UK & European Holiday News
The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
Return to Blog Home >>
Campbell and his partner made their way to Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland in the peak of summer 2019. Advertised as “A fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss mountain walking through two famous regions”, read here how he experienced his walking holiday in Switzerland.
My walking history is relatively pedestrian (pun intended), my partner and I have had many walking adventures including Madeira’s Pico Ruivo
, Snowdonia, Amalfi’s Path of the Gods
and the Peak and Lake
districts in the UK. The last of these being a personal favourite.
Why did you choose to walk in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland?
Like all walks, we liked the appeal of nature above all else. The idea of walking through Swiss meadows with nothing but the blue sky, alpine peaks and cow’s bells to keep you company was appealing on every level.
How did you prepare for your walking holiday in Switzerland?
To be honest, poorly. We were walking the Capital Ring Walk in London leading into our walking holiday, but it by no means prepared us for the grinding uphill in the hot weather that we endured on the first day.
What was your favourite destination?
This would have to be Lauterbrunnen. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being the accommodation had a bath looking out over the waterfall that I could sit in at the end of the day and enjoy a nice glass of port. Also great was the fact that it was nestled away in a valley downhill from Wengen. It has a nice village feel as you walk into it with the paragliders making their way up and down the valley.
Best food & drink?
This would have to be at Onkel Tom’s in Grindelwald
, due to the atmosphere and hygge
factor. It was cold and unrelenting outside, yet here we were with a lovely pizza, wine and roaring fire. It was perfect after a hard days walking.
A close second would be the hut on the route out of Zermatt which serves a brilliant homemade apple cake with fruit tea. It makes for a perfect pit stop after arguably the hardest ascent of the trip. It was the only time we were swayed by a treat and I’m so glad we stopped.
Biggest surprise of walking in the Bernese Oberland?
The Marmots. They were just everywhere. I jest, I didn’t see any Marmots.
The main surprises for me were actually twofold. The first being the just the scale and breath-taking beauty of the Alps and the valleys, it was quite humbling to be walking through and over such incredible landscapes.
The second would be the wildlife. Living in London, aside from the odd squirrel, there isn’t much else. It is mainly livestock over this walk in Switzerland, but they are all equipped with bells, which lets everyone know where they are at all times. It was almost unusual to walk through a field or slope without the cacophony of dings to keep you company.
On the higher plains outside of Zermatt keep an eye out for goats and black-faced sheep. The sheep are especially friendly and are typically found snoozing near any rocks that might heat up in the midday sun. In the summer and spring months, there will be a host of butterflies that will constantly distract you from the potentially gruelling uphill legs.
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
While the first day was physically challenging, I don’t think this was the most challenging aspect of our walking trip. I think that the most challenging aspect was dealing with the weather involved. As is the case with all mountain weather it is largely interchangeable and I was perhaps not as adequately prepared as I should have been.
Also, we were very keen to do the Jungfrau railway, so choosing when to do this was a key decision, especially due to the cost. Luckily, they have a detailed weather service in the station that will give an update as to what the weather is expected to be at the summit. We ended up with a fantastic blue-sky day in the end and would definitely recommend walking out to the hut past the glaciers for soup or mulled wine.
Did Campbell inspire you to go walking in the Swiss Alps? With Sherpa Expeditions you have a selection of options to choose from in the Bernese Oberland, but also other highlights of Switzerland such as the Tour du Mont Blanc, Wildstrubel Circuit and Haute Route.
Our 2021 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…
1. EIGHT fixed departure dates for summer 2021
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.
2. Worry-free booking conditions in 2021
When booking your 2021 Tour du Mont Blanc walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions, you can be assured with new health guidelines and relaxed booking conditions.
Plus, for extra peace of mind, in 2021 we’re waiving transfer or change fees for bookings up to 70 days prior to departure. You can learn more about all of this on our COVID-19 Travel & Booking Information page.
3. 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.
4. 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!
5. 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.
6. The route notes you receive are second to none
When you book with Sherpa Expeditions 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 our experts with intimate knowledge of the area, and also include details of alternative routes for certain parts of the tour and a lot of interesting background information.
7. Enjoy a meet & greet on your first night
The evening before you set off from Les Houches for your first day’s walking, our support team on the ground 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.
8. 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).
9. 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.
