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How Fit Do I Need To Be? Part 2 - Europe

Following our guide to trips in the UK that are ideal for walkers with different fitness levels, now it’s the turn of Europe.

  

An important factor in the fitness levels required when choosing a walking holiday in Europe is the weather and the time of year. Although most of our European trips fall into the ‘moderate’ category, it obviously gets hotter as you head further south, and a trip in central or southern Europe is going to be more challenging in the height of summer than it is in spring or autumn.

 

This is just a small selection of the European trips that we offer. Just check out the suitability description on any of our trip pages to work out if it’s the right one for you.

GENTLE TRIPS FOR FIRST TIME WALKERS

Burgundy Vineyard Trails

This is a gentle walk that allows time to visit historic sites and vineyards along the route. Although the second half of the week provides a little more of a challenge as the distances and climbs increase slightly, it’s generally an extremely pleasant route that allows you to discover the landscape and savour some of the finest food and wine on offer anywhere in Europe. Travellers will discover a fabled land of mediaeval chateaux, ancient monasteries and fragrant breezes where the art of living is pursued to near perfection at a gentle unhurried pace. 

 

Read more


Burgundy

 

Vineyard Trails of the Loire

The Loire is also one of the major wine producing areas of France, and it also has the advantage of being a great centre for cuisine and historical monuments. The walking is hilly at times, but generally the mix of old pathways, farm and forest trails make for fairly gentle walking. The combination of walking, spectacular historical sites, the food and wines of the Loire, makes this walk full of interest and pleasure and an ideal place to start for those with a love of France or setting out on a walking holiday for the first time.

 

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The Loire Valley

MODERATE TRIPS FOR THE MORE ACTIVE

Hiking the Vermillion Coast

Starting in France and ending in Spain, this walk follows the steep coastline where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean. With some days stretching for 22km and with ascents of up to 700m, you’ll certainly know that you’ve been working your legs hard by the end of the day! But this is generally a lovely walk that will pose no difficulties for someone with a decent level of fitness and experience of hill-walking. The walk includes visits to some charming fishing villages and you’ll be able to sample some lovely wines and delicious Catalan cuisine.

 

Read more


Vermillion Coast

 

Lake Como Rambling

This is a lovely walk, which includes some days that you can lengthen for a slightly bigger challenge if your legs allow it. The spectacular Lake Como, formed by glaciers during the last Ice Age, is lined by Roman Villas with beautiful gardens, and grand hotels built during the Victorian era for European and American tourists. You’ll also be able to savour some delicious Italian food and wine whilst enjoying some of the country’s most stunning views.

 

Read more

 

Lake Como

 

CHALLENGING TRIPS FOR MORE EXPERIENCED WALKERS

Alpine Pass Route

Our trip takes in the most impressive two-week section of the full classic Alpine Pass – it’s a route that takes you over many alpine passes, some a leisurely stroll, others a tougher proposition, but all offering their own spectacular visual rewards. There are some long days but lifts and cable cars can be used to shorten some of the walks and overnight locations can all be reached by public transport in case of bad weather. However, this trek is a definite challenge, which involves much daily uphill and downhill walking, and is only suitable for fit walkers who can readily manage days with more than 1000m ascent and descent. 

 

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Alpine Pass Route

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

This classic alpine walk circumnavigates Western Europe’s highest mountain over passes and through the valleys of three contrasting countries. Walkers can savour the food and wine of France, Italy and Switzerland and enjoy some of the finest scenery in the world. There are no vertigo-inducing sections on this walk provided you stick to the itinerary as described in the route notes and defined on the maps; and avoid the ‘variations’. We make it clear in the notes which alternate routes in our opinion do require a ‘head for heights’. Some of the walks can be shortened if desired by the use of cable cars or (in Italy) a local bus service.

 

Read more

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

Travellers' Tales: The Best of 2018



We were lucky enough to receive some great stories from our travellers during 2018. Finding out exactly what happens when our customers head out on their travels really helps us to ensure that we’re offering the best holidays and service that we can. It also paints a great picture of what you can expect from a particular trip.


Here are a few highlights from the tales we received over the past year.

