Swaledale is one of the most northerly Dales in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It tends to be slightly less busy that some other parts of the Dales, but offers a spectacular variety of landscape and scenery.
My chosen hike takes in not just one but two of the UK's finest long-distance footpaths. The 18 mile trail starts off at the remote Tan Hill Inn which is England's highest pub. You then head southwards along the Pennine Way, which is one of Britain's best known trails. Once you reach the footpath above the village of Keld, you can then head off eastwards along the Alfred Wainwright's Coast To Coast long-distance path. This section of beautiful and challenging route takes you past many sites of historic interest from the region's mining past. It also takes you along beautiful river banks, up steep ravines, and across remote moorland, before finishing up in the heart of Swaledale in the village of Reeth. Here a classic village green and a selection of old fashioned pubs and tea rooms will ensure your walk is well rewarded.
Tan Hill, Reeth, Richmond, Swaledale, North Yorkshire Dales, DL11 6ED
Google map: bit.ly/JDEb43
Greece offers more challenging walking, but none stranger than between the sandstone needles of the Metéora.
Monasteries perched on the pillars were once accessed by rope ladders, replaced only when they broke. Now there are steps, and larger sites like Megálou Meteórou are busy. The hawks hunting in the thermals below, and the black-frocked priests hugging their knees in the ramshackle cable-car to the staff car-park, make it worth the climb. Walks to Ipapandí or Aghios Triádhos are wilder and more peaceful.
Boufidis' Cave guesthouse/campsite in Kastráki, camping from €10, rooms €40 (www.camping-boufidis-meteora.biz/). Kalambaka station: trains from Athens/Thessaloniki, (c.€25 single); buses from Igoumenitsa, (c.€20).
Pelion is crisscrossed with a network of ancient kalderimi, or stone donkey paths, and monopati, or unpaved footpaths. These link the traditional stone-roofed hill top villages and the picturesque fishing harbours, sandy beaches and secluded coves. Walks take you through plane trees in the valleys and olives and pines on the hills. Round each corner there is something different, small springs that provide cool, pure water, glimpses of the sapphire Aegean, splendid sunsets over the Pagiasitikos Gulf and a tsipouro and a meal of delicious regional cuisine at journeys end.
For how to get there, places to stay, walking routes and opportunities to join walking groups contact The Friends of The Kalderimi of South Pelion on Facebook or pelionwalks.wordpress.com
You don’t have to be religious to walk the old pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela in the north of Spain. With hostels that charge about five Euros a night at every 20km or so, following in the footsteps of this more than 1000-year-long tradition won’t break the bank. The Camino Portugues is a less crowded alternative to the main route coming from France. It follows old Roman roads through vineyards and ancient oak forests, past beautiful rias (as the coastal inlets here are called) and historical towns such as Barcelos and Pontevedra. The 295km from Porto can be covered in about a fortnight.
If you’re in town this week, Monday is Saint George’s Day –the Patron Saint of Catalunya– and the streets will be full of stalls selling roses and books, as well as excited, happy people enjoying this traditional Catalan festivity. It’s a kind of local Valentine’s Day.
This is one of Catalonia’s most popular festivities and people throughout the principality enjoy spending their time browsing the stalls to buy a book and a rose as gifts for their partner or, if they don’t have one, for someone else they love. Traditionally, a man would give a rose to his partner and she would give him a book, but nowadays people give both to their partners and to other loved ones as a token of affection.
Roses for Saint George's Day:
Barcelona’s streets are beautiful on Saint George’s Day; the colourful rose stalls and booksellers’ stands are everywhere, bargains and best-sellers abound –popular authors madly signing copy after copy– and the balconies are decked with the gold and red of the Catalan Flag. If you have a walk around, you’ll probably see rose stalls belonging to NGOs or charities, perhaps you might prefer to buy from these rather than some of the more commercial stalls.
Perhaps you can give a loved one a pleasant surprise as a fond remembrance of your stay in Barcelona.
The tradition of giving a rose on Saint George’s day is said to date from the 15th century Festival of Roses, celebrated on the 23rd of April by which time Saint George was firmly established as an important Saint and when the sculpture you can see on the façade of the Palau de la Generalitat in Carrer Bisbe was made.
