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2019: A Landmark Year for 3 of the UK’s Favourite Walking Trails

50th Anniversaries

They say 50 is the new 40. Well, if that’s true, then there’s plenty of life left in 3 of the UK’s most popular walking routes, which all celebrate their 50th anniversaries in 2019.


The Cleveland Way, the Dales Way and the Offa’s Dyke Path are all reaching this major milestone over the next few months, and you can help to celebrate their birthdays by walking the routes with Sherpa Expeditions.


Let’s take a look at what makes these routes so special as they prepare to celebrate turning 50 years young.


The Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way, which turns 50 on 24 May 2019, is a 109-mile long trail in the North York Moors National Park – and was one of the UK’s earliest official National Trails.

 

One of the things that makes the Cleveland Way so special is that it’s a combination of coastal and moorland walks, so you can enjoy some real variety in terms of terrain and views. Along its length there are contrasts in walking between quilted farmlands, forest patches, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, isolated moorlands and the highly eroded coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs.

 

Cleveland Way Coastline

 

There’s also a great deal of history to be enjoyed along the Cleveland Way – including the remains of the Norman Rievaulx Abbey, the 13th century Whitby Abbey, and Whitby’s Captain James Cook Museum, whose ships were all built in the coastal town.

 

Rievaulx Abbey

 

You can have a look at the events currently planned to mark the Cleveland Way’s 50th anniversary.

 

Departure dates from 6 April to 1 October 2019 – read more here.

The Dales Way

The first public Dales Way walk took place on 23rd March 1969, and was organised by the West Riding Ramblers, who were also pivotal in the creation of the route. The Dales Way runs for 78 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, following mostly riverside paths, running right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the gentle foothills of southern lakeland to the shore of England's grandest lake, Lake Windermere.

 

Dales Way Sign

 

Along the Dales Way, you’ll come across plenty of interesting old churches, an abbey, lovely real ale pubs and traditional villages. Much of the trail follows pretty river valleys - especially the Wharfe, Dee, Rawthey, Lune and the Kent. All have beauty spots for shady picnics, small ravines and rapids and are patrolled by birds such as Berwick swans, kingfishers, dippers and wagtails.

 

Dales Way River

 

Visit The Dales Way Association’s website for information on events taking place to mark the 50th anniversary.

 

Departure dates from 6 April to 5 October 2019, with 8-day and 10-day itineraries available – read more here.  

Offa’s Dyke

The Offa’s Dyke Association marks its 50th anniversary on 29th March 2019. This National Trail follows the English-Welsh border for 177 miles, although our 8-day itinerary follows the southern half of the trail from Chepstow to Knighton, roughly half the length of the full route.

 

Offa was the King of Mercia in the 8th century. He decided to define his territory and protect it from the marauding Welsh by building a huge earthwork. Today the remaining 80 miles of embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument. 

 

Offa's Dyke Path

 

This is a journey packed with interest 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, home of buzzards and the rare Red Kite. 

 

Offa's Dyke

 

Read more about the 50th anniversary of Offa’s Dyke here.

 

Departure dates from 7 April to 6 October 2019 – read more here.



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

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

  

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

 

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

GENTLE TRIPS FOR FIRST TIME WALKERS

Burgundy Vineyard Trails

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

 

Read more


Burgundy

 

Vineyard Trails of the Loire

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

 

Read more


The Loire Valley

MODERATE TRIPS FOR THE MORE ACTIVE

Hiking the Vermillion Coast

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

 

Read more


Vermillion Coast

 

Lake Como Rambling

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

 

Read more

 

Lake Como

 

CHALLENGING TRIPS FOR MORE EXPERIENCED WALKERS

Alpine Pass Route

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

 

Read more


Alpine Pass Route

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

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

 

Read more

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

How Fit Do I Need To Be? Part 1 - UK

If you’re considering a walking holiday but you’re hesitating because you’re not sure if you’re fit enough – don’t worry! It’s an understandable concern – and whilst it’s true that some of our trips require an excellent level of fitness, others are much more gentle on the legs. We’ve picked out a few UK-based trips for different fitness levels to help you work out your own level and find the one that’s just right for you. All of our trips include a suitability guide on the main trip information pages.

