Imagine a red-rock desert with vibrant spring wildflowers at the edge of a deep blue sea. We found just this along the Vicentine Coast of southern Portugal, a stretch of coastline spared from development. We stumbled upon this hike rather by accident.
When we traveled from Kakheti back to Tbilisi, we arranged for a sidetrip to Davit-Gareja. Davit-Gareja is a monastery on the Georgia-Azerbajan border. The landscape here looks somewhat like parts of Utah or New Mexico, and as such it is quite different than the areas visited before. Around Telavi and Tbilisi are wooded hills and agricultural lands with vineyards, but here there are extensive grasslands and exposures of reddish sandstone.
We spent a day hiking to Gergeti Trinity Church and the alpine meadows above it. Most tourists have themselves driven up in Lada 4x4s on a rutted, rocky road. We almost got carsick just looking at the cars bouncing in the track, and decided to hike up instead.
From our guesthouse we walked down into town, crossed the river on the bridge, and then hiked through a meadow to meet up with the dirt track. The road switchbacks up a hillside with ever-expanding views.
Santorini, Greece, is a very well-known and popular travel destination. This is for a good reason: it is very beautiful. The hiking trail that leads from Fira to Oia takes in some of the key sights of the island. It’s a truly spectacular dayhike.
Madeira is a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a very rugged island with coastal cliffs all around. Madeira is known for its irrigation channels called levadas. The levadas contour around steep mountainsides, taking water from streams in the rainy interior and delivering it to drier areas. Alongside the levadas are pathways for maintenance, and these pathways are great for hiking.
Britain is one of the premier destinations in the world for long-distance hiking. Surprisingly, very few North Americans know about this. Many people are aware of the Appalachian trail in the eastern U.S. and the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, but ask someone about Offa’s Dyke or the Pennine Way and you’re bound to get puzzled looks. In short, these trails are a well-kept secret.
In part three of our North Devon coastal hike, we hike past a lighthouse to a rocky point that juts far out into the sea. We enjoy a day with spectacular weather, and hike around Baggy Point to the golden sands of Woolacombe Beach. We finish our hike at the pub in Croyde, a surfing town.
In part two of our North Devon coastal hike, we hike along spectacular cliffs overlooking the ocean. We find a little robin along the trail that agrees to have its picture taken. We hike through fields of bluebells and across endless moorlands. We catch the sunset at Combe Martin, and we explore the Victorian architecture and arts scene of Ilfracombe.
In part one of our North Devon coastal hike, we ride a steam train to our starting point. We check out the historic town of Dunster and its castle. We get caught in a rainstorm on the moors and seek shelter in a little tearoom. We hike along steep coastal cliffs to Lynmouth, where we ride a funicular train powered entirely by water.
We stumbled upon this wonderful day hike somewhat by accident. We were staying in a B&B on the outskirts of Laxe. When we arrived the day before, we had noticed a little sign indicating “praia” (beach) pointing down a country road. The next day we decided to investigate.