10. 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, customs and delicious food & wine. A true European adventure awaits you.
11. 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.
We have picked some excellent walks in Europe, which are all rated introductory to moderate or moderate on our grading scale. These are some of our favourites for either first time walkers or easier walks for those wanting something a little gentle themselves back in after lockdown restrictions are lifted.
France - Burgundy Vineyard Trails (Introductory to Moderate)
This is the trip for you if you love good food and wine…and let’s face it, who doesn’t? You start your walk at a gentle pace in the historic Beaune that is home to a cluster of prestigious vineyards such as the Cote d’Or, Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, so plenty of opportunity for some wine tasting! The village of Burgundy itself has many untouched lanes and you will pass by many ancient churches and chateaus, such as La Rochepot, on your travels. You can also expect glorious views as far as the Alps, as well as enjoying the delights that Rully has to offer.
Find out more about the Burgundy Vineyard Trails here
Portugal - Douro Rambler
This is another one for the wine lovers out there. Not your traditional vineyard trip, but the Alto Douro wine region is famous not only for its port but also for its high quality table wines. You will get the chance to visit quaint villages such as Vilarinho de Sao Romeo in the middle of the region, passing the River Douro and finishing in the bustling city of Porto. If you want to see the vines in full harvest, the best time to visit would be September or October.
Find out more about the Douro Rambler here
Spain - Hiking in Hidden Andalucía (Moderate)
This really is a hidden gem of a walk in our opinion. You will get to experience the remote and unspoilt sector of the Alpujarras east of Trevelez, including the charming, white-washed villages of Berchules, Yegen and Mairena, which are fed by Acequias that bring fresh water from springs in the mountains. Following the ancient byways of rural Spain, you will also come across some commanding views across to the Sierra de Gador and the Mediterranean Costas beyond.
Find out more about Hiking in Hidden Andalucía here
France - Hilltop Villages of Medieval Tarn (Moderate)
One of our newer trips, this is a beautiful rural walk where you will take in all the sights of some of the prettiest medieval towns and villages in France. They are rich in history with little tourists, so you will feel like a local when wondering around the sites of the Cathars and alongside rivers and vineyards. When staying at Chambres d’Hotes, you will also get to enjoy an authentic meal with your hosts, to help immerse yourself in the culture even further.
Find out more about the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn here
Switzerland -The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls (Moderate)
This is definitely a walk not to be missed as it is a fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss walking. You can adjust the duration and difficulty of most of the days to suit you, from a softer valley stroll to a higher mountain trek. However you choose to do it, you will get to see the stunning villages of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Zermatt, whilst hiking around well-known alpine peaks, including Wetterhorn, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and the Matterhorn.
Find out more about the The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls here
Cyprus - The Troodos Mountains and Akamas (Moderate)
Cyprus is an island of incredible natural beauty, and on this trip you will have the pleasure of lapping up the best it has to offer. The Troodos Mountains cover much of the southern and western part of the country and this walk takes you from hiking high mountains down to the coast, passing unspoilt countryside, orchards and woodland interspersed by sleepy mountain villages with their ancient churches, as well as the oldest monastery in Cyprus Kykko Monastery. A great time to visit is in September or October when you may catch a glimpse of many species of birds during their migrations.
Find out more about the The Troodos Mountains and Akamas here
As well as getting out for some fresh air if you can, there are so many things you can do in the comfort of your own homes whilst in lockdown. This could be the perfect time to slow down and appreciate those small pleasures in life that may have passed you by before.
Does reading always seems to go to the bottom of the list when life gets in the way, normally reserved for holidays and long journeys? Now you have some more free time, you can really get stuck in to a new book and get transported to anywhere in the world.
The Little Italian Bakery - Valentina Cebeni
The essence of Sardinia is perfectly captured and you can easily whisky ourself out of this world into a new one. This is a place where time has stood still for years on end, but where the secrets of the island have also been hidden in its past.
A Wedding in Provence, by Ellen Sussman
A fictional story of a couple holding their second marriage in Provence, France surrounded by their immediate family in a quaint inn set in the small town of Cassis. The bride’s two adult daughters bring a little drama to the situation and it all quickly unfolds from there.
Normal People, by Sally Rooney
This award-winning novel is Set in Ireland. The story follows two people from high school in their small town to university in Dublin, exploring their relationship as well as their own psyches.
