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Changes to Europe's ETIAS Travel Authorisation for 2025

Changes are on the horizon for travellers planning a European getaway in 2025. The European Union (EU) is set to implement a new travel authorisation system, similar to the American ESTA, affecting visitors from non-EU countries. 

If you're from Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, or the UK, here's what you need to know before embarking on your European adventure

What you need to know about the new ETIAS Travel Authorisation

What is an ETIAS Travel Authorisation?

Proposed by the European Commission in November 2016, ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. Its purpose is to establish a digital vetting system designed to identify security threats, irregular migration, and high epidemic risks presented by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen states.

What's changing?

From 2025, travellers from non-EU countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK, will be required to obtain a valid ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) to enter 30 countries within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. 

An ETIAS authorisation is valid for up to three years or until your passport expires, whichever occurs first. However, it's essential to be aware that this authorisation can be revoked at any time.

Unlike traditional visa applications, you won't need to visit an embassy or provide extensive biometric data. Instead, you can fill out an online form before your travel, pay a fee, and receive your travel authorisation.

It's important to note that ETIAS is not classified as a visa by the EU. An ETIAS is not required if you are only transiting.

When do these changes commence?

The exact launch date of this new travel authorisation scheme is still pending official confirmation, and we advise travellers to stay updated with the latest news. However, for UK residents, once it is live, applications can be submitted through the website or a dedicated app. 

Subsequently, more countries will be gradually incorporated into the system. The digital platform is anticipated to be fully operational by mid-2025.

How to apply for the ETIAS Travel Authorisation 

To obtain an ETIAS, head to the official EU website to learn more about the new ETIAS scheme and submit your application. Remember, early preparation is the key to a stress-free active holiday.

Viewing Tre Cime in The Dolomites Walking in the Dordogne |  <i>Nathalie Thomson</i> Walking towards Nocelle on the Amalfi coastline |  <i>John Millen</i>

Important considerations for long stays of over 90 days 

For travellers planning extended stays (for example when combining your walking or cycling holiday with a family visit in Europe) or from other nationalities not covered by the ETIAS, such as Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, and US passport holders, it's essential to reach out to the respective embassy. 

Stays exceeding 90 days within the Schengen Area require a long-stay visa from the country where you intend to spend most of your time. Keep in mind that these visas are typically granted for specific reasons (e.g. studying abroad).

Due to individual country visa requirements and each country having its own unique criteria, make sure you have the latest information from your respective embassies for comprehensive and accurate information and to ensure you have the necessary documents and permissions.

What countries are part of the Schengen Area?

The Schengen states, comprising 27 European countries, have an agreement allowing open borders between them. It allows for seamless travel without internal borders. To ensure a hassle-free experience, it's crucial to have your passport stamped upon arrival in the Schengen Area. 

These countries include Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Additionally, ETIAS applications will also be mandatory for visits to Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania.

The following European Union countries do not mandate ETIAS for entry: Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, North Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Russia, San Marino, Serbia and Ukraine.

Looking to travel to Europe soon? Browse our wide range of affordable guided and self-guided holidays across the continent.


Page last updated 6 November 2023.

How I got hooked on self-guided walking holidays

I wish I could remember how I first learned about self-guided walking holidays. The year was 2000. I was 26 years old, and my fiancé was 27. We had recently moved from Chicago to New York City for him to start his ER medical residency and for me to work as a strategy manager at a fashion dot-com start-up within a larger company. 

We were working gruelling hours. Our first chance to take a vacation was in the early fall of that year. Since both of us were avid hikers – and I was a Francophile planning the trip – I somehow stumbled upon a self-guided walking holiday through Haute Provence with Sherpa Expeditions, now known as Walkers' Britain

Haute Provence throwback |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i>

So, given the trip fulfilled both my requirements – hiking and France, I naturally booked it and bought our plane tickets for Paris that continued to Nice. 

Little did I know then, and as an avid traveller who would eventually spend a year backpacking around the world, that this inn-to-inn walking trip style would become my favourite. And a type of trip that my now husband and I would come back to repeatedly. 

In front of GR4 signage in Haute Provence |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i>

Why did I love self-guided holidays? 

From the moment we left Nice, taking a bus out of the city (the trains were on strike) and winding through the pretty rolling hills in the late afternoon light to our destination at St. Andre-les-Alpes, we could feel the stress and the noise of work and the city fall away. 

The proprietors of our first inn were welcoming and fed us a satisfying meal of steak and mushrooms paired with a cheese plate and wine. We fell asleep that evening full, with quiet country night sounds to lull us. 

In the morning, after an ample breakfast, we followed our route notes and hit the trail. 

We loved the feeling of only having to shoulder our day packs and puzzle out the path ahead, knowing our luggage would continue to the next inn without us. 

Eating a snack in Haute Provence |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i> Haute Provence throwback |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i> Haute Provence throwback |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i>

Over our week, as we repeated each day – a new lovely quaint inn, a vigorous beautiful walk to a pretty village, delicious meals of high-quality locally-sourced ingredients, and the freedom to enjoy, explore, and fully absorb our surroundings – I not only fell in love with the beauty of Haute Provence but the sense of quiet discovery to be found on self-guided holiday walking trips as well. 

