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6 Best Walking Tours For 2016

4th January 2016

Walking holidays are the antidote to the pressures of modern life. There is no real goal or to-do list other than to wend your way from A to B at your own pace, typically against a scenic backdrop.

There is real benefit in booking a tour, whether it’s self-guided or fully escorted. With your walking routes arranged, accommodation and flights booked and luggage transfers organised, with most meals included, the only thing you will need to remember is your walking shoes.

However, most holidays in the selection are what we might call leisurely; even those which include challenging routes offer easier alternatives. After all, a relaxing ramble is the best way to take in the scenery.

1. Rivers And Chateaux Of The Loire

This gentle 'Rivers and Chateaux of the Loire' walk takes you off the beaten track on flat routes. The eight-day, self-guided tour starts at Chaumont, before strolling down along the River Cher through Montrichard, Chenonceau and Montlouis past fields and vineyards, with time for wine tastings.

There’s a stop at Amboise and some of France’s finest chateaus. Highlights include the Chateau de Chaumont, set in landscaped gardens; Chateau d’Amboise, a former royal residence, which houses the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci; Caves des Roches, an underground town previously sculpted in a limestone quarry; and La Magnanerie de Bourre, a troglodyte site and silk-worm farm.

2. The Way To Crete

This 13-day 'Crete’s Coast and Mountains' itinerary wends its way around western Crete in Greece, passing through Aiolos, homeland of the god of the winds, the pirate country of Gramvoussa, and Elafonisi, land of the Cyclops. A self-guided trip, it includes stops at a monastery in Chryssoskalitissa, a beach at Elafonisi and the gorges of Paleochora, one of the main attractions of walking in southern Crete.

There’s a chance to spot griffin vultures that nest on the slopes of Mount Prophet Ilias and the option to spend a full day relaxing in Souyia, a small seaside village. Other highlights include the ancient ruins of Lissos, the city of Chania and the Irini Gorge, which has only recently been opened up for exploration, and rivals the more famous Samaria Gorge.

On foot: Hiking The Great Walks On NZ's South Island

On wheels: Mountain Biking The Mornington Peninsula

On horseback: 8 Best Riding Holidays In The UK & Ireland

3. Road To La Gomera

Based in a 4-star hotel, this seven-day guided walking tour takes in Garajonay National Park, Hermigua, the Green Valley, Benchijigua Valley and the Guanimiar Barranco in Spain's Canary Islands. The itinerary lets you choose between an easier or harder walk each day to suit your mood or fitness level.

Highlights include a visit to the Visitor Centre high above Agulo to learn about the flora and fauna of the island, the beach of Playa Guancha, and the town of El Cercado, famed for its pottery. There’s also a stroll through San Sebastian and a visit to the Ermita de Lourdes, a small chapel tucked away beside a stream in the woods.

4. Along The Amalfi Coast

A self-guided Amalfi Coast tour sees walkers hike from Amalfi to Sorrento in Italy, taking in Ravello, Praiano, Positano and the Sentiero degli Dei, or the 'path of the gods'. This eight-day itinerary allows you to walk the whole route without using a single bus or taxi, if you wish.

Highlights include the gardens of the Villa Cimbrone, castle Torre dello Ziro overlooking both Amalfi and Atrani, the Marina di Furore 'fiord' and the uninhabited monastery, San Domenico. There is the option to spend a day in Positano and the Sorrento Peninsula, which is home to three beaches: Ieranto, Marina del Cantone and Recommone. Extend your stay a few nights to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum, Vesuvius, Capri or Naples — all possible from Sorrento.

5. Trails Of The Garden Route

This new 'Trails of the Garden Route' tour takes in some of the best coastal trails, forest and gorges in South Africa. The 16-day trip includes a hike up Table Mountain, a walk along the Alexandria Trail and a full day game drive in Addo Elephant National Park, Africa’s third-largest national park, home to lions, black rhino, meerkats and the dung beetle.

There are free days with optional beach walks or boat rides through Featherbed Nature Reserve, as well as time to explore Cape Town. Other highlights include some of the country’s famous wineries in Stellenbosch and Franschoek, where you will stop for tastings. There are plenty of hikes in the trip, including a walk along part of the Whale Trail, which provides the chance to spot southern right whales off shore.

6. From Porto To Santiago De Compostela

This seven-day tour from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain begins in the old town of Porto and meanders into Barcelos, before strolling to Ponte de Lima and then onwards into Calda de Reis and Padron, before ending at the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.

St James’s remains are said to have been carried here for burial after arriving at Padron by boat from Jerusalem. Highlights of the tour include visits to Porto's cathedral, walking across the border from Portugal into Spain on the iron bridge over the river Minho, and a walk through farming lands in Ponte de Lima, where the famous vinho verde is produced.

This article was written by Trisha Andres from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.