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The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
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Travel information on England, Scotland and Wales
Many of you are likely to have questions on when and where you can travel again within the UK. As the situation evolves, we will provide you with the answers to the most frequently asked questions on where you can holiday in the UK this year.
We’re all sadly aware that currently travel is limited with foreign travel banned even. Many of us here in the UK will be in anticipation for Monday 12 April when the government’s Global Travel Taskforce will come with its report on how and when travel can resume.
The roadmap for travel within the UK is clearer with preliminary dates set for England, Wales and Scotland. With all optimism building around travel for the summer, find some of the best walking and cycling opportunities in the UK. Now is the ideal time to plan ahead for when travel is permitted again with our Reduced Deposit Promotion and flexible booking conditions still valid.
From mid-April, travel within England will be partially allowed again setting the pace for UK-wide and international travel. It is hoped that this will be with lesser restrictions from mid-May and June.
So, whether you'd like to tackle the popular Coast to Coast Trail
, walk or cycle along the Cornish Coastal Path
, explore the Isle of Wight
or immerse in the Yorkshire Dales
, your options are plenty.
Dates for your diary:
- 12 April, and no earlier: allowed to reopen is self-contained accommodation such as campsites and private holiday lets – indoor facilities for one household only
- 17 May: expected date for international travel to be allowed again under a traffic light system and with testing & quarantining in place
Find official information on travel by the English Government, including the roadmap out of lockdown, here
Visiting England from abroad? Find official government information on travel in England here
Scotland is on its path to ease travel restrictions from April. What’s more: 2021 is the Year of Coasts & Waters in Scotland; cyclists on the Tour of Britain will be culminating in Aberdeen this September; and outdoor destinations are in the midst of preparations for increased visitor numbers.
So whether you want to follow the Great Glen Way
, complete the Scottish version of the 'Coast to Coast'
, or take in the majesty of the great outdoors from the Inner Hebrides to Scotland's 'Big County', browse all walking & cycling holidays in Scotland
or have a chat with our team
to discuss your wishes.
Dates for your diary:
- 26 April: plans to permit travel within mainland Scotland and tourism accommodation to reopen with general social distancing restrictions in place
Find official information on travel by the Scottish Government, including a timetable, here
Visiting Scotland from abroad? Find official government information on travel in Scotland here
Rebook Free of Charge
Plan your active holiday now! We are currently offering you the flexibility of changing your dates up to 70 days before departure – free of charge*. On top of that, if within the 70 days before your departure there is an official government reason due to which your trip cannot run, you can still change your dates without paying any fees. Or you’ll have the option to change to an alternative trip or get a full refund.
Wales is set to reopen its borders to UK travellers from mid-April allowing people to take in again Britain’s largest archaeological monument – Offa’s Dyke
. The path gives access to the pristine Welsh-English borderlands where way marked trails lead hikers through idyllic villages, along ancient aqueducts, ruined castles and striking rocky outcrops.
Dates for your diary:
- 27 March: travel within Wales is permitted in self-contained holiday accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service – for one household.
- From 12 April: travel restrictions within the UK and Common Travel Area (open borders area comprising the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands) will be lifted
Find official information on current restrictions by the Welsh Government here
Visiting Wales from abroad? Find official government information on travel in Wales here
Travel in Europe
The British government has announced 17 May 2021 as the date that international travel should reopen again. Although the government is working on plans that include a traffic light system for destinations based on their COVID infection rates and vaccination progress, a final decision on non-essential foreign travel is yet to be made.
With pre-departure and post-arrival testing to stay with us for a little longer, it is anticipated that if returning from a green country, no self-isolation would be necessary.
This article was last updated on 6 April 2021.
England's Coast to Coast Walks Cheat Sheet: Planning Your Coast to Coast Walk
When you’re planning a walking holiday on one of the UK’s most epic trails, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, you’ll probably start with doing research on general information on the trail. For instance, you may wish to know a bit more about the walking conditions on Wainwrights’ coast to coast walk, the remoteness of the routes, the presence of signage, and who Wainwright actually was. Another aspect of your coast to coast walk planning will likely be the grade of the walk and how challenging or comfortable Wainwright’s walk can be. To help you answer all these questions, we have prepared a detailed cheat sheet on things to know before you begin your Coast to Coast walk planning.
