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Travellers' Tales: The Great Glen Way with Becky Witt

 
Becky Witt from Colorado walked Scotland's Great Glen Way in May this year. She shared the story of her walk with us, including a rather surprising method of permanently marking her achievement!
 

What is your walking history? 

I am from Colorado and love hiking in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. I also enjoy walking in my suburban neighborhood. I have done one long-distance hike several years ago on the Colorado Trail. The hike was a guided hike which consisted of ascending and descending mountain passes for six days which was about 90 miles. We camped at the end of each day and I had to carry a day-pack. Our tent/luggage was transported for us. 
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

My hairstylist walked The Great Glen Way a couple of years ago and loved the walk. She told me about how beautiful the highlands are, the flavourful food and the friendly Scots. Also, she said if I didn’t find anyone to walk it with me, then she would. This didn’t make sense  to me because there are so many countries to explore. But now, I get it. I, too, would walk it again!
 
 
Becky Witt and her travelling companion on the Great Glen Way
 

How did you prepare?

I started physically preparing for the hike five months in advance. I started walking about four miles a day, five days a week. I did one long walk on the weekend. I started at four miles and worked up to 14 miles, which was about two weeks before the walk. I started upper body weights five months in advance, once a week. On occasion I missed daily walks, the long weekly walk and lifting weights. I also started carrying my backpack on my last four long walks. I felt physically prepared for the walk and I was able to complete each day, feeling tired, but not exhausted. I did not have any blisters or injuries during the walk. At the end of each day, I did stretch. Mentally, I prepared by reading literature on The Great Glen Way, listening to podcasts about travel in Scotland and watching a couple of documentaries on Scotland. 
 
 
Becky Witt on the Great Glen Way
 

What was your favorite destination?

Truly, I had several favourite destinations. I loved walking in the big northern woods. The elms, oaks, maples and pines were majestic. I loved walking through the meadows seeing sheep and so many wildflowers blooming: foxgloves, thistles, bluebells, broom, gorse and poppies were a feast for the eyes. Also, there are so many unbelievable waterfalls and all different types of bridges. Of course, coming into Inverness and seeing the end trail marker was bittersweet, but a favourite.
 
 
The Great Glen Way
 
 
Great Glen Way waterfall
 
 

Best food & drink?

I had a variety of fish twice a day and sometimes three times a day. Whether it was salmon, haddock, or herring, and whether it was smoked, poached, fried or fresh, it was delicious. The salmon was so flavourful, creamy and rich tasting. I never tired of eating fish. Cullen Skink chowder was phenomenal. Also, I had the sticky toffee pudding close to every night, which was amazingly rich and sweet. 

I was not a Scotch drinker before I went, and actually did not like it at all. We went to the Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William, where The Great Glen Way begins, and I learned how to drink it with one to two drops of water in the Scotch. I can now say, I like Scotch.

Also, every morning we asked our hosts to fill our thermos with hot tea and then we added Ben Nevis whisky honey, and that tasted wonderful during our mid-morning break!
 
 
Kippers on the Great Glen Way
 
 

Biggest surprise?

I had a couple of surprises. First, I had no idea how much self-care long distance walking gave me. I did not have headphones in for the walk and I was not on my phone at night. I truly was present in each and every moment. I read Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfections every night which gave me food for thought the next day. I had time to self-reflect about my career, family, friends and future travel for my wanderlust! I definitely had some insights which led to personal intentions.  

The second surprise was that you can walk in Scottish rain. It did rain most days, but a gentle rain and not for long. We were able to do whatever that day’s walk held in the rain and we did not get one midgie bite!
 
 
Walking in the rain on the Great Glen Way

Another surprise was that I tried haggis, kippers with eggs, bircher muesli and Scotch and that I loved them all. I wasn’t brave enough to try blood pudding - perhaps next time!

The last surprise was getting The Great Glen Way trail marker tattoo on my forearm!
 
 
Great Glen Way tattoo
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The day we were walking into Spean Bridge during a heavy downpour, we missed the path and ended up walking on the paved road, which was a challenge. We did not read our route notes carefully the night before and took a wrong turn. We looked at the route notes later that night and yes, there it was very clearly spelled out, how to take the path and not the road. So, definitely read the route notes every night!
 
 
The end of the Great Glen Way
 
 
 

Coast to Coast Guided Walk in Pictures

In June 2019 we took a lovely bunch of people on a Guided Coast to Coast walk. The weather was pretty soggy during the first week, but the walkers' spirits were definitely not dampened! They hung on in there with no complaining, and were rewarded with some much brighter weather for the second half of the walk, before they finally made it to the beach at Robin Hood's Bay.
 
Here are a few photos from the walk. If you're inspired to join a guided Coast to Coast walk, or you fancy taking it on as self-guided trip, click here.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Every journey has its first step! The group at the start of the walk in St Bees.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Climbing the steps from Fleswick Bay, with the sun shining!
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Ennerdale Water - rough walking and choppy waters.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
The hard descent from Greenup Edge - especially in wet weather. Care is needed!
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
The group preparing to start off from Glenriding - laden with cooked breakfasts, thermos flasks and biscuits.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
The long, steep ascent towards the High Street junction to Kidsty Pike, the highest point on the Coast to Coast, with heads down against the wind!
 
