More Inspiration

Tour du Mont Blanc: Photos from the Trail

Tour du Mont Blanc: Photos from the Trail

On a Mont Blanc Guided Walk tour recently, the group were fortunate enough to have a photographer among them. Taşkın Bora Koç, from Turkey, enjoyed shooting the trail from all angles. You can find more of his stunning photos on his Instagram account.
As you'll see from his photos, Bora hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc in late August/September and he's managed to capture the autumn colours of the Alps. They will inspire drama and awe. Almost as good as experiencing the trail yourself!
View of the Tour du Mont Blanc trail |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
Hikers on the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
The Tour du Mont Blanc trip totally met my expectations. It was a great experience. Highly recommended. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Taşkın Bora Koç
An alpine stream on the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
Tour du Mont Blanc in black and white |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
The trip was spectacular. Beautiful scenery and the weather cooperated with us. I couldn’t imagine making this trek without our mule, guide and like minded people who were fit, fun, and flexible. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - S. Maxin.
Wildflowers on the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
Mountains of the Tour du Mont Blanc trail |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
A lone hiker on the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>

Totally enjoyed the guided Mont Blanc hike. It was physically challenging but the scenery and views were amazing. Everything was taken care of which was great. Fred our guide was very informative and knowledgeable about the path and the Mont Blanc area. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ . K. Cadman

Alpine hiking views |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
Sunlight over a valley in the Alps |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>
Autumn colours on the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Taskin Bora Koç</i>

Watch the Mont Blanc Guided tour in action.


>> Find more of Bora's inspiring photos at his Instagram account. His Instagram handle is @t.borakoc.
>> Experience the Tour du Mont Blanc with our comprehensive range of tours

Have you hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc yet? Is it on your list? Let us know in the comment section below.
Watch: Walking the Cleveland Way in England

Watch: Walking the Cleveland Way in England

The Cleveland Way follows the north-eastern coast of England and was the second trail to be designated a 'Great Trail'. After watching this short video, it's easy to see why. 
Read about the highlights of the Cleveland Way and consider walking this dramatic trail that takes in some of England's most famous heritage sites along the way. 

About the Cleveland Way Trail

Walkers familiar with Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path will already be well acquainted with a couple of spots along the rolling Cleveland Way such as The Wainstones, Urra Moor and Robin Hood Bay. In fact it shares about 10 miles of routing with the Coast to Coast. Maybe they will be intrigued enough by their flirtation with the trail to don their boots once again and take up the challenge of the 110 mile Cleveland Way route from Helmsley to Filey in its entirety! 
Happy hikers on the Cleveland Way |  <i>John Millen</i>
What stands out is the experience of half a walk over hill and scarp edges and half along the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside. There is much to enjoy for those interested in history, those ‘collecting’ National Trails and for aficionados who wish to enjoy arguably the best Fish ‘n’ Chips in England at Whitby Bay! 
This is the second of the ‘National Trails’, dating from 1969 and is rooted in the North York Moors National Park / Yorkshire Heritage Coast. Along its length there are contrasts in walking between field - quilted farmlands, forest patches, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, bleak moorlands and the highly eroded coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs. 
On the coastal path between Whitby and Filey |  <i>John Millen</i>
It is an area that has been threatened by the expansion of the Tyne – Tees Conurbation on the one side and by the encroaching North Sea on the other. However apart from busy coastal towns such as Scarborough, it remains a tranquil area, bolstered and protected by the presence of the National Park of which about 80% of the walk occupies. 
Highlights of the Cleveland Way include, the remains of the Norman Rievaulx Abbey, and 13th century Whitby Abbey (but dating from the 7th century!), the Captain Cook Monument and Robin Hoods Bay with it's cliff-hanging cottages. Most of the route follows well sign-posted footpaths, which generally have good surfaces and are easy to follow. The exception to this is along the coastal path, which, in some places, is overgrown and uneven underfoot. 
Abbey Lane and the ruins of the stunning Whitby Abbey |  <i>iSaw</i> Stone seat near Filey |  <i>John Millen</i> York Minster from the bus stop |  <i>John Millen</i>
The amount of daily ascent and descent is moderate, with much of the walk being on level or gently sloping ground. There are a number of steep ascents along the section from Osmotherley to Urra Moor and at some places along the coast, but these are generally of no more than one or two hundred metres at a time.


