In Rajasthan we took private trips by both camel cart and jeep to explore the timeless culture of the villages on the fringes of the Thar desert. We had lunch with a farmer and his 13 daughters, who shared their simple home and invited us to join them in an opium ceremony; then travelled to a Bishnoi village across scrubland and shallow dunes dotted with khejri trees and graceful chinkara gazelle. Both the chinkara and the trees are revered by the Bishnoi tribe, who are even known to bury dead gazelles and mark their graves. Bishnoi translates as ‘twenty-niners’, which refers to the number of principles they live by, two of which are to protect trees and ‘all living beings’. Their fierce affinity with nature, and their aggression in its protection since 1485, has led them to be thought of a the first environmentalists.
A great family walk, with stunning colours at the moment, is up by Brockle Beck to Castlerigg and across to the Stone circle. From there head down the former railway line along the banks of the river Greta and back to Keswick. Currently there is also a good exhibition on the history of the Greta at The Theatre by the Lake.
A breathtaking autumn walk to the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England at 3117 feet, 950m. On a crisp, clear autumn day the walk to the summit is truly exhilarating and awe-inspiring.
A moment to escape from the busy world, lose oneself in your own thoughts and marvel at the incredible views and landscape: the 360 degrees panorama of the Lakeland fells; the mist gently hovering over the tranquil lakes and lower fells and crags below.
The ascent to the summit, starting from Wythburn car park, one of the shortest routes, is steep yet extremely rewarding and this return walk, suitable for families, can be accomplished in less than four hours. On reaching the summit, the lofty heights above the clouds truly take your breath away, along with the cold, crisp air. If you’re lucky you might experience snow underfoot, allowing for a quick snowball fight and a well deserved cup of coffee (from your flask – no tea shops up here!) before beginning your descent.
For the keen walkers, ready for a bit of a challenge, the walk can be extended with a return via Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike followed by a descent to Grisedale Tarn and a return to Thirlmere.
Helvellyn, starting at Wythburn car park, Thirlmere. Wythburn Car Park
Google map: bit.ly/UfXu2u
My perfect autumn walk begins at the romantic ruins of Llanthony Priory in the Ewyas Valley 10 ½ miles north of Abergavenny. From here it’s a steep climb up the wooded hill side, which gets the blood pumping, warming you up in the crisp autumn air. As you get higher rising above the tree line, you walk among the rust coloured bracken, sharing the views with mountain sheep and wild ponies. The scale and glorious colours of the Black Mountains dazzle all around. At the very top you finally reach Offa’s Dyke and have a top of the world view of the neat rolling landscape of Herefordshire and it’s cider orchards on the eastern side and the majestic coloured mountains soaring to the west. Walking back down to the valley the blazing colours of the trees and scenery looking down into the valley are seen at their best – without panting for breath! But the icing on the cake is back in the valley at a tiny pub hidden in the vaults of the Priory, where you can warm up, rest your feet and revive with a pint of local ale. Bliss.
Llanthony Priory 10 1/2 miles north of Abergavenny. Nearest hotel is The Abbey Hotel www.llanthonyprioryhotel.co.uk
Llanthony, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP77NN
Google map: bit.ly/TQQIjd
North Wales is simply stunning in autumn. Nestled in the hills and forest above Llanrwst and Betws-Coed are the beautiful lakes of Llyn Geirionydd and Llyn Crafnant.This walk covers varied terrain, forest, rocks, rolling hills and lakes, perfect for adults and children (age six plus). A disused slate mine, wonderful views, tranquil lakes edge, made up our walk. Refreshments were at hand at a delightful little cafe on Llyn Craftnant that sells scrumptious cakes, hot chocolates and local real ale and the owner told us tales of local folk!
Take the B5106 from Conwy or Betws y Coed to Trefriw, then follow signs for Llyn Crafnant.
Google map: bit.ly/PhJQPe
“Aaah! He’s going to go in.” We watched in fascinated horror as the next foolhardy person tried to negotiate the Dovedale steps. We’d managed two steps and gingerly turned back as today, despite wearing thick soled walking boots, the great stones strung across the River Dove were slippery as giant ice cubes.
Luckily the man we were watching regained his balance and made it. It was a fun end to a hilly, winters' day walk, which had started at Ilam Hall across Lin Dale to the River Dove, frost glittering in the hollows, sunlight bouncing off the pyramid-shaped, Thorpe Cloud hill as we made our way down the limestone gorge where a walk along the riverside leads to the steps. A circular route back led us over fields, past the Izak Walton Hotel, named for the author of ’The Compleat Angler’ back to Ilam Hall and its welcoming tearoom.