 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

Randy and Diane – Bernese Oberland Guided Walk

We went guided to get together with a long-time Sherpa guide named John Millen, whom I had trekked with before (Haute Route in 2012) – John did his usual outstanding job and was extremely knowledgeable about all things Swiss, in addition to setting a wonderfully positive tone to the group.

Marie-Claire – Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne

Never having been to the Dordogne I jumped at the chance to discover the area. It was also great to be able to spend some time with my daughter. Once your children have left home it’s not that often you get to spend a whole week with them!

Jan – UK Coast to Coast

This walk was for my dad. He was a “10 Pound Pom” who emigrated to Australia in the 50s. He gave me my love of hiking. I believe you have to “walk a country to know a country” and I wanted to feel my family roots and feel connected to my heritage.

Charles – Alsace Vineyard Trails

I had an uncle who was a travel writer and he wrote a book called Walking in Wine Country - the Alsace was one of the regions he had covered, so I wanted to walk in his footsteps and light a few candles in his memory.

 

 

How did you prepare for your trip?

Randy and Diane: Diane and I started doing some uphill hiking over the 2-3 months prior to the trip, and increased our vertical gain (over 1-2 hours) to around 1,000 to 2,000 ft. This preparation was more than enough for the Bernese Oberland.

Marie-Claire: My usual routine is a walk around the Monikie Park (in Dundee) 3 times a week (3 miles) and an 8-10 mile walk at the weekend. I think more challenging walks before going would have been a good idea!

Jan: The most we have close by is a scarp, the Perth Hills, so I spent every weekend for 4-5 hours at a time hiking fast up and down stony, gravelly tracks just to make sure my leg muscles, reflexes and concentration were honed. 

Charles: Ahead of the trip, I wanted to improve my French so I used an app called Duolingo to practice for 20 minutes each day for several months.

 

 

What was your favourite destination on the trip?

Randy and Diane: We spent 2 nights each in Zermatt and Grindelwald and loved both towns. I had not been to Lauterbrunnen before and was enchanted by this mountain town and the views surrounding the town. 

Marie-Claire: Collonges la Rouge, which is aptly named as the whole town is built of red sandstones. It reminded me of Arbroath where I used to work, as a lot of the older houses are built with the same stone. We were in Collonges on a sunny Sunday in the late afternoon and the light on the buildings was amazing.

Jan: This was definitely St Sunday Crag! Everything about that day was perfect – the scenery, the weather, the vibe. It was a challenging, strenuous, heat-pounding walk but there was just something about standing on those rocks at the top that made me feel WOW!

Charles: What I loved best were the hours we spent walking through the woods on the lower slopes of the Vosges. They were of such varied character and with different plants favouring different species of trees.

 

 

What was the best food and drink on the trip?

Randy and Diane: The included breakfasts at each hotel on the trek were excellent – such a wide variety of items offered and the coffee was to die for!

Marie-Claire: The first evening meal in Sarrazac was excellent: salade de magrets de canard, duck confit and an amazing cheeseboard! There were 9 choices on the dessert menu, all home-made and Nathalie had ‘flognarde de poires’, a speciality from the area similar to a clafoutis.

Jan: A memorable one was bacon chop with black pudding and stilton cream sauce at the pub at Ennerdale Bridge. Absolutely delicious – and something I would NEVER have tried at home. 

Charles: We soon found that the Alsace Riesling was nothing like the semi-sweet wines that we had had in our youth – these were on the medium side of dry but had such wonderful flavour. I still think that there are fewer things nicer for breakfast than fresh French pastries.

 

 

Did you have any nice surprises?

Randy and Diane: Diane had never been on the Jungfraujoch before – the day we chose was perfect, with not a cloud in the sky. It was such an incredible experience to stand out on the col between the Monch and the Jungfrau and be at 3,466m in the Swiss Alps. 

Marie-Claire: On the way to Loubressac, we walked through a vineyard: Côteaux de Glanes. Eight wine growers work together and produce a ‘vin de pays’ which is absolutely delicious. It regularly wins medals and appears to be snapped up by restaurant owners in the region. 