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Resting down by Hawes Water after the long descent from Kidsty Pike - and the sun had come out!
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Millstone cairn descending into upper Swaledale.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
East Gill Force, Keld.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Starting the day from Keld at East Gill Force.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Beautiful Swaledale from near Crackpot Hall, Keld.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Single file please! Walking across the beautiful pastures near Muker, on the low-level route to Reeth.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
A traditional 'Laithe' stone, winter-feed hay barn - which often also served to house a couple of cows over winter.
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
The group commencing the traverse of the Cleveland Hills.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Ascending Live Moor - with some bits of heather already out.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Outside a shooters' hut near Great Fryupdale.
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
Reaching the coast again - just 3.5 miles to go until Robin Hood's Bay!
 
 
Guided Coast to Coast Walk
And they made it! On the beach at Robin Hood's Bay, and the end of another fantastic guided Coast to Coast walk with Sherpa Expeditions.
 
If you're inspired to join a guided Coast to Coast walk, or you fancy taking it on as self-guided trip, click here.
 
 
 
 

Traveller's Tale: The Coast to Coast with Cora Nelson

Cora Nelson from Montana in the USA is an experienced walker, and has enjoyed several tours in the UK over recent years. In May 2019 she decided to take on the Coast to Coast, and shared the story of her walk with us.
 

What is your walking history?

My love of walking developed later in life. I took my Girl Scout troop to the scout house called ‘Our Chalet’ in Switzerland just over a dozen years ago and while the girls wanted a day to rest, I joined a group of Norwegian scouts for a mountain hike. Coming from the flatlands of mid-western USA I wasn’t confident that I could manage, but the leader was welcoming and encouraging, so off I went. I loved it! It was hard work, but so worth every step. And, I was hooked! Next came walking the West Highland Way of Scotland, then some moseying in southern England. Recently I joined a group for guided walks along the west coast of Wales and a week of fell walking in the Lake District. At my ex-pat home in Montana I belong to a women’s hiking group and we head for the mountains hiking, snowshoeing or skiing year-round.
 
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

I was intrigued with the idea of walking across a country. I’m fond of England so Wainwright’s Coast to Coast was the perfect choice. The diversity of scenery in the UK is amazing!
 
 

How did you prepare?

With my former long-distance walks, I often arrived at my accommodation at night absolutely worn out. Thankfully a good night’s sleep would put things right again. This time I was determined to arrive knowing that I still had more to give. (Only twice did I feel ‘finished off’ at the end of our days.) My commitment to weekly mountain hiking really helped to build my endurance. I also worked out at a gym three times per week - without fail. I worked with a personal trainer who knew of my long-distance walking plan and he developed routines that increased my general fitness. I was in the best shape of my life for this walk and all of the preparation was well worth it.
 
 

What was your favourite destination?

It’s so hard to choose a favourite destination along this walk! Of course, St. Bees was a highlight as arriving there after all of our planning meant that our grand adventure was about to begin. One of my favourite lunch spots was en-route from Grasmere to Patterdale. We were making good time and noticed a large group of students coming up the trail toward us so we decided to step aside and have lunch. I had so hoped for good weather for reaching and viewing the Nine Standards and our good fortune with good weather allowed for this. My three walking buddies and I had built three ‘rest’ days into our itinerary and we enjoyed relaxing in Grasmere, Keld and Osmotherley. And, I loved arriving early in the afternoon at The White Lion at Blakey Ridge and having the afternoon to enjoy such luxury!
 
 

Best food and drink?

I was impressed with our food along the entire walk. Our hearty breakfasts provided the nutrition we needed to fuel our days. We relied on pub food in the evenings and were always pleased with the offerings. On the evening that we arrived in Rosthwaite, after walking the high route of Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Haystacks, and then over Honister Pass, we were ready for a good meal and the dinner at The Riverside Bar far exceeded our hopes. We fell for most of the honesty stands we passed and a favourite among those was the stand at Sunbiggin Tarn, which offered chocolate chip gingerbread and tea...so tasty! We’d read in our guide book that the Littlebeck Methodist Church offered tea and coffee, and as we arrived we decided to take a break to enjoy that. We went in the back door and were greeted by a small group of men who were just as surprised to see us as we were to see them! It turned out that we were there on their ‘Men’s Shed’ day, when several men of the local community gathered in the back of the church for woodworking, dominoes and visiting. They welcomed us and quickly offered cuppas and biscuits from their own supply...a charming memory that will have a place in my scrapbook.
 
 
 

Biggest surprise?

