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When it comes to hiking, admittedly I am an addict. Give me mountains to climb, lake shores to wonder, ridges to scramble across - anything that involves a pair of walking boots, a backpack and stunning views and I’m a happy gal. Living in the UK, I've hiked some fantastic routes which span all the way across the country, from the towering mountain of Snowdon in Wales to lower-range fells in the Lake District - and not forgetting the famous national parks in Scotland such as the Cairngorms. We UK hikers really do have it all, but it is easy to forget that we are also have good access to some outstanding hiking on continental Europe, for all levels of ability and fitness, from snow-capped mountains to gorgeous coastline routes. Here I’ve put together five awesome European hikes to help us all get out with our boots and explore some new grounds.
Tirol, Austria – Alderweg (Eagle’s Walk)
Just as the name suggests, this 413-kilometre route with an elevation gain of 31 kilometres lets you take in a bird’s eye view of the Alpine scenery of Tirol, in the west of the country. It's even more unique when viewed on a map, as the whole of the hike (from east to west of Tirol) actually is reminiscent of an eagle spreading its wings. This hike can be broken down into 33 segments of more manageable size trails, allowing hikers to pick and choose the areas that most appeal to them.
In the winter, Mont Fort is a famous skiing resort for the rich and famous, lying just above the picture perfect alpine resort Verbier. When the weather warms, though, it becomes a haven for mountain bikers and hikers. The trail begins near Verbier and it is an accessible wide, flat paths which gently ascends through stunning Swiss scenery. If you are lucky enough to attempt the trail on a clear day, at the summit you will be taken aback by the surrounding landscape, which includes the famous Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Fancy a go? Then click here.
Fancy taking on England's highest mountain? A reasonable hike for most abilities that follows a clear, easy path and summits the peak, which reaches 978m (3,209 feet), with gorgeous views that once inspired the likes of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. With a range of gullies to choose from if scrambling is more your thing, Scafell Pike offers something for everyone. Starting your walk from the picturesque banks of WastWater, you'll gradually reach the top, bearing left for a clear cut path, keep to the right for a choice of scrambles. For more hikes for all abilities in the lakes, click here.
Chamonix, France – Tour de Mont Blanc
A must for serious hikers, one of the most famous long-distance trails in Europe covers 170km and passes through not just France but also Italy and Switzerland. With surfaces from ancient cobblestones to dirt trails, and a choice of paths to suit various fitness ranges and skills, the route circles the incredible Mont Blanc and has a total of 10km of ascent. You can camp along the way as well as stay in mountain huts designed for this purpose. This hike is definitely on my bucket list!
Fancy a change of landscapes? And/or a shorter hike than the biggies I mentioned above? How about taking in the views of southern Italy and its lovely wooded, craggy coastlines? The "Pathway of the Gods" takes you through lemon orchards and past terraced hillsides over the sparkling Mediterranean for a just eight kilometres, taking around 5 hours to complete. You'll also get the opportunity for a quick dip in the sea to cool off those feet! There's plenty of other fantastic hiking in Italy, too; take a look at other recommended routes here.