I recently bought an old tourist guidebook published in 1931 called "The Lure of the Cambrian Coast". The preface closed with a fine description of this part of the world: "the lovely Cambrian coast resorts are washed by the Atlantic Ocean, and the ozone-laden breezes, mingling with the pure mountain air, bring colour to the cheek and radiance to the eye. Sunshine records are high, and no industrial smoke obscures the beneficent ultra-violet rays."
Aside possibly from the reference to sunshine records, this really is a true description of the area. For those wishing to take in the ozone-rich mountain air, the craggy edifice of Cader Idris looms large over Dolgellau enticing the serious hill walker. For a gentler walk from Dolgellau, or even a bike ride, you can follow the river Wnion and Mawddach Estuary along the old railway line. The old trackbed hugs the estuary and passes through idyllic Penmaenpool to Morfa Mawddach (once Barmouth Junction) where it meets the modern day line. The mile-long bridge to Barmouth has a parallel footpath which is a splendid, often windswept, wooden promenade from which to look down the estuary to your point of departure; Dolgellau. Featured on the BBC's "Railway Walks", presented by Julia Bradbury, this walk is a real treat and must have been one of the most scenic train rides in Wales before the line was closed in the 1960s by Dr. Beeching.
There are several old halls near Dolgellau that once belonged to wealthy families, some of whom acquired their wealth in the aforementioned "industrial smoke". One such is Penmaenuchaf Hall just few miles outside Dolgellau at Penmaenpool. Once the country retreat of the Leigh Taylors from Bolton, it's now a country house hotel set in CADW listed private grounds. If you're looking for an oasis of luxury while inhaling the pure, Celtic breezes this is the place.
Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel
t: 01341 422129
(Nearest railway station: Morfa Mawddach)
You don't need a car to get deep into the Alps during summer. Getting to Aosta from any of the airports in Northern Italy is a doddle on the train, and there's a great bus service that will take you up to Cogne. From there, walk or get the local bus to Valnontey for a great base for spectacular single or multi-day walks. Stay at La Barme for hearty, traditional evening meals.
www.trenitalia.com for train times to Aosta.
www.savda.it/orari_tariffe.htm for buses from Aosta to Cogne
www.hotellabarme.com - Hotel La Barme
Cicerone guide Walking in Italy's Gran Paradiso by Gillian Price has loads of great walks in.
There are many day-trips to the volcano. Most will collect you from the quayside for a run to the crater and straight back again.
If you want to see the quiet villages of Nikia or Emborio on the crater rim as well (and the view from Nikia in particular is terrific), you may need to make a few enquiries - there are a few guides who go a bit further, but not many!
Alternatively, there is a limited bus service into the interior.
Really Discover offers short (2.5 hrs) tours of Seville. The walking tour is limited to 10 people so you are never so far from the guide that you can't hear what is being said.
We chose to start our first full day in Seville with the walking tour in order to get our bearings and plan our week better. Our guide, Luis, really knew his city and obviously loves it as well. They have a basic plan but are flexible so that they can skip over places you've already been if you wish.
We were met by David, a Brit who moved to Seville, and Luis our guide who spoke very good English. Both were friendly and helpful. A later call to David helped us sort out a taxi back to the station very early in the morning.
They are also happy to recommend their favourite places to eat or visit. Luis recommended a restaurant called Taberna del Alabardero which we visited twice for their Menu del Dia.
Luis also took us to the Archivo General de Indias which was a treat that we would probably have skipped had it not been for the tour. This place is particularly interesting for US visitors interested in their own history.
These guys have a walking tour of San Luis Obispo that includes the disgusting (but must see) Bubble Gum Alley, the old Mission and historic Chinatown.
And the guide was great about suggesting local places to eat that tourists might not normally find.
One of the best self-guided trekking areas in Spain. A place of extinguished volcanoes amongst thick forests, unusually green all year round despite the Mediterranean sun. After exploring Vall d'en Bas valley, eat one of the best meals of your life in Restaurant Arnau, Granollers de Rocacorba, and swim in the pool afterwards.
Half an hour north-west from Girona. Read about Girona town and province:
An old mountain world impervious to (or unaware of) the heady modern culture that characterizes the rest of Spain. Well-kept whitewashed villages stuck to the mountainside. Wholesome food, peace and quiet, fabulous for walking holidays, free tapas, good rental cottages, friendly and easy-going.
By hire car or bus from Granada or Malaga Airport. Most popular villages: Capileira, Bubión. Introductory guide to La Alpujarra in www.rusticaltravel.com
Beautiful gorge that cuts through the hills around Tinerhir. In the area you can find deserted kasbahs, mud-brick villages and palmerias. All of which are truly inspiring as I am a keen photographer. I had a great time trekking there on a recent holiday. It certainly rivals the Grand Canyon in terms of beauty.
A wonderful Berber house located in a remarkable location. Driving from Marrakech (just over an hour), you turn off the highway and begin to ascend a mountain road. Every bend and corner opens up a new vista and for a moment you wonder if it is even possible that there is a refuge in such a magnificently wild environment.
