernsey harbour and with fabulous views of the island and neighbouring Herm and Sark.
On day 3 of our Guernsey walking trip, you hike along more rugged terrain and get close to the coastline to see the largest cave in Guernsey, Le Creux Mahié. Then go up to Les Tielles, a beautiful part of the cliffs with fantastic views, and a great place for a picnic.
Sherpa Expeditions’ walking holiday further takes you around the Bailiwick of Guernsey, following the Channel Island Way. The 110-mile route circles the island in daily stages, usually around 5-6 hours per day. The route takes you from the Guernsey capital, St Peter Port, to Petit Bot Bay, onwards to Perelle Bay and back to St Peter Port where you can then catch a ferry to explore Sark and Herm. There’s also the option of continuing to Alderney to explore the third-largest Channel Island.
- The Guernsey Food Festival is organised by Visit Guernsey and is ‘the greatest food festival ever to arrive on Guernsey’s shores’. It celebrates the island’s culinary side and, as it takes place in September when average temperatures range around 18°C/64°F, is a fantastic time to visit the island.
- Another big Guernsey event takes place annually, which is the Guernsey Heritage Festival - in 2018 from 30 March-10 May. This popular Festival returns for its fifth year and 2018 shines a spotlight on life in the Bailiwick of Guernsey under German rule and the islands’ subsequent liberation from the Occupying forces after WWII.
Text & images courtesy of Visit Guernsey.
New Trip in 2017: Walking in Guernsey, Channel Islands
In 2017 you have an increased choice of travel opportunities in the UK as we launch a new trip on the John Muir Way and a walking holiday to Guernsey, Channel Islands.
In the Channel Islands, you can already step on your bicycle with us for a three-centre cycling itinerary and in the new year we will complement this offering with a weeklong self guided walking option on the islands of Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney.
Follow in the footsteps of Victor Hugo, Renoir & Queen Victoria
Guernsey and the Channel Islands (geographically closer to France, yet a Crown dependency) brim with character and are a walker’s paradise. On your walks, expect long sandy beaches and beautiful undulating cliff paths leading to tiny coves with sparkling rock pools. Walk past forts of various sizes, some dating back to the 1600s while others, more recent, were created by the Nazis during their occupation of the islands in World War II.
The weeklong walking holiday around the islands of Guernsey is the longer half of the Channel Island Way. You can embark on seven days of Guernsey walks from April until October on the new Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way trip, with your first travel option on 1 April 2017 (no fooling!).
For more information and bookings, download the trip notes here or contact our team of travel experts by phone or email.
Septuagenarians Arnold and Margaret Horner each year embark on a walking or cycling holiday. After having walked among others Hadrian’s Wall, covered parts of Offa’s Dyke on foot, cycled from Passau to Vienna along the Danube and completed the Stevenson Trail in France, this year they decided to cycle the famous Coast to Coast route.
“We chose to cycle the Coast-2-Coast route because it seemed to give us an interesting set of landscapes, a defined target and the possibility of completing the route at our own pace.”
Why did you choose to cycle where you did?
We chose the C2C route in the UK as offered by Sherpa Expeditions because it seemed to give us an interesting set of landscapes, a defined target (going coast to coast) and the possibility of completing the route at our own pace in fairly easy stages.
How did you prepare?
We periodically do a bit of casual cycling in a part of County Kerry where there can be quite steep hills (some of which we just walk up). Otherwise we did no very particular physical preparation. What we did do however, was to look carefully at the gradients along the whole route. We decided that, at least in reasonable weather, we could manage most of the stages but that it might be prudent to break the longest day, the 36 miles and five big hills between Langwathby and Rookhope, into two stages. Trina at the Sherpa Expeditions office in London organised for us to stop off at Alston, and this worked very well for us.
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
Some of the hills were pretty steep. For example, it was a long haul up to Hartside summit. For us Crawleyside Bank on the way from Stanhope to Parkhead was, at a 17% gradient, daunting. We walked up anything steep. Other challenges might have been posed had we had either poor or really warm weather, or problems with tyres and chains. But the bicycles we were given at the beginning of the trip in Ulverston were good and we had no significant problems.
Which was your favourite destination along the Coast to Coast route?
The various stopover points were varied enough in their features, and each had its pluses. Keswick offered us a very active place that was both a strong local town and a tourist centre. We stayed at Beckside Guesthouse which had just reopened after the floods of December 2015. Owners Andrew and Tracey were very welcoming. So too were Colin and Pauline at the Old Vicarage in Rookhope, a small village high in the north Pennine moors.