Jan: The thing that surprised me the most was that I managed to fully recover every morning and be ready to go again! I know that should be a given expectation when you sign up for a long hike. Seriously – by the end of every day the balls of my feet were so sore I thought I would never walk again, but every morning they were perfectly fine and raring to go again. 

Charles: The Haut Koenigsbourg Castle is a must to see and very popular. It was definitely worth the queue for tickets.

 

 

What aspect of the trip did you find the most challenging?

Randy and Diane: The hike on the first day (from Meiringen to Grindelwald) was long and the final push (to Grosse Scheidegg) was a challenge for the whole group.

Marie-Claire: The heat made the trip challenging. Although we were in the area at the end of September, we had daily temperatures of 26-27 degrees. A week after coming back I was walking near Dunkeld and it was 2 degrees!

Jan: I think the 2 very long days towards the end of the walk were pretty challenging, mentally and physically. Every single day had its little challenges, but that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want an easy wander. I wanted to have to work at it. 

Charles: Choosing wines was a challenge!

 



If you have a tale from your travels with Sherpa Expeditions that you’d like to share with us, email us. You’ll get a £50 discount on your next trip with us!

Traveller's Tale - Bernese Oberland Guided Walk

Randy and Diane from Canada joined Sherpa Expeditions for a guided walk in Switzerland's spectacular Bernese Oberland in August 2018. They loved it so much they've already booked their next trip with us - a self guided walk in the Italian Dolomites for 2019. We asked them to answer a few questions about their trip...




1. What is your travelling/walking/cycling history?

Personally, I enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities, although “foot power” is much more to my liking than “wheel power”. I am an avid walker/hiker in all four seasons at home (the Vancouver Canada area); I also enjoy snowshoeing and cramponing in the winter season. I enjoy multi-day trekking world-wide – I have trekked in Nepal; South America and Europe. I am also a mountain climber (within my skill set) and have climbed Kilimanjaro, Island Peak, Mt. Aconcaqua, Mt. Baker, among others. My wife, Diane, enjoys walking and trekking as well (but without the climbing) and we try to plan at least one joint trek a year. I have trekked with Sherpa twice (summer Haute Route and Bernese Oberland), with Diane along on the latter trip. We are already booked for a self guided Sherpa trip to the Dolomites for August 2019.

 



2. Why did you choose to walk/cycle where you did?

The Bernese Oberland trip (guided) we did in August 2018 was chosen for several reasons. We had two couples we wanted to trek with and chose a trek I knew something about (I had been to the Swiss Alps twice before and simply love Switzerland) and they would enjoy. We went guided to get together with a long-time Sherpa guide named John Millen, whom I had trekked with before (Haute Route in 2012) – John did his usual outstanding job and was extremely knowledgeable about all things Swiss in addition to setting a wonderfully positive tone to the group.

 



3. How did you prepare?

We (Diane and I) walk a lot back home, so we simply started walking further over the 2-3 months before the trek. As mentioned before, I am an avid hiker, so Diane and I started doing some “uphill” hiking over the same time frame and increased our vertical gain (over 1-2 hours) to around 1000 – 2000 ft. This preparation was more than enough for the Bernese Oberland. John Millen set a very nice pace for each day’s walk and no members of the group felt that they were out of their depth in terms of fitness level.

 



4. Your favourite destination?

This is a hard one – the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland is incredibly beautiful. We spent 2 nights each in Zermatt and Grindelwald and loved both towns. I had not been to Lauterbrunnen before and was enchanted by this mountain town and the views surrounding the town. The other members of our group (none of which had been to Switzerland before) were equally impressed with each of the towns we stayed in.

 

 

 

5. Best food and drink?

Again, it is hard to single out one restaurant or hotel for food/drink – I do not recall having a bad meal on the trip. The restaurant at the Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen was particularly good. In Zermatt, we ate dinner one night at the basement bistro in the Hotel Monte Rosa – the traditional Swiss dish raclette was a treat mentioned by several people in our group. The included breakfasts at each hotel on the trek were excellent – such a wide variety of items offered and the coffee was to die for! Swiss wine is always a treat – as you may know, very little of the total production of Swiss wine makes it out of the country – both the whites and the reds are well crafted and complement Swiss food so well.

