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by resident guide John Millen
If you are considering going on a multi-day walking holiday for the first time, it will often mean a total direction change from your previous vacations where you were sightseeing or relaxing on a beach break.
There is a formality with walking tours in the sense that you will be moving to a new location and accommodation on some or most days. But this kind of holiday gives you so much time and flexibility to do what you please on the way: stopping at viewpoints or visiting gardens, homes, castles, pubs and cafes. You may decide to have a picnic wherever you please, take in the landscapes or talk to the locals. So within the framework of an itinerary there is normally plenty of scope for doing and seeing.
First steps for walkers
As a first step, you may choose to go for a long weekend of walking or doing a couple of day walks in succession to see if you do actually like it!
The key point for a first time walker is to not bite off more than you can chew; try an easy-ish straightforward itinerary which you know you can probably follow. You can then relax and take your time.
By going on a shorter break for a first time walking holiday, you will be able to get used to the walks and whether you may have issues with feet or knees etc. Imagine what it could mean if you were to discover this in a really remote location!
Guided or self guided as a first time walk?
If you are thinking about a self-guided itinerary, look for the lower graded and better waymarked options such as the more southern trails in the UK like
The South Downs Way
The Thames Path
– or if you want to go further afield, the
pilgrim routes in Spain
and France. If you have not had much walking experience then it is best to keep to the more simply navigated walks such as these. If you are considering a
, then the navigation and a lot of the decisions are taken for you. In general though, guided walks are a bit harder and you will need to be mindful about your fitness and pacing within a group.
Pacing implies getting to a certain place by a certain time. Although it is certainly good to have a challenge, an easier itinerary means that you don't have to worry too much about pacing. This ultimately means more time for stops along the way and arriving at your destination more relaxed.
Do I need special gear for a walking trip?
Outdoor gear can be quite expensive. So if you are not sure about whether this type of holiday is for you, on an easier-graded trip you will not necessarily have to invest in expensive outdoor gear. To get an idea of some of the items you may need, check out my tips on
What to Take on a Hiking Trip
Maybe you will have half the gear already, trainers/ old walking boots a small rucksack, and a waterproof jacket.
You could look to borrow some gear from friends and family, and then having completed the first holiday, you can decide if you want to do another and invest in some gear.
Perhaps use a locally sourced wooden stick instead of buying walking poles, until you decide that you want to use them or not.
Some first time walkers worry about water intake or toilet stops and
. Unless it is really hot, it is rarely worth carrying more than two litres with you, and remember each litre weighs a kilogram. Quite a good idea is to try and drink quite a bit to flush your system before you set out each morning or even the night before. Normally on the easier walks you will not be too remote to refill your bottles or to buy a drink or two somewhere. Just make sure that any tap or faucet water is drinkable. It may be worth carrying water sterilizer tablets or a small filter. Some water bottles (
more about water bottles here
) come with this feature fitted. Normally there will be some kind of sign if the water in undrinkable.
Walking hours without visiting a toilet may be a worrying proposition but it need not be, just discreetly make use of terrain and vegetation. If you use toilet paper, fold it up and put it in a bag until you can dispose of it in the usual way.
What about navigating a route?
Get used to using a compass for general direction finding before you head off on your walking holiday. There is plenty of online guidance on map/ compass reading and I have written some
advice on navigating
before. Download any mapping apps and use any GPS data that the company may provide to help you along, but always carry the printed map, route notes and the name and address of your ultimate stop of the day. If using a phone or GPS, it makes sense to carry an auxiliary power bank and the appropriate leads.
What to pack for my first walking trip?
Don't overburden yourselves on your first walking holiday, but you may wish to carry a small umbrella (for shade as much as for rain), a Thermos flask (most UK B&Bs have tea and coffee making facilities in most rooms,) a small pen knife and maybe a piece of foam or a garden kneeler to sit on during a picnic. Plasters or compeed are useful for any abnormal hot spots developing on your feet.
With such considerations and warm or cold weather clothing packed appropriately for the coming day, you should be able to enjoy your first walking holiday ever!
GGot excited to go and try out the concept of a walking holiday? At Sherpa Expeditions you can choose from a list of options that are great for a first-time walking trip:
England walking holidays for first timers
Scotland walking holidays for first timers
Camino walking holiday for first timers
contact our team
of friendly travel consultants to give you personalised advice, by phone or email.
