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Things to do in Guernsey: 5 Top Attractions

Things to do in Guernsey: 5 Top Attractions

When you’re planning a walking holiday on the Channel Island Way, you will notice there are many things to do in Guernsey and its surrounding islets of Sark, Herm, Lihou and Alderney. The area is steeped in history with influences of French and English monarchies, World War II, and European aristocrats like Victor Hugo and Renoir. Add to that the beautiful seascapes taken in from the many bays, rugged cliffs and endless beaches, and a selection of eclectic pubs and quiet villages, and your Guernsey attractions list is complete. Here is a top 5:

1.   L'Eree Bay

L'Eree Bay - Guernsey attractions - Sherpa walking holidays

 

The coast section between L’Eree Bay and Perelle Bay is a special marine reserve (Ramsar site). With its many rock pools L'Eree Bay is an important place for wading birds. Try to take in some of the amazing sunsets when looking towards Lihou Island. If you have time, you can go rock hopping in search for crabs and sea anemones. Other things to do in this part of Guernsey is to go and explore the trench defenses near Fort Saumarez.

 

2.   Bluebell Woods

Things to do in Guernsey: Bluebell woods in spring - Sherpa Expeditions

 

There is a rare stand of deciduous forest on Guernsey Island, situated in a sheltered dip south of St Peter Port. This one does exactly what it says it does on the map: it becomes a breathtakingly - beautiful dense 'Bluebell Wood' between April and May. Quite a contrast with much of the seaside flora that you will see when walking elsewhere on the island. The Channel Island Way passes directly through this unique Guernsey attraction and it draws a host of photographers and romantics at that time of year.

 

3.   Petit Bot Bay

Things to do in Guernsey: walking along Petit Bot Bay

 

Descending from the cliff path on the first day of the 7-day Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way walk, you reach the small but perfectly formed Petit Bot Bay. It is a sheltered sand and shingle beach on the south coast of Guernsey. There is of course a nice cafe to go for a cuppa, or pint later in the day. Petit Bot Bay also has a defensive tower, which actually dates from the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) when France, which had joined the war in support of the fledgling USA, threatened to send over waves of invading ‘visitors’. You can read more about Guernsey's fascinating history in the guidebook by Paddy Dillon.

 

4.   Cobo Bay

Guernsey attraction: Cobo Bay - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

Another excellent Guernsey attraction for sunsets are Cobo Bay and Saline Bay. They run as a wonderful stretch of white sandy beaches up to a Victorian fort in the dunes. Many of the things to do in Guernsey are related to the beautiful scenery and Cobo Bay is no exception to this. Large sections of the Channel Island Way can be accomplished on beach sections such as Cobo Bay. Watch sublime scenes from the terrace of the superb hotel-restaurant you will find along the way. Out of the high season you have beaches like this nearly all to yourself.

 

5.   Sark

The island of Sark, visit on Sherpa Expeditions Channel Island Way walk

Just about everywhere on Sark is a brilliant part of the Guernsey islands! Sark is just so different, with its quasi feudal laws, and mainly because there are no cars it is so peaceful. What you’ll hear is just the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves and the occasional rumble of a tractor (they are allowed). The landscapes of Sark island are generally quite rugged and also pastoral. These reflect the boundaries of the original settling families of the island who arrived in Tudor times. Paths go out to the various gorse clad headlands with some amazing sea cliffs. From the north, you can see Guernsey and Herm islands. La Coupée is an interesting feature: a narrow road that connects to Sark’s baby neighbour, Little Sark, which will one day be a separate island. The walking trails are lovely as well - oh, there is no street lighting on Sark either, so bring a torch (flashlight).

 

Are you a big fan of the island just like us and like to find out about other things to do in Guernsey and beautiful places to see when walking on the island? The guidebook publisher, Cicerone, has 5 more beautiful places in Guernsey and along the Channel Island Way that we believe should be on your radar. 

 


For more information on self-guided walking holidays in Guernsey and the Channel Islands, you can find all trips here.

Guernsey Walking Holiday FAQ

Guernsey Walking Holiday FAQ

Today’s frequently asked questions are answered by resident guide John, who was in Guernsey last year to see what there is to do on the Channel Island and to select the best trails for our new Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way trip.

Guernsey Holidays FAQ answered by Sherpa Expeditions

#1 Doesn’t the English weather on the Guernsey Islands prevent good walking possibilities?

The Guernsey climate is amongst the mildest and sunniest in the whole of the British Isles, being warmed by the adjacent Gulf Stream and so much further south. Every year, the Island of Guernsey enjoys up to 2,000 hours of sunny weather. During the summer months, the weather is not only sunny, with average daytime temperatures of anywhere between 20°C / 68°F and 25°C / 77°F, but also extremely dry.

April, May and June tend to be the driest months on Guernsey, when precipitation levels rarely top 120 mm / 4.7 inches for this entire period.

 

#2 What is special about Guernsey walks?

Guernsey and her islands have extensive white sandy beaches and medium-high cliffs with beautiful views. In, at least spring and early summer, this is being topped by some lovely flowers. It is all a little old-fashioned and each of the islands has a unique pace of life and history. Alderney Island seems wilder and has some great bird watching opportunities, Sark Island is a bucolic beauty, and Herm Island has lovely grass backed beaches. Guernsey Island has the most variety and is of course bigger.

Sark - Channel Island Way, Sherpa Expeditions walking holidays

 

St Peter Port on walks in Guernsey - Sherpa Expeditions

 

#3 What language do people speak on the Guernsey Islands?

