On flicking through outdoor activity magazines, you’ll see plenty of photographs of fit-looking intrepid types posing on rugged, windswept mountain peaks wearing plenty of layers. Is this you? Do you wish you were here? Or do you long to get away to kinder climates?
Do you fit fairly neatly into one of the following groups?
THE INTREPIDS, striding through winter landscapes, dealing with biting winds and snow-capped hills in full weather-defying gear, and feeling invigorated as you finally reach a cosy country pub for a well-earned lunch.
How about England’s rugged and beautiful South Pennines? They’ve had quite a bit of a snow-dusting already this winter, although this pic taken on Corn Du was taken in summer.
WARM WEATHER WALKERS, escaping to warmer climes when winter bites at home, exploring in t-shirt, shorts, sunhat and sun-cream under a blue sky, sweating as they gain the heights, then
relaxing on a beach as the sun goes down.
There’s a whole lot of destinations within a 4-6 hour flight from northern Europe; Tenerife is ideal for pretty reliable gentle temperatures with several sunny hours per day.
For lots of walking destination ideas and inspiration, take a look HERE.
Of course, you might well have a boot in each camp so to speak, getting the best of all walking worlds. It would be great to know your opinions.
Madeira – a firm favourite
Madeira is beautifully green and floriferous but sometimes the necessary abundant rainfall (or in high summer, forest fires) lead to temporary walking route closures. Thankfully, the island authorities are quick to pinpoint problem sections and repair them. In any case, there are so many great walks that you’ll always find plenty to choose from anytime that you visit.
Have a look HERE for walking information and suggested walking guidebooks and detailed walking maps.
At the time of writing, the official PR walking routes currently affected by temporary closures are:
PR12 – Caminho Real da Encumeada
PR14 – Levada dos Cedros
PR16 – Levada Fajã do Rodrigues
PR17 – Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal
PR19 – Caminho Real do Paul do Mar
Go to the official pages for up-to-date information regarding route closures.
Going to Madeira? Hop to Porto Santo
If you’re going to Madeira, why not take a day or two take a look at little sister island Porto Santo?
Walkers can try the two official PR walking routes, PS PR1 – Vereda do Pico Branco e Terra Chã and the PS PR2 – Vereda do Pico Castelo
The ferry from Funchal, Madeira to Porto Santo takes about 2 hours 15 minutes. Please check the freey information website for departure times and note that in early January each year ferries are often out of service for regular maintenance. Ferry information HERE.
Porto Santo Nature Trail Event 03/04 March 2018
This event is the 5th stage of the “Circuit Trail Madeira 2017/2018”. As you can see, the adult routes look pretty challenging – though you do have until March 2018 to get into shape!
- Porto Santo Nature Trail (PSNT) – 42.3 km and 1926m climb (circular format);
- Trail do Porto Santo (TPS) – 21.9 km and 107m climb (linear format);
- Mini Trail do Porto Santo (MTPS) – 8.9 km and 395m climb (linear format);
There’s also a children’s event:
Kids Trail do Porto Santo (KTPS) between 1 km and 3 km (linear format).
You might also find this post useful for getting out and about on Madeira.
La Gomera is a remarkable, almost circular island, a hop away from Tenerife, (Canary Islands) which rises like a giant cake to central forest-cloaked rugged heights, cut by barrancos (ravines) running to the sea. The island is still largely unspoiled which makes it a wonderful destination for hikers and bikers, though getting around takes time as there are few roads. If you don’t wish to get too energetic, simply amble about, dropping into cafés and fish restaurants and breathing in the pure air and beautiful views, enjoying the contrast between this quiet island and its busier big sister Tenerife.
This makes the introduction of not just one but two new sets of ferry services opening up some of the island’s best coastal towns really interesting. You could, for example, take the new car ferry Volcán de Teno from Tenerife’s Los Cristianos at 08.45 and be in Valle Gray Rey 90 minutes later, making a day out in this wonderful ‘Great King’s Valley’ feasible, heading back to Tenerife on the 16.30.
For all the details and to make a booking, see Naviera Armas website.
It’s around five years since three of La Gomera’s most interesting and important coastal towns were linked by ferry services.
Now Fred Olsen has begun 3 services per day (becoming known as the ‘interior ferry line’), linking San Sebastián, Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey, aboard the Benchi Express. If you’re starting from Tenerife you can do the first ferry hop from Los Cristianos. The Benchi can take bicycles, light motorbikes and pets! It also has a small cafeteria and is wheelchair accessible.
For details of the Fred Olsen services, look HERE.
If you’re starting from Tenerife you can do the first ferry hop from Los Cristianos. The Benchi can take bicycles, light motorbikes and pets! It also has a small cafeteria and is wheelchair accessible. Take a look at their website for all the details and to book.
