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Traveller's Tale: Cow Bells & Marmots in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland

Campbell and his partner made their way to Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland in the peak of summer 2019. Advertised as “A fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss mountain walking through two famous regions”, read here how he experienced his walking holiday in Switzerland. 
 
Review walking in Switzerland with Sherpa Expeditions _ Jungfrau Railway
 
My walking history is relatively pedestrian (pun intended), my partner and I have had many walking adventures including Madeira’s Pico Ruivo, Snowdonia, Amalfi’s Path of the Gods and the Peak and Lake districts in the UK. The last of these being a personal favourite. 
 

Why did you choose to walk in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland? 

Like all walks, we liked the appeal of nature above all else. The idea of walking through Swiss meadows with nothing but the blue sky, alpine peaks and cow’s bells to keep you company was appealing on every level. 
 

How did you prepare for your walking holiday in Switzerland? 

To be honest, poorly. We were walking the Capital Ring Walk in London leading into our walking holiday, but it by no means prepared us for the grinding uphill in the hot weather that we endured on the first day. 
 

>> Find out more about The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls trip that Campbell completed

 

What was your favourite destination? 

This would have to be Lauterbrunnen. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being the accommodation had a bath looking out over the waterfall that I could sit in at the end of the day and enjoy a nice glass of port. Also great was the fact that it was nestled away in a valley downhill from Wengen. It has a nice village feel as you walk into it with the paragliders making their way up and down the valley. 
 
Lauterbrunnen on Bernese Oberland walk with Sherpa Expeditions
 
Reward after challenging hike in Switzerland - Sherpa Expeditions traveller review
 

Best food & drink? 

This would have to be at Onkel Tom’s in Grindelwald, due to the atmosphere and hygge factor. It was cold and unrelenting outside, yet here we were with a lovely pizza, wine and roaring fire. It was perfect after a hard days walking.
 
A close second would be the hut on the route out of Zermatt which serves a brilliant homemade apple cake with fruit tea. It makes for a perfect pit stop after arguably the hardest ascent of the trip. It was the only time we were swayed by a treat and I’m so glad we stopped. 
 

Biggest surprise of walking in the Bernese Oberland? 

The Marmots. They were just everywhere. I jest, I didn’t see any Marmots. 
The main surprises for me were actually twofold. The first being the just the scale and breath-taking beauty of the Alps and the valleys, it was quite humbling to be walking through and over such incredible landscapes. 
 
The second would be the wildlife. Living in London, aside from the odd squirrel, there isn’t much else. It is mainly livestock over this walk in Switzerland, but they are all equipped with bells, which lets everyone know where they are at all times. It was almost unusual to walk through a field or slope without the cacophony of dings to keep you company. 
On the higher plains outside of Zermatt keep an eye out for goats and black-faced sheep. The sheep are especially friendly and are typically found snoozing near any rocks that might heat up in the midday sun. In the summer and spring months, there will be a host of butterflies that will constantly distract you from the potentially gruelling uphill legs. 
 
Walking in Switzerland review_Sherpa Expeditions
 
Sheep abound around Zermatt in Switzerland_Sherpa Expeditions traveller review
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging? 

While the first day was physically challenging, I don’t think this was the most challenging aspect of our walking trip. I think that the most challenging aspect was dealing with the weather involved. As is the case with all mountain weather it is largely interchangeable and I was perhaps not as adequately prepared as I should have been. 
 
Also, we were very keen to do the Jungfrau railway, so choosing when to do this was a key decision, especially due to the cost. Luckily, they have a detailed weather service in the station that will give an update as to what the weather is expected to be at the summit. We ended up with a fantastic blue-sky day in the end and would definitely recommend walking out to the hut past the glaciers for soup or mulled wine.
 
Walking around from Jungfrau Railway _ Sherpa Expeditions traveller review
 
Review walking in Switzerland_Bernese Oberland with Sherpa Expeditions
 

Did Campbell inspire you to go walking in the Swiss Alps? With Sherpa Expeditions you have a selection of options to choose from in the Bernese Oberland, but also other highlights of Switzerland such as the Tour du Mont Blanc, Wildstrubel Circuit and Haute Route. 