Haute Provence scenery |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i> Haute Provence throwback |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i> Haute Provence scenery |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i> Janice's husband on the Jordan Trail in Haute Provence |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i> Pear tree in Haute Provence |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i>

Although it was years ago, and the highlights of this trip were many, I remember a few standing out. Like the beautiful views from Chapelle St. Jean near Castellane, hiking through the narrow paths of the Gorges du Verdon, or our unexpected candlelight dinner in an old and since-closed chateau near Riez that happened due to a waterlogged tree falling and damaging the electric wire. 

Beautiful picnic spot in Haute Provence |  <i>Janice Moskoff</i>

Through the years, we have repeated this walking trip style in the Alpujarras in Spain, the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland, along the dramatic coastlines in Gozo, Malta, and the Green Mountains in Vermont. 

And as our kids, who are now teens, get older, it is a rewarding, slow travel way to explore the world that we plan to return to again and again. 

Words by Janice Moskoff. Janice is a travel writer, book lover, and blogger at Gather and Go Travel, a blog inspiring families, adult friends, and couples to explore US and international destinations, emphasizing hiking, beautiful places, and discovery through learning.

Image credits:

Why booking in advance can help you save

Already planning on where to go next? We love that!

We always say you need to get in early to avoid missing out. And this rings especially true when staying in the remote and secluded places we take you, where accommodation options can often be limited. 

Combine that with an opportunity to save and a better chance of securing your desired dates, it'll make you want to get organised – fast.

6 reasons why you should book early

1. Get the dates you want

We had to turn many people away last season because trips were at capacity. By booking your walking or cycling holiday now, your trip is more likely to be confirmed around your preferred day.

2. Greater flexibility

Without worrying about availability, booking in advance offers greater flexibility when it comes to choosing the type of accommodation you wish to stay in. So if you wanted to spoil yourself by getting that room upgrade but know there's limited availability, you get first dibs!

Our 4* accommodation in Argentiere on the Tour du Mont Blanc

3. Lock in a better flight deal

Once your holiday is locked in, you'll be able to find better flight deals at convenient times for you. So the idea of travelling over the peak season won't daunt you with a hefty price tag. 

4. Save with 'Early Bird' prices

As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm, so getting ahead and booking in advance can save you big! Plus, if there is a price increase for next season, you'll be able to put those savings towards another incredible adventure.

5. Budgeting made easy

Being organised far in advance will make your dream adventure much easier to budget for. By having things like your accommodation, luggage transfers, certain meals and transportation booked ahead, when your trip day finally arrives, you'll have a better idea of how much to save when it comes to the other smaller incidentals. Plus, the more quality inclusions accounted for earlier in your holiday, the fewer things you need to worry about when out on your trip.

6. Give yourself something to look forward to

Did you know looking forward to something can be almost as good as experiencing it? With numerous studies indicating that having something to look forward to can significantly enhance your mood, boost your wellbeing and reduce stress levels, it’s worth putting something on your calendar! In fact, one study found that when we visualise a positive upcoming activity, it can bring instant happiness.

2024 departure dates: where to go?

There is currently a high demand for popular trips such as England's epic Coast to Coast, experiencing Mont Blanc in Comfort, hiking in the famous English Lake District of Cumbria or taking an incredible long-distance trail across Scotland. To avoid disappointment in 2024, be sure to book ahead.

All of our self-guided holidays in the UK and Europe are offered on an individual basis, so most tours will depart daily. You also have the option to add any extra days you wish. You can find a date range above the calendar on each trip page.

For guided trips, places are often on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have a specific time frame in mind, getting in early will give you a better chance of travelling exactly when you want to. We’ve released some new guided options on more UK trails for next year, like the 17-day Coast to Coast Guided Walk (Richmond Rest).

Give yourself something to countdown to and put something fun on your calendar!


Which destination is on your radar for next year? Let us know in the comments below.

Page last updated 4 November 2023.

2024 Olympics in France: Planning your active holiday

The countdown is on until the biggest sporting event kicks off in Paris in 2024, where visitors from all across the globe join in the celebrations of the Summer Olympics.

Whether you're already getting Olympic fever or want to visit France before even more crowds arrive, here's a quick guide on the nine best active breaks across the Channel.

Vermillion Coast 

The pretty, little seaside town of Collioure |  <i>Seboseb</i>

With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, the dramatic coastline where the Pyrenees tumble to the Mediterranean can be enjoyed almost all year. 

Expect stunning mountainscapes, sea views, bright skies and delicious seafood – but also with plenty of time for relaxation built into the itinerary, to enjoy the off-season calm of the pretty fishing ports along the Vermillion Coast where you will descend to on each night. 

EXPERIENCE IT: Hike the Vermillion Coast over 8 days – departs year round, except January, July and August.

The Cévennes 

Taking it all in on the GR70 in France The castle of Florac in the Cevennes National Park |  <i>Pierre Bona</i> Walking through the forest, Cevennes
In the autumn of 1878, Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cévennes accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”. 

His journey inspired Travel with a donkey in the Cévennes, which 145 years on has since become a travel classic. Starting in the Auvergne, this walking trip follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt. 

EXPERIENCE IT: Stevenson’s Trail: The Cevennes over 8 days – departs between May and September. An extended 10-day option is also available, which continues up the valley of the Mimente to St Germain de Calberte, and through villages and forests towards St Jean de Gard.


Hiking between the vineyards of Alsace |  <i>Charles Hawes</i>

Discover the picturesque Vosges mountains and famous vineyards of the Alsace region on foot – ideal for lovers of good food and wine!

The walking route takes in the incredible flanks of the Vosges Massif; a green and mountainous corridor wedged between Lorraine in the west, Germany to the north and east and Switzerland to the south.