On a mutual friend’s advice, we included a rest day in the village of Keld. Some folks questioned us, saying that Keld is tiny and without much to do, but this is exactly what made it sound perfect for a rest day. We’d learned after spending our rest day in Grasmere walking all through the village that what we really wanted to do on a rest day was rest! And, so we did. I spent the morning reading in the cosy and welcoming lounge of Keld Lodge, our accommodation. In the afternoon I visited the village museum and went for a leisurely two-mile stroll along the River Swale to see the many waterfalls Keld is known for. When the next day arrived, we were refreshed and ready to resume our trek.
 
 
 
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

I’d definitely say the route down from High Crag! We’d walked the high route peaks and only when we arrived at the peak of High Crag did, I realize that I hadn’t read a single word about how one descends from this peak. I looked around and with a sense of dread, peered over the edge where the path seemed most likely to be. Sure enough, there it was...a series of steep and narrow steps leading a long way down. I avoid this type of hiking situation and wondered just where the rescue helicopter might be! That, of course, wasn’t a reasonable solution so I gingerly began the descent, oh so slowly, focusing on each step. I didn’t look up at how far I’d come and I certainly didn’t look down at the remaining descent. Step by step I finally reached level ground and with a wave of relief realized that I can do this type of hiking...which was good to learn as more steep descents lay ahead...all of which I tackled with my new-found confidence.
 


If you're interested in walking the Coast to Coast, have a look at our guided and self guided options here.
 
 

Walking in Yorkshire: The Best Trips to Experience ‘God’s Own County’

 
There are few counties in England with as much history, natural beauty and sheer romance as Yorkshire. The county, the largest in the UK, includes the National Parks of the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, and offers some of the most rewarding walking to be found anywhere in the UK.

Whether you’re a resident of the UK looking to explore this famous region of your own country, or a visitor from overseas after a taste of true English countryside, Yorkshire has it all. Dramatic, windswept moorland, dramatic North Sea coastlines, rolling hills and picturesque villages are all on offer when you visit the region that’s so special, it’s known as ‘God’s Own Country’.

Here we take a look at some of the best walks for discovering Yorkshire.
 
 

The Dales Way

There’s no doubt about it – the Yorkshire dales are downright beautiful. Ask many people to paint a picture of the quintessential English countryside, and they’ll present you with a scene of the Yorkshire Dales. Soft rolling hills, limestone edges, green valleys, waterfalls, Roman roads, interesting old churches, an abbey and some lovely pubs all feature here - as well as villages proud of their heritage.

 

The Dales Way runs for 78 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria. We offer both 8-day and 10-day self-guided itineraries.

 
 
 

 

The Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way was the second of the UK’s National Trails to be established, in 1969. What makes it so special is the contrast between the stretches along the hilly Yorkshire coastline, and the inland stages across the rolling moors. Along the Cleveland Way you’ll experience walking across field-quilted farmlands, forests, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, bleak moorlands and the rugged coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs.

The Cleveland Way is offered as a 12-day self-guided itinerary.
 
 
 
 

 

Castle to Castle: The Richmond Way

The Richmond Way starts at Lancaster Castle, and finishes 69 miles later at Richmond Castle – visiting Bolton Castle along the way. As such, it is a walk that’s rich in fascinating history – the ancient trading routes that the route follows have existed at least since Roman times. It is a beautiful walk, visiting riverside footpaths, pretty little villages and the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, whilst offering stunning views over the Wensleydale and Swaledale valleys.

 
The Richmond Way is an 8-day, self-guided trip.
 
 
 
 
 

James Herriot Way

This 50 mile, circular walk, has been designed to take in some of the countryside beloved by James Alfred Wright, who, under the name of James Herriot, wrote a series of books about his life as a vet. The books were turned into a hugely popular BBC TV series – All Creatures Great and Small. As well passing through some of the finest villages and countryside that Yorkshire has to offer, the walk is a little shorter than some of the others in Yorkshire, and therefore slightly more manageable if walking for 8 days or more is a challenge.

The James Herriot Way is a 6-day self-guided trip.
 






You can also try these classic walks that include long stretches within Yorkshire, as well as other counties:
 

The Coast to Coast

The iconic Coast to Coast starts in Cumbria, and then heads through the Yorkshire Dales, and on to the North York Moors National Park, where it finishes on the coast at Robin Hood’s Bay. Find out more here.
 

The Pennine Way

The UK’s first, and longest National Trail, passes through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales on its way from Derbyshire to the Scottish Borders. Find out more here.
 
 

Autumn Foliage in Europe

The Americans call it leaf peeping,  the Japanese call it momiji gari. But if you're looking to be inspired by the shades of autumn foliage, you don't need to travel all the way to New England or the Far East – Sherpa Expeditions have a number of trips where you can experience the splendour of the changing leaves in Europe.

 

PORTUGAL | Douro RAMBLER

Surround yourself with colour as autumn transforms the photogenic Douro River Valley, which slices across northern Portugal. As the terraced vineyards that slope along the riverbanks prepare for winter, they turn into an endless sea of red, orange and yellow. From visiting small working wine estates to taking scenic boat trips, there will be plenty of opportunities for wine tasting tours, where you can fortify yourself against the autumn chill with a glass of the region’s famed local port. 

