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On the 4th September 2020, a day after Ann’s 63rd birthday, Steven and Ann started their Pennine Way adventure. Steven unfortunately had to give up on his walking trip on day 5 at Gargrave because of blisters. He got a taxi to the B&B in Malham while Ann walked there on her own. The next day Ann continued the adventure while Steven used public transport to get to Horton in Ribblesdale for the night’s accommodation and then picked up their car at home so they could join each other in the evenings at the charming B&B's.
It has given me so much confidence completing the Pennine Way.
Why did you choose to walk the Pennine Way?
Some years ago Steven, my husband and I were on holiday in Yorkshire with friends staying at a B&B. In the morning at breakfast a couple told us that they were walking the Coast to Coast. As soon as they told us about their adventure I wanted to do it. We have had walking holidays ever since, starting in 2015 with the Coast to Coast walk, followed by Offa's Dyke, Glyndwrs Way, the West Highland Way and in 2019 I took on Mt Kilimanjaro on my own. I am pleased to say that I made the summit of 5,895 meters; the toughest thing I have ever done. After Kilimanjaro I needed another big adventure and for 2020 the Pennine Way, all 268 miles in one trek, was chosen. Steven contacted Sherpa Expeditions and with the help of Tali made the arrangements. We had decided to walk the Pennine Way over 18 days, which included a couple of shorter days – considered rest days.
How did you prepare for your walk?
I joined my husband Steven in retirement in 2018 at the age of 60 to look after my Dad who was 91. Dad and I would go for miles, Dad in his electric buggy, me walking. The electric buggy had a battery life of 20 miles and we tested it.
My friend and I had completed the Capital Ring Walk and we were just getting going on the London Loop when COVID-19 Lockdown started in March 2020. During lockdown I would walk the local footpaths near home nearly every day, I was walking over 50 miles a week. Steven would join me for a walk a couple of times a week. Before COVID-19, Steven and I planned to go on holiday to the Lake District to train for our walking holidays so I hoped that the mileage we were walking in flat Essex instead would be enough for the Pennine Way.
How often does a granny from Essex get to climb a waterfall...
What was your favourite place along this UK National Trail?
I found all of the Pennine Way amazing, the solitude of the high moorland, the rain and blustery wind, the very boggy moors with wet feet most days and the amazing people I met on route. I have more than one favourite destination.
The lights of Tan Hill Inn after a very wet and windy walk over the moor. It looked so cosy and inviting . I had walked from Keld to Tan Hill with another Pennine Way walker and his friend who was doing a few days. I had bumped into them a few times and enjoyed dinner with them at Tan Hill. They did get a day ahead of me and I missed knowing they were on route.
Climbing Cauldron Snout was another favourite, how often does a granny from Essex get to climb a waterfall. Then Cauldron Snout to be followed on the same day by High Cup Nick. I just sat there with my flask of tea and took in the scenery. Walking along Hadrian’s Wall was beautiful; it took some of the tiredness out of my legs.
And my last day to Kirk Yetholm: I sat under a finger post indicating “Kirk Yetholm 4 miles”, drank my tea and knew I had made it, although I was swearing to myself up that last hill.
Best food & drink of this part of England?
I don't have one favourite place for eating, everywhere we went provided for walkers really well. I think my best meals were my lunch time sandwiches with amazing views with half or some of the days’ challenge completed. I usually stopped late afternoon too, for me a cup of tea and a snack tasted extra good knowing I didn't have far to go before I could rest.
What aspect of walking the Pennine Way did you find most challenging?
The biggest challenge was the Cross Fell day of 19.5 miles from Dufton to Alston. I left at 8am from the B&B and the never-ending lung busting slog up to Cross Fell took until nearly 1 o'clock. Here I had lunch, but still had 11 miles to go. It was late afternoon by the time I got to Garrigill where I had my afternoon tea. Steven had walked out to meet me as it was 6.30 before I got near Alston.
Biggest surprise of walking the Pennine Way?