Would you walk the Cleveland Way? Let us know in the comment section.
Watch: Germany by Bike and Barge

Watch: Germany by Bike and Barge

Why do travellers love exploring Germany on a bike and barge holiday?

It's easy to see why: waking up to a different waterfront view every morning, having to unpack just once, soaking up the beautiful riverside scenery and experiencing delicious German food and local culture as you pedal along dedicated cycleways and quiet roads.
MS Olympia sails past a castle
You'll get to experience the beauty of Germany's rivers at handlebar level as you cycle through picturesque scenery past ancient castles and monasteries. Discover medieval castles, Roman ruins and vineyards in grand cities such as Mainz, Cologne, Passau and Berlin as you explore Germany by bike and barge.
See it all by watching our short video on a bike and barge tour in Germany.


Do you want to explore Germany by bike and barge? Or have you already been - what was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Watch: Walking the Camino dos Faros (Lighthouse Way)

Watch: Walking the Camino dos Faros (Lighthouse Way)

The Camino dos Faros is a trail along the Costa da Morte, or Death Coast, so named because of the many shipwrecks to be had at the 'edge of the world'. 
The walking trail was established to bring tourism to the small fishing communities and travellers are rewarded by constant views of the northwestern Spanish coast, deserted beaches and welcoming villages. It's known as the Camino dos Faros, or the Lighthouse Way, because of the many lighthouses one encounters on the route.
Walking the Camino dos Faros, or Lighthouse Way, in Spain
The Camino dos Faros is a popular trail for travellers seeking an alternative Camino experience in a region of Spain that's considered off the beaten path. You can walk it on an 8-day self-guided tour.
See what it's like to walk the Camino dos Faros (Lighthouse Way) in this short explainer video from the Camino dos Faros Association.
Here is what the Camino dos Faros Association says about the trail.
O Camiño dos Faros (The Lighthouse Way) is a 200-km hiking route in Galicia (Spain) that links Malpica with Finisterre along the coastline. A route that runs by all the Lighthouses and the most important landmarks in A Costa da Morte, where definitely, it is the sea the one that plays the main role.

O Camiño dos Faros that runs through loads of different landscapes always looking at the sea towards the West. Lighthouses, beaches, dunes, rivers, cliffs, forests, estuaries with a great variety of birds, hill-forts, dolmens, fishing villages, viewpoints from where to enjoy how the sea breaks in all ways possible, sunsets and so on. A hiking route different from the others that will take the hiker to a world full of unique sensations only enjoyable in this Costa da Morte.

Hit play, enjoy it and don't forget to share it.
Enjoying the coastal walk of the Lighthouse Way in Spain

Camino dos Faros 5-Star Review

"We absolutely loved doing the Camino dos Faros! It was superbly well-organised and all the arrangements worked like a dream. The scenery was stunning, everything you could possibly wish for and more.

What we especially loved was the mixed terrain: paths, rocks, sand dunes, pine forests, eucalyptus trees and beaches. The directions and maps were excellent and we loved following the green dots, tiny feet and arrows along the way. So sad to be back, wish it could have gone on longer. Thanks for a wonderful holiday." R. Cayless.
You can also watch this longer version of the Camino dos Faros, which highlights the scenery along the trail without narration.
>> View the Camino dos Faros self-guided walking tour

Are you interested in the Camino dos Faros? Have you already completed a traditional Camino route? Let us know in the comment section below.
Mastering Mountains Along King Ludwig's Way

Mastering Mountains Along King Ludwig's Way

Everyone has their own reasons for choosing to go on an active holiday in Europe. Some prefer walking or cycling as a means to truly appreciate a country, others get a great sense of achievement from completing a trail. For Sam Smith, a New Zealander diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a walking holiday was something even more special.
Read on to discover Sam's inspiring tale of walking King Ludwig's Way in Germany.
The fairytale view of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria |  <i>Skeeze</i>