 

Departure dates until 15 October - click here for details and booking.

 

Portugal in early Autumn

 

 

SPAIN | hiking in hidden Andalucía

The weather in Andalucía’s mountains can be harsh in the summer and winter months – but visit in autumn for beautiful gold and yellow colours of chestnuts and poplars lighting up the valleys, while the hedgerows and paths are lined with figs, mulberries, walnuts and pomegranates. With the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, this is an exhilarating walk among terraced fields and through white-washed villages and along irrigation channels that date back to the Moorish era. 

 

Departure dates until 20 November - click here for details and booking.

 

Autumn chestnuts in Spain

 

 

GERMANY | Bavaria - King Ludwig's Way

Saturated with alpine flowers in spring and crowded with tourists in summer, southern Germany offers more relaxed tempos for leaf-peeping during the autumn months. Home to the idyllic Romantic Road, this is fairy-tale country, with geranium-bedecked chalets, onion-shaped church spires and copper-turreted castles rising out of red and green forests – including the enchanting Neuschwanstein Castle, the eccentric King Ludwig’s most famous architectural masterpiece.

 

Departure dates until 22 October - click here for details and booking.

 

Bavaria in Autumn

 

 

AUSTRIA | The Lake District and Dachstein Alps

Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area – there is nowhere better to experience autumn unfold in Austria than the heart of the Lake District, which encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier and breathtaking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through ochre mountain forests, explore glimmering lakeland shores and visit alpine villages of wooden chalets. 

 

Departure dates until 20 October - click here for details and booking.

 

Austria in autumn

 

 

UK | Exploring the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a range of gentle hills extending northeast of the city of Bath, through Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon - the ‘Heart of England’. The Cotswold landscape is an entrancing mixture of parkland, cultivated fields with dry-stone walls and patches of unspoilt woodland. In autumn the trees turn into a beautiful myriad of colours - there is nowhere better to experience the splendour of the English countryside as summer slowly fades away. Our walking tours of the Cotswolds are available as 5-day or 8-day self-guided trips.
 
Departure dates until 20 October - click here for details and booking.
 
 
 

The Best Trips for Solo Travellers

 

If you’re someone who likes to travel solo, but without walking on your own, you may have tried an escorted tour in the past. After all, it’s a great way to ensure that you’ve got a group of people to walk with, especially if you’re not so keen on navigating on your own. But what do you do if you didn’t like the pace, or even the company? Maybe there was not enough time to take photos, or to visit that rather interesting pub on the way? Are you walking alone to get away from people, to clear your mind? Or are you hoping to meet new friends and see where the path takes you? In this article we take a look at a selection of trips, at different ability levels, that might make good choices for solo walkers.

 

So what is the difference between solo walking and going with friends or family? Well, for a start there is no one to argue with over directions or to where to stop for a break... you can literally take that all in your stride! A very important aspect is solo safety: if you were to have an accident, would phone reception be enough to raise the alarm or would there be people on the trail to help? It’s important that solo walkers think about such matters, have a fully charged phone and perhaps a fully-charged portable battery recharger. Carry a small first aid kit and a lightweight survival bag, and make sure you have a map and compass, a torch (plus spare batteries), extra water and emergency snack supplies. 

 

Less Challenging Trips

If you’re starting down this road, there is no better place to look at than Hadrian's Wall in Northern England, starting at Wallsend near Newcastle. There is a day of urban walking before you burst out across the countryside, essentially following a linear feature, the famous Roman wall. Although this no longer stretches all the way as an intact wall, the clues are often in the landscape, and just to help out you will have little white National Trail acorn waymarks to guide you. There are usually quite a number of people on the trail each day, particularly on the popular central section of the walk, which covers a couple of days. 

 

Walking the Hadrian's Wall Path

 

A bit quieter, but covering a similar theme with the National Trail white acorns to show you the way, are both the South Downs Way and Dales Way, which both represent relatively easy challenges. Some care is needed with navigation, as these twist and turn a bit, and you need to follow the map carefully to be prepared for a junction. The Dales Way is the harder of the two - as you cross the Pennines you have a greater chance of bad weather, which can mean low visibility. There is a bit of route-finding across fields in places, and although well waymarked, it only takes one to be missing for you to have to consider where you are going. 

 

Walking the Dales Way

 

If you’re looking for a similar trip in Europe you could consider something like the Alsace Vineyard Trail in France or King Ludwig's Way in Bavaria, Germany. Both are largely waymarked routes - the French long distance paths the, known as GRs, have red and white flash markings which are usually clear in dim forest light, although not all our trips continuously follow such waymarks. A couple of good trips for solo walkers in southern France are The Way of St. James, or the Robert Louis Stevenson Walk in the Cevennes. There are some long days but you are generally following drove roads and mule paths with good waymarking. 