Listening to podcasts
There are so many to choose from, but there are a few that are great to keep that hiking mindset alive and kicking! Anything from advice on training for a bucket list trip to real-life stories and hints for beginners.
A weekly podcast in which there is a speak with experienced thru hikers about their stories from the trails and strategies for a successful thru hike. Each episode is not only full of unique stories from the trail, but also comes with dedicated 'Gear Recommendations and Trail Wisdoms' page. Here you can see what gear each thru hiker used including shoes, socks, packs, sleep gear and more, the food they ate and can recommend for you, gadgets, apps, hacks and of course wisdoms learnt along the way.
The First 40 Miles
This is a podcast for people who are new to hiking and backpacking. If you are new to backpacking, or if you're hopelessly in love with someone who wants you to love backpacking, then this podcast is for you. We talk about the essentials, how to lighten your load, and how to make the most of your time on the trail.
The Training for Trekking
This podcast is created to help hikers, trekkers and mountaineers prepare for their bucket list adventures. Rowan shares with you the simple training strategies to get you fit, strong and resilient to tackle anything the trail will throw at you, even during the current pandemic.
Cooking And Baking
Have you found a new found love for cooking and baking? You’re not the only ones! So, even if you can’t get to your favourite destinations right now, you can still whip up something native to the region instead and before you know, you’ll feel like you’re there!
French Coq Au Vin
A traditional French dish consisting of chicken braised with wine, bacon lardons and mushrooms. A red Burgundy wine is typically used, though many regions of France make variants using their local wines.
Find recipe here
Moussaka is an aubergine or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, traditionally minced lamb and topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. However, there are many local and regional variations.
Find recipe here
It’s almost impossible to think of the delicacies of Scotland without thinking of their famous shortbread. Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon, these sweet and crumbly treats will be sure to keep you going.
Find recipe here
Sometimes it’s nice to look forward to watching a nice film at the end of the day, and even better when it includes stunning scenery and cuisine from the places you have dreaming of visiting. Whether it is more hard-hitting or light-hearted, they’ll be sure to inspire your next adventure.
Starring Reese Witherspoon, this film is based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed on her path to recovery. Still reeling from her mother's death and recent divorce, she decides to hike alone along the Pacific Crest Trail with no previous experience.
Watch it here
A Walk In The Woods
This hilarious comedy stars Robert Redford as the bestselling travel writer Bill Bryson, who makes the improbable decision to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.
Watch it here
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star in ‘The Trip’ following them exploring fancy restaurants of northern England, ‘The Trip to Italy’ where the two go on a road trip in Italy from Piedmont to Capri, on the Amalfi coast, and ‘Thee Trip to Spain’ where they discover the joys of tapas in Spain. Their culinary adventures take them through Cantabria, the Basque region, Aragon, Rioja, Castile, La Mancha and Andalucia.
Watch The Trip here
, The Trip to Italy here
and The Trip to Spain here
In these times of social distancing, there are many ways to stay entertained. Whether that’s with your household over a good old board game or on a trans-generational Zoom call and taking things digital with an online quiz.
Would I Lie To You Board Game
A game of quick thinking that calls for a cool head and a poker face. Can you fool your opponents with an on-the-spot lie? Just like the TV show, some of the facts are true, some are not, it's all down to you to decide!
Find it here.
There is an abundance of online quizzes around, especially now, so the real question is which one to pick? If you would call yourself an expert traveller, why not test your knowledge with one or two from Traveller’s huge selection.
Find them here.
Puzzles can be great fun and really get you to concentrate, so much so you can find yourself in another world. When you’re not able to visit the places you want to, you can still recreate beautiful images of them!
At the moment, we are living vicariously through reliving old trips and seeing locations remotely. However, once we are safely able to travel again, we thought we would put together a selection of shorter 5 and 6 day trips to get you back in the swing of things.
Exploring the Cotswolds - 5 Days (3 Days Walking)
This trip is a fantastic discovery of the English countryside, coupled with the unrivalled hospitality of traditional, family run B&B’s and guesthouses. You will take in the amazing Cotswold landscape, with it’s unique mixture of parkland, cultivated fields with dry-stone walls of Jurassic limestone and patches of unspoilt woodland. The scenery blends with the structures creating a delightful fusion of natural and man-made beauty. With days of up to 20km, this is a relatively easy to moderate route with some hilly parts and a number of beautiful villages along the way.
