For those with stamina and a good pair of hiking boots, why not step up to the challenge this summer with the small group, expertly led specialists Ramblers Walking Holidays, discovering their top 10 European peaks on a choice of high grade walking holidays which can be climbed without any specialist equipment.
Selected not only for their peak viewing, but as importantly, for the journey that it takes to get there, each hike to the top 10 listed summits below is part of a carefully planned itinerary to ensure that every trail is as equally impressive as the final destination. Hiking through alpine woods, flower-rich meadows and crossing mountain streams before making the final ascent, these challenging hikes offer a huge sense of wonder and achievement throughout, peaked only by the reward of reaching the summit.
Whilst categorised as part of Ramblers Walking Holidays top end, grade 7 and 8, more challenging holidays, many of these itineraries also offer a selection of flexible multi-grade moderate, as well as less challenging, grade 4 to 7 itineraries to make them more accessible to everyone. Featuring two leaders and the option of two different less or more challenging walks each day, they are an ideal way for walkers to improve their fitness or for walkers of differing abilities to holiday together and get to experience, and bag, some extraordinary peaks.
- Piz Boe (3152m) – In the Heart of the Dolomites, Northern Italy
6 & 7 Moderate/Challenging or 4 & 6 Moderate
The Dolomites are well known for their soaring rocky peaks and Piz Boe is the literal and figurative highpoint of this holiday. Ascending from the cable car at Passo Pordoi, a challenging scree and rock scramble is more than well rewarded at the top by 360° views not only of the Italian peaks but also the Austrian peaks to the north. Part of a 10 or 14 night holiday, covering an impressive network of footpaths in a small area of Northern Italy, expect walks through high altitude pasture to heady stone trails with sightings of soaring buzzards and golden eagles overhead – all adding to the majestic grandeur of the peaks and diminishing valley floor.
Ramblers Walking Holidays: (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) ten night In the Heart of the Dolomites starts from £1685/ person including return flights and airport transfers, half board en-suite accommodation, local Mobilcard , two leaders for two different graded walks each day and all local transports costs. Departs 3 July, 24 July, 24 August & 7 September 2018.
- Mulhacén (3479m) – High in the Alpujarras, Southern Spain
Grade 7 Challenging
It’s not often you get the opportunity to climb a country’s highest mountain, but when you are at the top of Mulhacén all of mainland Spain lies beneath you. Only really practical over summer, this hike, high in the Alpujarras, combines the Sierra Nevada National Park’s minibus to gain height with walking the open but rocky 800m ascent up the mountain’s more gentle southern ridge to the summit. Featured as part of a 7 night holiday, staying in a whitewashed village perched above the Poquiera Gorge, spend sun-kissed days traversing
narrow stony trails and old mule paths through fertile terraced lands that were transformed by the Moors into a garden paradise of orchards, vines and olives over four centuries ago.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) High in the Alpujarras starts from £1025/person including half board accommodation with dinner in local restaurants, flights, transfers, all local transport and services of a tour leader. Departs 8 April, 20 May, 2 September, 7 October & 22 December 2018 and 7 April, 19 May, 9 June, 1 September, 6 October & 22 December 2019.
- The Klingspitz (1988m) – Maria Alm, near Salzburg, northern Austria
Grade 7 Challenging, Grade 6 & 7 Moderate/Challenging, Grade 6 Moderate and Grade 4 Moderate
You don’t have to climb to over 2000m for a great peak. Easing the way, some of the ascent to the Klingspitz is comfortably covered using the Gabühel double chair lift, leaving plenty more energy to soak up the magnificent views from the summit down the valley and across to the mighty rock wall of the ‘Steinernes Meer’ (stone sea) that separates Austria from Germany. Featured as part of a 7 or 14 night holiday, staying close to the border with Germany in the picture postcard village of Maria Alm, explore some of the valley’s 220 miles of well marked and maintained hiking paths with panoramic peak views, pretty mountain villages and glimpses of marmots and deer along floral alpine trails. Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) 7 or 14 night Maria Alm starts from £985/person or £1585/person respectively including flights, airport transfers, half board en suite accommodation, two leaders and two grades on some of the departures, lift pass and local transport. Departs 13 June, 11 July, 1 August, 8 August, 15 August and 22 August 2018
- Pico Grande (1655m)- The Heart of Madeira
Grades 5 & 7 Moderate/Challenging and Grades 6 & 7 Moderate/Challenging
In spite of its name, Pico Grande is only Madeira’s third highest peak. Whilst it can be approached from different directions, the best is overlooking the valley of Curral das Freiras, which clings to the lush terraced hillsides of a long extinct volcano. For the ultimate experience, take the hike when the summit is above the clouds, with other peaks poking through and the vast Atlantic Ocean lying beyond. Featured as part of a 7 night holiday, take in this ruggedly volcanic area with its pockets of lush vegetation and exotic colourful flowers, hiking along the islands ingeniously engineered irrigation waterways ‘Levadas’, through the terraced hillsides beyond Funchal and exploring peaceful mountain valleys and coastal tracks that follow the line of rugged sea cliffs and offer spectacular views.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) 7 night The Heart of Madeira starts from £985/person including flights, airport transfers, en suite accommodation, dinners taken at local hotels, two leaders and two grades on some of the departures, cable car to Monte and local transport. Departs 26 May 2018, 25 May 2019.
