November 29, 2015 | On Foot Holidays
On Foot Holidays has introduced Bulgaria and the Basque Country to its unique, flexible programme of European walking holidays.
For the first time, the independent walking specialist will offer a guided route in Bulgaria, venturing into the majestic Rila Mountains through wonderfully wild and remote terrain, with a final descent through tranquil meadows and cool beech forests to the spectacular UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery.
Escorted by local resident, environmentalist and keen hiker, Milena, the walk is offered to private groups of four to six people and ascends Mount Musala (2,925m), the highest peak in the Balkans, with a little help from the lift system! The route also includes a dramatic, steep trail from the scenic foothills to the high pastures around Maliovitsa, another peak, offering uninterrupted views of glistening lakes, wild flowers and horses.
As with all On Foot trips, the accommodation is characterful and friendly, and ranges from an archetypal mountain refuge where ‘international bonhomie takes precedence over sleep’, according to MD Simon Scutt, to a family-run guesthouse, with a restaurant offering wonderful local trout dishes.
The six-night, fully guided Bulgaria trip costs from £545 pp (minimum four sharing) including B&B, five evening meals, five picnics and airport and luggage transfers. Maximum group size is six. Graded hard.
The second, brand-new route journeys from the north of Castille to Bilbao along lofty ridgeways. From the ‘real’ Spain – vast, dry, formal – to the micro-region known as the Basque Country, this rewarding self-guided itinerary ventures into the ordered drama of the hill country that characterises Euskadi.
Begin with typical Castillian hospitality at the comfortable Posada Real el Prado Major in pretty Quintanilla del Rebollar, before an intriguing amble around the historic town of Espinosa de los Monteros with its decorated mansions. The following day, head for the hills, to the high ridges that will lead the walk to its conclusion in Bilbao. The walk offers wonderful panoramic views, sometimes reaching as far as the sea, with overnight stays in tiny valley villages, all different and charming in their own Basque and Cantabrian way. The descent into Bilbao from the hills above, with the city laid out before you, creates a real sense of arrival. And of course tapas bars, haute cuisine and the Guggenheim all await.
The seven-night, self-guided Basque Country walk costs from £650 pp (two sharing) including B&B, six evening meals, four picnic lunches, route information, airport and all luggage transfers. Graded hard.
A new guide service allowing novice walkers, or those with rusty navigation skills, the chance to be escorted by a guide on the first few days of their walking itinerary has also been introduced. Local route advisers accompany walkers, assisting with map-reading and route notes, and bringing alive the history, botany and culture of the destination along the way. The service is available on the Portugal, Alpes Maritimes, South-West England, Cotes-du-Rhone, Andalucía, Priorat and Dolomites routes. It is also possible to arrange a guide for the whole week in Andalucía, the Dolomites and Priorat.
Each and every one of On Foot’s walks has been designed by a Route Adviser – a person who lives locally and has painstakingly developed an itinerary through varied countryside, packing in as much culture as possible en route and seeking out the most welcoming small hotels, farmhouses and village rooms. There is usually a strong emphasis on good food and wine after a day’s walking, and luggage is transferred between each stop. Every trip has been tested by Director, Simon Scutt, and at least one other member of his team. Flights are excluded.
For further information, for expert advice from someone who’s walked the route, and to book, call On Foot Holidays on 01722 322 652 (www.onfootholidays.co.uk).