Find out more about Exploring the Cotswolds here
Isle of Wight Cycle – 5 Days (3 Days Cycling)
The Isle of Wight was recently crowned as Holiday Destination of the Year in the Countryfile magazine awards 2020. A destination that is often overlooked, this is a place of outstanding natural beauty, from its beaches to ‘The Needles’, as well as some historical landmarks including Queen Victoria’s Osborne House, Quarr Abbey and the piers of Old Yarmouth Town. Enjoy this lovely, short break for cyclists who want an attractive sightseeing tour, with a mixture of town, country and time to explore. Expect between 4 to 5 hours of cycling per day, with the trip starting and ending in the seaside town of Ryde.
Find out more about the Isle of Wight Cycle here
James Herriot Way – 6 Days (4 Days Walking)
Sometimes described as ‘the best short walk in England’, this walk is designed to take in some of the countryside beloved by James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot. It is a 80km circular route which winds its way through the contrasting dales of Swaledale, Apedale and Wensleydale which is a centre for rope and cheese-making. It is scattered with agricultural and industrial heritage, in amongst gorgeous river, waterfalls and attractive fells. It is an excellent introduction to long distance walking on longer trails such as the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast.
Find out more about the James Herriot Way here
Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps – 5 Days (3 Days Walking)
This is a truly spectacular centre based self-guided holiday, with wonderful alpine scenery, including dramatic lakes, gorges and glaciers, as well as breath-taking views of the iconic Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. Meiringen is the perfect base for multiple day walks that can be made easy or hard depending on preference. It is a small market town with excellent shops and facilities, which is excellent in all seasons and remains relatively unspoiled. From the town it is possible to set out each day in a different direction using the incredible network of cable cars, postbuses and mountain railways. You can reach the high places quickly and easily without the necessity of long uphill climbs out of the valley.
Find out more about Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps here
Maintaining a rational perspective with international travel
There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has caused disruption and inconvenience to individuals and to the authorities in affected areas, but I would like to reassure travellers with a calm and rational assessment of the facts.
Uncertainty about the virus in its early weeks has bred fear, which is being heightened by the barrage of news headlines and amplified by social media. The situation now is that it is rare to read balanced information.
World Expeditions Travel Group has been operating adventures across the globe for 45 years and, during that time, we have experienced and overcome many adversities. We have well-developed and tested risk strategies for these very occurrences.
Coronavirus outbreak is the latest challenge and we do not see any reason for travellers to panic. We advocate continuing with travel plans as we are doing with our own staff travel programme.
As with travel at any time, there are risks of infection from a virus. At no time are we able to guarantee you will not become ill during your travels with World Expeditions Travel Group or, indeed, in your daily life at home. Weighing up the risks of travel is a personal decision and we encourage you to investigate the facts to come to an informed decision about the risks.
According to the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
"Everyone should know the symptoms – for most people, it starts with a fever and a dry cough, not a runny nose. Most people will have mild disease and get better without needing any special care."
We develop robust risk strategies based on multiple sources, primarily:
We encourage you to visit both websites. With respect to corona virus, mainland China, Iran and 11 towns in Northern Italy and two pockets of South Korea remain the only four countries for which the FCO has increased the advisory to Advise against all but essential travel or Advise against all travel.
Johns Hopkins University in the US has a map with helpful facts
about global cases of the virus.
We make regular updates to the travel advisory section of our own website and I encourage you to check it
on our partner company World Expeditions.
I would also remind you that a typical World Expeditions Travel Group holiday is one in which you’ll be immersed in the natural landscape and generally off the beaten track, where the chance of catching any virus is far lower than in most urban environments.
I do advise departing travellers, including staff who are travelling both now and in the future, to take extra precautions in washing your hands regularly and following NHS guidelines related to COVID-19
In conclusion, I would like to assure you that your safety – and that of all our travellers - has always been at the core of everything we do. I acknowledge that any new health outbreak that is widely covered by the media will cause concern and I encourage you to maintain a rational perspective and continue with what you do daily and what you love to do on your holidays.
