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… and is located near one of England’s finest long-distance trails, The Cleveland Way
An English village pub has just been announced as the world’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant by TripAdvisor. The Black Swan in Oldstead, close to the start of our The Cleveland Way walking holiday, became number one in the TripAdvisor 2017 Traveller’s Choice awards for best restaurant in the world.
©Black Swan Oldstead
This is truly exciting news for numerous reasons. First of all, the award is won through reviews and opinions from visitors to the restaurant in North Yorkshire, feedback from previous guests is often a good indicator for what you may expect. On top of that, the restaurant actually has a Michelin Star and four AA Rosettes, which backs up their newly acquired status of best restaurant in the world.
As British food sometimes may be frowned upon by international visitors, we are particularly proud of the fact that the restaurant serves British cuisine and that the recognition is from a global poll of millions of reviews gathered over the period of a year. Possibly the home grown produce, often native to the region, and seasonal ingredients combined with the talent of the chef have added to the success.
Last but not least, the fact that the restaurant is just 15 minutes away from the start of our The Cleveland Way walking holiday and on the route to Leeds airport creates a perfect opportunity for an extra night before or after your North Yorkshire walking trip (or even your Coast to Coast holiday).
©Black Swan Oldstead
On their website, the Black Swan states: “For us, it's much more than just Michelin Star food. The focus is all about where we are and who we are - a reflection of "Oldstead" - traditional Yorkshire with a swirling mix of creativity and eccentricity.”
The Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way stretches 110 miles (177km) along coast and moorland and shares a small section of the Coast to Coast walk. The Cleveland Way is the second of the ‘National Trails’, dating from 1969 and is rooted in the North York Moors National Park / Yorkshire Heritage Coast. Find more information on the 12-day The Cleveland Way walking holiday here.
Black Swan, Oldstead, North Yorkshire
More information on the Black Swan and their newly acquired status of best restaurant in the world by TripAdvisor can be found in this article by the BBC.
With so many micro-breweries popping up these days, drinking a pint has been taken to the next level and many flavours and brews are available. From vanilla bourbon and cherries to citrus and chestnut beers, it seems there’s a beer to any taste.
The people around the Mediterranean were far ahead of their time and beer, known as the ‘liquid bread’, was an important part of people’s daily staple back in the day. It took however until 1996 for the island of Corsica to produce their own beer when Armelle & Dominique successfully opened their brewery. This year, at 21 years young, their first brew Pietra has come of age and is now typically found all over the Mediterranean island.
The chestnut beer came about after several years of studying, testing and tasting, which taught the brewers that chestnut has good brewing qualities. Today, the nuts give the beer its beautiful golden colour and distinct taste. Some of the supply must definitely come from around the charming old chestnut town of Evisa on the westside of Corsica.
Besides the offering of beer brewed with chestnuts, Corsica has always been a fascinating land with its 1,000km long coastline and more than 200 beaches that surround a mountainous (86 percent) interior. The Corsican mountains feature 21 summits of over 2,000m, as well as the GR20 (Grande Randonnée 20), the toughest long-distance trail in Europe and part of the European network of long distance trails. Another famous trail on the island is the Mare a Mare, or "Sea to Sea", which crosses the mountains from east to west. The island hosts lots of small festivals throughout the year and with its rich cultural heritage and dense forests is a fantastic walking destination.
Whether you are in search of a personal challenge or looking for an excuse to have an ice-cold ‘Pietra’ (the local beer made of chestnuts), finding a good reason to visit the third biggest island in the Mediterranean shouldn’t be difficult. The 8-day Corsica: Mountains & Sea walking holiday departs until October this year and then again in May.
For more information or booking inquiries, please contact our team of travel experts in London.
Guernsey is well known for its beautiful scenery and fantastic food, so why not join the two together on your next trip to the island?
Since 2015, Guernsey Island hosts the 2-week long Guernsey Food Festival in September. The event aims to support local food and drink producers as well as showcase the island’s wide variety of fresh produce, fabulous restaurants, well-known chefs and local delicacies. A visit to the island at this time of year is the perfect chance to taste all that Guernsey has to offer.
The festival includes plenty of events around the island for all to enjoy, ranging from beer-and-cheese-pairing to chilli-eating competitions. As different events are dotted around the island, it’s the perfect excuse to try Sherpa's great walking itinerary and burn off some of the delicious food.
The first weekend of the festival usually focuses around the Big Guernsey Market, where more than 40 food and drink stalls display the best of Guernsey cuisine along Crown Pier. There are also opportunities to join a boat trip around the oyster beds of Herm to see the island’s delicious delicacy of the Herm and Rocquaine oysters, or if you prefer to stay on solid ground, visit one of the live food shows along the pier and watch top chefs prepare their favourite dishes live on stage.