Ilam Hall, Ilam, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 2AZ
+44(0)845 371 9023
Ilam Hall is a youth hostel, but you can walk over the grounds with parking, toilets, tearoom and visitor centre next door.
Google map: bit.ly/S8ID9Z
This is a walk with a bit of everything: woodland, waterfalls, open fells fantastic views – and a pub with open fires at the half way point! Leave Ambleside by walking through the woods by Stockghyll waterfalls. Emerge from the woods to climb Wansfell Pike and then descend to Troutbeck. To return directly to Ambleside turn right – but if you want refreshment turn left and walk along the road to the Mortal Man. From the pub return along the road, pass where you joined the road and then follow a footpath on the right by the Post Office. This path leads over the shoulder of the fell and through Skelghyll Woods. It’s worth diverting to the viewpoint at Jenkin Crag, before descending to the road between Waterhead and Ambleside.
The Seven Sisters is not only a tube station in north London but a spectacular walk along the chalky roller coaster cliffs of East Sussex.
I like to start as early as possible with a reviving coffee in one of the cafes of genteel Eastbourne before tackling the first (of many) steep inclines of the day up to Beachy Head.
The cliff edge is bleak and there are no fences protecting the vertiginous drop, and in the early autumnal mist it's a great place to contemplate the meaning of life and wonder of nature.
After that, it's up and down, up and down along the grassy cliffs to Birling Gap with its stunning, pebbly beach and Cuckmere Haven where the river meanders down to the sea in a gentle valley.
We wind down at London's closest resort (as the crow flies, it's due south) Seaford with a pint and a pie in a cosy pub, before the train home.
This walk is about 14 miles long and pretty strenuous, but, if you set off early enough, there's plenty of time to take it at a leisurely pace and admire the spectacular views and endless photo opportunities.
Easily accessible for Londoners craving fresh air and the sight of the sea
Train to Eastbourne from Victoria
Train back to London from Seaford
* Lucy is our Been there local for London. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-lucy-mallows.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LucyRM.jsp
There is no better time of year to explore this beautiful highland glen than the autumn when the notorious midges have gone, the trees are sporting their spectacular autumn foliage, the reds, golds and yellows both above and underfoot are matched by the glorious hedgerows with fruits of the rowan, hawthorn and briar rose glowing in the sunshine.
Start by walking up the main drive to Blair Castle then follow the track to Old Bridge of Tilt, you will likely hear the River Tilt before you see it and this tumbling highland river will be your companion on an easy walk firstly above the river gorge and then joining the river when you cross the bridge onto it’s east bank. Keep an eye out for the red squirrels here, they are busy at this time of year and you should see them!
As you come out from the trees but still following the river with it’s wonderful rock formations, sculpted over the years by the rushing waters, the glen opens out with the views tempting you onwards. The little cottage of Marble Lodge is a good turning point and there are nice picnic spots nearby. Then on the return keep an eye open for the little sign pointing you uphill on an easy grassy track which will lead you back to Blair Atholl via the charming little village of Fender Bridge.
While in the area it is worth visiting the fairytale Blair Castle, ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl and the Atholl Arms hotel offers accomodation, refreshments and bar meals
Brobury Scar is perched high above the River Wye. Spectacular sandstone cliffs decked entirely with glorious beech woodland right down to the waters edge.The "Scar" forms part of the under rated Wye Valley walk.
Amazing autumnal colour - off the beaten track but only 20 minutes from the centre of Hereford. No one about other than the odd canoeist quietly paddling downstream.
Walk up Hardcastle Crags from Hebden Bridge. In the autumn the changing tree colours are fantastic, and following the river upstream you cross stepping stones and reach a restored mill (National Trust) before finally reaching the moors. On the way back detour up the valley side to Heptonstall to see the ruined church and Sylvia Plath's grave.
Why just visit a forest when you can plant one? Trees for life runs volunteer holidays and conservation days in the beautiful Caledonian forest - they've just celebrated planting a million trees. You plant native trees and do other woodland management tasks, such as removing non-native species and removing fencing. Friendly and relaxed, there's nothing quite like eating lunch high above Loch Affric or a spot of wild swimming after a day of hard work with new friends.
For forest and woodland you must explore the steep-sided valley of the river Rheidol and its tributary, the Mynach. Depending on preferance, you can take the train, a narrow gauge miner's railway, from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge and enjoy the splendour of the wooded valley. At Devil's Bridge the walk that takes you down some 400ft, steps provided, with the roar of the tumbling Mynach alongside is a must - fee payable and enter by turnstile. If you prefer to take the car you can then drive on from Devil's Bridge to Ponterwyd. At Ysbyty Cynfun park beside the chapel and take the walk, signposted, through woodlands to Parson's Bridge in the valley bottom where the power of the river has carved an enormous punchbowl in the rock. It is a spectacle!
