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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:

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.

 

We hold a soft spot in our hearts for the Yorkshire Dales. The green meadows dotted with stone barns and the wilder uplands are a special part of the wide and welcoming landscapes of northern England.

This area has been home to our route designers (and long-time On Foot clients) Shaun and Lynda for many years. We asked Shaun what it means to them.

Why do you love the Yorkshire Dales?
Everything about the Dales is special. It’s so unspoilt and sparsely populated – despite being only 30-40 miles from a number of major cities, it could be a world away. The people, the scenery, the gorgeous villages – what more could you want?!

How long have you lived there?
We’ve lived here for 14 years, but have visited for the past 50. We’ve always enjoyed walking in the Dales – the quietness and beauty of the area is such a contrast to the West Yorkshire town we lived in before. When we took early retirement, it was at the top of our list.

What do you think it is that creates the particular character of the Dales? 
Of course, it is Yorkshire, so it has to be good! The landscapes are influenced by the geology, which creates extraordinary features such as the cliffs and limestone pavement at Malham Cove, and the knobbly Brimham Rocks. The agriculture is mainly sheep farming, which makes for excellent walking as the fields are perfectly manicured pastures and easy underfoot. 

The picture-postcard villages such as Grassington, Kettlewell, Malham and Austwick are lovely small communities. Despite the ‘Yorkshire grit’ tag which comes from our northern hardiness, Yorkshire folk are so friendly, open and helpful. They’re always ready to stop for a chat and to test you out with a bit of our famous dialect. 

What’s the walking like on our route?
It’s excellent, and very varied. There are only two steep climbs of note and a few short, sharp pulls, but also quite a lot of easy-going walking mixed in. Underfoot it is generally very good even after rain, and there are no peat bogs, thank goodness! The route is very quiet except for a few villages that can be a little busier at weekends.

What are your favourite places on our route?

That’s difficult to answer, but if pressed we would say Thieves Moss and Ingleborough for their rugged beauty, closely followed by Wharfedale and Malhamdale which are much more pastoral and gentler in nature. The contrast between the start and end of the walk is staggering for such a small area – it’s so diverse.

Yorkshire food and drink are a great feature of the holiday – what do you recommend?
You’re sure to get some hearty food, and large portions too! However, there are more refined dining opportunities as well, including by a couple of French chefs at Hebden and Austwick, plus a three-rosette kitchen at The Traddock. For a good Yorkshire ale, I’d recommend anything from Timothy Taylor’s brewery, and Theakstons provides another great range of ales.

Why should walkers choose On Foot’s Yorkshire Dales walk in 2024?
It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys wide and panoramic views over ever-changing scenery, and it packs a real punch over its six walks. And you can spot some of the locations for the recent TV series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ along the way!

No matter where you are in the Dales, the walking is great, the views are endless, and the people friendly. 

Find more details of our walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales here.

 

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