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.
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.
At last the Canary Islands are back on the British Government’s unrestricted travel list. The Canaries offer so much variety, each island unique and unforgettable, and with a warm, welcoming climate, the perfect choice as northern hemispheres feel the first shivers of winter.
Gran Canaria – the miniature continent, a roughly circular island of ravines and 60 kilometres of beaches, winding forest roads and criss-crossed with walking routes. Plenty to discover, day and night.
La Gomera, just west of Tenerife and easily reached via a short ferry crossing – plunging barrancos and soaring forest-topped mountains sprinkled with hamlets and farmsteads clinging to the slopes. Walk, bike, swim, explore – enjoy.
El Hierro, small, fascinating, the most remote and westerly Canary Island promises rugged terrain, narrow winding roads and great walking. A world-class marine reserve, free island-wide wifi and electric car charge ports contrast with the traditional feel of the island. Yet, there are very few tourists – for now.
Lanzarote – the Fire Island; volcanic, mysterious and mesmerising terrain, lava seas and alpine meadows. Other-worldly. Once visited, never forgotten.
Fuerteventura, known for beautiful beaches and great water sports, also offers a surprising variety of fascinating walking adventures. Wild coastlines contrast with traditional towns and views across pristine seas.
La Palma – La Isla Bonita; dramatic landscapes; a breathtaking mountain spine splits this volcanic island. Black beaches, Lush vegetation and 1080 kilometres of waymarked walking paths.
Tenerife – a Walker’s Island There’s so much to Tenerife. 2034 square kilometres offer coastal adventures, mountain hikes, pine and laurel forest trails, strolls and strenuous challenges including Spain’s highest peak (Mount Teide).The choice is almost endless.
Although many parts of the UK enjoyed some warm sunny September days, the switch seems to have suddenly flipped to full Autumn. Chilly, windy and rain that sets in for hours on end. Overseas travel is still tricky to plan, though Madeira remains one of the Government’s ‘green list’ destinations.
How does the weather in Madeira compare to London’s at this time of year? A quick check of BBC weather services for October 03 2020 has London’s temperature range as 10C – 15C, heavy rain, zero sun. Madeira should enjoy 19C to 25C, little chance of a shower and plenty of sunny intervals. Madeira gets plenty of rain too; look at those beautiful forests, trees and flowers. But the island’s sunshine and temperature figures look tempting as winter beckons.
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 plenty 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.
Thanks to author-researcher Shirley Whitehead for these beautiful photos of her home island.
There’s so much more to Spain’s Costa del Sol than sun, sea and sangria. Turn inland and you’re looking at the Axarquia, an unspoiled wildly beautiful and rugged area, waiting for you to explore it. Mountains, wooded hills and plunging gorges, dotted with small towns, tiny settlements and farmsteads give a sense of the true heart of this unique region.
Almond, olive, lemon and orange groves thrive in valleys fed by springs and from streams descending from the mountains, fertile land carved into terraces to maximise the best agricultural areas.
The best way to explore is on foot or by mountain bike. Let’s get started with this free sample circular walk, quite short and not too energetic.
You’ll also find information about using your device for accessing walks in the Axarquia as well as how to get your hands on the area’s most detailed guidebook and map. There’s also another free walk (pdf format) for you to download.
Some folk don’t mind the short, dark days of northern European winters. If you’re like me and you really DO mind them, how about hopping over to Tenerife? With temperatures to 23C and 6 hours of sunshine daily, it’s just the place to recharge your batteries. If you’re able to travel just before or just after the Christmas and New Year rush, you can get good value all-inclusive or full board deals that won’t cost much more than paying your home heating costs and food bills at home.
Ifyou tire of the sun and sea of the coastal resorts, you can visit the mountainous interior of Tenerife where there’s often snow in the winter months on the highest peaks, then go back down to the coast by sunset to warm up again.
Tenerife is a great destination for relaxing – and for hiking and biking too.
For more information and reasons to be on Tenerife this winter, take a look HERE.