 

11 Reasons to do the Tour du Mont Blanc with Sherpa Expeditions

Our 2021 dates have been announced for the Tour du Mont Blanc – so now is the time to secure your place on one of the classic alpine walking tours. Here are just some of the reasons why we think you should book this spectacular trip…

 

Tour du Mont Blanc  

 

1. EIGHT fixed departure dates for summer 2021

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a self guided walking holiday – but due to the logistics of baggage transfer, the trip departs on fixed dates throughout the summer season. Our 8 departure dates, spanning the entire summer, give you plenty of options for when to do the trip. 

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

2. Worry-free booking conditions in 2021

When booking your 2021 Tour du Mont Blanc walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions, you can be assured with new health guidelines and relaxed booking conditions. 
Plus, for extra peace of mind, in 2021 we’re waiving transfer or change fees for bookings up to 70 days prior to departure. You can learn more about all of this on our COVID-19 Travel & Booking Information page.

 

3. Support from our friendly, knowledgeable team in London

Our London office is staffed by people with plenty of walking experience, and an in-depth knowledge of our holidays. They can provide you with all the information you need and answer all of your questions, providing support both before and during your trip.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

4. Walk independently, but at the same time as other Sherpa travellers

Although the Tour du Mont Blanc is a self guided holiday, the fact that the trip departs on fixed dates means there will always be a small number of other Sherpa walkers doing the tour at the same time. So you can be as sociable or independent as you like – it’s the best of both worlds!

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

5. Enjoy the benefits of support from our team members who live in the area

Our friendly local staff who take care of your baggage transfers also act as your contacts in case of any problems, or simply to offer advice and information.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

6. The route notes you receive are second to none

When you book with Sherpa Expeditions you’ll receive a pack including detailed route notes, maps and information on local points of interest and attractions. The notes have been prepared by our experts with intimate knowledge of the area, and also include details of alternative routes for certain parts of the tour and a lot of interesting background information.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

7. Enjoy a meet & greet on your first night

The evening before you set off from Les Houches for your first day’s walking, our support team on the ground will hold a briefing to give you all the information you need and to ask any questions you might have. It also gives you the opportunity to meet the other Sherpa travellers who’ll be doing the walk at the same time as you.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

8. Solo travellers can avoid paying a single supplement

If you’re a solo traveller and are happy to share a room with another traveller (of the same gender), you won’t have to pay a single supplement - as long as we can pair you up. (NB: there are no single rooms available in Les Chapieux, on the 3rd night of the tour, and if not paired up single travellers will have to stay in a small dormitory at Refuge Les Mottets, which is 7km further up on the route).

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

9. First-timer on a self guided walk? No problem!

Although the Tour du Mont Blanc provides views of breath-taking alpine scenery, the walk itself is graded as ‘moderate to challenging’ and requires no mountaineering experience. This means that anyone with the level of fitness required to walk for 6 to 7 hours a day on uneven ground should find it within their capabilities. Some of the walks can be shortened by the use of cable cars or local bus services.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

10. Enjoy the culture of 3 different countries

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Tour du Mont Blanc is that you’ll pass through France, Italy and Switzerland, each with its own culture, customs and delicious food & wine. A true European adventure awaits you.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc

 

11. Rest days, or extra walking days - the choice is yours

The itinerary includes 3 ‘rest’ days when you can take it easy – but there’s certainly no need to rest if you’re feeling energetic! There’s plenty to explore in all of the areas (the route notes will provide information), or you can choose to do some extra walking if you prefer.

 

A Mont Blanc Marmotte!

Find more details, dates and book online, for the Tour du Mont Blanc Self Guided Walk.

What Size Walking Boot Do I Need?

Read our walking boots size guide with all your FAQs answered

How to size your walking boots, depends on a number of factors. Your ideal choice of walking footwear ultimately depends on its fit and the activity that you intend to do, as well as the type of terrain you are planning to cover. In rocky, wet terrain you will need a boot with more support and waterproofing than say if you are going to walk on made up tracks or on roads. In these last instances, a lighter more cushioned boot will be more appropriate. For hot-weather-walking, eg. Italy in summer, you will prefer even lighter, open and breathable fabrics. Materials range from full grain leather through to suede and synthetic, with or without Gore-Tex or other linings to make them more waterproof.