Which Coasts Are Linked On This Walking Trail in England?
The Coast to Coast walk in the United Kingdom crosses from West to East on one of the narrowest parts of the island. The route begins in St Bees on coast of Cumbria near the huge red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head, which overlooks the Irish Sea. From here it crosses the three national parks, the Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park, to finally reach Robin Hood’s Bay overlooking the North Sea.
At Sherpa Expeditions you can choose from a number of travel options along the Coast to Coast trail that differ in duration (15 up to as many as 18 day trips) and that are either guided or self-guided walking tours.
Who Is Wainwright?
Alfred Wainwright is the author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District among which is the first guide ever written on the Coast to Coast walk. Wainwright was an illustrator as well. His most famous publication is the series of seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells of the Lake District and in which he describes 214 fells, today known as The Wainwrights.
He lived and worked most of his life in Kendal, a few hours south from Patterdale, which is on our route of the Coast to Coast Walk.
What Are the Walking Conditions Underfoot on the Coast to Coast Like?
- St Bees to Ennerdale 23.5km / 14.5 miles: mixed walking mainly on farmland
- Ennerdale to Rosthwaite 26.5km / 16.5 miles: a hard day and rugged underfoot
- Rosthwaite to Grasmere 13.5km / 8.5 miles: steep walking and it can be boggy depending on rainfall
- Grasmere to Patterdale 12km / 7.5 miles: steep and rocky underfoot
- Patterdale to Shap 26km / 16 miles: the hardest part but easier underfoot apart from the long step section down from Kidsty Pike
- Shap to Kirkby Stephen 33km / 20.5 miles: a grassy trail
- Kirkby Stephen to Keld 24km / 14.5 miles: can be boggy
- Keld to Reeth 20km / 12.5 miles: good underfoot
- Reeth to Richmond 20km / 12.5 miles: good underfoot
- Richmond to Osmotherley 39km / 24 miles: easy underfoot but a long distance
- Osmotherley to Blakey 34km / 21 miles: a hard walk and quite rocky underfoot
- Blakey to Egton 16km / 10 miles: can be boggy, but it is on grassland and goes largely downhill
- Egton to Robin Hood’s Bay 25.7km / 16 miles: through heath, woodlands and on roads
How Remote Are the Routes on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast?
Even though most parts of the region you are walking in are relatively thinly populated, you will still find plenty of infrastructure to make sure you don’t have to camp or bring your own food. You can walk for a few hours without coming across any settlements, but then you’ll walk into one of the charming British villages for a bite and a break before continuing on.
If you are on a self-guided trip, you will need to concentrate on your map much of the time because of sudden changes and twists and turns of the route.
What’s The Most Challenging Coast to Coast Walk?
That would be the shortest version of the walking holidays we offer, which is our 15-day Coast to Coast Walk (available as both escorted and self-guided). It’s the most challenging version of the Coast to Coast Walk because you do the full length of the route in just 13 days of walking. The walking distances and times are longer than on any of our other trips.
What’s the Most Comfortable Option to Choose When Planning the Coast to Coast?
As opposed to the shortest trip being our most challenging option, the longest 18-day version of the Coast to Coast Walk is the most comfortable option. Walking distances are shorter so you have more time to rest and take in the scenery. For those of you who like to take it even more relaxed, you can decide to split up the route in two different sections that you can cover independently of each other. Of course it’s also always possible to customise your trip and add in extra resting or sightseeing days, just ask our friendly team.
What About Signage Along the Coast to Coast Route?
The Coast to Coast trail varies in its signage. The walk is not an official long distance footpath and because of that there are no official waymarks. When you pass through the towns and villages, most often you will find wooden sign posts. In the Dales there are some Coast-2-Coast signs and in the Cleveland Hills you can partially follow certain waymarks. However, especially in the Lake District and in parts of the Dales you must be prepared as there are no waymarks whatsoever. This means that you do need to be able to navigate with a map and compass, especially when visibility is poor.
The Coast-to-Coast crosses a number of other routes such as the Cumbrian Way and Herriot Way so you can’t assume the person in front of you is going the same way.
