The Azores Islands – good to visit now!
The Azores (a region of Portugal) are a group of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, offering a gentle climate and unforgettable landscapes. If you are a walker or simply a visitor who wants to drink in the sights, these unique islands will not disappoint.
The islands are divided into three groups:-
The Eastern Group (Grupo Oriental) of São Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas Islets
The Central Group (Grupo Central) of Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial
The Western Group (Grupo Ocidental) of Flores and Corvo.
For mountain lovers, you’ll find Mount Pico, on the island of Pico, the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m There are many other impressive peaks to be discovered.
There’s a wealth of walking trails to be followed, enhanced by wonderful views and flourishing unique endemic plant life.
The largest of the islands is São Miguel, where ancient laurel forests and a wealth of endemic flora thrive. The landscape on all the islands is rugged, with extreme peaks; lakes hide in volcanic craters and hot springs confirm the islands’ volcanic geology.
Tempted to visit? Before you go, why not plan your adventures. You will need a detailed, up to date map. If you want to do any walking on the islands, you need a map that clearly shows the walking trails.
We recommend Azores Tour & Trail Map from Discovery Walking Guides. ISBN 9781782750857
Yorkshire 3 Peaks – Up For a Challenge?
It’s no surprise that tackling challenge routes has become more and more popular. The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge is deservedly one of the most walked. The usual Challenge starting points are the Pen Y Ghent Cafe (Horton), Station Inn (Ribblehead) and the Hill Inn (Chapel-le-Dale), in the Pennines of Northern England.
The distance of approximately 39.2km (24.5 miles) takes about 12 hours to walk, though this of course depends on factors such as fitness, conditions and how much you want to push yourself. It’s a good idea to tackle the challenge in the summer months; June has the longest daylight hours.
You need a good, large scale, clear map and this new one is the best there is. OSlike mapping at a large25k scale with plenty of additional information including getting to the walk locations and deciding where to start with clearly marked routes and waypoints. There are descriptions of each stage of the challenge, so you know what to expect. It’s printed on lightweight yet tough, waterproof material which canbe re-folded as many times as you like. For more detail see HERE.
Rhodes – beaches, history and walking
At the time of writing, travel restrictions to Greece have disappeared, making it easy to visit. If you are into islands, sunshine, great beaches, ancient history, beautiful countryside and flora, and white villages clinging to hillsides, you’ll be in seventh heaven.
The best way to experience this island (79.7 km x 38 km) is to walk. There are so many lovely trails, some ideal for a short relaxed stroll, others ideal for a half day or full day out.
Spring is the best time to visit Rhodes, especially if you plan to walk. The island is green and the temperatures perfect.
Your adventures on Rhodes will be most rewarding with the aid of a really good map for planning your walks. Discovery Walking Guides’ Rhodes Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map is clear, up to date and highly detailed.
Perhaps you’ve never considered the island of Rhodes for a walking holiday destination, so you might be surprised to know that there are almost one hundred (actually, 98) walking routes, with descriptions and a map for each walk, in the Rhodes Compendium of Walking Adventures.
The Rhodes Compendium of Walking Adventures is available as a digital edition which means you can carry it with you on your phone to guide you when you’re out and about on the island.
El Hierro? Where’s That?
El Hierro is small, unique and unforgettable. It’s the most westerly of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, for centuries thought to be the westernmost point of the known world – until Columbus went further west to the Americas. He stopped off here to gather supplies before making his second voyage to the Americas.
El Hierro’s Punta de Orchilla was the original prime meridian of 0º established by Egyptian astronomer, mathematician and scientist Ptolemy (born c. 100 ce—died c. 170 ce). It remained earth’s prime meridian for over 200 years until 1884 when an international conference voted to move it to Greenwich, England.
El Hierro has only around 10,000 inhabitants and modest numbers of visitors. It’s small but offers a wide variety of landscapes from rocky cliffs to green meadows, hamlets and farms to ancient gnarled forests. You can hire a car, walk, bike or hire a taxista or explore by public bus at pocket-money prices. For all the travel information once you’re on the island see http://www.transhierro.com/
If you have already travelled to Tenerife you can either fly to the tiny capital of Valverde in 40 minutes, or ferry in about 2-3 hours. There are also flights from Gran Canaria (approx. 55 minutes).
El Hierro may be a small island, yet it has developed its own character and cuisine. They make excellent cheeses, wines and local specialties.
The island is in the forefront of using renewable energy sources. obtained from inexhaustible natural resources such as wind or waterfalls. A combination of hydro and wind energy at the Gorona del Viento Power Plant supplies a sizeable proportion of the island’s energy needs.
There’s a good website with plenty of useful and inspiring information:
If you’re tempted to visit, we suggest a really detailed and up to date map from Discovery Walking Guides
Ready For Some Tenerife Sunshine?
Cold enough for you yet? Are you already tired of the short, dark winter days? How about Tenerife? About four and a half hours’ flight from the UK and western Europe could see you in the picture; big, impossibly blue skies, clear seas and everything from beaches, shopping, walking and snow-capped mountains (including Mount Teide, Spain’s highest point).
