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Inspiration and Advice for Walking in Europe Information, reviews and advice on Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk in England. Amalfi, Cilento, Tuscany, food and more Sherpa travellers share their reviews and experiences. Information, reviews and advice on Madeira walking holidays Information, reviews and advice on walks in the Cotswolds
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UK & European Holiday News

The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
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Five Ways To Keep Entertained During Lockdown

As well as getting out for some fresh air if you can, there are so many things you can do in the comfort of your own homes whilst in lockdown. This could be the perfect time to slow down and appreciate those small pleasures in life that may have passed you by before.
 
 

Reading

Does reading always seems to go to the bottom of the list when life gets in the way, normally reserved for holidays and long journeys? Now you have some more free time, you can really get stuck in to a new book and get transported to anywhere in the world.

The Little Italian Bakery - Valentina Cebeni

The essence of Sardinia is perfectly captured and you can easily whisky ourself out of this world into a new one.  This is a place where time has stood still for years on end, but where the secrets of the island have also been hidden in its past.
 
Get it here.

A Wedding in Provence, by Ellen Sussman

A fictional story of a couple holding their second marriage in Provence, France surrounded by their immediate family in a quaint inn set in the small town of Cassis. The bride’s two adult daughters bring a little drama to the situation and it all quickly unfolds from there. 
 
Get it here.

Normal People, by Sally Rooney

This award-winning novel is Set in Ireland. The story follows two people from high school in their small town to university in Dublin, exploring their relationship as well as their own psyches.
 
Get it here.
 
 

Listening to podcasts

There are so many to choose from, but there are a few that are great to keep that hiking mindset alive and kicking! Anything  from advice on training for a bucket list trip to real-life stories and hints for beginners.

Hiking Thru

A weekly podcast in which there is a speak with experienced thru hikers about their stories from the trails and strategies for a successful thru hike. Each episode is not only full of unique stories from the trail, but also comes with dedicated 'Gear Recommendations and Trail Wisdoms' page. Here you can see what gear each thru hiker used including shoes, socks, packs, sleep gear and more, the food they ate and can recommend for you, gadgets, apps, hacks and of course wisdoms learnt along the way.
 
Listen here.

The First 40 Miles

This is a podcast for people who are new to hiking and backpacking. If you are new to backpacking, or if you're hopelessly in love with someone who wants you to love backpacking, then this podcast is for you. We talk about the essentials, how to lighten your load, and how to make the most of your time on the trail.
 
Listen here.

The Training for Trekking

This podcast is created to help hikers, trekkers and mountaineers prepare for their bucket list adventures. Rowan shares with you the simple training strategies to get you fit, strong and resilient to tackle anything the trail will throw at you, even during the current pandemic.
 
Listen here.

 

Cooking And Baking

Have you found a new found love for cooking and baking? You’re not the only ones! So, even if you can’t get to your favourite destinations right now, you can still whip up something native to the region instead and before you know, you’ll feel like you’re there!

French Coq Au Vin

A traditional French dish consisting of chicken braised with wine, bacon lardons and mushrooms. A red Burgundy wine is typically used, though many regions of France make variants using their local wines.

Find recipe here.

Greek Moussaka

Moussaka is an aubergine or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, traditionally minced lamb and topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. However, there are many local and regional variations.

Find recipe here.

Scottish Shortbread

It’s almost impossible to think of the delicacies of Scotland without thinking of their famous shortbread. Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon, these sweet and crumbly treats will be sure to keep you going.

Find recipe here.

 

Watching Films

Sometimes it’s nice to look forward to watching a nice film at the end of the day, and even better when it includes stunning scenery and cuisine from the places you have dreaming of visiting. Whether it is more hard-hitting or light-hearted, they’ll be sure to inspire your next adventure.

Wild

Starring Reese Witherspoon, this film is based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed on her path to recovery.  Still reeling from her mother's death and recent divorce, she decides to hike alone along the Pacific Crest Trail with no previous experience.

