Spring is the perfect season for a European walking holiday, as temperatures rise a little without being too hot, and nature starts coming back to life after the winter months. Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331133, www.ramblersholidays.co.uk)offer an excellent selection of spring breaks just right for getting out in the sunshine, ranging from walking in the fertile Andalucía foothills with its terraced gardens and white-washed houses to following the rocky trails along the Southern Italian Coast to a backdrop of invitingly azure bays.
Las Alpujarras: Best for spring mountain walks, sunshine and jamon
Clinging to the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada, the mountainous Las Alpujarras region makes an ideal walking destination in spring with warming temperatures melting the snow, bringing into blossom the many almond and cherry trees and awakening the poppies and other wild flowers in the deep, sheltered valleys that run down towards the Mediterranean. To a backdrop of stunningly rugged ranges including Spain’s highest still snow-capped mountain Mulhacen, sun-kissed spring days are spent traversing narrow stony trails and old mule paths through fertile terraced lands that were transformed by the Moors into a garden paradise of orchards, vines and olives over two centuries ago. Highlights include staying in Capileira - a tranquil whitewashed village with cobbled streets perched at some 1432m above the Poquiera Gorge, spectacular walks in and around the gorge, the ascent of the 2500m Peña Bon, relaxing in some of the highest sunshine hours in Spain and tucking into the local jamon – prized for being some of the best in Spain.
Ramblers Walking Holidays, tel: 01707 331133, www.ramblersholidays.co.uk offer a seven night tour to Las Alpujarras from £1125/person including half board accommodation with dinner in local restaurants, flights, transfers, all local transport and services of a tour leader. Departures in April, May and June. https://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/las-alpujarras
The Gargano Peninsula: Best for spring flora on the Southern Italian Coast
Rising like an island from the flat plains of the Tavoliere, the isolated Gargano Peninsula makes for a truly idyllic escape at any time of year. It is particularly lovely in spring after the winter rains have brought forth a profusion of flowers including over 80 species of orchids which thrive in the meadows. Designated a National Park, the peninsula has a remarkably diverse landscape with a mountainous forested heart descending through flower strewn meadows and clusters of aromatic Aleppo pines to a rocky coast dotted with invitingly azure bays and sandy beaches. Following weathered rocky paths trodden through the centuries by pilgrims heading for the ancient hill town of Monte Sant’Angelo, highlights include the opportunity to see 70% of all European varieties of orchid, a climb up Monte Sacro (350m) to the ruined 15th century abbey, delicious picnic lunches of olives, dried tomatoes, wild herb infused marinated artichokes, caciocavallo cheese, and focaccia and evenings spent in the fishing village of Vieste gazing out over the Adriatic ocean.
Ramblers Walking Holidays, tel: 01707 331133, www.ramblersholidays.co.uk offer a seven night The Gargano Peninsula tour from £1035/person including half board accommodation, flights, transfers, all local transport and services of a tour leader. Departures in April and May 2017. https://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/the-gargano-peninsula
Via Francigena; Best for a spring pilgrimage through beautiful Tuscan countryside
Following the way of the “Franks” and covering almost 80 kilometres through gently rolling Tuscan countryside, in spring this trail is spectacularly adorned with wild flowers making every step a heady pleasure. From the small hilltop medieval enclave of Gambassi Terme to the architecturally magnificent renaissance town of Siena, the route is set against a sweeping backdrop of a patchwork of fields rich in colour and aroma. Passing the ancient towns of San Miniato and San Gimignano - made wealthy by passing pilgrims, the walk is dotted with evidence of their travels from throughout the ages, revealing fascinating pockets of the region’s history. Coupled with partaking in the regional gastronomic delights - freshly grown and locally produced, any walking is more than well rewarded with delicious seasonal Tuscan fare throughout.
Ramblers Walking Holidays, tel: 01707 331133, www.ramblersholidays.co.uk offers a seven night Via Francigena tour from £1250/person including half board accommodation, flights, baggage transfers, all local transport and services of a tour leader. Departures in April 2017. https://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/via-francigena
Sarah Bolam: 07714 337756, Anthea Yabsley: 020 8578 6777, Judith Watson: 020 7372 7732
Tony Maniscalco: 01707 386755
Ramblers Walking Holidays is one of two new holiday brands from RWH Travel (formerly known as Ramblers Worldwide Holidays), the experts in guided walking adventures. They celebrated their 70th Anniversary last year, with the launch of two new programmes, other brands within the group include the newly launched Chapters Experience Holidays – memorable experiential holidays around the world; Adagio Holidays – leisurely walking and cultural holidays at a gentle pace; Load Off Your Back – a self-guided UK walking programme and Cruise and Walk – Walking Holidays in association with Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines.
For its walking holidays the company is the proud holder of Which? Recommended Provider status – ie companies which are highly rated by Which? Members and reach the exacting standards of Which? Researchers.
*Each of the Ramblers Walking Holidays has been graded to help clients choose their preferred pace, with categories ranging from Grade 1-3/Leisurely (usually two hours walking); to Grade 4-6/Moderate (a combination of full and half day walks); and Grade 7-9/Challenging (full day walks where stamina is key).
To help clients choose the type of walking holiday that will appeal to their interest, Ramblers Walking Holidays also uses symbols that depict the main interest on the walks. Categories include:Pioneer; Continuous Walks; Flora & Walking Holidays; Bird Watching & Walking; Lifestyle, Culture & Natural History; Hutting; Rail & Walk; Sightseeing.
The company’s mission is to generate funds for walking charities by the provision of outstanding outdoor activity holidays worldwide.
With its not-for-profit philosophy, the company contributes monies to the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust which supports walking related and environmental projects in the UK. The company also funds Heart & Sole - an initiative managed by company staff, with the aim of reaching into the heart of the communities visited both in the UK and overseas.
RWH Travel also runs The Walking Partnership - an initiative which champions walking at the 'grass roots' level by providing funding and support to walking groups and clubs throughout the UK.
Ramblers Walking Holidays is the Walking Holiday Partner of the Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity which drove the recent Big Pathwatch project, and has been pioneering and championing walking and ‘rights of way’ for over 70 years across England, Scotland and Wales.
Customers travelling on all holidays operated by RWH Travel are fully protected via the company’s membership of ABTA & ATOL.RWH Travel is also a member of AITO.