 

Need a new pair of walking boots? Read our FAQ on sizing - Sherpa Expeditions

Once you have decided on a style or function, the important thing is that the footwear should not only fit correctly to prevent blisters. The boot should also support your feet and ankles enough to help prevent walking fatigue and ankle or tendon injury as much as possible, for example from twisting or jarring. Once you know the sort of activity and thus the type of shoe you need, go and try some on at your friendly local store taking into account the below FAQs on sizing walking boots.

 

1. Boot length

Push your socked foot into the boot with loosened laces, with your toes going to the front and with your foot flat on the ground. Insert your index finger down the back of the boot, along your Achilles tendon down the inside heel without having to force it. If you can't do this or your finger, or toes are squashed, the boot is too short. Similarly, too much space may mean the boot is too long.

 

2. Width and pinch points

Whilst seated, with your foot flat to the ground and heel pushed to the back of the shoe, lace the boot and you will soon discover if the there are any pressure / pinch points which may indicate that there is not enough width especially if the laces are tight.

 

>> Find your ultimate walking holiday in the UK or Europe

 

3. Weight shifting

Now with the laces tightened, stand up and bow, your feet spread under your body weight. You will now notice whether your toes are touching the front, and when you move shifting  from foot to foot, if the heel or tops and sides are rubbing and if the shoe or boot is bulging. The latter may be a sign it is too tight. You can run your hands over the boot and find the obvious tight points.

 

Walking boots size guide - Sherpa Expeditions

What size walking boot do I need? FAQs by Sherpa Expeditions

4. Toe flex point

Although this won’t work so well if you are buying stiffened boots to use with crampons, most walking boots will flex at the point that is located between the ball of the foot and the toes. Attention! This is a usual blister pinch point that can be avoided by choosing the right size of walking boot. So, make sure that you use a step in the shop to see if there is any pinching when you go up the step or lean forward against a wall with your booted feet flat and flex forward. Remember that on a hill or in the mountains (eg. on the Tour du Mont Blanc) this move will be repeated thousands of times and so you don't want anything too tight.

 

5. Other Considerations

If you use orthotic insoles and you intend to use with them with the boots, then take them along to the shop and replace the original footbeds and see how you cope with them.

Also bear in mind that your feet will often swell up slightly with heat, when they are wet or sweaty or with a bit of altitude. You may want to try double socks or one sports sock liner and a loop stitched walking sock over that to help correctly sizing your new walking boots.

 

6. After Purchase

After you have purchased your new footwear, take it home and wear it indoors for a few hours to check if there is enough support and no pinching. Boots are usually quite a bit heavier and more supportive than the usual shoes we wear and it may take a while to get used to them. In the UK at least, most stores will replace the new boots if you are unsatisfied with their sizing as long as you haven’t used them outside and that you have all the original packaging and receipts etc.

 

If you are having fitting problems with current boots, we know they do change over time, then see our article on footwear micro adjustment with the help of... laces.

 

 

Traveller’s Tale: Alison’s La Gomera Walking Holiday

Review walking in La Gomera - Sherpa Expeditions

Traveller's Tale: Alison's La Gomera Walking Holiday

Alison Carr, a very skilled watercolour painter from the UK, took a walking holiday on La Gomera with us in November. Below, she shares some of her experiences – plus wonderful works of art that she produced along the way. 
 

“The first word that comes to mind about this walking trip on La Gomera is contrast.”


The harbour town of Los Cristianos at the southernmost tip of Tenerife [red: where the nearest airport is] is so busy but then the ferry takes you away to the quiet and quaint San Sebastian on the island of La Gomera, near enough to be seen  but, in some way, a rather different world.

The first walking day takes me up to the hamlet of El Cedro. The road tunnel catapults me into one of the famous rain forests of La Gomera...it’s like a portal! On the other side is steamy, dense woodland with the light coming through in misty shards. It’s truly magical. Flowers and fruit grow in rich abundance and lizards scuttle about in the dry leaves as I walk past.
 
Being up so high affords sweeping views of the coastline below. It does also put you in touch with the elements, on occasion with a stiff breeze and atmospheric, swirling mists that frame glimpses of dramatic rock formations above and below. 

Descending to the little town of Vallehermoso, I hear music and discover that the local bar in the square is a place where people congregate to sing (very heartily) with enthusiastic local guitarists and it’s so cheering to sit amongst them. Another contrast to the quiet of the day in the mountains above the town.

Highlights of the rest of the trip include the hill top village of Chipude with the zigzag path that takes you on up to the highest point of the island, into the National Park and its visitor centre with a comprehensive history of this fascinating place.
 
