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)
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.
Walk on ancient pilgrim paths in the high Apennines, swim in mountain gorges, see behind closed doors of castles, churches and palazzi … just some of the things we’ve done over the last six summers with the help of Farfalle in Cammino, a responsible tourism group in Lunigiana. This area is ‘undiscovered Tuscany’, the land of a million stars and a hundred castles, of small towns and villages in valleys which lead from the mountains to the sea. Life stays close to the rhythm of the year - what's on, what's available to eat, depends on the weather and the season. The Farfalle Guides are local, knowledgeable, young and enthusiastic, keen to share the delights of the area with English speakers. Stay in local ‘agritourismi’ or rent a villa. On Easter Saturday we’ll be on the first-ever Three Castles Electric Bike Tour – 25 kilometres power-assisted pedalling, with of course with a stop for lunch to sample local specialities. The Farfalle’s 2013 programme also includes a new one-week self-guided e-bike gastro-tour over the mountains from Parma to Lucca.
More about Lunigiana and the Apennines:
Farfalle in Cammino:
Simona Polli: +39 338 5238983
Parcobike and the Parma-Lucca tour:
Pierangelo Caponi +39 333 6502210
Google map: bit.ly/14nxjkl
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.
Along the Ligurian coast east of the French border, the alps sweep down to the sea. The steep hills are punctuated with deep ravines and fast flowing rivers, and the mountains paths are deserted. Near the coast, small villages offer a simple bar meal bar, otherwise you carry food and water sufficient for the day. Views of the coast are stupendous.
Stay in Bordighera or San Remo, leave the car behind and use a local bus to one of the inland villages. Even better, a train from Ventimiglia to Cuneo, offers stopping places and opportunities to reach the Mercantour National Park:
23 Rue d'Italie 06000 Nice
+33(0)4 93 16 78 88
Google map: bit.ly/X6QI75
The Czech Repulbic is just about the best in Europe for a self-planned walking trip. There is an amazing network of well-marked colour-coded footpaths across most of the country. Outside almost any railway station (and there are often railway stations in the smallest of villages) you'll find a sign indicating a variety of walking routes, with distances and likely times. And the routes, over hills and through forests and meadows, past castles and manor houses, up mountains and into old villages and towns, can be fantastic. Good walking maps (I found four different publishers) are widely available for much of the country at reasonable prices. And at the end of the day it's always been my experience that it was possible to find a guest house or cheap hotel in the village and a hearty dinner washed down with lots of pilsner beer.
It really is a joy to walk by the river Wear and to take advantage of photo opportunities to take photos of Elvet bridge (the recommended starting point), Kingsgate bridge, Prebends bridge and Framwelgate bridge. Stop for lunch here and lookout for the lovely cute birds which inhabit the riverbank just by Framwelgate bridge. The best route to take is between Elvet bridge (follow the signs for riverside path/walk) and Framwelgate bridge
This is a very easy and easy-to-find walk along the river Miño and it’s beautiful even in winter, especially if the sun is shining! The tree-covered hills and the hotel’s garden are both wonderfully colourful throughout the year. The walk is also suitable for wheelchairs. Leave your car in the Hotel Arnoia car-park and walk down to the river past the hotel. It will take you about half an hour to get to the end of the path. To return you will either need to re-trace your steps or walk up into the village of Arnoia and back along the road.
Urbanizacion Vila Termal, 1, 32417, A Arnoia, Ourense, Ourense, Spain
+34 988 49 24 00
Google map: bit.ly/Xwelzj
The walk begins at the Hotel Arnoia Caldaria. From the bottom of the main street in Ribadavia turn right immediately after the San Francisco bridge and follow the signs to Arnoia and then the hotel. It’s only a couple of miles.
The walk to the Cascade of Angon is ideal for the whole family as it is easy and shaded. The climb to the cascade takes about one hour. On the way up, there is a good opening in the woodland from where you can get a beautiful view of the Duingt Castle, located on the shore of the Annecy Lake. When you reach the waterfall, take care as the rock can be slippery. If you have some energy left, you can go for a swim in the Lake of Annecy or a bike ride to Annecy about 12.5km away.
A short ferry ride from Southampton, Portsmouth or Lymington will take you to one of the sunniest places in Britain. With over 500 miles of footpaths you can walk the Tennyson Way for an exhilarating view of The Needles or stroll along uncrowded coastal paths on the south east of the island. Explore ancient woodlands and get up close to red squirrels at the Alverstone Marsh hide. Follow the network of flat cycle paths suitable for all abilities and more challenging bridleways with barely 100m of flatness. Just remember that for every up there is a great view and a glorious down just ahead.