Watch it here.

A Walk In The Woods

This hilarious comedy stars Robert Redford as the bestselling travel writer Bill Bryson, who makes the improbable decision to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.

Watch it here.

The Trip

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star in ‘The Trip’ following them exploring fancy restaurants of northern England, ‘The Trip to Italy’ where the two go on a road trip in Italy from Piedmont to Capri, on the Amalfi coast, and ‘Thee Trip to Spain’ where they discover the joys of tapas in Spain. Their culinary adventures take them through Cantabria, the Basque region, Aragon, Rioja, Castile, La Mancha and Andalucia.

Watch The Trip here, The Trip to Italy here and The Trip to Spain here.

 

Playing games

In these times of social distancing, there are many ways to stay entertained. Whether that’s with your household over a good old board game or on a trans-generational  Zoom call and taking things digital with an online quiz.

Would I Lie To You Board Game

A game of quick thinking that calls for a cool head and a poker face. Can you fool your opponents with an on-the-spot lie? Just like the TV show, some of the facts are true, some are not, it's all down to you to decide!

Find it here.

Travel Quizzes

There is an abundance of online quizzes around, especially now, so the real question is which one to pick? If you would call yourself an expert traveller, why not test your knowledge with one or two from Traveller’s huge selection.

Find them here.

Get Puzzling

Puzzles can be great fun and really get you to concentrate, so much so you can find yourself in another world. When you’re not able to visit the places you want to, you can still recreate beautiful images of them!

Find some here.
 
 

Coronavirus, Holidays in the UK and Europe: a Message from our CEO

Maintaining a rational perspective with international travel

There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has caused disruption and inconvenience to individuals and to the authorities in affected areas, but I would like to reassure travellers with a calm and rational assessment of the facts.

Uncertainty about the virus in its early weeks has bred fear, which is being heightened by the barrage of news headlines and amplified by social media. The situation now is that it is rare to read balanced information. 

World Expeditions Travel Group has been operating adventures across the globe for 45 years and, during that time, we have experienced and overcome many adversities. We have well-developed and tested risk strategies for these very occurrences. 

Coronavirus outbreak is the latest challenge and we do not see any reason for travellers to panic. We advocate continuing with travel plans as we are doing with our own staff travel programme. 

As with travel at any time, there are risks of infection from a virus. At no time are we able to guarantee you will not become ill during your travels with World Expeditions Travel Group or, indeed, in your daily life at home. Weighing up the risks of travel is a personal decision and we encourage you to investigate the facts to come to an informed decision about the risks. 

According to the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
 
"Everyone should know the symptoms – for most people, it starts with a fever and a dry cough, not a runny nose.  Most people will have mild disease and get better without needing any special care."

We develop robust risk strategies based on multiple sources, primarily: 

We encourage you to visit both websites. With respect to corona virus, mainland China, Iran and 11 towns in Northern Italy and two pockets of South Korea remain the only four countries for which the FCO has increased the advisory to Advise against all but essential travel or Advise against all travel. 
 
Johns Hopkins University in the US has a map with helpful facts about global cases of the virus.   

We make regular updates to the travel advisory section of our own website and I encourage you to check it on our partner company World Expeditions.

I would also remind you that a typical World Expeditions Travel Group holiday is one in which you’ll be immersed in the natural landscape and generally off the beaten track, where the chance of catching any virus is far lower than in most urban environments.

I do advise departing travellers, including staff who are travelling both now and in the future, to take extra precautions in washing your hands regularly and following NHS guidelines related to COVID-19.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that your safety – and that of all our travellers - has always been at the core of everything we do. I acknowledge that any new health outbreak that is widely covered by the media will cause concern and I encourage you to maintain a rational perspective and continue with what you do daily and what you love to do on your holidays.

