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UK & European Holiday News

The latest travel news, interviews, traveller reviews, inspiration & advice on cycling and walking holidays in the UK and Europe..
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The Best UK National Trails

Best UK National Trails to walk with Sherpa Expeditions
 
Scattered around England and Wales, you may have come across a so-called UK National Trail. Marked by the iconic acorn symbol, these are walking (and sometimes cycling) routes designated by the British Government. The conditions along the trail are looked after by a dedicated officer and are kept maintained to a standard that truly sets them apart. 
 
They are a fantastic option to discover some of the best that the UK has to offer to outdoor enthusiasts as they wind their way through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. All being long distance walks, allow yourself a week or two to step into the outdoors and soak up the British countryside.
 
With nine out of the 15 trails to choose from, let Sherpa Expeditions be your guide when completing a UK National Trail
 

Cleveland Way

The 110 mile Cleveland Way follows a walking route from Helmsley to Filey. What stands out is the experience of half a walk over hill and scarp edges and half along the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
 

Cotswold Way

 
The Cotswolds is the epitome of the English countryside. It is no wonder that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as rolling hills meet with quaint villages that are all preserved in a glorious state.  
 

Hadrian’s Wall Path

Hadrian’s Wall stretches from the aptly named Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to the quaint village of Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The 84 mile (135km) Hadrian’s Wall Path takes hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, following the world’s largest Roman artefact.
 

Offa’s Dyke Path

Crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path follows some of the finest scenery in both countries for 177 miles (285 km).

Pennine Way

 
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first UK National Trail on April 24th 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 and down into Scotland.
 

South Downs Way

Exactly 100 miles of chalk downland walking separates the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and the ancient Saxon Capital of Wessex and England – Winchester, forming the South Downs Way. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Southern Britain, the walk generally follows the chalk (soft limestone) ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast. 

South West Coast Path

Follow the South West Coast National Trail with Sherpa Expeditions
 
England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail is the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.

Thames Path

Following the Thames Path will help you to understand not only the Thames but also why it is the key to the history of London. There is a lot to see: the palaces such as Hampton Court and Syon Park; castles such as Windsor and the Tower of London; multiple bridges each with their own history; and wildlife reserves.  And always as the backdrop to it all is the life on the river. 


Contact our team to organise your UK National Trail walking holiday. 
 

How To Be A More Sustainable Traveller

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’.
 

 

 

 

Long weekend walking and cycling trips

At the moment, we are living vicariously through reliving old trips and seeing locations remotely. However, once we are safely able to travel again, we thought we would put together a selection of shorter 5 and 6 day trips to get you back in the swing of things.
 
 

Exploring the Cotswolds - 5 Days (3 Days Walking)

This trip is a fantastic discovery of the English countryside, coupled with the unrivalled hospitality of traditional, family run B&B’s and guesthouses. You will take in the amazing Cotswold landscape, with it’s unique mixture of parkland, cultivated fields with dry-stone walls of Jurassic limestone and patches of unspoilt woodland. The scenery blends with the structures creating a delightful fusion of natural and man-made beauty. With days of up to 20km, this is a relatively easy to moderate route with some hilly parts and a number of beautiful villages along the way.

Find out more about Exploring the Cotswolds here.

 

Isle of Wight Cycle – 5 Days (3 Days Cycling)

The Isle of Wight was recently crowned as Holiday Destination of the Year in the Countryfile magazine awards 2020. A destination that is often overlooked, this is a place of outstanding natural beauty, from its beaches to ‘The Needles’, as well as some historical landmarks including Queen Victoria’s Osborne House, Quarr Abbey and the piers of Old Yarmouth Town. Enjoy this lovely, short break for cyclists who want an attractive sightseeing tour, with a mixture of town, country and time to explore. Expect between 4 to 5 hours of cycling per day, with the trip starting and ending in the seaside town of Ryde.

Find out more about the Isle of Wight Cycle here.