 

Gentle Trips for First Time Walkers

Exploring the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, as well as being picture-perfect, are an ideal introduction to walking in the English countryside. The terrain is hilly rather than mountainous, and you’re rarely too far from a pretty village in which to stop for a rest and refreshments. The walking days are generally up to around 20km – comfortable for most reasonably fit people. The Cotswolds are a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, and as you meander through the countryside visiting medieval villages built in golden limestone, it’s easy to see why.

 

Although this trip is gentle on the legs, you will need to be a fairly competent map-reader.

 

This trip is available in 5-day and 8-day versions – and if you prefer wheels to feet, you can also explore the Cotswolds by bike.

 

The Cotswolds

Traditional Cotswolds houses

 

The Great Glen Way

If walking in the Scottish Highlands sounds like the preserve of the super fit, then think again! Despite taking in some of Scotland’s most dramatic and breath-taking landscapes, most of the walking on The Great Glen Way is actually fairly straightforward – much of it along canal towpaths and forest tracks. The walking becomes a little more challenging on the last 3 days – but you can avoid a particularly steep climb on the last day by taking an optional taxi transfer. The days range from around 13km to 29km. This trip is a great way to sample the splendour of the Scottish Highlands without pushing your body to the limit.

 

Great Glen Way
Along the canals of the Great Glen Way

 

Moderate Trips for the More Active

If you’re looking for a trip in this category, you’re spoilt for choice, as the majority of our trips are classed as moderate. But here are a couple you might like to take a look at.

 

St Cuthbert’s Way

Although the daily distances on the St Cuthbert’s Way vary from 8.5km to 22.5km, the walk includes some steep ascents and descents, and some boggy terrain, which make it a little more challenging than the distances suggest. But with that little bit of extra fitness comes the reward of some delightfully unspoilt countryside and historic towns. Starting in Melrose in Scotland, and stretching across to the Northumberland coast and the island of Lindisfarne, this is a walk deep in historical and religious significance, as well as a route that takes in some beautiful countryside away from the hordes.

 

This trip is available in 8-day and 10-day versions.

St Cuthberts Way

Lindisfarne (Holy Island) at the end of St Cuthbert's Way

 

Hadrian’s Wall

With some fairly long days (24 to 27km), and steep climbs and descents, not to mention some unpredictable weather, Hadrian’s Wall represents a moderate challenge – and you’ll need a bit of walking experience behind you to take it on. This is a walk rich in history – the Roman Emperor Hadrian began building the wall in 122AD to keep out his enemies to the north, and is now the world’s largest Roman artefact and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk in the Romans’ footsteps, you’ll discover some of England’s finest landscapes, towns and villages.

 

This trip is available in 8-day and 10-day versions.

 

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall

 

Challenging Trips for Experienced Walkers

The Pennine Way

The sheer length of the entire Pennine Way (429km) makes it a pretty serious challenge, before you factor in the long days, remote sections, some fairly basic accommodation and lack of shelter from weather that can be very unpredictable. But this classic of British walking is rightly regarded as one of the world’s greatest – stretching through three national parks and encompassing fells, rivers, dales and waterfalls. The Pennine Way should be on the bucket list of any serious walker with a good level of fitness.

 

You can make the Pennine Way a little less challenging by doing just the Southern or Northern sections.

 

Pennine Way

The Pennine Way

 

The Coast to Coast

Although the Coast to Coast is offered in extended versions (up to 18 days) for those that like to take things at a slightly slower pace, the classic 15-day version includes some long days (an average of 25km per day), with 6-9 hours a day of walking at a steady pace to cover the distances required. But the Coast to Coast is our most popular walk for a reason – three national parks, charming towns and villages, stunning landscapes, and the sheer achievement of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea has given this route legendary status.