The Channel Islands were possessions of the Dukes of Normandy and when after 1066 they took over England, the islands were attached to the English crown. Although most place names and streets are in French, the Guernsey language ‘Guernésiais’, is a Norman French tongue, and you won’t hear much being spoken. People sound English generally and most who speak French are French tourists.

 

#4 What is a Guernsey holiday and exploring the island on foot like?

Guernsey is certainly getting busier. In the height of summer there are lots of holidaymakers on the beaches, in the capital St Peter Port and on the sister islands. At the same time, there is a surprising amount of countryside and this results in the coastal footpaths, except for perhaps on Herm, not being very busy. When approaching popular beaches, old Nazis fort sites, or when walking through towns it can be a little busier though. There is a surprising lack of development by a lot of the beaches and there are few kiosks or cafes on the Guernsey walks. Out of the high season, there are generally few people around.

Sunset on Guernsey holidays, Sherpa walking holidays

 

#5 What 3 items should we pack for a walk in Guernsey?

  • Binoculars... to spot the birdlife, such as puffins on Herm and a large Gannet colony on L’Etacs rocks of Alderney, and woodland birds Guernsey and Sark. You can even use them to spot seals on Herm Island and binoculars are useful for viewing the islands and Normandy from the varying islands,
  • Swimming costume... if it is warm enough, and
  • Sunglasses & sunscreen.

 

#6 What extra costs will we make on this trip?

Walkers on this Guernsey holiday must set aside extra budget for ferries to Herm and Sark and the flight to Alderney. Other expenses will be for airport taxis or bus transfers and dinners, lunches and coffees & other drinks. Generally, things are slightly more expensive than much of the UK and the British pound is accepted. Guernsey does have its own currency however, the Guernsey pound, which has been used on the Channel Islands since 1921 and Guernsey still has its own £1 note, as well as a £50, £20, £10 and £5 note like mainland Britain. Some shops also accept Euros and major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the islands. The other way around, Channel Islands notes and coins are not accepted in the UK.

There is no VAT in Guernsey but it is not a duty-free island. ATM machines are available at most high street banks in St Peter Port, the airport and selected sites, including supermarkets, garages and some out of town banks throughout the island.

 


 

We hope this information has indeed answered some of the questions you may have had on Guernsey holidays. If you have other queries, please get in touch with John and the Walkers' Britain team via phone or email.

 

  
Channel Island Way: Travellers' Tale

Traveller Tale: Channel Island Way

Kevin Liddiard, from South Australia, discovered the unique history of the Channel Islands on a self guided walk with Walkers' Britain. He wrote an account of his trip for Trailwalker Magazine, and shared his story with us.

Looking across to Little Sark

I’m of the age where I don't wish to walk in high temperatures, with steep climbs, large backpacks, bugs, sweat and general discomfort. To this end, I walked a year ago in Normandy, ending at the site of the WWII D-Day landings. Motivated by this memorable experience, I decided to walk the nearby Channel Islands Coastal Way, again solo, with Walkers' Britain self-guided walking holidays. 

In April I took the new Qantas direct flight from Perth to London, then on to St Peters Port, Guernsey. What a delightful town. The Channel Islands, in the English Channel, have a unique history, going back to the Duchy of Normandy, when William the Conqueror bequeathed the islands to the English crown. Today the islands exist as a collection of 'states' under the allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, but independent in many ways, under a political set-up called a Bailiwick. 

St Peter's Port, Guernsey

The first three days of the walk covered the Guernsey coast. A main attraction was the many Loophole Towers, erected as a defence from the French during the American Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. I opted out early on the third day of a 29km walk and took the bus around the island, costing only one pound, and visited the magnificent Castle Cornet. Here you can meet young volunteers dressed in the military uniforms of WWII and witness the noon cannon firing. The castle has its own long history, but for me the highlight of the visit was a live rendition by a talented three-women ensemble, singing In the Mood, There’ll be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover and other tearjerkers. 

Next day I took the 25-minute ferry trip to the island of Herm - an easy walk and with a stop at the Mermaid Tavern, a good pub for lunch and a place to wait for the return ferry. 

The following day, I took the ferry to Sark. What a delight. There are no cars - travel is on earth roads via foot, tractor, cycle or horse (with or without cart). The main attraction is the narrow passage between Sark and Little Sark, the famous La Coupée. On Sark is another Mermaid pub, an excellent restaurant, and great accommodation. 

La Coupee

The next day I took the ferry back to Guernsey and a flight to Alderney. While I loved Sark, here was the most memorable of my walks. The island was evacuated in WWII including, I was told, the cattle. The German occupiers built massive fortifications, adding to the British forts of the 1800s. Alderney is the most remote, and wildest, of the Channel Islands and is also well known for its birdlife, notably one of the largest gannet colonies easily observed from the nearby cliffs. I was also lucky to see the quaint puffins. 

A German fortification on Sark

I shed a tear when I walked past three posts at the entrance to what was Lager Sylt, a Nazi concentration camp, a dark history that the islanders would rather forget. Suffice to say, the Alderney people were welcoming, helpful and served a good beer at the excellent Georgian House Hotel to celebrate the completion of my walk. 

The plaque at the entrance to Lager Sylt


Guernsey Islands: Channel Islands Way is an 8-day, self guided walking tour. The trip to Alderney that Kevin took at the end of his holiday is an optional, 2-night extension that carries an additional supplement.

