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By John Millen, Sherpa Expeditions' resident guide and walking expert.
I was walking on the Norfolk Broads last weekend and met up with an old friend, now into his eighties. I hadn't seen him for 7 years but he used to amble along puffing his pipe, eyes bright and twinkling full of ideas. He is a landscape painter and still manages to paint three pictures a week. He sells quite a few of them and you could see him analysing the light, colour, changing clouds and the harmony of the perspective before him. The pipe smoking stopped when his son started medical school and forced him to quit, and the walking slowed, but never stopped. The little pearl of wisdom that he gave to me at the weekend was a succinct piece of Latin which can be applied to all our walking - solvitur ambulando, which literally means 'it is solved by walking'.
If the ancients knew this, then it also applies so much to our lives today. Of course running and cycling also provide an endorphin rush, which is not quite the same thing, and although you can get lost in the act of exercise, you really only get to think deeply when you have fewer distractions such as traffic or uneven paving, and when walking in beautiful landscapes. It is more the view, the smells, the sounds and the brush of the air and how they play upon our mind, mixing up emotions, memories, nostalgia and thoughts. The time and space created by walking allows us to disentangle thoughts, put things in perspective, calm down and figure out ways of sorting out issues in our often-complicated lives.
Just a couple of hours of walking certainly solved a couple of things for me. I hadn't seen a barn owl for two years, and then one flew out of a woody thicket. Two rare marsh harriers skimmed the backlit reed beds in scything silhouettes, mewing to each other.
So many people walk to clear their minds, solve problems and reach for ideas. We can think of Charles Darwin at Down House in Kent. After he bought the property he laid down various walking loops around the estate and spent much time walking and pondering the theory of natural selection, evolution and where that placed religion. CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein walked together, discussing literature and religion - and wrote some rather famous books about it! Nan Shepherd, in a beautiful short book called The Living Mountain, talked about how, as we walk, we become one with the landscape and nature and, in her mind’s eye, actually entered into the mountain – in her case the Cairngorms of Scotland.
All of this points to the benefits of walking, and what better way than to take a Sherpa Expeditions walking holiday for a bit of solvitur ambulando?
If you’re considering a walking holiday but you’re hesitating because you’re not sure if you’re fit enough – don’t worry! It’s an understandable concern – and whilst it’s true that some of our trips require an excellent level of fitness, others are much more gentle on the legs. We’ve picked out a few UK-based trips for different fitness levels to help you work out your own level and find the one that’s just right for you. All of our trips include a suitability guide on the main trip information pages.
Gentle Trips for First Time Walkers
The Cotswolds, as well as being picture-perfect, are an ideal introduction to walking in the English countryside. The terrain is hilly rather than mountainous, and you’re rarely too far from a pretty village in which to stop for a rest and refreshments. The walking days are generally up to around 20km – comfortable for most reasonably fit people. The Cotswolds are a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, and as you meander through the countryside visiting medieval villages built in golden limestone, it’s easy to see why.
Although this trip is gentle on the legs, you will need to be a fairly competent map-reader.
This trip is available in 5-day and 8-day versions – and if you prefer wheels to feet, you can also explore the Cotswolds by bike.
Traditional Cotswolds houses
If walking in the Scottish Highlands sounds like the preserve of the super fit, then think again! Despite taking in some of Scotland’s most dramatic and breath-taking landscapes, most of the walking on The Great Glen Way is actually fairly straightforward – much of it along canal towpaths and forest tracks. The walking becomes a little more challenging on the last 3 days – but you can avoid a particularly steep climb on the last day by taking an optional taxi transfer. The days range from around 13km to 29km. This trip is a great way to sample the splendour of the Scottish Highlands without pushing your body to the limit.
Along the canals of the Great Glen Way
Moderate Trips for the More Active
If you’re looking for a trip in this category, you’re spoilt for choice, as the majority of our trips are classed as moderate. But here are a couple you might like to take a look at.
Although the daily distances on the St Cuthbert’s Way vary from 8.5km to 22.5km, the walk includes some steep ascents and descents, and some boggy terrain, which make it a little more challenging than the distances suggest. But with that little bit of extra fitness comes the reward of some delightfully unspoilt countryside and historic towns. Starting in Melrose in Scotland, and stretching across to the Northumberland coast and the island of Lindisfarne, this is a walk deep in historical and religious significance, as well as a route that takes in some beautiful countryside away from the hordes.
This trip is available in 8-day and 10-day versions.