- Pico Agero (1352m) Picos de Europa, Spain
Grade 6 & 7 Moderate/Challenging
The lowest peak in the top 10, Pico Agero still comes highly rated, given its dramatic Picos scenery and the fact that it is likely to be free of snow all season. From the summit, the huge triangular rock face of Cueto Agero is very impressive with its descent, equally so, picking its way through an imposing ring of cliffs. Featured as part of a two week holiday, explore the dramatic limestone pinnacles, gorges and verdant valleys of the Picos, taking in the spectacular Cares Gorge walk along the base of towering rock walls split between jagged pinnacles. With walks through Mediterranean cork oak forests, alpine meadows and along mountain ridges, experience the flora and fauna of the region, immersed in Celtic language and unique traditions that make this corner of Western Europe invitingly exotic.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) 2 week Picos de Europa starts from £1280/person including flights, airport transfers, half board en suite accommodation, two walks with two leaders, 2 grade options and local transport. Departs 5 June, 3 July, 10 July, 14 August and 28 August 2018
- Pic de la Sierra (2912m) Hiking in Andorra
Grade 6 Moderate or Grade 6 & 8 Moderate/Challenging
Andorra is a peak-baggers dream destination. Pic de la Sierra is the third highest peak in the country and takes a route passing through the beautiful Vall Ransol, which has the best flower meadows in Andorra. From the summit, there are views of many of Andorra’s highest mountains, including the Pic del Comapedrosa and beyond the country’s borders into France and Catalonia. Featured as part of a photographically stunning one or two week holiday, enjoy quiet rambles through the Sorteny meadows and Val de Incles with some of Europe’s rarest and most colourful mountain flora, as well as with more strenuous hikes to the World Heritage listed Val Madriu. With a selection of the departures featuring two leaders, walkers can choose to take either a level 6 or 8 trail making it ideal for those with slightly different fitness levels to holiday together.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk)Hiking in Andorra full board one-week holiday starts from £735/person including return flights, full board accommodation, two walks, two leaders, two grades on some departures and all local transport.
7 night departures: 3, 10, 17 & 24 June; 15, 22 & 29 July; 5 &12 August 2018
14 night departures: 3 & 17 June; 15 & 29 July; 5 August 2018
- Collada dels Pessons (2775m) – Andorra Mountain Trek
Grade 8 Challenging
Collada dels Pessons is actually a pass, not a peak, but with views as spectacular as any summit. Taking in a unique area in the Pyrenees with dramatic jagged ridges, scree slopes and a glimmering necklace of mountain lakes known as the Coronallacs, it is also unique to Ramblers Walking Holidays as the only UK holiday company to offer it. Featured as part of a 6 night trip, the route has already been tipped to become a new classic, rivalling Tour du Mont Blanc, The Haute Route and Alta Via I. In a constantly changing background, challenge one’s fitness with an adrenalin-packed five day hike staying in remote mountain refuges enjoying staggering sunrises over the peak of Comapedrosa and walks along the steep slopes of Els Aspres path, hutting down each night in a charmingly rustic retreat to a healthy helping of delicious Catalan food.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) Andorra Mountain Trek starts from £1265/person including return flights, airport transfers, dormitory accommodation with breakfasts and dinners in the hotel/huts, six packed lunches, leader, local mountain guide and all transport costs locally. Departs 18 July, 25 July & 5 September 2018.
