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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Destinations for a UK Walking Holiday

Profiled below are four of the best regions to take a UK walking holiday. Whether you are looking for gentle day walks or tough peak-to-peak challenges, each of these regions provides some of the finest hiking in the United Kingdom.

Scottish Highlands

Harsh and rugged, the Scottish Highlands are also home to the biggest peaks and toughest challenges for a UK walking holiday. Adventurous walkers and climbers are often drawn to the Munroes, a series of almost 300 mountains in the Highlands that are over 3000 feet in height, but walkers of all levels can enjoy excellent walking in the highlands. Fort William and Aviemore are centres of hiking and climbing in Scotland, with most of the major peaks and routes accessible from one or the other.

Highest Peak: Ben Nevis (1,344 metres)

Best Route: The West Highland Way is the classic walking route in Scotland, running from Milngavie to Fort William and taking in innumerable Highland highlights along the way.

Lake District

The Lake District is perhaps the most beautiful destination for UK walking holidays. Located in the North West of England, the mixture of mountains, valleys and deep lakes has been beloved by hikers and poets alike for centuries, most notably providing inspiration for William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets. It also contains the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike.

Highest Peak: Scafell Pike (978 metres)

Best Route: The Wainwright Memorial Walk. Designed by Arthur Wainwright, this spectacular, 102 mile walk hits every highlight in the Lakes; a classic UK walking holiday.

Peak District

Despite the name, the Peak District is a landscape of gentle hills rather than dramatic peaks, and is perfect for light hiking in the United Kingdom. Located in the heart of England, the Peak District is also notable for its accessibility from Manchester and Sheffield.

Highest Peak: Kinder Scout (636 metres)

Best Route: The High Peak Trail. Following the line of an old railway, this 17 mile trail offers enjoyable walking and outstanding views out across the Peak District.

Snowdonia

The adventure playground of Wales, Snowdonia is a truly stunning place to visit on a UK walking holiday. Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, stands at the centre of this region, but it is a treasure trove of outstanding peaks that includes Tryfan, Cader Idris and Cnicht amongst the highlights. For a balance of high peaks and dramatic scenery, it is hard to beat Snowdonia.

Highest Peak: Snowdon (1085 metres)

Best Route: The 15 Peaks. Not one for the faint hearted, this challenging walk takes in every Welsh peak over 3000 metres high. It can be completed in a single day, though you’d be better advised to tackle it in a couple of stages to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Top Vacation Destinations

The idea of all-inclusive vacations is not that old, but it has caught on like wildfire because it takes much of the worry out of trip planning. It is not likely you could put together a vacation package for less than the “all inclusives” charge, but not everyone goes this route to save money. The high-end resorts of the all-inclusive variety are pricey, but there are also some bargains to be bad if you do not expect five-star amenities at three- or four-star prices. The following are not in any particular order, but many are clustered in the Caribbean because of its longstanding popularity.

1. Goldeneye Resort, St. Mary, Jamaica: James Bond fans have made the Goldeneye a top pick in many resort listings. This Jamaican retreat was built by Bond novelist Ian Fleming in the 1950s and he is said to have written 14 of his “007” thrillers there. The “short report” on Goldeneye is that it is “a magical place” that provides simple luxury along with carefree, casual comfort. Many celebrities flock to this spot for the privacy, and Goldeneye’s main beach is clean, uncrowded and private with fluffy white sand and warm, crystalline waters. The 007 cachet, great privacy, good food and fabulous grounds combine to make Goldeneye a favorite all-inclusive resort.

2. Sandals Royal Bahamian, Bahamas: As a chain, the Sandals Resorts have been voted “World’s Best” for the past 10+ years by travel professionals worldwide. Many longtime travel agents, who should know, believe that Sandals does “all-inclusive” better than anyone, and they should – they invented it. Sandals does everything with an unsurpassed emphasis on quality, so it is by no means a “budget” destination. This particular Sandals resort – with its offshore island, eight restaurants, seven pools, valet service and Rolls-Royce airport shuttles – will meet the demands of the most discriminating travelers.

