Stairway to Heaven is good mood music for a romantic journey to Castell y Bere - a cottage not far away was where Led Zeppelin started writing the song. The castle stands proud on a rock outcrop in the gorgeously peaceful and very remote Dysynni Valley. Visitors are infrequent - climb a wooden stairway and you may be alone to tour the extensive home of Llewellyn, the last prince of independent Wales, and Lady Eleanor, first Princess of Wales.
Once there, nearby for experienced walkers, is the start of the easiest route to ascend the 2930ft of Cadair Idris. Or the tiny chapel houses a scale model of the Dysynni Valley and the castle, and, from earlier times, has the poignant reminder of a leper hole. The small village, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, was also made famous by the Bible Society as the place from where, in 1800, 15 year-old Mary Jones walked 25 miles barefoot to buy a bible.
To find it, head first for Machynlleth (‘Mach’ has a train station), pausing for sustenance perhaps, and check out the blue plaque marking the site of Laura Ashley’s first shop. Bron-yr-Aur, an unremarkable cottage unless you’re a Zeppelin fan, is up on the hillside (out of sight) as you head off towards Abergynolyn. The iconic Centre for Alternative Technology is a little further on. Satnavs or apps are said to function only erratically or not at all in the hills so a map is recommended to find Castell y Bere along a winding and narrow road.
Stay for a few nights in a camping cabin at the Old Oaks Touring Park, stocking up on very local farm produce, home-baked cakes and cider at the friendly site shop. Check the weather forecast using your free WIFI, and then get up in the early hours of the morning ready for an adventure... Walk past Gog and Magog (two thousand-year-old oaks) up the tiny tree-shrouded lane from the site that climbs towards Glastonbury Tor, and then follow the spiralling path worn by countless millions of feet through the ages up the famous hill. The Somerset Levels are laid out before you as the sun climbs over the horizon, wreathed in spring mist and the fire of a new day. This is how I asked my fiancé to marry me, and it is a sunrise that should be on everyone's bucket list for the UK!
As I've written before, Pennard is a beautiful, calm and year-round treasure for this little part of Wales. Situated not far from Gower Golf Course, the stroll from the castle to Three Cliffs Bay is perfect for couples, families, dog-walkers and ramblers. During the day it's a hot surf spot and in the evenings in BBQ heaven. Known to the Sandy Lane locals as 'Tub', Three Cliffs Bay is a popular landmark on Gower for geologists and geographers alike, with it's twisting headland and arches set to inspire the children that visit. I know it inspired me to pursue my career in geography. I cant wait to go back this spring when my exams are over so I can pick wild raspberries and explore this gorgeous little part of the world.
Tbe meadows and woods around Kempley and Dymock offer spring country walks among wild daffodils. The most prolific meadows and woods in the UK displaying carpets of wild daffodils are accessed in a series of circular and waymarked walks that make up the Daffodil Way. All walks are easy and cross ancient woods and farmland where historic churches and old orchards with rare varieties of apple and pear are also home to the wild daffodil. Cultural interest along the walks include a church with 10th and 12th century frescoes and wall paintings and another decorated and furnished with works of the arts and crafts movement. April is the best time to visit the daffodils when local guides and excellent teas are offered in village church halls at weekends.
Location:On the border of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Best approached by car via Ledbury or Newent to reach the villages of Kempley and Dymock ,or from exit 3 of the M50. Parking available in Queens Wood near Kempley Green, or carefully, where convenient , around the various woods, farms, and villages.
Google map: bit.ly/YHLLAq
Set off from the top of the Dale on the A623 near Wardlow. For the first mile or so, the valley sides are carpeted with cowslips and early purple orchids. Easy stroll for all ages and abilities but can be extended into a circular walk through Miller's Dale, Tideswell Dale and Litton.
Wardlow Mires on A623
Google map: bit.ly/ZejuhA
Farndale, in the heart of the North York Moors National Park, is famed for its wonderful daffodils, believed to have been first planted there by medieval monks from Rievaulx. The carpet of spring flowers attracts some 40,000 visitors annually, but this year they are late to bloom, and won’t be at their peak until the middle of April. The Daffodil Walk runs alongside the River Dove for around 2 1/2 kms, and refreshments can be found the Daffy Caffy, or at the Feversham Arms at Church Houses, which does a marvellous Sunday lunch.
The view of Ashness Bridge with Derwent Water and Skiddaw Fell beyond has been seen on a gazillion postcards. Standing white, on the fellside behind you, is Ashness Farm. Between school runs the farmer, Anne Cornthwaite, runs hardy Belted Galloway cattle, local Herdwick sheep and rare-breed pigs, while welcoming guests to this friendliest of farm B&Bs. The location is a walker’s paradise. Anne makes mouth-watering Cumberland rum butter to a family recipe. Layer lavishly on fresh bread for a slice of heaven in heaven.
