Long walks in Europe?
December 2, 2005 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Where should I go in Europe for a 2-week long walking/hiking in early September?

I've already done the Camino de Santiago from Roncesvalles to Santiago. I was thinking about doing part of the Camino through France from Le Puy, or a portion of GR-10 or GR-11 along the Pyrenees, or maybe a ramble in England or Scotland. I don't want to carry a lot of weight, so I'd like to stay in hostels or gites instead of hauling a tent. I'll probably be traveling alone, so safety is a consideration. Thanks!
posted by footnote to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The classic 2 week walk in England would be the Coast to Coast devised by the late, great Alfred Wainwright which runs 190 miles from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire via the Lake District and the top of the Pennines. Doable in 12 days IIRC. Beware though, it has quite a reputation for being tough.

Scotland would probably be the West Highland Way, 6 or 7 days.
posted by hardcode at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2005

i would highly recommend the 'coast to coast' hike in england, near the border with scotland. it's about 190 miles and i did it in 13 days. shortest day was about 7 miles (i think) and the longest was about 22. you get a wide variety of spectacular scenery and terrain and it fits the guidelines you set out. here's a couple basic links with information:
wikipedia entry
commercial site

if you want more information, i'll monitor the post
posted by whatitis at 6:13 PM on December 2, 2005

as i was typing it hardcode get outta my head... (=
posted by whatitis at 6:14 PM on December 2, 2005

At least you've done it, I was planning to when one of my walking partners dropped out.

One day maybe (says he heading for 40 *grin*).
posted by hardcode at 6:18 PM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Whatitis, is that path crowded? I don't mind company, but the crowds can detract from the experience. The Camino was like one big party, sometimes.
posted by footnote at 6:25 PM on December 2, 2005

I doubt it would be busy in September, I understand the Lakes area gets rather crowded but the rest should be OK.

The thing to note here is there are a few companies offering a "Sherpa" service where your pack is carried to your overnight stop by bus & there is decent accomodation every night.
posted by hardcode at 6:28 PM on December 2, 2005

From what I've heard, some of the most unspoiled — not to mention uncrowded — hiking scenery in Europe is to be found in Slovenia's Julian Alps. The country maintains a series of alpine cottages (hostels), described here. It looks nice (if you like gorgeous):

posted by rob511 at 7:07 PM on December 2, 2005

The greenway that connects Vienna to Prague runs through spectaular fairy-tale landscapes. The best part, from the Czech/Austrian border up to Telc, can be easily hiked in a couple of weeks. I did this just after the trail opened, and then hiked around the west of Ireland the next two weeks which was dull by comparison (although it's nice to speak the language, there's no "picking up" Czech...) Here's an outfit that does self-guided tours with accommodations.
posted by nicwolff at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2005

Austria will be delightful at that time of year.
posted by gergtreble at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2005

Just south of Genoa on the northwest coast of Italy there is a lovely string of historic old villages connected by footpaths. Stunning views. And rail connections, so you can mix hiking with rail if you get pooped out. Sorry for the lack of links or details, but it's all a blurry haze now...
posted by Meatbomb at 10:42 PM on December 2, 2005

Gimmelwald, Switzerland. Some of the most amazing views I've ever seen, the hiking is incredible. The social scene in a town of less than 200 with 15 backpackers is pretty awesome, too.
posted by borkingchikapa at 11:17 PM on December 2, 2005

Oh, and in September, you're not likely to meet more than a half dozen people on the trails.
posted by borkingchikapa at 11:17 PM on December 2, 2005

I can highly recommend the Offa's dyke trail, which goes from the Bristol Channel up to the Irish Sea via the route of an 8th century defensive earthwork built by Offa, king of Mercia. The English-Welsh border still mostly follows its route. It is a fantastic walk with beautiful scenery. You go through or near some amazing places, such as Chepstow (the castle is fantastic), Monmouth (near Tintern Abbey), Hay-on-Wye (the famous literary festival is held there, it is full of bookshops). Plus the whole area is rich with Bronze and Iron age remains if that sort of thing interests you. It's walkable in 2 weeks if you're fit, and there are plenty of B&Bs en route.
posted by greycap at 2:44 AM on December 3, 2005

footnnote: i definitely wouldn't say it was crowded. there were the usual people i would see because we had all coincidentally chosen the same day to start, but it was the exception and not the rule to be sharing the trail with other people. and even then, it would just be a group of six of us or so.
posted by whatitis at 4:49 AM on December 3, 2005

After visiting it in June and loving it, I'm a bit partial to Corsica. I didn't do any overnight hiking, but I did take several long day hikes along portions of the GR20 and the Mare e Monti (in French) trail near Corte. This trail has multiple routings, and there are other options such as the Mare a Mare trail. You'll have to check, but most of these should have gîtes along the way. The GR20 is, of course, the strenuous option. I was alone and didn't have any problems. From what I've heard, September has all of the nice weather of August with none of the vacationing hordes.
posted by komilnefopa at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all these suggestions -- I think I have a lifetime of vacations to plan now! They all sound great, but I do have to admit I've long habored a secret desire to visit Corsica...
posted by footnote at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2005

Response by poster: PS - Nobody here has hiked the GR-10 or GR-11?
posted by footnote at 1:16 PM on December 3, 2005

The trail that begins in Dijon and ends about 100 KM south in Cluny, through Burgundy region. I forget which GR it is. Great walk. The Santiago trail in the Navarre region, to the south and east of Iruna. Begin in Puy in French Pyrenees. Each about a week to walk. Of these two I preferred the Burgundy trail.
posted by madstop1 at 4:23 PM on December 3, 2005

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