 

James Herriot Way – 6 Days (4 Days Walking)

Sometimes described as ‘the best short walk in England’, this walk is designed to take in some of the countryside beloved by James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot. It is a 80km circular route which winds its way through the contrasting dales of Swaledale, Apedale and Wensleydale which is a centre for rope and cheese-making. It is scattered with agricultural and industrial heritage, in amongst gorgeous river, waterfalls and attractive fells. It is an excellent introduction to long distance walking on longer trails such as the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast.

Find out more about the James Herriot Way here.

 

Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps – 5 Days (3 Days Walking)

This is a truly spectacular centre based self-guided holiday, with wonderful alpine scenery, including dramatic lakes, gorges and glaciers, as well as breath-taking views of the iconic Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. Meiringen is the perfect base for multiple day walks that can be made easy or hard depending on preference. It is a small market town with excellent shops and facilities, which is excellent in all seasons and remains relatively unspoiled. From the town it is possible to set out each day in a different direction using the incredible network of cable cars, postbuses and mountain railways. You can reach the high places quickly and easily without the necessity of long uphill climbs out of the valley.

Find out more about Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps here.
 
 

Coronavirus, Holidays in the UK and Europe: a Message from our CEO

Maintaining a rational perspective with international travel

There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has caused disruption and inconvenience to individuals and to the authorities in affected areas, but I would like to reassure travellers with a calm and rational assessment of the facts.

Uncertainty about the virus in its early weeks has bred fear, which is being heightened by the barrage of news headlines and amplified by social media. The situation now is that it is rare to read balanced information. 

World Expeditions Travel Group has been operating adventures across the globe for 45 years and, during that time, we have experienced and overcome many adversities. We have well-developed and tested risk strategies for these very occurrences. 

Coronavirus outbreak is the latest challenge and we do not see any reason for travellers to panic. We advocate continuing with travel plans as we are doing with our own staff travel programme. 

As with travel at any time, there are risks of infection from a virus. At no time are we able to guarantee you will not become ill during your travels with World Expeditions Travel Group or, indeed, in your daily life at home. Weighing up the risks of travel is a personal decision and we encourage you to investigate the facts to come to an informed decision about the risks. 

According to the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
 
"Everyone should know the symptoms – for most people, it starts with a fever and a dry cough, not a runny nose.  Most people will have mild disease and get better without needing any special care."

We develop robust risk strategies based on multiple sources, primarily: 

We encourage you to visit both websites. With respect to corona virus, mainland China, Iran and 11 towns in Northern Italy and two pockets of South Korea remain the only four countries for which the FCO has increased the advisory to Advise against all but essential travel or Advise against all travel. 
 
Johns Hopkins University in the US has a map with helpful facts about global cases of the virus.   

We make regular updates to the travel advisory section of our own website and I encourage you to check it on our partner company World Expeditions.

I would also remind you that a typical World Expeditions Travel Group holiday is one in which you’ll be immersed in the natural landscape and generally off the beaten track, where the chance of catching any virus is far lower than in most urban environments.

I do advise departing travellers, including staff who are travelling both now and in the future, to take extra precautions in washing your hands regularly and following NHS guidelines related to COVID-19.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that your safety – and that of all our travellers - has always been at the core of everything we do. I acknowledge that any new health outbreak that is widely covered by the media will cause concern and I encourage you to maintain a rational perspective and continue with what you do daily and what you love to do on your holidays.

Yours sincerely,

Sue Badyari
CEO
 
 

UK Walking and Cycling Trips Inspired by 2020 Film Releases

There are lots of exciting films coming out in the next few months that were filmed in and around some of the most beautiful parts of the UK. Whether you go to watch them or not, you can still enjoy the same views as your favourite film stars whilst getting active outdoors on a walking or cycling holiday! From all the way up in the Scottish Highlands, right down to the Dorset coast; there's sure to be something that ticks all your boxes.
 
 

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (UK Release Date, August TBC)

The beloved, Beatrix Potter-created character is getting the CGI treatment one more time. The second feature adaptation of Peter Rabbit was partly filmed in the Lake District, an ode to the character’s creator, as Beatrix Potter had spent many holidays in the area. 