You may well believe it would be hard to stay sustainable whilst on holiday, but it might be easier than you think! We have put together 5 easy tips on how to be more sustainable when travelling and whilst out on your walking or cycling trips. Read on to find out more.
1. Be conscious of litter along the route
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t see any litter lining our walking trails, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case and often people throw food wrappers on the ground or leave there takeaway coffee cups along the way. So, if you see something, don’t just walk past it, pick it up. Let’s do our bit and make sure there’s nothing lying around that could damage the environment or the habitats of surrounding wildlife.
2. Drink from a reusable water bottle and other reusable items where possible
While this may not be anything new, it’s always good to remember packing your
reusable water bottle
. There are many great ones out there, that can keep your water nice and cold until you get thirsty! Also, if you are bringing food out with you, make sure to bring it in a reusable lunch box with reusable cutlery...every little helps!
3. Use biodegradable & eco-friendly products
There are so many products around now that are much kinder to the environment in the ways that they are produced and the way that they can be disposed of. Some examples are bamboo toothbrushes, green cosmetics using renewable raw materials and ethically sourced and sustainable clothing, to name just a few. Why not swap out a few of your every day essentials before your next trip?
4. Eat locally
When you are staying in various towns and villages along the way, try either buying fresh from local markets if you are cooking for yourself or eating in restaurants using ingredients sourced from local suppliers so they have not had to travel far to get to your plate. This way you will be feeding back into the local community and helping boost their economy by keeping smaller companies in business…win-win!
5. Pack lightly to reduce CO2 emissions
Whether you’re travelling to your destination by plane, car or train, it’s always worth trying to pack as lightly as you can and only bring exactly what you need with you. You may wonder why this would make a difference, but the lighter your luggage is, the lighter the vehicle or plane will be, meaning it will use less fuel to transport your belongings and therefore reducing the effect it has on the environment via CO2 emissions. Something to think about next time, you want to bring something with you ‘just in case’.
Find a Trip
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
, The Trip to Italy
and The Trip to Spain
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!
In these scary and uncertain times, it has never been so important to keep a semblance of normality in our lives and part of that is staying fit, even if it is in the comfort of our own home whilst self-isolating! Who said that it can’t be just as fun as going to classes with friends or tackling new mountain trails? In accordance with the UK governments instructions, we are still allowed to go out for exercise (including a walk, run or cycle) once per day but if you are training for a long distance walk or cycle and this isn't quite enough, we are on hand to provide you with some advice on where to go for some active inspiration to add into your routine, from yoga to hiit workouts.
Yoga to help with flexibility and core strength
Yoga has long been thought of as an excellent way to reconnect with your body and feel grounded. However, there are other amazing health benefits such as improving your blood flow, flexibility, core strength and even pain relief, which all really help when it comes to training for a challenging walk. There are also many different types of yoga, so you can find what suits you and your needs.You can find lots of free yoga tutorials and classes online, but two of the best in our opinion are Yoga with Adriene and Cat Meffan. They both provide you with easy to follow sessions to fit in with your day, from 10 minutes to one hour, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro. If you want to give it a go, why not ease yourself in with
30 days of yoga with Adriene
Find Yoga with Adriene
Find Cat Meffan
Hiit workouts to help with stamina and building muscle
Hiit workouts AKA high-intensity interval training are all about raising your heart rate with quick and intense exercises, with a short break in between each one. They can also fit into your schedule, as they normally only last around 10 to 20 minutes. They are shorter than your average session in the gym because you use a lot of energy in a short period of time, meaning you need to spend less time exercising whilst still getting all the benefits of building up your stamina and strengthening you muscles. If you're thinking of giving it a go, we would recommend doing your workout in the morning to kick start your day and get your metabolism going. Two great places to find all you need in one place are Joe Wicks who has hundreds of different workouts available via his YouTube channel and Les Mills who have made all of their on demand videos free during the COVID-19 disruptions.
Get smart with home fitness apps
In these unprecedented times, social media and keeping connected has never felt so important, this is where fitness apps come in. There are a plethora online which can be a bit overwhelming, which is why we have done the hard work for you and found a couple of free apps that can help you with getting your daily activity in without having to leave the house. Daily Workouts is an app containing many different workouts, from five to 30 minutes with the added bonus of choosing which area of your physique you’d like to target, it couldn't more simple. Then we have Freeletics, this bodyweight training program helps with conditioning and endurance, including tutorial videos to help you with your exercises. Both are perfect for keeping up your fitness levels until you can get back in the great outdoors!
