How a UK walking holiday can make you a happy wanderer

Now is the season to take a hike over hill and through vale. Guest blogger Gareth Williams, founder of Large Outdoors, puts on his walking boots…

Spending a day out walking is a great way to explore Britain’s fantastic countryside, and is healthy to boot. But if you’re a little cautious about venturing into more remote areas of the countryside, joining a guided walking group can be the perfect solution.

Snowdonia National Park with Large Outdoors
Snowdonia National Park with Large Outdoors

There are a number of guided walking companies out there all offering a variety of walking trips according to location and fitness/experience level, from easy strolls through to more challenging hikes.

Walking company Large Outdoors runs a range of hiking holidays across the country for a range of abilities. It also donates a portion of the proceeds from each booking towards conservation charities such as Friends of the Lakes whose work helps protect the Lake District landscape.

What to expect on a guided walk

Trips come in all shapes and sizes but generally you can expect to join a small sociable group of like-minded walkers and spend up to a day out walking with a guide.

The guides are fully-qualified (highly-experienced in route-finding and navigation and have first aid qualifications) and, importantly, are experts in motivating people to get the best out of the group.

Routes are planned in advance and aim to take walkers through a variety of landscape that offers heaps of interest and umpteen view stops (cameras at the ready!).

Lake District with Large Outdoors
Lake District with Large Outdoors

Making a break of it

Once you’ve started, it’s hard to stop! On a weekend or week-long guided walking trip, accommodation is based in hotels, cottages or hostels. In contrast to the traditional image, many hostels are now a really good option, providing guests with an affordable way of staying in some fantastic properties in idyllic locations.

For instance Ilam YHA in the Peak District is a gothic manor house set in 84 acres of parkland, while the converted school house in Dalby Forest now provides an eco-retreat with cosy lounge area complete with log burner.

It’s also important to scrub any thoughts that these trips mean eating ready meals out of packets. The quality of the food is all-important with home-cooked meals served using local ingredients as much as possible. You only need to bring any alcohol that you might want to drink (walking is thirsty work!).

Range of walks

There really are walks to suit all abilities and fitness levels across some of the most scenic areas of the UK. Very often two different levels of walks will be organised during the course of one weekend.

A Large Outdoors trip to the Lake District usually involves one group taking easier ‘non-summit bagging’ routes that explore the scenic gentler side of the Lakes, following shorelines and wooded valley routes. Meanwhile, a second group will set out to tackle the challenging higher peaks.

Large Outdoors walking group
Large Outdoors walking group

Recommended for… Solo travellers or anyone who enjoys the camaraderie that comes with walking in a group (without the hassle of finding your own route)

Be aware that… It pays to look at the grade of walk (the level of challenge and average distances covered) to be confident that you’re fit and experienced enough for a particular trip. It’s also important to ensure you have the right items on the kit list provided by the guide.

Sample weekend:  Large Outdoors is running a guided walking break in the Lake District from the 4th-6th September, costing £125 per person. This includes two nights staying in the comfortable and well-equipped YHA Caldbeck, a former shooting lodge nestling in the foothills of the northern fells; all meals apart from Sunday lunch, and two days’ of guided walks with a qualified guide.

For more information and to book visit or contact 01653 740400.

New Welcome Rock cycling trail launched in New Zealand

Fans of cycling and hiking now have a new reason to visit New Zealand with the launch of a brand new mountain trail this season.

Welcome Rock trail, New Zealand (1)

The spectacular new Welcome Rock Trail – a 27km long, grade 3, single track mountain bike loop and hiking trail – has been hand built on one of New Zealand’s longest water races. Located on a high country sheep station, just outside Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island, the new trail officially opens to the public on 8 December 2014.

Tourists can find out more about taking the trail, plus booking accommodation in the Queenstown area, with specialists New Zealand In Depth (see below).

The trail takes its name from the prominent rock that dominates the skyline above the homestead, named by the early settlers who used the landmark as a meeting and trading point. The project was conceived in 2012 when a team led by Tom O’Brien imagined a trail system through Blackmore Station that followed the old gold miners’ water races.