Hello, fellow active travellers! Allow me, Sam Smith, to take you on an exhilarating journey through the beautiful countryside, charming towns, and fairytale forests of the Bavarian landscape. 
But first, let's start with some context, shall we? In 2015, I was diagnosed with MS and lost the ability to walk. With the help of my doctors and family, I regained my mobility, but long distances were always a challenge.
Taking a selfie along King Ludwig's Way |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

Then in 2019, I received a grant from Mastering Mountains, a group of legends who support people with MS to embark on exciting physical missions. The one I chose was to trek to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Southern Germany. That's the castle that inspired Disneyland. 
However, before I could begin the trek, I had to wait for a wee little global pandemic to blow over. It did, and finally, on June 8th, 2023, I flew into Munich with my wife Meg to begin my quest.
Sam and Meg hiking in Bavaria |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

We took the train to Starnberg and started King Ludwig's Way. The walk traced the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, starting from the point where his body was found in Lake Starnberg. 
With Meg by my side, we set off along the shores of the lake, getting our first glimpses of Bavarian nature, sprinkled with lavish lakeside mansions. We returned to our comfortable hotel to prepare for the big day ahead.
Enjoying Germany's great outdoors |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

The next morning, we indulged in a delicious German breakfast and continued our journey towards Diesen. We wandered through enchanting forests, quaint Bavarian towns, and picturesque fields, passing churches, a dam, and stunning landscapes under the bright blue sky. We even stumbled upon what we thought was a church, but it turned out to be the most beautiful derelict prison I had ever seen. 
The lunch stop in Andechs treated us to amazing pork and potato dumplings, sauerkraut, and the best cola we have ever tasted – maybe because we had earned it with our walking. We visited the church atop the hill before descending to the Hersching ferry, where I enjoyed a delightful ice cream treat called spaghetti Eis. The ferry ride was calm, and we arrived at our hotel in Diesen, exploring the town before retiring for the night.
Soaking up the Bavarian scenery |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

The following day, we embarked on the longest stretch of the journey, covering 27 kilometres to reach Hohenpeisenberg. We passed stunning churches, summer fields, and only a few other walkers along the way. The tracks were all ours. Shaded by fairytale forests and passing numerous shrines, we arrived for lunch in Wessobrun only to find the town closed—no lunch for my hungry tum. Luckily, however, we had packed enough snacks and found a sports field with a tap to refill our water bottles. 
The afternoon led us through towering forestry blocks and up to the summit of Hohenpeisenberg, where we discovered a truly Bavarian restaurant with breathtaking alpine views. I couldn't resist ordering Schnitzel for mains and Apfel Strudel for dessert before descending the mountain and finding our accommodation for a good night's sleep.
Walking in Bavaria |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

The next day, we embarked on the shortest but most technical leg of the journey, walking through a gorge often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of Germany." We traversed wooden bridges, climbed soggy steps, and ventured through Jurassic vegetation, thoroughly enjoying the experience.
After lunch by the river, we emerged from the gorge, strolled through more charming country towns, and reached Rottenbuch for the night. We stayed in a cosy room at someone's house, had dinner at a nearby restaurant, and slept soundly after walking nearly 100 kilometres in just a few days.
Mastering Mountains along King Ludwig's Way |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

My feet were tired and blistered, but my legs, body and mind were still strong. With another fulfilling German breakfast, we set off for Trachgau. We visited a stunning church before immersing ourselves in the picturesque German countryside once more. The weather remained perfect throughout the journey, and we sang songs from The Sound of Music as we walked through forests and meadows. 
Accompanied by the tinkling of cowbells, we arrived at Weiskirche, another remarkable church, where we stopped for lunch. Afterwards, we followed the valley, sharing the road with cyclists, until we reached our accommodation with a welcoming swimming pool and a stunning view of the Alps. Dinner featured a plate of cheese spaetzle before we retired for the night, content and satisfied.
Hiking through a Bavarian forest |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

The final day of walking arrived, and we were thrilled to finally see Schloss Neuschwanstein in the distance. The finish line. We approached, passing through villages, crossing rivers, and admiring alpine lakes while paragliders soared above us. We also realized that June 13th, the day of our visit, marked the 137th anniversary of King Ludwig II's death, adding a coincidental significance to our journey's end. 
We knew we were approaching a tourist hot spot as the number of German accents dipped away as the tourist voices increased. The last climb was demanding, but we persevered until we reached our destination.
Approaching Neuschwanstein Castle |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

And there it stood, magnificent and awe-inspiring. We stood in the shadow of Schloss Neuschwanstein, gazing out over the Bavarian plains that had been our footpath over the past week. I real felt a sense of accomplishment. A lazy comedian with MS, once unable to walk across a room, had traversed 120 kilometres to witness one of the world's architectural wonders.
Sam and Meg in front of Neuschwanstein Castle |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

I cannot recommend the experience enough—every sight, smell, sound, taste, and feeling was incredible.