What Do I Do If I’m Short On Time?
If you’re short on time and still like to enjoy the Coast to Coast Walk in England, we advise you walk the first part of the route in eight days. This stretch shows you the Lake District and is considered the best part of the Coast to Coast Walk. The first few days will take you over some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain of the Lake District. You will pass Helvellyn (950m), England’s third highest mountain. You can decide to walk to the summit on a detour and on a clear day you may be able to see Scotland and Wales from its top.
We hope that this information will provide a good start to your Coast to Coast walk planning. Of course there's always our background information on the Coast to Coast trail as well and our team of travel experts is available to answer any questions from our London office.
If you are interested in more information on Wainwright's Coast to Coast, you may want to bookmark this page and Part II of this cheat sheet with even more questions on planning the Coast to Coast walk answered.
We’re delighted to have teamed up with photographer Andy Cox, whose website cornwallwithacamera.com features some of the most stunning shots we’ve ever seen of this truly beautiful part of the UK. Andy has lived there for nearly all of his life – few people know the magic and charm of Cornwall’s breath-taking landscapes better than him. All of the photos you can see in this gallery, plus many more, can be purchased as prints and photo gifts from his website, and you can also find him on Facebook and Instagram. Andy has also taken many photos of other parts of the UK, most notably the Isles of Scilly, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands.
Most importantly, every location featured in this gallery is visited on one or more of our Cornwall walking or cycling holidays – so you can enjoy the magnificence of these places in the flesh. The 2021 summer season is looking bright, so what are you waiting for?
Cheesering at sunset
Godrevy Lighthouse at sunset
Godrevy Lighthouse in a storm
Bodmin Moor in golden light
High tide sunset at St Michael's Mount
Poly Joke, Pentire
Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes
On the 4th September 2020, a day after Ann’s 63rd birthday, Steven and Ann started their Pennine Way adventure. Steven unfortunately had to give up on his walking trip on day 5 at Gargrave because of blisters. He got a taxi to the B&B in Malham while Ann walked there on her own. The next day Ann continued the adventure while Steven used public transport to get to Horton in Ribblesdale for the night’s accommodation and then picked up their car at home so they could join each other in the evenings at the charming B&B's.
It has given me so much confidence completing the Pennine Way.
Why did you choose to walk the Pennine Way?
Some years ago Steven, my husband and I were on holiday in Yorkshire with friends staying at a B&B. In the morning at breakfast a couple told us that they were walking the Coast to Coast. As soon as they told us about their adventure I wanted to do it. We have had walking holidays ever since, starting in 2015 with the Coast to Coast walk, followed by Offa's Dyke, Glyndwrs Way, the West Highland Way and in 2019 I took on Mt Kilimanjaro on my own. I am pleased to say that I made the summit of 5,895 meters; the toughest thing I have ever done. After Kilimanjaro I needed another big adventure and for 2020 the Pennine Way, all 268 miles in one trek, was chosen. Steven contacted Sherpa Expeditions and with the help of Tali made the arrangements. We had decided to walk the Pennine Way over 18 days, which included a couple of shorter days – considered rest days.
How did you prepare for your walk?
I joined my husband Steven in retirement in 2018 at the age of 60 to look after my Dad who was 91. Dad and I would go for miles, Dad in his electric buggy, me walking. The electric buggy had a battery life of 20 miles and we tested it.
My friend and I had completed the Capital Ring Walk and we were just getting going on the London Loop when COVID-19 Lockdown started in March 2020. During lockdown I would walk the local footpaths near home nearly every day, I was walking over 50 miles a week. Steven would join me for a walk a couple of times a week. Before COVID-19, Steven and I planned to go on holiday to the Lake District to train for our walking holidays so I hoped that the mileage we were walking in flat Essex instead would be enough for the Pennine Way.
How often does a granny from Essex get to climb a waterfall...
What was your favourite place along this UK National Trail?
I found all of the Pennine Way amazing, the solitude of the high moorland, the rain and blustery wind, the very boggy moors with wet feet most days and the amazing people I met on route. I have more than one favourite destination.