As one of the most picturesque regions of France, Alsace is home to attractive medieval walled villages, striking churches and ‘Hansel and Gretel’-style houses steeped in history. Combined with quiet country hills, undulating farmland, and sweeping valley views of orchards and vineyards, there's plenty to see and do as you soak up the relaxed and jovial atmosphere. 

EXPERIENCE IT: Explore the Alsace Vineyard Trails in a week – departs between April and October. It's also one of the most cycle-friendly places in France with designated bike paths.


Chateau de la Riviere in Fronsac, Bordeaux |  <i>Tourism d' Aquitaine</i>

The Dordogne River Valley is a stunning part of France that is full of elegant stone houses and medieval castles and a walking tour offers plenty of scope to absorb the history and culture of the region. 

Walking high in the Dordogne Valley, largely away from normal tourist haunts, you'll ramble on the riverbank, around villages and to hilltop castles and bastides.

Highlights include skirting the natural amphitheatre of the Cirque de Montvalent, whose great cliffs overhang the Dordogne between Carennac and Creysse, as well as visiting the six villages on the unofficial but prestigious list of '147 most beautiful villages in France'.

With delectable food and colourful markets, you will discover the specialities of the region (including mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts, truffles, strawberries, foie gras, magret de canard and rich dark wines), while the historic towns of Creysse and Martel are fine examples of period architecture. 

EXPERIENCE IT: Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne – 8 or 10 days, departs mid-April to early October.


Typical countryside scenery in Burgundy with vine covered hills and pretty villages Walking by the vineyards near Nolay |  <i>John Millen</i> Large muscled white Charolais cows |  <i>John Millen</i>

Love the idea of discovering vine-covered valleys, meeting local winemakers, and wandering through vineyards? Then Burgundy – also known as the 'Land of Great Art and Good Living' – should be high on your list to visit.

From Dijon in the north to Santenay in the south, the ‘Route des Grands Crus’ runs through many of the great appellations of Burgundy wine. Punctuated by nearly 40 picturesque villages and little towns, it is divided into two sections: the Côte de Nuits is the land of the great red wines, while the Côte de Beaune is where Chardonnay reigns supreme. Wine connoisseurs will love this walking itinerary that sort of reads more like a wine list.

EXPERIENCE IT: Burgundy Vineyard Trails over 8 days – departs between March and November.

Loire Valley 

Spend the night in a 5* chateau hotel

France’s longest river, the Loire, is also known as the Valley of the Kings and is the historic heart of the country. It is the countryside, lined with vineyards, orchards and farms, that inspired Balzac and where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his retirement. 

A self-guided walking holiday offers you the chance to discover the peaceful region at your own pace immersed in spectacular historical sites, surrounding forests, medieval towns, not to mention the incredible food and wines.

Full of interest and pleasure, Loire is an ideal place to start for those with a love of France or setting out on a walking holiday for the first time.

EXPERIENCE IT: Loire Vineyard Trails over 8 days, departs between April to October. 

Haute Provence 

The spectacular Gorge du Verdon is the largest canyon in Europe

Walk from the rugged terrain of the Gorges du Verdon, France’s most spectacular gorge (with 1,500-foot-high cliffs towering above the river!) to the Plateau de Valensole for endless fields of lavender and truffle oak plantations. 

This hiking adventure closely follows the GR4 trail that crosses France from the Côte d’Azur to the Atlantic. Throughout your trip, you will be amazed at the contrast between the narrow streets and tall densely clustered houses of the Provençal villages and the often uninhabited landscape. 

EXPERIENCE IT: Walking in Haute Provence over 8 days – departs daily between May and October.


Walk to picturesque Porto in Corsica |  <i>Kai Pilger</i>

Picture dense ‘maquis’, mountain ridges and granite peaks that soar to 2,700m, creating a rugged terrain, tempered by deeply wooded valleys, pine forest and cascading streams. Now imagine strapping on your hiking boots and endeavouring on a challenging yet stunning walk any Olympian would envy!

Walking from Corte’s old town, which clings to the steep slope below its majestic citadel, you'll cross the heart of the mountains to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Along the way, you will pass ancient villages that preserve century-old traditions and visit iconic rock formations such as Les Calanches. The great thing is that the hike is achievable if you put the training in. While you won't need to be an athlete to do it, the fitter you are the more enjoyable the walking holiday will be.

EXPERIENCE IT: Corsica Mountains and Sea over 8 days – departs between May and October.


Boux Chateau ruins

Gain a unique insight into rural French life as you walk the secret hills and gorges of the Luberon. A revolving landscape of rivers and forests awaits, dotted with ‘mas’ (stone Provençal farmhouses) and ochre-coloured hilltop villages such as Gordes and Bonnieux. The stop at the beautiful Sénanque Abbey is always a trip highlight and you'll also soak in the town of Isle sur la Sorgue, known for its antiques and Venice-like canals. Magnifique!

EXPERIENCE IT: Rambling in the Luberon over 8 days – departs between March and November, except in July and August.

Get into the sporting spirit and feel like an athlete yourself by taking up your own multi-day active adventure in France, while still taking in the sights and atmosphere at your own pace. (It certainly helps when all the logistics, luggage and accommodation are sorted!) You can read more about how a self-guided holiday works too.

A Coast to Coast walk to remember: Proposal near Robin Hood's Bay

Michael and I met the old-fashioned way... Tinder. 