Lindisfarne (Holy Island) at the end of St Cuthbert's Way
With some fairly long days (24 to 27km), and steep climbs and descents, not to mention some unpredictable weather, Hadrian’s Wall represents a moderate challenge – and you’ll need a bit of walking experience behind you to take it on. This is a walk rich in history – the Roman Emperor Hadrian began building the wall in 122AD to keep out his enemies to the north, and is now the world’s largest Roman artefact and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk in the Romans’ footsteps, you’ll discover some of England’s finest landscapes, towns and villages.
This trip is available in 8-day and 10-day versions.
Challenging Trips for Experienced Walkers
The sheer length of the entire Pennine Way (429km) makes it a pretty serious challenge, before you factor in the long days, remote sections, some fairly basic accommodation and lack of shelter from weather that can be very unpredictable. But this classic of British walking is rightly regarded as one of the world’s greatest – stretching through three national parks and encompassing fells, rivers, dales and waterfalls. The Pennine Way should be on the bucket list of any serious walker with a good level of fitness.
You can make the Pennine Way a little less challenging by doing just the Southern or Northern sections.
The Pennine Way
Although the Coast to Coast is offered in extended versions (up to 18 days) for those that like to take things at a slightly slower pace, the classic 15-day version includes some long days (an average of 25km per day), with 6-9 hours a day of walking at a steady pace to cover the distances required. But the Coast to Coast is our most popular walk for a reason – three national parks, charming towns and villages, stunning landscapes, and the sheer achievement of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea has given this route legendary status.
We offer several versions of the Coast to Coast – both guided and self guided, ranging from 15 to 18 days, and you can also do shorter sections on their own.
The Coast to Coast
Christmas is just around the corner, and we hope your plans for the festive season are coming along nicely. As well as enjoying this special time with friends and family, Christmas is also the perfect time to start making your holiday plans for next year – but what’s on your wish list for 2019? Here, we pick out a few of our trips that might help you decide – but there are hundreds more trips to choose from on our website. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Whichever trip you choose, Sherpa Expeditions can help to make your 2019 a very memorable year.
Tick off a classic UK walk
Coast to Coast
This classic Coast to Coast walking route, stretching from the east to west of the UK, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District. The walk starts on the Irish Sea coast of Cumbria near the huge red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head. You cross three National Parks before reaching the North Sea at the pretty fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the rocky coastline of the North York Moors. Sherpa Expeditions offers a range of guided and self guided Coast to Coast walks, ranging from 15 to 18 days for the entire route, and with shorter sections available.
Other trips that fit the bill…
The West Highland Way
Cornwall: The South West Coast Path
Take on a challenge
The Pennine Way
A mountain journey across the backbone of England, The Pennine Way became the very first British National Trail in 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, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, through the Cheviots and down into Scotland. Its sheer length makes it the perfect for those seeking a challenge – although you can also choose to do just the southern or northern sections.
Other trips that fit the bill…
The Tour du Mont Blanc
Alto Aragon : The Spanish Pyrenees
Try a Scandinavian adventure
This trip is the ideal introduction into the magic of Norwegian walking; it is undertaken from several centres using easy transportation on trains and boats in between. From Oslo or Bergen you travel by rail to some of the wildest, most spectacular, classic “picture postcard” settings within the realms of Norwegian mountain and fjordland. The retreating glaciers from the last ice age once overwhelmed and molded this landscape, gouging out the great coastal grooves which, with post glacial rising sea levels, have become the fjords.
Other trips that fit the bill…
Sweden: Hiking Stockholm and Beyond
Soak up some sun
Classic Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is the quintessential Italian holiday, with stunning scenery and mouth-watering food. Pastel coloured fishing villages are perched on the staggering cliff side overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea with some outstanding walks to experience this destination. There is no better way to immerse in this jaw dropping Italian coastline than hiking the Amalfi Coast to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you're a sun worshipper, you'll love the warmth and colours of this beautiful part of Italy.
Other trips that fit the bill…
Majorca: Sierras and Monasteries
Rambling in the Luberon
Enjoy a food and wine lover’s paradise
Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne
Everyone’s idea of what constitutes great food is different, but there’s no doubting that classic French food and wine is up there with the best. The food from the Dordogne features dishes that embody most people’s idea of classic French cuisine – this is the land of truffles, magret de canard and rich, dark wines. However, there’s much more to the Dordogne than just the amazing food and wine – beautiful medieval villages, lush, green, wooded hills and even caves all add to this lovely walking tour. (8 and 10 day trips available).
Other trips that fit the bill…
Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron
Burgundy Vineyard Trails
Keep cool in the forest
King Ludwig’s Way
For those that like some trees to shade them from the heat of the summer sun, this lovely, fascinating walk offers some very enjoyable stretches through the beech forests of Bavaria. The route passes two of Bavaria's most scenic lakes and through charming villages of geranium bedecked chalets with typical onion shaped church spires. The walk ends at King Ludwig’s spectacular fairy tale castle at Neuschwanstein.