Welcome Rock Trail, NZ

Jonathan Kennett of the Kennett Brothers, New Zealand’s leading publisher of cycling history and guide books, graded the trail and said; “Welcome Rock Trails is the finest water race trail in NZ. It has the potential to be a world-class trail that connects people with the real New Zealand – real history, real ecosystems, a real farming family and real enthusiasm.”

The historical, ecological and recreational value of the area is of local and national significance. Tom O’Brien is the fourth generation of the family who have owned Blackmore Station since 1911, on which the new trail sits.
hot tub on Welcome Rock, New Zealand
He explains: “When I was a young boy my mother and father had the wisdom to retire one thousand hectares (being half the farm) into a conservation covenant. Their vision was to preserve the high country allowing it to regenerate and share this with others. We wanted to be sympathetic to the landscape, sensitive to the historic and ecological features and mirror the techniques of the water race builders over a hundred years ago.”

To find out more about the new Welcome Rock Trail or any other hiking or cycling opportunities in New Zealand, contact New Zealand In Depth through, call +44 (0)1298 74040 or email

on Welcome Rock Trail, New Zealand

Sponsored Video: How to make the most of longer, lighter days

Finally – longer daylight hours are here in the northern hemisphere! It’s the perfect season to get back out there and reconnect with nature. Here’s how to make the most of it…

hiking in the UK

Research shows that exposure to daylight and fresh air helps our bodies produce essential vitamin D, help us get a better night’s sleep, and enhancing our overall well-being. And if you combine a jaunt outside with some challenging activity, you’ll also be boosting your health and fitness levels.

This month, The North Face are launching the Longer Days campaign to inspire everyone to get outside and run, hike, climb and explore for longer this Spring. Download the new Explorer App from The North Face Europe’s official website and start sharing updates and photos of your own outdoor adventures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #LongerDays. Every day, The North Face will award prizes for the best photos capturing your outdoor adventures in the Explorer Photo Competition.

So how will you spend your extra daylight hours?

Running – No more running in the dark after work! You can now squeeze in a sunlit run before or after you leave for the office. See if you can time it right to capture sunset on your home straight.

Hiking – Longer days mean longer, more challenging hikes aren’t cut short by the night drawing in. In the UK, we’re spoilt for choice for hiking spots – heritage coastal paths, ancient forests, fells and downs – all wonderful places to hike and get the heart rate going (with wonderful views thrown in for free!).

Climbing – For an even more physical challenge, try rock climbing. Some of the UK’s best places to go climbing include Derbyshire’s Peak District, Snowdonia in Wales, the sea cliffs around Portland in Dorset, the stunning Lake District, and the National Trust for Scotland’s Glencoe area. Reach the top of a climb in one of those hot-spots and you’ll be hooked!

Camping – It’s not just about physical challenges; longer (and warmer) days are a great time to get under canvas and go camping. There’s been a boom in the number of boutique campsites in recent years, many allowing you to live a more ‘back to basics’ lifestyle of campfires and foraging. For an even more basic, but exhilarating, camping experience, pitch your tent in Scotland, home of wild camping. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act means you are allowed to camp on most unenclosed land, but do be a responsible wild camper and read up on the guidelines in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Ready to get outside and make the most of the longer days…?


This post is sponsored by The North Face but words are Goodtrippers’ own.

Sponsored video: How to enjoy the great outdoors in Austria

There’s more to Austria than skiing in the Alps. During spring and summer, the fresh air and natural open spaces make this country a great destination for nature lovers and fans of the great outdoors. It’s also a country that is well-ahead of the curve in terms of offering sustainable, eco-friendly options for tourists. Here are Goodtrippers’ tips on enjoying Austria the natural way this summer…

The great outdoors of Austria
The great outdoors of Austria

Go hiking – Think of Austria and thoughts of mountainous Alpine landscapes are never far away. But there’s more to enjoy than your own ‘Sound of Music’ moment (can you resist running up that grassy hillside?) – there are dozens of mountain trails to suit novices and experienced hikers. Visit the region of Bartholomäberg for beautiful flora and fauna, and stunning panoramic views.