Immerse yourself into the world of Peter Rabbit on the NEW The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District trip, where you will travel through the timeless landscapes of Beatrix Potter in northern England.

Find out more about The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District trip here.
 
 

No Time To Die (UK Release Date, November TBC)

Daniel Craig stars for a fifth and final time as the fictional spy in the upcoming, the twenty-fifth in total, instalment in the James Bond franchise. The (former) MI6 agent spy enjoys life in Jamaica at the beginning of the film, however his retirement turns out to be short lived.

No Time to Die was filmed in various locations including Norway and Italy, as well as the Scottish Highlands, whose spectacular Lochs and Bens you can admire up close in our self-guided cycling trip.

Find out more about the Lochs and Bens trip here
 
© Helmsley Walled Garden
 

The Secret Garden (UK Release Date, 14 August)

The children’s classic is getting the big screen treatment in a new film starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters. The scenes at the secret garden (locked, according to the story, by Mr Craven) were shot at the five-acre Helmsley Walled Garden near the North York Moors, where the Cleveland Way starts.

The Cleveland Way walk begins at Helmsley, so you can start your trip by taking a peek at the ‘new’ secret garden before you venture all the way over to the beautifully picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay.

Find out more about The Cleveland Way trip here.
 
 

Ammonite (UK Release Date, TBC)

The latest project by acclaimed writer-director Francis Lee sees Kate Winslet starring as Mary Anning, the ‘unsung hero of fossil discovery’, whose worked concentrated on Britain’s rugged southern coastline. Co-starring Saoirse Ronan, the film was shot extensively on location in Dorset and Surrey.

As you walk along the Jurassic Coast on the Dorset and Wessex Trails, you will find yourself immersed in the truly wonderful world of Mary Anning.

Find out more about The Dorset and Wessex Trails trip here.
 
Post updated on 18 March, 2020.
 
 

Cycling Trips To Try This Year


 

The Cyclist’s Coast to Coast 

Get ready for a special 142 mile ride from the harbour at Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to the Abbey and castle at Tynemouth on the shores of the North Sea. Taking a different route to the Coast to Coast walk, it serves as a brilliant way to see northern England and how the landscape changes as you cycle along. There is so much to see, including the Cumbrian Lakes and Fells, the bleak Pennines, beautiful Dales, towns and villages of all sizes. You should also have some time to enjoy the gorgeous tea shops, traditional pubs and interesting historical and industrial sites along the way.

Find out more about The Cyclist’s Coast to Coast here.


 

Cornish Cycle Tour 

This bike tour takes you on a journey through a varying landscape of Cornwall, filled with inland heaths and downs, rolling hills and tumbling coastlines. There are also sheltered coves and beautiful rivers, castles and gardens to visit along the way. With the daily rides being around 30 miles (50km), this allows plenty of time to see Cornwall the way that you want to.

Find out more about the Cornish Cycle Tour here.


 

Cotswolds by Bike 

This trip is a great introduction to cycling in the English countryside. A week of marvellous rides will take you through one of the most beautiful and historic parts of England. Honey coloured stone villages, wooded valleys and Roman roads are the background to famous gardens, a Roman villa and welcoming inns. The tour starts and ends in elegant Cheltenham, riding through the Cotswold Water Park and past the Chedworth Roman Villa then on the final day you will visit the historic 15th century Snowshill Manor and enjoy the wonderful views from Broadway Tower.

Find out more about Cotswolds by Bike here.


 

Cycle the Wine Regions of Tuscany 

Prepare yourself for a thrilling ride through the landscapes of the Val d’Orcia in southern Tuscany. Pedal through vibrant fields of sunflowers and past rolling hills covered with vineyards to the heart of the Brunello wine district and cheer with a glass of the famous local Vino Nobile when you arrive at Montepulciano. Joining in the serene medieval town of  Buonconvento and from the hot spring hamlet of Bagno Vignoni to the heavenly Renaissance city of Pienza, the itinerary is dotted with captivating palaces, Romanesque churches and, of course, prestigious wineries!

