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With temperatures rising and snow clearing from the trails, it’s an excellent time to start making summer plans. Why not put a multi-day hiking trip on your agenda? Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or taking your first trip there are walking trips for all levels.

If you need a little inspiration to get you in the mood, here are 10 reasons why a hiking trip could be just what you need this summer.

1. Health and well-being

Walking is an excellent way to maintain fitness and general health. Studies show that even a short walk outside for 20 minutes can reduce stress and boost your immune system. It also does wonders for clearing your mind and stimulating creativity. Thanks to its low-impact nature, it’s also suitable for most abilities, and requires minimal equipment. Hiking is good for you, and if done regularly over increasingly longer distances and on hilly trails it can be an ideal way to get fit. Plus, with the extra equipment required for longer walks the heavier rucksack will add to your exercise gains.

2. Scenery

The landscape around you is breathtaking. Often hiking trails take you to places only accessible on foot, allowing you to enjoy undisturbed natural environments.

3. Go somewhere new

A hiking trip gives you a perfect opportunity to visit a new place around the world and combine it with a 'theme'. Such as the mountains and flowers on the Mont Blanc Trail or Classic Haute Route to coastlines and history crossing Mallorca's Serra de Tramuntana (to name just a few!).

4. Get off the beaten track

To truly have a break for the norm explore nature on less well known trails like the Tour des Combins through Italy and Switzerland or Hikes in Hidden Tuscany.

5. Nature bathing

Nature’s benefits to health are well documented. The Japanese even have a term for it: Shinrin-yoko (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing), with doctors prescribing it as a treatment for all kinds of health issues. Time spent in nature can be an excellent way of relaxing and uncluttering your mind.

6. Meet friends: old and new

Walking on your own can be very therapeutic, but it’s also an excellent social activity! Joining an organised walking trip can lead to new friendships through an inspiring shared experience. Something you can then plan to do as friends, with your family, independently, or on another group tour.

7. Achievable objectives

A set hiking itinerary can give you a defined goal to focus on. This can help with committing to regular fitness and provides a great excuse to explore local walking trails.

8. Experience different cultures

Choosing a hiking route in a new country or area exposes you to different languages, food and traditions. It’s a perfect opportunity to step outside your familiar routine and expand your horizons.

9. Learn something

Whether it’s learning how to identify an unknown summit on the horizon, or a rare bird perched on a tree, there’s always something to learn out on the trails. Multiple books and apps can help with self-learning, but there’s something to be said for the knowledge and skills of a qualified guide to accelerate the learning process.

10. Sleep in a mountain hut

A multi-day hike often involves a night or two in a mountain hut or ‘refuge’. Strategically located in the heart of the mountains, each hut has its own character and charm. Some offer separate rooms and showers, while others are more basic with large dormitories. One thing’s for sure though, after a long day on the trail you’ll appreciate whatever they have to offer! It’s always an unforgettable experience and highly rated by all of our guests.

On Sunday, when I stood at the start of the 2018 Virgin London Marathon, I was full of the usual nerves and a few more. Training had been more difficult than usual: in January I had flu followed by a chest infection; winter in the Peak District had been severe by British standards so training had been in snow, ice and blizzards; only seven days before the start I’d sprained a ligament walking round a very muddy Chatsworth Estate and ridiculously, summer had arrived early and the temperature would be unforgiving.

Even though I have run at least 25 marathons (and set two British senior records) and I’m always very anxious at the start. (Is anyone confident?) But this marathon was really important. This time I was running for anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer and I was running for women over 60 who, in so many ways, have become invisible and written off.

This marathon was not about setting records it was about setting the record straight: there is life after cancer and there is life in the over sixties!!!

As someone who only took up running in my mid 30s it was a surprise to find I was quite good at it and a shock at the age of 50 to find that I could possibly be a record breaker. At that time I was a Director at the PR company Bell Pottinger so my training had to fit in with a demanding work schedule. But I was determined. In 2008 I made two attempts: at London in the Spring and then in Berlin in September – and failed! Then in 2009 I finally achieved my goal and set a new record in London by finishing in 2.53.18.

Although I hated racing, and only raced a few times a year, running was very much part of my life. I enjoyed it. It was part of my daily routine not only did it keep me fit, it was the time in the day when I could relax and either I could be on my own or I could run with one the very good friends who were, and still are, an important part of my life support network! And, I was quite good at marathons. I really couldn’t imagine a day when I didn’t run and the London Marathon had become a fixed point in my calendar which I looked always looked forward to with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

However life is full of surprises and having set a new British record for women over 55 at the London Marathon in 2013 (3.03.45) I was not prepared for the bombshell that was to follow in 2014.

