This week, World Car Free Day encouraged us to ditch our motors in a bid to rid the roads of traffic. So, we’re dusting off our hiking boots and bringing you some of the best walks around the world…
Forget wine and cakes – Madeira’s real treat is its network of ‘levadas’. Okay, so a load of irrigation canals don’t exactly scream get-me-there-now, but what if we told you they offer up some of the world’s most spectacular hikes. They were created back in the 16th century as a means of carrying water from the rainy north to the arid slopes of the south, but these days you can stroll these old waterways that cut through the belly of the island and tally up more than 1,000 miles. Best walks include the relatively easy 10 kilometre Referta to Castelejo, and the more demanding Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo ramble, which covers a similar distance and takes in the island’s highest peak.
Walking in these parts doesn’t simply mean barefoot sandy strolls. Most people are surprised to discover Cyprus has a walking scene that could give Switzerland a run for its money. All compasses point to the Troodos Mountains. Sprawling across western Cyprus, they’re criss-crossed with walking trails that lead you into pure Hansel and Gretel territory. These forested pathways might not lead you to gingerbread houses in the woods, but you’ll find churches and monasteries scattered like hundreds and thousands in the valleys and hillsides. From January to March you can swap walking boots for skis in the Troodos Mountains, when its slopes are dusted with snow.
Most of us who’ve put a tick by the Majorca box have done so without getting to grips with one of the island’s unsung attractions – the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range. Stretching across the north west like a giant slumbering dragon, its spikes hide some real treats. Wander your way across a jigsaw of hillside olive groves, blossoming orchards and flower-filled meadows. In some places this Mediterranean scene takes on a Scottish Highlands feel, with long grasses and craggy rock faces – some of the dozen or so peaks are even covered in snow. The village of Soller and Lluc monastery are good starting points.
The traditional walker’s wardrobe just won’t cut it on this one. Instead of a rain-dodging cagoule, all you’ll need is a bikini and some sturdy shoes for the Dunn’s River Falls. Made up of crystal cascades foaming over huge limestone rocks, it’s Jamaica’s star spectacle. Link hands in wobbly, guide-led congas up to the summit, stopping off in refreshing pools en route. If you prefer to stay dry, head for the hills – literally. The Blue Mountains, of coffee plantation fame, march across the east of the island. Take a guided walk through their jungles – it’s your ticket to a wonderland of waterfalls, streams and exotic plants.