All About the Isle of Wight

All about the Isle of Wight

Learn insider information about the Isle of Wight from our resident guide Jon Millen, who explains what makes this part of the British Isles so special. Find out more about our Isle of Wight walking and cycling holidays >>

   

The Isle of Wight is a great place for experienced and beginner walkers alike, with a generally mild climate, bracing hilly downs, sections of woodland and great sea views across 525 km of footpaths on an island of 381 square km. It is also home to the ‘Caulkers’: named after the people who used to proof the boards and hulls of the ubiquitous boats that plied between the island and the mainland or went fishing in its waters, it is used today to describe the indigenous people of the island whilst projecting the image of the separateness of the place. Despite being geographically close to the cities of Portsmouth, Southampton and even Greater London, it is still surprisingly detached. Although there is talk of building a new road bridge, economic benefits are debated and speculated, as a lot of the local people still want the isolation and the quasi-independence that the rising waters of the Channel and the flooding of the River Solent gave to the island 8,000 years or so ago.

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE ISLE OF WIGHT?

I remember back in the 1970s and ’80s people were joking that resorts on the Isle of Wight were just like how the British seaside used to be in the 1950s. On my most recent visit in 2015, people were still comparing it to, well, British resorts in the 1950s – however that may be a little harsh! Although much of its modern tourism is based upon its original Victorian and Edwardian infrastructure and of course sailing, the Isle of Wight has pioneered outdoor, farm-based rock festivals since 1968, attracting upwards of 150,000 people – you will even find a statue of Jimi Hendrix at Freshwater Bay!

Nowadays many of the seaside towns have modernised their image so you will find some great pubs and restaurants with very appealing fayre. Ventnor has reinvented itself as a health spa town and Cowes is fashionable for shopping as well as a yachter’s cornucopia. But other areas trade much more upon their historical past. Freshwater Bay reflects its links with Alfred Lord Tennyson, Blackgang Chine reminds us that it is the oldest theme park in Britain (dating from the 1840s!) and who can forget Queen Victoria’s beloved Italianate Osborne House… Why go to the Italian Riviera when you can stand overlooking the Solent with a bag of fish and chips from the ‘Cod Father’ takeaway?

You may even stay in a pub which was built from the timbers of a ship wreck – dozens occurred around the island and was one of the sporadic ‘benefits’ of living here!

WHAT ABOUT WALKING IN PARTICULAR?

The island is perfect for leisure walking. The single most important thing to remember is that the island is conservative and the countryside is very well preserved, with more than half of the island designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But much of the rest is similarly very attractive, even down to some of the old brick-built seafront villages, such as Seaview, or the beautiful micro-fishing village of Steephill Cove, which is hidden away in a coastal crenulation with some thatched cottages and a great fish restaurant.  

There is also a lovely Coastal Path, threading its way between the wonders of the island. Coastal erosion means that, for safety reasons, there are some diversions in place that take you inland around the areas of collapsing clay cliffs and boggy slumps.

FAVOURITE TIME TO WALK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

I would recommend April to late June, before the schools break up, and September and October. The spring and early summer often has low rainfall and beautiful spring flowers within the woodlands with bright emerald leaves on the trees, while the autumn period has a more rustic golden charm. Of course sea fogs can be notorious and can roll in at any time!

It is best to avoid the heaving summer ‘bucket and spade’ season and the August Cowes weeks – although the trails can be quiet, resorts and towns are very busy. There are several music, walking and cycling festivals taking place in May, so similarly that month can vary in terms of busyness.

HIGHLIGHTS OF A WALKING HOLIDAY ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Any given day along the Coastal Path will take you through some wonderful areas. Osborne House is quite a sight, especially the ‘Durbar Room’ and the beautiful paintings of some of Queen Victoria’s ‘Indian subjects’. You can walk down to her private beach for a peek of her original ‘swimming machine’, which has been recently restored or visit the nearby Quarr Abbey, an astonishing brick-built abbey.  

There is also an interesting chain ferry that takes you from East to West Cowes across the River Medina. There has been great resistance to building a bridge, as tradition is very important.

Three hours walking from Cowes you arrive at a village called Newtown. Today this is merely a street of houses, an attractive church and a town hall owned by the National Trust but it used to be the biggest town and busiest port on the island – that is until 1377, when the French sacked the place! However it is best known as a ‘Rotten Borough’: despite only a few families living here, until the 1832 Reform Act it could elect 2 MPs into the English parliament, the same as cities such as Birmingham.
 
Further on is Yarmouth, a town with some mediaeval features and noted for a swashbuckling past. Privateering, or more commonly known as pirating, was very prevalent. One of the Governors of Yarmouth sailed out and captured a French ship carrying a marvellous marble statue of Louis XIV, which was to be presented in Paris to the Sun King. Instead, the Governor had its face knocked into his own image and installed it within the local church.
 
The trail winds past a fortress with a construction of a huge nuzzle loaded canon. These ‘Palmerston Forts’, named after the warmongering minister, are also dotted around the coast and point to a time as late as the 1850s and ’60s, when  Britain still feared attack from France. There are great views over the Portland and the huge defensive complex, where once Charles I was held prisoner during the English Civil War.

 

The walk undulates over cliffs and downs to pass through The Needles Park, where the chalk backbone of the island dives into the sea like a dragon’s tail with chalky sea-stack scales. If you decide to continue further downlands you will find Victorian memorials, a thatched church, as well as gun placements from World War ll.
 