Yours sincerely,

Sue Badyari
CEO
 
 

UK Walking and Cycling Trips Inspired by 2020 Film Releases

There are lots of exciting films coming out in the next few months that were filmed in and around some of the most beautiful parts of the UK. Whether you go to watch them or not, you can still enjoy the same views as your favourite film stars whilst getting active outdoors on a walking or cycling holiday! From all the way up in the Scottish Highlands, right down to the Dorset coast; there's sure to be something that ticks all your boxes.
 
 

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (UK Release Date, August TBC)

The beloved, Beatrix Potter-created character is getting the CGI treatment one more time. The second feature adaptation of Peter Rabbit was partly filmed in the Lake District, an ode to the character’s creator, as Beatrix Potter had spent many holidays in the area. 

Immerse yourself into the world of Peter Rabbit on the NEW The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District trip, where you will travel through the timeless landscapes of Beatrix Potter in northern England.

Find out more about The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District trip here.
 
 

No Time To Die (UK Release Date, November TBC)

Daniel Craig stars for a fifth and final time as the fictional spy in the upcoming, the twenty-fifth in total, instalment in the James Bond franchise. The (former) MI6 agent spy enjoys life in Jamaica at the beginning of the film, however his retirement turns out to be short lived.

No Time to Die was filmed in various locations including Norway and Italy, as well as the Scottish Highlands, whose spectacular Lochs and Bens you can admire up close in our self-guided cycling trip.

Find out more about the Lochs and Bens trip here
 
© Helmsley Walled Garden
 

The Secret Garden (UK Release Date, 14 August)

The children’s classic is getting the big screen treatment in a new film starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters. The scenes at the secret garden (locked, according to the story, by Mr Craven) were shot at the five-acre Helmsley Walled Garden near the North York Moors, where the Cleveland Way starts.

The Cleveland Way walk begins at Helmsley, so you can start your trip by taking a peek at the ‘new’ secret garden before you venture all the way over to the beautifully picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay.

Find out more about The Cleveland Way trip here.
 
 

Ammonite (UK Release Date, TBC)

The latest project by acclaimed writer-director Francis Lee sees Kate Winslet starring as Mary Anning, the ‘unsung hero of fossil discovery’, whose worked concentrated on Britain’s rugged southern coastline. Co-starring Saoirse Ronan, the film was shot extensively on location in Dorset and Surrey.

As you walk along the Jurassic Coast on the Dorset and Wessex Trails, you will find yourself immersed in the truly wonderful world of Mary Anning.

Find out more about The Dorset and Wessex Trails trip here.
 
Post updated on 18 March, 2020.
 
 

Cycling Trips To Try This Year


 

The Cyclist’s Coast to Coast 

Get ready for a special 142 mile ride from the harbour at Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to the Abbey and castle at Tynemouth on the shores of the North Sea. Taking a different route to the Coast to Coast walk, it serves as a brilliant way to see northern England and how the landscape changes as you cycle along. There is so much to see, including the Cumbrian Lakes and Fells, the bleak Pennines, beautiful Dales, towns and villages of all sizes. You should also have some time to enjoy the gorgeous tea shops, traditional pubs and interesting historical and industrial sites along the way.

Find out more about The Cyclist’s Coast to Coast here.


 

Cornish Cycle Tour 

This bike tour takes you on a journey through a varying landscape of Cornwall, filled with inland heaths and downs, rolling hills and tumbling coastlines. There are also sheltered coves and beautiful rivers, castles and gardens to visit along the way. With the daily rides being around 30 miles (50km), this allows plenty of time to see Cornwall the way that you want to.

Find out more about the Cornish Cycle Tour here.


 

Cotswolds by Bike 

This trip is a great introduction to cycling in the English countryside. A week of marvellous rides will take you through one of the most beautiful and historic parts of England. Honey coloured stone villages, wooded valleys and Roman roads are the background to famous gardens, a Roman villa and welcoming inns. The tour starts and ends in elegant Cheltenham, riding through the Cotswold Water Park and past the Chedworth Roman Villa then on the final day you will visit the historic 15th century Snowshill Manor and enjoy the wonderful views from Broadway Tower.

