A brilliant way to get into fantastic situations amongst some of the most dramatic, spectacular and beautiful mountains in the Alps.
The via ferratas are protected routes, or climbs, with fixed cables and some ladders and bridges which allow you to get to places normally reserved for rock climbers.
Even so some experience and mountain sense is needed, as well as the correct equipment that can be easily hired.
Arabba is one centre that gives access to a range of routes.
They are graded to degrees of difficulty.
Others are Cortina and Corvara.
One way to get there is to fly to Venice/Treviso followed by a relatively short drive north.
Essential reading are Volumes 1 and 2 of 'Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites' by John Smith and Graham Fletcher and published by Cicerone.
Arabba Tourist Office, Via Boè 3, Arabba, I 32020, Italy.
Tel: 39 0 436 791 30
Cortina d'Ampezzo Tourist Office, P.tta San Francesco 8, Cortina dAmpezzo, I-32043, Italy. Tel: 39 0436 3231/2/3/4/5.
The Stubai valley, just 20 minutes south of Innsbruck, is only accessible via a toll road, which helps it to remain unspoilt even by Austrian standards.
The classic glacial valley, dotted with traditional Tirolean villages, winds its way up to the glacier, where you can use the excellent lifts to reach the Jochdole, the highest mountain restaurant in Austria at 3,150m, with fabulous alpine views to Italy on a clear day.
The Garganta de Cares (Cares Gorge) cuts deep into the Picos de Europa, a beautiful range of mountains rising up to 2500m and close to the north coast of Spain.
Arenas de Cabrales is a delightful hill town and a good place to reach Poncebos for access into the gorge. The path is spectacular and threads its way through fantastic scenery to the small hamlet of Cain where refreshment is available before the walk back. The round trip can take about 6 hours and, although the path is entirely safe in good conditions, vertigo sufferers might not find it to their liking.
There are plenty of other more challenging walks in the area for the suitably experienced and equipped, with a number of refugios, Alpine style mountain huts, to allow round trips through the range.
Arenas de Cabrales Tourist Office, Carretera General, E-33554 Arenas de Cabrales, Spain. Tel: + 34 985 846 484
Azenhas do Mar ("Watermills by the sea"), in the region of Sintra, is a charming village of whitewashed houses, trimmed in blue, built on the slopes of the cliff and a small river with waterfalls running down through gardens to the sea.
There are Interesting rock formations and natural seawater pools, plenty to keep the kids amused.
The watermills were a popular seaside retreat in the 1950s. They have recently been carefully restored, offering a restaurant, bar and swimming pool arranged on different levels.
The restaurant has a stylish seaside wood panelled interior with magnificent views to the Atlantic Ocean. It offers a great selection of fresh fish and seafood caught locally by one of the owners, and is complemented by an excellent wine list.
The snack bar, Terraço da Azenha, situated above the restaurant and swimming pool, has a series of small terraces with great views. Inside the bar, through a glass section in the floor, you can see the old workings of the mill. It offers a good selection of snacks including sweet and savoury crêpes.
Well worth a visit, and you will find great walks that will take you along the cliffs to the beaches of Praia das Maças and Praia Grande.
Off the N247.
There are a number of alta vias - literally high ways - across the Dolomites. AV2 is among the tougher: a two week trek from Bressanone in the North West to Feltre in the South East.
Accommodation is available throughout the walk in rifugi (mountain huts) (booking recommended in August) - no tent required. Some of the most outstanding walking in Europe (if not the world) -the Puez-Odler national park, Sella massif and Pale di San Martino all present unforgettable views.
Forget all your assumptions about Greece. This mountainous peninsula is very green with enormous broadleaf trees, ferns, moss, daisies and buttercups. The air is fresh even in August, building is more strictly controlled than in London’s green belt, the roads don’t have any potholes and the cooking would satisfy even the most picky foodie.
Male is an good base for exploring the Brenta Dolomites (walking or via ferrata), more soul and local flavour than Madonna di Campiglio. Excellent public transport (Ferrovia Trento-Male train).
Rising to 1123m and more than 300m above Zakopane, Gubalówka offers magnificent views of Zakopane itself, the Tatra mountains, the Podhale region and the Beskid mountains beyond it.
During the spring and summer months, Gubalówka is a great starting place for a Zakopane visit. Offering a few kilometres of hiking trails, breathtaking views, as well as eating establishments, you can easily spend a day here exploring the native beauty.
Several gentle and rough hiking trails starting in Zakopane will get you to the top of Gubalówka. Alternatively, for 10 months of the year (except May & October) there is a rail line to the top from the market in Zakopane.
Although Mount Rysy is not as high or spectacular as, say, Mont Blanc or the French Pyrenées, it is Poland's highest peak and a national symbol.
At 2503m, the hike up from Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw is arduous but is well worth it for peering across into Slovakia and back across Poland. The sunset over the peak is
Mount Rysy lies within the Tatra National Park and on the border between Poland and Slovakia.
If you want to cross the Polish/Slovakian border after climbing Mt. Rysy, keep in mind that this is only allowed until the 30th of September due to the high risk of avalanches.
A bus from Zakopane to the Slovakian border at Łysa Polana will get you to Polana Palenica car park, from there it's a good half days trek up to Mount Rysy via Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw.