Other trips that fit the bill…
Austrian Lake District and the Dachstein Alps
This is just a tiny selection of the trips available, but we hope it provides some inspiration. You can search all of our holidays here.
One of the most important ways of ensuring you get maximum enjoyment from a walking holiday is to make sure your fitness levels are up to scratch.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be super fit and able to scramble up a mountain in mid-summer heat without breaking sweat! All trips bring their own challenges, and require higher or lower fitness levels depending on the terrain, weather and distances covered. But even the most moderate trips will be more enjoyable if you have a decent level of fitness.
Here are a few tips for getting fit in advance of your walking holiday.
Sounds obvious, right? But the truth is that many of us don’t walk nearly enough in our day-to-day lives, especially if we have desk jobs. Whilst it’s great to get out into the countryside for a proper walk, busy lives often make this difficult. But there are ways you can fit some walking into your everyday: walk to work, or the kids to school, if it’s not too far; take the stairs in shops, office buildings and stations instead of lifts and escalators; get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the rest of the way; try and get out for a walk at lunchtime, especially if you have a desk job. Even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes, the exercise and fresh air will do you good.
When you’re out walking, try and wear the shoes or boots that you intend to wear for your trip as much as you can. You can read our guide for looking after your feet here.
Find some stairs and climb them as often as you can!
Build your muscle strength
The amount of strength you’ll need in your leg muscles depends on the type of trip you’re preparing for. If you’re heading to the Alps for the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Via Alpina, or a challenging UK walk like the Pennine Way, you need to prepared for plenty of ascents and descents, so strengthening your legs is vital.
You could hit the weights at the gym, but if that’s not your scene, try some simple exercises at home. Place your back against a wall and bend your legs as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Hold the position for as long as you can, and gradually increase the time you can keep it going. It’s great for the quads (the muscles on the front of your thighs), which is what you use when you’re ascending or walking up steps.
There are plenty of traditional, simple exercises like this you can do at home without the need for any equipment or weights – such as squats.
If you're heading somewhere like the Alps, you'll need to get your leg muscles nice and strong.
Increase your cardiovascular fitness
This relates to the first point about walking. Whilst the muscle exercises give you the strength to walk without getting aches, your cardiovascular fitness is what gives you the ability to exercise for long periods of time without getting breathless. Walking, running, cycling and swimming are all great for this – the more you can do the better, even if you’re booked onto a fairly moderate trip. Stopping to enjoy the view from time to time is great, but you don’t want to be doing it every 5 minutes!
If you’re someone who enjoys a walking holiday, it probably means you’re a fairly motivated person, otherwise you’d spend your holiday lying on a beach! But we can all lack motivation sometimes, especially if the weather’s bad and going outside doesn’t seem like the best idea.
Set yourself goals – if you’re walking, cycling or swimming, try to increase your distance each time you head out, or if you’re restricted to a particular distance, try and beat your time each time you tackle it. Listen to some music whilst you’re exercising - or a podcast, audio book etc. This can really make the time fly.
At the end of the day, it’s not about putting yourself under pressure and doing anything you don’t enjoy. You’re going on holiday after all, not running a marathon! But it is important to properly prepare for your trip – and if you have any questions about how challenging a tour is, you can give us a call and ask us, as well as reading the information that we include on our website about the fitness level required for each trip.
Some people are a bit squeamish about feet. Others think they’re the most beautiful parts of the human body. But whatever your view, there’s no denying that your feet are one (or more precisely two) of the most important bits of kit on a walking holiday.
Problems with your feet can really curtail your enjoyment of a walking trip, so it pays to do everything you can to prepare them in advance of your trip, and look after them once you’re hiking, trekking or walking.
Here are a few tips to ensure your carefully laid holiday plans aren’t trampled upon by problem feet.
1. WEAR THE RIGHT WALKING BOOTS
We won’t go in to too much detail here – you can read our guide to choosing walking boots that we published last year. The important thing, if you’re buying new boots for your trip, is to spend enough time researching and trying on boots, and to allow enough time to wear them in before you start your holiday. If you buy some new boots a couple of days before you’re due to start, and you wear them for the first time on your first day’s hiking, you’re asking for trouble!
There’s a huge amount of choice out there these days – gone are the days when all walking boots were made of stiff, heavy leather. Waterproof materials like Gore-Tex have meant that modern walking boots can be flexible and lightweight, and more closely resemble sturdy trainers. But it’s important that your boots still give you the support you’ll need for the type of walking you’re doing. A good outdoor shop will have staff that will spend time talking to you about your needs and will help you choose the right boots. You can even get custom-moulded footbeds to go into the bottom of your boots to give you more support and comfort – any skiers out there will certainly be able to tell you about the benefits of these!
