Newsletter > Newsletter archive > February 2020

February 2020

Looking to the skies
This time of year can be great for going out at night and looking at the stars, so this month we're featuring our favourite star-gazing app. We are lucky enough to have a very dark sky right outside our house in Cumbria, with the Milky Way and thousands of stars and other objects easily visible. We do have a small telescope but not being great experts we find it easier and quicker to search the skies with a decent pair of binoculars.

To help with identifying objects we have tried a number of stargazing and astronomy apps over the years and have found many of the free ones to be rather too simple. They are great for finding the main constellations and the brightest stars, but it's almost as convenient to use a paper chart.

A few years ago we splashed out on the 'Plus' version of SkySafari, at around £14. It seems a lot for an app - although there is a free version to try first - but it's a one-off payment and it brings a vast library of images of deep sky objects which you can view as you zoom in. The 'Plus' version displays 2.5 million stars and over 30,000 deep sky objects, which is more than enough for us. There is a 'Pro' version which costs more and has even more in its library, but we have never felt the need to try it. You can compare the versions on the SkySafari website.

The app has lots of additional features, including compass support if your device has one, and the ability to go back and forward in time, should you feel the urge. Although it works perfectly well on a smartphone we have found it's a lot easier to orientate yourself and identify constellations and objects if you use it on a tablet.

Wildlife logging alternatives
Last month we mentioned the iNaturalist app for identifying plants and flowers and logging reports for scientific study. A couple of others have been suggested, both websites rather than apps so it may be best to file your report once home. Plant Identify is global with a Western European category, while iRecord focusses purely on the UK. The latter collates data from a variety of other wildlife bodies, apps and websites to build a picture of biodiversity across our isles.

Walk in Italy's secluded south
Escaping the crowds can often require a compromise - exchanging dazzling coastline for remote countryside, for instance, or historic treasures for traditional, low-key charms.
Not so in southern Puglia, where the Salento Peninsula - known to many as the 'heel' of Italy's 'boot' - maintains an authentic, rural charm at the same time as offering beautiful cities, mouthwatering cuisine and a cluster of pristine coves and hidden bays with far-reaching views across the coast.

Slow travel specialists, Inntravel, have launched a new, self-guided walking holiday in Salento this year, starting in the glorious Baroque city of Lecce and concluding on the peninsula's eastern flank, in the fortified port town of Otranto. Lecce is famous for its attractive squares and hugely decorative architecture, with the cathedral being a particular draw. However, Inntravel's first recommended route soon whisks its walkers away from the throng by means of a short train and taxi transfer to the sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca, sitting in splendid isolation at the very tip of the peninsula.

The following days are just as varied - follow quiet coastal trails, wander through dramatic gorges and cross the region's agricultural hinterland, where ancient olive groves far outweigh people, then seek out the imposing castle and impressive Norman cathedral of Otranto, whose mosaic floor is quite incredible. Although the walking is easy-going, and luggage is transported ahead, travellers will no doubt work up an appetite by the end of each day, which is fortunate - as Salento's delicious cuisine is just one of many reasons to visit this lovely and little-discovered region.

For more details on this or any of Inntravel's self-guided walking holidays in Italy, visit or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.

Pathways of Puglia
Self-guided hotel-to-hotel walking holiday
Prices from £855pp, inc 7 nights’ B&B accommodation, 2 dinners, 4 picnics, luggage transfers between hotels & detailed route notes
Flights extra (direct to Brindisi or Bari from several UK regional airports)
Available 1 April-30 June & 1 September-28 October 2020
Inntravel is a Which? Recommended Provider for Holiday Companies July 2019

Village to Village hiking in the high Pyrenees
Here's an opportunity to hike this summer in the stunning scenery of the high Pyrenees. On this spectacular self-guided itinerary you'll hike between traditional Pyrenean villages staying at lovely mountain hotels. Beautiful scenery that changes every day. There's a choice of an easy or hard route between each village with the longer options being quite strenuous hikes that get you high into the mountains to glacial tarns and cirques.

One day reaches the peak of Musales at 2654 metres. Hike Pyrenees transport your luggage each day meaning you just have to walk with a daypack. Detailed route directions and hiking maps provided as well as a a full information pack about the history and wildlife of the area. You stay in charming hotels with delicious meals in traditional Pyrenean villages with narrow winding streets and Romanesque churches.

For more details visit the Hike Pyrenees website, send an email to or call them on 0208 123 5049.

High Pyrenees Village to Village
7 nights self guided hotel to hotel walking
Prices from 1049 euros pp
Includes 7 nights half board accommodation with breakfast and 3 course evening meal each day
Available 24 May - 11 October

Discover Slovenia
If you looking for a truly exceptional walking experience, Walk Slovenia have taken the traditional ski chalet escape and given it a hiking twist, to provide the chance to discover an incredible location in the foothills of the Julian Alps. With an all-inclusive stay at award-winning hotel Pri Lenart, you can take in some of Europe’s most stunning scenery and enjoy the excellent hospitality on which Walk Slovenia pride themselves.

The trails that have been carefully selected to match the level and ability of the group. Whether you’re looking for glorious wildflower meadows, a stroll through upland alpine pastures or a more challenging mountain ascent, Slovenia has it all. With availability throughout May, July, August and September there has never been a better time to plan your next walking adventure. For more information take a look at the Walk Slovenia website or email them at

Member news
And yet another holiday idea! Walkingworld member James Huggett has a lovingly restored stone cottage for rent, 'Villa Klarici' in Croatia, near to many superb walking trails. The property has magnificent views of Motovun, a Venetian-built hilltop town, in Central Istria, a swimming pool and a 4 Star rating from the Croatian Tourist Board. The property is rented for two people, by the week, Sunday to Sunday, from Easter to October inclusive.

We're keen to find a new Walkingworld contributor in Norfolk who can develop new routes and help us to check out existing walks when changes are reported. You will need to be adept with  OS maps and preferably also with GPS or mapping apps, and have an enthusiasm for promoting walks in the area. Please get in touch with Chris ( if you are interested. We should be able to come and help you get started in the next couple of months if you would like some initial support.