UK & European Holiday News
The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
Return to Blog Home >>
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.
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.
5 Long Weekend Break Ideas for Europe
If you’ve only got a few days of holiday left this year, it does not mean there are no options to go away anymore. For those who’ve got at least 2 days of annual leave available and are looking for a weekend break in Europe, we gathered a few really short breaks across the continent and in England.
All of these short breaks depart daily, so it is entirely up to you to choose when you like to go. Perhaps you’re combining a break with a visit to overseas family and friends or saw a good flight offer. Our team in London can quickly support you with your request, leaving you to pack your bags and get ready for places like Tuscany, England’s Yorkshire Dales and the Swiss Alps.
Italy | Cycle San Gimignano to Siena
Delve into the magic of Tuscany from the walled medieval hill town of San Gimignano to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval towns, Siena. This iconic bicycle ride takes you through the typical landscapes that characterise this part of Italy. The trip is specially designed for those who want to experience the best of Tuscany’s palette of colours at handlebar level, but who only have a few days available.
You can take this European weekend break from March-November and it is graded as a moderate-challenging cycling holiday, find more info here >>
England | Yorkshire Dales Mini Break
Escape to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales in northern England and stay at the Old Brewery, a tastefully decorated house that retains its old-world charm, yet offers every modern comfort. The bed & breakfast is a stone’s throw from the River Swale, at the foot of the castle hill, and just a short walk from the cobbled market place. This little break is perfect for several days walking surrounded by peaceful trails, quiet country lanes and sleepy villages.
You can take this trip year-round and it is graded as an introductory-moderate walking holiday, find more info here >>
England | Isle of Wight Cycle
Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the Isle of Wight, and let your holiday begin! This European mid-week or weekend break is deal for anyone looking for a short town-and-country cycling break, the circular route is undulating and distances are kept fairly short, giving you time to stop and explore. Highlights include sophisticated Cowes, world famous for its regatta; the astonishing brick-built Quarr Abbey; taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line; the tidal estuary at Newport, known for its chain ferry; and Chale, the shipwreck capital of the British island.
You can take this short break in Europe from March-October and it is graded as an introductory-moderate cycling holiday, find more info here >>
Switzerland | Meiringen: Panorama’s of the Swiss Alps
Swiss Meiringen is famous for the Reichenbach Falls, a spectacular cataract that was the setting for the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. A natural transport hub situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland’s major passes, getting around is easy and it is possible to set out each day in a different direction using a network of cable cars, postbuses and mountain railways. A perfect setting for you a quick weekend break in Europe. The high places can be reached quickly without long uphill climbs out of the valley and you can fill a week with excellent day walks, from gentle strolls to high ridges.
You can take this short break in Europe from May-October and it is graded as a moderate walking holiday, find more info here >>
England | Exploring the Cotswolds
An itinerary specially crafted for those who want a soft introduction to walking in the English countryside. Highlights include the medieval wool town of Bourton-on-the-Water, the picture perfect village of Guiting Power, the atmospheric ruins of Hailes Abbey (destroyed under Henry VIII) and the still inhabited Sudeley Castle.
You can take this weekend break from April-October and it is graded as an introductory-moderate walking holiday, find more info here >>
More information? Download the complete trip notes via the blue button on the trip page or contact our team of travel experts for a chat.
Budget Holidays in Europe
You may already know from previous experience that early in the season, often you will have the tracks and trails of Europe to yourself. Guesthouse and restaurant owners have more time for a chat and the atmosphere can be more relaxed. To help you profit from the spring season, we have selected five budget holidays in Europe that cost less than £500 (and don't compensate on value) so that you can easily squeeze them in at the start of the year (or later on, as most run until late autumn!).
Isle of Wight >> From £420
5 days of island cycling in the UK
Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the island, and let your budget trip in the UK's Isle of Wight begin! Ideal for anyone looking for a short town-and-country cycling break, the circular route is undulating and distances are kept fairly short, giving you time to stop and explore. Highlights include sophisticated Cowes, world famous for its regatta (taking place early August); the astonishing brick-built Quarr Abbey; and taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line.
>> Find out more >> Isle of Wight Cycle
The Balkan Mountains >> From £480
8 days of mountain walking in Bulgaria
The narrow roads of the Central Balkan National Park meander through valleys, forests and villages that have not changed for centuries. Along the self-guided Balkan Mountains walking route, you will see several of Bulgaria’s most significant Orthodox monasteries and churches with colourful murals. On the final day, you will ascend Petrahilya Peak, the highest mountain in the area, and enjoy panoramic views of Teteven and the Central Balkan National Park.