Download Daily Workouts
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
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.
By John Millen, Sherpa Expeditions' resident guide and walking expert.
I was walking on the Norfolk Broads last weekend and met up with an old friend, now into his eighties. I hadn't seen him for 7 years but he used to amble along puffing his pipe, eyes bright and twinkling full of ideas. He is a landscape painter and still manages to paint three pictures a week. He sells quite a few of them and you could see him analysing the light, colour, changing clouds and the harmony of the perspective before him. The pipe smoking stopped when his son started medical school and forced him to quit, and the walking slowed, but never stopped. The little pearl of wisdom that he gave to me at the weekend was a succinct piece of Latin which can be applied to all our walking -
, which literally means solvitur ambulando . 'it is solved by walking'
If the ancients knew this, then it also applies so much to our lives today. Of course running and cycling also provide an endorphin rush, which is not quite the same thing, and although you can get lost in the act of exercise, you really only get to think deeply when you have fewer distractions such as traffic or uneven paving, and when walking in beautiful landscapes. It is more the view, the smells, the sounds and the brush of the air and how they play upon our mind, mixing up emotions, memories, nostalgia and thoughts. The time and space created by walking allows us to disentangle thoughts, put things in perspective, calm down and figure out ways of sorting out issues in our often-complicated lives.
Just a couple of hours of walking certainly solved a couple of things for me. I hadn't seen a barn owl for two years, and then one flew out of a woody thicket. Two rare marsh harriers skimmed the backlit reed beds in scything silhouettes, mewing to each other.
So many people walk to clear their minds, solve problems and reach for ideas. We can think of Charles Darwin at Down House in Kent. After he bought the property he laid down various walking loops around the estate and spent much time walking and pondering the theory of natural selection, evolution and where that placed religion. CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein walked together, discussing literature and religion - and wrote some rather famous books about it! Nan Shepherd, in a beautiful short book called The Living Mountain, talked about how, as we walk, we become one with the landscape and nature and, in her mind’s eye, actually entered into the mountain – in her case the Cairngorms of Scotland.
All of this points to the benefits of walking, and what better way than to take a
Sherpa Expeditions walking holiday for a bit of ? solvitur ambulando
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
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.
Traditional Cotswolds houses
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.
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.
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.
Lindisfarne (Holy Island) at the end of St Cuthbert's Way
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.
Challenging Trips for Experienced Walkers
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.
The Pennine Way
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.
The Coast to Coast
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Some people are a bit squeamish about feet. Others think they’re the most beautiful parts of the human body. But whatever your view, there’s no denying that your feet are one (or more precisely two) of
the most important bits of kit on a walking holiday.
Problems with your feet can really curtail your enjoyment of a walking trip, so it pays to do everything you can to prepare them in advance of your trip, and look after them once you’re hiking, trekking or walking.
Here are a few tips to ensure your carefully laid holiday plans aren’t trampled upon by problem feet.
WEAR THE RIGHT WALKING BOOTS
We won’t go in to too much detail here – you can read
our guide to choosing walking boots that we published last year. The important thing, if you’re buying new boots for your trip, is to spend enough time researching and trying on boots, and to allow enough time to wear them in before you start your holiday. If you buy some new boots a couple of days before you’re due to start, and you wear them for the first time on your first day’s hiking, you’re asking for trouble!
There’s a huge amount of choice out there these days – gone are the days when all walking boots were made of stiff, heavy leather. Waterproof materials like Gore-Tex have meant that modern walking boots can be flexible and lightweight, and more closely resemble sturdy trainers. But it’s important that your boots still give you the support you’ll need for the type of walking you’re doing. A good outdoor shop will have staff that will spend time talking to you about your needs and will help you choose the right boots. You can even get custom-moulded footbeds to go into the bottom of your boots to give you more support and comfort – any skiers out there will certainly be able to tell you about the benefits of these!
Sherpa Expeditions travellers receive a discount at
Cotswold Outdoor, one of the biggest outdoor chains in the UK, with knowledgeable staff and an excellent choice of boots.