3. Sandals Antigua Resort and Spa, Antigua: Situated on Dickenson Bay, the island’s premier (and most famous) beach, this is the chain’s “romantic getaway.” It offers Caribbean village charm plus the refinement and luxury of a world-class, all-inclusive resort, and was voted the “World’s Leading Honeymoon Resort” for four straight years. Crystal clear air and winding paths welcome you to hidden hammocks for the happy twosome.

4. Secrets Excellence, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Situated far from city crowds on a remote portion of Caribbean shoreline – in its own palm tree forest, no less – Secrets Excellence has everything from live stage shows, hot and happy Latin American music for dancing, a casino and horseback rides on the beach. It is perhaps the perfect adult playground, with two giant pools featuring swim-up bars a world-class spa/fitness center for workouts or relaxing massages. The resort is an adults only destination with a perfect beach and plenty to do – or not.

5. Gala Resort, Mayan Riviera, Mexico: This classically Mexican getaway is truly different, unique in every way, and proud of it. Gala offers an unparalleled vacation adventure, and its staff is committed to your enjoying your stay beyond all expectations. Featuring deluxe accommodations, attentive service, superlative dining, and activities for guests of all ages, the Gala Resort is a world-class destination that will be everything you expect, and probably more.

6. Beaches Negril, Negril, Jamaica: Set on 20 lush, jasmine-scented acres, on a prime stretch of Negril’s world-famous, seven-mile beach, this resort is both charmed and charming. You are immediately enveloped in the awesome natural splendor, and when you factor in the gourmet dining, creative activities and first-class amenities, you just might think you’ve found paradise on earth.

7. Franklyn D Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica: The Franklyn D Resort wins many recommendations based on its family-friendly atmosphere and layout. This, in fact, is the resort that invented the “vacation nanny,” who will look after you, your kids and your suite. The “FDR” is small and intimate, while still offering every amenity and doing so in a world-class manner. The resort has a special kids’ buffet, decent adult food, an average beach and modest suite furnishings. In many visitors’ opinions, the vacation nanny and staff make up for any and all shortcomings.

8. Royal Hideaway, Playacar, Mexico: This is a small gem of a resort with just 178 rooms, but there is a full activities program on a gorgeous, first-class property. Six restaurants, complete concierge service and doting poolside attendants bring a touch of luxury to the surroundings, and the champagne at check-in time signals you are in the right place. The stunning beach and the “seriously five-star” food service round out the attractions. “Classy and relaxing” is the way one reviewer described it. Although the whole family is welcome, the resort does cater to couples.

9. Harmony Club, Bermuda: The traditional Bermudan “cottage-style” architecture communicates intimacy at this private country resort. In a fabulous setting of exquisite gardens, this classic resort is near Bermuda’s famed beaches, accessible to Hamilton’s shops and nightspots, and boasts an abundance of elegance and a complete list of the expected amenities. Not too large, not too small, many guests have concluded that Harmony Club is “just right.”

10. Iberostar Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: This is another all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana with high ratings from guests and good write-ups at the travel sites. The complex is dotted with buffets and restaurants, with cuisines from around the world. The disco is designed to emulate a DC6 airplane, with the nose acting as the DJ booth and the wings serving as the bars. Many visitors claim the Iberostar Bavaro has the best beach in the country, with flawless white sand and bright, turquoise waters. The individual villas are ensconced in lagoons with gardens overflowing with tropical flowers and palms. There are nine restaurants and a cozy casino, to boot.

 

Place to Visit when Walking Holiday in France

The Loire Valley

‘The Garden of France’ is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and is understandably a popular choice for walking holidays in France. The Loire River itself meanders through rolling hills, lush landscapes and a seemingly endless succession of glorious 18th century chateaux. Walkers and cyclists can follow the river itself or explore dozens of routes off the river into the heart of the Loire Valley.