The Grape, Apple and Grain Festival traditionally takes place over the second weekend of the festival and is when you can enjoy a variety of craft beers, real ales & ciders, and sample a variety of street foods from all over Guernsey, whilst enjoying the live music and entertainment.
Capital St Peter Port offers a range of restaurants where you can have a bite to eat before venturing to one of Guernsey’s treasures: Castle Cornet, guarding Guernsey harbour and with fabulous views of the island and neighbouring Herm and Sark.
On day 3 of our Guernsey walking trip, you hike along more rugged terrain and get close to the coastline to see the largest cave in Guernsey, Le Creux Mahié. Then go up to Les Tielles, a beautiful part of the cliffs with fantastic views, and a great place for a picnic.
Sherpa Expeditions’ walking holiday further takes you around the Bailiwick of Guernsey, following the Channel Island Way. The 110-mile route circles the island in daily stages, usually around 5-6 hours per day. The route takes you from the Guernsey capital, St Peter Port, to Petit Bot Bay, onwards to Perelle Bay and back to St Peter Port where you can then catch a ferry to explore Sark and Herm. There’s also the option of continuing to Alderney to explore the third-largest Channel Island.
- The Guernsey Food Festival is organised by Visit Guernsey and is ‘the greatest food festival ever to arrive on Guernsey’s shores’. It celebrates the island’s culinary side and, as it takes place in September when average temperatures range around 18°C/64°F, is a fantastic time to visit the island.
- Another big Guernsey event takes place annually, which is the Guernsey Heritage Festival - in 2018 from 30 March-10 May. This popular Festival returns for its fifth year and 2018 shines a spotlight on life in the Bailiwick of Guernsey under German rule and the islands’ subsequent liberation from the Occupying forces after WWII.
Text & images courtesy of Visit Guernsey.
5 Regions in Europe to experience the grape harvest and indulge in your favourite wine
With Europe’s grape harvest season coming upon us again in September, we wanted to give you some ideas for walking experiences that will appeal to oenophiles – and which wines you will best enjoy where.
During the grape harvest season in September, weather in southern Europe is generally ideal for walking. On top of that, there is a lot to see on the vineyards when entire villages work together to get the harvest in on time. If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon one of the many local wine festivals taking place this time of year.
Learn more about these five regions in France, Italy and Portugal that are great for walking – and wine tasting – in the late summer.
Loire Valley >>> Sauvignon Blanc
The ever-popular Sauvignon Blanc was one of the very first fine wines to be commercially bottled with a screw cap and the Loire Valley is known to be producing some excellent delicate varietals – especially the Upper Loire areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. With a cool continental climate that slows down the ripening on the vine, the region’s winemaking history dates back to the 1st century!
Explore vineyards, wine estates and chateaux as you walk through the Valley of the Kings on the Vineyard Trails of the Loire – our itinerary is 8 days and takes you from Amboise to Saumur.
Tuscany >>> Chianti
Historically known for its squat bottle wrapped in a straw basket, Chianti just celebrates its 300th anniversary: the area now called ‘Chianti Classico’, between Florence and Siena, was originally designated in July 1716 by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in an attempt to regulate the wine trade. Chianti wine must be produced with at least 80 per cent Italian Sangiovese grapes.
Discover the famous Chianti wine region and more of Tuscany on Foot on an 7-day self guided walking holiday in Italy between April and November.
Burgundy >>> Chardonnay
Burgundy has the highest number of ‘appellations d'origine contrôlée’ in France and Chardonnay, one of the world’s most planted grape varieties, originated here, where it remains the most commonly grown white grape. Its ability to adapt to different weather conditions makes it one of the ‘easiest’ grapes to cultivate and today it has more than 30 clonal varieties in France alone.
Starting in the walled city of Beaune, the region’s wine capital, explore the very best Burgundy Vineyard Trails on an 8-day self guided walking holiday.
Provence >>> Provençal Rosé
One of the most iconic, picturesque regions of France, Provence is also the home of French rosé, which today accounts for more than half of the production of Provençal wine. The main grape variety cultivated here is the darker, thick-skinned Mourvèdre, which in France is found almost exclusively along the southern coast, as it needs a warm, sunny climate to ripen fully.
On the 7-day In Van Gogh’s Footsteps itinerary, enjoy a stroll in Les Alpilles, a small massif standing out as its white peaks rise apparently sheer from the plain of the Rhône valley, its slopes covered in vineyards along with olive and almond trees.