 

We offer several versions of the Coast to Coast – both guided and self guided, ranging from 15 to 18 days, and you can also do shorter sections on their own.

 

Coast to Coast

The Coast to Coast

Travellers' Tales: The Best of 2018



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


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

 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

Randy and Diane – Bernese Oberland Guided Walk

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

Marie-Claire – Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne

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

Jan – UK Coast to Coast

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

Charles – Alsace Vineyard Trails

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

 

 

How did you prepare for your trip?

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

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

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

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

 

 

What was your favourite destination on the trip?

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

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

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

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

 

 

What was the best food and drink on the trip?

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

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

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

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

 

 

Did you have any nice surprises?

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Charles: Choosing wines was a challenge!

 



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

Italy: Six of the Best for 2019



The variety on offer for a walking holiday in Italy is simply amazing. From the mountains of the Dolomites and the Alps, down to the lakes, across to the islands, and along the Amalfi coast – whatever type of holiday you’re after, Italy delivers it in stunning form. Add to this the delicious food and wine, and the warm welcome offered by the locals, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable holiday.

Here are a few of our favourite Italian trips for 2019. For the full programme of tours in this beautiful country, visit our Italy homepage.

Cilento Coast and Mountain

The Cilento National Park may not be quite as well known as its more famous and popular neighbour, Amalfi, but it offers a huge amount for a varied and rewarding walking tour.  There is a wild kind of beauty here - rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches. This 5-day Cilento tour is both along the coast and inland across low mountains, through pristine natural areas and attractive countryside, with all its cultural treasures - rural chapels, ancient farm houses, old water mills and charming medieval villages. 

 

Find out more.

 

 

 

Classic Amalfi Coast

Available as a 6, 8 or 11 day tour, our Classic Amalfi Coast walks encapsulate everything that makes an Italian holiday so special. The entire coast has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and a walking holiday here makes it easy to see why. The stunning views, culture, food and wine combine to create an unforgettable experience. The towns, villages and towers that cling to the cliffs can be a riotous mix of vibrant colours and pastel shades, and provide the backdrop to a truly special walking tour. 

 

Find out more. 

 

 

 

Coming soon – we’re currently putting together a new 11-day trip that combines the best of our Cilento and Amalfi trips. This will be available to book early in 2019 so watch this space!

 

Walking in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe, and provide a completely different backdrop to the Alps’ jagged peaks. The Dolomites are dominated by continuous sheer cliffs, forming giant chiselled monuments. Below the mountains lie green meadows full of wild flowers, orchards and vineyards. The Dolomites are also an area of fascinating history, as they were heavily fought over during WW1. This 8-day trip encompasses an exhilarating mix of high mountain paths, lush meadows, pretty villages and mountain restaurants.

 

Find out more.  

 

 

 

A Saunter in Sardinia

Sardinia is a beautiful island, with a unique mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. Walking from the black mountains of Montiferru to the Sinis wetlands you’ll discover beaches, bays, headlands, ancient ruins and historical sites. This is also a great trip if you’re interested in wildlife, and in particular, birds – as you’ll encounter large colonies of Grey Herons, Pink Flamingoes and a wealth of other bird life. This is a gentle walk that takes in some spectacular scenery, lovely villages and plenty of places to enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine.

 

Find out more.

 

 

 

Tuscany on Foot

This walk threads together some of the most attractive towns and villages in Tuscany. It’s a perfect introduction to the region and for people who love museums and galleries, Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there is plenty to see and do. You have plenty of time for attraction visits on most days. However the emphasis of the tour is to enjoy the countryside, the rolling vineyards, the poppies in spring and the wild cyclamen in autumn. This is a relatively gentle tour that is suitable for those who are new to walking. More experienced walkers will also enjoy the classic Tuscan landscape of small but sometimes steep hills, olive groves and vineyards. 

 

Find out more.