Walks (approximate times, one way):
Surprise View 30 minutes
Watendlath Tarn one hour
Lodore Falls and Bowder Stone (2000 tons!) 1.5 hours
High Seat (608m) and Thirlmere (its water reaches Manchester via a 96 mile aqueduct a day after leaving the lake/reservoir) three hours
Watendlath Tarn, Dock Tarn, Greenup Gill, Langstrathdale, Borrowdale (Royal Oak pub), Bowder Stone, Lodore Falls (six hours, circular)
Famous for it's surfing credentials, but also a great family beach, with brilliant walks via the South West Coast Path. Smallish and pebbly on high tide, but huge and two miles wide on low tide. Blue bar is great for food and drink deep into the night, or take a stroll up the sand (keep an eye on the tides) for a clotted cream infused snack at the National Trust caff on Chapel Porth. there's a great little guide here
The Sibillini mountains in Umbria lack the scale and severity of the Italian Alps and the Dolomites, but that only means walkers are less numerous, and all the tops are accessible to the merely fit and well shod. The scenery is unique and spectacular, particularly the vast utterly flat lentil fields of the Piano Grande, ringed by mountains. Our hotel in Norcia arranged a reasonably priced post-breakfast transfer to the largely deserted village of Castellucio, on the edge of the Piano Grande, from where it is a long-ish but straightforward walk to the summit of Monte Patino (1883m). This is the highest point for some distance and there are huge views over the rest of the Sibillini mountains, the rolling hills of Umbria and down to Norcia immediately below. By the time you get back to town you will be ready for a beer, and if you pick your spot carefully you will be able to look up at the big cross on the summit of Monte Patino and feel, well, smug. Norcia is famous for its salami and truffles and Umbrian wine is a match for its more expensive Tuscan neighbours. Add pasta, lentils and risotto and you get perfect hearty walkers fare.
Norcia - just Google it! It's an adventure!! (OK we booked it all through Inntravel. But still an adventure to get there.)
Strada Statale Picena, ., 62026 San Ginesio Macerata, Italy
+39 0737 97271
Google map: bit.ly/16U78kY
Wake up early and ride the Mount Baldo cableway up 1.6km to hike among breathtaking scenery of the snow-capped pre-Alpine region, the Po Plains and the Dolomite Mountains. After exhausting ourselves on the mountain trails we head to a hilltop restaurants for late lunch with panoramic views of the lake. We loved Mount Baldo so much we went back twice more during our week-long summer holiday to Malcesine, Lake Garda.
The castle hamlet of Acera is home to about 100 Italians in the summer months and just a few goats in the winter. Its location nestled in the Perugian mountains 10 miles northeast of Spoleto and at an altitude of over 1000m above sea level, lends itself to any difficulty of hikes and on/off road cycling.
Acera has no shops so pay a visit to the pizzeria at the bottom of the winding access road before heading up. Leave the car in the village and you are spoiled with any amount of public tracks, from a 15 minute walk around one hill, with views back towards Spoleto, to choosing one of any number of peaks to conquer, to treks of over 15 miles to the valley of the River Nera, clear enough to drink from and take a refreshing swim in.
If you come this way it's best to organise to be collected by car at the end of your walk/ride. Make sure to stop at a local sausage maker, Salumificio Del Nera in Sant'Anatolia Di Narco, for the most amazing local meats.
If you ask around back in Acera, you should be able to get hold of some local truffle, its big business around here and absolutely delicious.
Accommodation can be found at a number of agritourismos in the area, though, at the moment, not in Acera itself.
Acera, Provence of Perugia
Nearest train station, Spoleto (15miles)
Google map: bit.ly/10atxnC
Salumificio Del Nera S.R.L.
Localita' Renare, Sant'Anatolia Di Narco, PG 06040
The Sibillini Mountains lie north-east of Rome, in a National Park established in 1993. The whole area is a little-known gem in the heart of Italy.
The walk encompasses high mountain passes, (with the option of summits), dramatic gorges, beech woods, vistas of rolling hillsides, meadows and pastureland, interspersed with medieval hill-towns, abbeys, towers and castles. The wild flowers are amazingly prolific and varied - but we weren't lucky enough to see a wolf!
Overnight stays included rifugios in converted castles, agriturismos, and B&Bs. A good starting point is the little town of Visso, but there are many options for starting and finishing on this circular walk.
Corvara in the Alta Badia region of the German speaking, northern Dolomites is the perfect summer mountain playground. The ski lifts remain open all summer giving access to the high alpine pastures and rocky limestone peaks. The Boè and Vallon lifts from the edge of town take you to the start of the amazing Via Ferrata (a rocky scramble secured by iron cables and ladders) up to the rocky summit of Piz da Lêche (2915m); there are plenty of mountain guides and rental shops in town for the less experienced. Alternatively you can hire mountain bikes and use the lifts on the other side of the valley. Then all you have to do is point the bike down hill and enjoy the ride!
There are many amazing walks in the Dolomites of Veneto (region in the north of Italy), but for somebody who is going for the first time there is nothing better than hiking from Passo Falzarego (near Cortina d'Ampezzo - BELLUNO) to Rifugio Nuvolau.
The best path to follow is: Passo Falzarego - towards Forcella Gallina, passing in front of Averau montain - up to Rifugio Nuvolau (where you can spend the night, possibly) and go down to Passo Giau (final stop of the walk).