The Isle of Wight is also home to the only surviving mediaeval lighthouse in Britain, which can be found at the St Catherine’s Oratory. The steep walk up is definitely worth it. Coming here at sunset is a beautiful experience as you can follow the coastline all the way back to The Needles!

 

FAVOURITE FOOD AND DRINK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

The Isle of Wight is known for its fresh seafood, which these days translates at crustaceans more than anything else! Any self-respecting pub or restaurant on the island will make the best of its seafood menu, with the Crab and Lobster Inn in Bembridge probably being the most famous of all. For more of an authentic marine experience, just before a causeway crosses Bembridge Harbour on the east of the Isle, there is the floating seafood The Best Dressed Crab restaurant at Fishermans Wharf, where you can taste fresh lobster or have a crab and prawn sandwich washed down with a zingy tasting beer.  You can also try the seafront Boat House Restaurant in gorgeous Steephill Cove and there are of course great takeaways such as the aforementioned ‘Cod Father’ in Ryde.    

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

Bring your binoculars with you, as you will need them for coastal observations and also looking at bird life. If you belong to the National Trust don’t forget your membership card for the Old Battery on The Needles and if you are a member of English Heritage use your card for entry to Osborne House and Yarmouth Castle. Take a boot brush with you – wet conditions are not uncommon on the island, often resulting in plenty of muddy clays. On the contrary, if you expect hot weather, pack your swimming costume, water shoes and maybe even bring a kite, in case you decide to spend the day on the beach!
 

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on visiting the Isle of Wight visit our Walking & Cycling Holidays on the Isle of Wight page.

 

Isle of Wight, England: Travellers' Tale

Traveller’s Tale: Isle of Wight, England

British author Jane Cable and her husband Jim met Texans Marsha Smith and Mike Doan on a walking holiday almost twenty years ago. When Marsha mentioned she and Mike were considering Walkers' Britain's Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday, Jane and Jim jumped at the chance to join them.

Author Jane Cable on her Sherpa Expeditions Isle of Wight walking holiday

Why did you choose to walk on the Isle of Wight?

Jim and I have lived on the south coast of England all our married life – in fact we have distant views of Bembridge Down on the Island from our bedroom window – but we’ve never taken a holiday there. Plus it was a great opportunity to spend time with Mike and Marsha on one of their rare trips back to the UK.
 

How did you prepare?

I think the answer is quite poorly! Although Jim and I tried to take some lengthy hikes in the weeks and months running up to the holiday, the weather was awful and we didn’t get as much mileage into our legs as we’d hoped. Mike and Marsha amused their friends in Texas by taking six mile walks to the Whole Foods organic store but their problem was that where they live is very flat. And the Isle of Wight isn’t.

 

"My favourite walking day was from Yarmouth to Freshwater because it was so varied."

 

Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday

 

Beach huts, Totland Bay, Isle of Wight - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Which was your favourite destination on the island?

My favourite walking day was from Yarmouth to Freshwater because it was so varied. We started off with a really pretty woodland walk with some fun sculptures at Fort Victoria Country Park then followed the promenade along part of Colwell Bay and Totland Bay with stunning views across the Solent to Hurst Castle. Then there was a short but steep climb up to Headon Warren – an amazing ancient chalk downland – which we crossed to reach Alum Bay for a much needed coffee and loo stop.

After our break, we carried on to The Needles. Jim and Marsha aren’t too keen on heights so they sat by the Coastguard Cottages while Mike and I ventured to the viewpoint at the New Battery. We also varied our walk to Freshwater by taking the path at the back of Tennyson Down which again took us through some lovely woodland, ending up at Freshwater right next to the thatched church.

The day finished really well too because we stayed at Seahorses, an oasis of calm with beautiful rooms, wonderful gardens, an art studio and the warmest welcome we could have wished for.
 

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

Before we left we thought it might be the cliffs, but it was actually really easy to find alternative routes further inland with great countryside and stunning views. On the ground, the worst thing was the mud. We travelled in April after a very wet winter and on the route between Cowes and Yarmouth it was everywhere, with some parts of the path practically impassable. It didn’t help that it was the longest walking day at 15 miles and we were footsore, filthy and exhausted by the time we reached our destination.

 

The Needles, Isle of Wight - Sherpa Expeditions walking holiday

 

Beautiful sunset on the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday - Sherpa Expeditions UK
 

What was the biggest surprise?

The genuine welcome we received from hoteliers, bartenders and restaurateurs – for most of them, nothing was too much trouble. There was a party at the hotel in Cowes (we stayed at the lovely Holmwood Hotel on the seafront at Egypt Point), so they gave us earplugs. Marsha left her stick at Chale Bay Farm but the owner’s wife delivered it to Ryde when she did her school run. And eating at Bellamy’s Bistro in Sandown felt more like dining with friends.

 

Best food and drink?

Without a doubt The Three Buoys on Appley Beach in Ryde. We ate there on the first night – it’s a short walk from the town centre but well worth it for the views, excellent service and local seafood presented in a way you’d only expect at a Michelin starred restaurant. And, at the time of writing, all for gastro pub prices.

 

Do you have any recommendations for other travellers taking this trip?

Take an extra day or two to chill or to see the sights. Although there was plenty of time to look around Osborne House on the first day it would have been good to visit some places not directly on the route, such as Carisbrooke Castle and the roman villa at Brading. Freshwater would be a good place as it’s close to Newport which is the Island’s transport hub and about half way in terms of the walk.

