We did one of these 90-minute boat tours in August 2010 and it was fascinating. The tour guide was excellent; informative and entertaining, and it's a great way to see the city. There is a great range of beautiful buildings to see and it's also quite a nice way to spend (part of) a sunny day!
To arrive at The Camp my friends and I chose to hire a small boat from a family run business on the corner of Worcester Racecourse. No skipper is necessary for this; we were given a quick run down on the dos and donts of boating and we were free to set sail.
Meandering up the river at our own pace was fabulous - really tranquil and beautiful to be on the water, passing ducks, swans and for the lucky ones, even otters.
We arrived at The Camp to be greeted by other (professional) boaters who guided us in safely to moor our boat.
The Camp is most welcoming; obviously a popular place for summer revellers as it was really quite busy. However, this just adds to the charm - we threw out our picnic blanket and enjoyed the best cheese and onion rolls ever tasted, swilled down with a glass of traditional scrumpy cider. Surrounded by stunning peacocks, we felt right at home and at one with the nature.
Once we had filled up on food and drink we headed back down stream and towards Worcester Cathedral; this gave us a cultured feel and was the perfect end to a perfect day.
We had a real adventure and found ourselves in fits of laughter at times! I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a cheap day out with a difference. (boat hire starts from £10 an hour, depending on choice of boat & £10 bought me and my partner two drinks each and a huge baguette.)
Suitable for all ages and we even took our dog when we returned a second time.
The boat hire place can be found in the corner of Pitchcroft Racecourse; 01905 27949 and to get to The Camp from here is just one way up the river - you really cannot go wrong.
Grimley, Worcester WR26LX
01905 640 288
Google map: tinyurl.com/ydb92w9
Probably the only floating tents in the world…?
Check out this new eco-lodge on Koh Andet Island up the Tatai River in the Cardamom Mountains. (half an hour from Koh Kong) Cambodia. Unique twelve tented floating villas amongst spectacular jungle mountain scenery. Floating swimming pool being built. Excellent food. Visit it before the rest of the world discovers it.
Sit on the left hand side for beautiful views of the river and boats. Look out for oyster catchers, curlews, little egrets and lots of other birds. It takes 10 minutes but you could turn it into a day trip by walking back!
Starcross Station by the river Exe near Exeter, Devon
Spend three to four days in a Canadian canoe, gently paddling along fantstic scenery. Really relaxing and peaceful as you observe wildlife on the river close up. Camping on the river bank, some fast water, river side pubs, lazy picnics and loads of fun.
I recommend The Ross on Wye Canoe hire company who will drop you off up river and then pick you up at the end of your trip, very informative, friendly and flexible service, reasonably priced.
Kayaking Clayoquot Sound - located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, you can kayak pristine waters within a beautiful inlet and the open ocean. The islands of the inlet are covered in old growth coastal temperate rain forest and further inland you can see the snow covered peaks of the mountains (even in summer).
Kayak for days or weeks, camp on deserted beaches, fish salmon and cook it over an open fire. Then return to Tofino and stay at a nice hotel, eat great food and enjoy some surfing, walking, whale and bear watching ...
Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver island, BC in Canada - from Nanaimo turn westwards and drive for 3 hours via Port Alberni.
Enjoy a relaxing scenic paddle along two miles of tidal water, starting at Iford Bridge where you can park for free and enter the water easily. If you want breakfast before you begin I recommend the Old Bridge Tea Rooms.
Follow the meandering river heading away from the Bridge, although Stour means 'the strong powerful one' the course is suitable for novices, the river is full of Mullet, Bass and Flounder head for Tuckton Bridge and on towards Christchurch, you will hear the bells of the priory and enjoy the ambiance of Christchurch Quay from your priviledged position and opposite the unspoilt village of Wick where the ferry takes foot passengers across to the quay.
At Christchurch the Stour meets the Avon, the main river flows past historic Hengistbury Head (also a site of special scientific interest) dating back to 10,000BC one of only 25 from the Old Stone Age period.