The rose bedecked Palau de la Generalitat is open to the public on the 23rd of April, so this is your chance to see Marc Safont’s wonderful Gothic architecture on the Ceremonial Stairs, Gothic Gallery and the Chapel of Saint George, and Pere Mateu’s Pati dels Tarongers, all hidden behind the Neo Classical Façade. The Sardana national dance is widely performed on this day.
Saint George appears in several accounts of battles in Catalunya –naturally, on the winning side– and Jaume I mentions the Saint’s contribution to the conquest of both Mallorca and Valencia.
This may seem strange to some because Saint George –as the first Crusaders discovered to their dismay in the 11th century– was known to the Saracens as the Green Knight and appears several times in the Koran, as well as in many popular legends in which he rescues damsels from dragons.
The name George means farmer or person who cares for the land, the saint has always been connected with the springtime, and he is a protector of the harvest. It is perhaps also for this reason, along with his legendary penchant for rescuing damsels in distress from marauding dragons, (a rose bush is said to have grown from the dragon’s spilt blood) he is associated with the romantic gift of a spring rose. Perhaps also George’s connection with husbandry is the reason the roses all come with an ear of wheat, usually tied to the stem with a little ribbon of Catalan Flag.
The gift of the book on National Book Day is a much more recent tradition, beginning in 1926 throughout Spain. The 23rd of April was chosen because it was the date of Cervante’s death. Although the custom disappeared in many areas of Spain, the practice soon became popular in Catalonia and quickly became part of its Patron Saint’s Day, its origin soon forgotten.
Have a nice day!
Eixample, Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla Catalunya
* PeterGuest is our Been there local for Barcelona. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/barcelona-local-peter-guest.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/PeterGuest. Meet more of our locals here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/trails/been-there-locals.jsp
A charmingly old fashioned, year-round town where the Camargue meets the sea. Watch the fishing fleet return from one of the harbour-side restaurants, past the abandoned lighthouse. Ideal for walking, the huge expanses of the Plage l'Espiguette merge into the wetlands (abounding with white horses, black bulls and flamingos) and surreal salt flats that divide Le Grau du Roi from its medieval walled neighbour at Aigues Mortes.
The village of Genêts is located in Mont Saint Michel Bay. From the Bec d’Andaine land end, we discover the magnificent scenery of the Bay area and its world famous tides. A guided cross on foot takes about three to four hours to reach Mont St Michel. During the cross, you will enjoy untouched wildness with salt marsh lambs “pré-salé”, birds (bernacles, scoter, etc) and seals.
After this day you deserve a diner at Chez Francois simple and delicious meals based on local products grilled over a wood fire in his antique chimney.
Egypt is open for business. Go NOW while there are so few tourists! Sad for the Egyptians who are desperate for tourism to pick up again, great for us as there were so few people at all the famous sites - Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel etc. No trouble, no problems. We also had a brilliant guide whose name was Amin. The crew on the boat were wonderful as was the food. Longwood Holiday agents were also very efficient.
I’ll let you into a secret. A hidden corner of one of our closest neighbours where the food is exquisite, the sun shines every day, Catalan and French cultures fuse and the local rose is cheap and inoffensive.
Avoid airport tantrums and restrictive baggage allowances and instead, jump in your car, throw in the children and their paraphernalia then cross the channel and drive south until you reach the Med but don’t turn left and follow the hordes to Nice and Provence but instead head right towards the Pyrenees where, tucked between the Med and the mountains, you will find the Cote Vermeille region basking in the sun, where even in August, you can find space on a beach and a table in a restaurant.
Port Vendres is a deep sea port and marina, crammed with rows of gleaming motor boats and yachts, yet still a working harbour edged by a tangle of nets and ropes. Rows of terracotta topped town houses tumble down its hilly flanks to the palm tree lined streets where a healthy smattering of bars and seafood restaurants host a mixture of primarily French tourists and the odd crusty local sea dog. The morning’s fresh fish and seafood can be purchased from the quayside or sampled al fresco in one of the eateries.
Within an easy drive of the long sandy beaches of Argeles sur Mer or inland Larqoue des Alberes where old houses cluster about a hill topped with a small tower and a meal can be taken on the sun dappled square next to the church from Hotel Le Catalan.