Early in the year I found what I thought might be a spot or even an insect bite on the back of my upper arm. I couldn’t see it but felt it when I was showering. I wasn’t worried but asked my husband Mike and my regular running partner, Katherine, what they thought of it. None of us was worried even though we didn’t know what it was. It didn’t go away and after a couple of months I decided to get it checked out. (Two years earlier a friend of mine had died at the age of 39 from malignant melanoma so I think I was certainly more alert to the possibility of cancer than I otherwise would have been.)

The referral by my GP to a dermatologist didn’t particularly worry me – as someone afflicted with ‘fatuous optimism’ (according to my husband) I was certain it would turn out to be nothing serious. There then followed an escalating level of medical intervention which culminated in an appointment at Christies (the North West’s cancer hospital) where a kind but solemn consultant told me that I needed urgent surgery for the melanoma and a lymph node biopsy as there was more than a 50 per cent chance it had spread.

It seemed as if my world had been turned upside down. One moment I was bobbing along on the sea of life negotiating the occasional ripple or gentle wave when, quite without warning, I found myself on the edge of a deep whirlpool not certain whether I would be dragged down forever or dragged down momentarily only to be spat out again.

Fortunately for me, following surgery, which involved taking a large lump out of my upper arm and removing a lymph node, I was told that there was no evidence that the cancer had spread. However for the next five years (which will end for me in August 2019) I am being checked regularly for any signs that the cancer has spread or that I have another melanoma.

Getting a cautious thumbs-up is not the end for anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer. For me it was certainly life-changing. Having already retired from full-time PR, I went back to work as a non-executive director in the NHS as well as working with a small cohort of personal training clients. I was keen to get back to normal life, which included running again. But the hard truth is I had had a wake up call – none of us know what is ‘round the corner.’ One day I was fit, healthy and happy the next day I had cancer which is indiscriminating and the outcome often uncertain. From that point on I was determined to make the most of life and not spend time doing things that I didn’t want to do. Life is too short!!!

Running competitively and setting records was no longer important. I didn’t want to put myself under that sort of stress again. What does it matter if I run more slowly as long as I am enjoying it?

For many months after surgery I didn’t believe the cancer had gone. Slowly that anxiety has dissipated. It probably has gone, it may not have done. But I am certainly a cancer survivor and I owe it to myself to now live life to the full again. Which brings me to the 2018 London Marathon.....

Without boring you with a step-by-step account of the event I can safely say I had never imagined it would my toughest ever 26.2 miles! It was London’s hottest marathon at 74 degrees C and runners fell like nine-pins from early on in the race, which is quite disconcerting, to say the least. Cramp took hold before the halfway mark and after that it was a painful journey. My determination to finish on my feet (rather than a stretcher) was strengthened by the reasons I was undertaking the challenge and made crossing the finish line even more gratifying, despite the fact if it was my slowest performance!!! For the record, I came home in 3 hours 40 minutes 50 seconds and was the third fastest 60 year old woman. The statistics do not matter. Everyone has their own personal reason for running a marathon, mine no more or less significant than anyone else’s.

Last November I celebrated my 60th birthday. How did I get that old? But here I am, happy, healthy and running again. I decided that I would get to the start line but I knew, however long it took me to reach the finish, it would be a victory for me, for all cancer survivors and for every woman over 60 – it would show we are not finished yet!

Vicki Perry ran for Macmillan and raised over £2,000.

Tracks and Trails are supporting Vicki too and we know if you'd like to do the same she'd be very grateful:

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Victoria-Perry6

It has been less than two weeks since I took my skis off for the final time at Nordkapp on completion of my solo ski journey the length of Norway. The immediate rush of emotions and elation that energised me that day has subsided into a deep sense of contentment.

For those of you who were not aware, this winter I took time away from work to press pause on life and embark on a journey that I have dreamed about for years.

“Norge på Langs” is the term Norwegians use to describe this journey. The idea is to travel on foot from one end of their very long country to the other. From Lindesnes lighthouse on the southern coast to Nordkapp in the arctic north, or visa versa.

You can see an Instagram record of my journey by following the link:

It has become recognised as one of Europe’s finest long distance summer treks. More recently people have started to attempt it in winter on skis. One of the most charming aspects of this journey is that there is no fixed route, nor style in which you have to do it. You choose how you engage with the challenge, whether you travel alone or with friends, what route you take and how much distance you travel each day. There is no real recommended route, just lots of options and choices to be made about how to link a logical line through over 2500km of wild and mountainous terrain.