Thank you, Mastering Mountains, for giving me the grant that made this dream a reality. I am eternally grateful. A huge thanks to UTracks and the World Expeditions Travel Group for their support also.
Sam accomplishing his walk to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria |  <i>Sam Smith</i>

>> If you wish to help other people like me achieve their dreams, please consider donating to Mastering Mountains. 


Have you been inspired by Sam Smith's Traveller Tale? Let us know in the comment section below.
Kate's Highlights of Hiking Poland's Carpathian Mountains

Kate's Highlights of Hiking Poland's Carpathian Mountains

Kate and her son recently joined a sociable group of travellers to explore a little seen region of Europe: Poland's Carpathian Mountains. What she discovered was a unique experience that rivalled her previous walking trips in the Alps and along the Camino de Santiago.
Read on to discover her insights into this wonderful guided tour in Poland.
All smiles on the Carpathian Mountains Guided Walk |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

Why did you choose this trip?

After a fabulous Romanian walking holiday in the Transylvanian Alps, which also forms a part of the Carpathian Mountains, I was keen to compare and contrast the Polish part of the range, and visit both the Pieniny and Tatra mountains.
A hiker taking in the breathtaking views of the Tatra Mountain range.

How did you prepare for your trip?

By keeping up my regular exercise regime and reading up about the history of the region.
Loving the great outdoors in Poland |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

What was the overall trip highlight?

There were so many highlights. The walking was interesting and varied, the history fascinating and the food surprisingly a standout.
Group dinner |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

What was your favourite town?

Zakopane was pretty spectacular, overlooked by the high Tatra mountains. The preserved architecture of the houses ensured this mountain town retained a historic charm.

Discovering the best ice cream in Poland! |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

What was the scenery you walked through like?

At all points the scenery was amazing. The walks focused on achieving the best possible views; from the peak of Sokolica in the Pieniny National Park, where you have the dramatic vista of the gorges of Dunajec, to classic view points in the high Tatra where limestone peaks dominate, to the dress circle view of the Carpathians from  peak of Babia Gora (1725m). 
Discovering Poland on foot |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
Enroute to Mt Turbacz (1310 m) in the heart of the national park of Gorces, the trail passed through beautiful mountain pastures literally full of blueberry bushes brimming with ripe fruit. Needless to say the walking slowed down a lot as we helped ourselves to a bounty of these delicious wild berries. We could see the raspberry bushes would be ready for harvest in another few weeks....
Fresh red berries |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Freshly picked berries |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Picking blueberries on the trail to Mt Turbacz (1310 m) |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

What was the local Polish cuisine like?

Polish cuisine is hearty but very tasty. We managed to try all the specialties including Oszczypek, a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk which is grilled and served with a sweet jam, Pierogi (dumplings) including both the savoury and sweet versions, Barszcz Czerwony (Red Beetroot Soup), Gołąbki (Cabbage Rolls) and Placki Ziemniaczane (Potato Pancakes) to name a few. We also shared shots of vodka and tried the local beers.
Traditional Polish dumplings are called pierogi |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Well deserved post-hiking beers |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Schnitzel meal on the Polish hike |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

How challenging did you find the trail?

The trip is graded moderate which adequately reflects the difficulty of the walk. In the Tatra, some of the peaks may include sections of scrambling although this is optional. Most of the walk is on well graded paths with some steep sections.
Walking single file |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

What surprised you the most about your trip?