 

More information

You can find out more about Jane Cable’s novels, which are inspired by the British countryside, on her website www.janecable.com and for more details on Walkers' Britains Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday, you can have a look at the Isle of Wight walking trip details or get in touch with our team of travel experts in the London office

The Best Pubs in the United Kingdom for Walkers

Best Pubs in the UK for Walkers

The UK is famous for its historic inns and pubs, and no matter what your choice of refreshment, relaxing in one at the end of a day’s walk is an essential part of a walking holiday in the UK. We’ve asked around the office and here is a list of our favourite pubs that you can visit on one of our UK walking holidays.

CUMBRIA WAY

Image credit: http://www.odg.co.uk/

Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langsdale
Located in the Lake District, the Old Dungeon Ghyll is a famous climber’s bar that has offered accommodation and sustenance to weary fellwalkers and climbers in the midst of some of the highest mountains in England, for over 300 years. 

Why we like it: Stunning location and a great place to rest up with other exhausted walkers and listen to their epic tales.

Visit the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and more on our Cumbria Way walking holiday >>

 


 

DORSET AND WESSEX TRAILS 

Image credit: http://smugglersinnosmingtonmills.co.uk/

Smugglers Inn, Osmington Mills
This lovely old pub dates back to the 13th century and was once the home of the leader of the most notorious gang of smugglers in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries (Emmanuel Charles).

Why we like it: Cosy inn near the sea has some good ales and its location makes you feel miles from the real world.

Visit the Smugglers Inn and more on our Dorset and Wessex Trails walking holiday >>

 


 

DALES WAY

Image credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1096359-d245465-Reviews-Red_Lion_Hotel-Burnsall_North_Yorkshire_England.html

Red Lion, Burnsall
The Red Lion in North Yorkshire was originally a Ferryman’s Inn from the 16th century and on top of some delicious real ales the pub also serves up a tasty selection of local game and produce.

Why we like it: Good old-fashioned pub with great food, nestled right by the old bridge. 

Visit the Red Lion pub on our Dales Way walking holiday >>


 

GREAT GLEN WAY

Image credit: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/accommodation/glenmoriston-arms-hotel-p187761

Glenmoriston Arms, Glenmoriston
Another pub that was originally a Drover’s inn, the original hotel built on the site dates back to 1740, six years before the battle of Culloden.

Why we like it: Great old bar with over 100 varieties of single malt Whisky, including some from extinct distilleries.

Image credit: http://www.fiddledrum.co.uk/

Fiddler’s, Drumnadrochit
This renowned whisky bar has a huge range of single malts to choose from and friendly bartenders who can talk you through the tasting of Scotland’s national drink.

Why we like it: Great food and whiskey (obviously) and a relaxing place for a meal after a visit to Urquart Castle.

Visit the Glenmoriston Arms, Fiddlers and more on our Great Glen Way walking holiday >>

 


 

WEST HIGHLAND WAY

Image credit: http://www.kingshousehotel.co.uk/

Kings House Hotel, Glencoe
The Kings House hotel is one of the oldest (and most remote!) licenced inns in Scotland and offers an extensive bar with magnificent views of the hills. It even has a sneaky climber’s bar round the back.

Why we like it: Location, Location! This pub has one of the most famous backdrops in Scotland (Buchaille Etive Mor).

Visit the Kings House Hotel and more on our West Highland Way walking holiday >>


 

COAST TO COAST

Image credit: http://www.buckhotel.co.uk/

Buck Hotel, Reeth
Originally a coaching Inn dating back to around 1760, the Buck in has been refreshing weary travellers for centuries. Inside you’ll find a cost bar with many of the original features still in tact.

Why we like it:  Good range of well-kept beers/ales on draught and great zippy food. 

Image credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1071702-d1567236-Reviews-Black_Bull_Hotel-Reeth_Yorkshire_Dales_National_Park_North_Yorkshire_England.html

Black Bull, Reeth
Older still than the Buck Hotel, the Black Bull dates back to 1680 and offers a wide selection of hand-pulled ales and good hearty food. 

Why we like it: The Black Bull’s position on the village green makes for a great spot to rest in the sun (if you’re lucky!) and the pub is also amusingly famous for its ‘Old Peculiar on draught’; two pints of which apparently and you are anyone's! 

Image credit: http://www.lionblakey.co.uk/visitorsphotos.htm

The Lion, Blakey
The Lion Inn on remote Blakey Ridge is a 16th Century freehouse. Located at the highest point of the North York Moors National Park, it offers breathtaking views over the valleys of Rosedale and Farndale.

Why we like it: This cavernous old pub in the middle of nowhere has a great feel to it inside with open fires and low beams, and outside in the beer garden you have some great views over the dales. 

Image credit: http://www.egtonbridgehotel.co.uk

Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge
 The 18th century Horseshoe Hotel sits on some stunning grounds on the bank of the River Esk, in the quaint English village of Egton Bridge. Catering to walkers it is a great place to relax and replenish your energy. 

Why we like it: You always hit this old fashioned pub right about when you feel like a drink! It’s beautiful beer garden is a great place to rest your weary feet before you contemplate crossing the Esk on stepping stones!

Visit these pubs and more on one of our Coast to Coast walking holidays >>


 

HADRIAN’S WALL

Image credit: http://www.theboathousewylam.com

Boathouse, Wylam
The Boathouse is a traditional pub, with low-beamed ceilings, stone floor and a dark wood bar decorated with tankards, pump-clips, and paintings. 