My navigational skills are not as good as Steven's, so the biggest surprise for me was that I managed to complete the Pennine Way on my own. I didn't want to give up. I was so nervous as I walked out of Horton in Ribblesdale that first day on my own, but was determined to give it a go. I did have the GPX app that Sherpa Expeditions recommended and had managed to download all but 2 days routes.
I recorded my mileage every day, the Pennine Way is 268 miles. I did 290 miles, this includes the walks to and from the B&B's and the times I went wrong. I think you need to be fit to walk the Pennine Way but you also need to be determined. It has given me so much confidence completing the Pennine Way.
Would I do it again? YES
Want to do it too? Find out more about your options of walking the Pennine Way with Sherpa Expeditions or contact our team to discuss your wishes.
With Spring coming up soon again, many of the Sherpa Expeditions holidays are great to enjoy at this time of year. Often you're first to return to the trails and with the popping up of flowers, birdsong and longer days we believe spring is one of the best times of the year. The list of options is long, offering you plenty of choice in coastal walks, hiking the Swiss Alps, traditional English walks and even cycling around the UK.
To find a trip that best suits your interests and requirements, why not use the Holiday Search Wizard on which you can narrow down per destination, price, duration and start or finish dates. Now is the time to start planning for your UK or European spring walking holiday!
"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep the Spring from coming." - Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet-diplomat, politician & Nobel Prize winner
>> To the Holiday Search Wizard
Traditional English Walking
Exploring the Cotswolds (8 days)
A delightful short walk through quintessential English landscapes and villages in the charming Cotswolds -- A week long walk in the picturesque Cotswolds of southern England.
Or opt for the 5-day version or walk the 12-day Cotswold Way
Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen
Follow the Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to the historic villages and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. Choose for the guided or self guided option.
Or find one of the other guided or self guided Coast to Coast trip options
The Dales Way
Walk through the Pennines and Lake District in the Yorkshire Dales staying at inns and farmhouses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District
Walk from Ulverston to Keswick in the English Lake District, with views across Lake Coniston and Derwentwater. Visit Langdale and Borrowdale two of the prettiest Lakeland valleys.
Coast to Coast Classic Guided Walk - 15 Days
Cover 190 odd miles and traverse 3 national parks with our guide on the classic Coast to Coast walk, enjoy magnificent scenery with rolling hills and charming little villages with cosy pubs.
Or choose the 17-day guided option of Wainwright's Coast to Coast
Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight. For those who prefer two wheels, check out the stunning Isle of Wight Cycle trip.
West Highland Way (8 days)
Walk through the stunning Scottish Highlands from Loch Lomond to Ben Nevis on this iconic route.
Or choose the 10-day version of this walk in Scotland
Great Glen Way
Walk through the heart of the Scottish Highlands at your own pace on the 8-day The Great Glen Way or 5-day trip covering the Highlights of the Great Glen Way. Cyclists will enjoy taking in beautiful Scottish scenery from 24 March along the 5-day Great Glen Cycleway.
Lochs and Bens (cycling in Scotland)
Cycle the picturesque Scottish Highlands along lochs and bens from 1 April to enjoy spring at its best.
European Coastal Walks
Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen
Follow the Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to the historic villages and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.
Or find one of the other Coast to Coast trip options by bicycle or on foot
Cinque Terre Villages
A coastal walk on the Italian Riviera with a centre based stay in Monterosso. Choose from a selection of walks or just saunter around the beaches and clifftops.
Cornwall: South West Coast Path
Walk England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail: the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.
Discover Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands. Walk in Samaria and Imbros Gorge and hike in the White Mountains. This trip allows you to enjoy spring in Greece from 1 May.
Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight.
European Mountain Walking
Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps (5 days)
Walk beneath the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau for unrivalled panoramas of the Swiss Alps during a selection of daily hikes on this centre based, self guided walking tour.
Or check out an 8-day version and all other trips in the Swiss Alps
Walking in the Apuane Alps
Escape the crowds with remote mountain walking in northern Tuscany. It's a fantastic region to experience in spring with our first departure being on 1 April.
Madeira Island Walking
Follow the levadas to discover the dramatic and rugged mountain scenery on the Portuguese island of Madeira. This trip runs year round, so if you can't wait for spring, there's always the option to head out now and enjoy the island's mild climate.