The accommodation was surprisingly good. Even the two nights spent at a mountain hut were very comfortable with excellent food and comfortable beds and of course hot showers.
Arriving at a traditional Polish refuge |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

The guide was truly amazing. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the geology, flora and fauna of the mountains in addition to his extensive understanding of the history of Poland. He also clearly loved his job and went above and beyond to keep us safe and show us different trails in the mountains.
Group at mountain hut on Mt Turbacz (1310 m) |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

Can you share advice for other travellers thinking about doing your trip?

Just do it - it's a terrific way to experience the mountains in Poland! There are few foreign tourists and it's a unique part of Europe to discover.
Loving the blue sky day in Poland |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Posing in front of the Carpathian Mountain range |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Peering at the scenic view |  <i>Kate Baker</i>


Is Poland and Eastern Europe on your travel to do list? Where do you want to explore? Let us know in the comment section below.
Sue Walks the Kerry Camino

Sue Walks the Kerry Camino

In May 2023, three years later than first planned, Sue & Harry and their good friends, Jenny & Kevin, embarked on a six-day self-guided Kerry Camino walk along Ireland’s glorious Dingle Peninsula.

Here’s Sue’s account of their much-anticipated pilgrim's walk.
Group photo in front of the South Pole Inn |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Day One: And so it begins...

We turn our backs to the bustling town of Tralee and head west along the Dingle Peninsula on day one of our Kerry Camino. Fully expecting (and receiving) rain, wind and cold weather, we are rugged up and waterproofed from head to toe, quietly excited about our day’s walk along the lower slopes of the ruggedly handsome Slieve Mish Mountains.
Walking the Kerry Camino in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

On this leg, we’ll walk 20 kilometres through truly Irish countryside until we reach our day’s end, with not a coffee van, deli or pub (and only a handful of hikers) to be met along the way. With fog swirling above and the blue waters of the bay and lush green fields beckoning below, we paused for our lunchtime pit stop, sheltered from the late spring wind with only the ubiquitous sheep as fellow diners.

Our day was all we’d been promised and more when we signed up for this Irish Camino walk: the remote, peaceful, and spectacular untouched countryside. And it ended as we’d planned - in The Junction Bar in the tiny village of Camp, perched on stools, enjoying a well-earned Guinness (or ‘Shandy’ in my case) and a packet of crisps.

"Hope you enjoyed the rain today," the barman said, "there’s only sunshine ahead of you now.”

And indeed there was.
Hiking trails along the Irish coast |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Guinness beer is one of Ireland's most iconic brands Atmospheric scenery in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Day Two: An Irish Blessing

Oh to be blessed by the Irish. On this section, we followed narrow country lanes through ancient bogland towards the Wild Atlantic Way with the wind at our back, the sun warm upon our faces and a much anticipated coffee and lunch break at Ireland’s glorious Inch Beach.
Walking along Ireland's beaches |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

We lingered longer than need be at the cafe, warmed by the sun (and for some a splash of Irish whiskey in the coffee) before continuing up, over and down the rolling green hills to Annascaul Village.

“Go n-éirí an bóthar leat” - having “succeeded on the road” we rounded off the day at the South Pole Inn, soaking up the afternoon rays, chatting with the locals and quietly celebrating another great day on the Kerry Camino.
Taking a break by the beach |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Day Three: Hello Wild Atlantic Way

Quiet country lanes, sweeping ocean vistas, exceptionally sunny days, abandoned stone farmhouses crumbling under the weight of neglect and rolling green hill, after rolling green hill. Surely this landscape could not get any better.
A picturesque railway bridge in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

And yet it does.

On the walk from Annascaul to Dingle we rounded a bend in the road to be greeted by a pod of dolphins frolicking in Kilmurry Bay (aka the Bay of Stones). The ancient ruins of Minard Castle perched on the hill above the beach were meant to be the main attraction but those dolphins sure did steal the show.