 

 

 

Lake Como Rambling

The beauty of Lake Como has to be seen to be believed. The majestic mountains rolling down to the shores of the crystal clear blue water, the charming towns and villages dotted along the shoreline, ancient Roman villas and the majestic hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era all add up to a landscape like no other.  This lovely trip starts at the historic town of Como before taking in all that the area has to offer over the next 8 days, including hilltop ascents, villages, churches and ferry crossings.

 

Find out more.

 

 

What's On Your 2019 Holiday Wish List?

 

Christmas is just around the corner, and we hope your plans for the festive season are coming along nicely. As well as enjoying this special time with friends and family, Christmas is also the perfect time to start making your holiday plans for next year – but what’s on your wish list for 2019? Here, we pick out a few of our trips that might help you decide – but there are hundreds more trips to choose from on our website. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Whichever trip you choose, Sherpa Expeditions can help to make your 2019 a very memorable year.

 

Tick off a classic UK walk

Coast to Coast

 

This classic Coast to Coast walking route, stretching from the east to west of the UK, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District. The walk starts on the Irish Sea coast of Cumbria near the huge red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head. You cross three National Parks before reaching the North Sea at the pretty fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the rocky coastline of the North York Moors. Sherpa Expeditions offers a range of guided and self guided Coast to Coast walks, ranging from 15 to 18 days for the entire route, and with shorter sections available.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

The West Highland Way
Cornwall: The South West Coast Path

 

 

Take on a challenge

The Pennine Way

 

A mountain journey across the backbone of England, The Pennine Way became the very first British National Trail in 1965. It is a long, 268 mile (429 km) hike 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. Its sheer length makes it the perfect for those seeking a challenge – although you can also choose to do just the southern or northern sections.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

The Tour du Mont Blanc

Alto Aragon : The Spanish Pyrenees

 

 

Try a Scandinavian adventure

The Fjordland

 

This trip is the ideal introduction into the magic of Norwegian walking; it is undertaken from several centres using easy transportation on trains and boats in between. From Oslo or Bergen you travel by rail to some of the wildest, most spectacular, classic “picture postcard” settings within the realms of Norwegian mountain and fjordland. The retreating glaciers from the last ice age once overwhelmed and molded this landscape, gouging out the great coastal grooves which, with post glacial rising sea levels, have become the fjords. 


Other trips that fit the bill…

Sweden: Hiking Stockholm and Beyond

 

 

Soak up some sun

Classic Amalfi Coast

 

The Amalfi Coast is the quintessential Italian holiday, with stunning scenery and mouth-watering food. Pastel coloured fishing villages are perched on the staggering cliff side overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea with some outstanding walks to experience this destination. There is no better way to immerse in this jaw dropping Italian coastline than hiking the Amalfi Coast to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you're a sun worshipper, you'll love the warmth and colours of this beautiful part of Italy.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

Majorca: Sierras and Monasteries
Rambling in the Luberon

 

 

Enjoy a food and wine lover’s paradise

Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne

 

Everyone’s idea of what constitutes great food is different, but there’s no doubting that classic French food and wine is up there with the best. The food from the Dordogne features dishes that embody most people’s idea of classic French cuisine – this is the land of truffles, magret de canard and rich, dark wines. However, there’s much more to the Dordogne than just the amazing food and wine – beautiful medieval villages, lush, green, wooded hills and even caves all add to this lovely walking tour. (8 and 10 day trips available). 

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron
Burgundy Vineyard Trails

 

 

Keep cool in the forest

King Ludwig’s Way

 

For those that like some trees to shade them from the heat of the summer sun, this lovely, fascinating walk offers some very enjoyable stretches through the beech forests of Bavaria. The route passes two of Bavaria's most scenic lakes and through charming villages of geranium bedecked chalets with typical onion shaped church spires. The walk ends at King Ludwig’s spectacular fairy tale castle at Neuschwanstein.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

Austrian Lake District and the Dachstein Alps

 


This is just a tiny selection of the trips available, but we hope it provides some inspiration. You can search all of our holidays here.

Getting Fit for a Walking Holiday

Fitness for Walking

One of the most important ways of ensuring you get maximum enjoyment from a walking holiday is to make sure your fitness levels are up to scratch.