 

 

6. Biggest surprise?

While I had been once before, Diane had never been on the Jungfraujoch before – the day we chose was perfect, with not a cloud in the sky. It was such an incredible experience to stand out on the col between the Monc and the Jungfrau and be at 3466 m. in the Swiss Alps – the numerous pictures we took pale in comparison to the visual memories Diane and I have in our minds of this experience.

 

 

 

7. What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The hike on the first day (from Meiringen to Grindelwald) was long and the final push (to Grosse Scheidegg) was a challenge for the whole group. However, the incredible view from the pass, including a spectacular view of the north face of the Eiger and the White Spider, was well worth it. It is always difficult coming back to real world after a multi-day trek in the Alps.

 

 

Our Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls walk is available as a self guided trip for 2019. Departures start from 23 June. You can read about all of our trips to this region here.

 

TELL US YOUR STORY

If you've been inspired by Randy and Diane's story, we'd love you to share yours. Please email your Travellers' Tale to [email protected] along with photos from your trip. If you have any questions, just email them to the same address and we'll get back to you.

 

Or perhaps you'd like to write a review of your trip on Google or Facebook? Either way, we'd be very grateful for your feedback.

10 Reasons to do the Tour du Mont Blanc with Sherpa Expeditions

Our 2019 dates have been announced for the Tour du Mont Blanc – so now is the time to secure your place on one of the classic alpine walking tours. Here are just some of the reasons why we think you should book this spectacular trip…

 

Tour du Mont Blanc  

 

1. EIGHT fixed departure days for summer 2019

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a self guided walking holiday – but due to the logistics of baggage transfer, the trip departs on fixed dates throughout the summer season. Our 8 departure dates, spanning the entire summer, give you plenty of options for when to do the trip.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

2. Support from our friendly, knowledgeable team in London

Our London office is staffed by people with plenty of walking experience, and an in-depth knowledge of our holidays. They can provide you with all the information you need and answer all of your questions, providing support both before and during your trip.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

3. Walk independently, but at the same time as other Sherpa travellers

Although the Tour du Mont Blanc is a self guided holiday, the fact that the trip departs on fixed dates means there will always be a small number of other Sherpa walkers doing the tour at the same time. So you can be as sociable or independent as you like – it’s the best of both worlds!

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

4. Enjoy the benefits of support from our team members who live in the area

Our friendly local staff who take care of your baggage transfers also act as your contacts in case of any problems, or simply to offer advice and information.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

5. Our route notes are second to none

When you book with Sherpa you’ll receive a pack including detailed route notes, maps and information on local points of interest and attractions. The notes have been prepared by experts with intimate knowledge of the area, and also include details of alternative routes for certain parts of the tour.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

6. Enjoy a meet & greet on your first night

The evening before you set off from Les Houches for your first day’s walking, our ground support staff will hold a briefing to give you all the information you need and to ask any questions you might have. It also gives you the opportunity to meet the other Sherpa travellers who’ll be doing the walk at the same time as you.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

7. Solo travellers can avoid paying a single supplement

If you’re a solo traveller and are happy to share a room with another traveller (of the same gender), you won’t have to pay a single supplement - as long as we can pair you up. (NB: there are no single rooms available in Les Chapieux, on the 3rd night of the tour, and if not paired up single travellers will have to stay in a small dormitory at Refuge Les Mottets, which is 7km further up on the route).

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

8. First-timer on a self guided walk? No problem!

Although the Tour du Mont Blanc provides views of breath-taking alpine scenery, the walk itself is graded as ‘moderate to challenging’ and requires no mountaineering experience. This means that anyone with the level of fitness required to walk for 6 to 7 hours a day on uneven ground should find it within their capabilities. Some of the walks can be shortened by the use of cable cars or local bus services.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

9. Enjoy the culture of 3 different countries

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Tour du Mont Blanc is that you’ll pass through France, Italy and Switzerland, each with its own culture, customers and delicious food and wine. A true European adventure awaits you.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

10. Rest days, or extra walking days - the choice is yours

The itinerary includes 3 ‘rest’ days when you can take it easy – but there’s certainly no need to rest if you’re feeling energetic! There’s plenty to explore in all of the areas (the route notes will provide information), or you can choose to do some extra walking if you prefer.