The Kerry Camino really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Watching dolphins from Kilmurry Bay (Bay of Stones) |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Day Four: Beaches and more beaches

Our final day of the Kerry Camino Walk brought more sunshine and the promise that the Dingle to Slea Head section is "one of the most spectacular walks in Ireland”. We suspected this would be the case. Everyone we’d spoken to along the way had told us the last section was the most beautiful. So we promised each other that today we’d take every opportunity to "stop and smell the pink sea daisies”.
Charming storefront in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Ice cream rewards on the Kerry Camino |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Exploring the rugged path of the Kerry Camino |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

An early morning coffee in the sunshine at Ventry Beach Post Office (also an award-winning delicatessen, grocery store and newsagent), breathing in the sea air as we strolled along Ventry Beach, quiet moments of contemplation along country lanes, chatting to farmers as we passed through their land and an impromptu picnic on an old stone wall with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

All this by lunchtime and the best yet to come.
Pretty flowers in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Ruins along Ireland's coast |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Curious sheep in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Journey’s End

Our final stretch of the Kerry Camino took us high above the Wild Atlantic Way, picking our way along the ridgeline at the base of Mount Eagle. Far below us, a narrow, winding road hugged the coastline, tiny cars making their way cautiously along the route between Dingle and Dunquin. Stonewalls crisscrossed the hills. Ancient ring forts, coloured coded sheep and crisp white farmhouses dotted the countryside. The turquoise bays and sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean shimmered and sparkled in the afternoon sun.
The quirky Dingle Pub |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

As we rounded a hill the magnificent Slea Head appeared below us, tourists scurrying across its emerald green cliffs blissfully unaware of the greater view to be enjoyed from above. Offshore in the distance we spotted the great Blasket Islands, long abandoned but stoically holding their place in Irish history.

This was the rugged, ancient landscape that we had flown halfway around the world and hiked 80 kilometres to see.
As they say, good things come to those who wait.
A great sense of achievement to have walked the Kerry Camino |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Gorgeous Irish scenery on the Kerry Camino |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Posing by a stile on the Kerry Camino in Ireland |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Thanks to Sue Finn for her magnificent Traveller Tale. Follow Sue on Instagram and Twitter for more of her great travel photos and insights.


Are you keen to explore the Emerald Isle, or have you already been and have an experience to share? Let us know in the comment section below.

Judy walks the Tour du Mont Blanc

Judy walks the Tour du Mont Blanc

It's no wonder that the Tour du Mont Blanc sits atop many a walker's bucket list. With breathtaking scenery every step of the way, friendly fellow travellers, and the wonderful nations of France, Italy and Switzerland to traipse through, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a walk to remember.
Judy captures all this and more in her post-trip interview about her experience on the Mont Blanc Guided Walk. Enjoy!

Why did you choose this trip?

I have always wanted to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc. I love mountains and have trekked my whole life.
Trekking along the incredible Val Ferret on the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Ryan Graham</i>

How did you prepare for the Tour du Mont Blanc?

I was trekking in Nepal for 3 weeks before my walk. I had trained well for this, with lots of stairs, long walks and bike riding in my regime. I knew I was fit after this so I decided it would be the perfect time to do the TMB.

Remote trekking in the far western region of Nepal |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>


What was the overall highlight?

The scenery was gorgeous. It was the first walk of the season so there was still snow to walk through at times and plenty on the mountains. In June, the mountain meadows were awash with colour.
Sunset over the French Alps |  <i>Ryan Graham</i>

What was your favourite town in the Alps?

Chamonix is wonderful, with its magical mountains. Loved it.

Central Chamonix |  <i>Ryan Graham</i>

What was the scenery you walked through like?

Gorgeous!! Mountains, valleys, meadows, glaciers,  lovely villages.
Trekking mountain side trails as we explore the Alps |  <i>Erin Williams</i>

What was the local cuisine like? Can you describe your favourite food and drink?

Fabulous. As we trekked through France, Switzerland and Italy, the food varied hugely with each country. Lots of beautiful cheese!!

CHEESE at a Mont Blanc tour lunch stop |  <i>Michael Olwyler</i>

How challenging did you find the trail?

I was quite fit and was glad to be, as the trek is challenging with steep tracks and passes most days. The trails are very well-maintained and easy to follow. The variety each day was surprising and wonderful.
Walking along a Glacier on the Tour Du Mont Blanc |  <i>Ryan Graham</i>

What surprised you the most about your Tour du Mont Blanc trip?

Marmots!! Our guide, Maxime, was great with a lot of really interesting local knowledge. Plus the food variety and the mountain meadow flowers.
A cheeky marmot found along the GR5 trail in France |  <i>Vincent Lamy</i> 

Can you share advice for other travellers thinking about walking the Tour du Mont Blanc?