Playa de Vallehermoso - Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays
 
Chipude in La Gomera - Sherpa Expeditions walker review

There was also an extra day to walk along the coast, a hot and dry walk with little pockets of green in the coves, such as the one at Playa Del Cabrito. Here, a banana plantation (the first I’ve ever seen!) completely takes me by surprise. A dip in the sea on the way back is most welcome.

Returning eventually to San Sebastian, there is a buzz of excitement. It may be a small place with a tiny harbour, but it’s also the place of choice for many great seafaring launches and today sees the teams for the challenge to row across the Atlantic getting their boats ready amongst all the media attention that goes with it. Even a Hollywood film, In the Heart of the Sea, was shot here. By contrast, I board the steady, safe and slow ferry back to Tenerife and home after a really amazing walking tour of this lovely island of La Gomera.


Want to find out more about our hiking options on the Canary Islands or in particular walking on La Gomera? Then contact our team of experienced travel experts or read more on our website here
 
Parador on La Gomera - walking with Sherpa Expeditions
 
La Gomera hiking trips with Sherpa Expeditions
 
© Words & artwork by Alison Carr

A Traveller’s Tale of 4: Walking in Italy’s Apuane Alps

Review Self Guided Walking in Apuane Alps Italy - Sherpa Expeditions
 
Amy and her husband randomly had a conversation with a man who spoke highly of Sherpa Expeditions and decided it sounded like a great company. Together with another couple from Idaho, USA, they took off walking in Italy’s Apuane Alps. Read here their review of the walking holiday with us. 
 

>> Find all details about the Walking in the Apuane Alps trip that Amy did. 

What is your walking history?

All 4 of us live in Idaho, USA, and regularly take advantage of the outdoors of our state including hiking and trail running. My husband and I had done a self-guided hiking tour in Ireland approximately 16 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We prefer to include some adventure and activity into our vacations and hiking / walking is always a great way to see a new place.
 
Self guided walks in Apuane Alps - Italy _ Reviews Sherpa Expeditions
 
Italian delicacies on your walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions
 

Why did you choose to walk in Italy’s Alps?

As we looked at options for our next walking holiday, we knew we wanted to go back to Italy as it had been 18 years since we’d been. We also wanted a challenging route, the Apuane Alps checked both those boxes. The other couple from Idaho that joined us was ‘up for anything’.
 

How did you prepare for this walking holiday?

My husband and I had a busy summer of trail running events that set us up pretty well for the trip. On the flipside, our friend had an arthroscopic knee procedure about 2,5 months prior to the trip and did fine. We all had a solid level of activity from the start and really had no concerns. We opted not to do the “long” day as we also recognized we were on vacation!
 

>> Looking for a walking holiday in Italy as well? Find ideas now

Review self guided walking in Italy _ Sherpa Expeditions
Walking in Italy - Sherpa Expeditions Reviews
 

What was your favourite destination in the Apuane Alps?

We really enjoyed the three nights we stayed in Fornovolasco. We were placed in a freestanding apartment across the river from Rifugio La Buca. We were pleasantly surprised to find a washing machine and had plenty of space to spread out, dry out and enjoy ourselves. Paula is a fantastic hostess and cook and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
 

Best food & drink?

All the cappuccinos in the mornings to send us on our ways. The cold Italian bierra to greet us after the walk. And the house vino rosso to accompany all the delicious home-cooked meals. 
There was no bad meal. We particularly enjoyed the pasta and tiramisu from Paula in Fornovolasco and the breakfasts at Albergo Gorizia were delightful and had a slice of cheese as big as a plate.
 

What was your biggest surprise of your trip in the Apuane Alps?

The complete lack of tourists! We were at the end of the season and knew this was not one of the more popular hikes, but we truly did not run into any other hikers on the trail. We opted to go to the Wind Cave outside Fonovolasco and did see people there, but otherwise we just enjoyed our interactions with owners of the lodgings.
 

What aspect of this walking trip did you find most challenging?

The answer to this must be the unrelenting rain on the first day as we set out from Fornaci di Barga. It made for a challenging day with slick trails, some difficulty with way finding and energy level. However, Manuel and Sylvia, the owners of Agriturismo Summer (our lodging for the night), welcomed us with a place to dry out and arranged for some sunshine as we enjoyed some beverages by their pool!