 

A Mont Blanc Marmotte!

Find more details, dates and book online, for the Tour du Mont Blanc Self Guided Walk.


Trekking Around Mont Blanc with Sherpa Expeditions

The highlights of a Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) walking holiday are without a doubt the excellent views of Mt Blanc itself and of the snow-clad alpine peaks of the Wildstrubel, Valais and Bernese Oberland, plus plenty of impressive glaciers. For others, magnets can also be the fresh cheeses & local wines, classic mountain cottages, or the fact that you’re circumnavigating an entire peak, in this case western Europe’s highest one!

 

Tour du Mont Blanc walking holiday - Sherpa Expeditions

 

But why go trekking around Mont Blanc with Sherpa Expeditions? To give you a better idea of how our Tour du Mont Blanc walking holiday stands out, we made this short overview that helps explain how our trip works:

 

  • 10 fixed departure days in this summer’s season
  • Walk independently, but at the same time as a small number of other Sherpa travellers
  • Enjoy the benefits of support from our team members who live in the area
  • Stay in good value for money accommodation while trekking around Mont Blanc
  • Receive maps and very detailed route notes that include options to walk different trails
  • Lots of background information and tips for local establishments
  • Complete circumnavigation of Mont Blanc; from Les Houches to Les Houches
  • Meet & greet at the start of the Tour du Mont Blanc
  • Are you a single traveller? Make use of the option to share a room with another single traveller of the same gender and avoid paying a single supplement
  • A suitable choice for first-timers on a self guided walk
  • En-suite facilities in the accommodation we selected for you (except for the nights in a guesthouse & auberge)
  • Days at leisure on which you can choose to rest, explore museums, go shopping or undertake more walks
  • The personal support of our friendly team in London, before, during and after your trip

 

 

Have you got any questions on this? Do feel free to contact our friendly team in London via phone, email or drop by if you are in the area.

 

 

You May Be Interested in This Too

 

hiking to La Fouly on Tour du Mont Blanc

Dare to Walk the Zermatt Suspension Bridge?

With the new and world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge, you have even more things to do in Zermatt and the Bernese Oberland

new Zermatt suspension bridge - Sherpa Expeditions

©Valentin Flauraud


With the world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge opened near the village of Zermatt in July 2017, you may have another reason to visit Switzerland next summer. The Europaweg Skywalk, also known as the Randa Suspension Bridge or Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, is about 1/3 of a mile long and only 65 centimetres (25.6 inches) wide. To us, walking this new suspension bridge is certainly high on our list of the things to do in Zermatt.

 

The single-file, steel-made bridge offers spectacular views of the iconic Matterhorn and is hanging 278 feet up in the air. The bridge is designed “for hikers with no fear of heights.” On the 9-day Haute Route self guided walk and 8-day Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls self guided and guided walking holidays in our offer, you will have a free day in Zermatt to walk the unique bridge. Travelling 15 minutes by train to Randa, you can enjoy an 8.7km circular walk.

If you feel this is all a little too much, Zermatt offers many more options to explore on a free day.

 

Contrasting rock with ice, the Bernese Oberland is ideal for first timers in the Swiss Alps or opt for the challenging Haute Route in the scenic canton of Valais – both trips conclude with a free day in Zermatt


Things to do in Zermatt under Matterhorn - Sherpa Expeditions


There are many things to do in Zermatt with Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

The Swiss alpine town is traffic free and all-around Zermatt you will be able to enjoy a wonderful panorama of mountain peaks, including the distinctive shape of the Matterhorn. From the route notes you will receive upon booking a walking trip in the Bernese Oberland or the Haute Route, you will be able to choose from about four walks to take around Zermatt. On top of that, our team can advise on even more walks and activities to fill your day.

 

If you want to immerse yourself in the classic Swiss mountains capes, just have a look at the different walking holidays in Switzerland or contact one of our experienced travel advisors in London.

 

Other suspension bridges in Switzerland:


Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls

A stunning region of rock and ice, Bernese Oberland is the perfect introduction to walking in the Swiss Alps, as each day you can choose between a range of walks, often with differing grades and distances. The route follows classic mountain trails to charming mountain refuges, with views along the way from a variety of vantage points of vast glaciers that tumble from some of the highest peaks in the country, many over 4,000m!

Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls (8 days) departs each year between June-September 

Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls – Guided (8 days) departs 11-18 August 2018 and similar dates each year

The Haute Route

The Haute Route is popular with skiers but there is also a walkers’ version. The scenic canton of Valais is one of the most majestic mountain regions in Europe – and compared to many other areas in Switzerland, most of the paths are little trodden! Come in the summer and you will pass under 10 of the 12 highest peaks in the Alps, visit quaint picture postcard villages, stroll through lush valleys and enjoy the colourful alpine flowers in bloom.

The Haute Route (9 days) departs each year between July-September

The Long Weekend Alternative: Shortest Breaks Across Europe

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

Weekend Breaks Europe_Tuscany walking_Sherpa Expeditions


5 Days

Departs Daily

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

Weekend Breaks Europe_Yorkshire Dales mini break_Sherpa Walking holidays


4 Days

Departs Daily

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

Weekend Breaks Europe, Isle of Wight Cycling with Sherpa Expeditions


5 Days

Departs Daily

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

Meiringen walks_weekend breaks Europe_Sherpa Expeditions


5 Days

Departs Daily

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

Cotswolds, England weekend breaks Europe, Sherpa Expeditions


5 Days

Departs Daily

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. 


(Semi) Centre Based Alpine Walks

Besides linear or circular walking holidays, you also have a choice to opt for a (semi) centre-based walking holiday in Europe with Sherpa Expeditions.

 

Perhaps you are interested in exploring a certain region more in depth or you like to reduce the number of times to unpack and prefer sleeping in the same bed every night. The European Alps are an excellent destination to enjoy this style of travel. From the Austrian Lake District and the Dachstein Alps via Meiringen and on to the Bernese Oberland, below you can find ideas for centre based walking holidays.

 

Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps

This semi-centre based walking holiday evolves around:

  • Bad Goisern
  • Gosau
  • Hallstatt

centre-based-walking-holidays-europe-austrian-lake-district

 

Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area. The heart of Austria’s Lake District encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier, and breath-taking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through mountain forests and alongside glimmering lakeland shores as you explore alpine villages of wooden chalets decorated with colourful window boxes.

We grade this tour as moderate-challenging and although most days are easier, you will find some steep stony trails and perhaps an element of exposure on certain occasions. For those that like to avoid the challenging parts, there is public transport available between centres.

Go there on the 8 day semi centre based walking holiday Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps.

 

Meiringen

This centre based walking holiday evolves around:

  • Meiringen

centre-based-walking-holidays-europe-meiringen-reichenbach-falls - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland’s major passes, 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 place for anyone who wants to see the real Switzerland, in autumn the landscape is painted with a riot of colour and in spring and summer you can find lush alpine valleys and flowers bloom. Walks here encompass all grades from gentle strolls to high ridges, while a superb integrated network of cablecars, postbuses and trams takes you in all directions quickly and easily.

The high places can be reached quickly without long uphill climbs out of the valley and, at any time of the year, you can fill a week with excellent day walks, from gentle strolls to high ridges. Choose yourself how easy or hard you care to make it.

Go there on the Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps 5 day or 8 day self guided walking holidays.

 

Bernese Oberland & Reichenbach Falls

This semi-centre based walking holiday evolves around:

  • Grindelwald
  • Lauterbrunnen
  • Zermatt

centre-based-walking-holidays-europe-bernese-oberland

 

A stunning region of rock and ice, Bernese Oberland is the perfect introduction to walking in the Swiss Alps. The route follows classic mountain trails to charming mountain refuges. Along the way you’ll be able to enjoy views from a variety of vantage points of vast glaciers that tumble from some of the highest peaks in the country, many over 4,000m!

Each day you can choose between a range of walks, often with differing grades and distances; you can also utilise the extensive mountain transport system to shorten the walks further. You also have the option to take the mountain railway to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station.
Go there on the Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls 8-day self guided walking holiday or join a small group of like-minded travellers on the Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls Guided Walk.