Secret France: the Ardeche (8 days)
A charming walk off the beaten track in the Massif Central in France. Face the Alps from a walkers' paradise of hills where the Ardeche, Loire and Haute Loire regions meet. Departs from 10 April for stunning spring walking.
The Troodos Mountains & Akamas (8 days)
Discover the Troodos Mountains and Akamas Peninsula of Cyprus on foot in 8 days or choose for the extended version of 11 days, travel from mid-March.
Cycling in the UK
Lochs and Bens (cycling in Scotland)
Cycle the picturesque Scottish Highlands.
Or find the complete offer of holidays in Scotland
Cotswolds by Bike
Cycle through the heart of England in the Cotswolds. Discover quaint stone built villages, ride across rolling hills between village pubs and old coaching inns.
Or check out all active holidays in the Cotswolds
The Cyclist's Coast to Coast
Cycle across England through the Lake District and over the Pennines to the North Sea along the popular C2C cycle path that was inspired by Wainwright's Coast to Coast path.
Or find the complete offer of Coast to Coast holidays
Great Glen Cycleway
Departing from 24 March to take in the best of spring, the Great Glen Cycleway is a Scottish coast to coast route largely following the walking route of the Great Glen Way National Trail.
Prepare for great coastal and country scenery as you cross England by bike following close to the line of the Roman frontier during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138AD).
For the complete offer of cycling and walking holidays in Europe, use the Holiday Search Wizard, or if you like to speak to one of our travel experts for tailored advice, contact us by email or phone.
There's a reason that so many people choose to do a walking holiday in the UK - in fact there are many reasons! The benefits of a UK walking holiday are both physical and spiritual - here are a few of the best...
An obvious one to start off with. Everyone knows that the best way to get fit and stay fit is to find something active that they enjoy. For some that might be running on a treadmill in the gym – but can you really think of a better way to get your body working hard and your heart pumping than climbing to the top of a steep hill or mountain and drinking in a beautiful view? Do that every day for a whole week, or longer, and just imagine how good you’ll feel. Of course, not all walking holidays have to be hard work – some of the UK’s best walking tours are gentle rambles through largely flat landscapes, but the exercise is still an important part of the experience.
This lot are working hard - just imagine how fit they'll be at the end of their trip!
It isn’t just your physical fitness that benefits from a walking holiday. It’s long been proved that exercise, fresh air, connection with nature and exposure to glorious views and wide open spaces are good for both the body and the soul. And at the end of the trip, the sense of achievement you get from having completed the challenge is something that will stay with you for a very long time. Sure, a week lying on a beach is all well and good (for some), but how long do those memories last compared to the ever changing landscapes of a walking holiday?
These two look pretty happy, don't they?
Wide open spaces and magnificent views - good for the soul!
The UK countryside isn’t just about glorious views – there’s some fascinating history to delve into on many of the popular routes. There’s Offa’s Dyke, built in the 8th century by Offa, the King of Mercia, to keep out the Welsh marauders. Or Hadrian’s Wall, started by the Roman Emperor in 122 AD to separate the Roman Empire from the ‘barbarians’ to the North. Then there’s the smuggling history all round the Cornish Coast, Queen Victoria’s connection with the Isle of Wight, and so much more. Wherever you decide to walk, there are stories to learn, and famous footsteps to walk in.
Osborne House, Queen Victoria's retreat on the Isle of Wight
Food and Drink
Traditional British food has taken a bit of a knock in years gone by, compared to our European neighbours. But not anymore – people have woken up to the choice and quality of traditional dishes served up in regions across the UK, and now the food is one of the highlights of any walking holiday in Britain. Throw in some of the finest beer and ale to be brewed anywhere in the world, and you have a recipe for a delicious meal at the end of each day’s walking.
Here are just a few of our favourite regional specialities to be found in the UK:
Cornwall - Stargazy Pie: A classic fish pie, made with pilchards or sardines, eggs and potatoes, covered in a pastry crust. Whilst recipes vary, the one common feature is fish heads protruding from the crust, as though their gazing at the stars, which is where the pie gets its name from.