 

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be super fit and able to scramble up a mountain in mid-summer heat without breaking sweat! All trips bring their own challenges, and require higher or lower fitness levels depending on the terrain, weather and distances covered. But even the most moderate trips will be more enjoyable if you have a decent level of fitness.

 

Here are a few tips for getting fit in advance of your walking holiday.

 

Walk!

Sounds obvious, right? But the truth is that many of us don’t walk nearly enough in our day-to-day lives, especially if we have desk jobs. Whilst it’s great to get out into the countryside for a proper walk, busy lives often make this difficult. But there are ways you can fit some walking into your everyday: walk to work, or the kids to school, if it’s not too far; take the stairs in shops, office buildings and stations instead of lifts and escalators; get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the rest of the way; try and get out for a walk at lunchtime, especially if you have a desk job. Even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes, the exercise and fresh air will do you good.

 

When you’re out walking, try and wear the shoes or boots that you intend to wear for your trip as much as you can. You can read our guide for looking after your feet here.

 

Find some stairs and climb them as often as you can!

 

Build your muscle strength

The amount of strength you’ll need in your leg muscles depends on the type of trip you’re preparing for. If you’re heading to the Alps for the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Via Alpina, or a challenging UK walk like the Pennine Way, you need to prepared for plenty of ascents and descents, so strengthening your legs is vital.

 

You could hit the weights at the gym, but if that’s not your scene, try some simple exercises at home. Place your back against a wall and bend your legs as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Hold the position for as long as you can, and gradually increase the time you can keep it going. It’s great for the quads (the muscles on the front of your thighs), which is what you use when you’re ascending or walking up steps.

 

There are plenty of traditional, simple exercises like this you can do at home without the need for any equipment or weights – such as squats. 

 

Fitness for Walking

If you're heading somewhere like the Alps, you'll need to get your leg muscles nice and strong.

 

Increase your cardiovascular fitness

This relates to the first point about walking. Whilst the muscle exercises give you the strength to walk without getting aches, your cardiovascular fitness is what gives you the ability to exercise for long periods of time without getting breathless. Walking, running, cycling and swimming are all great for this – the more you can do the better, even if you’re booked onto a fairly moderate trip. Stopping to enjoy the view from time to time is great, but you don’t want to be doing it every 5 minutes!

 

 

Motivation

If you’re someone who enjoys a walking holiday, it probably means you’re a fairly motivated person, otherwise you’d spend your holiday lying on a beach! But we can all lack motivation sometimes, especially if the weather’s bad and going outside doesn’t seem like the best idea.

 

Set yourself goals – if you’re walking, cycling or swimming, try to increase your distance each time you head out, or if you’re restricted to a particular distance, try and beat your time each time you tackle it. Listen to some music whilst you’re exercising  - or a podcast, audio book etc. This can really make the time fly.

 

At the end of the day, it’s not about putting yourself under pressure and doing anything you don’t enjoy. You’re going on holiday after all, not running a marathon! But it is important to properly prepare for your trip – and if you have any questions about how challenging a tour is, you can give us a call and ask us, as well as reading the information that we include on our website about the fitness level required for each trip.

Traveller's Tale - Bernese Oberland Guided Walk

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




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

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

 



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

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

 



3. How did you prepare?

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

 



4. Your favourite destination?

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

 

 

 

5. Best food and drink?

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

 

 

6. Biggest surprise?

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

TELL US YOUR STORY

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

 

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

France: Six of the Best for 2019



It makes us feel old to think about it, but in May 2019 the channel tunnel celebrates its 25th birthday! 


This ground-breaking development made France easier to reach than ever before, and changed the way we travel to the continent from the UK. To celebrate this approaching milestone, we’ve picked out 6 fantastic walking trips in France that you can book now for 2019.