 

Walking King Ludwig's Way

 

Stevenson's Trail in the Cevennes

 

Another good concept for a solo traveller is a centre-based holiday in Switzerland - Sherpa has one based in Meiringen. There are several walks you can choose, so you can do shorter or longer options, and there are a lot of public transport possibilities in general. Something else in its favour is that Swiss walks are generally very clearly waymarked and signposted at most junctions.  

 

Walking solo in the Swiss Alps

 

Moderate Challenges

Harder up the scale for solo walkers in terms of navigation are trails with some wild terrain and maybe fewer, or no waymarks. In the UK there’s the short but beautiful James Herriot Way, celebrating the life and times of the famous British vet, whose books inspired the much-loved TV series All Creatures Great and Small. This walk climbs and drops into the great dales of the Pennines, and may require some careful navigation in bad weather. But if solitude is what you’re after you’ll definitely find it! The Troodos and Akamas tours in Cyprus have few waymarks, but generally follow dirt roads and quiet, surfaced lanes. This is definitely one for the walker seeking solitude, as apart from a couple of trails in the Akamas, it is unlikely you will see many another walkers.

 

The James Herriot Way

 

Cyprus

 

Harder Challenges

Harder tours present more of a challenge for solos as they are more remote. We can suggest the Tour du Mont Blanc and The Alpine Pass Route - both are well waymarked, have various variants you can follow, and, especially on the Tour du Mont Blanc, you will always find people walking, running or mountain biking. In the UK the Coast to Coast also stands out, with quite a number of people on the trail every day, although you may also find yourself alone for some long sections. If you’re really looking for a decent amount of time on your own, you could consider the Pennine Way for the ultimate challenge, with long, deserted moorland sections on a walk covering 270 miles!    

 

The UK Coast to Coast Walk

 

The Pennine Way

 

But what about solo traveller supplements, we hear you ask? Well, it is true that we have to add a supplement to the cost of your holiday if you’re travelling alone. This is mainly due to the cost of luggage transfers for just one bag. However, we try to keep the solo supplement as low as we possibly can, as we do not want to create any barriers for those wishing to travel alone.

 

 

10 of The Best Long-Distance Walks in the UK

In the UK a trail is often considered ‘long distance’ when it is at least 30 miles (48km) long. However, we like to stretch this a little and will look in this article at those paths that are over 70 miles or about 100km. Spread throughout all corners of Britain, you can find a diverse range of long-distance walks. 

 

A long-distance path in the UK is traditionally waymarked but won’t necessarily follow established footpaths and as such, walkers will often find themselves traversing pastures, fells, river shores or beaches. It's exactly that why we love some of our walks so much.

 

At the same time, going on a long-distance walk allows you to really travel deep inside a region and experience the real character and spirit away from outside borders.

 

Inspired by iconic figures, historical boundaries or geographical regions, read on for some of the UK’s best long distance walks.

 

Coast to Coast Walk

 

 

Entire Length: 309 km / 192 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: late spring until early autumn

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

One of Britain’s classic walking routes, the Coast to Coast, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the English Lake District. Walk this trail for the feeling of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, and to explore the national parks of the Lake District, Pennines and North York Moors.

 

“High points were the challenge, the people we met, sense of achievement and hospitality. Keep up the good work.”F. O’Sullivan from Paynesville, Australia

 

Channel Island Way

 

 

Entire Length: 177 km / 110 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: walk the Channel Island Way between April and late October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Each of the eight Channel Islands have their own separate character, and in terms of scenery resemble some of Cornwall’s nicest features. This long distance walk along the isles to the south of England takes you island hopping to see well preserved WWII fortifications, rugged cliffs, quiet villages and a fantastic range of pubs.

 

John Muir Way

 

 

Entire Length: 215 km / 134 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: between April and early October is the best time to undertake this British long distance walk

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

The John Muir Way is a route that symbolically links Dunbar (John's hometown) with Scotland’s first national park (Loch Lomond) and the Trossachs with Helensburgh (from where John and his family departed for the USA) in the west. Both towns are located by the sea and as such the trail is known as the Scottish Coast to Coast. Along the way, you are rewarded by views over Ben Lomond, an exploration of Edinburgh, and lots of historical features. There are many highlights on the John Muir Way - read about 10 interesting sites.

 

Hadrian’s Wall Trail

 

follow Hadrian's Wall Path in England - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Entire Length: 133 km / 83 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: the climate of Northern England is renowned for being unpredictable, but the best time of year to walk Hadrian’s Wall Trail is between April and early October, with June being the sunniest month

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

A reason for hikers to choose to walk Hadrian’s Wall is the rich Roman history along the way, as it’s not just the wall itself that you will see, but also remains of important Roman forts and good museums. This walk brings you scenic variety that stretches from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle and from the barren heights in Northumberland to the lime green pastoral scenes of Eden Valley.