The lights of Tan Hill Inn after a very wet and windy walk over the moor. It looked so cosy and inviting . I had walked from Keld to Tan Hill with another Pennine Way walker and his friend who was doing a few days. I had bumped into them a few times and enjoyed dinner with them at Tan Hill. They did get a day ahead of me and I missed knowing they were on route.
Climbing Cauldron Snout was another favourite, how often does a granny from Essex get to climb a waterfall. Then Cauldron Snout to be followed on the same day by High Cup Nick. I just sat there with my flask of tea and took in the scenery. Walking along Hadrian’s Wall was beautiful; it took some of the tiredness out of my legs.
And my last day to Kirk Yetholm: I sat under a finger post indicating “Kirk Yetholm 4 miles”, drank my tea and knew I had made it, although I was swearing to myself up that last hill.
Best food & drink of this part of England?
I don't have one favourite place for eating, everywhere we went provided for walkers really well. I think my best meals were my lunch time sandwiches with amazing views with half or some of the days’ challenge completed. I usually stopped late afternoon too, for me a cup of tea and a snack tasted extra good knowing I didn't have far to go before I could rest.
What aspect of walking the Pennine Way did you find most challenging?
The biggest challenge was the Cross Fell day of 19.5 miles from Dufton to Alston. I left at 8am from the B&B and the never-ending lung busting slog up to Cross Fell took until nearly 1 o'clock. Here I had lunch, but still had 11 miles to go. It was late afternoon by the time I got to Garrigill where I had my afternoon tea. Steven had walked out to meet me as it was 6.30 before I got near Alston.
Biggest surprise of walking the Pennine Way?
My navigational skills are not as good as Steven's, so the biggest surprise for me was that I managed to complete the Pennine Way on my own. I didn't want to give up. I was so nervous as I walked out of Horton in Ribblesdale that first day on my own, but was determined to give it a go. I did have the GPX app that Sherpa Expeditions recommended and had managed to download all but 2 days routes.
I recorded my mileage every day, the Pennine Way is 268 miles. I did 290 miles, this includes the walks to and from the B&B's and the times I went wrong. I think you need to be fit to walk the Pennine Way but you also need to be determined. It has given me so much confidence completing the Pennine Way.
Would I do it again? YES
Want to do it too? Find out more about your options of walking the Pennine Way with Sherpa Expeditions or contact our team to discuss your wishes.
With Spring coming up soon again, many of the Sherpa Expeditions holidays are great to enjoy at this time of year. Often you're first to return to the trails and with the popping up of flowers, birdsong and longer days we believe spring is one of the best times of the year. The list of options is long, offering you plenty of choice in coastal walks, hiking the Swiss Alps, traditional English walks and even cycling around the UK.
To find a trip that best suits your interests and requirements, why not use the Holiday Search Wizard on which you can narrow down per destination, price, duration and start or finish dates. Now is the time to start planning for your UK or European spring walking holiday!
"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep the Spring from coming." - Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet-diplomat, politician & Nobel Prize winner
>> To the Holiday Search Wizard
Traditional English Walking
Exploring the Cotswolds (8 days)
A delightful short walk through quintessential English landscapes and villages in the charming Cotswolds -- A week long walk in the picturesque Cotswolds of southern England.
Or opt for the 5-day version or walk the 12-day Cotswold Way
Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen
Follow the Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to the historic villages and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. Choose for the guided or self guided option.
Or find one of the other guided or self guided Coast to Coast trip options
The Dales Way
Walk through the Pennines and Lake District in the Yorkshire Dales staying at inns and farmhouses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District
Walk from Ulverston to Keswick in the English Lake District, with views across Lake Coniston and Derwentwater. Visit Langdale and Borrowdale two of the prettiest Lakeland valleys.
Coast to Coast Classic Guided Walk - 15 Days
Cover 190 odd miles and traverse 3 national parks with our guide on the classic Coast to Coast walk, enjoy magnificent scenery with rolling hills and charming little villages with cosy pubs.
Or choose the 17-day guided option of Wainwright's Coast to Coast
Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight. For those who prefer two wheels, check out the stunning Isle of Wight Cycle trip.
West Highland Way (8 days)
Walk through the stunning Scottish Highlands from Loch Lomond to Ben Nevis on this iconic route.