Douro Valley >>> Port
The first demarcated wine region in the world was officially established in 1756 when the Port industry developed. Today it has the country’s highest wine classification as a ‘denominação de origem controlada’, while the Douro ‘vinhateiro’ (winegrowing) area is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The 7-day Douro Rambler takes you deep into small working wine estates of golden terraces laced with vines, offering plenty of opportunities for scenic boat trips on the Douro River, wine tasting tours and visits to the Port lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia in Porto.
For more information on each trip you can download the trip notes. Or for any specific queries you may have, our team of travel experts can be contacted via phone or email.
As the summer progresses, this month guide John looks at fluid intake: but (unfortunately) not wine or beer consumption!
Some people on walking or cycling holidays could have a better experience by drinking more. Dehydration is quite an insidious process, we may not sense that we are going over the line. Especially when you are exerting yourself more than normal or if it is really warm. The latter is what most of us tend to experience on cycling and walking holidays - an environment that we are not really used to on a day to day basis.
Dehydration leads not just to the loss of body fluids but also mineral salts, which can cause coordination and general performance problems as well as thickening of blood plasma. In warm conditions this can ultimately lead to heat exhaustion leading in the worst cases to heatstroke. However, some people find it physically hard drinking enough water, others do not want to carry it as it is heavy - a litre of liquid weighs a kilogram. Others leave their drinks bottle in their rucksack and forget about it until they make a stop.
Until recently rehydration during walking and cycling was at best just finding water, tea, fruit juice or fizzy drinks or at worse consuming rather unpalatable rehydration salts from the local chemists. Today though there are huge advancements that have been spurred on by the progress of science in relation to running and cycling to make things easier.
The bottom line is that your speed of rehydration will be determined by the relative concentration of water, carbohydrate and electrolytes in your drink, as this effects the speed the liquid leaves your stomach and is absorbed into the wall of the small intestine and into the bloodstream. Generally, drinks with more carbohydrate such as fruit juices take longer to absorb than water, but water alone passes through the body too quickly to effect recovery. Because the sugar concentration of most sports drinks is higher than that of most body fluids, they are not readily absorbed into the bloodstream and are not optimal for hydration. So it is probably best to use a mixture of water and either diluted sweet drinks or use electrolyte tablets to provide the best combination of electrolyte replacement and absorption. Likewise, electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium, reduce urine output and the rate at which fluids empty the stomach, promote absorption from the small intestine, and encourage fluid retention.
How to Prevent Dehydration
Luckily there are great products on the market enabling you to keep the balance right on your cycling or walking holiday. Hydration packs in backpack pockets with hoses connected to a mouthpiece mean that you can drink on the go. CamelBak and Platypus come to mind, but there are loads of brands suitable both for walking and cycling. You can also get smaller bottles to clip onto rucksack belts for a few lightweight swigs. It is perhaps worth carrying a tube of electrolyte replacement tablets that you add to 700ml of water. They are much more palatable than diarolyte (rehydration salts) and are readily available at outdoor and cycling shops. Then you can get sachets of post exercise powders usually containing a mixture of carbohydrate and protein to speed the recovery process. This aims to stop people drinking too much water after an activity, resulting in an increased blood plasma and all the salts going into imbalance again!
So don't overdo it, the old adage of 'clear and copious urine output' may not always apply! There have been a few cases of people actually dying of drinking too much water leading to the reverse osmosis in the kidneys. Hopefully your body will tell you when or when not you are needing to drink, perhaps only experience will allow you to recognise the line that you cross to dehydration. The famous UK distance runner Brendan Foster recovered with a nice post-run shandy (beer and lemonade), it never did him any harm…
For more information on the exact needs for your walking or cycling holiday, please get in touch with our team of travel experts in London.
That’s right: World Tapas Day. Thursday 16 June, the third Thursday in June, is when Spain, and the world, recognise tapas dishes.
Tapas are small plates of food like albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce), patatas bravas (fried potato), and chorizo that traditionally are given out in Spanish neighbourhood bars when you order a cava or wine. Spain’s tourism board, Turespana, has designated the third Thursday in June as World Tapas Day to celebrate this tasteful national culinary tradition.
Around Spain, you can join special tapas tours and workshops on World Tapas Day. At Sherpa Expeditions we are a big fan of tapas from the Andalucía region because of the quality Serrano hams and exceptional cheeses. Visit Spain for a walking holiday next month and you can enjoy special tapas tasting menus designed in collaboration with various chefs and restaurants.