After a good deal of reflection on what motivates me in Nordic skiing I chose not to take a pulk (tow a sledge) and to try to be as self-sufficient as possible whilst travelling relatively light. I hoped that I would be able to travel good distances when the weather was favourable and enjoy the skiing more, whilst at the same time not compromising safety. When travelling off-track in the Norwegian mountains it’s always advisable to have enough clothing and equipment to survive an emergency bivouac should the weather suddenly turn against you or you encounter a problem.

First ski tracks encountered after 3 week of breaking trail

Of course this meant that my rucksack wasn’t as light as I would have liked. I always carried a goretex bivvi bag, sleeping bag, thermarest and roll mat together with a gas stove, pan set and several days’ worth of food. I’ve estimated that my rucksack weighed between 15-18kg depending on how much food I was carrying.

When I set out on the 14th January, although I hoped for a safe and successful journey, I recognised that I could encounter conditions or circumstances that would prevent me from completing it. By choosing to travel alone, I had to factor in the higher level of commitment involved. I am not, and never have been a high risk taker. As a Mountain Guide I evaluate and manage risk all the time but I am always making decisions for the group as a whole; for my clients. One aspect of this journey that I particularly enjoyed was the freedom to make decisions concerning my condition and capacities in relation to the environment and the challenge, and at times to see how close to that line I was prepared to venture.

Reaching my next overnight stop

I know that I have been incredibly fortunate with the snow and weather conditions this winter season. Although I experienced some of the coldest and continuously cold conditions of my life (several weeks between minus 30 and 40 degrees C!!), this winter has been marked by lots of snow and remarkably few days of very high winds. That isn’t to say I didn’t have bad weather, but I rarely had to sit tight because of it.

It has been one of the most memorable, continuously uplifting and important challenges that I have ever undertaken. Each of the 82 days of my journey was special and satisfying in unique ways, and I am grateful for each of them, no matter how difficult or unpleasant certain sections seemed at the time. There was always something for which I was grateful and now they are all woven into a very special place in my memory.

Meeting a herd of reindeer in Finnmark

Norway is a fascinating and beautiful country. The people who I met along the way, who welcomed me, advised me, helped me and encouraged me have made my journey more than just a physical one. I have made many new friends, and although it may be some time before I get to see them again, they will remain one of the best parts of my journey.

Every journey comes to an end. For me, this winter, my physical journey ended at Nordkapp, when I took off my skis for the final time. Inside, that journey continues, and I find myself brimming with new energy and ideas about how to share my love of Nordic skiing with a wider audience. As I said to myself on so many occasions this winter… “This is amazing… I love Norway, I love snow, I love skiing… “ and I loved skiing the length of Norway! Totally recommended!

Tania Noakes

Through the course of her journey Tania has been raising money for the charity “The Ulysses Trust” which provides a vital source of funding for Army Cadets to undertake expeditions and adventure education. Tania has almost reached her fundraising goal and Tracks and Trails have also supported her goal. So if you can help with that last little bit we know it would be deeply appreciated! https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/tanianoakes1

The cliffs at Nordkapp

What a stunning route, 135 km of cross country skiing through the heart of the Norwegian mountains.The Hallingdal Track, to the east of the famous Hardangervidda, is one of the lesser known long distance ski routes, but it's a cracker! We saw a grand total of four other skiers on the whole route, can you imagine how wonderful it felt to be out there in the wilderness and feeling as though you had the mountains to yourself. Such tranquility and solitude, and searing blue skies. Having just returned from our 'recce' trip I can't wait to get back there next winter to see how you like the latest addition to our ski portfolio.

One of the great joys of working as a Ski Instructor is the need to be constantly on the look out for new journeys. It usually starts with Jim Wilkinson, an exceedingly loyal client, giving me a verbal nudge that he wants new trips on the agenda for his next outing on 'skinny' skis. Out come the maps, and the highlighter pens. Then the head scratching begins, the hunt for a bed for the night along the route gets underway, and slowly things start to take shape.The fact I never know what is round the next corner is definitely a great incentive, or indeed, whether the tracks were cut this morning, or a month ago, all adds to the sense of adventure. The more I ski tour on Nordic skis the less inclined I am to ski in an alpine downhill resort with its queues and noise, and skiers full of lunchtime beer.

