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PHOTO: Wayfarers is exploring the mystic moors of Yorkshire including the Barden Moor in the Yorkshire Dales. (Courtesy of Wayfarers)
Trails are taking on new meaning. On July 28, Europe will open the 323-mileEuropean Peace Walk (EPW) to commemorate the start of WW1 and to provide a way of contemplating its enormity as well as the benefits of peace. Beginning in Vienna and Bratislava, the trail will transit five countries (Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia) that you would have needed a tank to cross in 1914. Two years ago, Wales made about the most introspective choice a nation can make when it opened the world's first trail that completely spans the perimeter of a country. For the people of Wales, the trail is more than a long pretty walk, but a place to contemplate heritage and identity. Hiking trails are taking on a new role in society as mediums of national contemplation.
As the Wales Coast Path completes its second year, findings from the Wales Visitor Survey and Business Benefits Survey show that in the time it's been open the path has generated more than $54 million economic boost to coastal towns and villages across Wales.
The path constitutes a continuous 870-mile walking trail around the entire coast of Wales, making Wales the only country in the world with a completely walkable perimeter. Visit Wales recommends several spectacular stretches of path including the Gower Peninsula; Pembrokeshire; Carmarthenshire; the Llyn Peninsula: Another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Wales, the coast of the Llyn Peninsula; and the Isle of Anglesey. The Wales Coast Path stretches from Chepstow in the South to Queensferry in the North. A significant portion of the path is also bike- and wheelchair- friendly. It is the longest coastal walking path around a country in the world.
Ocean to Alps in New Zealand
No country in the world is more identified with its natural splendor than New Zealand. One trail makes it possible to connect the countries natural extremities. The Hollyford Track guided walks is now offering a new two-day "Ocean to Alps" departure is an exclusive guided walk for small group tours. The two-day length shortens a trip that used to take a minimum of three days, thus making it more attractive for visitors who are trying to include it in a larger exploration of New Zealand.
The group size is set at a minimum of six and a maximum of 16 people. The trip includes a helicopter flight in, a fully-catered private wilderness lodge, a jet boat trip and specialist guides who bring the forest, coastal areas and personalities of the Hollyford to life. The Martins Bay private Wilderness Lodge is known for its cuisine and a warm and spacious lounge. "This exclusive guide, lodge and a wilderness experience that only takes two days means it can easily fit into existing itineraries," said David Hurst, group account manager at Ngai Tahu Tourism which operates the Hollyford Track.
Hiking Greece with On Foot Holidays
On Foot Holidays' new route in North West Greece, the Sapphire Sea and Gorgeous Gorge begins in Corfu, an Ionian island off the west coast of the Greek mainland that is popular with British tourists. Corfu is a point of entry for a daily ferry from Brindisi, Italy. The Italian influence can be felt in the architecture of the main town.
The On Foot Holidays trek is a medium-hard route with three to eight hours of walking per day. The hike starts on Corfu and ends up in the alpine pastures of Zagoria. The walks cross some of the coastal paths of northern Corfu. After that, it heads to the Greek mainland to the Vikos Gorge, Europe's deepest gorge. In the old stone village of Kapesovo, participants may go with the locals to pick mushrooms, flowers and herbs to dry. In the village of Papingo the hikers spend the night in an old but renovated stone house with a panoramic view on the Gorge. On the final day, the path goes up to the Astraka refuge with its cool mountain air and Dragon Lake.
An add-on to the monasteries of the Meteora is available. The monasteries are perched 1,224 feet in the air. The tour is available from May to November but best is June and July. Rates for seven nights are from $1,079 per person sharing and include accommodation, breakfast daily, two evening meals, three picnics, detailed itinerary and supporting material. The price does not include flights, Corfu taxis, ferry tickets ($13.70 each way), bus tickets on the mainland and return ($13.60 per journey)
In the Yorkshire Moors with Wayfarers
A new hiking experience from the Wayfarers coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Lit fans will remember Kathy and Heathcliff running through the moors. Now they can do it themselves on the Wayfarers' Yorkshire Walk. The moors constitute a contained wilderness and within that wilderness the trek will pass through stone-built villages set amid traditional farming landscapes of field barns, drystone walls and meadows rife with wild flowers.
Covering some 680 square miles, the Dales National Park was designated in 1954 in recognition of its natural beauty, the diversity of its wildlife and its rich cultural heritage. The park features 903 miles of footpaths, 384 miles of bridleways and 5,400 miles of drystone walls. The tour visits Castle Bolton where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned, villages and ruins and the Pennine Way to see England's longest single drop waterfall.
James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small is from the area and one tour, the six-night Yorkshire - the Fells and Dales of James Herriot country runs June 8 to 14 and Sept. 7 to 13. The hike walks nine to 12 miles per day through countryside, woodland, valleys and well-defined moorland paths. The tour is priced from $3,995 per person double.
Another Yorkshire trek, the seven-night Coast to Coast combining the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, operates Sept. 13 to 20 and Oct. 4 to 11, 2014. This hike logs 12 to 15 miles per day on well laid-out pathways with some brisk hills. The all-inclusive price is $4,295 per person double.
James Ruggia is executive editor covering Europe, Pacific Asia and rail travel for TravelPulse.com.
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