Sherpa Expeditions travellers receive a discount at Cotswold Outdoor, one of the biggest outdoor chains in the UK, with knowledgeable staff and an excellent choice of boots.
2. WEAR THE RIGHT SOCKS
Socks and technology aren’t often two words that go together – but as with boots, there have been great strides (no pun intended) in the technology used to make socks especially designed for walkers. Obviously your choice of socks will be influenced by the weather – an October walk in the Scottish Highlands and a walk on the Amalfi Coast in August will clearly not require the same type of socks! But the main thing to bear in mind is that friction and moisture are your two worst enemies when it comes to blister prevention. Merino wool is particularly good for keeping feet warm without being too thick, and is great for drawing moisture away from the skin. It also has natural anti-bacterial properties.
Some keen walkers swear by wearing a thin pair of socks next to the skin, and a thicker pair on top for warmth, which can help to reduce friction.
As with your boots, the important thing is to find the best option for you, as there is a huge amount of choice out there. Once again, the staff at a good outdoor shop will be able to give you some good advice and talk you through the options.
Finally, if you’re on a trip where your luggage is being transferred for you, as with all Sherpa Expeditions holidays, it’s worth taking a clean pair of socks for each day’s walking. If this isn’t possible, then try to ensure that your socks get properly dried out each night.
3. USE TAPE ON PRESSURE POINTS
There are many types of blister tapes out there, but the best ones these days are made from the same material you sometimes see sports stars wearing on various parts of their body to help protect and stretch muscles. The trick is that this type of tape is moisture (i.e. sweat) resistant, so the tape won’t come away from your skin if your feet get a bit damp. Leukotape is a well-known brand, but there are plenty of others available.
You can use the tape as prevention for blisters on the areas of the feet that receive the most pressure – the ball, the heel, the bottom of the big toe. But really, as everyone’s feet are different, you can put tape on any parts of your feet that you know are susceptible to rubbing against the inside of your boots.
4. CLIP YOUR TOENAILS
This is a simple one – keep your toenails short! If they’re too long they’ll rub against the front of your boots and this will cause damage and pain to your toes. It’s amazing how quickly your toenails can grow as well – so if your trip is a week or more long, it’s worth packing some nail clippers so you can keep them trimmed throughout your walk. Experts recommend cutting straight across the top of the nail rather than a rounded shape, as this stops the corners of the nails digging into your toes, and reduces the risk of ingrowing toenails. Filing your toenails also helps to ensure you don’t have any rough or sharp edges that can do damage to your toes.
It’s a really good idea to keep your feet moisturised to stop skin drying out ,which in turn causes friction and makes blisters more likely. You can use a standard skin moisturiser or specialist foot cream – rub it all over your feet, and especially in between your toes before you go to bed each night, and again before putting your socks and boots on in the morning. Some people like to use petroleum-based products such as Vaseline if their skin is particularly dry, but many experts say that this traps in moisturiser and makes you more prone to developing athlete’s foot.
There are also some really good foot balms on the market that you can use after a day’s walking, that use natural ingredients to soothe your feet and can even help to strengthen the skin, which protects against blisters.
6. TREAT BLISTERS BEFORE THEY GET TOO BAD
This cannot be stressed to much. People often start to feel pain when out walking, but decide to carry on until the end of the day – sometimes because they don’t want to feel like they’re holding up their fellow walkers. But blisters can develop very quickly, and a few minutes treating the early signs of a blister, or ‘hot-spot’ can save a hug amount of time, and pain, in the long run.
If you feel a hot-spot start to develop, take off your boots and socks and try and dry your feet as much as you can. Apply some foot cream and blister tape to the affected area. If you’re carrying a spare pair of clean, dry socks in your bag, now is the time to use them – if not, try and dry your socks out as much as possible in the time you have available before you put them back on. We can’t guarantee that this will stop a full-blown blister developing, but it’ll give you the best chance of getting through to the point when you can give your feet a proper clean and rest.
7. REST YOUR FEET WHEN YOU CAN
We’re guessing that most walkers won’t need too much persuasion with this one after a long day’s walking! But it’s worth mentioning because of its importance. If you’re walking somewhere dry and warm, take your boots and socks off when you stop for lunch or a break – even just a few minutes in the fresh air will be enough to dry away any moisture. Try to wash, dry and moisturise your feet as soon as you can after you’ve finished your day’s walking. If you’re heading back out, hopefully to a nice pub for some dinner and a well-earned drink, put clean socks on and some fresh shoes if you’ve packed them (and if you’re using Sherpa Expeditions’ luggage transfer, why wouldn’t you?!). But as soon as you’re back in your hotel room or tent, let those feet breathe and repair themselves ready for the next day.
