Climb and kayak in the Aegean
Check out the village of Elena on Kalymnos in the Aegean, which is within walking distance of the climbing crags. You can enjoy an amazing breakfast in a lovely apartment here before you set off, too. Masouri, a resort village, is close and is full of climbers. I recommend renting a kayak for a day trip to the nearby island of Telendos – with additional climbing and seafood restaurants. It’s a spectacular place, a real gem.
A campervan to Norway’s fjords
I recommend renting a campervan and driving around the Norwegian fjords. It’s the most scenic and cost-effective way to see the country. Flåm, Geirangerfjord and the Atlantic Ocean road are all stunning, and there are plenty more gems to be found off the beaten path. A summer trip can offer swimming in the fjords and trips to snowy glaciers – there’s also the light of the midnight sun!
A bit of adventure on the way to the beach, Albania
Adventure to Himarë in southern Albania. Stay at Sun Bakers hostel, get up early, and ask the staff to take you to the “hidden” beaches. Take a packed lunch and wear sturdy footwear, as a little bit of abseiling is required. On solid ground, take in the vista and swim if you fancy it. It’s not a long walk back to the hostel, so you can safely stay until sunset. Cool off with a pint of Birra Tirana upon your return – you deserve nothing less!
Family adventure in Norway
I wanted to fulfil one of my husband’s dreams: to see the northern lights, for his 40th birthday. With three young children in tow, we booked an Airbnb overlooking the sea in Tromsø, Norway. The hosts cooked us a delicious Norwegian meal for my husband’s birthday with local ingredients and a matching wine and beer list. We climbed mountains, went on a whale-watching expedition, and spent an unforgettable night watching the northern lights with our two older children. My tips are to always try the DIY option to make your adventure travel dreams happen, and don’t let having young children put you off!
Wonderful waterfall walk on Andros
On the Greek island of Andros, a €50 boat ride from Athens, we hiked to the Pithara waterfalls, our eyes straying from the shoreline behind us only to squint at the trail signs and make sure we weren’t treading on one of the island’s many snakes. The path is matted in a purple cloud-like grass, and the waterfall had smoothed the rock to resemble a sleeping dog curled against the willows. On our descent we were joined, periodically, by various local dogs, each one guiding us to the next checkpoint, before disappearing into the trees.
Making Hay while the sun shines, Powys
The end of summer blues. A bike, a tent, 50-year-old legs and vague idea to get to Chatwin’s Black Hills. I’m doing it! I pedal on, fortified by electrolytic tablets, cheered on by the sun. Past Hereford, start, stop, menacing trucks, Lego blocks pass by. Soon after I’m breathing rural air, open spaces, new smells! Keep on – not far now. Finally, there it is: Llanthony Priory and the mountains. Stretch out on the grass, nuts, chocolate, repose. Then a chapel before a menacing gradient. I climb, then push. Oh bliss at the top! Welsh ponies, buzzards, panoramic views and a cool breeze. Soon I’m flying down a winding road to books, coffee and Hay-on-Wye.
A proposal for Iceland
In south-east Iceland, leave the Route 1 ring road, stop at Vestrahorn Camping and ready your walking boots. I’d been trying to decide on the most romantic place to pop the question to my then girlfriend (now wife) when, on a spectacular hike along the coastal base of the twin Vestrahorn peaks, we stumbled across the most beautiful, isolated black-sand beach. No one had passed us in more than two hours. This was it. The ring emerged from where it had been hidden among my spare stoma bag supplies. She said yes, and the only witnesses were two arctic foxes scurrying across the scree face of the slopes above.
Cycling alongside the Danube, Germany/Austria
For middle-aged empty nesters used to holidays focused on their children, the challenge is how to holiday without them. We wanted structure and adventure, but not to be part of a group. We discovered self-guided cycle trips, where the bikes, hotels, maps, directions and luggage transfers are sorted for you. You spend the day cycling through amazing scenery, experiencing the people and the landscape in a way you never could from a car or train. You can justifiably indulge in local food and drink in the evening. Our first trip was the Danube Cycle Path, with Radurlaub. We’ve had three more lovely adventures since.
Winning tip: Happy valley trails, Switzerland
Turn left for paradise, says the billboard, as you drive off the Lötschbergtunnel rail link, short-cutting through the mountains from Kandersteg. How right that is: the Lötschental is a beautiful quiet valley high in the Swiss Alps. Well-signed walks on excellent paths to spectacular high mountains and huts, excellent road and mountain biking – all facilitated by the free bus service up and down the valley, and the free chairlift pass included in a break at the Nest- und Bietschhorn Hotel, with wonderful food at reasonable prices. It’s also one of the sunniest, driest valleys in Switzerland.