Sunday, August 23, 2015

Wanderlust Ireland & Austria

Here are some final slideshows from the Ireland and Austria Wanderlust films. Thanks for watching! Click on them for larger images.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Andalucia: GR7 Tarifa to Ronda

The second of this series of Wanderlust hiking films was in Spain (the only country to get two films during this series). Starting from view of Africa at Tarifa (the first picture), the trail heads through the cork forests of the Alcornocales National Park to the walled towns of Castellar de la Frontera and Jimena de la Frontera. Then over the Sierra de Grazalema to end up at the stunning Easter parades at Ronda. Cork harvesters, flamenco guitarists, whale watching and bullfighting, all in the company of the fabulous Quico. Some pictures from the trip:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wanderlust Norway

Hi all,
Here are a few photos from the Wanderlust Norway film. The hike follows the St Olav's Way from Lillehammer to Trondheim (with a quick detour to the western fjords), passing through the Jotenheimen and Dovrefjell national parks. Some really spectacular landscapes.
Click on the photos to see them larger.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Second Series of Wanderlust

Hi all,
To accompany the second series of Wanderlust, starting 3 August on Arte at 7.40pm, I will be attaching a few photos here on the blog from each of the five long-distance hikes featured during the week.

First up is the Amalfi Coast, one of the most spectacular coastal hikes in Europe but also one of the hardest with thousands of steps and plenty of elevation gain most days. The rewards were plenty: fantastic food and drink, characterful people and some of the most beautiful terraced scenery I've ever seen. A truly enjoyable hike.

Click on the pictures to see them on a larger scale and watch the program live on Arte, or stream it on the Arte website, either in French or German.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Earthquake in Nepal

In the wake of the the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal, several people have asked me for suggestions on how they can help. There are lots of big organisations working in Nepal, including the Red Cross, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Care and others. All are worthy of your donations.

There are also several websites that host funding drives and make donating money easy. Global Giving is a good one; click here for details.

If you'd rather donate to a smaller scale, local, grass-roots organisation that have a proven track record in Nepal, consider the following organisations, several of which I know personally:

The Mountain Fund - A locally-based organisation run by the experienced American Scott Maclennan from a base in Mankhu, between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Excellent local contacts and deep roots in Nepal mean that your donation will go directly to help people in the village. Donate here.

Education Restoration Nepal  - A new organisation established in reaction to the earthquake. ERN focuses on rebuilding schools, combining short-term assistance with the long-term picture; investing in education for the future.

Helambu Relief Distribution Centre - Focuses on the Helambu region, a popular trekking area and one of the worst hit regions of Nepal. Donate here.

PHASE - Works in Sindupulchowk and Gorkha districts, two of the worst-hit regions. Donate here.

American Himalayan Foundation - Has been doing excellent work in Nepal for years.

Sunsar Maya - Does good work with Nepal's orphans, of whom there are now many more in Nepal

If none of those fit, check other grass-roots organisation on this list from Outside Magazine.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Off the Beaten Track in Tibet

After a busy Christmas writing up Lonely Planet's new Nepal guide, I've finally starting to look back over 2014's travels. My big Asian trip was to Tibet, researching Lhasa and central Tibet for the Lonely Planet guide. I always try to visit a few new places every time I go back to Tibet and there were a few crackers this trip.

Drak Yangzom & Dzong Kumbum
The cave complex of Drak Yangdzom has long been a favourite of mine because there's just nothing else like it in Tibet. Getting into the caves involves climbing a wood and yak hide ladder high up into the mouth of a cliff and then hauling yourself up a narrow, slippery shute into a sacred cave complex before a nun finally drags you by the feet through a tiny opening in the rock wall into the inner sanctum, the sacred cave of a Himalayan saint. It's the craziest excursion in Tibet.

On the other side of the valley is Dzong Kumbum, a less narrow but much longer cave complex of several branches. We joined a group of Tibetan pilgrims for a tour of the sacred marks, stalactites and pools. With a mixture of barely suppressed giggles and hushed reverence, like school kids on a sacred school trip, it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.  (Click on the photos for the bigger picture).

Pilgrims in Dzong Kumbum Cave

Exploring Drak Yangdzong Cave
Pilgrims posing for a souvenir photo at the entrance to Drak Yangdzong cave

On Valley
New for the guidebook this edition is this little-visited but surprisingly accessible valley. The main Keru Lhakhang dates back 1250 years and holds some of the oldest statues left in Tibet, revealing an early Central Asian influence. For a bit of adventure, make the 90-minute hike up to the ruins of Samtenling Nunnery and Chodung Monastery

Ruins of Samtenling Nunnery, On Valley

Samding Nunnery
I'd been to this nunnery before but this was the first time I stayed at the on site guesthouse. An overnight gives you time to head up the ridge behind the monastery for epic views over surrounding lakes, all the way to the Bhutan border.

Samding and Yamdrok-tso

Here are some more of my favourite places off the beaten track in central Tibet. For details of all these places see the new Lonely Planet Tibet guide.

View of Yarlung Tsangpo from Shedruling Monastery, near Gongkar airport
Samtenling Nunnery, near Reting Monastery
Reting Valley, en route to Samtenling

Chortens between Nyima Jiangre and Phondo
Sand mandala, Tsurphu Monastery
This toe is the only part left of a giant Maitreya statue that once stood at Jampaling

Painting murals inside a giant stupa, Rabse Nunnery, near Gyantse
Sili Gotsang Hermitage
View from Milarepa's Cave, near Nyalam

Chortens of the Dza Rongphu Retreat, with Mt Everest behind

Little-known hiking trail from Khamba-la pass overlooking Yamdrok-tso lake.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Slide Shows from the Arte Wanderlust Hiking Series

Hi. I'll be putting some slide shows from the Wanderlust hiking series up here this week as they are aired on Arte.

South-West Coast Path, Cornwall, UK
Mallorca Crete

Saturday, July 26, 2014

New TV series on Arte

Hi all,

So my second TV series is about to air soon on Arte in France and Germany. It's called Wanderlust in German, or Un kilomètre à Pied in French and it's a ten-part series looking at different regions of Europe through their long-distance hiking trails. In the course of the hikes I meet Cornish fishermen, Mallorcan beekeepers, French cheesemakers, Greek park rangers and German ceramics designers, and go hiking with local guidebook writers, environmentalists and even a German princess. I learn how to use a traditional slingshot in Mallorca, eat wild edible plants in Cornwall and help deliver a baby calf in Saar-Hunsruck. Now that's entertainment.

The films are broadcast on Arte from August 4th at 7.30pm.

Mon, 4.8.2014:  South-West Coast Path in Cornwall, UK

Tue, 5.8.2014: The Saar-Hunsrück-Steig, Germany

Wed, 6.8.2014: The Dry Wall Way, Mallorca

Thur, 7.8.2014: The Stevenson Way, France 

Fri, 8.8.2014: Through Crete's Gorges, Greece

In the meantime we've been busy shooting the second five films. Last week I was in Norway and for the next two weeks I'm in Austria's Lech Valley. Some photos below.

Crossing the Dovrefjell on the St Olaf's Way, Norway

Lech Valley, Austria


Classic Pamiri Scenery of Gorno Badakhshan

Current Favourite Track