It was the holiday season of 2019. We spent our first few months getting to know each other and figuring out one another in the early months of 2020. Then, as we all know, COVID struck. 

Michael is an emergency room nurse, so there was a lot of uncertainty about how we were to continue dating. Getting into the outdoors and hiking in the Tahoe backyard came to be a middle ground, embarking on day hikes to accomplish the Tahoe Rim Trail and to have a strong relationship. 

Between the pandemic, wildfires in Northern California and Nevada, and life in general, we eventually finished the Tahoe Rim Trail in late July of 2022. 

While the feet were elevated, beers in hand and spirits high, the obvious question came out "What's Next?" 

We have traveled around the Western United States to various National Parks, explored our home state Nevada and in general explored every chance we can get. We knew we wanted to go somewhere internationally and hike! What better place than England to begin our international hiking adventures? 

Before we knew it, we were on a plane (a very, very delayed and chaotic plane) to England. We showed up to St Bees without any of our luggage due to the delays causing havoc on our luggage transfers. Nonetheless, spirits were high and we were ready to walk the Coast to Coast

We did the 13-day circuit. It was challenging, but so worth it. 

Our luggage reunited with us on our last day in the Lake District. By then, we had a perfect system down for washing the same pair of socks and undergarments. The Yorkshire Dales and the Moors were amazing to walk through. 

In a country with millions of people, we barely saw anyone and what a moment of solace that was. As we got closer to Robin Hood's Bay, we were excited but sad to see the journey come to an end. We hobbled down the ramp to throw our stones into the North Sea. After the stones left our hands, Michael turned around on one knee and proposed. 

Getting down on one knee on the Coast to Coast trail

Little did I know that our parents and close friends were watching our walk end in anticipation of this moment. 

It was such a beautiful moment for our relationship to have been founded on hiking, and to begin this next part of the journey. 

Getting popped the big question

I know I am so thankful for Michael – for not only is he the best hiking buddy, but he is my best friend. And I am so thankful for our Coast to Coast walk to end and the next part of our life's journey to begin.

Words and photos by Dianna King who travelled on a Coast to Coast self-guided tour.

Walking the West Highland Way: "This is why people come to Scotland"

Having to brave the cold and wet weather on many occasions, Tom learnt that happiness in Scotland is walking with wet, cold feet. And there were plenty of moments and jaw-dropping scenery that left Tom thinking: “This is why people come to Scotland." 

Starting from the north of Glasgow and into the highlands of Scotland, Tom shares his day-to-day experiences, local encounters and the history that unfolds on this iconic trail.

Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen 

My main complaint about the Camino de Santiago was how difficult it was to find accommodation. So before I started walking the West Highland Way, I contacted a travel agency, Walkers' Britain, and had them arrange everything which included a luggage transfer. 

Because this is the first day, the luggage handler wanted to meet me and tell me to leave my luggage every morning exactly where I had found it the night before. I promised to follow his instructions; he then complimented me on my fine Midwestern American accent. That was nice to hear. 

The people of Scotland have their own way of speaking the English language. I can't decide if it's a lovely lilt or if it sounds like they are being strangled as they speak. Either way, it is definitely distinctive. 

The West Highland Way has brought an economic revival to some of the more remote areas of Western Scotland. 

The arch in Milngavie, a village in the suburbs of Glasgow and pronounced Mool-guy, marks the beginning of the path. To reach the trailhead I took a local train from the main station in Glasgow to Milngavie where I spent the night in a hotel. 

The start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

Waking up this morning, the rain was coming down in sheets, but by 8:00, the rain had eased and the trail looked fine. The trail made for easy walking all day, the challenge was that it would rain, stop raining, the sun would shine, and then it would rain again. As soon as I had taken off my rain jacket, I felt I was putting it back on. But at times I would come out of the forest and the views would be spectacular. As the day continued, I learned that neither my waterproof boots nor my waterproof jacket is actually waterproof. 

Fortunately, I have some wool socks that I hope to wear tomorrow and a long sleeve Merino wool t-shirt so even though I will probably be wet, I'm hoping that I will be reasonably warm and that hypothermia won't set in. There were very few other people on the path and I only met one other walker, Ian. 

Tonight finds me in the village of Drymen (rhymes with liven'). Drymen's claim to fame is having the oldest pub in Scotland. I looked inside – it seemed small and uncomfortable. But what do I know? It's been in business since 1734 so they must be doing something right. 

Drymen's claim to fame is having the oldest pub in Scotland |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

Today was, according to the guidebook, the easiest day of the walk. But after 12 miles of walking, I was totally exhausted. Tomorrow it will rain and, the locals tell me, I will have a much more difficult walk. 

Day 2: Drymen to Rowardennan 

The woman who runs the Kip and the Kirk guest house, where I stayed last night, charms all her visitors. As soon as I arrived, I was given a scone and a cup of tea. 

This morning I was served a hearty breakfast of tea, toast, peanut butter, cereal, and fruit as she patiently answered all my tourist questions. The woman, Frances, ran the New York City Marathon, teaches yoga, and rounds things out by teaching driver education in Drymen. 

Leaving the Kip in the Kirk guest house, the sun was shining and everything looked good. Thirty minutes or so out of town the path took a turn up a hill and shortly thereafter I got my first good look at Loch Lomond. It is the largest inland body of water in Britain, about 37 km or 23 mi long. At its deepest point, it's 190 m or 623 ft deep. 