The Lake District – Cumberland Sausage: Why have individual sausages when you could have one long sausage, coiled into a ring so it retains all of its juices and peppery flavour. Often served on top of a bed of creamy mashed potato and covered with rich gravy.
Yorkshire – Parkin: A moist, spicy, sticky, gingery cake. Perfect with a good cup of Yorkshire tea!
West Highland Way – Seafood: Scotland offers some of the best seafood in the world – and on the West Highland Way you’ll be savour some of the tastiest. Oysters, crab, lobster, razor shell clams – fresh from the sea.
This is just a start – there are so many classic dishes around the UK, you’ll have to keep coming back to make sure you try them all!
A typical Scottish seafood platter
Nature & Wildlife
Wherever you walk in the UK, you’re quite likely to encounter some fantastic wildlife – birds of prey, red deer, grey seals and shaggy feral goats are just some of the animals you might come across. And if fossils are more your thing, then the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and the Isle of Wight offer some great opportunities for fossil hunting on your route. As for flora and natural phenomena, there are waterfalls, rivers, spectacular rock formations (such as the famous Durdle Door in Dorset), flowers, grasslands, hedgerows and pretty much every other type of natural landscape you can imagine. For a pretty small country, the UK certainly packs a lot in!
Puffins on St Cuthbert's Way
A grey seal
The Dorset Coast with Durdle Door in the background
If this has inspired you to book a walking holiday in the UK, you can browse our full programme here.
Campbell and his partner made their way to Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland in the peak of summer 2019. Advertised as “A fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss mountain walking through two famous regions”, read here how he experienced his walking holiday in Switzerland.
My walking history is relatively pedestrian (pun intended), my partner and I have had many walking adventures including Madeira’s Pico Ruivo
, Snowdonia, Amalfi’s Path of the Gods
and the Peak and Lake
districts in the UK. The last of these being a personal favourite.
Why did you choose to walk in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland?
Like all walks, we liked the appeal of nature above all else. The idea of walking through Swiss meadows with nothing but the blue sky, alpine peaks and cow’s bells to keep you company was appealing on every level.
How did you prepare for your walking holiday in Switzerland?
To be honest, poorly. We were walking the Capital Ring Walk in London leading into our walking holiday, but it by no means prepared us for the grinding uphill in the hot weather that we endured on the first day.
What was your favourite destination?
This would have to be Lauterbrunnen. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being the accommodation had a bath looking out over the waterfall that I could sit in at the end of the day and enjoy a nice glass of port. Also great was the fact that it was nestled away in a valley downhill from Wengen. It has a nice village feel as you walk into it with the paragliders making their way up and down the valley.
Best food & drink?
This would have to be at Onkel Tom’s in Grindelwald
, due to the atmosphere and hygge
factor. It was cold and unrelenting outside, yet here we were with a lovely pizza, wine and roaring fire. It was perfect after a hard days walking.
A close second would be the hut on the route out of Zermatt which serves a brilliant homemade apple cake with fruit tea. It makes for a perfect pit stop after arguably the hardest ascent of the trip. It was the only time we were swayed by a treat and I’m so glad we stopped.
Biggest surprise of walking in the Bernese Oberland?
The Marmots. They were just everywhere. I jest, I didn’t see any Marmots.
The main surprises for me were actually twofold. The first being the just the scale and breath-taking beauty of the Alps and the valleys, it was quite humbling to be walking through and over such incredible landscapes.
The second would be the wildlife. Living in London, aside from the odd squirrel, there isn’t much else. It is mainly livestock over this walk in Switzerland, but they are all equipped with bells, which lets everyone know where they are at all times. It was almost unusual to walk through a field or slope without the cacophony of dings to keep you company.
On the higher plains outside of Zermatt keep an eye out for goats and black-faced sheep. The sheep are especially friendly and are typically found snoozing near any rocks that might heat up in the midday sun. In the summer and spring months, there will be a host of butterflies that will constantly distract you from the potentially gruelling uphill legs.
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
While the first day was physically challenging, I don’t think this was the most challenging aspect of our walking trip. I think that the most challenging aspect was dealing with the weather involved. As is the case with all mountain weather it is largely interchangeable and I was perhaps not as adequately prepared as I should have been.