Or choose the 10-day version of this walk in Scotland
Great Glen Way
Walk through the heart of the Scottish Highlands at your own pace on the 8-day The Great Glen Way or 5-day trip covering the Highlights of the Great Glen Way. Cyclists will enjoy taking in beautiful Scottish scenery from 24 March along the 5-day Great Glen Cycleway.
Lochs and Bens (cycling in Scotland)
Cycle the picturesque Scottish Highlands along lochs and bens from 1 April to enjoy spring at its best.
European Coastal Walks
Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen
Follow the Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees to the historic villages and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.
Or find one of the other Coast to Coast trip options by bicycle or on foot
Cinque Terre Villages
A coastal walk on the Italian Riviera with a centre based stay in Monterosso. Choose from a selection of walks or just saunter around the beaches and clifftops.
Cornwall: South West Coast Path
Walk England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail: the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.
Discover Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands. Walk in Samaria and Imbros Gorge and hike in the White Mountains. This trip allows you to enjoy spring in Greece from 1 May.
Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight.
European Mountain Walking
Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps (5 days)
Walk beneath the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau for unrivalled panoramas of the Swiss Alps during a selection of daily hikes on this centre based, self guided walking tour.
Or check out an 8-day version and all other trips in the Swiss Alps
Walking in the Apuane Alps
Escape the crowds with remote mountain walking in northern Tuscany. It's a fantastic region to experience in spring with our first departure being on 1 April.
Madeira Island Walking
Follow the levadas to discover the dramatic and rugged mountain scenery on the Portuguese island of Madeira. This trip runs year round, so if you can't wait for spring, there's always the option to head out now and enjoy the island's mild climate.
Secret France: the Ardeche (8 days)
A charming walk off the beaten track in the Massif Central in France. Face the Alps from a walkers' paradise of hills where the Ardeche, Loire and Haute Loire regions meet. Departs from 10 April for stunning spring walking.
The Troodos Mountains & Akamas (8 days)
Discover the Troodos Mountains and Akamas Peninsula of Cyprus on foot in 8 days or choose for the extended version of 11 days, travel from mid-March.
Cycling in the UK
Lochs and Bens (cycling in Scotland)
Cycle the picturesque Scottish Highlands.
Or find the complete offer of holidays in Scotland
Cotswolds by Bike
Cycle through the heart of England in the Cotswolds. Discover quaint stone built villages, ride across rolling hills between village pubs and old coaching inns.
Or check out all active holidays in the Cotswolds
The Cyclist's Coast to Coast
Cycle across England through the Lake District and over the Pennines to the North Sea along the popular C2C cycle path that was inspired by Wainwright's Coast to Coast path.
Or find the complete offer of Coast to Coast holidays
Great Glen Cycleway
Departing from 24 March to take in the best of spring, the Great Glen Cycleway is a Scottish coast to coast route largely following the walking route of the Great Glen Way National Trail.
Prepare for great coastal and country scenery as you cross England by bike following close to the line of the Roman frontier during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138AD).
For the complete offer of cycling and walking holidays in Europe, use the Holiday Search Wizard, or if you like to speak to one of our travel experts for tailored advice, contact us by email or phone.
There's a reason that so many people choose to do a walking holiday in the UK - in fact there are many reasons! The benefits of a UK walking holiday are both physical and spiritual - here are a few of the best...
An obvious one to start off with. Everyone knows that the best way to get fit and stay fit is to find something active that they enjoy. For some that might be running on a treadmill in the gym – but can you really think of a better way to get your body working hard and your heart pumping than climbing to the top of a steep hill or mountain and drinking in a beautiful view? Do that every day for a whole week, or longer, and just imagine how good you’ll feel. Of course, not all walking holidays have to be hard work – some of the UK’s best walking tours are gentle rambles through largely flat landscapes, but the exercise is still an important part of the experience.
This lot are working hard - just imagine how fit they'll be at the end of their trip!
It isn’t just your physical fitness that benefits from a walking holiday. It’s long been proved that exercise, fresh air, connection with nature and exposure to glorious views and wide open spaces are good for both the body and the soul. And at the end of the trip, the sense of achievement you get from having completed the challenge is something that will stay with you for a very long time. Sure, a week lying on a beach is all well and good (for some), but how long do those memories last compared to the ever changing landscapes of a walking holiday?
