April 10, 2014 | On Foot Holidays
April, May and June rank among the very best months to enjoy a walking holiday in Europe. Temperatures are pleasant and rainfall generally low; the countryside, warmed by spring sunshine, comes alive with fresh greenery and delicate flora, and birdsong fills the air.
Walking-holiday specialist On Foot Holidays has picked out three favourite self-guided trips that are especially enjoyable at this time of year: Andalucia, a nature-lovers’ paradise, Slovenia for softies, and the Ligurian Hills for seasoned walkers keen to blow away the winter cobwebs.
Best for nature lovers… ANDALUCIA, SPAIN
A seven-night, self-guided Andalucia walk offers glorious hillside hiking in the rugged Grazalema National Park, a UNESCO biosphere reserve near Cadíz, taking in the region’s fabled White Villages along the way and ending in the Moorish citadel of Ronda. The region is a haven for birds and wildlife, boasting one of Europe’s largest expanses of cork-oak forest, along with olive and almond groves. In springtime, walkers can expect to see an abundance of flora and fauna in the meadows, mountain pastures and lush river valleys, from honeysuckle and iris to wild peony and periwinkles, and from ibex and deer to eagles and griffon vultures.
The self-guided trip costs from £645 pp (two sharing) including B&B, one evening meal, five picnics, luggage transfers between hotels and route information. Walking, from four and a half to six hours per day, is classified as medium to hard. Flights extra.
Best for beginners… KARST, SLOVENIA
Late spring, with its profusion of wild flowers and butterflies, is an ideal time to walk in the gentle Slovenian countryside. The eight-night Slovenia itinerary, perfect for those who want to take it a little easy, includes three to five hours’ hiking per day. Each day’s walk covers between eight and fifteen kilometres; some can be shortened if preferred, by hitching a ride with the luggage. Begin in Slovenia’s pretty capital, Ljubljana, head west into the Karst, an area of woodland hills, meadows, vineyards and traditional villages, all with a spectacular mountain backdrop, and end in the vibrant Italian seaport of Trieste. After the first night in the city, stay on working farms, tuck into delicious home-cooked fare such as venison medallions, rabbit stew and honey ice-cream, and sample an array of local specialities including wine, hams, herbs, olive oil and fruit.
The self-guided trip costs from £725 pp (two sharing) including B&B, five evening meals, six picnics, route information and luggage transfers between accommodation. Walking is classified as easy. Flights extra.
Best for experienced walkers… LIGURIAN HILLS, ITALY
Perfect for seasoned walkers, the Ligurian Hills itinerary is a testing, self-guided hike with spectacular views that also offers the chance to experience warm local hospitality and culinary traditions. Follow the old “Via del Sale” (Salt Road), starting in the Po Valley, through the vineyards and meadows of the Oltrepo Pavese region, nicknamed Little Tuscany, then travel across the foothills of the Ligurian Apennines, which tumble down to the Mediterranean, ending in the charming fishing port of Camogli on the Italian Riviera. The first two days’ walking through vineyards and woods are a warm-up for the challenges ahead: a swift climb to over 1,000m, followed by four days of high ridge walking at the scene of Hannibal’s march on Rome in 218 BC. This itinerary is best enjoyed in late spring, after the snow has melted from the hills.
The self-guided, eight-night trip costs from £895 pp (two sharing) including B&B, five evening meals, six picnics, route information and luggage transfers between hotels. Flights extra. Walking, from four to eight hours per day, is classified as medium to hard.
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).
ENDS – 7 April 2014
Note to editors: On Foot Holidays features predominantly linear, self-guided walking holidays in France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Germany, Slovenia and the UK’s south-west. Each walk 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.
The emphasis is very much on good food and wine after a day’s walking.
On Foot Holidays is a member of AITO (the Association of Independent Tour Operators).