Find out more about Cycling the Wine Regions of Tuscany here.

 

Lochs and Bens Cycle 

The Scottish Highlands have long been a favoured destination for those keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. During this week long trip, you will take the backroads and country paths, visiting charming historic towns with ancient castles and monuments such as Dunkeld, and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead, and Killin. 

Find out more about the Lochs and Bens Cycle here.


 

Scottish Highlands Cycle 

This is a truly stunning cycle route from Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands, along the shores of Loch Ness to Fort William. En route, you may be lucky enough to spot the wildlife of the region including red deer, stag or golden eagle. It also wouldn’t be a trip to the highlands without a day in Fort William to rest or ascend Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain!

Find out more about the Scottish Highlands Cycle here.


 

Isle of Wight Cycle 

This is a lovely short break for cyclists who want a beautiful sightseeing tour, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no less, with a good mixture of town and country. The ride starts in the old seaside town of Ryde, passes through Cowes, famous for its regattas then tracks inland through the estuary around Newport to the old town of Yarmouth. And, if the weather is on your side, you can follow the Tennyson Trail to Brighstone, then onto the ship wreck capital of the island, Chale. Followed by the scenic coastal stretch back into Ryde.

Find out more about the Isle of Wight Cycle here.
 
 

New Trips for 2020

Exploring Tuscan Hilltop Towns 

The Tuscan landscape of the Val d’Orcia will open your eyes to its natural beauty. This walk takes you along steep valleys, dense forests, rivers and the legendary “badlands” eroded clay slopes. Walk by quintessential farmhouses nestled amidst olive groves, vineyards and fig trees on your way to the hot spring hamlet of Bagno Vignoni and the Renaissance city of Pienza. On this week long exploration, you will visit palaces, Romanesque churches, thermal baths, and wineries serving the divine local red “Brunello”.

Find out more about Exploring Tuscan Hilltop Towns here.
 

Cotswold Way 

Walk from Chipping Campden to Bath through a patchwork of rolling hills dotted with picture-postcard villages. The Cotswolds is one of the most quintessentially English parts of the country, with a wealth of castles, manor houses, abbeys and Roman villas.

Find out more about the Cotswolds Way here.
 
 

Highlights of the Dolomites 

The Dolomites are gigantic, chiselled monuments to the powerful forces of glacial erosion. Although not exceptionally high – the highest peak is Marmolada at 3,342m – they are amongst the most striking of all European mountains, coloured in weathered hues of rose, yellow, white and grey and rising in steep spires of fantastic form. Panoramas unfold with each turn of the paths and crossing of the passes and there are also opportunities (for the not-so-faint-hearted!) to stand on a couple of summits and peer down almost vertical rock faces to the valleys far below.

Find out more about Highlights of the Dolomites here.
 

Thames Path East 

This is the shorter 'Half' of the Thames Path National Trail and the transition between fresh water and tidal sections of the Thames from Teddington Lock. There is an amazing amount of history and mixed scenery along this walk such as Hampton Court Palace and Syon Park, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, plus many wildlife reserves. If you want to see England’s capital from a different perspective, this is a great one for you!

Find out more about Thames Path East here.
 
 

Cycle the Wine Regions of Tuscany 

A brand new itinerary dotted with prestigious wineries! Pedal through fields of sunflowers and past rolling hills covered with vineyards to the heart of the Brunello wine district and cheer with a glass of the famous local Vino Nobile at Montepulciano.

Find out more about Cycling the Wine Regions of Tuscany here.
 
 

The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District

From the historic town of Ulverston to the ‘Great Border City’ of Carlisle: cross through the heart of the Lake District as you walk the full 74-mile length of the well-established path, providing a complete south-to-north crossing of the county.

Find out more about The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District here.
 