Head towards the colourful beach huts at Mudeford Sandpit and take a leisurely break for lunch at The Beach House Cafe - the view is great and the food is fabulous.
At Mudeford the river enters the sea through a narrow channel known as 'The Run' which is best avoided unless you are extremely brave and experienced! If you enjoy sea kayaking the sandy beaches of Avon and Southbourne are close by and offer a contrast to the serenity of the river for those wanting to enjoy the surf.
Old Bridge Tea Rooms 16, Old Bridge Road, Iford, Bournemouth Tel:01202 477110
The Beach House Cafe, Mudeford Sandbank, Broadway,Southbourne. www.beachhousecafe.co.uk
Stay at this lovely little hotel right on the beautiful Ionian coast. It's a bit of a drive from Saranda (also lovely) along a scary steep terrible coast road but well worth the drive. The Albanians assured me this road would be totally finished and tarmacked by July 2009.
The hotel is clean and has a lovely terrace and restaurant, which serves fresh fish chosen from a plate and lovely pizza.
Pick a nice day and ask to hire a kayak (1000 leke = £6) take this north for about half an hour and enjoy the mile long white sand (and bunkers!) of Drymades beach. There is a little beach bar further down if you fancy a drink.
The sea is bright blue and view of the rocks and snow capped mountains is awesome.
In the evening walk up the hill and get a 2 litre plastic bottle of wine from the shop for 300 leke a bargain. Pleasant and no hangover!
The best part of my Balkan tour.
Dhermi Hotel, Dhermi, 1500 leke for a double per night (in May/off peak - I'm told this rises to 5000 in summer)
(Head down to Dhermi from the coast road and take the left fork near the bottom)
Àite Cruinnichidh is a hostel on the outskirts of Roy Bridge in the Spean Valley, a short drive out of Fort William.
It's a fantastic kayaking destination for people who are more adventurous. Tere are a large number of fantastic white water rivers nearby at a range of grades from 2/3 upwards. The Roy, the Upper Spean and the Arkaig are almost on the doorstep. For those in need of an introduction there are a number of guiding companies who operate locally and if the weather is not right for kayaking there are a host of other activities in the area to entertain you.
The hostel is family run and the owners are always welcoming. They have fantastic drying facilities – very important for a kayaking holiday - and a good knowledge of the area. It also sports a sauna, which is a great way to unwind of an evening.
Starting at £12 a night, if you are looking for a cheap base for a fantastic white water kayaking holiday then this a great place to start, either for a small or larger group of people.
Train Station: Roy Bridge
Phone: 01397 712315
The Pont D’arc of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc is a 40m high natural bridge above the Ardeche River and the starting point of a canoe camping adventure. Take boats for three days instead of the normal two; you will be given a large barrel but will still have to plan carefully what you put inside if you have not light weight camped before. Book one night at each of the two bivvy campsites; not as basic as they sound as they have wash blocks with hot showers and campsite barbeque stands. Bring all your own food, but you can refill your water bottles at the natural springs. The slow pace will give you time for long lazy picnic and swimming lunch stops and a chance to paddle in the afternoons when the crowds have disappeared downstream. With our children we found many fish, crickets, lizards, frogs, one otter, plenty of wild boar evidence and also, more scarily, a water snake. In the evenings we hunted for glow worms and cicadas before sleeping in a row outside, looking for shooting stars. Don’t risk leaving the tent behind though, it rains in August even in the South of France.