If possible get a private room. I was in dorms which were sometimes very crowded with very basic facilities.
Staying in traditional mountain huts or refuges are a highlight for many when walking in the Mont Blanc region
Judy's 5-star review of the Guided Tour du Mont Blanc hike.
Wonderful trip, beautiful scenery, great company and perfect weather.  Maxim was a fabulous guide who looked after us and explained the culture. Food was great! The trek was challenging so be fit for steep climbs!


Is the Tour du Mont Blanc on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments, or if you've already completed it!
Active Travel in France's Regions

Active Travel in France

France is made up of a patchwork of beautiful regions, each with its own distinct flavour. From the Cevennes to the Dordogne, Corsica to Provence, you're sure to find a French region that appeals to you.
Go beyond Paris and explore the many gorgeous regions of France on an active walking or cycling holiday. It's the best way to discover the real France!

The Cevennes 

Taking it all in on the GR70 in France
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. (We recommend the 2022 film, My Donkey, My Lover & I, for great inspiration - although you won't have to tug a donkey on your tour!).
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.


Cycling near the D-Day beaches in Normandy
Blanketed in apple orchards, Lower Normandy is home to the Cider Route, where numerous cider and calvados (apple brandy) producers reside in half-timbered houses – apple orchards and brewers are mentioned as far back as the 8th century by Charlemagne! 
Showcasing the land of William the Conqueror, this cycle combines gastronomic tastings and visits to cellars and pressing sheds with historic sites of World War II, such as Omaha Beach and Pegasus Bridge. 


Walking the wine trails in Alsace
One of the most picturesque regions of France, Alsace is also one of the most cycle-friendly. Designated bike paths and quiet country backroads provide a perfect passage along the Rhine, passing ‘Hansel and Gretel’-style houses overlooked by imposing medieval castles. 
As you travel through undulating farmland, orchards and vineyards, explore cobblestoned quaint villages, marvel at striking churches, sample gastronomic delights and soak up the relaxed and jovial atmosphere.


A close view of Chateau Castelnau |  <i>Nathalie Thomson</i>
The Dordogne River Valley is a stunning part of France that is full of elegant stone houses and medieval castles and this itinerary offers plenty of scope to absorb the history and culture of the Perigord. 
With delectable food and colourful markets, you will discover the specialities of the region (including mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts, truffles and strawberries), while the delightful villages of Beynac and Domme are fine examples of period architecture.


Cyclists enroute to Sens in northern Burgundy
Discover vine-covered valleys, meet local winemakers, wander through vineyards… 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.

Loire Valley

A picture perfect scene in front of the Chateau de Cheverny in France |  <i>Merilyn O'Kane</i>
France’s longest river, the Loire, is also known as Valley of the Kings and is the historic heart of the country. Cycling on dedicated bike paths through countryside that is lined with vineyards, orchards and farms, discover at your own pace the so-called ‘Garden of France’ with its surrounding forests and medieval towns. 
Along the way, you can explore grand imposing châteaux such as Amboise, Clos-Lucé, Blois and Chaumont-sur-Loire, which are surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens.


Resting near Lourmarin
Walk from the rugged terrain of the Gorges du Verdon, France’s most spectacular gorge with 1,500 feet high cliffs towering above the river, to the Plateau de Valensole for endless fields of lavender and truffle oak plantations. 
Following closely 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


View over the Marne Valley, Champagne region
Famous throughout the world for its celebratory drink, EU law reserves the term ‘champagne’ exclusively for wines that come from this region, located about 100 miles east of Paris – but exploring by bike reveals that there is more to Champagne than endless ‘Côte des Blancs’ vineyards. 
Forests interspersed with quiet trails along the Marne River lead to charming villages, while the grand cities of Epernay and Reims are rich in historical legacies.


Hiking on the GR20 in Corsica |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>
Dense ‘maquis’, mountain ridges and granite peaks that soar to 2,700m create a rugged terrain, tempered by deeply wooded valleys, pine forest and cascading streams. From Corte’s old town, which clings to the steep slope below its majestic citadel, 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.