Follow these tips and you’ll be giving yourself the best possible chance of keeping your feet happy. And happy feet make happy walkers!
Our friends at Cicerone publishing house have released yet another fascinating book, this time celebrating the mountain huts that dot the European Alps and Pyrenees in The Mountain Hut Book.
Author Kev Reynolds has been compiling travel guide books since the late 1970s and has an undiminished passion for mountains and the countryside. With his enthusiasm, personal anecdotes and authority, we at Sherpa are already a big fan of the publication.
The book explores the development of alpine mountain huts from primitive and often squalid beginnings to a valuable network for people who venture into the mountains. Whether you are new to the experience of staying in huts, or are an old hand, we believe that the book will bring you lots of entertainment and information.
Drawing on Reynolds’ long experience of staying in hundreds of mountain refuges, the new book examines hut life, what facilities to expect, and hut etiquette. For example: reserve your spots in advance, cancel if your plans change in order to make space for other hikers, bring a pair of ‘hut shoes’ to wear indoors, or make your bed once you’ve been allocated a room & spot.
Sherpa Expeditions gave away one copy of the book following a small competition on our Facebook page that ran in May 2018. The lucky winner of 'The Mountain Hut Book' is Char Aaberg from Canada.
Would you like to get hold of a copy of the book as well? Head over to the webshop of Cicerone to order yours, and because we're friends, you receive a 20% discount on your order >> find more information here.
The Mountain Hut Book has profiles of the author’s 10 favourite huts in the Alps and Pyrenees, gives the best approach routes and offers suggestions for ascents and outings from them. 10 hut-to-hut walking tours of between 3 and 13 days duration are also outlined, including the Tour of the Bernina and the Alta Via 2.
>> Learn more about Cicerone and how you can claim 20% discount on books when you travel with Sherpa Expeditions.
Even for the most seasoned walkers and hikers, the terminology used to describe directions on walking holidays may be different from what you are used to back home. Whether you need a reminder, would like to take a little quiz with your travel mate, or simply are not familiar with some of the terminology in the notes, below are some hiking terms that can be useful on your next trip in the outdoors.
Hiking Terms - Gates
Stile A little step that allows you to easily climb over a fence. They come in different forms.
Kissing gate A gate that opens out to only allow one person through at a time so that two people passing through on either side would have to 'kiss'.
Swing gate A little narrow gate in a fence which has a spring to reset it once open.
Offset gate A gate with an open entrance and two overlapping parts to restrict motorised access.
Copse/ Coppice/ Plantation A wood or plantation of similar trees, normally quite small.
Hedgerows These are the, often ancient, shrub fences that exist as field boundaries and that can be seen all over the United Kingdom.
Dry stone walls These serve the same purpose as hedgerows, but are made of un-cemented stone. Together with sheep they make up a large part of the Scottish landscape.
Cwm/ Corrie/ Cirque A generally rounded glaciated or post glaciated valle – in the mountains of Wales we use the word ‘cwm’ for this.
Beck or Burn A little stream, unless in spate.
Fell An English word that is probably related to the old Norse word fjall – a fell is a hill or a mountain.
Tarn This is a mountain lake or pool that is generally formed in a cirque that was excavated by a glacier.
Dale A valley, beautiful English dales are found along the Dales Way in the Yorkshire Dales.
Crag An outcrop of rock, or cliff strata.
Dry valley This is a valley cut into chalk or limestone that does not have a permanent stream running through it.
Ben/ Bein This is what the Scots call a mountain, the most famous one being Ben Nevis, which you’ll pass when following the Great Glen Way, West Highland Way and Lochs and Bens cycling trip.
Shoulder Literally the flank or lower sloping part of a hill or mountain, which often facilitates a pass.
Col/ Pass A low point or easier point of access on a shoulder of a hill or mountain which may facilitate an opening for a path or road so that it is easier to travel between valleys.
Breche / Notch A clear break in the rock strata in the mountains which often facilitates a pass for a footpath. A breche or notch is a type of col (see above).
Summit The highest point on a mountain; besides the one summit, there can be several peaks on one mountain, often called ‘false summits’.
Hiking Terms for Signage
Trig point A triangulation pillar used for surveying. Trig points are usually about 5 foot (150cm) high and made of concrete. Normally you can find these on top of hills and ridges.
Cairn Used for marking the trail, this is a pile of stones that is especially easier to see in bad weather circumstances.