 

Burgundy Vineyard Trails 

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or not, on this trip you can wander through fragrant vineyards, meet local winemakers, discover vine-covered valleys and visit private cellars. Burgundy claims the highest number of ‘appellations d'origine contrôlée’ than any other region in the country. Chardonnay originated here, and it remains the most commonly grown white grape. The ‘Route des Grands Crus’ runs through many of the great appellations of Burgundy wine, punctuated by nearly 40 picturesque villages and little towns. Read more here

 

 

 

Secret France: The Ardeche 

On the Massif Central, above the broad valley of the Rhone, lies a walker’s paradise of hills where the Ardeche, Loire and Haute Loire regions meet. This little-known watershed for some of France’s great rivers is a land of steeply terraced slopes, half-hidden valleys and tumbling streams, where massive ruined farmhouses seem embedded into the landscape, and the bleat of goats and call of the wild birds are often the only sounds. This Ardeche ramble begins to unfold with breath-taking views across the enchanting Doux Valley from Le Crestet, a medieval fortified village built on a rocky hill. Read more here



 

 

Vineyard Trails of the Loire

Explore vineyards, wine estates and chateaux as you walk through the majestic Valley of the Kings, a region steeped in history – this is where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his retirement and Joan of Arc fought some of the battles of the Hundred Years’ War! The Loire is also one of the major wine producing areas of France: the ever-popular Sauvignon Blanc was one of the very first fine wines to be commercially bottled with a screw cap. With a cool continental climate that slows down the ripening on the vine, the region’s winemaking history dates back to the 1st century. Read more here

 

 

 

Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron

This beautiful rural walk winds between the bastides or fortified towns that sprung up between the Cathar Crusades of the 1200s and the Wars of Religion in the 1500s. They are situated in spectacular settings on rocky promontories or broad hills and are rich in history. No fewer than 4 of the villages on this tour (Cordes, Bruniquel, Puycelci and Castelnau-de-Montmiral) are included on the unofficial but prestigious list of 143 most beautiful villages in France. The intervening countryside is a beautiful mixture of forests, fields and river valleys with a distinct lack of tourists. This has become not only one of our most venerated walks, but also one of the most popular tours in France. Read more here

 



In Van Gogh’s Footsteps

In 1888 Van Gogh left Paris for Arles in Provence where he started the most ambitious and productive period of his life. He worked under luminescent skies and the bleaching Provençal sun, painting the fields, drawbridges, cypress trees, cafés, local folk and ancient Abbey Ruins. This walk traces his footsteps through some of the places that he painted and would have known well. Here you will discover the many images of the landscapes he painted, from St-Rémy to the Baux-de-Provence and onto Arles. We are confident that you will have a better time of it than Van Gogh did; for a time he was in a hospital at Arles, he then spent a year in the nearby asylum of Saint-Rémy, working between repeated spells of madness. Just after completing his ominous Crows in the Wheat fields (1890), he shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died two days later. Read more here

 

 

 

The Way of St. James

This was one of our original hotel treks, and has been a consistently popular tour over the past 40+ years for those who love rural France and wish to visit some of its more unusual, less visited landscapes. The route covers a large swathe of the uplands of the Massif Central taking a path that the early Pilgrims walked on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain - one of the great journeys of history. This is a walk in deepest France, for those who really want a bit of peace and quiet away from it all, a flavour of the past with a dose of religious history and the echoes of The Hundred Year War. Read more here

 

 

 

This is just a small selection of trips that we offer to France. To browse all of our France holidays, click here.

Picture This - Walking in the Dolomites

Walking in the Dolomites

 

The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe. They consist of thick layers of the mineral ‘Dolomite’, akin to limestone, originally deposited on the floor of an ancient sea. The Dolomite peaks are gigantic, chiselled monuments to the powerful forces of glacial erosion. High mountain paths are interspersed with lush meadows and pretty hamlets and villages. 


But don't just take our word for it - have a look at these stunning images from our 8-day self guided trip - Walking in the Dolomites.

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

Walking in the Dolomites

 

 

If these photos have inspired you to find out more about walking holidays in the Italian Dolomites, click here for more information.