Also, we were very keen to do the Jungfrau railway, so choosing when to do this was a key decision, especially due to the cost. Luckily, they have a detailed weather service in the station that will give an update as to what the weather is expected to be at the summit. We ended up with a fantastic blue-sky day in the end and would definitely recommend walking out to the hut past the glaciers for soup or mulled wine.
Did Campbell inspire you to go walking in the Swiss Alps? With Sherpa Expeditions you have a selection of options to choose from in the Bernese Oberland, but also other highlights of Switzerland such as the Tour du Mont Blanc, Wildstrubel Circuit and Haute Route.
Read our walking boots size guide with all your FAQs answered
How to size your walking boots, depends on a number of factors. Your ideal choice of walking footwear ultimately depends on its fit and the activity that you intend to do, as well as the type of terrain you are planning to cover. In rocky, wet terrain you will need a boot with more support and waterproofing than say if you are going to walk on made up tracks or on roads. In these last instances, a lighter more cushioned boot will be more appropriate. For hot-weather-walking, eg. Italy in summer, you will prefer even lighter, open and breathable fabrics. Materials range from full grain leather through to suede and synthetic, with or without Gore-Tex or other linings to make them more waterproof.
Once you have decided on a style or function, the important thing is that the footwear should not only fit correctly to prevent blisters. The boot should also support your feet and ankles enough to help prevent walking fatigue and ankle or tendon injury as much as possible, for example from twisting or jarring. Once you know the sort of activity and thus the type of shoe you need, go and try some on at your friendly local store taking into account the below FAQs on sizing walking boots.
1. Boot length
Push your socked foot into the boot with loosened laces, with your toes going to the front and with your foot flat on the ground. Insert your index finger down the back of the boot, along your Achilles tendon down the inside heel without having to force it. If you can't do this or your finger, or toes are squashed, the boot is too short. Similarly, too much space may mean the boot is too long.
2. Width and pinch points
Whilst seated, with your foot flat to the ground and heel pushed to the back of the shoe, lace the boot and you will soon discover if the there are any pressure / pinch points which may indicate that there is not enough width especially if the laces are tight.
3. Weight shifting
Now with the laces tightened, stand up and bow, your feet spread under your body weight. You will now notice whether your toes are touching the front, and when you move shifting from foot to foot, if the heel or tops and sides are rubbing and if the shoe or boot is bulging. The latter may be a sign it is too tight. You can run your hands over the boot and find the obvious tight points.
4. Toe flex point
Although this won’t work so well if you are buying stiffened boots to use with crampons, most walking boots will flex at the point that is located between the ball of the foot and the toes. Attention! This is a usual blister pinch point that can be avoided by choosing the right size of walking boot. So, make sure that you use a step in the shop to see if there is any pinching when you go up the step or lean forward against a wall with your booted feet flat and flex forward. Remember that on a hill or in the mountains (eg. on the Tour du Mont Blanc) this move will be repeated thousands of times and so you don't want anything too tight.
5. Other Considerations
If you use orthotic insoles and you intend to use with them with the boots, then take them along to the shop and replace the original footbeds and see how you cope with them.
Also bear in mind that your feet will often swell up slightly with heat, when they are wet or sweaty or with a bit of altitude. You may want to try double socks or one sports sock liner and a loop stitched walking sock over that to help correctly sizing your new walking boots.
6. After Purchase
After you have purchased your new footwear, take it home and wear it indoors for a few hours to check if there is enough support and no pinching. Boots are usually quite a bit heavier and more supportive than the usual shoes we wear and it may take a while to get used to them. In the UK at least, most stores will replace the new boots if you are unsatisfied with their sizing as long as you haven’t used them outside and that you have all the original packaging and receipts etc.
If you are having fitting problems with current boots, we know they do change over time, then see our article on footwear micro adjustment with the help of... laces.
Traveller's Tale: Alison's La Gomera Walking Holiday
Alison Carr, a very skilled watercolour painter from the UK, took a walking holiday on La Gomera with us in November. Below, she shares some of her experiences – plus wonderful works of art that she produced along the way.