The good news is that there are dozens of excellent walks of all types on this beautiful island. As the summer heat abates and the August visitors leave, it’s an ideal time for a walking holiday. Our resident researcher/author on the island, Shirley Whitehead, has just sent in the following important updates affecting a few routes; some changes are temporary while Shirley suggests alternative detours for some of the walks.
Volume One – Walk 9 – Monte – Bom Sucesso – Funchal
This trail is temporarily closed due to erosion of the pathways and levada following severe fire damage in 2016. Unlike most other water channels, this levada is privately owned and therefore repair work is not at the discretion of the authorities.
Volume Two – Walk 6l – Pico do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo (PR1 Vereda do Areeiro)
This route is shown as ‘Conditioned’ on the official Tourism website describing the trail as accessible along the whole length of the western footpath which passes through tunnels to arrive at Pico Ruivo. However, the route along the eastern part of the trail via Pico das Torres is temporarily closed. This situation has been apparent for some considerable time but our notes will be updated as and when the alternative route reopens.
Volume One and Volume Two – Walks 27 – 64 – 66
Due to the construction of a large reservoir on the Paúl da Serra plateau, scheduled for completion in 2020, the following walking routes are shown as amended or closed. Those affected are as follows:
Walk 27 – Levada do Paúl – Cristo Rei – Fatima Chapel, Rabaçal
This route is closed from Wp.7 where the channel crosses the regional road until it reaches the chapel of Nossa Senhora de Fátima and the Rabaçal car park on the ER105 at Wp.8.
As an alternative route, follow the notes until reaching the regional road at Wp.7 turning right for 300 metres to the junction with the ER105. Turning left from here, it’s around 1 kilometre to Wp.8 at the Rabaçal car park.
Note: the changes to the timings and distance from the original notes are negligible.
Walk 64 – Calheta Slopes – Levada da Rocha Vermelha – Levada Nova – Estrela da Calheta
This route is temporarily closed due to extensive construction work around Wp.3 where the trail becomes impassable in the area of the riverbed and Levada da Rocha Vermelha.
Walk 66 – Rabaçal: Ribeira Grande -Lajeado – Paúl da Serra
This walking trail is impassable beyond Wp. 10. As an alternative we suggest two options: (1) to follow the trail to Pico Rabaçal as a (linear out and back) or, (2) to head in an easterly direction from Wp.9 following the broad moorland path until it reaches the ER209. Turning right here, it is around 800 metres to the cross roads with the ER105 and turning right, passing the Jungle Rain Restaurant, the original trail can be picked up again from Wp.17 to return to the starting point. This alternative section is around 4.8 kms in total making the timings and distances with the original notes negligible.
For further information of closures and conditioned sections of the Officially Recommended Walking Routes go to www.visitmadeira.pt “Notice to Walkers”
Last weekend, the Sunday Times Travel called this ‘the forgotten corner of Spain’. Not forgotten by us! (read the Sunday Times article here though you will need to sign in (free) to read it).
We were intrigued by the Sierra de Aracena (Huelva), north-west of Seville, several years back while looking for lesser-known walking areas of Spain.
- It’s green, natural, not too rugged and with fascinating villages and small towns.
- There are inquisitive herds of pigs, wonderful flora and a laid-back air.
- Little rustic bars and restaurants serve local foods at pocket-money prices.
- There are castles and a sense of history, with the Moorish legacy clearly apparent.
- The walking isn’t too vigorous overall though many routes will whip up a healthy appetite for sampling those hearty home-made dishes.
If you’re intrigued, find out what to see, where to stay and what to do (other than walking): HERE’s a USEFUL LINK.
There are a few great walks alongside the Brisbane River. This morning we took a ‘down the cliff-face’ old path, then walked along the south bank.
There were a few others about, yet in a few hours’ time, this area will be packed with tens of thousands of New Year revellers watching the fireworks launched from huge barges in the centre of the river.
For now, it was an enjoyable walk, wildlife adorning the route here and there.
So, almost 2018. Wishing all a happy, healthy 2018.