 

Interested in more choice of centre based walking holidays in Europe? Find out about the advantages and extra suggestions for this type of travel in the article ‘In the Centre of the Action: 4 Trips’.

 

For more information or booking requests, please contact our team of travel experts in our London office.

 

Alpine Flowers: A Mountain Walker’s Guide

The alps are full with mountain flowers and especially in the summer months, you’ll very likely be rewarded with the sights of many colourful versions. When you’re walking in the Alps, bring a mobile device like a mobile phone or tablet with you, or print this article so you can look up a little information on the species that you’ll see along the way.

 

Yellow Gentian

Gentiana lutea

alpine-flowers_Yellow-Gentian_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower? June-July

Where can I find the plant? There are many variants of gentians, we especially like the yellow gentian. The plant can grow as old as 70-100 years and the flowering part of the plant dies around July-August. This alpine flower is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe and grows in grassy alpine pastures. Other names by which the plant goes are 'bitter root', 'genciana', or 'bitterwort'. 

 

Alpine Pasque Flower

Pulsatilla alpina

alpine-flowers_Alpine-Pasque-Flower_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower?  Very early in the season, May-June, sometimes springing up from under the snow

Where can I find the plant? The alpine pasque flower is native to the mountain ranges of central and southern Europe and you can find the flower in mountains all the way between Spain and up to Croatia. Besides the white one, there is a yellow variant of this mountain flower. Look at rocky areas or in dry stone wall gaps to find the flower.

 

Cotton Grass

Eriophorum

alpine-flowers_cotton-grass-on-the-Haute-Route_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower? April-June

Where can I find the plant? The leaves of the plant look like grass and it’s flower looks very similar to a cotton wool ball, hence its name. When you come across peat or acidic soils, open wetland, or moorland on your walk in the Alps, there’s a good chance that you can find a patch of cotton grass.

 

Edelweiss

Leontopodium alpinum

alpine-flowers_Edelweiss-in-Switzerland_Sherpa-walking-holidays

When does it flower? July – September  

Where can I find the plant? Edelweiss is quite a special mountain flower if not only because it being used a symbol for alpinism. Edelweiss normally grows between 1800-3000 metres altitude and in rocky limestone places. The alpine flower is a protected plant in France, Switzerland and Italy among others.

 

Harebells

Campanula rotundifolia

alpine-flowers_harebells-on-Switzerland-walking-holidays_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower? July – September

Where can I find the plant? We believe that the harebell is perhaps one of the most attractive of all wildflowers. Look out for the mountain plant on dry grasslands, in the valleys or on heaths.

 

Heartsease

Viola tricolor

alpine-flowers_Heartease_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower? April – September

Where can I find the plant? The wild kind of heartsease is quite rare and blooms yellow and white, it appears in a white or purple form and you may know it from your garden at home in the name of wild pansy or love-lies-bleeding. But did you know that it also is a powerful medicinal herb? It can benefit for example people with skin problems, respiratory problems or chest infections.

 

Martagon Lily

Lilium martagon

alpine-flowers_Martigen-Lily-mountain-flower_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower? It only flowers a short period between late June and mid-July

Where can I find the plant? This plant is a Eurasian variety of the lily and it grows as far east as Mongolia. It’s also known as Turk’s cap lily, Lily of Istanbul, Sultan Lily or Dragon Lily. You can only see the Martagon Lily from late June to mid-July and plants can grow as high as 2 metres.

 

Pincushion Saxifrage

Saxifraga eschscholtzii

alpine-flowers_pincushion-saxifrage_Sherpa-walking-holidays

When does it flower? April - June

Where can I find the plant? Saxifrage is a very common alpine wildflower that appears in as many as 400+ shapes and forms. The plant is also known as saxifrages or rockfoils. Often you can find them on old grassland, especially on chalk or limestone soil.

 

Cobweb Houseleek

Sempervivum arachnoideum

alpine-flowers_Rock-Leek-(Haute-Route)

When does it flower? July

Where can I find the plant? You can find the cobweb houseleek (or cobweb sedum) between rocks that are quite moist. They form mats that cover up the rocks and are happy in full sunlight. Especially in the summer months, when it flowers, the colour of this wildflower is pinkish and reddish. 