The total length is more or less four hours and there are some difficulties but is definitely doable even by non professionals and amateurs walkers (like me!).
Why I suggest it:
1) You can enjoy a 360° view of the Dolomites (in particular on the Tofane, Pomagagnon, Cristallo, Sorapiss, Antelao and Cinque Torri mountains);
2) If you spend the night at Rifugio Nuvolau you can witness the amazing 'Enrosadira' at sunset. It is called 'Enrosadira' the moment in which the Dolomites rocks get the pink colour (due to the sunlight reflection on their rocks at sunset or sunrise) they are so famous worldwide for. In addition, if there is full moon the view on the mountains at night is breathtaking.
Where to go: Flight to Treviso or Venice and then rent a car (if not there are trains but the connections are not so great) and sleep the first night either at Selva di Cadore (www.infodolomiti.it/dolomiti.run?620000492-0) or Colle Santa Lucia)
If you are looking for total quiet; while sleep in Cortina d'Ampezzo (cortina.dolomiti.org/) if you want to enjoy the Dolomites posh life but still in a breathtaking place.
The starting point of the walk is closer to Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Rifugio Nuvolau: www.nuvolau.com/
Recommended to eat SALSICCIA!
Google map: bit.ly/YOUc8s
A seven mile circuit with amazing views over the rolling hills of Le Marche out to the Adriatic, northwards to the Gran Sasso and also of the surrounding Sibillini Mountains.
Drive up the zigzag track up to the Refugio Sibilla and then it is a short walk up to access the fine ridge up to the summit.
The area is full of legends. The eponymous sibyl, or prophetess, reputedly lived in a cave near the summit with a group of beautiful enchantresses who could turn into snakes if the need arose and nearby the Lago di Pilato marks the spot that Pontius Pilate's body supposedly found its final resting place. We had the mountain to ourselves in April, when fresh snow added to the beauty.
Ancient pomegranate trees shade a rocky trail leading up to the Greek amphitheatre of Erythrae. Unlike the human maelstrom at sites like Ephesus, visitors here are few, even in summer. We felt free to test the acoustics. Nearby a sun-wizened old man was minding a hobbit-hole. In the dark interior, on a dusty floor, lay dusty fragments of mouldings and ceramics. Explaining (eventually) we were from England he smiled broadly then proudly spoke his two words of English: "Manchester United".
It's well worth stopping on the way there or back at one of the small roadside cafes on the coast road between Çeşme and Illdir. They have shaded terraces with spectacular views over the Aegean Sea and islands. Try an Akitma, thin Turkish crêpes, cooked to order and filled with Feta-type, crumbly fresh cheese. Wash it down with Ayran, a suprisingly delicious cold drink of yogurt mixed with water and salt.
Illdir, on the coast road about 1 hour north of Çeşme.
Tourist information office: Çeşme (fax 232-712 6653) - it's by the harbour at iskele Meydanı 6.
Google map: bit.ly/13aWLKm
What can I say? Love 'The Harry's. The location is perfect - it feels like heaven sat watching the sunset from the top. Views are just gorgeous. Great place for morning coffee or an evening drink and also definitely the best restaurant to go to. Food is great. This is certainly the only place that we book year on year. You need to pre book for the restaurant though as it does get very busy.
The Monti Sibillini National Park in Umbria, naturally conceals some of the most exhilarating and glorious walks you could ever wish to experience. Take the trail above Infernaccio through exquisite valleys and higher and half way up meet the hermit who, for forty years, has been building a church single handed and has yet to finish.
Or, walk to the Lago Di Pilatos. This dream like lake has its own population of crayfish not to be found anywhere else in the world. Witness the stunning views of the surrounding snow capped mountains.
Myself and my partner ate here on a number of occassions and were never disappointed. The service was excellent, really friendly staff and always happy to help. The restaurant looks out over the beach which is a stunning view. We often watched the paragliders landing just in front of the restaurant or the the sun setting from here.
The food was so good, everything we ordered was wonderful. From a simple chicken kebab wrap to Harry's fish special we really enjoyed it all. It was great value for money. Yes, some of the drinks were a bit expensive but no more than anywhere else. After a lovely meal we really enjoyed going up to Harry's cocktail bar and trying out all the different cocktails. Again the staff there were brilliant and the cocktails were yummy.
Overall this was one of our favourite restaurants and deserves the excellent rating we have given it. As my title said great food, great surroundings and great staff. What more could you want?!
We visited Tlos in spring when the snow on the mountains provided a magnificent backdrop to this ancient, ruined Lycian citadel which was subsequently inhabited by Romans, Byzantines and eventually Ottoman Turks. Entrance fee was 3 TL and this allowed us to wander up to the citadel passing wonderful examples of Lycian carved rock tombs, sarcophagi and the remains of Turkish baths and a Roman stadium. Despite being surrounded by history it was the all-round view which provided the most lasting spectacle.
You reach the Tlos from Fethiye by following the 400 highway towards Kalkan and following the signs for Tlos.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com