Amy and her husband together with their friends did our self guided 'Walking in the Apuane Alps' trip. Learn more about it today or talk to our experienced team to discuss any queries you may have about walking in Italy
 

Pleasant European Winter Tours for the Active Traveller

If you are after an activity break with a dose of some salty sea air this winter, consider the great islands and coastline of Europe’s seas and oceans. From windswept cliff-top bicycle rides to more leisurely seaside strolls and walks off the mainstream tourist radar, you will be surprised of the options for a pleasant break during the so-called off season. For the active traveller wanting to visit Europe, winter tours are a great option to consider.

 

Europe winter tours - Sherpa Expeditions

 

walking trips - winter holidays europe - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Popular year-round holiday destinations because of their excellent conditions for outdoor activities such as walking and cycling, these places do tend to attract a fair number of travellers during the winter season. Here is an overview of our favourite active winter trips in Europe.

 

Active Europe: Winter Tours

  • Southern Trails of La Gomera | Relatively short walking days exploring the southern trails of La Gomera & leaving time to relax.
  • Madeira Island Walking | Year round self guided walk following the Levadas and trails through the dramatic and rugged mountain scenery on the island of Madeira.
  • Exploring La Gomera – 11 Days | Experience La Gomera's lush plantations, mountains and whitewashed villages.
  • Walking in the Canaries | Year round walking opportunities exploring the mountains and coasts of Spain's most exotic islands.
  • La Palma Island Walking | A walking trip on the Canary Island of La Palma that is designed to make the most of the wonderful natural features of the island based from the two main towns: Santa Cruz and Los llanos de Ariadne.
  • Lake Como Rambling | Discover the attractions and beauty of Italy's Lake Como with a selection of walks, ferry crossings and variety of hotel locations.
  • Hiking the Vermillion Coast | Discover the coast and mountains along the edge of the Pyrenees. Walk through beautiful seaside towns enjoying famous Banyuls wine and seafood.
  • Rambling in the Luberon | Enjoy open fields laden with poppies & wildflowers; centuries old stone huts and beautiful trails of Provence, far from the beaten track.
  • Exploring La Gomera – 8 Days | Experience the lush plantations, mountains and whitewashed villages of exotic La Gomera.
  • Cycling in Sardinia | Cycle along the spectacular southwest coast of the island biking past white quartz beaches and towering sand dunes, Phoenician Ruins and Ancient Mines.
  • In Van Gogh's Footsteps | This walk traces the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh through some of the places that he painted and would have known well. More specifically you will be strolling in Les Alpilles.
  • Dingle Peninsula Walk | Experience on foot the history and natural beauty of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula.
  • The Portuguese Road – Coimbra to Porto | Walk the quieter trails between historical Coimbra and Porto on stage two of the Camino Portuguès.
  • Rota Vicentina – the Fishermen’s Trail | Traverse the Atlantic coastline of Portugal to reveal a landscape of deserted beaches, fishing villages and dramatic cliffs on foot.
  • Winter Walking in Cyprus | Away from the cosmopolitan towns and beach resorts you will find large areas of natural, unspoilt countryside. Discover woodland, orchards & vineyards interspersed with tranquil, timeless villages. 

 

Or How About these..

 

Especially during the Christmas period accommodation is in high demand. We therefore advise to secure your winter break as early as possible. To discuss any special requirements or to chat about the best options for you, please feel free to give us a call or send us a message.

The Best UK National Trails

Best UK National Trails to walk with Sherpa Expeditions
 
Scattered around England and Wales, you may have come across a so-called UK National Trail. Marked by the iconic acorn symbol, these are walking (and sometimes cycling) routes designated by the British Government. The conditions along the trail are looked after by a dedicated officer and are kept maintained to a standard that truly sets them apart. 
 
They are a fantastic option to discover some of the best that the UK has to offer to outdoor enthusiasts as they wind their way through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. All being long distance walks, allow yourself a week or two to step into the outdoors and soak up the British countryside.
 
With nine out of the 15 trails to choose from, let Sherpa Expeditions be your guide when completing a UK National Trail
 

Cleveland Way

The 110 mile Cleveland Way follows a walking route from Helmsley to Filey. What stands out is the experience of half a walk over hill and scarp edges and half along the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
 

Cotswold Way

 
The Cotswolds is the epitome of the English countryside. It is no wonder that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as rolling hills meet with quaint villages that are all preserved in a glorious state.  
 

