Porto packs a punch with its azulejo-clad igrejas, vibrant foodie scene and abundant viewpoints. With only two days in the city, we were keen to see as much as we could – and while we didn’t see everything (in just two days, who could?), we saw everything we wanted to and a fair bit more besides. If you missed out on last week’s post, you can catch up here. If you’re up to speed (or even if you’re not), grab a cuppa, settle in and prepare for another armchair tour of Porto – a city that just couldn’t be condensed into a single post.
I fell for Portugal – for its azulejo-covered façades, its food, its terracotta rooftops – hook, line and sinker. Our first stop, Porto, was everything it was cracked up to be: full of character and cultural gems, and picturesque to boot (even when the sea mist rolled in and enveloped the city). It’s a city for the flâneurs and flâneuses amongst us; a city which, quite simply, is made for wandering. Instead of giving you a minute-by-minute account of what we got up to in the two days we spent there, this week and next I’ll be sharing a selection of places we visited (and, more importantly, things we ate), and a few of my favourite photos.
Sandwiched between Manchester and Sheffield is the UK’s oldest National Park: the Peak District. It’s a bit short on peaks (unless you class a plateau at 600-odd metres above sea level as a peak), but fortunately it more than compensates for that with its picture-perfect villages, adorable furry residents and heather-covered moorland.
Given the West Highland Way finishes in Fort William, it’d be rude not to climb ‘the Ben’ whilst in the area – or that was our thinking, at any rate. Standing at 1,345 metres above sea level (a dwarf compared to many peaks in Europe, but a giant by British standards), Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK – and the only one of the Three Peaks we hadn’t yet summited.
Sitting on the shore of Loch Linnhe, Fort William (or An Gearasdan, “The Garrison”, in Scottish Gaelic) is a picturesque town and tourist hub in the Scottish Highlands. Much like Betws-y-Coed in Wales, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whatever you fancy doing – whether it’s bagging a few Munros (more on Ben Nevis in the next post), trying your hand at sea kayaking or hitting the trails on a mountain bike – you can do it in Fort William. If you just fancy meandering round the town, that’s fine too. We spent a couple of days unwinding in Fort William at the end of our trip to Scotland, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone wanting a taste of the Highlands.
The West Highland Way only came onto my radar earlier this year, and when we began plotting a budget break for the summer, it sprang to mind as a suitable option. Scotland’s first long-distance footpath traverses through some seriously scenic countryside, and if you’re planning on walking it, these top tips should come in handy!
We’d originally planned to complete the West Highland Way in six days, but persistent drizzle and the promise of a rest day ahead of tackling Ben Nevis prompted us to push on and complete the ninety-six mile route in five days. We spent a fair amount of time scouring blogs and websites for itineraries (the official West Highland Way website was particularly useful) before we went, and since those sorts of posts were helpful to us, I thought I’d add ours to the mix. Whether you’re short on annual leave or simply fancy a challenge, the West Highland Way can be done in five days – even with a weighty rucksack.