By: Blonde Two
Years ago, when B1 and I first started doing expedition work with young people, we joked about one day being the ‘right age’ to go on a walking holiday together.
There’s a chance we might have reached that age!
At the time, you can imagine how tempting the idea of swapping cold tents, porridge pots and a heavy rucksack for warm B&Bs, a full continental and baggage transfer sounded.
It still sounds good today.
So, despite being busier than ever (B1) and less fit than we used to be (B2), we feel as though the time has come.
Next summer we plan to go on our first official walking holiday.
Over the years we’ve had a bit of practice
B1 has trekked in the Atlas Mountains and in Vietnam (still with youngsters) and I have been busy seeing how many UK train adventures I can have, including walking a pilgrimage in Herefordshire. Together we have enjoyed two lovely visits to take part in the Walking Scilly Walking Festival. And I have had the opportunity to explore the Miners’ Way and Historical Trail walking routes in Ireland.
We both still spend a lot of time walking around with teenagers.
But not together as much these days.
It’s about time we put that situation right (but without the teenagers).
Popular walking holidays around the world
We’re probably going to take our first walking holiday in the UK but it’s an interesting exercise (the sitting down kind) to think about possible international walking holidays.
Which countries spring immediately to your mind?
Spain for the Camino de Santiago? (Meadows. Churches. Tapas)
France for the Tour du Mont Blanc? (Alps. Views. Cake)
New Zealand for the Milford Track? (Fiords. Waterfalls. Huts)
Peru for the Inca Trail? (Altitude. Steps. Chocolate)
Those three-word descriptions haven’t come from experience or from experts, they are the three things that came to my mind when I thought of each trail.
There are advantages to picking a well-known walking holiday trail. There will be plenty of infrastructure to support you and you’ll be able to read other people’s accounts of the experience before you set off.
But what if you want to walk a more unusual trail?
What if you want a walking holiday with a point of difference?
More unusual walking holidays around the world
Australia – the Great Ocean Walk
With worries about creatures and extreme heat, we Brits tend to be a bit squeamish about Australia but it’s a country that offers a huge range of walking experiences, none of which usually result in the walker being eaten by a shark or shrivelled by the sun.
Apollo Bay in southwestern Victoria (near Melbourne) is the starting point for Australia’s Great Ocean Walk. It’s a 110km hike that will take you along the coast through two National Parks and to the impressive Twelve Apostles sea stacks.
(Beaches. Forest. Koalas)
Albania – the Albanian Alps
If you haven’t heard of the Albanian Alps, you’re not alone but that is perhaps what makes them such an attractive prospect. North of Greece and east of Italy, Albania has plenty to offer the eager walker.
Valbona National Park sits in the shadow of Malësi e Gjakovës (the Accursed Mountains). It is a high mountainous region of forests, alpine pastures and lakes as well as highland villages.
(Bathing. Trails. Bears)
Japan – the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage
Did you know Japan’s Kumano Kodo walk is only one of two World Heritage listed walks? I didn’t either but then I hadn’t heard of it until I started researching more unusual walking holidays. I’ve already listed the other World Heritage walk above, it’s the Camino de Santiago.
The Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage will take you for 110km through the sacred lands of the Kumano mountains. On the way you’ll pass shrines, temples and waterfalls to experience a step back in Japanese time and, if you choose the right holiday provider, find yourself dining on the best of traditional Japanese food and relaxing in hot-spring onsens.
Even more exciting. The Kumano Kodo walk is accessible by Japan’s fantastic train system.
So where do you fancy walking? We’d love to know. Your experiences might help us make our choice.
Is staying in the UK important to you?
Do you fancy walking somewhere nobody else has heard of?
Where would you like your food to come from?
Do you think it is cheating to organise baggage transfer so you don’t have to carry a bit rucksack (asking for a friend!)
We look forward to hearing your answers!