We know that many of you love the 'journeying' aspect of ski touring, and it really has to be calling out to the adventurer in all of us, the 'will I make it to the next accommodation', 'what's it going to feel like today climbing that mountain', 'what if the weather turns vicious', all the tantalising thoughts that drift through our minds as we drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind in the eaves. One thing you should realise is that it is quite 'normal' to be a little anxious at the start of a ski trip, but everyone settles down once that first day has been enjoyed and they realise that they can ski the distance after all. I have never left anyone out on the mountain yet, though it's a threat that can be useful with our guests that have come to know us well over the years and are inclined to give the 'guide' a hard time! Tracks and Trails has been running for over 11 years now and so many of you have become regulars, and friends, that exploring a new area is a true joy.

So what did I find on the Hallingdal Track? How does it compare to our other trips? Well, it's certainly different in that it feels more mountainous with a lot of the skiing above the treeline. We very quickly claim a summit early in the trip, and then have several days in high open complex terrain with crags, and knolls, cliffs and hummocks, high tops, and lakes. A truly beautiful landscape that totally blew me away. And we had some wonderful surprises!

Our first taste of the unusual was at Fagerhøy Fjellstue (a Fjellstue is the name given to a 'high mountain lodge') where the new owners Isabella and Øyvind have fast gained a reputation for excellent food. They've been extremely inventive in terms of getting a reputation for themselves by creating the Fjellplanken! Such has its fame spread that international magazines and TV have visited the Fjellstue. Imagine a Norwegian take on 'tapas' and add in 5 different beers to go with each tapas and you have the Fjellplanken. Absolutely delicious!

Next stop - Langedrag, where we were told 'It is not what you will expect.' Well, what do you think we were expecting? Certainly, not sharing

our space with 4 lynx, overgrown pussy cats in my opinion, though when one hissed when I got too close, the size of her incisors made me re-think the pussy cat description. Add in a muskox, amazing pre-historic looking creatures; reindeer, artic foxes, elks, wild boar and wolves and I can agree it was not what we were expecting for our overnight companions. Langedrag is an amazing nature park high in the mountains where the emphasis is on educating young people (and old) about the wild animals of Norway while allowing them to live as naturally as it is possible to live in a Park situation. That combined with the location and the views to the huge lake of Tunhoovdfjorden make it a wonderful overnight stop.

There are, in fact, over 3,000 wild reindeer in this area and they are often to be seen on the high ground on the ski journey from Langedrag to Haglebu.The reindeer are so well adapted to their wintry environment and the first thing you notice is that they 'click'! Essentially a tendon moves over the bones of their legs just above the hooves and makes a very audible clicking sound. Apparently, it is to help them follow each other in 'white out' conditions. How cool is that! "Hang on Rudolph you need to 'click' louder, I didn't quite catch that!"

The day from Langedrag to Hagelbu is probably our highlight day. It's a big day, only 30 km, but the high terrain and the amazing long descent at the end to our log cabin make it not one to be taken lightly, but it is to be savoured. Another interesting overnight stop at Haglebu and different lodgings again, this time in basic, but cosy cabins in the valley. A warm welcome from Mona who was surprised to know we were skiing the Hallingdal Track. She told me that she rarely sees people skiing the route, but would love us to spread the word and keep her little Fjellstue in business feeding and sheltering cross country skiers.

Another wonderful day swooping through gullies, and round lakes, and some fantastic downhills brings us to Tempelseter. Well, how disappointed were we to find that Tempelseter Fjellstue had burned down a few years ago and there was 'no room at the inn', in fact 'no nothing at the inn'. So a descent of 700 metres to the valley was required to find a bed for the night. Eventually we ran out of snow and skis on our packs we marched down the road, more than ready for a drink and a meal. Tim, my long suffering 'significant other', is usually of a very upbeat and positive disposition, but even he wasn't enjoying the march on tarmac. Standing in the middle of the road when the next vehicle passed, and climbing onboard before the driver had worked out what was happening soon solved the problem. Norwegians are definitely the most generous people when it comes to helping other mountain people. 'Nature' is such a huge part of their lives that they welcome anyone who is also out there enjoying it. A staggering 70 per cent of the population of Oslo heads for the hills at Easter weekend, and the long standing tradition of having a family home, a 'hytte' in the mountains is alive and well with demand for second homes in the high places continuing to rise. At the moment there are some 60,000 hytte for sale in Norway, many of them new builds, as developers try to meet demand.

So did we find somewhere to rest our weary heads after our long march? Did we ever! What a find! In a little village in the middle of nowhere we found Eggedal Borgerstue. What a treasure, wonderful decor, artwork and four-poster bed complete with chandelier. If you like a trip with amazing skiing, stunning views, and constant variety this is the one for you! A huge thanks to Elisabeth for taking us in! I hope you enjoyed your holiday and that we actually get to meet you next time.