Typical temperatures in winter reach the low 20s centigrade, with an average of 6 hours of wonderful sunshine a day. Hike the trails, climb a mountain, laze around a pool or relax with a cerveza watching the sun slip into the dark blue Atlantic.
Leave the coastal resorts behind and explore the small towns, villages and hamlets. Car hire is good value, or use the local buses for a more relaxing adventure.
It’s well worth taking a good guidebook, detailed walking map and a bus map with you to get the most value and fun out of your adventures. See HERE for more information.
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival
This wonderful festival had to be cancelled in 2020. The 2021 date was postponed – and now, the Isle of Wight Walking Festival is back! Held later than usual (from 09 October to 22 October 2021) it should make for an interesting experience for walkers. If you’ve been before, when the festival has typically been held in May, then you’ll enjoy your favourite walks and views in the glow of autumn colours this year.
Find all the information you need on the official website HERE.
Make sure you get the most out of your visit with a really good walking map. This one from Discovery Walking Guides is ideal; large scale, clear and waterproof tto. All routes are clearly marked and easy to follow. See the details HERE.
Malta, Gozo (and Comino) get the green light!
Great news! Last night (24 June 2021) the UK Government moved Malta to the green list for travellers from England. You’re free to go! Malta and sister island Gozo offer a wealth of experiences. The tiny limestone islet & bird sanctuary of Comino sits between them and is home to Blue Lagoon bay; there’s also a 17th century tower & chapel. The climate is kind and there’s plenty of walking adventures to explore.
The islands are rich in history (there are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites), having been inhabited since around 5900 BC.
Many of the powers that ruled the islands, from the Phoenicians to the British, have left their marks, making the islands a living museum.
With unique flora, architecture and beaches, a visit to the islands (25 minutes ferry connection between Malta and Gozo) offers plenty to interest and fascinate.
Discovery Walking Guides have published their Malta & Gozo Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map, ideal for walkers, bikers, adventurers and visitors. The map is also available for use on some GPS devices; click here for details.
Madeira – good to go from May 17 2021!
It’s been a long wait but at last, people may travel from England to green-list Portugal from May 17. This includes the beautiful island of Madeira (and its little sister Porto Santo).
Here’s the link to the British government’s official website detailing coutries on each of the lists and what this means for English travellers.
Madeira is a classic destination for keen walkers, though you don’t need to be an expert. There are plenty of lovely strolls as well as high end challenges for experts, with a wealth of variety in between. Or, why not explore by bus, a pocket-money way to experience the island. For plenty more information on discovering Madeira, take a look HERE.
There’s useful information for visitors to the Garden Island of Madeira regarding arriving on the island and the safety measures that are in place HERE.
Late Spring and early Summer are perfect times to visit Madeira. The rugged terrain is graced with an abundance of native trees and unique endemic flowers, easily enjoyed on many of the levada walks which also lead you into Madeira’s heart from village to hamlet.
Our thanks go to walking researcher and author-in residence, Shirley Whitehead, for her beautiful photos of Madeira.
Majestic Barranco de Masca (Tenerife) Reopens!
27 March is the long awaited date for the re-opening of this majestic and challenging barranco (ravine) walk on Tenerife’s north-west coast.
However, the option of doing only the downhill walk from Masca village to the beach and hopping on a boat to get back to civilisation is not (for now) available as the jetty isn’t yet refurbished. This means you need to be fit enough to walk it both ways and this is challenging for many.
To walk the ravine, Masca can be accessed in public transport from Buenavista del Norte or from Santiago del Teide.
In order to access the ravine, pre-booking is advised at http://www.barrancodemasca.com.
You can also book at the Masca Visitors Center, although availability is not guaranteed for walking the ravine on the same day.
At the moment, entry is free, although in the future (presumably when all work is completed on the jetty), a fee of 8 euros (residents) and 16 euros (visitors) will be charged (Check the official website for the latest entry information.)
The ravine is not recommended for under 8 year olds.
Safety helmets must be worn.
Access will be in groups of 25 walkers, every half hour.
Opening hours of the ravine will be 8:00 to 18:00 in summer, and from 8:00 to 17:00 in winter (though for now, it will only be open weekends and holidays).
Three checkpoints have been established at the beginning, halfway point and on the beach.
Active tourism companies will be allocated 50 % of tickets. For more information and to book your place, go to the official website HERE.
Lockdown Blues? Get ready to travel.
So looking forward to travel!
With vaccinations well under way in many parts of the world, there’s real belief that travel restrictions will gradually ease in the next few months. We make no apology for offering the information about our free digital maps once again; last time we posted this information we were pleased and surprised at how many people enjoyed them and started planning ahead to travel.
We’d like to help you get planning. Where to next? Why not start by getting your hands on our Free Digital Maps.
Read all about it HERE.
There are free maps to 19 tempting walking destinations to check out, including :
La Gomera & El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Palma, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria
Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera
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