- Mattjischhorn (2461m) – Arosa Village, Eastern Switzerland
Grade 6 Moderate or Grade 7 Challenging
There are many peaks that can be climbed from Arosa and Mattjischhorn is not the highest. Approached however along a broad grassy ridge, the summit itself is grassy, which is a real rarity at this height, making it perfect for lying back and taking in panoramic mountain view. Featured as part of a one week holiday, exploring this remote and little known area of Switzerland, Arosa has all the ingredients for the perfect Alpine holiday with a spectacular train line opening up hikes along the valley floor and cable cars whisking walkers to high altitude trails at well over 2000m. With peaks eager to be bagged in every direction, there are over 120 miles of trail to be had extending though remote valleys, ridges and chocolate box Swiss villages along the way.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) Arosa Village one week break starts from £1130/person including flights, airport transfers by train, half board en suite accommodation, Arosa card, with free transport and free or reduced entry to some local attractions and all local transport costs. Two week holidays from £1860/person. Departs 15 August, 22 August (14 nights) & 5 September 2018.
- Kucki i Kom (2487m) – A Trek through the Balkans
Grade 8 Challenging
After years of obscurity the Balkans are a hot new destination for hikers. Kucki i Kom is the highest mountain in Montenegro’s Komovi Mountains and a great one to bag on this high grade challenging walking holiday. Starting in the summer alpine settlement of Katun Stavna, the walk to the summit of Kucki i Kom crosses meadows and scree before climbing along a cloud-piercing rocky ridge to the summit. Part of Ramblers Walking Holidays 2 week ‘A Trek through the Balkans’, this remote and exhilarating walking adventure
covers treks through unspoilt wild terrain taking in some of Montenegro’s and Albania’s most impressive summits including the literal highs of Maja e Kollate and Maja e Rosit, both at over 2500m.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) A Trek through the Balkansstarts from £1735/person and includes return flights, airport transfers, accommodation in local guest houses, small hotels and mountain huts, meals on a full board basis and all local transport. Departs 6 July, 10 August and 9 September 2018.
- Elferspitze (2505m) – Tirolean Summer, Austria
Grade 5 & 6 Moderate or 6 & 8 Moderate/Challenging
There are so many great peaks in the Stubai Valley, some over 3000m, but this ticks all the boxes. As a good ridge walk through quite spectacular limestone scenery, culminating in a tricky ascent to the tiny summit of Elferspitze, with a klettersteig and a ‘chimney’ en route, it offers a spectacularly panoramic path with a steep descent to summer pasture where ibex and marmots can be seen. Featured as part of a one week or two holiday in the Stubai valley over summer, explore some of Austria’s most picturesque woodlands and high alpine pastures before embarking on a selection of harder hikes. Offering an almost endless selection of walks, options include the Grade 6 balcony walk from Muttereralm, the high level circuit to the Starkenburger hut and the more challenging Grade 8 accent of Peiljoch up to the snout of a glacier. With the Stubai Valley Super Card included, cable car rides to the Kreuzjoch above Fulpmes and the Dresdner Hut at the southern end of the valley open up the magical world of the high Alps to all grades.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331 133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) 7 or 14 night Tirolean Summer starts from £915/person or £1595/person respectively and includes return flights, airport transfers, Stubai Valley Super Card, Half board en suite accommodation, afternoon coffee & cake, two walks, two leaders and two grades on some of the departures. Departs 16 June (grade 5), 30 June (grades 6 & 8, 14 July (Grade 5), 21 July (grades 6 & 8), 4 August (grades 6 & 8), 11 August (grades 6 & 8), 25 August (grade 6).
For more details on Ramblers Walking Holidays, click here.
Ramblers Walking Holidays is the core brand for RWH Travel, the experts in guided walking adventures. Having celebrated its 70th Anniversary of holiday operating in 2017, other brands within the group include Adagio – leisurely walking and cultural holidays at a gentle pace and Ramblers Cruise & Walk Holidays, small ship cruises with a dedicated shore walking excursion programme – in association with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. In total, the company operates over 200 holidays across over 60 countries.
Each of the Ramblers Walking Holidays has been graded to help clients choose their preferred pace, with categories ranging from Grade 1-3/Leisurely (usually two hours walking); to Grade 4-6/Moderate (a combination of full and half day walks); and Grade 7-9/Challenging (full day walks where stamina is key).
On some holidays, there is the chance to experience more than one walking grade with two leaders. Perfect for couples and friends who prefer to walk at a different pace or have different walking abilities.
Holidays for Adagio are largely ungraded.
To help clients choose the type of walking holiday that will appeal to their interest, Ramblers Walking Holidays also uses symbols that depict the main interest, style or theme of the walks. Categories include: Pioneer; Continuous Walks; Flora & Walking Holidays; Bird Watching & Walking; Lifestyle, Culture & Natural History; Hutting; Rail & Walk; Sightseeing.