 

Rosebay Willowherb

Chamaenerion angustifolium

alpine-flowers_Rosebay-Willowherb_Switzerland

When does it flower? July – September

Where can I find the plant? Usually the Rosebay Willowherb grows in rocky places or woodland clearings. It is common to find the plant in places where the ground was burned.

 

Vanilla Orchid

Nigritella nigra bzw. rubra

alpine-flowers_Vanilla-Orchid-Haute-Route_Sherpa-Expeditions

When does it flower? July

Where can I find the plant? It is quite likely to find the almost black or purple vanilla orchid in grassy, limestone meadows above the forest limit. The more grassy variant that we saw on one of our walks on the Haute Route is quite a rare variety. What’s special about it? Smell this wildflower and you understand where it got its name!

 

Alpine Crocus

Colchicum alpinum

alpine-flowers_mountain-flowers-are-alpine-crocus_Sherpa-walking-holidays

When does it flower? Around August until October

Where can I find the plant? A native flower to the Alps, you can find the crocus on mountain grassland in France, Switzerland as well as Italy. Besides the obviously pink version in the picture above, you can find paler rosy/pink versions of the flower.

 

See mountain flowers on one of our alpine walking holidays to France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria

 

Picture This! A Vision of Mont Blanc

Being one of Europe’s most impressive mountain regions, extraordinary Mont Blanc is hard to grasp in words. A diverse flora and fauna, ever changing scenery, charming settlements, and a plethora of tracks and trails all make up the mountain area that covers France, Italy and Switzerland.

 

To give you an idea what you may expect on one of our walking holidays circumnavigating the peak, check out this overview of Mont Blanc images and be awed.

 

Tracks & Trails

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Mont Blanc way markers - Sherpa Walking Holidays 

Flora & Fauna

Deer in the Mont Blanc region - Sherpa Expeditions

 

bird Mont Blanc - Sherpa walking holidays

 

mountain flowers of Mont Blanc - Sherpa Expeditions

 

cute marmot, Mont Blanc, Sherpa Expeditions

 

butterflies, Mont Blanc, Sherpa walking holidays

 

animals around Mont Blanc - Sherpa Expeditions 

marmot, mont blanc, sherpa expeditions

 

Scenic Mont Blanc Region

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mont-blanc-images_mountain-peaks_sherpa-expeditions

 

mont-blanc-images_swiss-cows_sherpa-expeditions

 

mont-blanc-images_glacier_sherpa-expeditions

 

mont-blanc-images_mont-blanc-sign_sherpa-expeditions

 

mont-blanc-images_mountain-views_sherpa-expeditions

 

Alpine Mountain Hamlets

settlement of Mont Blanc - Sherpa Expeditions

 

mont-blanc-images_mountain-art_sherpa-expeditions

 

room with a view - mont blanc images - Sherpa 

village life of Mont Blanc - Sherpa walking holidays

 

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amazing setting on Mont Blanc, imagine yourself here

 

 

Inspired?

Do you, after seeing these fantastic Mont Blanc images, like to experience this part of France, Italy and Switzerland for yourself? You can on one of our Mont Blanc walking holidays:

Tour du Mont Blanc – 14 Days >> An extended self guided circumnavigation around the highest mountain in Western Europe, through the meadows and mountain passes of Mont Blanc in France, Italy and Switzerland.

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Tour du Mont Blanc – 11 Days >> A classic alpine walk that starts in Les Houches and finishes in Chamonix walking around Western Europe’s highest mountain through the valleys of three contrasting countries.

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Mont Blanc Classic Walk – 8 Days >> Discover the highlights of the Mont Blanc region on this self guided walk through France, Switzerland and Italy.

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Mont Blanc Guided Walk – 8 Days >> An exhilarating hike around Mont Blanc taking in sweeping vistas of famous peaks and glaciers.

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Mont Blanc Family Adventure – 7 Days >> A special family walking adventure through the Alps to view the Mont Blanc regions famous peaks and glaciers.

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Mont Blanc in Comfort – 6 Days >> An exhilarating guided horseshoe circuit hike around Mont Blanc staying in private rooms instead of dorms.

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