The West Highland Way follows the shore for 30 km or 19 mi. From here, I can see some islands, which are now uninhabited. Centuries ago people lived on them because they felt safe – sort of like they do now in gated communities. 

After another hour or so I reached the settlement of Balmaha (which rhymes with Omaha) where there is a small cafe. To my surprise, I met some hikers in the cafe who were walking in the other direction and were wild camping. The rest of the day was really difficult. On the map, it looks like the path follows the shore. In fact, the path goes up, down, and around the steep ravines that line the lake. 

I found that some of the rock stairs were much more challenging than others. Taking a short rest to drink some water, I was joined by a little Robin who seemed to think I was a pretty interesting guy. However, the rain never let up. When I arrived at my stop for the night, a youth hostel, it was 4:00 p.m. and I'd been walking for 7 hours. 

Once again I was totally exhausted. Plus my feet were wet, cold, and shriveled. Apparently, tomorrow will be the roughest day of the walk and the forecast is for rain all day. As I drank my coffee, I saw that the sky had cleared. Walking back outside, the day was ending in a flurry of colour. 

Day 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan

This was the coldest morning yet, 43'F or 6℃. But walking quickly warmed me up enough to be comfortable in just my wool base layer and rain jacket. The path started off very nicely and soon I was in a forest, walking beside a steep hillside and passing more waterfalls than I could count. The path followed the shoreline with a very steep drop-off. Other times, the path led up through narrow, rugged stone passageways. It then took a swerve around a private dock with a coffee shop attached. 

Just as I went to open the door of the shop, out stepped Ian, the wild camper who was going to live on just peanut butter. Things weren't going well for him. 

His first night of wild camping had been reasonable, but by the second night all his clothes were wet and he couldn't find a way to dry them, his sleeping bag couldn't keep him warm, and he thought he might get hypothermia. To save himself from putting up his tent he had opted for one of the two free public huts on the West Highland Way. One of the seven people in the one-room stone huts (called bothies) was a woman who slept with her dog in her sleeping bag – the dog kept whimpering all night. Besides that, the weight of his backpack was killing him - he had pain everywhere in his body. "I am," he said in summary, "shattered, completely shattered." 

I walked with Ian for a bit before we parted ways to change my socks. As I sat there fumbling with my socks a German woman walked up, said hello, and waited for me to put my socks and boots on as if we were old friends. Lydia and I walked together for the rest of the day. She said that she actually was enjoying the walk because it made her feel like a mountain goat. 

Rest stop near Loch Lomond on the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

As we walked, she would occasionally pause to pick mushrooms and berries for her dinner. She was going to stay in a campground and cook her harvest of mushrooms and berries from the path on her camp stove. Gradually the path turned up and away from the lake where we had our last good look at Loch Lomond. 

Reaching my hotel, The Drover's Inn, I felt like I had a pretty successful day. 

The Inn is one of the oldest hotels in Scotland. It has been open since 1704 and is somewhat of a museum with a suit of armour, stuffed birds, various weapons, a standing stuffed bear, and hundreds of knick-knacks. It also features very small rooms and bathrooms down the hall. 

As I checked in, Ian showed up and told me that he had decided to take a bus home tomorrow. He just can't take it anymore. We had dinner together and later Lydia came over and joined us for a beer. Ian had totally given up on his peanut butter diet so instead, he had a giant meal of a traditional Scottish meat and potato dish. He said it was delicious. 

Day 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum 

Breakfast in The Drovers Inn was pleasant. All of the other guests were walkers and we congratulated each other on having survived such a rough day. 

If it's rough for us, what about the drovers? The drovers were the men who took the cattle from the highlands of Scotland to England. They must have been as hard as nails and as tough as any American plains Indians or Mongolian herders. 

Wearing only kilts and wool blankets, they led cattle through the hills by day and, after finding a place for the cattle to rest at night, frequently slept outside. When they reached England, the locals there thought they looked pretty scary - unbathed, unshaven, and undoubtedly smelling worse than the animals they guided. I can imagine that only Scotch whiskey made their lives somewhat bearable. 

To the staff of The Drover's Inn, it was, of course, just another day at work. They all, by the way, wear traditional Scottish kilts and yet almost all of them were Romanians who came here for seasonal work. 

As I started walking, it was raining and it would continue to rain all morning. In the afternoon, it eased up a bit before starting again. Never mind, the path was much easier. Most of the path would even have been very pleasant if it had not been so wet. 

After a couple of hours, my boots and body were, as usual, completely soaked. For the first hour or so the path followed a raging river and for stretches, the path seemed to be flowing water or just mud. Later, however, the path passed through thick pine forests, and carefully managed estates. 

In this area, there's a big movement towards developing a sustainable form of agriculture and forestry. This area is, as you might expect, dotted with various historical monuments--mostly ancient battle sites where nothing is left except the memory. Today the path passed by the ruins of an ancient monastery. 

Accommodation for the night was a family-run bed and breakfast, the Glengarry House. They open for guests at 3pm. 

Bed and breakfast along the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

Day 5: Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy 

Yesterday someone told me that happiness in Scotland is enjoying walking with wet, cold feet. As of this morning, I can add, "putting on boots that stink." 

As I was leaving my guesthouse the manager told me that for the next two days, there will be no shops or towns. He recommended that I stop in the local grocery store, Brodies Mini Market, to buy whatever supplies I needed. 