These two look pretty happy, don't they?
Wide open spaces and magnificent views - good for the soul!
The UK countryside isn’t just about glorious views – there’s some fascinating history to delve into on many of the popular routes. There’s Offa’s Dyke, built in the 8th century by Offa, the King of Mercia, to keep out the Welsh marauders. Or Hadrian’s Wall, started by the Roman Emperor in 122 AD to separate the Roman Empire from the ‘barbarians’ to the North. Then there’s the smuggling history all round the Cornish Coast, Queen Victoria’s connection with the Isle of Wight, and so much more. Wherever you decide to walk, there are stories to learn, and famous footsteps to walk in.
Osborne House, Queen Victoria's retreat on the Isle of Wight
Food and Drink
Traditional British food has taken a bit of a knock in years gone by, compared to our European neighbours. But not anymore – people have woken up to the choice and quality of traditional dishes served up in regions across the UK, and now the food is one of the highlights of any walking holiday in Britain. Throw in some of the finest beer and ale to be brewed anywhere in the world, and you have a recipe for a delicious meal at the end of each day’s walking.
Here are just a few of our favourite regional specialities to be found in the UK:
Cornwall - Stargazy Pie: A classic fish pie, made with pilchards or sardines, eggs and potatoes, covered in a pastry crust. Whilst recipes vary, the one common feature is fish heads protruding from the crust, as though their gazing at the stars, which is where the pie gets its name from.
The Lake District – Cumberland Sausage: Why have individual sausages when you could have one long sausage, coiled into a ring so it retains all of its juices and peppery flavour. Often served on top of a bed of creamy mashed potato and covered with rich gravy.
Yorkshire – Parkin: A moist, spicy, sticky, gingery cake. Perfect with a good cup of Yorkshire tea!
West Highland Way – Seafood: Scotland offers some of the best seafood in the world – and on the West Highland Way you’ll be savour some of the tastiest. Oysters, crab, lobster, razor shell clams – fresh from the sea.
This is just a start – there are so many classic dishes around the UK, you’ll have to keep coming back to make sure you try them all!
A typical Scottish seafood platter
Nature & Wildlife
Wherever you walk in the UK, you’re quite likely to encounter some fantastic wildlife – birds of prey, red deer, grey seals and shaggy feral goats are just some of the animals you might come across. And if fossils are more your thing, then the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and the Isle of Wight offer some great opportunities for fossil hunting on your route. As for flora and natural phenomena, there are waterfalls, rivers, spectacular rock formations (such as the famous Durdle Door in Dorset), flowers, grasslands, hedgerows and pretty much every other type of natural landscape you can imagine. For a pretty small country, the UK certainly packs a lot in!
Puffins on St Cuthbert's Way
A grey seal
The Dorset Coast with Durdle Door in the background
If this has inspired you to book a walking holiday in the UK, you can browse our full programme here.
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.
Read our walking boots size guide with all your FAQs answered
How to size your walking boots, depends on a number of factors. Your ideal choice of walking footwear ultimately depends on its fit and the activity that you intend to do, as well as the type of terrain you are planning to cover. In rocky, wet terrain you will need a boot with more support and waterproofing than say if you are going to walk on made up tracks or on roads. In these last instances, a lighter more cushioned boot will be more appropriate. For hot-weather-walking, eg. Italy in summer, you will prefer even lighter, open and breathable fabrics. Materials range from full grain leather through to suede and synthetic, with or without Gore-Tex or other linings to make them more waterproof.
Once you have decided on a style or function, the important thing is that the footwear should not only fit correctly to prevent blisters. The boot should also support your feet and ankles enough to help prevent walking fatigue and ankle or tendon injury as much as possible, for example from twisting or jarring. Once you know the sort of activity and thus the type of shoe you need, go and try some on at your friendly local store taking into account the below FAQs on sizing walking boots.
1. Boot length
Push your socked foot into the boot with loosened laces, with your toes going to the front and with your foot flat on the ground. Insert your index finger down the back of the boot, along your Achilles tendon down the inside heel without having to force it. If you can't do this or your finger, or toes are squashed, the boot is too short. Similarly, too much space may mean the boot is too long.