 

A Year In Trips - Where To Go And When in 2020

To celebrate the start of a new decade, we have put together the ultimate list of the best trips to go on over the coming year; from catching some winter rays in the Canaries, to beating the crowds on the Amalfi Coast and bringing out your inner foodie in Burgundy.
 
 

JANUARY - Beat the winter blues in the Canary Islands

Even during the winter months, La Gomera gets 9 hours of sunshine daily, with the average day temperature close to 22°C. Despite being easily accessible from Tenerife (the boat trip takes just an hour), the surprisingly lush green island remains largely untouched by mass tourism. 

Find out more about our Exploring La Gomera trip here.

 

FEBRUARY - See the orchids in bloom in Madeira

In the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira enjoys an impressive year-round flowering season thanks to its subtropical climate. The best time to catch the orchids in bloom is in February and you can even find a dedicated Orchid Garden with more than 7,500 species.

Find out more about our Madeira Island Walking trip here.

 

MARCH - Have the Amalfi Coast for yourself before the crowds arrive

Few trips in Italy take in such a diverse combination of iconic highlights, making it impossible to escape the hordes of crowds that head to ‘Nastro Azzurro’ (Blue Ribbon) in the summer months... but come in March and you will have the Amalfi Coast just to yourself.

Find out more about our Amalfi Coast trips here.

 

APRIL - Walk through bluebells in the Cotswolds

April marks the beginning of the bluebell season across the country. If you are looking to admire these quintessentially English carpets of blue, you do not have to travel far, head to the Cotswolds countryside and get inspired by this spectacle of nature.

Find out more about our Cotswolds trips here.

 

MAY - Cycle through the Scottish Highlands at their sunniest (and driest!)

May is not only the driest month in Scotland (less than 80mm of rain) but with approximately 170 hours of sunshine it is also the sunniest. Although the Scottish weather is notoriously changeable and often localised, this is when you are least likely to avoid a downpour.

Find out more about our Scottish Highlands Cycle trip here.

 

JUNE - Explore England before schools break up for summer

If your plans are not determined by the school summer holidays, travel in June for a quieter countryside and a less busy coast. June sees the longest day of the year (an average of 16 hours of daylight) so you can maximise your time outdoors on the most classic of all UK hiking trails, like the Coast to Coast.

Find out more about our Coast to Coast trips here.

 

JULY - Visit the Yorkshire Dales ahead of the TV remake of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’

Channel 5 is reviving in 2020 the much-loved TV series about a rural vet in the Yorkshire Dales, which was based on James Herriot’s real-life memoirs. The remake is scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original publication of James Herriot’s ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

Find out more about our James Herriot Way trip here.

 

AUGUST - Cycle your own Tour of Britain in Cornwall

Cornwall will host the Tour of Britain for the first time ever in September 2020, which will see riders travel over 100 miles through the Cornish countryside. It will be the biggest ever sporting event to take place in the county, so if you want to avoid the (extra) crowds travel a few weeks earlier.

Find out more about our Cornish Cycle Tour here.

 

SEPTEMBER - Swim through rock arches in Sardinia

The weather in Sardinia in September is still warm and pleasant, with the lower humidity making outdoor activities much more enjoyable. Explore secluded bays and ancient watchtowers, swim through rock arches and watch the sunset turn the cliffs to shades of yellow and pink.

Find out more about our Saunter in Sardinia trip here.

 

OCTOBER - Plan a grape escape in Tuscany 

October is grape harvest time in Tuscany. Pedal past rolling vine-covered hills to the heart of the Brunello wine district, meet local winemakers and wander through ochre-coloured vineyards. When you get to Montepulciano, cheers with a glass of the famous local Vino Nobile.

Find out more about our Cycle the Wine Regions of Tuscany trip here.

 

NOVEMBER - Experience the ‘real’ Burgundy

By late autumn the crowds in Burgundy have thinned, the weather has cooled and the autumn temperatures will not let you get overly warm while pedalling. Do not miss the major International Gastronomy Fair in Dijon – it takes place every November and the foodie inside you will thank you!

Find out more about our Burgundy Vineyard Trails here.

