World Guides Travel Blog
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April 28, 2013
THE HOLIDAY PLANNING DILEMMA
I'm a great advocate of independent travel, which is why, each year, a pile of holiday company brochures is examined, admired and then duly put aside in favour of a map and the Internet. Far from being a hassle, planning a holiday from scratch seems to me to be a far more exciting prospect than having all the leg-work done for me.
Whilst independent travel has plenty going for it, I have to admit that there are occasions when a guided or package holiday has its advantages over 'going it alone'. In the early 1980s, for example, I went on a trip to the former Soviet Republic. Travel restrictions at the time were tight and options for getting around the country were limited; an organized tour made perfect sense.
For some people, independent travel isn't an option they would consider. For them, travelling with a reputable tour operator wins all the way. For example, a package holiday may be the best option for those who want to visit an area that is considered to be a bit risky. A package may also work best if you've never strayed too far from home, don't feel confident in putting together your own itinerary, or quite frankly, don't have the time or inclination to make all the necessary arrangements. In these cases, the benefits of getting someone else to put together the most effective itinerary are clear to see. Likewise an expert guide can make sure that you don't miss out on visiting those 'must see' places.
For these reasons, I'm sure that package tours will continue to tempt me on an annual basis. But at the back of my mind, there'll always be the lure of adventure and and the prospect of a touch of spontaneity. I'd like to think that if, somewhere along the way, someone mentions an interesting sightseeing opportunity 'just down the road', then I can simply pack up my bag and follow my nose.
Posted by Sue at 11:23:07 on 28/4/2013
April 12, 2013
HEADING OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
As a keen walker, I'm usually out and about most weekends, exploring the footpaths and trails where I live, and generally soaking up the scenery. However, it took a visit to the Peak District this Easter to make me realise just how much we take for granted the right to ramble through England's countryside. In a car park at Bowden Bridge near the Derbyshire village of Hayfield, we stumbled across a plaque that is dedicated to a rather controversial event that was to have far-reaching consequences for hikers and ramblers everywhere.
On 24th April 1932, around 400 brave souls gathered in what was then a disused quarry before setting off on a mass trespass that took them to the top of Kinder Scout. Once on this rather bleak but nonetheless beautiful moorland plateau, they were met by several irate gamekeepers. Some of the trespassers, including the leader Benny Rothman, ended up in jail for their troubles.
The mass trespass was controversial, to say the least. Without it, though, it is hard to imagine that the outlook would be quite so bright for walkers today. For a start, the trespass marked the launch of a decades-long campaign, which eventually led to the 'right to roam' being introduced in England
in 2000. It also led to the creation of some of the country's most iconic long-distance paths and best-loved national parks - including the Peak District, which was the first of its kind.
With a hiking trip to the Scottish Highlands planned for this summer, it made me think about the right to roam in other parts of the world. Thankfully, in Scotland
, access to the countryside is unhindered - so long as you don't cause any damage to the countryside or interfere with farming and game keeping activities. However, it is not safe to assume that everyone enjoys the same degree of freedom to roam. Which is why, wherever you plan to hike, it is always worth checking your right to access the land before you lace up your boots.
Posted by Sue at 14:46:54 on 12/4/2013
April 6, 2013
FISH AND CHIPS IN THE GRAND CANYON
...Well, at least the smell of fish and chips, since the magnificent steam engine 4960 is planning to take to the rails once more in May, only this time it will be a little more environmentally friendly, running on used cooking oil. This traditional locomotive dates back to the early part of the 1920s, while the Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) itself has its origins at the turn of the 20th century.
Not only does the steam engine use recycled oil from local restaurants within Arizona's National Parks, but the boilers also use collected rain water and melted snow. The steam train will commence its 65-mile / 105-km journey on the first Saturday in May, running from the small town of Williams (Arizona
) all the way to the southerly side of nature's wondrous Grand Canyon
. Further journeys will run each month on the first Saturday, right up until the beginning of September. This is certainly one experience worth pencilling in if you are planning a visit to the Grand Canyon this summer.
Posted by Martin at 17:09:59 on 6/4/2013