Today's path was an old military road. About 1750, the British decided that if they were going to squash the local rebellions they needed a road system that would allow them to rapidly move troops around Scotland. It was much more manageable than the path around Loch Lomond. 

Mesmerising Scottish landscape on the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

I only met one man, his wife, and their dog for the entire day. Besides their dog, I met some other animals on the path, none of whom were shy at all about having their picture taken. 

Meeting some animals on the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

Spotting animals on the West Highland Way from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

I arrived at my hotel for the night, the Bridge of Orchy, an hour before check-in but the nice lady at the desk let me check in anyway. I have no complaints about the room. 

Day 6: Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse 

Every hotel has either given me a packed lunch or breakfast. Today it was breakfast. 

From across the bridge, the path led up through hills to a summit that I arrived at just as the sun was coming over the larger ridges – giving me an incredibly wonderful view of Rannoch Moor below. "This is, "I thought, "why people come to Scotland." 

Looking upstream while standing on the Bridge of Orchy |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

River scenery along the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

Beautiful landscapes along the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

From there the path led down to a paved modern road for a kilometre or so and then turned off the paved road into what looked like an unused and abandoned motorway. 

Telford's Parliamentary Roads went out of use as the main public road in 1933, but is still in good condition today as it is maintained for estate access and the West Highland Way. 

Telford's Parliamentary Roads sign along the West Highland Way |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

The path definitely proved to be an easy path to walk on with plenty of opportunities to take photos. 

Fun fact: this Highland area is featured in many movies including Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (to name a few). I even passed the mountain that was in James Bond's Skyfall film. 

Mountain scenery walking from the Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse on the West Highland Way |  <i>Thomas Riddle</i>

My destination for the night was the Kingshouse Hotel, the fanciest place yet. There are two bars, a giant dining area, and luxurious rooms that they wouldn't let me enter until 3 PM, at which time I had been sitting in the dining room for two hours. 

Day 7: King's House to Kinlochleven 

The stark mountains that could clearly be seen the day before were now covered in clouds and mist to make everything dark, grey, and silent. There wasn't a bird or an insect to be heard. 

West Highland Way scenery |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

The path ran about 100 meters parallel to a major highway for 40 minutes or so and then turned away from the highway to begin a long series of switchbacks up the hills. It was another of these old British military roads. 

The switchbacks were cursed by the British foot soldiers who had to carry heavy artillery up them. They nicknamed them "the devil's staircase." It was quite a slog and soon it was raining heavily. 

Fortunately, by this time, I know that happiness in Scotland is walking with wet cold feet and I was getting happier by the minute. 

Up and up finally started going downhill, which revealed a more forested path. The path passed a damn that had a series of monstrous pipes leading down from it to the final stop of the day – the old aluminium processing town of Kinlochleven. 

The entire town had been built by the British Aluminium Company to house 700 workers who processed aluminium with electricity generated by the water flowing out of the giant pipes. When the factory closed in 2000 the town reinvented itself as a centre of outdoor recreation and today one of the old factory buildings has Europe's biggest ice climbing training wall. I found there was some charm to the town. 

Day 8: Kinlochleven to Fort William 

The path started off looking like the devil's staircase part two. Fortunately, it wasn't raining and after a few switchbacks, I was out of the forest. 

Day 8 on the West Highland Way from Kinlochleven to Fort William |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

In the 1700s, the British forced many of the local people out of the area to prevent any possible rebellions. It is remembered (depending on who is telling the story) as ethnic cleansing. The ruins of some of their homes can still be seen. Someone told me that the United Kingdom, UK, should be called the 'BUK': the Barely United Kingdom. Here that means that the Scots have never forgiven the British for being repressive colonials. 

A few miles west of here in the village of Glencoe is the site of a particularly brutal incident. In August of 1691, the English king told the local chiefs to take an oath of allegiance before January 1 of the following year. Unfortunately one of the chiefs, Alexander MacDonald, didn't take his oath until January 6. 

West Highland Way scenery |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

Always ones for punctuality, the English sent 100 soldiers to the MacDonalds to teach them some manners. The MacDonald clan hosted those soldiers for a week or so at which time the British massacred 38 of their hosts. Now, 330 years later the Scots haven't forgiven or forgotten what happened. I saw a sign along the path today to remind me. 

After three pleasant hours of walking, I sat down to eat my lunch, and just as I finished, it started raining again. But by then I knew that I just had two more hours of walking before I would arrive at Fort William and the end of the walk. 

Reaching Fort William, I posed with a made-for-pictures statue with a couple of hikers I met on the trail, which marked the conclusion of my walk. 

Finisher photo at the conclusion of the West Highland Way walk in Fort William |  <i>Tom Riddle</i>

After a shower and changing into dry clothes, I knew that this was it and there was no going back: tonight I was going to drink Scotch whiskey. 

I asked the manager of my guesthouse if she could recommend a local bar that specialized in Scotch whiskey. She suggested that I try one or two of the thirty-five different whiskeys in her whiskey closet, just beside the lounge. That sounded much better than going back out in the rain. 

She was very enthusiastic. Whiskey in Scotland, I quickly learned, is like wine in France or beer in Milwaukee: it is a way of life and the pride of the nation. She told me that occasionally she will host German whiskey clubs who are touring Scotland and trying Scotches from some of the 130 distilleries. Before she served me she gave me precise instructions. I was first to enjoy the smell of the golden brown liquid, then I needed to swish it around my mouth, letting all of the subtle flavours sink in. Food, with whiskey, as well as ice, was forbidden. 