Why we like it: Extraordinary range of 12 varieties of real ale or cider on hand-pulls and great home-cooked meals.

Image credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g1068896-d2259351-i100156555-The_Twice_Brewed_Inn-Bardon_Mill_Hexham_Northumberland_England.html

Twice Brewed Inn, Once Brewed

Overlooked by Steel Rigg, one of the best stretches of Hadrian’s Wall, the Twice Brewed Inn’s setting in rural Northumberland is quite unique. There are many theory’s surrounding it’s unique name that you can learn more about on your visit.

Why we like it: Once a brewery, this pub lives up to its name with a range of tasty ales. 

Visit the Boathouse and Twice Brewed Inn on our Hadrian’s Wall walking holiday >>

 


Share your recommendation for a top British pub in the comment section below.

Image credits: Some images used in this article were sourced from the pub's website, Trip Advisor or Visit Scotland.

Scotland’s Best Walking and Cycling Routes

Scotland’s Best Walking and Cycling Routes

 
Who doesn’t love a cup of tea with a traditional Scottish all-butter shortbread, especially after a long walk or cycle. And it’s even better still you're actually in Scotland, right? We thought it was time to shine a light on Scotland’s best walking and cycling routes. Plus, if you’re lucky you will be able to enjoy some of the countries specialities along the way, such as haggis, fresh Scottish lobster and Cullen skink, all washed down with a wee dram of the finest whisky around!

 

THE GREAT GLEN WAY

This iconic tour starts at Fort William, near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended if you choose to spend an extra day) and follows the shores of the famous Loch Ness, 23 miles long and the second deepest Loch in Scotland – depths of up to 750 feet. The walk finishes at Inverness, Scotland’s north-most city and the “capital of the highlands”. Most of the walking is straightforward, along canal towpaths plenty of elegant bridges and locks as well as forest tracks, but there are some more challenging sections on the last couple of days.
 
Find out more about The Great Glen Way here.
 
 

JOHN MUIR WAY

Completed in 2014, the John Muir Way is a 134 mile route that symbolically links Dunbar with Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and with Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast to coast path. It provides an accessible and varied route across the Scottish low lands, following a mixture of seaside, river and canal side paths, with some forestry walking for good measure. This route links together some fine landscapes, countryside and places of historical and natural interest. 
 
Find out more about the John Muir Way here.
 
 

ROB ROY WAY

The Rob Roy Way is a 124km walk linking Drymen with Pitlochry in Perthshire. The route joins paths and tracks through highland scenery, taking advantage of attractive villages and small towns. The walk begins in the pretty village of Drymen, whose Clachan Inn is the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland and would have been known by Rob Roy as it was run by his sister! It then passes through the forests of the Trossachs, crossing the River Forth at Aberfoyle and down beside Loch Venachar to Callander, before leading out through fine glens by Loch Lubnaig and Glen Oich to Killin. From here the route climbs high into the hills on the remotest stretch of the walk, before descending to follow the quiet path along the southern shores of Loch Tay. Descend to Aberfeldy via the famous Birks, and the final stretch along the river and over the moors to Pitlochry.
 
Find out more about the Rob Roy Way here.
 
 

THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY - 10 DAY

This 10 Day tour follows the 96 mile national long-distance trail of the same name through the south-western part of the Scottish Highlands. It is claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles. Starting at the village of Milngavie just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to somber Glencoe, famed for its massacre of the MacDonald Clan, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day. The West Highland Way is a well-established and popular route, containing some landscapes of great beauty. The altitude range is from sea level to 1850 ft (4408 ft if Ben Nevis is climbed). An 8 Day route is also available.

Find out more about The West Highland Way here.

 

 

LOCHS AND BENS

The Scottish Highlands have long been a favoured destination for cyclists and walkers keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. During this week long trip, you will take the backroads and country paths where cycle touring is pleasurable. En route you will visit charming historic towns such as Dunkeld, and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead, and Killin. A rest day at Killin is included to allow you time to visit the Falls of Dochart, sail the Loch or walk up Ben Lawers. There are also opportunities to take a forest walk or visit one of the many castles and ancient monuments found along the way.

 

Find out more about Lochs and Bens here.

 

 

SCOTTISH HIGHLAND’S CYCLE

Cycle from Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands, along the shores of Loch Ness to Fort William. During this week long trip we cycle along scenic paths and quiet forest trails with opportunities enroute to spot the wildlife of the region including red deer, stag or golden eagle. A day in Fort William is set aside to rest or ascend Ben Nevis. A train journey takes you across desolate Rannoch Moor to Loch Rannoch, where you continue on bike to the Victorian resort town of Pitlochry, nestled in the Perthshire hills.
 
Find out more about the Scottish Highland's Cycle here
 
 
 
 

Have you explored Scotland before? Let us know what you thought in the comment section below.
 
  
Walking the Great Glen Way & West Highland Way

Walking the Great Glen Way & West Highland Way

 
Walkers' Britain traveller Laurie Berg Sapp travelled to Scotland with her husband and combined our Great Glen Way and West Highland Way trips with an ascent of Ben Nevis.

Sherpa Expeditions traveller Laurie Berg Sapp

Why did you choose your trip?
We chose the walk because I had never been to Scotland and was intrigued by the history, the incredible number of famous writers in the country and the rugged beauty. We also liked the idea of combining the 2 hikes, attempting to climb the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, and going with Jon (Millen) – he is a great guide and a lot of fun.