Hadrian’s Wall Path

Hadrian’s Wall stretches from the aptly named Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to the quaint village of Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The 84 mile (135km) Hadrian’s Wall Path takes hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, following the world’s largest Roman artefact.
 

Offa’s Dyke Path

Crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path follows some of the finest scenery in both countries for 177 miles (285 km).

Pennine Way

 
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first UK National Trail on April 24th 1965. It is a long, 268 mile (429 km) hike from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England and down into Scotland.
 

South Downs Way

Exactly 100 miles of chalk downland walking separates the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and the ancient Saxon Capital of Wessex and England – Winchester, forming the South Downs Way. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Southern Britain, the walk generally follows the chalk (soft limestone) ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast. 

South West Coast Path

Follow the South West Coast National Trail with Sherpa Expeditions
 
England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail is the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.

Thames Path

Following the Thames Path will help you to understand not only the Thames but also why it is the key to the history of London. There is a lot to see: the palaces such as Hampton Court and Syon Park; castles such as Windsor and the Tower of London; multiple bridges each with their own history; and wildlife reserves.  And always as the backdrop to it all is the life on the river. 


Contact our team to organise your UK National Trail walking holiday. 
 

Scott’s Traveller Tale: Walking in Tarn, Medieval France

Walker's review on walking in Tarn, France with Sherpa Expeditions
 
Each year, Scott and his wife try to have one long holiday which incorporates site seeing, cultural interactions and some sort of activity. Being Australians in London and living away from family also means that holidays include time with them when they come to visit from overseas. "Each year I go on a boys’ long weekend hiking trip in the Lake District and on a skiing trip to Europe" says Scott. "I try and dust off my bike annually to participate in the Dunwich Dynamo (overnight bike ride from London to the Suffolk coast)." In the summer of 2019 he embarked on our self guided walking holiday exploring the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn
 

Why did you choose to walk in Tarn, France?

France is such a diverse country and having worked there previously, I am always up for another trip visiting a different area. I had watched a programme on the Tarn region so was interested to visit. This walking itinerary also fit into one week of annual leave and, being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!
 
Being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!

 

How did you prepare for your walking holiday in France?

Not well and probably I should have done more to enjoy the trip in a more relaxed way. To prepare I did a few local weekend walks and also each weekend I participate in Park Run in my local park. Even though the walking days on average are over 20 km, most of the walking is fairly flat except when climbing up into the villages or descending out of them.
 

Your favourite destination on this Sherpa Expeditions holiday?

Cordes is a good village to start and finish the walk as it has great views, shops & restaurants. But I think the walking each day through moss covered forests and along escarpments seeing the villages come into view are also highlights. I recommend the 1-day Albi extension. If you have an extra day it is worth including to appreciate the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral and visit the museum dedicated to Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous late 19th century painter who was actually born there.
 
 
Albi on a walking holiday in France, Sherpa Expeditions
 
Walking trip near Albi, Tarn, France - Sherpa Expeditions
 

Best French food and drink?

The two meals we had at our chambre d'hôte accommodation in Vaour and in Bruniquel where you ate with your hosts and other guests. It was like enjoying a 4–5 course dinner party with friends. We did have to use a translate app some of the time but it made for some funny conversation. I found that most restaurants in Tarn do very good value set menu meals as well.
 

Biggest surprise when walking in southern France?

How quiet it was, we came across very few walkers and a couple of mountain bikers. The trails were very clean and the waymarking excellent. 
 

> Learn more about the Tarn region & view stunning images

 

Flowers along the walking trail in Tarn, France - Sherpa Expeditions
 
Well deserved drink after a day of walking in Tarn, France - Sherpa Expeditions
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The heat, we had very high temperatures so carried 2 litres of water each daily. The last day was very exposed so we took our time walking back into Cordes where we celebrated with a few well-earned beers.
 
 

Curious to learn more about this self guided walking holiday in France? Have a look at the full description of our Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn walking trip, or contact our specialist team to discuss your wishes. 

Read the Q&A on Walking in France's Tarn & Aveyron Region

 
Walking in Tarn, medieval France, includes picturesque hill top villages
 
 
 
 
 

The Great British Isles

British Isles walking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Great Britain, our large island in the North Sea, is surrounded by plenty of smaller isles and islets, all which offer unique opportunities to go for a walking or cycling holiday.

