Walks for 2013

I've had great time walking in 2012 but, based on current plans, next year could be even better.  I've got six trips in the diary with walks in England, Europe and the Himalayas.

The first and most complicated trip takes me back to Spain and the GR1 Sendero Historico. Travelling west to east and parallel firstly with the north coast of Spain and then the Pyrenees, the 700 miles trail will take me through "old Spain", often literally deserted, and wonderful countryside punctuated with traditional towns and villages. As the title of the route suggests, it's a route that's especially rich in history roughly following the most enduring front line between Spain's Muslim and Christian traditions.  It's full of fortified towns, castles, watch towers and other ancient military paraphernalia; Romanesque churches; and paths and trails which have been tramped along for centuries.  Working out the schedule and finding places to stay is a challenge but the hospitality in Spain is good reward for the effort.

Juan Holgado, the expert on Spanish walking, has been helping me put the walk together and I'm still finalising the dates and working out when Christine and Juan will join me.  In total it's a six week trip and I'll be walking for all of March and 2 weeks in April.

In May I'll be walking in Britain with a group of friends along the 109 mile Geopark Way from Bridgenorth down to Gloucester.  Another lovely walk and a chance to drink proper English beer.  The route takes you through great scenery including some particular personal favorites (Malvern Hills and Wye Forest), visits some lovely towns (Bridgenorth, Ledbury and Newent) and of involves, of course, a lot geology.
Mt Pirin Bulgaria
Sticking to a self-imposed rule - walking in a new country in Europe every year - I'm going to Bulgaria in June to walk along the E4 through the Pirin Alps.  I've been inspired by The Mountains of Bulgaria: A Walker's Companion by Julian Perry's  and the walking looks excellent, particularly in the Pirin Alps.  I didn't know until I read the book that Bulgaria was the top walking destination in eastern Europe before the fall of the iron curtain and the walking is well organised.  I've already had offers of local help and Lyuben Grancharov from Hiking Guide Bulgaria has offered to help me put a schedule together.  If you look at the pictures on his website you will see why I'm so excited about this trip.
The Traverse of the Indian Himalaya (from Exodus)
In July I'm off to India with Christine and a 20 day trek, "The Traverse of the Indian Himalaya".  It's a relatively new route and will take us deep into the high Himalayan plateau we glimpsed when we did the Annapurna Circuit earlier this year - it will be dry, high and incredibly dramatic.  Helpfully you walk here in July/August when the more traditional Himalayan treks are closed for the monsoon.  It's a high altitude route mostly above 5,000 metres, and we will be camping. But without the long cloudy afternoons you can get in Nepal, camping should be fun!

We,re back home in August, and after 2 or 3 weeks to soak up the English summer (soak up seems about right given last year's experience) we're off to France and the Alps in September.  I've decided that September in the Alps is compulsory as long as my knees will cope and this year we intend to walk the GR54 round the Ecrins.  I'm a sucker for guide books and Tour of the Oisans: The GR54: The GR54 Round the Ecrins  by Kev Reynolds has convinced me that this route is special.  Obviously less iconic that the Mont Blanc circuit it could be even more challenging and will certainly be less crowded.
I'm going to try and get round the Ecrins in 10 days which will be give me plenty of time to get ready for the last trip - the Dhaulagiri Circuit and another Mera Peak type adventure -the standout trip of 2012.  Not booked yet but I have found two well respected operators who do what looks like a really exciting trek; more challenging than other classic Himalayan treks and as a consequence not at all crowded.  It's a circuit but you get the chance both to visit Dhualagiri basecamp (although I guess it's empty in October) and treking up Dhamphus Peak which, like Mera, is over 6,000 metres.  Maybe I'll even get to the top this time.

Still working on the fine details of some of these trips.  If anyone knows anything about any of them please get in touch, either directly or via the blog.  I've benefited enormously from comments in the past.


  1. John. If you need more info of Bulgaria I do have a fellow friend, Alexander Georgiev, who is the owner of a trekking businness there.

    The pyramid of Mt Pirin is quite equal to Espigüete, a mount in Palencia where you will pass by it foot next april.

  2. John, I would recommend you the BGMountains GPS map, which is arguably the best map of Bulgarian mountains (and Pirin in particular) in terms of accuracy and level of detail. You can get it from: http://bgmountains.org/bgmountainsgpsmap/180-bgmountains

    1. Thanks Vedrin, that's very helpful, they look really good