“From the restaurant we visited on our last night we could look out across the river mouth, knowing that we had successfully finished the C2C.”
Best food and drink?
Most places along the route offered good food, but the place we will probably most remember was the Marina Vista at Roker, Sunderland, which we visited on our last night. We could look out across the river mouth, knowing that we had successfully finished cycling the C2C.
What surprised you most on your C2C cycling holiday?
The biggest surprise was probably that we did complete the whole route, which we saw as something of a challenge given that we are aged around 70 and that we are very definitely only casual cyclists.
If you like to share your travel stories on our website as well, you can let us know by filling out our contact form. If the story of Arnold and Margaret inspired you to set off on a similar cycling holiday, please have a look at our cycling holidays or get in touch with our team of travel experts in our London offices.
All images are copyright of ©Arnold Horner
British author Jane Cable and her husband Jim met Texans Marsha Smith and Mike Doan on a walking holiday almost twenty years ago. When Marsha mentioned she and Mike were considering Sherpa Expeditions’ Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday, Jane and Jim jumped at the chance to join them.
Why did you choose to walk on the Isle of Wight?
Jim and I have lived on the south coast of England all our married life – in fact we have distant views of Bembridge Down on the Island from our bedroom window – but we’ve never taken a holiday there. Plus it was a great opportunity to spend time with Mike and Marsha on one of their rare trips back to the UK.
How did you prepare?
I think the answer is quite poorly! Although Jim and I tried to take some lengthy hikes in the weeks and months running up to the holiday, the weather was awful and we didn’t get as much mileage into our legs as we’d hoped. Mike and Marsha amused their friends in Texas by taking six mile walks to the Whole Foods organic store but their problem was that where they live is very flat. And the Isle of Wight isn’t.
"My favourite walking day was from Yarmouth to Freshwater because it was so varied."
Which was your favourite destination on the island?
My favourite walking day was from Yarmouth to Freshwater because it was so varied. We started off with a really pretty woodland walk with some fun sculptures at Fort Victoria Country Park then followed the promenade along part of Colwell Bay and Totland Bay with stunning views across the Solent to Hurst Castle. Then there was a short but steep climb up to Headon Warren – an amazing ancient chalk downland – which we crossed to reach Alum Bay for a much needed coffee and loo stop.
After our break, we carried on to The Needles. Jim and Marsha aren’t too keen on heights so they sat by the Coastguard Cottages while Mike and I ventured to the viewpoint at the New Battery. We also varied our walk to Freshwater by taking the path at the back of Tennyson Down which again took us through some lovely woodland, ending up at Freshwater right next to the thatched church.
The day finished really well too because we stayed at Seahorses, an oasis of calm with beautiful rooms, wonderful gardens, an art studio and the warmest welcome we could have wished for.
What aspect of this walking trip did you find most challenging?
Before we left we thought it might be the cliffs, but it was actually really easy to find alternative routes further inland with great countryside and stunning views. On the ground, the worst thing was the mud. We travelled in April after a very wet winter and on the route between Cowes and Yarmouth it was everywhere, with some parts of the path practically impassable. It didn’t help that it was the longest walking day at 15 miles and we were footsore, filthy and exhausted by the time we reached our destination.
What was the biggest surprise?
The genuine welcome we received from hoteliers, bartenders and restaurateurs – for most of them, nothing was too much trouble. There was a party at the hotel in Cowes (we stayed at the lovely Holmwood Hotel on the seafront at Egypt Point), so they gave us earplugs. Marsha left her stick at Chale Bay Farm but the owner’s wife delivered it to Ryde when she did her school run. And eating at Bellamy’s Bistro in Sandown felt more like dining with friends.
Best food and drink?
Without a doubt The Three Buoys on Appley Beach in Ryde. We ate there on the first night – it’s a short walk from the town centre but well worth it for the views, excellent service and local seafood presented in a way you’d only expect at a Michelin starred restaurant. And, at the time of writing, all for gastro pub prices.
Do you have any recommendations for other travellers taking this trip?
Take an extra day or two to chill or to see the sights. Although there was plenty of time to look around Osborne House on the first day it would have been good to visit some places not directly on the route, such as Carisbrooke Castle and the roman villa at Brading. Freshwater would be a good place as it’s close to Newport which is the Island’s transport hub and about half way in terms of the walk.
You can find out more about Jane Cable’s novels, which are inspired by the British countryside, on her website www.janecable.com and for more details on Sherpa Expeditions’ Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday, you can have a look at the Isle of Wight walking trip details or get in touch with our team of travel experts in the 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.