Not in Spain on Thursday 16th of June? You can still join the festivities! As tapas is such a popular dish worldwide, Spanish restaurants and societies in the UK, Canada, USA and various places in Europe are paying homage by organising different tapas events.
Feel like celebrating World Tapas Day in the country that invented the dish itself? Here is an overview of our walking and cycling holidays to Spain:
- Self guided walking holidays in Spain
- Self guided cycling holidays in Spain.
Next month, wine aficionados around the world are celebrating 300 years of ‘Chianti Classico’. The area now called ‘Chianti Classico’, between Florence and Siena, was originally designated in July 1716 by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in an attempt to combat counterfeiting on wine production and regulate the wine trade.
To mark the anniversary, we like to list our top wine destinations around Europe for you! From Burgundy to Bordeaux, Alsace to Tuscany, and the Rioja to Douro Valley: discover vine-covered valleys, meet local winemakers, wander through vineyards and of course enjoy wine tasting on your holiday in Europe!
Located in central Italy, Tuscany is home to some of the world’s most notable wine regions, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (primarily made with Sangiovese grape). It is also famous for the dessert wine Vin Santo, as well as a class of wines known in the trade as ‘Super Tuscans’, which are considered of high quality and command high prices. With this year's 300th anniversary of the Chianti Classico, it is one of the top destinations for a wine tasting holiday in Europe.
Want to go on a wine tasting holiday to Tuscany? Discover the Chianti wine region and more on our Tuscany on Foot walking holiday.
Douro Valley, Portugal
This surprisingly unspoilt valley (the Douro River flows through steep channels for around 125 miles across the north of Portugal) is home to the first demarcated wine region in the world. Officially established in 1756 when the Port industry developed, it has the country’s highest wine classification as a denominação de origem controlada. Although associated primarily with Port, it produces just as much table wine (non-fortified wines) as it does fortified wine. Besides the vineyards and grapes, the area offers fantastic scenery along the Douro River, which is perfect to explore on foot.
Want to go on a wine tasting holiday to the Douro Valley? Our Douro Rambler walking holiday takes you deep into small working wine estates of golden terraces laced with vines,
Burgundy has a higher number of appellations d'origine contrôlée than any other French region, which are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more nonspecific regional appellations. The most famous wines here (those commonly referred to as ‘Burgundies’) are dry red wines from Pinot Noir grapes and white wines made from Chardonnay grapes, with small amounts of rosé and sparkling wines also produced. You can start a wine walking holiday in the walled city of Beaune, the region'sl wine capital.
Want to go on a wine tasting holiday to Burgundy? Explore the very best of the region on our Burgundy Vineyard Trails walking holiday.
Wachau Valley, Austria
The Wachau Valley in Lower Austria, located midway between the towns of Melk and Krems, attracts “connoisseurs and epicureans” for its high-quality wines. The 3,300-acre wine region is a source of Austria’s most prized dry Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners. Traditionally the vines are planted on the steep stony slopes next to the Danube, with the temperature variation between day and night playing a significant role in the process of the grapes ripening.
Rioja is made from grapes grown in three regions in northern Spain (the Autonomous Community of La Rioja but also in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava), with many wines traditionally blending fruit from all three regions. La Rioja has a total of 57,000 hectares cultivated, yielding 250 million litres of wine annually, of which 85% is ‘tinto’ (red). A distinct characteristic of Rioja wine is the effect of oak aging.
The geography of the wine growing area in Alsace is determined by the Vosges Mountains in the west and the Rhine River in the east, with the vineyards concentrated in a narrow strip on the lower eastern slopes of the Vosges. Wine here is all about aromas, with Pinot d’Alsace widely considered as one of the most uniquely flavoured white wines in the world. An abundance of cellar doors awaits for you on this walking and wine trip, while the local cuisine includes specialties such as tarte flambé. The best vineyards of France have long been associated with the Haut-Rhin, in the southern part of the Alsace region.
Want to go on a wine tasting holiday in the Alscae? Visit the best vineyards on our Alsace Vineyard Trails 7-day walking holiday.
With a total vineyard area of over 120,000 hectares, Bordeaux is the largest wine growing area in France. There are 54 appellations of Bordeaux wine, ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. Average vintages produce over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine, 89% of which is red (also known as ‘claret’ in Britain).
Want to go on a wine tasting holiday in the Bordeaux? One of the options you have is to embard on this easy-going, on-road circuit tour through The Vineyards of Bordeaux.
For more information on wine tasting holidays in Europe and for booking requests please contact our team of travel experts in our London offices who will be delighted to help you more.