Oh, one last thought. My education in all things Nordic was complete this winter when I discovered 'hygge'. Where have I been? Why did none of you tell me about this trendy movement before? I was oblivious to the fact that finally the rest of the world has woken up to the Nordic way of things and that it's cool to get into the hygge. Those of you who know about 'hygge' will know what I mean and the rest of you can 'google' it.

See you on The Hallingdal Track in winter 2019?

Alpine towns don’t come any more iconic than Chamonix, nestled in the heart of the French Alps. Renowned for its proximity to Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, Chamonix has long been considered the centre of Alpine mountaineering.

With easy access to Geneva and bordering both Switzerland and Italy, Chamonix, offers visitors the possibility of a '3 country experience'. The options for exploration and adventure are endless and are open to all fitness levels and experience.

The Chamonix valley offers something for every visitor in summer or winter, what ever the weather. Be it those wishing to relax and simply soak up the mountain environment to those wanting the extremes of outdoor adventure.

Chamonix is a mecca for walkers and trail runners thanks to the outstanding range of trails in the area. Numerous itineraries are available for day trips or multi-day adventures with the luxury of mountain refuges located in stunning locations. Chamonix also hosts the mythical Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc trail race around the peak, placing it at the heart of the international trail running scene.

For those looking for a somewhat less demanding experience but with the same jaw-dropping vistas, you can also use the many mountain railways and cable cars that take the sting out of the ups and down. Such as the world famous 'Aiguilles du Midi' - Europe's highest cable car or visit the 'sea of ice' - Mer de Glace on the Montenvers Railway.

Making Chamonix a great way of introducing children to the mountains, their history, geology, flora & fauna - enjoying a family adventure together.

The Tracks and Trails Way

We offer a wide range of trips designed to make the most of your time in the area through our expert knowledge after over a decade of living and working in and around the Chamonix Valley.

If you’re a walker looking for a challenging and world famous trek, the Classic Tour du Mont Blanc or Highlights Tour should be top of your list. For something even more demanding and just as revered, the Classic Haute Route or Highlights Tour from Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland is not to be missed. If you are short on time then choose from a day or half day walk. Lac Blanc, a glacier-formed lake high above the valley, is one of the classics of the area. It has been described by some as one of the 'best day walks' in the world!

In more recent years Chamonix has also become THE trail running destination of the world and there's no wonder why. The Mont Blanc Ultra Trail and Mont Blanc Marathon have become some of the 'must do' race routes for any seasoned trail runners calendar.

For those wishing to reach these dizzy heights (and distances!) we offer three different Chamonix based running holidays. All of which are designed to help prepare runners for their own trail running ambitions or to simply just enjoy running in nature.

We offer a week long Chamonix based trail running camp, 4 days of Chamonix 'Classic' Trail Runs and the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail broken into 3 or 6 manageable bite sized chunks.

Families also have several options to choose from, including our family friendly Mont Blanc Tour, an action-packed week of fun and adventure on our Family Adventure Trip or something more bespoke.

After a day out playing in the mountains there is also plenty to profit from at a slower pace too. The town centre offers excellent shopping and wonderful cafe culture all under the back drop of Mont Blanc, it's glaciers and surrounding peaks.

A few months ago, I wrote a short article about being inspired to take part in the Birkebeiner, a world-famous 54km XC Ski Marathon from Rena to Lillehammer, Norway. Well, I’ve only gone and done it!!!

Despite very cold temperatures between -5C and -26°C, the skies were blue, the snow was fresh and the crowd were enthusiastic. I knew I’d put the time and effort into my fitness, I’d done a 40km training ski about 4 weeks before and spent the previous week in Austria ski mountaineering. Whilst I was nervous, I was also quietly confident that, although I wouldn’t be breaking any records, I could get myself round.

The atmosphere was amazing. From the minute we arrived in Rena and settled onto our foam mattresses in the school hall, to the final km going into the stadium at Lillehammer, everyone was really friendly. And the Norwegians really know how to cheer you on!!! I was part of a group of 11 members of the RAF Nordic Team. Our experience levels varied from guys who had been doing this for years, to 3 team members who had only started skiing in January! We were in a number of different start groups, so as our numbers started to dwindle, I took my place in group 22 and waited for the off. Fortunately, being in one of the later start groups did mean that I was with mostly recreational skiers. The frenzied start I had been warned about failed to materialize and everyone set off at a polite but steady pace. The route immediately starts with a long slow climb, and just like anyone who has ever done the Great North Run or similar, within the first 500m there were people having faffs with skis, waxes, clothing etc. I just skied my own race and kept going at a steady pace. I’m not sure whether I was pleased or demoralized by the fact that there was a marker at every km, but I started ticking them off. There were also refreshment stands every 5km, so again, something to keep ticking off and moving forward.