Find out more about Cotswolds by Bike here.


 

Cycle the Wine Regions of Tuscany 

Prepare yourself for a thrilling ride through the landscapes of the Val d’Orcia in southern Tuscany. Pedal through vibrant fields of sunflowers and past rolling hills covered with vineyards to the heart of the Brunello wine district and cheer with a glass of the famous local Vino Nobile when you arrive at Montepulciano. Joining in the serene medieval town of  Buonconvento and from the hot spring hamlet of Bagno Vignoni to the heavenly Renaissance city of Pienza, the itinerary is dotted with captivating palaces, Romanesque churches and, of course, prestigious wineries!

Find out more about Cycling the Wine Regions of Tuscany here.

 

Lochs and Bens Cycle 

The Scottish Highlands have long been a favoured destination for those keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. During this week long trip, you will take the backroads and country paths, visiting charming historic towns with ancient castles and monuments such as Dunkeld, and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead, and Killin. 

Find out more about the Lochs and Bens Cycle here.


 

Scottish Highlands Cycle 

This is a truly stunning cycle route from Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands, along the shores of Loch Ness to Fort William. En route, you may be lucky enough to spot the wildlife of the region including red deer, stag or golden eagle. It also wouldn’t be a trip to the highlands without a day in Fort William to rest or ascend Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain!

Find out more about the Scottish Highlands Cycle here.


 

Isle of Wight Cycle 

This is a lovely short break for cyclists who want a beautiful sightseeing tour, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no less, with a good mixture of town and country. The ride starts in the old seaside town of Ryde, passes through Cowes, famous for its regattas then tracks inland through the estuary around Newport to the old town of Yarmouth. And, if the weather is on your side, you can follow the Tennyson Trail to Brighstone, then onto the ship wreck capital of the island, Chale. Followed by the scenic coastal stretch back into Ryde.

Find out more about the Isle of Wight Cycle here.
 
 

Travellers' Tales: My Walking Journey with Julie Gordon

Julie and Rich are from California and first started their walking journey in 2008. Since then, they have been on many walking trips and have definitely got the bug for it. Read on if you want to find out about their favourite adventures and and biggest surprises along the way!
 
 

What is your walking history?

In 2008, thanks to the guidance of Sherpa Expeditions, we put our “boots on the ground” for our first, very long walk, the Coast to Coast across England.  Though we had been hikers and, generally, spend a lot of time outdoors, as most folks in California do, we had not done a long-distance walk. The 192 mile walk from St. Bee’s to Robin’s Hood Bay couldn’t have been a better choice.
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

The UK is a perfect place to walk, in particular because of the attitude of the country towards walking across what, in the US, would be private land.  There is both a respect for the land and a willingness to share access to it.  At the time we did the walk we managed about 15 miles per day; now it would be less! The terrain was varied, from deep muck and bogs to gravel trails; the weather a mix of everything from rain to drizzle to sun. We learned the importance of having all tools available to make one’s way when dense fog made using certain tools impossible. Nothing like a paper map when all else fails. We also learned that the trails as described in the notes and even maps can change after the information has been shared by Sherpa. Flexibility and adaptability are key, though they can be learned on the way!!
 

How did you prepare?

Our preparation for that trip was intense as we had no idea what to expect. We walked every weekend for six months and did back to back long walks across San Francisco in order to get a sense of what walking daily might be like. In the end, our preparation paid off but, as I will note further on, such intense training is probably not required (since 2008, with a walking trip almost every year, our regimen has become considerably more limited and we rely on our daily exercise to keep us ready.  Of course, readiness is affected by age and that has increased since our first walk!)
 