The Alps

For anyone looking for high mountain adventure on their French walking holiday, the Alps is the place to go. Skiers dominate the region during the winter, but during the summer months the Alps become a Mecca for climbers and hikers from all over the globe. With some routes, such as the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Haute Route, regarded as being amongst the finest trekking routes in the world, this is an essential destination for European adventurers.

Provence

Provence features an enviable mixture of scenery – a spectacular coastline, sun drenched fields of wild flowers overlooked by mountains, and some beautiful historic towns. The countryside has inspired numerous artists, most notably Cezanne, and if your French walking holiday takes you to Provence, you can alternate between visits to the stunning countryside and fascinating towns such as Avignon, Arles, and Aix-en-Provence.

Burgundy

Wine lovers who want to combine a French walking holiday with the opportunity to sample some of the country’s finest vintages will inevitably be drawn to Burgundy. The region is justly famed as the heart of wine production in France, and a walking holiday here is likely to spend plenty of time exploring the beautiful landscapes around the vineyards. The regional capital, Dijon, is another highlight, with stunning architecture that is a delight to explore on foot.

The Cote d’Azur

Also known as the French Riviera, the Cote d’Azur is the finest stretch of coastline in France and is the natural destination of choice if you are looking to combine coastal walks with blazing sunshine. Picturesque Nice is an essential place to visit, and the numerous gardens, such as those found at La Villa Ephrusi de Rothschild and the Gardens of Eze, are a real highlight of the region.

Brittany

Brittany sometimes feels like an entirely different country within France, with its own language, unique culture and individual history. It also features some spectacular walking country, with the rocky coastline a real pleasure to explore on a French walking holiday. Don’t miss out on the spectacular Abbey at Mont-St-Michel, perched dramatically above the sea and accessible only at low tide.

Backpackers to Croatia

With its stunning natural beauty, historical buildings and a vibrant culture, the former Yugoslavian country offers a great travelling experience with inexpensive Croatian hostels and sophisticated transport links.

Dubrovnik

The city of Dubrovnik is known as the pearl of the Adriatic and offers a wealth of historical attractions. Travelers can explore this UNESCO world heritage site by walking through the medieval city and admiring the impressive buildings.

The Rector’s Palace is a stunning example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, with its own museum. St Saviour’s Church and the nearby Franciscan Monastery, home to a library of thousands of valuable historical books and documents, are also worth a look.

Cafes and bars are inexpensive and a great place to indulge in people-watching. Dubrovnik has a lively club scene and many music venues where you can catch a live gig or concert.

Split

The coastal city of Split has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979 and is Croatia’s second largest city.

Your first port of call should be the Diocletian’s palace. This is a huge and awesome structure that was built in the fourth century and boasts marble streets of Roman ruins.

Culture enthusiasts can spend hours in one of the city’s many museums. The Maritime Museum and Archaeological Museum provide fascinating insights into the country’s naval and natural history and the Museum of Croatia displays exhibits detailing the rich history of the region.

Art lovers should head to the Mestrovic Gallery, converted from the summer residence of the sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, which he built and designed himself in 1939.

Traveller’s looking for some exercise can venture from their Croatian hostels and take a gentle hike up Marjan Hill. At the top are breath-taking panoramic views of the city.

Croatia’s Islands

Croatia’s islands offer a unique experience for backpackers regardless of their tastes. Choose an action-packed watersports adventure and enjoy the hectic nightlife or simply relax on one of the many pristine beaches.

Backpackers can explore Croatia’s fascinating past by visiting villages famed for their Venetian architecture, and medieval hilltop towns Trogir and Rovinj come complete with ancient underground caves which are a delight to explore.

More energetic travellers can try their hand at yachting and boating for reasonable prices, and Hostels in Croatia can often advise backpackers of nearby water-sports facilities.

When night falls, the islands of Havr, Korcula and Brac in the south of Croatia offer a wide range of lively evening entertainment with many clubs and bars. The next morning, unwind and indulge in another popular Croatian pastime; sip coffee in a cafe and watch the world go by.