Get on your bike – Austria is well-equipped for those on two wheels with a huge choice of clearly-marked routes for easy cycle rides to more challenging mountain bike outings. Many hotels and lodges welcome cyclists and even offer cycle sheds or full service repairs if you come unstuck. And if you’re not so confident in your fitness levels, try an E-Bike – available for hire across Austria these modified battery-powered bikes make light work of uphill rides!

Visit the National Parks – This is where you can really breathe in that unpolluted, fresh Austrian air! Kalkalpern National Park is home to Austria’s largest uninterrupted forest and is home to canyons, waterfalls and lakes. Hohe Tauern National Park contains over 100 peaks of over 3,000m high where you can hike and go gold panning. Gesäuse National Park is the natural habitat of 90 species of breeding birds, marmots, chamois and deer plus around 50 different types of wild orchid. National Park Thayatal offers meadows, cliffs and wooded hillsides that are home to rare animal and plant species including the eagle owl, black stork and coloured iris.

Explore the Danube – One of the world’s most famous rivers winds through Austria and is the scene of many relaxing day trips whether by boat, by bike or on foot. The history of central Europe was born on the banks of the Danube and so you’ll find a fascinating mix of monasteries, castles and palaces in the area. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wachau beside the Danube is a beautiful, pastoral site dotted with medieval villages. A cycling holiday along the Danube Cycle Path in upper Austria will take you from Linz to capital city Vienna.

If that has inspired you, take a look at some of the stunning scenery and outdoor pursuits to enjoy in Austria in this video…

For more information on holidays in Austria, visit

This post is sponsored by Werbung Österreich but all words are Goodtrippers’ own.

Stay at Mon Choix, Mauritius – a pioneering eco lodge

With the weather starting to take a downward turn, autumn is a time to dream of tropical holidays… But stop dreaming! Say goodbye to grey and drizzly days, book yourself a flight to tropical Mauritius, and indulge yourself in a stay at the charming Mon Choix – Mauritius’ first certified eco lodge and true pioneer in the island’s ecotourism industry.

[gdl_gallery title=”Mauritius” width=”127″ height=”110″ ]

Nestled in the mountains in Vallés des Prêtrés, just 10 minutes from the city of Port Louis, Mon Choix ‘Les Maison de Vallé des Prêtrés’ offers beautiful panoramic views across the valley towards the sea. It sits within a 7-acre private park offering ample opportunity to explore its rivers and walkways. Rather sweetly, the website describes the location as perfect for spotting fruit bats and for stargazing!

The hosts Joan and Jean-Michel de Senneville have designed the lodge using a mix of traditional English and modern African decor creating a tranquil and peaceful bolthole. It’s the perfect retreat for rest and relaxation, or a comfortable base from which to explore Mauritius’ natural environment.

Accommodation – choose your pirate!

Mon Choix consists of four suites – brilliantly, they’re named after famous pirates of yesteryear! The ‘Henry Morgan Suite’ is one of the largest with an en-suite bathroom and dressing room, plus two large private terraces – one overlooking the valley to the sea, and one facing the mountain range. Similar in size is the ‘Calico Jack Suite’ with en-suite facilities and one private terrace facing the sea. The ‘Blackbeard Suite’ has a larger terrace overlooking the valley to the sea; and the ‘Mary Read Suite’ offers views of the sea from your room.

Facilities and food

The shared spaces make full use of the beautiful surroundings. Seating and dining areas are available inside, but why wouldn’t you lounge on the many terraces and the large outdoor veranda? And outside dining areas mean breakfast can be served in the sun or you can enjoy dinner under the stars. Breakfast is included in your booking as well as dinner on the first evening of your stay – taste a varied menu of Créole specialities plus European and Indian dishes. Other restaurants and takeaways are nearby when you fancy a change.

The enormous garden includes a BBQ, and the swimming pool offers a fantastic mountain view. If you must keep in touch online there is free wifi throughout the lodge.