 

DECEMBER - Follow in the footsteps of smugglers in Andalusia

Today the Sierra de Aracena Natural Park is a walker’s paradise – but during ‘el hambre’ (the hunger) after the Spanish Civil War many of the locals became ‘Mochileros’ (packmen) smuggling goods using remote high paths, many of which are still in use.

Find out more about our Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena here.
 
 

Seven Reasons To Holiday In The UK In 2020

From film releases to sporting events and notable anniversaries, there are so many reasons why you should holiday in the UK in 2020…
 
 

Travel to the Yorkshire Dales ahead of the TV remake of All Creatures Great and Small

Channel 5 is reviving in 2020 the much-loved TV series about a rural vet in the Yorkshire Dales, which was based on James Herriot’s real-life memoirs. Starring Samuel West, Anna Madeley and Dame Diana Rigg, the remake is scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original publication of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small.
 
The James Herriot Way takes in some of the countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot, was so fond of; departs March-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Follow in Kate Winslet’s footsteps along the Jurassic Coast

Ammonite, the latest project by acclaimed writer-director Francis Lee, sees Kate Winslet starring as Mary Anning, the ‘unsung hero of fossil discovery’, whose worked concentrated on Britain’s rugged southern coastline. Shot extensively on location in Dorset and Surrey and co-starring Saoirse Ronan, the film is set to be released in the UK in early 2020.

As you walk along the Jurassic Coast on the Dorset and Wessex Trails find yourself immersed in the world of Mary Anning; departs March-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Celebrate the ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’ in Scotland

With a coastline that extends to well over 10,000 miles, nearly 800 islands and more than 30,000 lakes of all sizes, water is the life-blood of Scotland. 2020 is celebrated as the ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’ across the country, making it the ideal time to explore the magnificent coastline, uncover the secrets of its coastal fortresses and enjoy some delicious, freshly caught seafood.

Head ‘north of the border’, hike through the Scottish Highlands and find your favourite loch along the Great Glen Way; departs April-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Relive the legend of a notorious outlaw 

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Rob Roy film, which recounts the battles of notorious outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy against a duplicitous aristocrat. Starring Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange, the film was shot entirely on location in Scotland. Today there is a dedicated Rob Roy Way that goes through classic Highland scenery and areas that were his old haunts.

The Rob Roy Way begins at Drymen, whose Clachan Inn is the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland and would have been known by Rob Roy as it was run by his sister; departs April-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Immerse yourself in the timeless landscapes of the Lake District

The Lake District has been celebrated by the poetry of Wordsworth and the stories of Beatrix Potter for centuries. With next April marking the 250th birthday of the founder of English Romanticism (and author of the well-known Guide through the District of the Lakes) and a widely-anticipated new Peter Rabbit film, 2020 is a great time to revisit these timeless landscapes.

Take in the celebrated landscape, hailed over the years by Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, on the The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District; departs March-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Cycle your own Tour of Britain in Cornwall

Cornwall will host the OVO Energy Tour of Britain for the first time ever in September 2020, with the Grand Depart seeing riders travel more than 100 miles through the Cornish countryside. The biggest-ever sporting event to take place in the county, the route will start in Penzance and will visit St Ives, Falmouth, Truro, Newquay and the award-winning Eden Project.

Ride your own Cornish Cycle Tour from Padstow to Lands End through Lizard Point, the southernmost point on mainland Great Britain; departs March-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Find the ‘new’ Secret Garden 

The English children’s classic is getting the big screen treatment in 2020 in a new film starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters. The scenes at the secret garden – which, according to the story, is locked by Mr Craven after his wife’s accidental death – were shot at the five-acre Helmsley Walled Garden at Helmsley close to the North York Moors, where the Cleveland Way National Trail starts.

The Cleveland Way begins at Helmsley, so you can start your trip by taking a peek at the ‘new’ secret garden; departs March-October. Find out more here.
 