“The first word that comes to mind about this walking trip on La Gomera is contrast.”
The harbour town of Los Cristianos at the southernmost tip of Tenerife [red: where the nearest airport is] is so busy but then the ferry takes you away to the quiet and quaint San Sebastian on the island of La Gomera
, near enough to be seen but, in some way, a rather different world.
The first walking day takes me up to the hamlet of El Cedro. The road tunnel catapults me into one of the famous rain forests of La Gomera...it’s like a portal! On the other side is steamy, dense woodland with the light coming through in misty shards. It’s truly magical. Flowers and fruit grow in rich abundance and lizards scuttle about in the dry leaves as I walk past.
Being up so high affords sweeping views of the coastline below. It does also put you in touch with the elements, on occasion with a stiff breeze and atmospheric, swirling mists that frame glimpses of dramatic rock formations above and below.
Descending to the little town of Vallehermoso, I hear music and discover that the local bar in the square is a place where people congregate to sing (very heartily) with enthusiastic local guitarists and it’s so cheering to sit amongst them. Another contrast to the quiet of the day in the mountains above the town.
Highlights of the rest of the trip include the hill top village of Chipude with the zigzag path that takes you on up to the highest point of the island, into the National Park and its visitor centre with a comprehensive history of this fascinating place.
There was also an extra day to walk along the coast, a hot and dry walk with little pockets of green in the coves, such as the one at Playa Del Cabrito. Here, a banana plantation (the first I’ve ever seen!) completely takes me by surprise. A dip in the sea on the way back is most welcome.
Returning eventually to San Sebastian, there is a buzz of excitement. It may be a small place with a tiny harbour, but it’s also the place of choice for many great seafaring launches and today sees the teams for the challenge to row across the Atlantic getting their boats ready amongst all the media attention that goes with it. Even a Hollywood film, In the Heart of the Sea
, was shot here. By contrast, I board the steady, safe and slow ferry back to Tenerife and home after a really amazing walking tour of this lovely island of La Gomera.
© Words & artwork by Alison Carr
Scattered around England and Wales, you may have come across a so-called UK National Trail. Marked by the iconic acorn symbol, these are walking (and sometimes cycling) routes designated by the British Government. The conditions along the trail are looked after by a dedicated officer and are kept maintained to a standard that truly sets them apart.
They are a fantastic option to discover some of the best that the UK has to offer to outdoor enthusiasts as they wind their way through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. All being long distance walks
, allow yourself a week or two to step into the outdoors and soak up the British countryside.
With nine out of the 15 trails to choose from, let Sherpa Expeditions be your guide when completing a UK National Trail
The 110 mile Cleveland Way follows a walking route from Helmsley to Filey. What stands out is the experience of half a walk over hill and scarp edges and half along the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
The Cotswolds is the epitome of the English countryside. It is no wonder that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as rolling hills meet with quaint villages that are all preserved in a glorious state.
Hadrian’s Wall Path
Hadrian’s Wall stretches from the aptly named Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to the quaint village of Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The 84 mile (135km) Hadrian’s Wall Path takes hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, following the world’s largest Roman artefact.
Offa’s Dyke Path
Crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path follows some of the finest scenery in both countries for 177 miles (285 km).
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first UK National Trail on April 24th 1965. It is a long, 268 mile (429 km) hike from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England and down into Scotland.
South Downs Way
Exactly 100 miles of chalk downland walking separates the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and the ancient Saxon Capital of Wessex and England – Winchester, forming the South Downs Way. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Southern Britain, the walk generally follows the chalk (soft limestone) ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.
South West Coast Path
England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail is the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.
Following the Thames Path will help you to understand not only the Thames but also why it is the key to the history of London. There is a lot to see: the palaces such as Hampton Court and Syon Park; castles such as Windsor and the Tower of London; multiple bridges each with their own history; and wildlife reserves. And always as the backdrop to it all is the life on the river.