 

“Great experience but hard work. However, the feeling of ‘we did it’, made it all worthwhile!” – M. Murphy from Tewantin, Australia

 

Rob Roy Way

 

long distance walks uk Rob Roy Way

 

Entire Length: 124 km / 77 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: for a long distance walk in Scotland like this, travel in the UK's spring and summer - between April and October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

The Rob Roy (MacGregor) Way takes hikers through areas where the notorious cattleman & outlaw used to reside, and on routes where his family drove their cattle towards market towns. This long distance trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of a Scottish legend while taking in highland scenery, famous lochs, and pretty Victorian villages.

 

Great Glen Way

 

walking the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 117 km / 73 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: walk this long distance trail between April and October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

The Great Glen Way long distance trail was opened in April 2002 and passes the foot of the UK’s highest mountain (Ben Nevis), follows the shores of Loch Ness (will you spot Nessie?), and crosses the Scottish Highlands. The forts and castles scattered along the way are witness to Scotland’s turbulent past.

 

“This was our first multi-day walk so we were a little apprehensive but we had a fantastic time and will definitely be doing more in the future.” - J. Taylor, Bolton, UK

 

South Downs Way

 
 
 

Entire Length: 161 km / 100 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: as the south of England is one of the sunniest places in all of the UK, you can enjoy the South Downs Way from as early as mid-March and until the end of October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Most of the route of the South Downs Way is ancient, made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of the region. On the way ‘Dew Ponds’, ring forts, cross dykes and tumuli reflect a history stretching back into the mists of time. What better way to take in the rolling landscapes and areas of outstanding natural beauty of Southern England than on foot?

 

“A wonderful range of terrain & experiences. Lovely scenery. Gorgeous villages full of history. We loved it! Terrific walking - challenging & interesting. Thank you for a great holiday. We'll be back.” – M. O'Rourke, Auckland, NZ

 

South West Coastal Path

 

walk the South West Coastal Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 579 km / 360 miles
Country: England
Best time to go: late March until the end of October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Cornwall is very much a holiday county with beaches, famous Cornish pasties, pirates, shipwrecks and the roaring sea. It has been voted Britain’s favourite holiday region for many good reasons. By following on foot one of the UK’s longest walks, you can let yourself be surprised by the tropical scenery.

“Loved how the walking tour created a more intimate connection with the towns, people, area & community. High points: scenery of coastal Cornwall and The Tinners Arms - loved it! Would have liked to have another day included at the end of the tour to get to St Michael's Mount.” – R. Masters, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, USA

 

Offa’s Dyke Path

 

Offa's Dyke - walking in the UK - Sherpa expeditions

 

Entire Length: 285 km / 177 miles
Country: Wales
Best time to go: the best time to walk Offa’s Dyke Path is between April and September

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Offa’s Dyke Path takes you through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats. Add to that historic castles and abbeys and you have yourself a fantastic introduction to Wales.

 

West Highland Way

 

walk historical west highland way with sherpa expeditions

 

Entire Length: 155 km / 96 miles
Country: Scotland
Best time to go: from late March until the beginning of October

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 

Embark on a hike on the West Highland Way and you step back into history - most of the stages follow the famous droving and military roads that linked the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands. Many of the hotels you find today have originated from the droving inns that have operated for centuries. On this long distance trail you’ll also walk to the foot of Ben Nevis and past the shores of the UK’s largest lake, Loch Lomond.

 

And a bonus 11th long-distance walk - The Pennine Way

 

Entire Length: 268 miles / 429km
Country: England
Best time to go: late spring to early Autumn

 

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

 
 
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first British National Trail on April 24th 1965. It stretches from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, through the Cheviots and down into Scotland. It is iconic because it was the product of the post First World War mass trespass movement of often working class walkers with a socialist outlook.

 

 

We hope your bucket list hasn’t grown too much after reading about these favourite long-distance walks. If you'd like our support planning your walk, choosing the best hike for you, or have any other queries, please feel free to contact our team in London directly. 

St George's Day - Six Trips to Take in the Best of the English Countryside

As we approach St George’s Day on 23 April, it’s time to roll up your trousers and get out and about to explore England’s most beautiful corners.

 

For a small country, England offers a huge amount of variety when it comes to walking and cycling. Mountains, great lakes, dramatic coastlines and picture-perfect villages are all on offer as you choose your ideal way to explore the countryside.

 

Here are a just a few of our favourite holidays in England, now booking for 2019.


Coast to Coast Classic Walk

Described by Alfred Wainwright as “one of the world’s great walks”, the iconic Coast to Coast is widely considered nowadays as the most classic of all UK long distance trails. Nearly 200 miles and traversing three National Parks, this is the quintessential English hill-walking and long-distance trail experience. Typically taking two weeks to complete, the walk starts near the red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head in Cumbria, and finishes at the fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the North York Moors coast.

 

We offer self-guided and guided Coast to Coast trips, with itineraries lasting 15, 16, 17 and 18 days, as well as shorter sections of the trail, and the Cyclist’s Coast to Coast.