Starting Group 22

All was going incredibly well and I was feeling really good having just climbed the second of the hills and hit around the 24km mark. And then disaster struck. Relaxing and enjoying a slide down the other side, I have no idea what I hit in my track but I was summarily ejected at speed and landed in a heap. Winded, and initially fearing the worst (a broken leg sprang to mind), I slowly got myself together and got to the edge of the tracks. A quick body check revealed I could still stand (phew – my leg obviously wasn’t broken). My ribs were incredibly sore and I had obviously managed to impale myself on my pole on the way down. Still, I had already done 24km and I am not one to waste effort. I had a strong word with myself, “Come on Lizzie! You’re almost half-way and you didn’t come here to drop out!” and off I set. Despite the sore rib, I just managed my pace so that I was never breathing too heavily and I figured I probably wasn’t going to die. The next 30km became about a steady pace and just keeping going. At about 5pm I had around 14km to do, mostly downhill, and it was starting to get really cold. The sensible thing to do would have been to stop and put on another layer, but the ‘it’s only another 14km, just get on with it’ voice was too strong. I persevered and arrived in the stadium 8hrs and 8mins after I started, freezing cold, but ecstatic to have made it!

The trail ahead - fabulous weather & views!

When I first started looking at the race, I just wanted to get round in one piece, without being stopped for being too slow. As I have trained, I had settled on around 8 hours being my target time, so actually, taking into account the fall and bruised ribs, I was really pleased. From a recovery perspective, I haven’t had any horrendous aches, just the bruising. ‘Train hard, ski easy’ is the way forward.

I have been extremely lucky that living in Germany, I have been able to get some quality time on snow, and I have great sports facilities available to me at work. With technique coaching from Lindsay, and a demanding training programme from my Personal Trainer, Caz, I was really able to set myself up for success. A week at New Year in Venabu, followed by a 3-day Skate-Ski Intro in Italy gave my training diversity, and ski mountaineering the week before the race clearly just gave me an appreciation of steep slopes and high mountains that made the ones on the Birkebeiner fade into little blips. The whole experience has been brilliant. The training gave me something to focus on, and the suggestion from RAF Nordic that I join them was much appreciated. Ultimately though, this has been a tale of someone who had done a bit of skiing, setting their sights on a goal, and going for it, and anyone can do that!!!! I’d happily recommend giving a race a go. For me, what’s next? Some idiot mentioned Vasaloppet…90km in Sweden next year….now where are my skis?

Lizzie Norton

The Norwegian military, on traditional telemark skis.

 

 

It may not seem like it with Siberian weather currently freezing Northern Europe, but Spring is not far away. To help take the edge off the winter chill, (and if you’ve had enough of the snow!) why not consider one of our upcoming sunshine escapes to Majorca or the Verdon Gorge?

We have several Spring trips offering you a wide choice of destinations and itineraries to help inspire you through the winter. Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself with your first multi-day walk or trail run, enjoy island life, or simply explore somewhere new, there’s plenty to put on your post-winter wish list. Here’s a couple of our favourite early season destinations.

Walk or Trail Run the Verdon Gorge – next available trip: 28 April – 5 May

Europe’s Grand Canyon is a magnificent limestone gorge forged by the iridescent Verdon river. The climate, scenery and trails underfoot make it an ideal early-year destination for either hiking or trail running. Voted one of the Top 10 European Canyon's to visit it’s also a trail steeped in history, following along in the ancient footsteps of Napoleon and his troops back in 1815.

We follow the same route along sections of the famous GR4 (grand randonee) over six days for both trips, with speed being the critical difference! Each day we cover between 16-23km and around 600-800m ascent and descent, with our main bags being transported between hotels. This means we can enjoy our time out on the trails more with only our essentials required.

Relatively long days on the trail are more than compensated for by comfortable, friendly hotels and guesthouses, along with the world-famous culinary delights of Provence.

Find out more about our hiking or trail running Verdon Gorge trips ->

Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana (Majorca) – next available trip: 21 – 29 April

A traverse of this spectacular Spanish island over the dramatic limestone mountains along the Serra de Tramuntana, the GR221. With the jade green sea glistening around every corner, and quintessential Majorcan villages rewarding your efforts with local hospitality, it’s a classic trail. Yet one which you can largely enjoy to yourself.