Discover all of UTracks' affordable active holidays in France.
Your Opportunity To Cycle The Tour de France (Route)

Your Opportunity To Cycle The Tour de France!*

*The Route, Not the Actual Race!

It's every cyclist's dream: to experience the iconic trails of the Tour de France. On this very special cycling tour, Cycling the Best of the Tour de France,  you'll get to pedal the great cols of the French Alps (thankfully not at race pace). 
This is an 8 day guided tour, with 6 days of guided cycling through Italy and France, led by professional coach Brendan Erskine. There will be just 1 tour in September 2024 and spaces are limited so be quick to secure your spot.
If you have a love for cycling, have wanted to experience the Tour de France or simply want to take part in an iconic cycle in Europe, then this trip is for you!
Enjoying the solitude on the Tour de France Cycle Brendan Erskine Lake views on the TDF Cycle 2018

Cycling Route

This tour is designed to take in the best of what the Tour de France has to offer. You'll be cycling some of the most epic cols that have been pedalled by the Tour de France (for the uninitiated, a col is the lowest point of a ridge or saddle between two peaks, typically providing a pass from one side of a mountain range to another).
Take on some of the most iconic cols cycled through the Tour de France and of course the 21 hair pin ride on the final day that sets many hearts racing and will definitely end the tour, making you feel as thought you have accomplished something epic. This tour is designed to take in the best of what the Tour de France has to offer, whilst being away from the main Tour de France race and crowds, allowing you the time and freedom to experience the iconic race stages, at your own (or with support from Brendan and your fellow riders) pace. 
While the main attraction of this trip is to be able to cycle the cols of the Tour de France, there's also the stunning alpine landscape. Spectacular waterfalls in the Tinee Valley, the viewpoint at Super Sauze, the beautiful mountains of the Hautes Alpes. Rest breaks have never looked better.
One of the descents on the TDF 2018 trip
It doesn't end there - of course, you need to experience the 21 hairpin ride on the final day from Bourg d'Oisans that sets many hearts racing. This will make you feel as though you have accomplished something epic and you'll probably be seeking a yellow jersey by the finish. 
Note that this tour is separate from the actual Tour de France race and crowds, allowing you the time and freedom to experience the iconic race stages, at your own (or coach Brendan's) pace. 
Riding the Cols

Cycling Leader

This tour has been lovingly created by Brendan Erskine, a former professional triathlete (and passionate Tour de France enthusiast) from New Zealand. 
Brendan on Col du Glandon Tour de France Cycle Group 2018 Brendan Erskine
After successfully competing in the sport of rowing, Brendan carried on with a variety of endurance sports, beginning with cycling and multisport before moving into triathlon. In triathlon competitions, he has had many podiums and age group wins. 
These days Brendan is a personal coach with a diverse background of excellence in Sport Coaching and Competing. Brendan has had great success supporting his clients through to their own achievements both at the National and International level.

It's not Brendan's first time running this tour. His previous trips have been an incredible success, with every member absolutely enjoying the adventure, the challenge and the camaraderie built over the 8 day tour in an environment that is surely the mecca of cycling.
Happy cyclist faces after making it to the top of the Col

Brendan is also the father of three boys that keep him on his toes, and despite being in his naughty 40s, he can still beat many of the top youngsters in his field. Brendan's passion for cycling and desire to discover new and interesting places make him a great host for this cycle challenge.

He is looking forward to being on this adventure with you and sharing what makes people so excited about the majestic mountain stages of the Tour de France.
There is also a bilingual local guide who will drive the support vehicle and run the day to day organisation.
Quiet roads on the Tour de France Cycle

Tour Grading

According to UTracks' honest trip grading system, this trip is graded as 'moderate to challenging'. The trip involves 6 days cycling between 50 and 80km / 31 and 50mi per day. In and out of the cities there will be some traffic. You need only carry your camera/rain gear and water bottle. Your luggage is transported for you between hotels/inns. Due to the long distances cycled you will need a good level of fitness to enjoy this tour.
Fully supported tour with a back up vehicle, so you are never fully alone on this challenge.

More Information

For more tour information, visit the trip page here.
Are you going to live out your cycling dreams on this tour? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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