Take a jaunt on the road train to picture perfect neighbour Collioure home to a fine fortress returning via a vertiginous route through the vineyards or travel along the cornice road and over the border into Spain, (you can tell you’re in Spain as the road disintegrates into a pot holed track) and down into Portbou for some tapas and dos cerveza por favor.
This is a new 17.5 mile walk that joins up the magnificent gardens created by the Aislabies 250 years ago. It starts at the glorious Studley Royal water gardens, passes Fountains Abbey, Aldfield Spa and through Galphay. Next it heads North to the beautiful Braithwaite Hall and Grewelthorpe before passing through Hackfall. Hackfall is a fantastic woodland garden with follies and a gravity fed fountain that has recently undergone a £1 million renovation. The views here are magnificent. After Hackfall you take the Ripon Rowell walk through Mickley Barras before heading off towards Azerley. The walk finishes with a stroll through the Deer Park at Studley Royal.
The route is not particularly challenging (compared with hill walking for example) but there are gates and styles to negotiate and 17.5 miles is a pretty long walk for one day. It is possible to take shorter routes by using the described cross paths.
Crozon is a peninsula with three prongs at the end: the northern one faces Brest, the western one the Atlantic, and the southern - well - towards the south. Rocky headlands, some with forts (from the Bronze age to the Second World War), alternate with unspoilt sandy beaches, and the fishing ports of Le Fret, Camaret and Morgat. Rather like western Pembrokeshire, but with a French ambience and different history. Ideal for family holidays away from big resorts.
It projects out into the Baie de Douarnenez, south of Brest.
Google map: bit.ly/IsOiDB
A resort south of the Loire which has a 12 km stretch of golden sand. The vast expanse of sea, sky and sand has inspired many an artist. A great place for swimming, surfing and sailing (the Vendee Globe yacht race starts and ends here). Visit the seashell museum and the museum of contemporary art and local traditions.
Buy local produce at the bustling covered market where there’s an array of attractively arranged fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. Tour the local salt marshes, which are situated a few miles out of town, by boat.
Pays de La Loire
Google map: bit.ly/HNeFmW
The small town called Èze will make you feel like being on a movie set. Located only 12 kilometres away from Nice, Èze is situated very high (430 metres above sea level) and offers panoramic views on the French Riviera. It is also overlooking on outlet of the Fragonard perfume factory. The medieval village is car-free and very charming especially because of its adorable street signs. The small alleys and beautiful flowers everywhere attract many tourists looking for a romantic holiday in a town that could be the set of an old Disney movie. There is easy access to Nice (bus) and Èze is very close to Monaco and Italy as well. Èze is definitely worth a visit, because it is a village that can (and will once you have been there) easily appear in your dreams.
Google map: bit.ly/IvQ1pu
This popular, pebbly beach is a great for families, with all the amenities you need to encamp safely for the whole day. We happily let our teenagers wander off to the market square to snack on crepes: the whole place is so contained and feels so friendly. Plus the views in every direction are amazing. The summer evenings here can be magical too, with fancy but affordable restaurants, an open-air cinema in the citadel, and spectacular firework displays that are applauded by a chorus of car and ship horns.
A perfect day out from Marseille or Aix-en-Provence is a trip to the beach followed by ice cream. But these aren't just any beaches and ice creams. The bay of local choice is the little fishing village of Carry-le-Rouet, 20 miles from Marseille. Happily spend a day on the beach, nestled at the bottom of burnt orange cliffs, with the garigue and pine trees providing a pretty backdrop or a great place for a shady stroll. When the sun becomes too much, head for the hilltop town of Miramas le Vieux and the most amazing ice cream parlour, Le Quillé, to enjoy the warmth, views and flavours of Provence.
Le Quillé, Chemin de Miramas Vieux à Lunard, 13140 Miramas, France
+33 (0)4 90 50 18 18
Google map: bit.ly/HKdYip
Atrani perches on a viaduct, wide enough to be a small park. From the balustrade at the back of it you can see straight down to the town’s piazza. Around the piazza the houses cram, piled on each other, a dense mass threaded by passages and arches and many flights of steps — but no streets, except one. Walk through the nearby tunnel and you’ll emerge in another town, the larger and more famous, Amalfi!