We spend eight days hiking the well-maintained trails across the island, covering between 15-25km each day with plenty of ascent and descent. Our main luggage is transported between hotels so we can enjoy lighter day sacks while walking. It’s a challenging trek for those with some experience and good fitness, and one not to be missed!

Find out more about our Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana trek->

We are delighted to be collaborating with Chloë Lanthier on our 2018 Chamonix trail running camp. Chloë, founder of the Chamonix based x-training school, is an extremely gifted and accomplished athlete with over two decades of experience competing across the globe.

Originally from Canada and bilingual in English and French, Chloë is based in the Chamonix valley and brings a wealth of practical knowledge and trail running acumen gained from many years of competition, coaching and educating at the highest international level. For many years Chloë has also been an extremely active advocate promoting the sport in her role as a Patagonia Trail Running Ambassador.

In addition to her being an accomplished athlete (including having placed first amongst the women competing in Alaska’s gruelling Iditarod Trail Invitation, a 560km unsupported winter bike event, and winning the title of World Champion at the 24 hours of Solo Mountain Biking in Canada), Chloë also has an impressive record in sports rehabilitation and performance training, founded on her BA in Exercise Physiology and her Masters in Science in Biomechanics and Human Performance.

Complementing her passion for trail running, Chloë is also an avid backcountry skier, mountain biker and enjoys sharing her insight and knowledge of a diverse range of subjects relating to the outdoors through her writing. Chloë has authored many engaging pieces for her readers on topics such as developing a balanced and healthy lifestyle in the mountains, sports nutrition and performance training. Her bi-weekly blog can be read here.

Chloë will share her extensive knowledge on one exclusive trail camp this summer 1st-8th July 2018 whilst working along side french qualified International Mountain Leader Sebastien Gros. Chamonix born and bred Sebastien has only ever known a life living and working in the mountains. Sebastien has a Masters in Sport, Tourism and Local Development and is qualified as both an 'Accompagnateur en Moyenne Montagne' (International Mountain Leader for hiking and trail running) and an Alpine Ski Instructor. He's passionate about trail running as it allows him to explore new places. Seb has already guided many of our trips be it through the Gorge du Verdon, around Mont Blanc or along Mallorca's GR221. We feel that together this collaboration of skills and experience will offer any avid runner the opportunity to enhance their skills and experience on any mountain trails. Runners will be in very safe & accomplished hands!

NEW EXCLUSIVE: Chamonix Trail Running Camp

We have chosen the newly renovated 3* Hotel Aiguille du Midi as our base for this week of trail running activities. A traditional French mountain hotel perfectly situated at the foot of the famous Glacier des Bossons. The hotel offers a spacious living area, free wi-fi, spa facilities, massage room and garden with a gorgeous pool that boasts splendid views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. The dining facilities at the Hotel Aiguille du Midi are also excellent. Each evening you’ll enjoy healthy, local cuisine with a 3-course dinner; whilst breakfast and lunch each day will feature wholesome and nutritious foods to keep your energy levels sustained so as to ensure you’ll get the most enjoyment from your time running the trails. We can cater for vegetarian and other dietary needs — just get in touch and we’ll be happy to make the necessary arrangements. To find out more about the itinerary and a detailed list of activities for the Chamonix trail camp, visit the dedicated webpage. It’s also possible to take part in our trail running week on a guiding-only basis without accommodation: to check availability visit the booking page here.

To find out more about all our trail running trips to the Dolomites, the Jura, Verdon Gorge and other destinations this coming summer visit the main page for our info page on trail running holidays. If you’ve any questions or need help with selecting a trip to best suit your ambitions and experience level, please get in touch — we’re happy to help!

We are pleased to announce that Tracks and Trails Director and co-owner Julia Tregaskis-Allen has been awarded the position of Ambassador for the British-owned outdoor clothing and equipment company Montane. As a member of the BAIML (British Association of Mountain Leaders), and one of four International Mountain Leaders chosen to represent the brand, Julia is very proud to have been selected and is looking forward to taking up the role:

"As a mountain professional quality equipment and clothing is an essential part of the job. Montane products are highly regarded in terms of design and performance across a broad range of mountain activities. I’m delighted to be working with Montane as an Ambassador and to be involved with the development of their brand."

Julia will be engaged in testing, improving and developing new products, as well as promoting the Montane brand to outdoor enthusiasts.
Find out more about Julia in her recent interview with Montane here.