Blaze An indication made with paint on a tree or part of a rock, again to show directions on the trail.
Fingerposts Wooden posts on hills or in fields, which have the waymark on them often via one to four ‘fingers’.
GR/ PR These red-white and yellow-white signs and paint blazes splatter the trails of the grande randonnée routes in France, Spain and Italy.
Wanderweg/ Bergweg Yellow and red-white waymarked trails in Switzerland and Austria. Wanderwegs are usually the lower and easier trails, while a bergweg tends to be used for a mountain path.
Hiking Terms for Underfoot
Bog A bog usually involves saturated peaty, mossy walking conditions.
Scramble An easy rock climb where hand and footholds are large and a rope is normally not required.
Moor A tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather, sedge grass and moss.
Scree These are small loose stones that usually cover a slope and can make the walk up a bit harder.
Tarmac If you are American you will know this as asphalt and an Australian may be more familiar to the term sealed road... it covers the ‘better’ roads & paths.
Limestone pavement A strata of limestone on the surface, usually eroded and partially dissolved into blocks and cracks called ‘Clints and Grykes’.
Ridge and furrow This is a medieval farming method of piling up ridges and creating ditches in between. You will see such forms in the pastures of the British countryside.
Sinkhole A hole in the limestone that is created by water solution, some go to great depths into extensive cave systems.
Right to Roam In England and Wales a ‘right to roam’ area is where you can walk freely, such a way may be covered by a signage to indicate your rights. It is a different right to that associated with a footpath that crosses private land.
Bridleway A permissible route to be used by travellers on foot, horse or bicycle, but not motorised vehicles. Keeping this in mind, you may spot the occasional trail biker or green-laner.
Stinging nettles These are mostly found around footpaths and stiles; they will inflict a mild sting if they are brushed against – don’t worry they are nothing like Poison Ivy! (In Latin agonious extremis or - because it ‘urts - urtica).
Have we missed anything? Or do you have extra questions on this? Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email so that we can assist you more. Contact our team of travel experts here.
Make Your 2018 New Year’s Resolution to Travel More
Start Off with an Active Spring Breakaway
Get 2018 off to a great start and immediately realise your New Year’s Resolutions!
>> Receive a Discount of £65 per person when you book before 29 December 2017
>> Have your 2018 active getaway organised now
With another new year in sight, most of us will soon be thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions. For us in the Sherpa Expeditions team, there is one resolution that always tops the rest and that is quite obviously to Travel More!
We hope you have this New Year Resolution somewhere on your list and we are here to help you realise your goals for 2018. Receive a discount of £65 per person* when you book before 29 December 2017 for a trip departing before 31 May 2018. This way you can already look forward to travelling more in 2018 and enjoy Europe when the paths and trails are still relatively quiet and flowers begin to bloom. Or, why not start even sooner and discover on foot the sunny islands of southern Europe when other places are still covered in snow.
Top 10 Popular European Destinations to Visit before June 2018
1. Walking in Cyprus
2. Coast to Coast Walk Self Guided
3. Madeira Island Walking
4. Tuscany walking & cycling
5. Exploring the Cotswolds
6. Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne
7. Tenerife on Foot
8. Isle of Wight
9. Amalfi Coast
10. Cornwall Coast Path
*Terms & Conditions:
- Book a holiday departing on or before 31 May 2018 and receive a discount of £65 per person.
- Booking must be received before 29 December 2017.
- Only valid for trips departing on or before 31 May 2018.
- Valid on land portion of the trip only and not valid on extensions, supplements or extra services.
- Only valid for bookings made with Sherpa Expeditions directly, not valid for bookings made through third parties.
- Only valid for new bookings received between 1-29 December 2017.
- Only valid for Sherpa Expeditions operated trips, eg. not valid on UTracks operated trips.
- Not valid with any other discount or offer.
- Offer applies only once per person per booking.
- Subject to availability and on guided trips also subject to minimum numbers reached.
- Booking Terms & Conditions apply.
- Quote code ACTIVESPRING18 at the time of booking.
You may have booked a walking holiday and like to get in the mood for your upcoming trip. Or maybe you are looking for inspiration for new trails to walk on your time off. Reading a novel that is set in one of our destinations can really help create an image of the region and bring it to life. Whether it is about a famous or iconic person from the area, a route or pilgrimage that is being followed or highlights a specific town, travel novels can be a great holiday inspiration.
To help you find your way around in the large offer available, we have listed below a small selection of travel novels that relate to destinations in England, France, Cyprus and Austria.