MAPS AND WALKING GUIDE BOOKS FOR LA GOMERA
For information about large-scale maps, digital mapping information and walking guidebooks, take a look HERE.
With approximately 6000 Greek islands and islets to choose from, why Corfu?
Well, it’s a lush green island with white beaches and azure seas, diverse landscapes and a long history, offering lovers of nature, Greek culture and
water sports alike an unforgettable experience.
The coastline provides many ‘wow’ moments, with plunging cliffs, picture-postcard bays and inlets and impossibly blue seas.
Corfu has an enduring relationship with the sea, each sheltered inlet and harbour home to fishing boats or pleasure craft.
You’ll find plenty of choices on offer if you want a trip around Corfu’s dramatic coastline, best viewd from the water.
Of course, there are wonderful seafood restaurants, many modestly priced especially away from the resorts.
The mountainous north rolls down towards the south, cypress forests cloaking the hillsides while ancient olive groves and fruit orchards thrive at their feet.
There are walking trails and paths, with the icing on the cake being the Corfu Trail which you can choose to do in part or tackle the whole thing.
There’s a sprinkle of ancient, sleepy villages resonating with the island’s long history. If you’re driving yourself through in a hire car, prepare to breathe in!
Back in June 2016 we posted ‘Corfu – An Island In Need Of A Good Map’. Good news – here it is!
Find the best beaches and places of interest. Follow the Corfu Trail in whole or part). IF you plan to drive, this is the most up-to-date map showing all roads and junctions.
Corfu – once visited, never forgotten.
Hop From Tenerife to La Gomera
There’s no doubt that Tenerife is one of the most popular island destinations, easily reached in around 5 hours from much of Europe and enticing with sunny skies, warm temperature, beaches and mountains and (if you want it) plenty of nightlife.
If you fancy a complete contrast, sample a day on the island of La Gomera, so close to Tenerife yet oh! so different – rugged, shaped like a well-risen circular cake topped by ancient laurel forests and with mighty ravines slicing down to the sea.
It’s laid back, offering astounding views and walks, little tipico cafés and restaurants, flamboyant plant life and stunning geology. Oh, and it has beaches.
Frequent ferries mean you can be there in under an hour from Los Cristianos, Tenerife, landing in Gomera’s capital San Sebastián, where public buses await in the harbour to take you onward. Car hire ofices and taxis are located here too.
Journey time: The fastest crossing from Tenerife to La Gomera goes via the harbours Los Cristianos de Tenerife to San Sebastián de La Gomera. The Benchijigua Express Ferry covers this distance in about 50 minutes. Other (slower) ferry services are offered by Naviera Armas. Pre-booking is essentail.
What to do? In one day, you’ll need to be selective. Take a look at these Trip Advisor suggestions.
If you are one of the many who found a Garmin GPS in their Christmas stocking, this post is for you.
Get your hands on a free sample ‘real-time’ map and see your Garmin come to life. You can choose a sample map of Graciosa ( off Lanzarote, Canary Islands) or Sierra de Aracena (Andalucia, Spain).
What you’ll get is a highly detailed real-time Tour & Trail digital download map, which you can save on your hard drive, transfer to your Garmin GPS CustomMap memory or onto a micro-SD card; you can also use the maps in Garmin Basecamp and Google Earth.
Alpujarras (Sierra Nevada, Andalucia, southern Spain)
Costa Blanca Mountains (Alicante, southern Spain)
Axarquia (Andalucia, southern Spain)
Sierra de Aracena (Helva province, southern Spain)
Madeira! What a great desination, especially at this time of year.
Swapping the dark and cold of Northern Europe for Madeira’s green and spring-like mountains is a popular choice at this time of year.
If you are planning to walk there, it’s worth checking that the paths you’re planning on following are open. The best place to look for information is on the official ‘Visit Madeira’ tourism website. To see which routes are open or temporarily closed, LOOK HERE.
If you are already on the island, you can also ask in Tourist Offices who usually have up to date information on walks that are open/closed.
At the moment only three of the official routes are temporarily closed. The authorities are vigilant and usually restore routes quickly; often, the problem is a landslip after heavy rain.
The three routes to avoid at the time of writing this are:
PR1 – Vereda do Areeiro
PR12 – Caminho Real da Encumeada
PR19 – Caminho Real do Paul do Mar
There’s so much great walking on Madeira that you’ll find plenty to tempt you, from strolls to all-day high altitude challenges. Even if you aren’t keen to do much walking, it’s a great idea to use the local buses which give you brilliant (sometimes a bit hairy!) adventures around the island for pocket-money prices.
