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
An opportunity to get right up close to Mont Blanc- Europe’s highest mountain.
Grand Balcon Nord 6.5 km – allow three hours.
Chamonix in the French Alps is one of the best known centres for walking in the summer and rightly so.
One of the most spectacular yet easiest walks is the Grand Balcon Nord which has you strolling through a veritable rock garden at 2000 metres and even offers the possibility of meeting a marmot or two.
From Chamonix take the Aiguille cable car to the half way point at Plan de l’Aiguille which is the starting point for your route - although it is spectacular, and literally breathtaking, due to the altitude, to take the cable car right to the top station – and then start your walk on the return journey.
The well signposted rocky mountain trail undulates north east, meandering through miniature rhododendrons, gentian and azaleas, with stunning views down to Chamonix and over the narrow valley to Plan Praz and La Flegere standing at 1877m - this is the Grand Balcon Sud and another fine walk affording views over Mont Blanc and Les Aiguilles (the needles).
As you reach the junction of the path to Montenvers mountain railway you can take the route directly there or turn right and zig zag easily up the extra 150m to grab great views of the stunning pinnacles of the Aiguille Vert at 4122m, Les Drus and the Mer de Glace (sea of ice).
Catch the picturesque little train from Montenvers back down to Chamonix. Remember to check what time the last train and cable car operate as it’s a long walk down!
This walk can be done in reverse and an early start will give you the opportunity to watch the sun come up from behind Les Aiguilles.
An organic farm shop and café with a difference. Set at the edge of the forest just outside the picturesque and historic town of Falkland, the Pillars of Hercules provides a pretty unique shopping experience. Recently and justifiably awarded the UK’s Best Small Organic Store it sells all manner of organic, fresh, local and tasty foods, lovely home made breads, chilled foods, toiletries, household items, wines, beers and of course the freshest of fresh veg and fruit – most of it grown on site, and even bouquets of local flowers. In season they sell plants in their little nursery and it’s lovely to stroll round the gardens.
However as well as a shop it’s a bit of a “holiday destination” as you can camp in a choice of the tipi field, orchard or banking field, spending evenings sitting round a campfire and days strolling round the different walks that start from the shop. Or rent the bothy with it’s wood burning stove for a few nights for a little more comfort. If you don’t feel like cooking they have a café serving delicious food from breakfast through to late afternoon snacks with the “Restaurant at the End of the Universe” open for dinner and music every month or so.
If you can manage to visit in July the “Big tent Festival” happens in Falkland – a weekend of music, eco and family friendly events and great food supplied by Pillars of Hercules and while in the area it’s worth taking the time to stroll round Falkland and visiting Falkland Palace and Gardens www.nts.org.uk
Just a short bus ride from Mayrhofen followed by a chairlift leads you onto the Hintertux Glacier. Once up there you will find the Spannagelhaus which is at the entrance to the underground Spannagel cave – the largest and most important cave in the Tyrol. There is a charge of around 10Euro for the tour and you are kitted out with hard hats and waterproofs and you’ll need them for the adventure to follow!
There are wonderful rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites, ribbon marble and crystals to be discovered as you feel like a real caver (there’s even a couple of places you have to squeeze through the rock!) exploring this secret underground world. While there it is of course worthwhile exploring the glacier, admiring the views and having a coffee at the excellent mountain huts that Austrians seem so good at providing in even the remotest of settings.
The Bone Caves in Sutherland, Scotland.
Between Ullapool and Lochinver, just before arriving art Loch Assynt, is a signposted car park and walk to the Bone Caves, so called because the remains of now extinct bear, lynx wolf and arctic fox have been found there. A wonderful walk on a good path then a final scramble takes you back 7,000 years to one of the earliest signs of habitation in Scotland. In this primeval landscape it is easy to sit there and imagine how it must have been to live there. This is limestone country and on the way there you pass by springs welling up from under the ground and entrances to the passages they have carved through the rock. Here is the longest underground cave system in Scotland and over two kilometres have been explored so far but they are for experienced cavers only so stick to the ones above ground.
Situated on the rugged west coast of Skye this campsite has one of the most stunning situations in all of the British Isles. Camping at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains on the shore of Loch Brittle with direct access to some of the most spectacular walking and climbing to be had anywhere, you could easily spend a week or so here and never feel the need to drive anywhere. Spend the days up in the mountains or the explore easier coastal walking to the chambered cairn, pictish fort and other delights and then spend the evening strolling on the beach watching the sky change colour in the long summer evenings. A very special walk to take (suitable for all abilities) is to head back up the single track road - it’s the only one so you won’t get lost! – and follow the footpath sign to The Fairy Pools, a truly magical place.
Should the weather turn inclement the nearby Talisker distillery at Carbost welcomes visitors with a tour and a wee dram, it’s worth buying a bottle to enjoy at your tent.
This is a near to wild camping as you can get while still having all the comforts of less remote sites, toilets, showers and a well stocked campsite shop and hopefully a small breeze to keep the midges at bay!
Take A863 past Sligachan on Isle of Skye, turn L to B8009 then L following signposted road for app. 8 miles.
Set in the Royal Burgh of Culross, an historic restored walled garden, sheltered behind a 16th century merchant's house, it incorporates many of the features that would have been there at that time. It's easy to while away an afternoon wandering the terraces of fruit, vegetables and herbs, pleasingly interspersed with aromatic plants and flowers. While the little orchard of apple, mulberry, quince and fig trees provide a home for the Scottish Dumpies (hens!) that root around there.
Find a sheltered seat under one of the arches or bowers, up by the espaliered vines and admire the tremendous views over the Firth of Forth to the Forth Bridge and beyond.
Don't forget to visit the little stall in a corner of the garden which sells its produce when in season, everything from marrows to apples.
While there take the time to explore the house itself and wander around the cobbled streets of Culross, one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. There's a tearoom and gallery -the Biscuit Cafe and an ancient and very good, pub with beamed ceiling and beer garden - the Red Lion should you be feeling like a "wee refreshment" during your visit.
On the very occasional rainy day in Yorkshire there can be no better way to while away a few hours than a visit to the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. At the "Shepherded" tour you will learn about the traditional brewing process in the warm and barley scented environment sets one up nicely for a sample of the ales.
I would recommend the Golden Sheep or perhaps the special Monty Python's Holy Grail (tempered over burning witches!). Best of all are the Bistro and Baa..r; wonderful food, huge portions in a lovely setting with views out over the Dales (when it's not raining that is). Puns are definitely the order of the day here but don't feel sheepish - it's a visit ewe won't regret.
The surrounding village of Masham is also worth exploring; there's a village square, a great little grocery and sweetshop and, if you haven't had quite enough beer yet, it is also home to Theakston's brewery with a visitor centre.
Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth, Masham HG4 4EN tel:01765 689227
Visitor car park
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