Kamikochi National Park, over 2000m above sea level, is one of the most beguiling places in the Japanese Alps. The lower mountain slopes are covered with forests of larch and beech that blaze scarlet and orange in the autumn. Barely perceptible wisps of smoke hang in the still air above Yakedake volcano and the glass surface of Taisho Pond perfectly reflects the snow-dusted Hotaka mountains.
There are well signposted climbing paths that wind up through the forest, and above the treeline there are the most spectacular views across the valleys.
We stayed in the Konashidaira Log Cabins, which sit in woods close to the forest trails and the tumbling River Azusa, and which we shared with families of macaques that swung from tree to tree above us.
Europe's last primeval forest. The innermost sanctuary of the national park is reserved for guided visits with one of the rangers. Wonder at ancient trees taller than cathedrals, then visit the Bisons’ Reserve, where as well as bisons, you can see lynxes, wolves, elks, wild boar, and deer. Stay at the cosy and clean Camping Grudki and warm up any cold evenings with some delicious Zubrowka bison grass vodka.
Bialowieza, Zachodnio-Pomorskie, North
+48 (0)85 6812484
Google map: bit.ly/TXfL9R
A vast protected area of native Mediterranean woodland located in Andalucia, Los Alcornocales is one of the most extensive cork forests in the world. A beautiful route we discoverd through the forest was a singletrack mountain road which leaves the A373 south to El Colmenar meandering through the gnarled and ancient cork-oak groves. The barks are still harvested for cork and those most recently stripped look strangely naked with their russet interiors exposed. Griffon vultures crouched in the canopy while Golden Eagles circled above in the autumn thermals. As we climbed higher, the cork-oaks gave way to conifers and most unexpectedly, cows foraging among the giant pine cones which covered the forest floor. Descending into El Colmenar that evening we dined on wonderful forest fare – wild mushrooms, venison in wine and a hearty rabbit stew – at the Caserio Ananda, a gem of a restaurant situated on the local station platform.
For accommodation in the area and in nearby Gaucin: www.cvtravel.co.uk
Caserio Ananda: www.caserioananda.com
Estación de Gaucín s/n 29490 El Colmenar
+34 636 136 924
Google map: bit.ly/XhbjBs
Small charming hotel located in a magic medieval village, only 10 km from Saturnia hot springs where you can enjoy great food and wine in a relaxing atmosphere.
The owners Angela and Enrico are very hospitable and welcoming. It is located in a village that is quiet and unspoilt. You can walk up to the high point of the village for fabulous 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. We had dinner at the hotel for both nights of our stay. The meals were among the best of our trip and were served on the terrace. The quality of the food cooked by Enrico and the setting were both excellent. I would recommend people to stay at Locanda La Pieve and also to have dinner there as well. We spent 16 nights in Italy and this was definitely a highlight of our trip.
This lovely spot is run by a Colombian-Kiwi couple and has amazing views. They make yummy healthy food and Diego takes guests for a walk through the forest on their property - lots of butterflies, bird and orchids! You can stay in their guesthouse or visit from the day from Manizales to have a meal and a walk. The sunsets are amazing - the perfect spot for a cocktail!
Villa Maria Km 3 via Llanitos, Manizales, Caldas, Colombia
+57 310 764 82 49
Great selection of food and wine at reasonable prices on the top floor of the monument. Outside and inside seating with the very best panoramic views of Rome for free. Relaxing seating and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Location is between Ancient Rome sights and Renaissance museums. There is also a new sky lift (small charge) to the very top, which is worth a look.
Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma, Italy
+39 06 678 0664
Google map: bit.ly/PyWPaU
A beautiful remote peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. Great views north of Eigg, Rhum and Skye and south across Loch Sunart and out to Mull. Take a walk along the beach from Portuairk to Sanna Bay, or the round trip from picturesque Castle Tioram along the Silver Walk then over the top of the hills on the way back. When the weather is clear, go up Ben Hiant to see the lot. Plenty of wildlife: eagles, deer, otter, and birds in the natural oak woods.
Viking remains have been found here, there is a famous volcanic geological feature and the element Strontian was first discovered in the local mines.
Go to Salen Hotel for drinks, and the local community cafes in Kilchoan and Archaracle when the weather closes in. And there is the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula too.
Google map: bit.ly/Stz8Bv
The most westerly point of mainland Britain, about an hour from the Corran Ferry south of Fort William.
Salen, Acharacle, Highlands and Islands PH36 4JN
Google map: bit.ly/SXL3Yc
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com