Also, in addition to building stamina and strength, there is planning for what one should pack. Although Sherpa and other companies provide lists, determining what and how much you will need and how you will limit it to one 20 kilo bag takes work.  Over the years we have scaled back our tendency to “overpack”, learning that things can be purchased on route. One critical factor is how one can wash clothes and, more importantly, dry them!!  On some of our trips there were clothes lines and the ability to wash in large sinks but, for the most part, one relies on hotel or B&B small sinks and decorating the room with laundry to dry, using hair dryers in emergency, and the heat racks that are for towels but work well for socks too!  There are places that will not allow you to do laundry in your room but they are few and far between. 
 
 

What was your favourite destination?

It has been 11 years since that first long walk. During that period we walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the islands of Kerry and Beara in Ireland, the Via Fracigina in Italy, the Dordogne in France. There were also treks in Nepal and a bicycle trip from Berlin to Copenhagen. This year we just returned from walking across Scotland on the John Muir Way. Although it has not always been the case, we have sought walks that were destination based, the Coast to Coast walks being the pinnacle of that kind of walking. There is a great deal of satisfaction in walking across a country, most particularly the chance to immerse ourselves in the variation of the lands, the economies, the cultures, the history as we cross. 
 

What has been the most challenging aspect?

Each walk we have taken has challenged us in different ways.  On our first walk the challenge was simply to persevere, to walk daily, rain or shine, through rabbit holes, peaty soil and getting lots in the fog.  Walking in Italy, from hill town to hill town in Tuscany, challenged us to walk UP hill at the end of every day !!  And the hills were steep and long. Whew! And walking the John Muir Way in Scotland  challenged us because there were unexpected obstacles and diversions that added to the length of our days when, as you might have guessed, our energy was flagging. 
 

Best food & drink?

Each walk has had different culinary offerings the best of which were found in France and Italy. The other walks, including our most recent walk, seemed to have the same menu during a good part of the trip. The variations came when we came to a bigger town or city (like Edinburgh) when we could enjoy cuisines from around the world. As walkers, a hearty breakfast is critical and, though the delicious food found in Italy and France made for lovely dinners, the breakfasts were largely something sweet and coffee, so sometimes we found ourselves supplementing with local cheese and fruit. We also brought an array of protein bars to carry us through the energy gap. England and Scotland win the prize for a substantial breakfast albeit one filled with not such healthy sausages, pudding, hash browns as well as eggs, beans, bacon, tomatoes. It should be noted that in the UK one could get a vegan, vegetarian, lactose free or gluten free meal everywhere too, if required.
 

Biggest surprise?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of these walking trips, from our first to our most recent, is the level of detail in which we immersed ourselves as we walked. The myriad questions about what we are seeing made for a very stimulating experience in every case. And, although not an entire surprise, indeed a great pleasure, is the kindness of strangers.  We have been rescued from bad judgments, bad weather, bad signage and fatigued bodies by so many folks whether we could speak the same language or not. The best example of the kind of help we received was during our Coast to Coast walk when, upon arriving in a tiny village, it appeared our supposed host was in crisis and had locked his inn. At a loss for what to do, we were approached by a local woman who invited us to stay with her for the night and she arranged for dinner as well. What’s not to like about that!

Obviously I could write on and on but, if you take away nothing else from what I have written, know that long walks, supported by having your luggage carried, your lodging taken care of, and your routes provided, is the best way to see the world step by step!!
 
 

A Year In Trips - Where To Go And When in 2020

To celebrate the start of a new decade, we have put together the ultimate list of the best trips to go on over the coming year; from catching some winter rays in the Canaries, to beating the crowds on the Amalfi Coast and bringing out your inner foodie in Burgundy.
 
 

JANUARY - Beat the winter blues in the Canary Islands

Even during the winter months, La Gomera gets 9 hours of sunshine daily, with the average day temperature close to 22°C. Despite being easily accessible from Tenerife (the boat trip takes just an hour), the surprisingly lush green island remains largely untouched by mass tourism. 

