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July 6, 2010 8:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm aware of the Way of St. James, but what are some of the other long distance hikes in Europe?

Ideally, they'd be safe footpaths, not relying on highways or busy roadways, with places other than campgrounds to spend the night along the way, to facilitate traveling light. Bonus points for treks that can be completed in roughly 2 weeks, hiking at a moderate pace, through interesting country.
posted by crunchland to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Like the British National Trails?
posted by idb at 8:20 PM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: Sure, I guess. I'm most interested in getting some firsthand or secondhand accounts of the most interesting trails. And I forgot to mention in the original post, while I'm not looking for a deserted trail, I'm not really interested in any really crowded trails, either.
posted by crunchland at 8:26 PM on July 6, 2010

I once hiked from Montreux to Geneva via (mostly) footpaths. I bought a map of walking routes for the region in a bookstore. Nights were spent in rooms rented above local pubs. Oh, and I shipped my backpack ahead to the train station in Geneva and just used my day pack. It took 4 or 5 days because I usually only walked half the day.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not on the National Trails list, but often considered alongside them: the Wainwright coast-to-coast is a 200-miler, so doable in a fortnight if you're comfortable at that pace. It's popular if not ridiculously crowded, somewhat against A. Wainwright's intention to get people to devise their own walks.

It's not signposted. There's an 'official' revision of the original 1973 walk that takes account of mistaken or changing rights of way, and a number of variations offered online to ease erosion and provide more variety. To travel light, you'd probably need to stick more closely to the established route, where there are hostels and B&Bs to cater for walkers. I've done sections on either side of the Pennines, where the contrasts are obvious, and it's a well-conceived walk.
posted by holgate at 8:50 PM on July 6, 2010

Always helpful Wikipedia has a pretty exhaustive inventory. My mom has done the Coast-to-Coast, Offa's Dyke, and Tour du Mont Blanc, none of them required camping. I think she found Offa's Dyke to be a little too deserted for her liking but generally enjoyed the hikes. For learning about any of the walks in the UK go4awalk.com is a good resource.
posted by phoenixy at 9:49 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can recommend the Rheinsteig along - you guessed it - the Rhine in Germany. It's mostly in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which is an Unesco World Heritage Site. I haven't hiked it from start to finish, but have worked my way from Wiesbaden to Koblenz so far (I live in the area, so it's easy to go on day hikes). The path and the scenery are gorgeous, you get a lot of views of the Rhine valley, the castles and picturesque towns along the way.

It's fairly easy to find accomodation, and most of the time the path is neither crowded nor totally deserted. (The exception would be warm summer weekends, but even then there are no traffic jams.)

Check out their official homepage which is mostly available in English and has an interactive planner (available in German only, sorry).
posted by amf at 10:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for a really European (crossing several countries) and really long hiking path, take a look at the European long distance paths.
posted by amf at 10:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some people don't know that the Camino de Santiago (nobody calls it the Way of St James) is well-established in countries other than Spain, and has multiple routes. Really only the Camino Frances through the north of Spain is crowded. France and Switzerland offer what I consider the "sweet spot" of amenities and isolation.

Check out hut-to-hut hiking in any mountainous areas. Mountain huts are more motel/restaurant than "hut", in my experience.

There's also the Lycian way in Turkey which I've heard is ridiculous, and the Prague-Vienna Greenways which are more for cyclists but definitely possible with some good planning.
posted by acidic at 12:28 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Long-distance footpaths in France : Sentiers de grandé randonnée. Ollie Gill's web page is useful; he walked round the total circumferance of France. Are you aware that there are many Routes of St James? Probably best avoided this year as it is some sort of anniversary.
The 180km G20 in Corsica is considered the toughest trail in Europe.
There is the 150km Routa de Piedra here in Mallorca. If you are up for it let me know and I can suggest before and after accomodation and will probably get you to the start or find you at the end. My wife and I might even join you for a day. When are you planning this for?
posted by adamvasco at 3:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I hiked the northern part of the Tra Mare e Monti on Corsica, wich is amazingly beautiful. It's not as hard as the G20, but still a bit challenging.
If you combine it with the Mare a Mare Nord you'll have roughly two weeks in a beautiful and interesting country. You'll stay the nights in a "Gite d'etape" which offer half-board and/or cooking facilities. Reserve ahead though.

I wouldn't recommend to hike this trail in summer, it's just too hot to be any fun.
(some pictures I took this may)

For hiking in Germany I would look for a so called Qualitätsweg Wanderbares Deutschland, a certificate for long hiking trails (there is a certificate for everything in germany):
Among other criteria they have to be:
-at least 35% in "natural state"
-not more than 3% on used streets or 10% alongside used streets (not sure about the english term, I mean streets frequented by cars)
-They have to be marked 100% of the way
-varied (at least two changes of the formation in 8 kilometers)
-have to posess an "experience potential" (whatever that means)

Some of the longer trails with this certificate are the:
-Altmühltal-Panoramaweg. 200 km, 10 stages
-Westweg through the Black Forrest. 280 km, 11 stages
-Kellerwaldsteig. 158 km, 12 stages
-Westerwaldsteig. 235 km, 16 stages
-Vogtland Panorama Weg, 228 km, 12 stages. A friend of mine hiked this one and told me it's really beautiful.
You should phone ahead to the inns or hotels, because it's in east Germany and people fled this region after '90, some of the villages are deserted now, and not all the hotels marked on the hiking-maps still exist.
-Frankenweg 520 km, 24 stages. I'm planning to hike this oe in the near future.
posted by ts;dr at 5:21 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, Previously
posted by vacapinta at 5:36 AM on July 7, 2010

forgot to add: If you decide to go for Tra Mare e Monti or any of the German long distance paths and need some help as where to find maps or accommodations, feel free to meMail me!
posted by ts;dr at 5:43 AM on July 7, 2010

Also, previously.
posted by aqsakal at 7:56 AM on July 7, 2010

Response by poster: When are you planning this for?

Thanks for the generous offer, Adam. At this point, the trip is only slightly less nebulous that a daydream. I've been threatening to do a trip like this for a couple years, but when the time comes, I end up using the money I've saved for the trip for some unexpected expense. If I were to do it, though, I imagine my preferences would be either this autumn, after most of the younger crowd has returned to school, or in the spring, but mostly for the cooler temps in both cases.
posted by crunchland at 11:45 AM on July 7, 2010

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