How did you prepare?
We prepared by taking long hikes in our home state, Arizona, some as long as 12 miles. We traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona, which has an altitude of 7,000 to train in elevation to get our lungs ready. I hike 2 or 3 times a week love to enjoy the great outdoors!

 

Great Glen Way and West Highland Way Scotland

What was the best part of your trip?
The best part of the trip was feeling like you were in another world – so isolated, so wild and beautiful, away from all that’s familiar. It’s very different from where we live! The people on the trip were fun, and the people in Scotland could not have been any nicer.

...and the most challenging part?
The most challenging was definitely trying to climb Ben Nevis. We set out to make it to the top, but when it started to rain and blow 50 mile an hour winds, Jon took us on a loop to circle back down the mountain. I was almost blown over! We were wet, tired, and then we had to cross a river before we finally found some shelter. Typical Scotland – as we were climbing back down the sun came out!

 

Our Group on Great Glen Way and West Highland Way Scotland

Your favourite destination?
I loved Drumnadrochit (on the northern shore of Loch Ness) where we stayed in the little church bed and breakfast. It was a lovely place and the food that night was the yummiest!

Best food and drink?
Neeps and tatties! I still dream about those turnips and potatoes. My husband loved all the different beer and enjoyed drinking his way through the Scottish pubs.

 

>> View all Great Glen Way tours.

>> View all West Highland Way tours.

>> View all tours in Scotland.

 


 

Check out  more Travellers' Tales >>

The Great Glen Way: Travellers' Tales

The Great Glen Way: Travellers' Tales

 
Becky Witt from Colorado walked Scotland's Great Glen Way and had an amazing time. She shared the story of her walk with us, including a rather surprising method of permanently marking her achievement!
 

What is your walking history? 

I am from Colorado and love hiking in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. I also enjoy walking in my suburban neighborhood. I have done one long-distance hike several years ago on the Colorado Trail. The hike was a guided hike which consisted of ascending and descending mountain passes for six days which was about 90 miles. We camped at the end of each day and I had to carry a day-pack. Our tent/luggage was transported for us. 
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

My hairstylist walked The Great Glen Way a couple of years ago and loved the walk. She told me about how beautiful the highlands are, the flavourful food and the friendly Scots. Also, she said if I didn’t find anyone to walk it with me, then she would. This didn’t make sense to me because there are so many countries to explore. But now, I get it. I, too, would walk it again!
 
Becky Witt and her travelling companion on the Great Glen Way
 

How did you prepare?

I started physically preparing for the hike five months in advance. I started walking about four miles a day, five days a week. I did one long walk on the weekend. I started at four miles and worked up to 14 miles, which was about two weeks before the walk. I started upper body weights five months in advance, once a week. On occasion I missed daily walks, the long weekly walk and lifting weights. I also started carrying my backpack on my last four long walks. I felt physically prepared for the walk and I was able to complete each day, feeling tired, but not exhausted. I did not have any blisters or injuries during the walk. At the end of each day, I did stretch. Mentally, I prepared by reading literature on The Great Glen Way, listening to podcasts about travel in Scotland and watching a couple of documentaries on Scotland. 
 
 
Becky Witt on the Great Glen Way
 

What was your favorite destination?

Truly, I had several favourite destinations. I loved walking in the big northern woods. The elms, oaks, maples and pines were majestic. I loved walking through the meadows seeing sheep and so many wildflowers blooming: foxgloves, thistles, bluebells, broom, gorse and poppies were a feast for the eyes. Also, there are so many unbelievable waterfalls and all different types of bridges. Of course, coming into Inverness and seeing the end trail marker was bittersweet, but a favourite.
 
The Great Glen Way
 
 
Great Glen Way waterfall
 

Best food & drink?

I had a variety of fish twice a day and sometimes three times a day. Whether it was salmon, haddock, or herring, and whether it was smoked, poached, fried or fresh, it was delicious. The salmon was so flavourful, creamy and rich tasting. I never tired of eating fish. Cullen Skink chowder was phenomenal. Also, I had the sticky toffee pudding close to every night, which was amazingly rich and sweet. 

I was not a Scotch drinker before I went, and actually did not like it at all. We went to the Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William, where The Great Glen Way begins, and I learned how to drink it with one to two drops of water in the Scotch. I can now say, I like Scotch.

Also, every morning we asked our hosts to fill our thermos with hot tea and then we added Ben Nevis whisky honey, and that tasted wonderful during our mid-morning break!
 
Kippers on the Great Glen Way
 

Biggest surprise?

I had a couple of surprises. First, I had no idea how much self-care long distance walking gave me. I did not have headphones in for the walk and I was not on my phone at night. I truly was present in each and every moment. I read Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfections every night which gave me food for thought the next day. I had time to self-reflect about my career, family, friends and future travel for my wanderlust! I definitely had some insights which led to personal intentions.  

The second surprise was that you can walk in Scottish rain. It did rain most days, but a gentle rain and not for long. We were able to do whatever that day’s walk held in the rain and we did not get one midgie bite!
 
Walking in the rain on the Great Glen Way

Another surprise was that I tried haggis, kippers with eggs, bircher muesli and Scotch and that I loved them all. I wasn’t brave enough to try blood pudding - perhaps next time!

The last surprise was getting The Great Glen Way trail marker tattoo on my forearm!
 