Each year, Scott and his wife try to have one long holiday which incorporates site seeing, cultural interactions and some sort of activity. Being Australians in London and living away from family also means that holidays include time with them when they come to visit from overseas. "Each year I go on a boys’ long weekend hiking trip in the Lake District and on a skiing trip to Europe" says Scott. "I try and dust off my bike annually to participate in the Dunwich Dynamo (overnight bike ride from London to the Suffolk coast)." In the summer of 2019 he embarked on our self guided walking holiday exploring the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn
Why did you choose to walk in Tarn, France?
France is such a diverse country and having worked there previously, I am always up for another trip visiting a different area. I had watched a programme on the Tarn region
so was interested to visit. This walking itinerary also fit into one week
of annual leave and, being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!
Being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!
How did you prepare for your walking holiday in France?
Not well and probably I should have done more to enjoy the trip in a more relaxed way. To prepare I did a few local weekend walks and also each weekend I participate in Park Run in my local park. Even though the walking days on average are over 20 km, most of the walking is fairly flat except when climbing up into the villages or descending out of them.
Your favourite destination on this Sherpa Expeditions holiday?
Cordes is a good village to start and finish the walk as it has great views, shops & restaurants. But I think the walking each day through moss covered forests and along escarpments seeing the villages come into view are also highlights. I recommend the 1-day Albi extension. If you have an extra day it is worth including to appreciate the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral
and visit the museum dedicated to Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous late 19th century painter who was actually born there.
Best French food and drink?
The two meals we had at our chambre d'hôte accommodation in Vaour and in Bruniquel where you ate with your hosts and other guests. It was like enjoying a 4–5 course dinner party with friends. We did have to use a translate app some of the time but it made for some funny conversation. I found that most restaurants in Tarn do very good value set menu meals as well.
Biggest surprise when walking in southern France?
How quiet it was, we came across very few walkers and a couple of mountain bikers. The trails were very clean and the waymarking excellent.
> Learn more about the Tarn region & view stunning images
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
The heat, we had very high temperatures so carried 2 litres of water each daily. The last day was very exposed so we took our time walking back into Cordes where we celebrated with a few well-earned beers.
Curious to learn more about this self guided walking holiday in France? Have a look at the full description of our Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn walking trip, or contact our specialist team to discuss your wishes.
> Read the Q&A on Walking in France's Tarn & Aveyron Region
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
In June 2019 we took a lovely bunch of people on a Guided Coast to Coast walk. The weather was pretty soggy during the first week, but the walkers' spirits were definitely not dampened! They hung on in there with no complaining, and were rewarded with some much brighter weather for the second half of the walk, before they finally made it to the beach at Robin Hood's Bay.
Here are a few photos from the walk. If you're inspired to join a guided Coast to Coast walk, or you fancy taking it on as self-guided trip, click here
Every journey has its first step! The group at the start of the walk in St Bees.
Climbing the steps from Fleswick Bay, with the sun shining!
Ennerdale Water - rough walking and choppy waters.
The hard descent from Greenup Edge - especially in wet weather. Care is needed!
The group preparing to start off from Glenriding - laden with cooked breakfasts, thermos flasks and biscuits.
The long, steep ascent towards the High Street junction to Kidsty Pike, the highest point on the Coast to Coast, with heads down against the wind!
Resting down by Hawes Water after the long descent from Kidsty Pike - and the sun had come out!
Millstone cairn descending into upper Swaledale.
East Gill Force, Keld.
Starting the day from Keld at East Gill Force.
Beautiful Swaledale from near Crackpot Hall, Keld.
Single file please! Walking across the beautiful pastures near Muker, on the low-level route to Reeth.
A traditional 'Laithe' stone, winter-feed hay barn - which often also served to house a couple of cows over winter.
The group commencing the traverse of the Cleveland Hills.
Ascending Live Moor - with some bits of heather already out.
Outside a shooters' hut near Great Fryupdale.
Reaching the coast again - just 3.5 miles to go until Robin Hood's Bay!
And they made it! On the beach at Robin Hood's Bay, and the end of another fantastic guided Coast to Coast walk with Sherpa Expeditions.
If you're inspired to join a guided Coast to Coast walk, or you fancy taking it on as self-guided trip, click here