One Giant Mud Puddle: Getting Lost in the Lake District

England is not known for its mountains, especially when compared to the rest of the UK. Before I visited the Lake District, I pictured gently ambling among low lakes and rolling hills. The first indication that I might be mistaken was the expression on the Derwentwater Hostel manager’s face when I described the route I…

One-Week Wander: Mallorca

I love to be outdoors, but this love (and my overall spirits) dim in cold, wet January and February. A few weeks ago, I found my shivering, pale self researching the destinations closest to London that might offer a tiny bit of mid-winter sun and relatively dry walking trails, at a budget price and with…

My Muddy Valentine

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Candle-lit dinner? Chocolates? Roses? Hurriedly arranging to leave the city so you wouldn’t be lying when you told someone you’d been on a few dates with that you already had plans?  Ahem.  The “Night Riviera” train leaves London Paddington at 11:45pm several times a week and travels the…

Time Travel: Spring 2014 – Hiking the Gorges du Verdon

I’ve sung the praises of France’s wonderful network of hiking trails before– it’s one of the things I miss most about living there. But I haven’t yet shared the five days I spent on one of the most glorious of those paths: the GR4, through the Gorges du Verdon in southeastern France. Le throwback… Sometimes…

Walking in the “Peak” (Hill) District

Yes, I am throwing a little shade with that post title, mostly because the “peaks” of the Peak District throw almost none. But despite its decidedly tame topography, this national park’s gentle hills and misty moors are completely enchanting. I had the good luck to make it up there twice this spring– once on my…

Day Hike: Seven Sisters

England can feel claustrophobic: it’s dense, laced with gray highways and aging malls and hulking supermarkets, and too often straddled by gray skies. The air, even in the suburbs, can be acrid. One of my favorite escapes is just a day trip away from London: the Seven Sisters coastal hike. The Seven Sisters are a…

Hiking Tips for Indoor Kids: The Day Backpack

I think a lot of potential hikers get scared away by the GEAR: there’s so much of it, and it’s so expensive, and ads for it often feature impossibly rugged-looking people clinging to cliff faces. Sure, for a long trek that involves camping or climbing, major supplies are essential. But day hikes, or even multi-day hikes with…

Day Hike: Tournon-sur-Rhône Loop

The first thing I saw when I got off the train in Tain was green-and-beige-patterned hillside, vineyards under blue May skies. “Drink ya later,” I thought, and walked into town. I passed store fronts selling the same grapes in red wine form and crossed a bridge into Tournon-sur-Rhône, another pretty little town dominated by a historic…

Gliding Over Mountains and Glaciers in Chamonix

The New England mountains I grew up with, gentle, rounded peaks covered in trees and boulders, bear no resemblance to the ubiquitous pointy cartoon version. The only real contender is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet (1,917 meters), its rocky heights are cloaked in snow for much of the year, but even its silhouette is…

Day Trip: Annecy

There’s nothing like the serenity and breathtaking beauty of the Annecy lakeside. Beyond its tranquil, bright-blue water and craggy green hills stand heart-pounding mountains, regal and chilly in the not-so-distance. Coots dot the lake, their dark plumage like ink stains on glass; up close, the water is so clear that you can see their gray feet…