Newsletter > Newsletter archive > May 2015

May 2015

A few good things about ridgeways
As the weather gets better getting up high becomes ever more appealing. There’s nothing quite like looking down on the countryside from the vantage point of a long ridge, with a clear straight track and a bit of a breeze to keep you cool.

The benefits of travelling along a ridge have been known for thousands of years. You can stay well above the spring line, so there are no rivers to cross, and on land through which a way can be easily cleared. Ridgeways are some of our oldest tracks and evidence of their use from ancient times can be found all round the country. As well as the practical advantages, these routes clearly meant much more to our ancestors, both spiritually and in the exercise of power and control. Our high ground is dotted with prehistoric burial mounds and stone monuments and, on the very best promontories, Bronze and Iron Age hillforts.

In this month’s chapter from our Pathways book we visit our best known and longest ridge path, the ‘Great Ridgeway’ running north east from Avebury towards East Anglia. On our walk every element of a good ridgeway comes together – the atmospheric burial chamber of Wayland’s Smithy, the impressive hillfort at Uffington Castle, the intriguing and very old Uffington White Horse, and even the mound on which St. George defeated the dragon (this last one may be a myth, of course). We hope it inspires you to tackle this walk, or indeed the whole Ridgeway trail, or perhaps to seek out a local hilly backbone to explore. Read the chapter

First aid bags in production
For those who pre-ordered a first aid bag from Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team a couple of months ago, we have an update. The team easily passed the need for 500 orders to have them made exactly as they wanted. In fact over 1700 bags have been ordered, most of them by other search and rescue teams who also wanted something rugged for carrying their essential life-saving equipment. The bags will be arriving in a few weeks, most likely in early July.

To cover a little bit of extra demand the team is taking delivery of a couple of hundred more, so the bags are still on sale at £6.50 each including p&p. The original design has been enhanced with some useful additions, including a couple of elastic holders inside for pens or a thermometer, and a transparent panel on the back for a name card. In fact, as a free extra there’ll be a fold out card with each bag with space for writing on and tips on first aid and rescue. If you would like to find out more and perhaps order one of these bags take a look at the Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team website.

Alpujarra walking holidays with writer Chris Stewart
“Walking the trails is an unforgettable experience” Stephen W., May 2015

As a walking holiday destination, the Alpujarra, south of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia, is unsurpassed. And who better to guide you than Chris Stewart, author of best-seller 'Driving Over Lemons'?  He’ll take you on his favourite walks, invite you to lunch at his farm (as featured in Rick Stein’s BBC series ‘Spain’), and entertain you with many stories about life in the Alpujarra.

Highlights of the holiday include day-long walks exploring the western Alpujarra, a hike in the high Sierras and a morning’s walk in the Moorish city of Granada plus an unforgettable degustaciĆ³n lunch. With comfortable accommodation at Casa Ana, a stylish guest house in the Trevelez valley, you’ll enjoy gourmet dinners with the region’s most celebrated chef, and local ham, cheese and wine tastings.

There are limited places available on the next holiday, 24th – 31st October. The price (from €1185) includes 7 nights B&B, picnics, lunches and dinners, wines, excursions, local transport and guides. For further details contact Anne Hunt at or visit the Casa Ana website.

Dual level guided walking holidays
Based in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, Hike Pyrenees offer dual level walking holidays in both the dramatic canyons of the Ordesa National Park and amongst the alpine meadows and peaks of the Valle de Tena.

There are two hikes offered each day - an easier and a more challenging route. Guests simply choose which walk they'd like to join and it's no problem to switch between the two options during the week. All hikes are led by qualified International Mountain Leaders who know the local area and its rich history, flora and fauna. The longer days reach some superb summits.

Hike Pyrenees local knowledge means they show you the best the area has to offer from the famous cliff top paths in Ordesa to the undiscovered quiet corners missed by most visitors.

Visit the Hike Pyrenees website to find out more or give them a call on +44 (0)208 123 5049.

Along the spine of Italy
Stretching from Liguria to Umbria, the rugged Apennines Mountains form Italy's spine and offer some of the country's best walking. On Inntravel's hotel-to-hotel walking holiday amid the Secret Apennines, you walk through the Alto Appennino Bolognese, which comprises towering peaks, wild deserted ridges, magical woodland and a vast array of flora and fauna. The green, wooded slopes gradually open out to provide scintillating views, and the all-round panorama from the top of Monte Belvedere is one of the very best. This is Italy off the tourist map, a delightfully little-known mountain region, famed as much for its tranquillity as for the welcome you receive along the way.

At the end of each day's walk, unassuming and amiable folk greet you at family-run, traditional inns where you instantly feel a sense of belonging. At the Hotel Montegrande in Vidiciatico, for example, the warm-hearted hospitality – not to mention the tasty regional cuisine and full-bodied wines – proffered by Bruno and Piera is something you'll never forget.

For more details on Inntravel's walking holidays in Italy, see or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.

The Secret Apennines
- Self-guided, hotel-to-hotel walking holiday
- Prices from £655pp, inc 7 nights' B&B accommodation, 6 dinners & 6 picnics, plus detailed route guides & maps

Charity events
You can join the Family Holiday Association for a guided walk at one of nine picturesque locations around Britain during Seaside Walk Week (23-31st May) and help to give families facing the worst of life’s challenges a much needed break. Perhaps an opportunity to enjoy time at the coast in good company and in a good cause.

This year's Walk for Whales takes place on Sunday 28 June. You can have a fun day while helping protect whales worldwide. There are 13 different locations to choose from including a brand new walk at Alton Towers, of all places. This year you get a free t-shirt to wear and top fundraisers will get some ‘fin-tastic’ prizes (terrible pun invented by the organisers and not by us, we hasten to add).

Like all such teams, Aberdeen Mountain Rescue is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They operate in the Cairngorms, Deeside and Donside.  Call outs cover anything from injured climbers, lost or injured walkers, skiers and mountain bikers to missing persons. It costs around £40K per year to keep the team operational and their biggest fund raiser is the annual sponsored walk. This year’s takes place on the Glen Tanar estate on Saturday 6th June, 2015. The route is approximately 23km and although not strenuous does require a level of fitness.

Digital downloads to come with OS paper maps
Over the next 12 months Ordnance Survey is to replace all 607 of its current paper map titles, starting from 10 June when the OS Explorer and Outdoor Leisure paper maps begin hitting retailers’ shelves. The Outdoor Leisure maps, which cover all of Britain’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, will come with an iOS and Android compatible download of the area covered by the map.

The downloaded map will allow users to follow walks on their smartphone or tablet devices, but only using Ordnance Survey’s own OS Maps Mobile app, which many will consider a restriction if they are already used to apps from the likes of Memory-Map or ViewRanger. There is also a desktop application for plotting and exporting route files on which the purchased map area should also be visible. On the mobile app all the map data is stored locally and and so will be available regardless of whether the device has mobile signal or not. To access the map download there will be a ‘scratch off’ panel on each paper map with a code allowing you to download the digital version of the map.

Park and ride in the Lakes
A new transport initiative is being launched to tempt visitors to use buses in the Lake District rather than their cars. An £18 ticket provides unlimited day journeys for up to five people and includes car parking in the key honeypot locations of Ambleside, Bowness, Coniston, Grasmere and Hawkshead. It would normally cost up to £29 for a group ticket and day’s parking, so it’s a reasonable reduction. The car parks are on regular bus routes, many served by the popular open-top 599 service, which does provide some fantastic views, if limited shelter from the weather!