The John Muir Way
There are plenty of books about John Muir and to get a glimpse of the man himself, we like to suggest the publications ‘Wilderness Essays’ (John Muir, 2015), or ‘Journeys in the Wilderness’ (2009). If you like reading, a terrific book that you can still find second-hand is ‘John Muir Eight Wilderness Discovery Books’ (1992).
For those that like graphic novels, there is a superb one available free to download as a PDF called ‘John Muir, Earth, Planet, Universe’ by Julie Bartagna and William Goldsmith.
Discover John Muir’s native Scotland on the 12-day John Muir Way.
Although strictly set in the northern and now Turkish part of Cyprus, we did want to include Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus in this list of travel books. The work was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize in 1957 and probably belongs to the most famous write ups on Cyprus. If you like to get an idea of what the island was like in the 1950s, how Durrell loved living there and how it changed in the few decades during the Enosis movement for independence of Britain, add the autobiography to your reading list.
Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, Lawrence Durrell (Faber and Faber Ltd)
Retrace the steps of author Lawrence Durrell on the 8-day Winter Walking in Cyprus holiday.
The Way of St James
The origins of the Camino de Santiago trail rest with the supposed remains of St. James who is enshrined at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. There were four major routes to Santiago, of which the first recorded was the route commencing in Le Puy, France. This route is today known as the Way of St James. In his book Clear Waters Rising, Nicholas Crane summarises the history of St James and how Santiago developed into a famous pilgrimage site.
Clear Waters Rising, Nicholas Crane (Penguin)
Walk the Way of St James in France from Le Puy to Conques.
Cornish Coastal Path
When picking up one of the novels in the Poldark series by Winston Graham, you’ll travel in a time machine to step out into 18th century Cornwall. Author Graham spent more than three decades of his life in Cornwall where he spoke with local fishermen, farmers and miners, walked the coasts and explored the towns. His first-hand knowledge of Cornwall really gives an accurate and lively image of the region and can be a real motivation to go hiking in Cornwall. The first book, Ross Poldark, was published in 1945 and is still a novel that inspires to travel to this southern England county. In 2016, a new BBC One series was produced based on the books.
Ross Poldark, Winston Graham (Pan Macmillan)
Experience ‘Poldark’ countryside for yourself on one of the 6 walking & cycling holidays in Cornwall.
Austria & the Dachstein Alps
We all have heard of the story of Maria von Trapp who left Austria during the First World War with her husband and family. What you may not be aware of is that the world-famous musical The Sound of Music is based on the memoirs that Maria von Trapp wrote after some gentle but necessary pressure of a friend. Initially she didn’t feel a need nor confident for the story to be told, but she appeared to have a natural talent to write and produced the best-seller The Story of the Trapp Family Singers in 1949. Today a version of the book is available with pictures of the original version.
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria A. von Trapp (Doubleday)
Has this novel inspired you to go hiking region Austria? You may be interested in the 8-day Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps walking holiday.
In the autumn of 1878, the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (famous for his travel novels ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Kidnapped’), found himself spending a few weeks in Le Monastier, in France’s Auvergne. It is from here that he set off to walk a trail south across the Cevennes accompanied by ‘a small grey donkey called Modestine, the colour of a mouse with a kindly eye’. It took this pleasing pair eleven days to complete the trip, and the book that Stevenson wrote about their journey, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes has since become a travel classic.
Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, Robert L. Stevenson (Penguin)
Follow in the footsteps of R.L. Stevenson and choose from an 8 or 10-day walking holiday on the Stevenson’s Trail: The Cevennes.
Want to learn more about Sherpa Expeditions cycling and walking holidays? Feel free to contact our team of travel experts with any queries you may have.
If you're looking to settle yourself down for a few days to get that true experience of a small place that seems to have stood still in time, there's no need to look any further. Here are 10 charming coastal villages that offer exactly that.
Often a small market square where the local delicatessen shop is your go-to point for the best cheeses, the olives served are as fresh as you've ever had and shaded terraces serve wines directly from the vineyard… all this in close proximity to our friendly guest houses and family-run hotels. These types of villages along the coastlines of Europe form a great base for a few days of exploring on foot or by bike as they are a pleasant distance to rugged cliffs, quiet beaches, inland woods and pastures, groves, and mountain foothills.
Breathe in Europe through 10 of its most charming coastal villages.
Agios Georgios tis Pegeias – Cyprus
Agios Georgios tis Pegeias is situated about 400m from the coast and has a small fishing harbour and beach area. The surrounding area is mainly agricultural with bananas and citrus fruit, a few tavernas, two churches and the ruins of an early Christian basilica.
It is locally claimed that the sunset from Agios Georgios tis Pegeias is the most beautiful on the island of Cyprus. Perhaps the best place to be to view this spectacle is above the cliff next to the St. Georges Restaurant, above the fishing harbour or on the coast itself.