A person should seriously, meditatively if you will, slowly savour and enjoy every sip and then let the palate and throat savour the aftertaste. I carefully followed instructions and after two 35 ml drams, it became clear that drinking Scottish whiskey was a wonderful way to enjoy an evening. 

Words and images by Tom Riddle 

Tom walked the West Highland Way self-guided in early October over 8 days, with accommodation and luggage transfers organised by Walkers’ Britain.

Postscript: Three weeks after I finished the walk, I found myself in one of the largest camping stores on the east coast of the United States. "Show me your best raincoat for hiking," I said to the sales person. He showed it to me and then tried to guide me to one that was less expensive. I was not impressed. "I've tried the less expensive ones and barely lived to tell the story. I'll take this one."

Watch This Video & Discover The Cotswolds Way

Watch This Video & Discover The Cotswold Way

Explore the iconic English countryside: The Cotswold Way. This is an active holiday like no other that takes you through one of the most picturesque parts of England. The Cotswolds are made up of many towns and villages that are nestled along the countryside of central southwest England. The Cotswolds has a rich history that dates back to the Stone Age and its rural scenery, which has been designated an Area of Natural Beauty, makes it a must-see.   
Discover more about the stunning Cotswolds by watching this short video, which takes you along the beautiful English countryside, where they wander across lushes green hills, down cobblestone streets, lavender-filled fields and walk through gorgeous old villages.

About The Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way is one of England's National Trails. It is a wonderful path that stretches 164km (102 miles) through the Cotswold region, some of which has been designated an Area of Natural Beauty. 
It is spread across five counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. This stretch of England dates back over 6000 years and has many historical sites and history from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Tudor, English Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. While exploring the Cotswold Way, you'll discover some iconic towns including Bourton on the water, Castle Comb and Bath. Each town is unique and has its own story.
The Cotswolds also has many traditional English pubs along the way where you can sample local foods and ales. It's also essential to try a cream tea (basically a cup of tea paired with a jam and cream scone). You'll also discover how beautiful the scenery is as you take in many beautiful fields, hills, streets, pathways, old buildings, churches and local farm life as you wander along the iconic Cotswolds. 
Hikers in Chipping Campden, Cotswolds |  <i>Tom McShane</i>

How to Explore the Cotswolds

Walkers' Britain offers both walking and cycling trips to the Cotswolds, ranging from 5 to 12 days.

Exploring the Cotswolds on a Walking Holiday

Walkers' Britain offers three different self-guided walking holidays in the Cotswolds depending on how long you fancy on visiting for. Staying in hotels, guest houses and B&Bs along the way, you will get the chance to put your feet up in some charming accommodations after a great day of walking the English countryside. A great benefit of our self-guided trips is the opportunity to walk at your own pace and discover this wonderful part of England. 
Our 12-day trip, the Cotswold Way, is a fan favourite because it completes the full length of the National Trail. It also allows you to spend the longest time in the Cotswolds so you'll naturally discover more. This tour starts in the village of Chipping Campden and finishes in beautiful Bath. 
Walking in the Cotswolds is a pleasant experience as the terrain is more hilly than mountainous and the climate is mild enough for England. You can expect to walk up to 22km per day on this moderate-graded trip.
On the trail around Selsley Common, Cotswolds Way |  <i>Tom McShane</i>

Explore the Cotswolds by Bike

Cycle through the heart of England on a 8-day self-guided holiday. With an introductory to moderate-rated cycle, this trip is perfect for anyone. You will pass many beautiful old churches, old English inns, cycle alongside rivers and fields. Start every morning with a traditional English breakfast (think sausages, bacon, eggs, baked beans) before you leave your accommodation which will either be a guesthouse or hotel nestled in a pretty little town.
Cycling into Guiting Power |  <i>John Millen</i>

Are you interested in exploring The Cotswolds? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
Where to go for Easter in Europe

Easter is a great time to enjoy the spring weather all over Europe. But where are the best places to go during Easter? In Catholic dominated countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, there are processions and other religious celebrations for the holiday. Often, these are very colourful and traditional events that are well worth travelling for and to take part in or observe.

Here are some of our favourite places in Europe to celebrate the Easter holidays and are easily combined with a walking trip.




Make sure you’re in Florence on Easter Sunday and be up and ready by 9am for the spectacular Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart). A tradition that goes back to the 12th Century, this is still an important Easter practise for the city of Florence. A cart is drawn by oxen from the Porta al Prato to the Church Square, now connected with the altar in the cathedral via a wire. Here it is lit by a dove-shaped rocket from the cathedral, causing a 20-minute fireworks show. The whole spectacle happens in traditional 15th century style with flowers, music, and clerics. 

You can combine this Easter tradition with a week-long cycling or walking holiday in Tuscany. Follow the backroads in the early spring months and spot the first flowers come to bloom among cypresses, vineyards, traditional Tuscan architecture – and of course the delicious Italian cuisine.

Read more about our holidays in Tuscany.


Easter in Florence



Braga is a short train ride from the start and end points of our 7-day Douro Rambler holiday, so it’s worth adding an extra day or two to your trip if you’re going to be there around Easter. The city hosts many concerts, dance performances, religious celebrations and street theatre activities during the Holy Week. You’ll also witness the Ecce Homo procession and many more Easter celebrations. The procession is led by coffin-bearers wearing traditional purple robes on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter Sunday. A traditional dessert to try for Easter if you’re in Porto or Braga is the Easter sponge cake of Pao de Lo.