WEAR THE RIGHT SOCKS
Socks and technology aren’t often two words that go together – but as with boots, there have been great strides (no pun intended) in the technology used to make socks especially designed for walkers. Obviously your choice of socks will be influenced by the weather – an October walk in the Scottish Highlands and a walk on the Amalfi Coast in August will clearly not require the same type of socks! But the main thing to bear in mind is that friction and moisture are your two worst enemies when it comes to blister prevention. Merino wool is particularly good for keeping feet warm without being too thick, and is great for drawing moisture away from the skin. It also has natural anti-bacterial properties.
Some keen walkers swear by wearing a thin pair of socks next to the skin, and a thicker pair on top for warmth, which can help to reduce friction.
As with your boots, the important thing is to find the best option for you, as there is a huge amount of choice out there. Once again, the staff at a good outdoor shop will be able to give you some good advice and talk you through the options.
Finally, if you’re on a trip where your luggage is being transferred for you, as with all Sherpa Expeditions holidays, it’s worth taking a clean pair of socks for each day’s walking. If this isn’t possible, then try to ensure that your socks get properly dried out each night.
USE TAPE ON PRESSURE POINTS
There are many types of blister tapes out there, but the best ones these days are made from the same material you sometimes see sports stars wearing on various parts of their body to help protect and stretch muscles. The trick is that this type of tape is moisture (i.e. sweat) resistant, so the tape won’t come away from your skin if your feet get a bit damp.
Leukotape is a well-known brand, but there are plenty of others available.
You can use the tape as prevention for blisters on the areas of the feet that receive the most pressure – the ball, the heel, the bottom of the big toe. But really, as everyone’s feet are different, you can put tape on any parts of your feet that you know are susceptible to rubbing against the inside of your boots.
CLIP YOUR TOENAILS
This is a simple one – keep your toenails short! If they’re too long they’ll rub against the front of your boots and this will cause damage and pain to your toes. It’s amazing how quickly your toenails can grow as well – so if your trip is a week or more long, it’s worth packing some nail clippers so you can keep them trimmed throughout your walk. Experts recommend cutting straight across the top of the nail rather than a rounded shape, as this stops the corners of the nails digging into your toes, and reduces the risk of ingrowing toenails. Filing your toenails also helps to ensure you don’t have any rough or sharp edges that can do damage to your toes.
It’s a really good idea to keep your feet moisturised to stop skin drying out ,which in turn causes friction and makes blisters more likely. You can use a standard skin moisturiser or specialist foot cream – rub it all over your feet, and especially in between your toes before you go to bed each night, and again before putting your socks and boots on in the morning. Some people like to use petroleum-based products such as Vaseline if their skin is particularly dry, but many experts say that this traps in moisturiser and makes you more prone to developing athlete’s foot.
There are also some really good foot balms on the market that you can use after a day’s walking, that use natural ingredients to soothe your feet and can even help to strengthen the skin, which protects against blisters.
TREAT BLISTERS BEFORE THEY GET TOO BAD
This cannot be stressed to much. People often start to feel pain when out walking, but decide to carry on until the end of the day – sometimes because they don’t want to feel like they’re holding up their fellow walkers. But blisters can develop very quickly, and a few minutes treating the early signs of a blister, or ‘hot-spot’ can save a hug amount of time, and pain, in the long run.
If you feel a hot-spot start to develop, take off your boots and socks and try and dry your feet as much as you can. Apply some foot cream and blister tape to the affected area. If you’re carrying a spare pair of clean, dry socks in your bag, now is the time to use them – if not, try and dry your socks out as much as possible in the time you have available before you put them back on. We can’t guarantee that this will stop a full-blown blister developing, but it’ll give you the best chance of getting through to the point when you can give your feet a proper clean and rest.
REST YOUR FEET WHEN YOU CAN
We’re guessing that most walkers won’t need too much persuasion with this one after a long day’s walking! But it’s worth mentioning because of its importance. If you’re walking somewhere dry and warm, take your boots and socks off when you stop for lunch or a break – even just a few minutes in the fresh air will be enough to dry away any moisture. Try to wash, dry and moisturise your feet as soon as you can after you’ve finished your day’s walking. If you’re heading back out, hopefully to a nice pub for some dinner and a well-earned drink, put clean socks on and some fresh shoes if you’ve packed them (and if you’re using Sherpa Expeditions’ luggage transfer, why wouldn’t you?!). But as soon as you’re back in your hotel room or tent, let those feet breathe and repair themselves ready for the next day.
Follow these tips and you’ll be giving yourself the best possible chance of keeping your feet happy. And happy feet make happy walkers!