Note that there is a 2 złoty entrance fee to enter the national park.
Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea) and Czarny Staw (Black Pond) are the most popular tourist attractions on the Polish side of the High Tatra mountains, but go after July when the foreign tourists have gone and the breathtaking views of domineering Mount Rysy and the peace of both of the lakes are yours alone. It's a shame though that all you can do is admire the lakes instead of swimming in them but make the most of the fresh air!
Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw both lie within the Tatra National Park. A bus from Zakopane to the Slovakian border at Łysa Polana will get you to Polana Palenica car park, from there the local Górale inhabitants will take you up the 1440m climb to the lakes in their horse drawn carriages for 35 złoty each in 1 hr 45 mins, otherwise it takes 2 hours to cover the whole 9km on foot (but the path is concreted). Note that there is a 2 złoty entrance fee to enter the national park.
For activities, unspoilt nature and dramatic scenery.
A 16km lake nestled into the lower Alps, with the largest inland Island in Europe.
Ferry boats, windsurfing, golf, canoeing, multi-pool complex and many other activities.
Value for money and no tourist bussle.
Just north of Bergamo (Milan Bergamo airport is a Ryanair hub). Activities guide www.monticolo.it/activitieslakeiseovallecamonica.html
Hythe has a resident, solitary, dolphin who swims from the Imperial hotel away from the town centre.
He is really close to the shore and it made my Saturday to see him swimming around.
The beach, east of the town centre
Summer 2007 may be a total write-off but, dodging between heavy rain showers, it’s still possible to get some exercise and some fresh air. This walk in the hills just north of Ludlow offers lots of great views from every direction as you circle the woods and valleys – a slice of Shropshire at its very best – and pure beautiful countryside doesn’t get much better than this!
Best to go on a Saturday to enjoy visiting the one of the most amazing farmers' markets in the UK. Buy loads of seriously good food here!
Also a fantastic castle (11th to 15th Century), to explore as well!
www.walkingworld.com/ - walk ID number 221.
If you've not seen anything similar before, the Scunthorpe steel plant is quite an amazing sight: the area of the site is actually larger than the rest of the town! It's still really huge despite years of closures and cutbacks.
They still start with raw iron ore and make everything else from it, all on one gigantic industrial site.
There's no organised way to make a visit, but you can look around if you want to. It's a whole other world there!
These are cave houses in the old town (Barrio Sacromonte) - a great place to stay practically overlooking the Alhambra.
Friendly staff. Basic but clean, with good showers!
We stayed in a double but I think there are bigger ones available. They also include small kitchen/dining areas for those who want to self-cater.
The old town is great (lots of bars, restaurants, nice squares) but if you want to go into the main town, it's only a short leisurely walk.
Wheelers is a pub that has gone through a bit of a transformation and turned into a top class hotel with good food, good entertainment (especially Thursday and Friday nights) and a view to die for.
Having a lazy lunch in the fancy class restaurant overlooking the valley is a great way to spend a Sunday. The Wheelers is a fave with locals. And did I mention the views too?
Wheelers Hill Hotel
Ferntree Gully Road (cnr Jells Road), Wheelers Hill (about 20 mins from the centre of the city along the freeway) Tel. 9560 8922
car parking on site is free
Although a touristy town, Grindelwald makes a perfect base for a good week's worth of walking with footpaths in all directions from the town and the ability to do circular routes. The walking can be as demanding as you wish. Needless to say the views are great.
Le Marche's hills roll in from the Adriatic and reach the Sibillini mountains. A national park has been created to protect this awesome high section of the Appenines and its flora and fauna which includes wolves, golden eagles, wild boar and porcupines.
In Spring the area is carpeted in a rainbow of wild flowers. In summer you can swim or eat at tavernas round the shore of a lake; walk through cool gorges that dissect the mountains; and cycle or walk the paths that cross the ridges at 2,000m.
There are an abundance of fascinating medieval hill towns with museums and great ristorante serving up great value meals.
A great base for the area is Sarnano; which has 20 ristorante, a ski resort nearby, a variety of bars and stunning views.
Sarnano is in Macerata region of Le Marche and can be reached via Ancona and Pescara airports.
If you hate the hordes of screaming children and other assorted hazards of your average beach, head to the North Norfolk Coastal walk where I found miles of marshland and sandy beach. The sea was too rough to swim in but the beach is long, wide and sandy allowing for walks, taking in the views and comtemplating. And if you get bored of it all, the hustle and bustle of the beaches at Hunstanton are merely a stones throw away.
take the A149 from King's Lynn northbound, go past Hunstanton, at the village of Thornham, turn left off the A149 onto a very small road called Staithe Road. This should take you straight to the marshes, over which there is a path that'll lead you to the beach.
Restaurant on the North Norfolk coast with superb views of the salt marshes. Delicious fresh seafood served in small portions allowing you to eat a three-course meal without feeling like you're going to burst. I had the salad of cromer crab and quails eggs, plaice for mains with a side of samphire (available from the marshes in season) and an exquisite rasberry brulee for dessert. A perfect way to spend a summer's evening.
Brancaster Staithe on the A149, Norfolk, PE31 8BY.
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