Great Glen Way tattoo
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The day we were walking into Spean Bridge during a heavy downpour, we missed the path and ended up walking on the paved road, which was a challenge. We did not read our route notes carefully the night before and took a wrong turn. We looked at the route notes later that night and yes, there it was very clearly spelled out, how to take the path and not the road. So, definitely read the route notes every night!
 
The end of the Great Glen Way
 
 
  
What is a Stile & More: A Walkers Glossary

What is a Stile & More – A Walkers Dictionary

Even for the most seasoned walkers and hikers, the terminology used to describe directions on walking holidays may be different from what you are used to back home. Whether you need a reminder, would like to take a little quiz with your travel mate, or simply are not familiar with some of the terminology in the notes, below are some hiking terms that can be useful on your next trip in the outdoors.  

hiking terms - what is a stile - Sherpa Expeditions

Hiking Terms - Gates

Stile A little step that allows you to easily climb over a fence. They come in different forms.

Kissing gate A gate that opens out to only allow one person through at a time so that two people passing through on either side would have to 'kiss'.

Swing gate A little narrow gate in a fence which has a spring to reset it once open.

Offset gate A gate with an open entrance and two overlapping parts to restrict motorised access.  

hiking terms - what is a beck - sherpa walking holidays

 

hiking terms - what is a hedgerow - sherpa expeditions

Feature Terminology

Copse/ Coppice/ Plantation  A wood or plantation of similar trees, normally quite small.

Hedgerows  These are the, often ancient, shrub fences that exist as field boundaries and that can be seen all over the United Kingdom.

Dry stone walls  These serve the same purpose as hedgerows, but are made of un-cemented stone. Together with sheep they make up a large part of the Scottish landscape.

Cwm/ Corrie/ Cirque  A generally rounded glaciated or post glaciated valle – in the mountains of Wales we use the word ‘cwm’ for this.

Beck or Burn A little stream, unless in spate. 

Fell An English word that is probably related to the old Norse word fjall – a fell is a hill or a mountain. 

Tarn This is a mountain lake or pool that is generally formed in a cirque that was excavated by a glacier.

Dale  A valley, beautiful English dales are found along the Dales Way in the Yorkshire Dales. 

Crag  An outcrop of rock, or cliff strata.

Dry valley  This is a valley cut into chalk or limestone that does not have a permanent stream running through it.

Ben/ Bein  This is what the Scots call a mountain, the most famous one being Ben Nevis, which you’ll pass when following the Great Glen Way, West Highland Way and Lochs and Bens cycling trip.

Shoulder  Literally the flank or lower sloping part of a hill or mountain, which often facilitates a pass.

Col/ Pass   A low point or easier point of access on a shoulder of a hill or mountain which may facilitate an opening for a path or road so that it is easier to travel between valleys.

Breche / Notch  A clear break in the rock strata in the mountains which often facilitates a pass for a footpath. A breche or notch is a type of col (see above).

Summit  The highest point on a mountain; besides the one summit, there can be several peaks on one mountain, often called ‘false summits’.

 

hiking terms - what is a cairn - sherpa expeditions

Hiking Terms for Signage

Trig point  A triangulation pillar used for surveying. Trig points are usually about 5 foot (150cm) high and made of concrete. Normally you can find these on top of hills and ridges.

Cairn  Used for marking the trail, this is a pile of stones that is especially easier to see in bad weather circumstances.

Blaze  An indication made with paint on a tree or part of a rock, again to show directions on the trail.

Fingerposts  Wooden posts on hills or in fields, which have the waymark on them often via one to four ‘fingers’.

GR/ PR  These red-white and yellow-white signs and paint blazes splatter the trails of the grande randonnée routes in France, Spain and Italy. 

Wanderweg/ Bergweg Yellow and red-white waymarked trails in Switzerland and Austria. Wanderwegs are usually the lower and easier trails, while a bergweg tends to be used for a mountain path.

 

hiking terms - what is scramble - sherpa walking holidays

Hiking Terms for Underfoot

Bog  A bog usually involves saturated peaty, mossy walking conditions.

Scramble  An easy rock climb where hand and footholds are large and a rope is normally not required.

Moor A tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather, sedge grass and moss.

Scree These are small loose stones that usually cover a slope and can make the walk up a bit harder.

Tarmac If you are American you will know this as asphalt and an Australian may be more familiar to the term sealed road... it covers the ‘better’ roads & paths.

Limestone pavement  A strata of limestone on the surface, usually eroded and partially dissolved into blocks and cracks called ‘Clints and Grykes’.

Ridge and furrow  This is a medieval farming method of piling up ridges and creating ditches in between. You will see such forms in the pastures of the British countryside.

Sinkhole  A hole in the limestone that is created by water solution, some go to great depths into extensive cave systems.

Right to Roam In England and Wales a ‘right to roam’ area is where you can walk freely, such a way may be covered by a signage to indicate your rights. It is a different right to that associated with a footpath that crosses private land.

Bridleway A permissible route to be used by travellers on foot, horse or bicycle, but not motorised vehicles. Keeping this in mind, you may spot the occasional trail biker or green-laner.

Stinging nettles  These are mostly found around footpaths and stiles; they will inflict a mild sting if they are brushed against – don’t worry they are nothing like Poison Ivy! (In Latin agonious extremis or - because it ‘urts - urtica).

 

 

Have we missed anything? Or do you have extra questions on this? Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email so that we can assist you more. Contact our team of travel experts here.

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