Have shoes, will travel

It’s hard to discuss travel at the moment without a slightly lonely whimpering sound emanating from your passport, but many people have taken this time to stop and smell the roses in their own backyard.

Whether it’s Australians spending time and much needed cash in the small country towns that were always within reach but slightly overlooked, the Scots travelling their own coastline by car, or Thais indulging in cut price deals to holiday destinations normally only affordable to overseas tourists, people around the World are spending more time and money on the things foreigners often come to see when they visit. Being a tourist at home can be truly emotionally empowering.

It’s like remembering that you have a really nice second cousin once removed on your mother’s side who lives down the road and popping in to see them one day. While you both laugh at that weird relative you share, you both ask yourselves why it’s taken so long to get in touch.

One of the most rewarding, and reasonable, ways to discover the wonders of your own land is to walk all over it.

Not only is walking, or hiking, cheap, it also slows down the pace enough to really appreciate what is on offer. Hidden gems like unexpectedly good coffee shops, interesting insects and spectacular views are just some of the many bonuses to a walking holiday. Add exercise and discovery to the mix and you will, again ask yourself why you don’t do this more often.

Every country has a number of amazing hiking trails, but here are some of our favourites. If you are lucky enough to be living in these particular places, make sure you check them out.

If you don’t but they sound like something you need to do, add them to the list of fun things to do when the World opens up again.

Réunion Island.

For a small Island, Réunion has a ridiculously overrepresented amount of natural beauty. The Réunion National Park covers 42% of this French enclave and holds 41 hiking and walking trails listed from easy to hard.

Everything you want on your walk is here. Waterfalls with cool bathing pools, spectacular flora, wild flowers of every colour and stunning forests along with exotic and colourful birds and fun, but non-deadly, wildlife.  Butterflies are renowned for their size, colour and variety here. All the paths are well marked and there are dozens of walking clubs that meet regularly with experienced guides.

If you are into something a little more hardcore, the park offers proper mountaineering as well. Réunion has some truly incredible mountains covered in lush green vegetation and the paths that cover them are quite suitable for all ages. Which is all very chic and very French.

For more information in English, take a look at this website as a starting place:   en.reunion.fr/organize/activities

Italy.

The Amalfi Coast’s Path of the Gods.

Most people already know about all the great food and wine and views the Amalfi Coast has to offer, but did you know you can actually walk a spectacular section of it? This particular walk, known in English as The Path of the Gods, is a rocky and dusty, but not difficult, journey that can be started at the town of Agerola – 2,000 ft above sea level-and followed as it gently meanders downhill to the town of Nocelle.

The Italian name of this trail-Sentiero degli Dei- is in reference to the views. The famously picturesque town of Positano, tucked into the curves of Mount Veroso becomes visible and on a clear day it is easy to see the island of Capri.  

How does it get better than this? Exercising at your own pace passing stunning crop laden gardens and vineyards overlooking some of the most stunning coastline in the world. Be warned though, April/ May and September/October are the best times of the year to take on this hike because in summer the path is HOT. In winter there are occasional land slips after rain, so always check with local authorities, but, whatever the weather, this is a brilliant hiking path and there is a glass of limoncello waiting for you at the end.

Spain

Mallorca – Deia to Valldemossa

This is quite a challenging hike, but the views are spectacular and the rewards outweigh any downsides. It is an 8 kilometre walk that can take over 5 hours, with some really huffy-puffy ups before the downs. You will need to pack plenty of water, and also get your permit to enter the park from valldemossa@procustodia.org first. So, what will you see?

Well for a start, part of this track is set amongst ancient forests, with very early evidence of human settlement – like ancient kilns- clearly visible. There is also the Archduke’s bridleway, an old cobbled path built by the Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator in the 1860s to ’70s.

Terraces of planted olive trees and forests of oak and stunning vistas of the coast make this one of the top trails in the Spain. To get there, buses service the start of the track and transport is available at the end. When you get weary, just think about the tapas and wine that awaits you…

Ireland

The Kerry Way.

The nice thing about walking through Ireland is that there is always a pub somewhere along the way to stop in for a nice cuppa or a pint. If you’re lucky, you may even find a good pie shop or a bakery that sells things smothered in clotted cream.

One of the most popular walks is the long-distance trail called The Kerry Way. The entire length of the walk takes between 8-10 days and completes a 214-kilometre circular track.

It is fully signposted and very well serviced, and you can actually book with companies that will carry your bags to the many B&Bs between the start and finish so that you just wander along, and have a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed and have a hearty breakfast before tackling the next bit. Of course, you can also decide just to cover a few kilometres and potter on home in the car. The countryside is spectacular.

There are mountains in Killarney and Kerry, but the path actually avoids them, so the going is suitable for all levels of fitness, depending on how hard you want to take it. Wild and green, this part of the World has a way of turning everyone Irish.

Hong Kong

The Dragon’s Back

Hong Kong is 51% National Park, not that you would know from most of the advertising. Hiking is an extremely popular past-time and events like the extreme charity event held on the 9 stage, 100-kilometre MacLehose Trail means that groups of people are always found walking all over the islands and in the new territories on any given weekend.

One of the most popular walking trails in the fabulously named Dragon’s Back Trail, which not only provides glorious views, but is actually a stone’s throw from the urban sprawl of one of the busiest cities in the world. Great for families and anyone with reasonable fitness, it starts on Victoria Peak, or The Peak, right in the heart of the action, but then quickly transports you into a magical place of singing birds, cooling breezes, open space and an absence of cares.

Looking up and out you will see the deep blue of the South China Sea, with lush islands in the distance, and some of the most popular beaches in Hong Kong. End at Shek O with a swim and a seafood meal, then grab a cab or a bus back to the big smoke.

The USA

Tahoe Rim Basin

This is a vast hiking trail that covers 274 kilometres in total. It is also rather high in parts, ranging from its lowest point of 1,900 metres, up to 3, 151 metres at its peak. This is a loop track that has been maintained since 1981, and you can actually carry a tent and camp along the trail to complete the circuit in about 11-15 days.

US Summer months, July until September, are the best months for hiking in this area. This track in not marked for use in the winter months as there are often wild winter storms, although it is open, if death defying hiking is your thing. The Tahoe Rim Trail takes walkers around the Lake Tahoe basin in the Sierra Nevada and Carson ranges of California and Nevada.

The amazing thing about this walk is that about half of the track is also available for those who wish to use their mountain bikes, and horse riding is also permitted.  Obviously, if your plan was simply for a half day walk, or less, there are small sections to be enjoyed, and many parts of the path are suitable for children or those with dicky knees. For more information including maps, contact www.tahoerimtrail.org

So, which one of these appeals to you? Have you walked any of these trails? Do you have a favourite we have missed? Let us know. Send us an emails with the best walking trail where you live and we will feature it in our travel section.

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