We have been telling friends about our trip and we’re often asked for more details, so here is a brief outline. As we will be walking in three different countries, the logistics are more complicated than last year, when we did just one long walk. To plan this trip, we bought a laminated wall calendar, got out marking pens and coloured post-it notes, and went to work. Any project leader would be proud of us:
We start with a flight to Amsterdam on July 22nd. After a one-day stopover in the Netherlands, we fly on to Venice where we will spend a couple of days. Then we head north by bus from Venice to the Dolomites, where we will walk the Alta Via 1 (AV1), an eleven day alpine trek in a part of Italy we haven’t visited.
After the AV1 is a long day to get to our next hike in France. Where you can go in the mountains by bus or rail is limited. Just to get from the Dolomites to Oulx, a town near the French border, takes four trains. From there, a bus over a mountain pass to Briançon in France; and finally a short train ride to St. Dauphin, the starting point of a twelve-day walk, mostly in the Queyras National Park in the French Alps, but the trail also crosses in and out of Italy at times.
At the end of the Queyras hike, we return to Oulx, which is on the high-speed rail line (TGV) between Turin and Paris. We take the TGV to Paris where, after a quick Metro ride to the Gare du Nord, we catch the fast train to Amsterdam for a week in the Netherlands.
After the Netherlands, we go by train (via Brussels and the Eurostar under the Channel) to enjoy a few days in London, followed by two days with friends on a scenic drive from Bath to the small town of St. Bees on the west coast near the Lake District. St Bees is the start of the fifteen-day Coast to Coast (C2C) walk. The C2C includes three national parks and ends in Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. The walk has a reputation for great scenery but wet weather. I have been making B&B reservations on the C2C and everyone says it is bucketing rain in Yorkshire today. Perhaps the rain will be over before we arrive.
Finally, we take an overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam for another week in the Netherlands. We fly back to Vancouver on October 1.
Last year we didn’t book anything beyond the first few nights. It was a long walk and we were right in thinking that our plans might change along the way. This year we have shorter walks so we will try to stick to a schedule. We are booking everything in advance, so we don’t have to deal with logistics on the way and can enjoy the scenery and people more. It has enabled us take advantage of early booking discounts on trains, and ensures we have accommodation in busy places like the Lake District and the Dolomites, where reservations months ahead seem essential.
Coming soon: a little more detail on the three walks we plan.