We all know that Switzerland is one of the go-to places for winter adventure travel, with the likes of the British royal family frequenting the ski slopes there. However, did you also know that it is the most superb destination for walking, when it comes to spring, all the way through to autumn? We have many Swiss trips that are unforgettable for different reasons, but we have hand-picked what we think could just be the best of the best and definitely ones for the bucket list! Read on to find out more.
The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls
This trip serves as a fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss walking. The highlights include taking in the stunning villages of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen as well as trekking around the classic Alpine Peaks, Wetterhorn, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
The beauty of this tour is that it offers you a range of walks each day, often with differing grades and distances, so you can decide the nature of the walking. Whether it be a high mountain trek along a Bergweg mountain path, or a valley stroll on a Wanderweg lower level trail, there is something for everyone.
There are also lots of opportunities for utilizing the extensive mountain transport system to shorten walks, leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy some time sightseeing. The flower-strewn alpine meadows in summer around Wengen and Mürren and upon the Schynige-Platte walk are an unforgettable experience too.
Bookable from 20 June – 22 September. Find out more about the trip here.
Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps
This is a 'centre based' self-guided walking tour in the small market town of Meiringen, filled with a selection of excellent day walks that are perfect at any time of the year. From the town, it is possible to set out each day in a different direction using the incredible network of cable cars, postbuses and mountain railways.
There are over 300km of well-marked footpaths, which range from gentle strolls to high ridges and even glacier exploring! In spring you can follow the melting snows into meadows of glorious Alpine flowers. In summer the high ridges and rugged glacial scenery become accessible. In autumn the landscape is painted with a riot of colour as the first frosts come.
The potential for walking is limitless. We are still finding wonderful new walks here! Thankfully, it remains unspoiled and very Swiss. The local people are welcoming, kind and hospitable.
Bookable from 15 May – 17 October. Find out more about the 5 day trip here
and 8 day trip here
The Alpine Pass Route
This walk follows the most impressive two-week section of a classic alpine walk, which embraces much of the best mountain scenery Switzerland has to offer. It is a route which will take you over many alpine passes; some a leisurely stroll, others a tougher proposition, but all offering their own spectacular rewards.
A marvellous complement to the high land of peaks and passes are the park-like valleys with their thickly wooded hillsides and unspoilt farming villages, deep-blue lakes and picturesque flower-decked chalets. As well as crossing the Grosse Scheidegg and the Hohturli, there is also the incomparable Bernese Oberland region with its towering peaks, the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger.
During your time, you are given three ‘free’ days where you can pursue optional walks, or take in other attractions such as the Jungfraujoch. This is a mountain journey full of attractions and we believe it is an impressive alternative to the Tour du Mont Blanc!
Bookable from 7 July – 15 September. Find out more about the 14 day trip here
or our new 8 day highlights trip here
This post is in partnership with Switzerland Tourism and the Bern Region.
You can enjoy 10% off all our holidays until 25th October 2019 with our Early Bird deal
, including our top bucket list trips! Read on to find out more.
1. Coast to Coast
Described by Alfred Wainwright as “one of the world’s great walks”, the idyllic Coast to Coast is widely considered as the most classic of all UK long distance trails and one that has stood the test of time. The trail runs all the way across England, from the Irish sea coast to the North sea coast over nearly 200 miles and traverses three National Parks. We offer a few different options, including self-guided and guided versions of the full route, as well as shorter walks for those wanting to do part of the route.
Find out more about the Coast to Coast here
2. Tour du Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc is easily one of the most spectacular walks you will ever do. This extended itinerary circumnavigates Mont Blanc and explores the surrounding alpine region, affording unsurpassed views of the different faces of the massif, as well as glittering glaciers, lush valleys and of course the highest point on the route, the Grand Col Ferret at 2,537m.
Find out more about the Tour du Mont Blanc here
3. The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls
If you enjoy being able to personalise your days a bit more, then this is the trip for you! This route is great for those wanting an introduction to the Swiss Alps, with a range of walks often with differing grades and distances. On many of the days, you can decide whether you tackle a high mountain trek along a Bergweg mountain path, or a valley stroll on a Wanderweg lower level trail. There are also lots of sightseeing opportunities, from the peaks of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau that overlook the valley towns of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, while the celebrated mountain town of Zermatt lies just below the towering Matterhorn.