canoe hire: www.aventure-canoes.fr/
camp site by the river: www.campings-ardeche.com/camping_frs/ardeche/clients/camp-des-gorges/f1.html
We love camping at Domaine D'anglas in the Herault Gorge, 20km from the French Mediterranean coast. You camp among trees by the side of the river Herault and can sunbathe and swim yards from the tent. The campsite is also an organic vineyard, and in the evening we buy chilled fresh rose on tap to take back and drink by the river. Kayaks can be hired from many operators around nearby Granges; even in August we have not needed to book more than a day ahead for this. The grade two river flows gently through a scenic gorge, past a medieval village and a ruined mill; a few rapids make sure you don't relax too much. If you bring your own kayaks and experience, you can have the picturesque five km of narrow, white gorge ending at the Pont du Diable almost to yourself. All of the grade four drops were easily inspected and portaged when we paddled this section at low, summer levels. The Pont du Diable, an 11th century bridge, is an excellent swimming spot and next to Saint Guilhem le Desert - a world Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Europe.
Nearest Station/Airport 45 mins in Montpelier
Färnebofjärdens National Park in Sweden is a fantastic place for family canoeing. It sits on the Dalälven River at the conjunction of Västmanland, Dalarna and Gävleborg counties. The park covers an area of 10,100 hectares, of which 4,110 hectares consist of water – lake or stream. The rest is a mixture of broadleaved and coniferous woodland and mire. Because of its geographical position in Sweden it has one of the highest diversities of bird species in the country and elk (moose), beaver, otter, bear and lynx are also found here.
We visited in July 2006 and stayed at Osta Stugby – the ‘camp’ consists of 40 modern cabins nestled among trees close to the waterside. The cabins were large and comfortable - three bedrooms and a combined kitchen and living room, and well equipped with a shower, bathroom, refrigerator and a stove with an oven. Each cabin had a little terrace area and there is space for parking a car. The beach by the camp was brilliant – very shallow water for the most part so very safe for our children then aged two and six. There are loads of places to discover by canoe and plenty of places to put a canoe into the water.
We took our own canoe but you can hire canoes from the camp, as well as small motor boats and bikes. The shop on the site was very small, but had most basics and there were plenty of villages around with larger shops for stocking up with food etc.
I understand that there are several cabins in the National Park for rent as well now. For more information contact naturum, 0291-47 10 40.
We would have visited again, but DFDS unfortunately closed the direct route from Newcastle to Sweden, followed by the Norway route.
It was the most perfect canoe ever - the owners of St Nicholas Pension, Patara take you and your canoes up into the mountainous interior and drop you off to the spend the whole day canoeing back down to the stunning coast with beautiful sand dunes and ruins (it's where Father Christmas was born by the way!) The owners also meet you for a picnic lunch half-way down. There's mountain backdrop scenery, turtles, martins swooping into riverbank nests and some not too hair-raising white-water bits. A friend and I went some years ago and still rave about.
The following website has everything - info about St.Nicholas Pension, excursions and how to get there - www.stnicholaspensionpatara.com
This canoe ride is really exhilarating. A fantastic feature of Slovakia's Pieniny National Park is the 10km-long gorge. Canoes and traditional rafts (called plt') sail past narrow limestone cliffs and get up quite a speed. Rafters dressed in traditional Goral (the local mountain people) costume give talks on the surrounding sights, flora and fauna. The Polish peak of Trzy Korony (Three Crowns) looms like chunks of white Toblerone. En route there is plenty of opportunity to marvel at the local flora and fauna in spectacular, unspoilt and relatively undiscovered scenery. A gem.
Rafts and canoes usually set off from near Cerveny Klastor (Red Monastery), a fascinating museum in itself.
Check out www.rafting-pieniny.sk for more details.
Near Dinant in the Ardennes region of Belgium there is a great place to canoe downstream and then follow up your exertion with a big bowl of frites.
From Dinant, make your way to Anseremme, where a little mountain train takes you to the town of Houyet. Here the five-hour, 21km kayak trip sets off. It’s also possible to alight earlier at Gendron and take a shorter, 2.5-hour and 12km, trip back.
Wild river swimming - excellent fast flowing river in beautiful valley, with deep pools and stony beaches at the side.
Nearest village is a steep 2 hour walk away - Olmi Cappella, but you can drive down a windy road to the Tartagine valley floor.