Google map: bit.ly/Ik7oik
The short walk from the train station to the beach takes you past a variety of shops, restaurants and beautiful architecture. On arriving at the beach you will find at least three miles of golden sand propped up by many hip and trendy bar/restaurants. A day trip to Viareggio complemented our stay at the stunning nearby city of Lucca, which is easily accessed only 40 minutes away by train.
Google map: bit.ly/HKzSNa
We were making our way to the Parthenon and it was quite a surprise to come across this village at the foot of the Acropolis.
This white washed village which was carved out of the rocks is reminiscent of a village in Santorini. It was dug out of the rocks by stonemasons from the island of Anafi (near Santorini) who were working on King Otto's Athens palace in the early 19th century. To remind them of home, they tried to recreate their homes of the islands. Anafiotika unsurprisingly means 'Anafi style'.
Just be aware that these are people's homes though the inhabitants (many descendants of the original stone masons) are used to tourists now.
As a matter of interest, there is a plaque dedicated to Konstantinos Koukidis who fell from the Acropolis wrapped in the Greek flag during the German occupation of Greece. The plaque is by the church of St George of the rock.
North east slope of Acropolis
Easiest way to get to the village is to go up Thespidos from Adrianou, and then turn right onto Stratonos. At the end of that street you will come to the whitewashed church of St George of the rock. This is the base of the village and you can then ascend via the winding paths into the village itself.
Google map: bit.ly/IadzQQ
This area looks like any inner city area now, with rows of terraced houses. However there is an interesting history behind the bricks and mortar.
The Albert Road area around the docks in Cork became a Jewish quarter from the end of the 19th Century.
While there were some Jews in Cork from the mid 18th Century, a big influx of Jews from the Vilna and Kovno areas of Lithuania arrived from the 1880s onwards. These folk were fleeing Russian pogroms and settled in the Albert Road area.
People always wondered why Jews settled in Cork, a city in what was then a very Catholic country. Allegedly the immigrants with no English may have thought the port of Cork was in fact ‘New York’.
Whatever the reason for their arrival, the area became locally known as "Jewtown" though not in a pejorative way. While poor it was more a Jewish quarter rather than a Jewish ghetto.
At its peak the Jewish population of Cork in the early part of the 20th Century was about 500 with the bulk living in Jewtown. Now the Jewish population is estimated somewhere between 20 to 30 in a city of almost 200,000.
The most famous Jewish native of Jewtown was Gerald Goldberg (several times Lord Mayor of Cork). While not Jewish, James Joyce's father, John Stanislaus Joyce, lived near the Goldberg family home in Jewtown.
Today, the streetscape is more or less as it was more than a century ago but alas there is very little trace of the Jewish community today. The Jewish meeting house at the corner of Electric Terrace is now a residential property. The nearby synagogue (technically Orthodox) on 10 South Terrace which is well over 100 years old is still in use. There are sadly only a handful of Jews in the congregation though it is occasionally inflated by visitors.
Additionally there is a green area called, Shalom Park opened in 1989, in the heart of Jewtown. In Dec 2011 an art installation marked the Jewish Hanukkah festival and a similar lighting show is planned for the next 50 years!
There are a few decent bars in the area (on Albert Quay) such as the ‘Idle Hour’ and ‘The Sextant’ which serves food.
Hibernian Buildings, Albert Road, Monrea Terrace and Eastville streets in Cork.
Google map: bit.ly/HNIPca
Where better to pass the summer months than from a hand-painted luxury villa overlooking the Gulf of Naples? Start the day under a shady cypress tree in the garden, with a breakfast of olives, cheese, fruit and nuts, washed down with watery wine. Then cross your exquisite mosaic floor and glide down to the pristine beach. Later, refresh yourself in the company of other VIPS at the luxurious marble baths, and maybe take in a performance at the theatre together in the evening. Affluent Romans did just that until Herculaneum was completely submerged under a 16m-thick sea of mud in AD79, deposited there by Vesuvius. Enthusiasts and archaeologists have been excavating the site since 1709, but they still have a long way to go because the people of Ercolano live on top of it. Smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum can be completed in a morning, with plenty of time for the kids to be back on the beach by the afternoon.
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