Find out more about The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls here
4. Walking in the Dolomites
Although not exceptionally high (the highest peak is Marmolada at 3342m), the Dolomites are amongst the most striking of all European mountains. The walk starts with the spectacular Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the scenery continues to impress with new panoramas unfolding with each turn. The cliffs of the Tofana, Sella and Marmolada massifs tower above the winding paths and to cap it off, there are opportunities to stand on a couple of summits and peer down almost vertical rock faces to the valleys far below…definitely not for the faint of heart!
Find out more about Walking in the Dolomites here
5. West Highland Way
This rather special and ever-popular follows the 96 mile national long-distance trail of the same name through the south-western part of the Scottish Highlands. Starting at the village of Milngavie just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to Glencoe, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day.
Find out more about the West Highland Way here
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
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
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.
There’s nothing quite like walking in the mountains to reconnect yourself with nature. The majesty and vastness of a mountain landscape helps to remind us of our place in the world, and many people who spend a holiday amongst the magnificent peaks often describe it as a life-changing experience.
Although some mountain walking routes sit towards the challenging end of the spectrum, you certainly don’t need to be a mountaineer to take them on.
Here are a few of our favourite mountain walks in Europe.
The region around Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe (4,810m/15,780ft), is home to some of the best alpine walking and trekking in Europe, providing walkers with an opportunity to sample the culture and flavour of the three different countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. Our trekking holidays around Mont Blanc are dominated throughout by views of the highest peaks in the Alps. The traverse of the high passes takes you beneath spectacular glaciers and at other times you pass through picture-perfect Alpine villages and summer meadows.
Read more about the Tour du Mont Blanc.
You may also like: The Alpine Pass Route, The Wildstrubel Circuit, The Bernese Oberland & Reichenbach Falls, The Haute Route.
The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe. The Dolomite peaks are gigantic, chiselled monuments to the powerful forces of glacial erosion. Continuous sheer cliffs flank most of the peaks. Although not exceptionally high (the highest peak is Marmolada at 3,342m), they are amongst the most striking of all European mountains, coloured in weathered hues of rose, yellow, white and grey and rising in steep spires of fantastic form. Below lie bright green meadows alive with wild flowers all summer.
Read more about Walking in the Dolomites.
You may also like: Dolomites Guided Walk
The mountains form the backbone of this rugged island. Interesting and varied long distance footpaths cross the mountains from east to west. Based on old mule tracks and ancient routes of transhumance, these routes traditionally connected mountain villages with each other and with high level pastures. Crossing intermediate ridges and following forested valleys, they take the walker into the heart of the mountains, past tumbling rivers, mixed woodland and through attractive villages.
Read more about Corsica: Mountains & Sea
You may also like: A Saunter in Sardinia
This tour is a good choice for a summer hike, in a fascinating and generally quiet mountain region that is well off the beaten tracks of the higher Pyrenees. The route is truly spectacular in places, taking in some of the finest landscapes in Spain on the fringes of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. You cross two passes of over 2,000m, which are normally free of snow by mid-June. On the way are forests, plateaus, terraced hillsides, charming villages, deep canyons and broad valleys.
Read more about Alto Aragon: The Spanish Pyrenees
You may also like: Mountains to the Mediterranean
Cyprus is an island of natural beauty in a region with an abundance of ancient and modern civilisations and cultures. Away from the cosmopolitan towns and beach resorts you will find large areas of natural, unspoilt countryside. Rugged, conifer-clad mountains, woodland, orchards and vineyards are interspersed with tranquil, timeless villages. The Troodos Mountains cover much of the southern and western part of the country and this walk takes you from walking in the high mountains down to the coast, starting from an altitude of about 1,100m.
Read more about The Troodos Mountains and Akamas – available as an 8-day or 11-day trip
You may also like: Zagoria – The Secret Villages
Claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles, The West Highland Way follows a national trail through some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes. Starting at the village of Drymen just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to somber Glencoe, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day).
Read more about The West Highland Way – available as an 8-day or 10-day trip
You may also like: The Great Glen Way, The Pennine Way
The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational - especially in the crisp, stable weather that this region often acquires during the period of this tour. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best alpine hiking in Europe. The lower slopes of alpine pasture are dotted with picturesque lakes and villages including gorgeous Halstatt, whilst the high triangular mountaintops are smothered with glacial ice.
Read more about The Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps
You may also like: The Fjordland in Norway.
Contact our team by email or phone to discuss your wishes.