Find out more about our Exploring La Gomera trip here.

 

FEBRUARY - See the orchids in bloom in Madeira

In the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira enjoys an impressive year-round flowering season thanks to its subtropical climate. The best time to catch the orchids in bloom is in February and you can even find a dedicated Orchid Garden with more than 7,500 species.

Find out more about our Madeira Island Walking trip here.

 

MARCH - Have the Amalfi Coast for yourself before the crowds arrive

Few trips in Italy take in such a diverse combination of iconic highlights, making it impossible to escape the hordes of crowds that head to ‘Nastro Azzurro’ (Blue Ribbon) in the summer months... but come in March and you will have the Amalfi Coast just to yourself.

Find out more about our Amalfi Coast trips here.

 

APRIL - Walk through bluebells in the Cotswolds

April marks the beginning of the bluebell season across the country. If you are looking to admire these quintessentially English carpets of blue, you do not have to travel far, head to the Cotswolds countryside and get inspired by this spectacle of nature.

Find out more about our Cotswolds trips here.

 

MAY - Cycle through the Scottish Highlands at their sunniest (and driest!)

May is not only the driest month in Scotland (less than 80mm of rain) but with approximately 170 hours of sunshine it is also the sunniest. Although the Scottish weather is notoriously changeable and often localised, this is when you are least likely to avoid a downpour.

Find out more about our Scottish Highlands Cycle trip here.

 

JUNE - Explore England before schools break up for summer

If your plans are not determined by the school summer holidays, travel in June for a quieter countryside and a less busy coast. June sees the longest day of the year (an average of 16 hours of daylight) so you can maximise your time outdoors on the most classic of all UK hiking trails, like the Coast to Coast.

Find out more about our Coast to Coast trips here.

 

JULY - Visit the Yorkshire Dales ahead of the TV remake of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’

Channel 5 is reviving in 2020 the much-loved TV series about a rural vet in the Yorkshire Dales, which was based on James Herriot’s real-life memoirs. The remake is scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original publication of James Herriot’s ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

Find out more about our James Herriot Way trip here.

 

AUGUST - Cycle your own Tour of Britain in Cornwall

Cornwall will host the Tour of Britain for the first time ever in September 2020, which will see riders travel over 100 miles through the Cornish countryside. It will be the biggest ever sporting event to take place in the county, so if you want to avoid the (extra) crowds travel a few weeks earlier.

Find out more about our Cornish Cycle Tour here.

 

SEPTEMBER - Swim through rock arches in Sardinia

The weather in Sardinia in September is still warm and pleasant, with the lower humidity making outdoor activities much more enjoyable. Explore secluded bays and ancient watchtowers, swim through rock arches and watch the sunset turn the cliffs to shades of yellow and pink.

Find out more about our Saunter in Sardinia trip here.

 

OCTOBER - Plan a grape escape in Tuscany 

October is grape harvest time in Tuscany. Pedal past rolling vine-covered hills to the heart of the Brunello wine district, meet local winemakers and wander through ochre-coloured vineyards. When you get to Montepulciano, cheers with a glass of the famous local Vino Nobile.

Find out more about our Cycle the Wine Regions of Tuscany trip here.

 

NOVEMBER - Experience the ‘real’ Burgundy

By late autumn the crowds in Burgundy have thinned, the weather has cooled and the autumn temperatures will not let you get overly warm while pedalling. Do not miss the major International Gastronomy Fair in Dijon – it takes place every November and the foodie inside you will thank you!

Find out more about our Burgundy Vineyard Trails here.

 

DECEMBER - Follow in the footsteps of smugglers in Andalusia

Today the Sierra de Aracena Natural Park is a walker’s paradise – but during ‘el hambre’ (the hunger) after the Spanish Civil War many of the locals became ‘Mochileros’ (packmen) smuggling goods using remote high paths, many of which are still in use.

Find out more about our Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena here.