 

Julia's been an International Mountain Leader and BASI ISIA Nordic Ski Teacher for over 10 years. During this time she's specialised in guiding and organising adventure holidays in the Alps and Scandinavia and led treks and expeditions in Africa, South America and the Himalayas. The 10 years prior to this she combined working as a sports coach / personal trainer with outdoor education.

Be it on foot, skis, by bike or on rock she's never happier than when on a journey through the mountains.

Thank you Lizzie for sending us your wonderful cross country skiing story.......(to date!)

Mention cross-country to skiing to most of my friends and colleagues and I am usually met with a response along the lines of ‘that looks a bit too much like hard work’..... well, it can be hard work, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, and for those people who enjoy trail running, long hikes or just some fresh air in the great outdoors away from the crowds, then it might just be worthwhile giving cross-country skiing a try.

I’ve long been a fan of the outdoors, fresh air and travel. I have also always enjoyed alpine skiing, so when I discovered Tracks and Trails ‘Introduction to cross-country skiing’ long weekend in Italy, I thought I’d give it a go. Right for the off-set something clicked....although unfortunately it probably wasn’t the technique! The stunning scenery at Val Ferret was the perfect setting, and within a few short hours of basic instruction, we were heading off on an adventure (or at least to the far end of the valley to the restaurant). There is something really satisfying about tucking into a hearty meal in a location you can only reach under your own steam. And no guilty conscience about having cake, because there was always going to be a couple of hours skiing to get back to the start of the trail! The introductory weekend did everything it said on the tin. It gave you a real taste for what you could achieve with cross-country skiing. I was hooked!

I was soon booking myself onto a week in Norway, at the Venabu Fjellhotell. Norway - the home of skiing, for good reason. There are seemingly endless trails across fells and through woodlands. Filling a week and never repeating a route, with expert instruction, my skiing came on leaps and bounds. Whilst the accommodation at Venabu is marvellous, as someone who loves long distance treks and journeys of discovery, my aspiration was to become competent enough to do a multi-day journey. Tracks and Trails offer a number of these and my sights were set on their ‘Trolls Trail Tour’ - 175km from the Rondane to Lillehammer their hardest tour no less (I’m never one to like an easy option!).

Just one more trip before feeling confident enough to tackle the Trolls Trail, I booked onto a Traverse of the Black Forest in Germany. Cuckoo clocks and Black Forest gateau in abundance, the trail proved to be a great journey too. 100km from Schonach to Belchen, the trail winds through forest, before heading over Feldberg Mountain and starting the descent to the finish. Some of the best scenery in Germany, and again great organisation from Tracks and Trails. Our bags were moved on each day, so you could enjoy the fresh air and exercise, safe in the knowledge that there was always going to be a hot shower and comfortable bed at the end of it.

Almost 2 years to the day after I first put the skinny skis on in Val Ferret, I arrived back in Norway to do the Trolls Trail. The journey didn’t disappoint. Over the course of a week, our adventure took us across the Rondane to Lillehammer. There were days when we didn’t see another skier from one stage to the next. A real highlight for me was a night in a traditional Norwegian hut. A big effort during the day ensured we were there early enough to bagsy a bed, but it was great meeting other skiers passing through on their own journeys and sharing tales over huge pans of steaming pasta by a fire.

I’m completely caught the cross-country bug. I can’t wait to plan my next trip, which I would really like to be another multi-day journey. However, another challenge awaits slightly more imminently. A group of colleagues asked me if I would consider joining them to do the Birkebeiner. It’s a 54km race finishing in Lillehammer, and this year is the 80th Anniversary. It is legendary in Norway. I couldn’t say no! I am now wondering what on earth I have done, but it has given me something new to focus on, and on the basis that I love a challenge, what could possibly go wrong?

So there you go, complete novice to aspirant Birkebeiner competitor in 3 short years. And the best thing about it all are the marvellous people that I’ve met and the adventures I've had along the way. What am I up to right now? Spending New Year 2018 with a great bunch of people, enjoying the fabulous hospitality at Venabu again! I have a race to prepare for and what better way to do it then with Tracks and Trails!

So, is cross-country skiing hard work? Well it is more demanding than sitting on a ski lift.....but also so much more rewarding. Now when I mention cross-country skiing to my Norwegian colleagues and friends, they say ‘ but you’re a Brit!’.....yes I am. But one that loves the loipe and I can’t wait to tell them that I’ve done the Birkebeiner!

Lizzie Norton

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