The Douro Valley is just a 1-hour train ride from Braga and is home to the first demarcated wine region in the world. Associated primarily with Port, these days it produces just as much high-quality table wine and you can experience the importance of grapes when you stay at a beautifully restored manor that owns a small vineyard. Enjoy pretty walks in the wine county of Douro Valley in spring when nature is coming back to life and trails are usually quiet.

Read more about our Douro Rambler trip here.


Easter in Braga



Fly in to Sardinia’s Alghero airport and spend a few days to celebrate the Easter holidays. Alghero is one of Sardinia's most famous places to go for Easter and is influenced by the Catalan culture. Celebrations revolve around the Santcristus, a wooden statue that washed ashore in 1606 and now symbolises Alghero’s religious identity. There are processions from Good Friday onwards, and on the Thursday before Easter you can witness the raising of the Santcristus at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. 

These celebrations could form a fantastic start or end to your Saunter in Sardinia walking holiday. Your walks start in Santu Lussurgiu, 2 hrs away from Alghero, and take you around the Montiferru Mountain Range, Sinis Westlands, sea cliff of Su Tingiosu and many ancient sites as you follow romantic Mediterranean trails. The advantage of travelling in spring and around Easter is that you will find plenty of bird life, generally quieter trails and cooler temperatures.

Read more about our Saunter in Sardinia trip here.


Easter in Alghero



As elsewhere in Spain, Majorca celebrates the Semana Santa (Holy Week) for Easter. The island is in a festive mood from the Thursday before Easter onwards, when the biggest processions take place. The most colourful one is the La Sang procession in Palma. Other Majorcan places to go for Easter are the churches, with performances by children and other special Easter events. On Easter Sunday you may find many people on the streets for their local pilgrimage and abundant picnics. Make sure to try the Easter pastries of panades and rubiols.

If you’re interested in visiting Palma, Majorca during Easter, you could add a day or two to the start or finish of our 8-day Sierras and Monasteries walk.


Easter in Palma, Majorca



If you’re thinking of walking the South Downs Way, a beautiful walk across the rolling landscapes of Southern England, you could time it so that the start of your trip falls over Easter. That means you’ll be in Winchester, home to one of the UK’s finest cathedrals. What better place to experience an Easter service than in this stunning Norman cathedral built in 1093, which is the longest medieval cathedral in Europe, and also the resting place of Jane Austen.

Read more about the South Downs Way.  


Winchester Cathedral

50th Anniversary: Past European Walking Holiday Brochures

During our 50th Anniversary year, we like to look back at some treasures of the past. So scroll down to have a little peak at what our walking holiday brochures looked like. The range extends from 1982 to 2003, and this was the way we used to present our holiday offering to you. Things have progressed and today's trip pages certainly contain a lot more information that ever fitted on one (often even shared) page! 

Have you ever flipped through one of these past brochures? You may be interested in writing a traveller story of your past travels with us and receive a £50 travel voucher. 

Our 1982 Sherpa Expeditions brochure cover
Still offering Himalayan Travel with Sherpa Expeditions in 1990
The Walkers' Britain product range was already part of our portfolio back in 1991
The cover of our 30th anniversary brochure, 1993
Sherpa gifts page
Walking in the Dordogne Valley, 2003
The Alpine Pass Route brochure page, 2003
The cover of our independent inn to inn walks brochure, year 2000
Celebrate 50 years walking & cycling the trails in the UK and Europe with us, share your memories
Trekking Around Mont Blanc with Walkers' Britain

The highlights of a Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) walking holiday are without a doubt the excellent views of Mt Blanc itself and of the snow-clad alpine peaks of the Wildstrubel, Valais and Bernese Oberland, plus plenty of impressive glaciers. For others, magnets can also be the fresh cheeses & local wines, classic mountain cottages, or the fact that you’re circumnavigating an entire peak, in this case western Europe’s highest one!

Tour du Mont Blanc hotel-based walking holiday


But why go trekking around Mont Blanc with Walkers' Britain? To give you a better idea of how our Tour du Mont Blanc in Comfort walking holiday stands out, read this short overview that helps explain how our trip works:

  • 8 fixed departure days in this summer’s season
  • Walk independently, but simultaneously with a small number of other Walkers' Britain travellers
  • Enjoy the benefits of support from our team members who live in the area
  • Stay in excellent, independent hotels (not dorms) while trekking around Mont Blanc, including a 4* hotel and a guesthouse that past travellers are raving about
  • Receive maps, GPX files and very detailed route notes that allow you to choose from options to walk different trails
  • Lots of background information and tips for local establishments
  • Complete, classic circumnavigation of Mont Blanc; from Les Houches to Les Houches
  • Meet & greet at the start of the Tour du Mont Blanc
  • Are you a single traveller? Make use of the option to share a room with another single traveller of the same gender and avoid paying a single supplement
  • A suitable choice for first-timers on a self guided walk
  • En-suite facilities in the accommodation we selected for you (except for the nights in a guesthouse & an auberge)
  • 3 Days at leisure on which you can choose to rest, explore museums, go shopping or undertake more walks
  • The personal support of our friendly team in London, before, during and after your trip



Have you got any questions on this? Do feel free to contact our friendly team in London via phone, email or drop by if you are in the area or request a callback at your convenient time.


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hiking to La Fouly on Tour du Mont Blanc

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