 

Best Gear For Winter Weather

With the night’s drawing in and the cold and wet weather affecting large parts of the British Isles already this autumn, our attention is directed towards cold and wet weather outdoor gear to cope with it all. Read on to find out about our top suggestions.
 
 

JACKETS

There’s great popularity at the moment for cosy puffer and duvet jackets, which can either be quite cheap with synthetic fill insulation, or quite expensive with various degrees of down or a down and synthetic mix. Most of these are great in really cold weather, but a lot of the time people will quickly overheat wearing them if they are undertaking any activity. They are also not particularly water resistant and down jackets become like wet tea bags when they are soaked - with lack of insulation to match.

There are some very compact ones on the market however, made by companies like Montane and Mountain Equipment which offer real warmth, but are very compact and can be conveniently pushed into rucksacks for easy packing if you don't need to wear them. A compromise would be a down gillet; which is a jacket without the arms. This keeps your core warm and your arms can remain very active.
 
 

LAYERS

Most people will rely on the tried and tested layering method to maintain adjustable warmth as you just remove or put on layers depending on how you feel. The best thing to start with is a base layer, perhaps with smart wool which is significantly odour free after even a couple of days of activity. Over this you can then have a fleece, hooded ones are quite popular, but you can always put a beanie in your pocket.
 
 

WATERPROOF SHELL

Over the top of the fleece (which will morph into something like a wet flannel if allowed to soak)  you need a shell which is waterproof and windproof. There is a lot of choice for these again such as, Berghaus, Montane, Mountain Equipment, Rab etc. The waterproofness depends upon the price between chemically coated fabrics and those which are layered such as Gore Tex. The trend is for lighter and lighter fabrics. 

Although some of the older waterproofs had the consistency of cardboard, some of lighter weight fabrics today are not that durable and most of us can't afford or even want to replace our gear every year or two especially as we think about our footprint on the planet. Even though they are a little more expensive, we have been very impressed with the quality of Paramo jackets, a British company who have their designs made up in Colombia, part of an on-going project to help local women find gainful employment. The result is something which is quite different to the norm. There are many walkers who swear by them, and a number of mountain rescue teams use them too. Their jackets have loads of features including hand warmers, ventilation zippers and a comfortable inner lining, this makes them heavier than some, but they offer great comfort and proper waterproofing and temperature control. A great innovation is a lightweight mountain smock (and over the head jacket) with warmers, pockets, ventilators a hood and a drop down tail for mountain bikers. We would highly recommend.
 
 

TROUSERS

We also can't forget about our legs which need protection especially when the temperature drops and the rain starts. All the major manufacturers offer waterproof trousers, although they often don't seem to last long, perhaps because the seams get quite stressed over time. However, they are essential to prevent wind chill and the best ones to look out for would be those with good venting and long leg zips to enable you to get into them with boots or shoes on if needed.
 
 

SOCKS AND GLOVES

In terms of hands and feet you can get totally waterproof socks and gloves from manufacturers like Seal-skinz, but we have found that they do take a long time to dry when they are washed and some may still prefer a traditional wool and synthetic mix of sock. It's up to you as both will do the job.
 
When it comes to gloves, the famous climbing mitten of the 1950s-70s: 'The Dachstein mitt,' is being manufactured again from pre-shrunk wool and it's definitely worth a try if you want the best of both worlds, with a modern take on the traditional. Note that although you are obviously more dextrous wearing a glove, mittens keep your hands warmer which is why we would rate these for colder conditions.
 
 

HATS

We have mentioned beanies, which are obviously super easy to carry around. However, perhaps the most effective and stylish winter hat that we have seen is the Tilley woollen hat. This is largely waterproof and has an inner lining for more comfort which includes drop down ear warmers, so if you're in the market for a new hat, this is the one we would choose.
 
 

HEAD TORCH

Don't forget to carry a lightweight head torch, Black Diamond or Petzl have good ones, as the days are shorter and you can easily get caught out if your walk takes longer than expected. Alternatively, if you just keep a torch in your pocket it will always be waiting for you, just remember to check the batteries regularly!