A great trip between a canyon and a large beach. Have a nice time passing under the Pont du Gard with your road book explaining all secrets of this amazing place.
The beach of Remoulins
It is the way to cruise the Nile - small, intimate 19th century style sailing boats with six cabins and private moorings, away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd. The company has four boats - Nesma, Amber, Zahra and Musk! Don't do the Nile any other way.
I've pulled together some of my top tips for Shanghai - I've categorised each tip into time periods so that you can pick and choose depending on how much free time you've got.
0-2 hours: Avoid! Bund Tourist Tunnel - 10 minutes
Crossing the Bund can be done by boat, car or underground, but don't waste your time on the rather retro (read tacky) Bund Tourist Tunnel. The name is apt as only tourists would be crazy enough to spend their money on a underground fair ride that is more likely to cause an epileptic shock than any degree of amusement. It is however, the quickest way to cross the river if you are on the banks on the Bund (and it's rush hour so the tunnel is blocked). Give a try... if you really must.
Xian dan di - 1-2 hours
Ironically housed in the former offices of the Communist party, this beautiful refurbished part of town could be accused of being rather faux in terms of its connection with real China life... but it's there and it exists and it is part of Shanghai ex-pat life. The clean streets, the trendy restaurants and the outrageous prices probably tell you that you are in a place for tourists and expats, however, it's worth a look around and for a pitstop.
Go to Starbucks - 30 mins to 1 hour
I kid you not, some would accuse me of sacrilege but there is a reason... please bear with me. A lot of the Starbucks in the city benefit from sitting in the most prestigious and ideally located positions in the city for great panoramic views. My personal recommendation would be the Starbucks situated on the East bank of the river overlooking the Bund just opposite the Shangri-La hotel. Grab yourself a Chinese tea and watch the sunset over the river. The glowing fuzz of the city ahead will warm you before you retreat to your hotel.
Enjoy drinks over the Bund - 1-2 hours
A visit to Shanghai will not be complete without a visit to the historic 'Bund' district, the colonial waterside developed on the west bank of the Huangpu River. Many of the bars/restaurants (I recommend 'M on the Bund' - www.m-restaurantgroup.com/) offer expansive views over the Bund and the tall skyscrapers in the Pudong district. The food's not bad either! English and Chinese menus are available. Other nearby highlights include the old HSBC building (no longer housing HSBC) and Huangpu Park.
Stroll along Nanjing Road (to buy the other half a gift) -
Home to Shanghai's main shopping street so be prepared to be greeted by tens of thousands of people. The shops range from the local to international with department stores dotted along the way. Be sure to stop by one of the many snack stores to take on board some of the delicious buns or dumplings that make China famous. Be sure you check the custom regulations for transporting goods though, be particularly careful with any foodstuffs.
Enjoy a river cruise along Huangpu River - 1-3 hours
One observation you will undoubtedly make whilst travelling in Shanghai is that the river is bustling with life. Container ships, tankers, passenger boats all zip up and down the river at a hectic speed. Board a river cruise boat from the ferry terminal at the south of the Bund district. Here you will be able to enjoy a one, two or even three hour river cruise. Take care though... Shanghai like many other Chinese cities is prone to a spot of smog. Try and pick a clear day. Try Huangpu River Cruise (239 Second Eastern Zhong Shan Road, Shanghai - tel +86 21 6374 4461). Nearest station - Wai Tan
Sleep in the clouds - 8 hours
Nope, I'm not talking about your business class flat bed on the way back home, I'm talking about the ever impressive Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Based in Pudong it's close to the financial centre and closer to the airport. Ask for a room overlooking the Pearl TV tower or over the park.
If you need to travel between the West End and Canary Wharf then using the Thames Clipper boat is a great way to travel and do some sightseeing en route. Regular services run from Embankment and Waterloo among others to Docklands and Canary Wharf.
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