Lying between Bolton, Bury and Blackburn, the West Pennine Moors are easy to get to and have loads to offer everyone: towers and ruins to explore, short walks that can be done in trainers, longer walks 'over the tops', or around the many reservoirs, great wildlife, challenging road and off-road cycling (The Rake in Ramsbottom is used in national bicycle hill-climbs) horse-riding, sailing ...
Young families might try Rivington where you can choose one of three cafes, walking up to Rivington Pike, exploring the ruins at Lever Park and looking over Manchester. Children will love the hike to the top - it'll feel like an adventure, without tiring them out too much. A lovely walk setting off from Jumbles reservoir takes in Grade 1 listed Turton Tower, moorland, riverside walk and can include a lunch stop at the Strawberry Duck pub.
As well as looking over Manchester, about 15 miles away, you can see the Irish Sea and more. For a fairly small area, there is a great variety and it feels less 'touristy' than either the Lake or Peak District.
It is a stunning country house, in the heart of the Lakes, next to Wordsworth's home Rydal Mount. Owned by the Diocese it is fully open to the public. It has beautiful gardens, waterfall walks,or follow the "coffin" trail round Rydal and Grasmere. Also an excellent base for longer walks like the Fairfeld Horse Shoe. Sleep in the grand house, yurt, eco-pod or camp. Until March you can stay in a pod for only £20 a night! Don't miss cakes at the excellent cafe and visit the community garden, where you can help yourself and leave a donation. You won't be disappointed!
The Alhambra Rambler is based in a very traditional Spanish town in Andalucia – in the hills just over an hour's drive from Malaga. They have great walking and cycling tours to suit just about all levels of fitness. They have 'escorted' and 'self guided' tours. All of their tours are well researched and offer some stunning scenery along the way. Terry and Lisa are the husband and wife team who run the show, they have extensive local knowledge, are very organised and are great travel companions. They manage to incorporate a good mix of healthy outdoor activity with an authentic Spanish experience. The prices are also extremely reasonable, accommodation very comfortable and the evening tapas tours not to be missed - you can always walk any excess off in the morning.
Close to London on the train, yet this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a hidden gem in the heart of south east England. And to walk the footpaths through hilly woods, fields and medieval villages that have hardly changed, to take in the many castles, gardens and houses on the route is a wonderful way to imbibe the tranquillity of the English countryside of another era. Its a carefree holiday - your bags are transported for you, you stay in friendly, comfortable B&B's and regale yourself of an evening with hearty local cooking in the many excellent pubs in the area.
One of the great pleasures of historic central Riga (Vecrīga) is aimless wandering, and you’ll find some of the most evocative streets and lanes at the northern end of the Old Town. Don’t miss the narrow, intimate Trokšnų iela, and the Swedish Gate at Aldaru iela. Close by are the equally photogenic Mazā Pils iela and Klostera iela.
Trokšnų iela, Aldaru iela, Mazā Pils iela & Klostera iela
Google map: bit.ly/SGH96M
Ok, this has to be one of the most famous upmarket shopping streets in the world, but don't let that put you off taking a look round. Window shopping can be almost as much fun as carrying handfuls of bags home with you. This incredibly manicured street is the best place in town to do a little people watching. Enjoy a coffee in one of the many uber-chic cafes along the strip or simply wander at your leisure taking in the elegant ambience of it all. Horse chestnut trees line the streets, snipped and buffed within an inch of their life and of course everything around you is neat, polished and perfectly ..well.... perfect! That's 1.91 km of perfection - rather impressive, I'd say.
Check out the famous Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the street while you are here. It's bigger than you ever imagined.
Google map: bit.ly/U65Lbe
Breathtaking vistas and surprises round every corner await those who walk the Via di Roma/Via Francigena from Assisi to Rome, which passes through idyllic, hidden corners of rural and historic Umbria and Lazio. The route winds along ancient pathways and through pristine natural environments brimming with rare flora and fauna. Abundant sunshine and flame-hued woodlands make October a truly magical time to hike this trail.
Uniquely, the Saint Francis Walk in the Sacred Valley of Rieti guides hikers through a thousand years of history to six sublimely peaceful mountain sanctuaries and all the key sacred sites associated with San Francesco's own life.
Friendly and welcoming local people and delicious food make for an enchanting and unforgettable experience. A full range of services is available to facilitate the smooth running of visitors’ trips.
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.
We have just spent a wonderful week walking through valleys, gorges and along ravines in inland Spain between Alicante and Valencia.It was group walking, about eight to 10 people, with two guides who also did all the cooking back at the hotel, superb scenery, fantastic food and temperatures of 20-25 degrees what more could you want?
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