2. Width and pinch points
Whilst seated, with your foot flat to the ground and heel pushed to the back of the shoe, lace the boot and you will soon discover if the there are any pressure / pinch points which may indicate that there is not enough width especially if the laces are tight.
3. Weight shifting
Now with the laces tightened, stand up and bow, your feet spread under your body weight. You will now notice whether your toes are touching the front, and when you move shifting from foot to foot, if the heel or tops and sides are rubbing and if the shoe or boot is bulging. The latter may be a sign it is too tight. You can run your hands over the boot and find the obvious tight points.
4. Toe flex point
Although this won’t work so well if you are buying stiffened boots to use with crampons, most walking boots will flex at the point that is located between the ball of the foot and the toes. Attention! This is a usual blister pinch point that can be avoided by choosing the right size of walking boot. So, make sure that you use a step in the shop to see if there is any pinching when you go up the step or lean forward against a wall with your booted feet flat and flex forward. Remember that on a hill or in the mountains (eg. on the Tour du Mont Blanc) this move will be repeated thousands of times and so you don't want anything too tight.
5. Other Considerations
If you use orthotic insoles and you intend to use with them with the boots, then take them along to the shop and replace the original footbeds and see how you cope with them.
Also bear in mind that your feet will often swell up slightly with heat, when they are wet or sweaty or with a bit of altitude. You may want to try double socks or one sports sock liner and a loop stitched walking sock over that to help correctly sizing your new walking boots.
6. After Purchase
After you have purchased your new footwear, take it home and wear it indoors for a few hours to check if there is enough support and no pinching. Boots are usually quite a bit heavier and more supportive than the usual shoes we wear and it may take a while to get used to them. In the UK at least, most stores will replace the new boots if you are unsatisfied with their sizing as long as you haven’t used them outside and that you have all the original packaging and receipts etc.
If you are having fitting problems with current boots, we know they do change over time, then see our article on footwear micro adjustment with the help of... laces.
Traveller's Tale: Alison's La Gomera Walking Holiday
Alison Carr, a very skilled watercolour painter from the UK, took a walking holiday on La Gomera with us in November. Below, she shares some of her experiences – plus wonderful works of art that she produced along the way.
“The first word that comes to mind about this walking trip on La Gomera is contrast.”
The harbour town of Los Cristianos at the southernmost tip of Tenerife [red: where the nearest airport is] is so busy but then the ferry takes you away to the quiet and quaint San Sebastian on the island of La Gomera
, near enough to be seen but, in some way, a rather different world.
The first walking day takes me up to the hamlet of El Cedro. The road tunnel catapults me into one of the famous rain forests of La Gomera...it’s like a portal! On the other side is steamy, dense woodland with the light coming through in misty shards. It’s truly magical. Flowers and fruit grow in rich abundance and lizards scuttle about in the dry leaves as I walk past.
Being up so high affords sweeping views of the coastline below. It does also put you in touch with the elements, on occasion with a stiff breeze and atmospheric, swirling mists that frame glimpses of dramatic rock formations above and below.
Descending to the little town of Vallehermoso, I hear music and discover that the local bar in the square is a place where people congregate to sing (very heartily) with enthusiastic local guitarists and it’s so cheering to sit amongst them. Another contrast to the quiet of the day in the mountains above the town.
Highlights of the rest of the trip include the hill top village of Chipude with the zigzag path that takes you on up to the highest point of the island, into the National Park and its visitor centre with a comprehensive history of this fascinating place.
There was also an extra day to walk along the coast, a hot and dry walk with little pockets of green in the coves, such as the one at Playa Del Cabrito. Here, a banana plantation (the first I’ve ever seen!) completely takes me by surprise. A dip in the sea on the way back is most welcome.
Returning eventually to San Sebastian, there is a buzz of excitement. It may be a small place with a tiny harbour, but it’s also the place of choice for many great seafaring launches and today sees the teams for the challenge to row across the Atlantic getting their boats ready amongst all the media attention that goes with it. Even a Hollywood film, In the Heart of the Sea
, was shot here. By contrast, I board the steady, safe and slow ferry back to Tenerife and home after a really amazing walking tour of this lovely island of La Gomera.
© Words & artwork by Alison Carr