 

UK Coast to Coast

 

UK Coast to Coast

 


Cornish Cycle Tour 

Known for its beaches, pirates and Cornish pasties, Cornwall is very much a holiday county, enjoying the mildest climate in the UK. From Padstow to Land’s End through Lizard Point, the southernmost point on mainland Great Britain, this cycling journey takes you through a patchwork of landscapes, from inland heaths and downs to tumbling coastlines and sheltered coves. The daily rides are not that long, allowing plenty of time to see Cornwall the way you want to!

 

We also offer several self-guided walking holidays along the Cornish coast.

 

Cornish Cycle Tour

 

Cornish Cycle Tour


Castle to Castle: The Richmond Way 

There is no dedicated way-marking throughout this route but that is part of its appeal. Covering 69 miles, The Richmond Way is a picturesque, yet unofficial, long distance trail along ancient trading routes that crossed the Pennines. From the medieval Lancaster Castle, passing through quaint villages, the trail traces the Lower Lune Valley before entering the Georgian town of Richmond, ending below the keep of Richmond Castle, one of the greatest Norman fortresses to be found in Britain.

 

Find out more about walking the Richmond Way 

 

Richmond Way

 

Richmond Way


Dorset & Wessex Trails 

From Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy, Dorset has inspired generations of authors. Crossing unspoilt rural villages, this trip follows the coast as it stretches eastwards, along fossil-encrusted cliffs and the famed Golden Gap, a 190-metre headland of orange sandstone. Explore a timeless landscape of hidden valleys and hill forts before dropping down to the beautifully preserved village of Abbotsbury, which does not even have street lighting!

 

Find out more about walking our Dorset & Wessex Trail.

 

Dorset & Wessex Trails

 

Dorset & Wessex Trail


Hadrian’s Wall Trail

A British icon protected by UNESCO since 1987, Hadrian’s Wall today stands as the largest remaining artefact from Roman times anywhere in the world. A must-see for history aficionados, it can also be followed on foot along the adjoining 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path, taking hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, from Whitley Bay in the east to Carlisle in the west. The undulating, well-waymarked walk follows the ancient Roman Wall – with a largely a rural feel!

 

We offer 8-day and 10-day itineraries along the Hadrian’s Wall Trail.

 

Hadrian's Wall

 

Hadrian's Wall

 


Isle of Wight Cycle

Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the island, and let your holiday begin! Ideal 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; and taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line.

 

Find out more about our Isle of Wight Cycle trip. We also offer a coastal walking tour of the island.

 

The Isle of Wight

 

Isle of Wight

 

 

The National Parks at 70

 

With 2019 marking 70 years since the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, the recently revamped ‘Discover National Parks Fortnight’ – as promoted by National Parks UK – offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and discover the length and breadth of Britain’s  countryside.

 

Here are some of our favourite walks in the UK’s magnificent National Parks.

 

SOUTH DOWNS 

National Parks UK says “A real haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Get inspired by the rolling hills, dramatic cliffs and picturesque villages found throughout the National Park.”

 

Exactly 100 miles of downland walking separate the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and Winchester, the former Saxon Capital of Wessex and England. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in crowded southern UK, this ancient route follows the chalk ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.

 

Find out more about walking the South Downs Way

 

south downs way

Photo: Joseph Pearson

 

YORKSHIRE DALES

National Parks UK says “The majestic rolling hills, old stone villages and farming heritage of the Yorkshire Dales truly showcase the best of the British countryside.”

 

A circular walk that threads its way around the valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale and over the mountains and moorlands between these two emerald dales. The 50-mile route has been designed to take in some of the beloved countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot, was so fond of.

 

Find out more about walking the James Herriot Way

 

James Herriot Way

 

 

LAKE DISTRICT

National Parks UK says “Rugged yet beautiful. An awe-inspiring landscape of high fells, deep glacial lakes and quaint rural villages.”

 

Celebrated by the poetry of Wordsworth and the stories of Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, the Lake District is the first National Park in the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. In between quaint market towns, the trail leads past the peaceful depths of Coniston Water and Derwentwater lakes, as well as the superb Tarn Hows, set in picturesque wooded hills.

 

Find out more about walking the Cumbria Way

 

The Lake Dsitrict

 

 

NORTHUMBERLAND

National Parks UK says “The perfect place to get away from it all. Fascinating ancient monuments, tranquil rolling moorland and the beautiful uplands of The Cheviot Hills”

 

Reflecting the life of the 7th century monk, the St Cuthbert’s Way takes you to the northernmost national park in England. Set between the Scottish borders in the north to just south of Hadrian's Wall, it is one of the least visited and least populated of the UK’s National Parks. It is home to England’s cleanest rivers and clearest air, as well as Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.

 

Find out more about walking St Cuthbert’s Way

 

 

 

LOCH LOMOND & THE TROSSACHS

National Parks UK says “One of Scotland’s most-loved landscapes. Home to the largest lake in the UK, multiple stunning lochs, extensive forests and dramatic mountain ranges.”