ActivitiesIndian Ocean, Mauritius_lr

The hosts are happy to provide maps of nature trails and walks in the surrounding area – you can also book your own personal hiking guide if needed. There is a massage service, gym and health spa, offering a range of treatments, 30 minutes away.

Alongside horse-riding, hiking, golf and cultural excursions to discover more about this island’s multilayered history (perhaps most famous for the plight of the poor Dodo!), a holiday on Mauritius has to spent on the water. The island offers fantastic scuba diving opportunities as well as surfing, boating, water sports and even submarine tours to get a closer glimpse of the local marine life.

Recommended for… Sea-lovers and those looking for a peaceful retreat

Be aware that… The lodge only has four suites so make sure you book ahead for the dates you want

For more information, including booking and prices, visit Mon Choix online at

‘Good’ credentials:

  • As the island’s first certified eco lodge, Mon Choix is soon launching a Mauritius-wide green initiative ‘Green Mauritius’ promoting and sharing best eco practice.
  • Solar panels and low-energy lightbulbs are used throughout. Candles are also encouraged as an alternative to electric lighting.
  • Rainwater is collected for reuse around Mon Choix and guests are encouraged to reduce water consumption.
  • The saltwater swimming pool necessitates the need for chemicals
  • Recycling is in operation; plastic bags are banned; organic waste is used for compost; and containers are re-used for shopping
  • The garden is home to many indigenous flora and fauna including giant fruit bats, rare birds, river shrimps and insects. Mangoes, papaws, tomatoes, herbs and bananas are grown for guests to eat.
  • All staff are educated in Mon Choix environmental efforts, and the wider ecology of Mauritius so they can share their knowledge with guests.



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Eco-friendly lodging at Switzerland’s Whitepod

Guest blogger Andrew Lisa takes to the slopes at this Swiss eco resort

Skier in front of MatterhornSwitzerland’s Whitepod resort is not only located in a pristine, pollution-free section of the Alps, but it works hard to keep it that way. Combining the charm of a childhood camping trip with the amenities of a luxury hotel, Whitepod’s eco-friendly strategy boasts a surprisingly low environmental impact. Their ecological policy is the blueprint for their goal of being a model to sustainable tourism.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to explore the Alps without ruining them.

Switzerland is a beautiful, majestic destination — especially the mountain region. Whitepod offers a glimpse of life camping in the mountain wilderness without actually having to camp in the mountain wilderness. A slew of impressive amenities provide creature comforts to a resort that blends into — and protects — the surrounding environment.


Available in both summer and winter, each guest or group of guests reserves a pod, which is a globe-shaped structure that looks like a giant golfball anchored to a wooden platform. They are decorated and stocked with local art and furniture, and offer astounding views of the Alps. They feature fully-fitted bathrooms, wood-burning stoves, and a king-size bed in all variations, from single size to family unit.

FoodSwiss flag

No need to bring tinned goods like you would on an ordinary camping trip: all meals are provided on site. Cuisine described as “traditional yet refined” can be found at the Les Cerniers restaurant, which offers spit-roasted barbecue, daily specials, and authentic mountain fare.


You’ll run out of holiday before you run out of things to do at Whitepod. Many of my favourite activities, both indoor and outdoor, are included with the cost of your pod. You can also take a wellness or survival course, enjoy the Japanese bath and sauna, or explore the Alps with a day of hiking or mountain biking.

Recommended for… The environmentally conscious; nearly every aspect of Whitepod is geared toward sustainable tourism. And for those that love the snow-capped mountains.

Beware that… Due to their environmental policies, there are no motorized vehicles to carry your luggage, which means you’ll have to lug it up to your pod yourself. Also, there is no wi-fi in your individual pod.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Conservation of energy and resources – pods are heated by wooden stoves and lit by oil lamps; water usage is limited
  • Local, sustainable materials and fuels are used where possible
  • Bedding is organic
  • Pods are designed to blend into the natural surroundings
  • Whitepod works to educate guests on responsible environmental practices

For more information including prices and booking at Whitepod, Les Giettes, Switzerland, visit

About the author: Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about European travel and profiles business leaders such as Steve Wynn.

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