The simple pleasures of a walking holiday
Walking? But I’m on holiday!
Walking. It’s not the most obvious come-on for many holidaymakers. Fly and flop still has mass appeal. But not everyone is part of the ‘mass’ and besides, these days there’s walking and there’s, well, walking.
Not so long ago a holiday necessitated the familiar staples of sun, sea and sand.
Maybe times were simpler and we were more easily pleased. But today the basic concept of walking while on holiday is accepted as a pleasurable activity, rather than a chore.
Anyone and everyone can enjoy a walking holiday. It’s a matter of matching your fitness and ability to a suitable itinerary. A little experience can only help, but really is not a prerequisite: a basic map reading ability is all you need.
So what is the appeal of all this walking?
It’s really not rocket science: take some stunning scenery, hand pick some wonderful country hotels, not too far apart. Walk between them along generally easy going terrain, enjoying unique experiences along the way and finishing with fabulous meals each night. Relax in the knowledge that there are healthy spin off benefits. Simple.
The health benefits
Walking is a great activity for most people. There are clear and undisputed medical benefits of such low impact exercise. Muscle tone, bone density and heart function are all improved by regular walking and, like all exercise, walking stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain. This promotes a sense of relaxed well being and a pleasurable state of mind, actually helping to counter any aches and pains to boot.
And there are other health benefits. Walking gently burns off the calories - weight loss is generally never a bad thing. (Just depends on how much you indulge in the evenings!).
The upshot is you may well return home fitter than when you left. You may even be able to argue to yourself that despite indulging in some amazing meals and getting to know the regional cuisine very well indeed, you have not put on any weight.
A sense of achievement
At the end of each day’s walking, you’ll have the pleasurable sense of quiet satisfaction of having made your way, only a few miles, from one hotel to the next. Sure, it’s not exactly a champagne moment, or one to impress Bear Grylls or Levison Wood. But it’s a small achievement nonetheless and one which makes the evening meals and glass of something refreshing all the more enjoyable, as you reflect back on the day’s modest adventures.
And of course, what you choose to tell your admiring and quietly impressed family and friends back home… well that’s up to you!
The unique experiences
It goes without saying that walking allows you to experience more of your surroundings than when enclosed in the air conditioned bubble of a car. As you walk from hotel A to hotel B (never very far, the emphasis is on easy going), you can pause and savour the views, listen to the church bells, watch a game of pétanque in the village square, maybe enjoy a snooze under a tree.
You’ll see more of the local culture and the local customs and you also get the chance to enjoy local events that you would otherwise not be aware of: maybe an evening concert in the local abbey, unpublicised save for a fly poster in the village that you would not have spotted from a whizzing car.
Group walking holidays
Walking holidays are increasingly popular with small groups. It’s a great way to all enjoy a shared activity and purpose while still having some individual independence built into the itinerary.
Whether it’s a family group, or a group of friends, there’s lots of scope for chatting as you walk. It’s amazing what you can learn about each other over the course of a few days!
Walking holidays are ever popular with members of a club or social organisation. Irrespective of how well or not people know each other at the start, a spirit of camaraderie quickly builds.
The group may be made up of a diverse bunch but the important thing is shared time and shared experiences. As long as everyone has a common interest or is like minded, it’s hard not to have a magical time. Just be sure everyone is of roughly equal fitness and ability.
A Belle France walking holiday
Not all walking holidays are created equal. We like to think that a Belle France walking holiday is something a little special. Not because it is glitzy or super-luxury (having said that, our Prestige holidays are pretty special in terms of memorable experiences).
No. It’s because we think carefully about our holidays. We want you to be able to travel at your own pace and at a speed you feel comfortable with. Not simply so you are not exhausted at the end of the day, but because we understand the simple pleasures of the small, mundane, everyday details of a day’s walking. These can only be appreciated when you have time. Of course you can modify each day to suit you: build in time to visit that interesting looking museum, poke your nose into the inviting old church or divert to the colourful market for lunch provisions.
We ensure that each day’s itinerary includes plenty of spare time - distances are modest and we believe that the walking is always the means rather than the end.
Additional reading: Choosing your walking boots