Flam – Norway
When you walk down to Flam, you’ll experience a beautiful trail that follows the lush valley route through woods and pastures in Norway. There’s always the sounds of rushing waters and when you eventually drop down to the Aurlandsfjord, a branch off Sognefjord, you’ll enter Flam.
The small coastal village of Flam has several restaurants serving local & traditional Norwegian meals (think of berries and salmon) and one of Norway’s most popular craft beer breweries can be found here. Out of town, enjoy a panoramic view of the Aurlandsfjord, take one of the most scenic bicycle rides in Norway, and hop on the famous Flam Railway.
Collioure – Vermillion Coast, France
Flower-decked Collioure is a very pretty little town set against the foothills of the Alberes Range near France’s Vermillion Coast. It has an idyllic setting with sun, sea and sky attracting lots of travellers each year. The seaside town consists of two little fishing ports separated by the mediaeval castle on a spur.
Did you know? This former fishing port was the birthplace of the Fauve movement of painters in the early 20th century, led by Matisse, and today still is a colourful place attracting painters and photographers alike.
St Peter Port – Guernsey
St. Peter Port, Guernsey Island’s capital, is a bustling, friendly place with a row of attractive harbours and marinas set under a steeply terraced townscape, with some remarkably well-preserved buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. Visit Castle Cornet, the 800-year old fortress, the restored Victorian Gardens, the house where Victor Hugo stayed, or just relax along the promenade with its array of pubs and restaurants.
At certain high points in the coastal town you can see the other Channel Islands of Herm, Sark and Alderney - and the coast of Normandy in France.
Riomaggiore – Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, perhaps the most interesting town of the five Cinque Terre villages, is occupied by little fishing and day trip boats. The Italian seaside town has mediaeval tower blocks that are crammed together overlooking an inlet of intense aquamarine colour. The buildings are all painted in bright pastel shades, complementing the natural Mediterranean light.
Bowness-on-Solway – Scotland
The views from Bowness-on-Solway on the border between Scotland and England are special for several reasons. This is the western end of the Hadrian’s Wall tour - behind are rolling hills and country lanes while in front is the beautiful expanse of the Solway Firth.
The coastal village of Bowness-on-Solway has less than 100 houses and is the site of the Roman fort of Maia.
Ajaccio – Corsica, France
Ajaccio, the capital town of Corsica, lies on the island’s rugged west coast. Although a busy cosmopolitan Mediterranean coastal town, it is a pleasant place to spend a few days. Enjoy the impressive harbour and old winding streets where you’ll have plenty of choice of little restaurants and boutique shops.
Did you know that it was on this seaside town that Napoleon Bonaparte was born? You can visit his home, which is now a museum.
St Ives – Cornwall, England
In England, magical St Ives is a town of art, ice creams and fish ‘n’ chips. Protected from Atlantic storms, St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall, but like elsewhere on the surrounding coast, by the beginning of the 20th century, the fish stocks became depleted and the fishing fleet largely disappeared.
However as early as 1811 Turner visited to paint the seascapes and by the late 1880s there were several artists installed, and the town became famous for its vibrant artists’ colony. This perhaps reached its peak during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Today their work can be seen in the St Ives Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Bernard Leach Gallery. We offer several holidays that include a stay in St Ives.
Porto – Portugal
In Porto, famous for its port and wine, there are lots of traditional tascas (taverns) that serve marine cuisine. Explore for example vibrant Ribeira district down by the quays. The city is located right between the Green (Costa Verde) and Silver (Costa de Prata) coasts of Portugal and forms part of the Douro Valley.
To get the best idea of this Portuguese coastal city with a small-town feel, we suggest a walking itinerary taking in the famous sites such as the Cathedral and churches of 'Igreja de sto Ildefonso' and the 'Igreja Clerigos' with its monumental tower. Maybe walk along the upper and lower spans of the famous Luis I Road Bridge and admire the riverside districts of the old towns on both river banks. For those with extra time in Porto, why not take a trip across the river to the other town, 'Vila Nova de Gaia'.
Santa Caterina – Sardinia, Italy
When you descend from the Montiferru Mountains on a walking holiday in Sardinia, you’ll walk into Santa Caterina di Pittinuri, located on the coast. Santa Caterina is a quiet bay surrounded by oak forests, olive groves and quiet pastures. This is a small coastal village, with just one small shop and a couple of bars. There’s also a nice 4-star hotel located right on the coast on a cliff at the edge of the beach with an excellent restaurant overlooking the sea. What more do you need besides a good glass of local wine, fresh produce from the island and the charming village life passing by?