There’s a great bus map available, also really useful as a driving map; LOOK HERE for details of the Madeira Bus & Touring Map.
For more information including details our two Madeira Walks guidebooks Madeira Tour & Trail Map and digital mapping for Madeira, take a look at Discovery Walking Guides; Madeira pages.
Residents on the Island of Lanzarote tell us that more visitors than usual have been enjoying the great outdoors on this unique island during November and December this year. The dramatic volcanic landscape is unforgettable, though is usually desert-dry with little natural green to see.
It doesn’t rain much (or often) on this arid Canary Island, so recent falls have been most welcome, bringing colour and plant life back to otherwise arid areas.
What a great time to visit! Warm days and sunshine (average of six hours per day in December, even more in January), plus the chance to see the colourful green swathes and flower carpets that happen for only a few weeks each year. Walk, hire a bike or car, or jump on a bus.
There’s plenty of interesting information about the island on the Lanzarote Information website; use the link below.
For more on this fascinating and often surprising island, including printed and digital mapping and walking information, take a look here:-
One of the great things about Tenerife is that you can enjoy the snow-capped peaks in the morning and have time to watch the sun go down from a warm, sunny beach that same day.
If you like lively resorts, Tenerife has them; if you prefer quiet settlements and small towns, you’ll find plenty of choice also.
The bus service on the island is pretty good. If you have to drive while back in your ‘real life’, it’ll be so relaxing to discover Tenerife by bus.
If you want to drive, there are car hire companies galore.
And the walking – it’s varied and surprising. If you fancy country strolls or want to scale the mighty Mount Teide (or anything in between), Tenerife will not disappoint you.
Tenerife’s south is drier than the north, mostly due to massive Mount Teide dominating the island’s centre and affecting the island’s micro-climates.
Teide stands above the vast volcanic peaks and plains of Las Cañadas. The easy way to get to this highest point on Spanish territory is via the exciting cable-car ride. On A clear day you’ll see for many kilometres with fine views of some of the other Canary Islands.
The verdant north includes the capital of Santa Cruz, home to some fine old buildings and modern shopping. One of the original resorts, Puerto de la Cruz, sits on the north coast with plenty to
occupy visitors. Further west along the coast lies the ancient settlement of Garachico. It’s a fascinating old town with an unusual black natural rock-pool coastal area and a swathe of petrified lava remaining from Mount Teide’s eruption in 1706.
To the north-east is the wild area of Anaga, a walker’s delight.
Dramatic and extreme geology on the west coast makes for plenty of ‘wow’ factor. The tiny settlement of Masca has to be seen to be believed though only drive yourself there (and back) if you have nerves of steel and no fear of narrow, winding mountain roads.
Los Gigantes is farther down the west coast, a larger and more modern settlement with a huge vertical set of cliffs plunging seawards with a narrow beach at their feet.
Inland from the west coast are walking paths and small settlements far from the tourist crowds.
The sun-baked south of the island offers wide choices of accommodation, beaches, night-life, sports facilities and shopping. There are also some great walks in this region too. For more information about the island of Tenerife take a look at Discovery Walking Guides’ website
There’s a brand-new edition of the highly recommended Tenerife Hikers’ Maps, out now. Find out more by clicking HERE.
What do you need for an enjoyable walking holiday when winter closes in on the northern hemisphere?
RELIABLE WARMTH AND SUNSHINE
A 5 hour flight south (from the UK) gets you to the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. You can expect about six hours of sunshine per day (average) with highs of 20C in December though of course there are variations depending on the island and location.
Madeira is a bit closer and almost as sunny (around 5 hours) and almost as warm though the chance or rain is higher. That’s why Madeira is so green and floriferous!
A GOOD CHOICE OF HOTELS, NIGHT LIFE, SHOPS and RESTAURANTS
The Canary Islands and Madeira don’t really have a ‘closed’ season for tourism so you will find a wide range of accommodation, eating places, shops and night life. There are quieter, smaller places to stay if you want to get away from the ‘bright lights’.
EASY TO GET TO
There are plenty of flights all year round to the Canaries and to Madeira.
WHAT’S THE WALKING LIKE?
Each of the Canaries is unique, offering a wide choice of walks and challenging hikes. If you are looking for a pleasant stroll for an hour or two, a coastal discovery route or a full day in the mountains (or something inbetween), the Canaries are an ideal choice.
Madeira is rugged and steep, though the many levada walks (mostly level walks alongside narrow water canals) make it a walking destination with plenty of choice for all.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CANARY ISLANDS WALKING HERE:-
FOR MORE ABOUT WALKING ON THE GARDEN ISLE OF MADEIRA, LOOK HERE:-