 

John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, on the southeast coast of Scotland, and as a child developed a deep love of the natural world around his home. The John Muir Way is a path that symbolically links Dunbar with Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the seaside town of Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast-to-coast route. 

 

Find out more about walking the John Muir Way

 

 

Alternatively, you can take in the beauty of the North York Moors National Park on walks such as The Cleveland Way (one of the UK’s earliest official National Trails), the iconic Coast to Coast and The Pennine Way, a new addition for 2019.


 

Seven of the Best Lakeside Trips for 2019

Lakeside Trips

 

There’s something very calming about walking beside a lake. The stillness of the water, and the views to the hills or mountains rising up from the far side of the lake can give a wonderful sense of space. And whether in the UK or Europe, lakeside towns and villages are often some of the most picturesque you’ll come across.

 

We offer a number of walks that include significant stretches of beautiful lakeside walking – here are a few of our favourites.

 

Lake Como Rambling

The Italian lakes are stunning – beautiful blue ribbons of water carving their way through majestic mountains, with classic coastal towns and villas dotted along the shores. Lake Como is one of the most famous, and has been a popular destination since the days of the Romans. As well as ancient Roman villas, the lake boasts grand hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era.

 

Our trip starts in Como, and includes several walks that take you to some of the most attractive towns and villages on the lake’s shores, offering plenty of opportunities to drink in the magnificent views and sample the delicious food and wine.

 

Lake Como

 

Find out more about Lake Como Rambling here.

 

Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District

Undoubtedly the best way to enjoy Cumbria’s breath-taking natural beauty and refreshingly clear air is at a leisurely pace walking the Cumbria Way.


This tour provides an excellent introduction to the charms of English Lakeland, England’s most mountainous area, and one if its most beautiful regions. Walking is unquestionably the best way to see this celebrated landscape, hailed over the years by the likes of poets, authors and painters. Wordsworth, Tennyson, Arthur Ramson, Beatrix Potter and Wainwright have all left their mark. 

 

Starting in Ulverston and finishing in Keswick, the walk takes in views of Lakes Coniston and Derwentwater, as well as Langdale and Borrowdale, two of the area’s prettiest valleys.

 

The Lake District

 

Find out more about walking the Cumbrian Way here.

 

Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps

Welcome to beautiful Upper Austria in the hinterland of Mozart’s city of Salzburg. The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best ‘typical’ alpine hiking in Europe. 

 

After a few days in the mountains you’ll descend to the waters of Lake Hallstattersee, and the ancient, picture-perfect lakeside town of Hallstatt. From here you’ll be able to explore the fascinating local area, and swim in the lake if the weather is warm enough.

 

Austrian Lake District

 

Find out more about the trip here.

 

The Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way is Ireland's oldest waymarked trail, pioneered by a famous hill walker, J.B Malone over 40 years ago and reveals some of Irelands finest views - Powerscourt Waterfall, Luggala, Loch Dan, Glenmalure and historical Glendalough. 

 

The Wicklow Way explores unspoilt trails, remote scenery, lakes, glacial valleys, forests and gentle farmland – before finishing in the famous city of Dublin. Along the way, you’ll pass through the spectacular Glendalough valley, with views of the two lakes that sit at the bottom of the valley. 

 

Wicklow Way

Photo: Magdalena Smolnicka

 

We offer 7-day and 9-day versions of the Wicklow Way.

 

The Great Glen Way

Loch Ness hardly needs an introduction – Scotland’s second largest loch stretches for 23 miles along the Great Glen, which links Fort William in the south to Inverness in the north, and contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.

 

Whilst walking the great Glen Way, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Loch Ness, as well the other lochs, and the majestic surrounding mountains, including, of course, Ben Nevis itself, the UK’s highest peak. Along the way, you’ll be treated by famous Scottish hospitality, and traditional food.

 

Great Glen Way

 

Read more about walking the Great Glen Way here.

 

The Fjordland

Not technically lakes, the Fjords are great coastal grooves, gouged out by retreating glaciers from the last ice-age. What they definitely are though, is spectacular – providing a breath-taking walking experience that will live with you forever. There are a wide range of walks to take in the highlands, which lead you right up onto the glaciers edge; it is even possible to go out onto the ice to take an excursion. There are also the lusher walks down into the pastoral settings of the Flam and Aurland Valleys. These are furnished with forests, farmsteads, cascades and churches.

 

You’ll also visit Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world.

 

Fjordland

 

Find out more about walking in the Fjordland here.

 

Lochs and Bens

One of our self-guided cycling holidays, this trip takes you through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, which have long been a favoured destination for cyclists and walkers keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. Along the way, you’ll visit beautiful lochs Tay and Earn, as well as the River Tay and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead and Killin.

 

En route there are opportunities to take a forest walk or visit one of the many castles and ancient monuments to be found along the way.

 

Lochs and Bens

 

Find out more about cycling the Lochs and Bens.