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A cultural pause on Mallorca

Tucked into a valley above the sea sits the pretty town of Valldemossa, one of the cultural highlights of our walking holiday on the island of Mallorca. It has plenty of reasons to take a little time from the hiking schedule to spend in its winding streets and cool cloisters, and to follow the stories of the kings, monks and artists that have been drawn to this place.

The complex of buildings known as the Cartuja (or Cartoixa) de Valldemossa dates from 1309, when King Jaime II built a palace over the remains of a Moorish fortress as somewhere for his sickly son, Sancho, to recover. It was given over to Carthusian monks in 1399, who adapted and expanded the monastery, adding a new church in the 18th century, until they were forced out in 1835 and the buildings passed into private hands.

It’s easy to see why people from all over Europe found their way here over the following decades. The composer Frédéric Chopin and his partner George Sand and her children came for the sake of his health. Despite their stay lasting only a few months, the sound of his romantic piano works still resonates regularly through the halls, and you can visit the former monks’ cells where the family lived.

There’s also a collection of artworks to see, the old Carthusian pharmacy with remnants of ancient remedies, and original volumes of Die Balearen, written by Luis Salvador, son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. You’ll come across Salvador elsewhere on the island, not least on the magnificent ridge-top path out of Valldemossa that he created. His writings described the culture, traditions and flora of his beloved Mallorca, a place that he made great efforts to protect.

After your walks on the ancient paths and visiting the pretty villages, Mallorca will surely hold a special place in your heart too!

Our walkers say:

“The walking was simply superb. The limestone mountains, the views to the sea, the cobbled paths and lovely olive groves.” (Andy and Dilys, UK)

“We LOVED this holiday! Probably our favourite On Foot holiday so far. The scenery is consistently fantastic, the villages are characterful and the accommodation is all very good.” (Tracy, UK)

 

More monasteries to visit on our walking routes:

On Foot’s Devon walking holiday in England’s West Country has been a favourite for many years, but we’ve now made it even better. Harriet has been busy re-routing and improving the two days that pass through the wilds of Dartmoor – she even walked this section in icy January weather!

The skyline of Dartmoor is punctuated by tors – rugged outcrops of grey granite that are places of myth and legend. Our route now passes some of the most spectacular high points, including Hound Tor, which gets its name from its outline looking like massive dogs (you will need quite a lot of imagination for this…).

Local legend tells that a pack of hunting dogs was turned to stone after disturbing a witches’ ceremony, and also that the tor was inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Nearby are the ruins of a medieval village known as Hundatora.

Spend your night on Dartmoor at The Rock Inn, a historic village pub with log fires and cosy corners. The food, however, is thoroughly 21st century, and excellent!

At Haytor Rocks the next day you’re likely to see the Dartmoor ponies that roam wild, and also the abandoned quarry and the tramline which once carried stone away for the construction of buildings such as the British Museum. Once full of noise and dust, the quarry is now peaceful and the pond teems with wildlife.



After Rippon Tor comes some quiet moorland hiking with panoramic views, then a descent to Buckland in the Moor – look out for the church and its unusual clock face. A lovely walk through woodland brings you to the River Dart and some excellent picnic spots, then on to the delightful tea room at Holne and your next inn at Scorriton.

And if that’s not enough – your holiday starts in the cathedral city of Exeter and finishes by winding down the Dart estuary to charming Dartmouth on the coast, with lots more scenic delights along the way.

 

Like most of our holidays in the UK, the weather is usually great for walking in July and August, so long as you book well in advance.

Find more about our Devon walking holiday here.

Foothills of the Julian Alps to Lake Bled

The northwest corner of Slovenia is a walkers’ paradise once the skiers have left in the spring. In its summer clothes the area is verdant, and the plentiful rivers flow with impossibly pale blue water from the mountains of the Triglav National Park.

Our new Slovenian Highlands route gives a sense of being in the mountains, but without tricky ascents and descents. From fashionable Kranjska Gora and the town of Mojstrana you’ll explore the valleys that gradually narrow from wide meadows and lakes to river rapids and waterfalls, as far as you can go without getting into mountaineering territory.

Cross the Sava valley and ascend to tiny Pod Golico, from where you’ll scale the steep, grassy slopes of the Golica ridge for views into Austria, before turning south through woodland to a hiker’s hut and onwards to the relative sophistication of Lake Bled.

The tiny island with its lovely church spire is much-photographed, but you can avoid most of the Instagrammers on a gentle lakeside hike with a viewpoint over the lake, or take a short transfer to the spectacular Vintgar Gorge and its boardwalk above tumbling waters.

We’ve found some lovely small hotels and B&Bs full of character and history, or carefully selected apartments. Enjoy hearty fayre at the mountain huts and refuges, experiencing the renowned friendliness of the people of this little country at the northern limits of the Balkans.

The eight-night holiday is available from mid-May to mid-September, graded Medium, and priced from £1185 (based on two sharing).  Visit the Slovenian Highlands webpage or give us a call for more details – Debbie and Simon have both walked the route, and can give advice based on their own experiences.

 

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