 

Just the fact that you are on an island gives an instant holiday feeling. On top of that, there is the special journey to reach the island; which often includes a short ferry or boat ride to increase the sensation even more. Island life is usually slow-paced and local people seem more relaxed, hospitable and are often in for a chat. Add to that a constant sea breeze, fresh seafood and stunning ocean vistas and you’ve got yourself the perfect great British island holiday.

 

Below, we list five of so called British isles that you can choose to discover on several of our cycling and walking holidays.

#1 Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight walking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Queen Victoria, despite ruling a quarter of the Earth and being Empress of India, elected to spend her holidays on the Isle of Wight. Here she had a little holiday cottage build called Osborne House - her little pied-à-terre. She painted and sketched the island’s nature, rode horses and went for long walks and swimming.

The island is relatively quick and easily reached from London on a 2-hour train ride plus a ferry or hovercraft trip.

>> Discover the Isle of Wight on foot with the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday

>> Discover the Isle of Wight by bicycle with the Isle of Wight Cycle holiday

 

#2 Jersey

walking in Jersey - Channel Island Way - British Isles - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Jersey is the biggest island of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey & Jersey who have a separate economic and political life from Great Britain. The island has an ancient history: it was until several thousand years ago attached to mainland France with many Palaeolithic dolmans or burials from that period. It was known about in Roman times and later came under the control of the duke of Brittany during the Viking invasions. All in all, lots of historical and natural interest for the walker or cyclist.

>> Discover Jersey on foot with the Jersey: the Channel Island Way holiday

>> Discover Jersey by bicycle with the Channel Islands Cycle holiday

 

#3 Isle of Man

English Islands walking holidays - Sherpa Expeditions

 

According to legend, this British island was once ruled by Manannán who would draw his misty cloak around the island to protect it from invaders. One of the principal folk theories about the origin of the name Mann is that it is named after Manannán. The ancient Romans knew of the island and called it Insula Manavi, it is uncertain though whether they conquered the island or not. However, the Manx Gaelic for the island is Ellan Vannin, which just means island of Man.

Learn about Manx history and myths in the Manx Museum in Douglas, your port of arrival.  

>> Discover the Isle of Man on foot with the Isle of Man Coastal Path holiday

 

#4 Guernsey

Discover Guernsey one of the British Isles with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Known for scenic cliffs and beaches, small towns oozing old world charm, and coastal defences dating from the Palaeolithic period through to the Second World War, Guernsey has been a favourite holiday destination for active adventurers. After a long and turbulent history, Guernsey, similarly to Jersey and other islands, is now a British crown dependency, albeit not part of the UK or of the European Union.

Another island that is part of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. Each of the small islands have their own character and customs and this is very clear when you visit them all.

>> Discover Guernsey on foot with the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way holiday

>> Discover Guernsey by bicycle with the Channel Islands Cycle holiday

 

#5 Holy Island

Lindisfarne - Holy Island - British Isles for walking - Sherpa Expeditions

 

A causeway leads across the sands to Lindisfarne on Holy Island, just off the area of outstanding natural beauty that is the Northumberland Coast. Correct timing is essential here as the causeway gets covered by water for almost two quarters of each day. With Sherpa Expeditions you can overnight at this tiny British island, allowing you plenty of time to roam around.

When you have made it to Holy Island, the 16th Century Lindisfarne fortress and the priory ruins are a must-visit. The castle has even featured in films such as Macbeth and Cul-de-Sac, both by Roman Polanski.

>> Discover Holy Island on foot during the St Cuthbert’s Way holiday in 8 days 

>> Discover Holy Island on foot during the St Cuthbert's Way holiday in 10 days

 

Curious to learn more about some of these British isles? Or if you would like to make an enquiry to discover one of the above-mentioned islands on a cycling or walking holiday, please contact the team at our London office.

 

 

Top Tips for a First-time Walking Holiday

by resident guide John Millen
 
Top tips for first time walkers - UK holidays Sherpa Expeditions
 
If you are considering going on a multi-day walking holiday for the first time, it will often mean a total direction change from your previous vacations where you were sightseeing or relaxing on a beach break. 
There is a formality with walking tours in the sense that you will be moving to a new location and accommodation on some or most days. But this kind of holiday gives you so much time and flexibility to do what you please on the way: stopping at viewpoints or visiting gardens, homes, castles, pubs and cafes. You may decide to have a picnic wherever you please, take in the landscapes or talk to the locals. So within the framework of an itinerary there is normally plenty of scope for doing and seeing. 
 

