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The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
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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.
The long-awaited film adaption of the international bestselling novel ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ will premiere in UK cinemas next week, on the 20th April 2018. To celebrate the occasion, we are giving away free copies of the book by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer.
Book on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way or Jersey: The Channel Island Way walking holiday and receive the novel that the film is based on*
Book before 31 May 2018 on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way or Jersey: The Channel Island Way walking holidays and travel before 25 October 2018 and we will send you the novel together with your Final Documentation.
Directed by BAFTA-award winning Mike Newell and starring Lily James and Michiel Huisman, the film shines a light on Guernsey’s occupation during World War II. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles that were under German control during the war and evidence of their stay is still widely visible today.
Sherpa Expeditions Manager Tali Emdin explains:
“The Guernsey Occupation, between June 1940 and May 1945, shaped the islands into what they are today. It left a lasting legacy and, to this day, the coastline still bears testament to this time, dotted with well-preserved fortifications built by German soldiers.
History aficionados will find that the island’s heritage, including those five tempestuous years, is depicted in stunning detail through a whole host of museums, which aim to recreate those dark days with gripping exhibits.
The German Military Underground Hospital, the largest construction in the Channel Islands, was built by slave workers during the occupation; the German Occupation Museum features a recreation of an occupation-era street; while La Villette Underground Military Museum is set in a series of tunnels used for U-Boat fuel storage during the occupation”.
If ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ inspires you to discover the unique history of the Channel Islands, activity holiday specialist Sherpa Expeditions can take you there.
>> View all details about Guernsey Islands – The Channel Island Way
>> View all details about Jersey: The Channel Island Way
*Terms & Conditions:
- Book on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way or Jersey: The Channel Island Way walking holidays departing on or before 25 October 2019 and receive a free copy of the international bestselling novel ‘The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Schaffer.
- Bookings must be received before 31 May 2018.
- Only valid for departures on the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way and Jersey: The Channel Island Way trips on or before 25 October 2018.
- The book will be included in your pre-departure information.
- Only valid for bookings made with Sherpa Expeditions directly, not valid for bookings made through third parties.
- Only valid for these specific trips operated by Sherpa Expeditions.
- Offer applies only once per booking, eg. you will receive one (1) copy of the novel per booking.
- Trips and book are subject to availability.
- Booking Terms & Conditions apply.
- Quote code POTATO 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.
To mark the centenary of the beloved James Herriot’s birth, in 2016 we launch a new trip in the Yorkshire Dales: a six-day version of the James Herriot Way. This walking route is considered by many as ‘the best short long-distance walk in the UK’.
The 50-mile circular walk is designed to take in some of the countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales under pseudonym James Herriot, was so fond of. Born in Sunderland in 1916, his books featured stories about animals and their owners and became extremely popular in the 1970s-80s. Even spawning a film adaptation and a long-running television series, ‘All Creatures Great and Small’*.
James Herriot Way NEW FOR 2016
6 days, daily self-guided departures from April to October
This active holiday is an introduction to long-distance walking in Britain. You walk through the Yorkshire Dales, which have often been coined as ‘God’s Own Country’. Here are some reasons why we believe this trail makes for such a special walking holiday:
- A beautiful 50-mile circular walk threading its way around the emerald valleys of Wensleydale, Swaledale and Apedale and over the mountains and moorlands in between
- A bountiful landscape, encompassing sleepy rivers punctuated by jolly cascades and limestone escarpments, fields stocked with sheep and cows
- Take in classic English countryside, with high moors that bristle with heather, sedge, bracken and bilberry
- Discover attractive local villages (small but not sleepy!), bustling with farm and estate workers, tradesmen and walkers
- Stop at the green edged village of Reeth, whose tea shops and pubs reflect the times when lead mining was the key economic drive to the area
- Easily followed paths, often along parts of the longer ‘Pennine Way’ and ‘Coast to Coast’ trails
- Cosy accommodation throughout, including B&Bs, traditional inns, rural guesthouses and small hotels
View the new James Herriot Way trip here for more information and the exact travel period.
*The TV series All Creatures Great and Small is said to be getting a remake by HBO.
Photo of James Herriot, copyright by his son Jim Wight via The Telegraph.
Oscar-winning director Ron Howard’s latest film ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ (released in the UK on 26 December) is expected to put the quaint Canary Island of La Gomera in the spotlight.
Based on the true story of the Essex whaleship, ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ was filmed extensively on location, including the remote Tapahuga beach and the town of Playa de Santiago, with many scenes at sea shot off the island’s south coast.
Easily accessible from Tenerife (the boat trip takes just over an hour), yet largely off the beaten track and unlike its famous neighbour, La Gomera is not moonscape-like but surprisingly lush green. Its deep ‘barrancos’ (gorges) are densely wooded at the top, covered by mountain rainforest and shrouded in cloud and mist.
If you are looking for a relaxed walking itinerary on this beautiful, largely untouched by mass tourism island, European activity holiday specialist Sherpa Expeditions offers a number of trips to La Gomera:
Southern Trails of La Gomera
A trip that concentrates on the southern – and sunnier – part of the island, with nights spent in traditional family-run pensions and small hotels. Highlights include: climb along coastal cliffs to reach the picturesque quaint bay at Playa de la Guanches; take one of the original mule tracks that cross the island, the breathtaking route from Chipude to Valle Gran Rey; follow the short rocky steps (dotted with small cascades along the way!) for spectacular views of the Arure waterfall; and discover a series of beautiful hamlets poised below the Matterhorn-like pyramid of Roque Agando. Find out more.
Exploring La Gomera
From high rocky mountains to misty cloud forests and even exotic banana plantations – if you want the feeling of walking alone with nature then this is the place to be. Relaxed and unsophisticated, La Gomera was Columbus’ last port of call before crossing the Atlantic in 1492. You can walk around the historical centre of capital San Sebastian, go in search of awe-inspiring volcanic chimney stacks of basalt or head towards the highest peak of Alto de Garajonay (1,450m) – from here you can see four other islands on a clear day! Find out more.
We also offer a 15-day itinerary that combines the island of La Gomera with Tenerife. Let yourself be surprised by the natural treasures of the island in the winter months. On our Walking in the Canaries self guided holiday you will explore the third talles volcano in the world, an ancient (UNESCO protected) university town, black sandy beaches and cactus strewn valleys. Find out more.
Image of Ron Howard around the Canary Islands, copyright of ©Jonathan Prime/Warner Bros. Pictures