Another corner and there in front of you is the village of Tassa Ouirgane (1300 m) nestled into the mountainside above a wild river that tumbles from the heights above you. Through the village the road climbs again and then you arrive to where, perched on the mountainside, Dar Tassa awaits you.
At the door, Fatima and Hafida greeted us with the traditional dates and milk (and what sweet milk it was!). From the moment we entered the house we felt not like guests, but members of the family.
Walking, cycling, trekking and climbing are among the highlights, but also simply resting amidst the tranquillity and eating... Did we mention food? Fatima cooks up a storm and her skills mean that you don't simply end up with yet another tagine! The local honey is an absolute must!
Tel +212 524484312
Marigha between Asni & Ouirgane
Summit Zero is the perfect hostel to begin your own Mt. Olympus adventure. I arrived via bus in the middle of Litochoro and because I reserved my room at the hostel, Periklis, the hostel owner, was waiting to meet me.
I stayed the night and prepared for my climb up Mt. Olympus the next day. I met many other climbers and was able to receive wonderful advice and tips on trails from both local climbers and travelling climbers.
I was travelling solo, but I met other young adults who joined with me to climb Mt. Olympus.
Summit Zero was the best starting place for my adventure. I was able to leave my bags at the hostel in storage until I returned after my two-day climb. I was able to unwind after the trek by swimming in the Aegean because the beach is just behind the hostel. Summit Zero is the perfect refuge. The is no other place where you can enjoy the setting sun as you float in the waters of the Aegean while admiring the lofty peaks of Mt. Olympus knowing that you had walked the path of the gods.
It is located in Gritsa, port of Litochoro, GR. Litochoro is the small town at the base of Mt. Olympus (easily identified by its red tile roofs). Gritsa is just outside of Litochoro on the coast of the Aegean.
0030- 6972 338348 mob. (Periklis)
0030- 23520 61406 hostel
Gritsa, port of Litochoro, GR.
This is a totally preserved preVictorian stone and slate village around the shores of Kames Bay with a lifestyle of 50 years ago. Langoustines are caught here. Kames Castle at one end has period holiday cottages in the Estate. There is a small marina, highly eccentric ancient golfcourse, old tramtrack to Ettrick Bay - a great bit of sand with 200 seals, two pubs, fish and chips, Post Office/shop, a Petanque piste and a Russian Tavern run by Russians serving Russian specialities and Russian beers, wines and vodkas. They have four guestrooms too.
The scenery of seascapes, mountains, forest and islands is simply spectacular. Curlews, oyster-catchers and seals share the beach while wild deer graze the golfcourse. This is a very peculiar place to find in the UK!
Ferry to the Isle of Bute from Wemyss Bay (pronounced "weems") on the A78 between Greenock and Largs at the mouth of the River Clyde. Trains direct to Wemyss Bay from Glasgow and either Glasgow Airport. Ferry every 45 minutes, ferry time 35 minutes.
Walking tours of street art in Buenos Aires. I was looking for a modern cultural tour and found graffitimundo. We visited walls, galleries and artists studios, which we couldn't have found ourselves. It was a fantastic way to meet artists and learn more about street art in Argentina.
Covering an area of 10 square kilometres the magical forest of Huelgoat abounds with amazing gigantic mossy boulders and sparkling clear pools as the river Argent winds its way through the trees.
Follow the main path and your first stop should be Le Chaos de Rochers (Chaos of Rocks) and the Grotte Du Diable (Cave of the Devil). Here the water from the lake plunges dramatically ten meters below ground into a large cavern, the noise of the water is thundering and if your brave enough to climb down the slippery rocks and steep iron ladder its well worth a visit - but take care!
Between Morlaix and Carhaix just off the D764
The Ridgeway is one of the finest walks in England and the Bell Inn is a "must not miss" pub for anyone walking along the long distance footpath. The first time I was introduced to the pub it was a gorgeous midsummer evening and we walked from the pub up onto the Ridgeway and then made our way back through field full of crops for an excellent post walk session in this most attractive and unspoiled of pubs. The second time I visited was two years ago when I was walking the Ridgeway. We left the hostel at Wantage and the rain started and it got worse and worse as we headed east. The plan had always been to try to get to The Bell for a lunchtime session but with 10 miles to travel it seemed like we would never make it. I kept my fingers crossed as we entered Aldworth in the hope that the pub would be open, after all it was a Monday. No worries - the pub was open and was packed! The Bell is such a warm and welcoming place that it is no surprise that we took full advantage of the range of real ales on offer. Five pints later we staggered out the pub with the rain still coming down with seven miles more to go before our next hostel in Streatley. Once again fate intervened. One of the guys we had chatted to in the pub saw our plight and offered us a lift. Perfect!
Aldworth is north of Newbury, in the Berkshire Downs close to the Ridgeway
A great one or two day walk with fantastic views, bracing climbs and a great overnight camp.
It also gives you a rare chance to be at top of Scafell Pike on your own if you leave it to quite close to sunset - a rare thing.
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