>> Find out more >> Balkan Mountains Walk
Yorkshire Dales >> From £270
4 days of relaxing walking in England
Escape to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales staying at the Old Brewery, a tastefully decorated house that retains its old-world charm, yet offers every modern comfort. A stone’s throw from the River Swale, at the foot of the castle hill, and just a short walk from the cobbled market place, you can set off to explore peaceful trails, quiet country lanes and sleepy villages of the Yorkshire Dales. With just four days, this is a perfect and short budget holiday in the UK.
>> Find out more >> Yorkshire Dales Mini Break
English Cotswolds >> From £360
5 days of easy walking in friendly England
An itinerary specially crafted for those who want a soft introduction to walking in the English countryside and have a limited budget for it. Highlights include the medieval wool town of Bourton-on-the-Water, the picture-perfect village of Guiting Power, the atmospheric ruins of Hailes Abbey (destroyed under Henry VIII) and the still inhabited castle of Sudeley. You will stay in charming, family-run B&Bs on this budget walking holiday in the Cotswolds.
>> Find out more >> Exploring the Cotswolds - 5 Days
The James Herriot Way >> From £450
6 days of walking around Wensleydale & Swaledale in England
Launched only in 2016, this new trip in the Yorkshire Dales, a six-day version of the James Herriot Way, is considered by many as ‘the best short long-distance walk in the UK’. The 50-mile (80km) circular walk has been designed to take in some of the countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot, was so fond of.
>> Find out more >> James Herriot Way
For more information and ideas for other budget holidays in Europe, please download the trip notes or get in touch with our team of travel experts by email or phone.
It’s easy to think of advantages for centre based walking holidays: only unpack once, really get to know your hosts, and a chance to explore every corner of the region you’re in.
On Sherpa Expeditions’ centre based walking holidays you get a pack of day walks, sometimes circular and sometimes with a short train or bus ride, from which you can pick and select one each day. Let the weather, your mood or physical conditions decide which walk to go for that day and have the freedom to explore an area exactly the way you like.
Here are four of our centre-based walking holidays with departure dates throughout the year.
Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps
Situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland’s major passes, Meiringen is famous for the Reichenbach Falls, a spectacular cascade that was the setting for the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. A place for anyone who wants to see the real Switzerland: in summer the meadows are full of flowers and in autumn the landscape is painted with a riot of colour. Walks here encompass all grades from gentle strolls to high ridges, while a superb integrated network of cable cars, postbuses and trams takes you in all directions quickly and easily.
>> 8 Day self guided walking holiday, departs daily from mid-May to the end of October
Yorkshire Dales Mini Break
Escape to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales staying at the Old Brewery: a tastefully decorated house that retains its old world charm, yet offers every modern comfort. The accommodation is a stone’s throw from the River Swale and at the foot of the castle hill. From the base of your hotel it’s just a short walk to the cobbled market place. The day walks we provided for you make sure you are surrounded by peaceful trails, quiet country lanes and sleepy villages of the Yorkshire Dales.
>> 4 Days self guided walking holiday, departs daily year round
Cinque Terre Villages
The coastline of the Cinque Terre in north-western Italy is as stunning as Amalfi and even more colourful. For centuries, artists and poets have praised the tiny aquamarine inlets that serve as fishing harbours and the ancient terraces rising steeply out of the coastal crags in words and pictures. It is the Italian Riviera at its best and you can explore the region on your own pace on the various day trips on this centre based walking holiday.
>> 6 Days self guided walking holiday, departs daily between March and October
The beautiful fortified village of Monteriggoni forms the perfect base for the series of walks we provide you with on this trip. Right on the Via Francigena, the village is surrounded by Chianti vineyards, museums and the beautiful hills of Tuscany. The way we’ve set up this centre based walking holiday allows you to do a combination of walks, relax in the village, visit Siena or San Gimignano, and use the bus connections. Of course wine tasting is always an option and we can easily book extra nights for you should you wish so.
>> 6 Days self guided walking holiday, departs daily between April and November
Do you feel that such a centre based walking holiday is something that could suit you? Browse each trip's page to find the trip notes for more details or contact our team of travel experts in our London offices to discuss your options.