First steps for walkers

As a first step, you may choose to go for a long weekend of walking or doing a couple of day walks in succession to see if you do actually like it! 
The key point for a first time walker is to not bite off more than you can chew; try an easy-ish straightforward itinerary which you know you can probably follow. You can then relax and take your time.  
By going on a shorter break for a first time walking holiday, you will be able to get used to the walks and whether you may have issues with feet or knees etc. Imagine what it could mean if you were to discover this in a really remote location!
 
Visit Cotswolds for a first time walking holiday
 
Dorset offers good walking for first timers
 

Guided or self guided as a first time walk?

If you are thinking about a self-guided itinerary, look for the lower graded and better waymarked options such as the more southern trails in the UK like The South Downs Way and The Thames Path – or if you want to go further afield, the pilgrim routes in Spain and France. If you have not had much walking experience then it is best to keep to the more simply navigated walks such as these. If you are considering a guided walk, then the navigation and a lot of the decisions are taken for you. In general though, guided walks are a bit harder and you will need to be mindful about your fitness and pacing within a group.
 

Pacing

Pacing implies getting to a certain place by a certain time. Although it is certainly good to have a challenge, an easier itinerary means that you don't have to worry too much about pacing. This ultimately means more time for stops along the way and arriving at your destination more relaxed. 
 

Do I need special gear for a walking trip?

Outdoor gear can be quite expensive. So if you are not sure about whether this type of holiday is for you, on an easier-graded trip you will not necessarily have to invest in expensive outdoor gear. To get an idea of some of the items you may need, check out my tips on What to Take on a Hiking Trip
Maybe you will have half the gear already, trainers/ old walking boots a small rucksack, and a waterproof jacket. 
You could look to borrow some gear from friends and family, and then having completed the first holiday, you can decide if you want to do another and invest in some gear. 
Perhaps use a locally sourced wooden stick instead of buying walking poles, until you decide that you want to use them or not. 
 
 

Keeping hydrated

Some first time walkers worry about water intake or toilet stops and keeping hydrated. Unless it is really hot, it is rarely worth carrying more than two litres with you, and remember each litre weighs a kilogram. Quite a good idea is to try and drink quite a bit to flush your system before you set out each morning or even the night before. Normally on the easier walks you will not be too remote to refill your bottles or to buy a drink or two somewhere. Just make sure that any tap or faucet water is drinkable. It may be worth carrying water sterilizer tablets or a small filter. Some water bottles (more about water bottles here) come with this feature fitted. Normally there will be some kind of sign if the water in undrinkable. 
Walking hours without visiting a toilet may be a worrying proposition but it need not be, just discreetly make use of terrain and vegetation. If you use toilet paper, fold it up and put it in a bag until you can dispose of it in the usual way.
 

What about navigating a route? 

Get used to using a compass for general direction finding before you head off on your walking holiday. There is plenty of online guidance on map/ compass reading and I have written some advice on navigating before. Download any mapping apps and use any GPS data that the company may provide to help you along, but always carry the printed map, route notes and the name and address of your ultimate stop of the day. If using a phone or GPS, it makes sense to carry an auxiliary power bank and the appropriate leads.
 

What to pack for my first walking trip?

Don't overburden yourselves on your first walking holiday, but you may wish to carry a small umbrella (for shade as much as for rain), a Thermos flask (most UK B&Bs have tea and coffee making facilities in most rooms,) a small pen knife and maybe a piece of foam or a garden kneeler to sit on during a picnic. Plasters or compeed are useful for any abnormal hot spots developing on your feet.  
With such considerations and warm or cold weather clothing packed appropriately for the coming day, you should be able to enjoy your first walking holiday ever!

GGot excited to go and try out the concept of a walking holiday? At Sherpa Expeditions you can choose from a list of options that are great for a first-time walking trip:
 
England walking holidays for first timers

Scotland walking holidays for first timers

Camino walking holiday for first timers

Or contact our team of friendly travel consultants to give you personalised advice, by phone or email.