Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For tourists who enjoy the activity of walking there are plenty of favoured regions at home to explore. The Black Mountains, Peak District and the highlands of Scotland all spring to mind. But in cold, wet weather, these can all be fairly miserable places. For the guarantee of drier, warmer weather many walkers turn to other parts of Europe to spend their time.

Walking Holiday Destinations

Author: Mark Bartley

The well known mountain areas of the Alps, the Dolomites and the Sierra Nevada in Spain are all options for the experienced walker. For those seeking a less challenging option there are many alternatives, especially on some of the main holiday islands.
Walkers on the island of Menorca have always been able to enjoy the wonderful countryside for walking but now the completion of a new footpath that circumnavigates the whole island brings a wider choice of routes. For walkers, Menorca has of course some fantastic coastal scenery, with wonderful beaches dotted along its coastline, providing picturesque spots to rest and take a picnic. Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve area and some conservation is an important aspect. Preservation of flora and fauna as well as certain wildlife area is evident. The new coastal walkway around the island is called the Cam?e Cavalls and is a 180 kilometer long medieval route that was used for communication when the island had to be defended from invaders. The path has now been completely signposted and new fences erected to make it safer and easier to navigate for walkers.
The new pathway initiative follows an eight year process to make the land public property and a two million euro investment to prepare it. As well as walkers, cyclists and horse riders can also share and enjoy the route. Summer temperatures on Menorca can be very high so the best time to undertake a walk on the pathway is probably springtime or late Autumn. There are several companies that offer guided walks on the island and some will also arrange accommodation so that walkers can tackle the route in stages without having to worry about carrying their luggage.
The interesting aspect to walking on the island of Madeira is a unique network of water channels that were built by the Portuguese in the 16th Century to form an irrigation system channelling water to the agricultural parts of the island. These waterways also now provide a huge network of walking routes that bring large numbers of people to the island from all over the world. The waterways transport water from the wetter, higher regions in the north of the island through valleys, gorges and even tunnels to most of the rest of the island. Development of the system carried on for hundreds of years with additions being made as recently as the 1940's. In total, the levada network is made up of over 1300 miles of channels, including some 25 miles of tunnels. There are several levedas that are particularly favoured by walkers including the Levada do Caldeirao Verde. The terrain for walkers is a mix of unchallenging yet pleasant forest walks right through to a series of challenging routes that traverse steep hillsides and a few of the tunnels, for which local knowledge and assistance is recommended.
The island of Mallorca also has some wonderful walking terrain in the Tramuntana Mountains in the north west. The port of Soller is a perfect location for hikers to base themselves as it gives quick access to the higher peaks of Puig Major as well as the more gentle routes to the south of the town. The area around Lake Cuber, one of two huge reservoirs in the peaks, is also a big favourite with walkers. Several tunnels make interesting options, as does a visit to the monastery at Lluc or a walk down the Torrent de Pareis to the beach at Sa Colobra.
Finally the Greek island of Crete provides another location for warm weather walking. Unlike many other Greek islands, Crete has many more green areas and a choice of inland and coastal areas to explore. Traversing the island is a large network of tracks and trails, used in the past by shepherds and farmers but now largely redundant due to an improved road network. This has left them free for walkers to enjoy and a myriad of documented routes use them for out and back, circular and place to place routes. Getting prepared and setting off wit ha guide book is easy or opt to go with an organised walking tour. There are a number of walking companies on the island including a few run by individuals from the UK. Many will know the Gorge of Samuria, which is a great route but can become busy due to its popularity. It is only open during certain parts of the year and is now patrolled by rangers who ensure everyone gets through safely. Walkers start inland at Omalos and walk the 13 kilometers downhill to the coast at Agia Roumeli.

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About the Author:
Mallorca is a great island for hikers who like to get out and about and explore the holiday areas they visit. Mark Bartley reports on the walking options on islands such as Madeira, Crete, Menorca and Mallorca. Walkers who are thinking of visiting these places and may also be looking for flights to Madeira or the other islands mentioned, can find out further details here and in his other reports about island walking holidays on Madeira, Mallorca and Crete.