Outdoor World

10 smaller European Capitals of Culture you may not have heard of

Its not just major European cities that benefit from the award, many other destinations have received a cultural boost over the 35 years of the project In 1983, Melina Mercouri, the then Greek minister of culture, proposed a scheme to celebrate art, history and heritage across Europe. By putting a different city in the spotlight each year, Mercouri hoped to showcase the continents cultural diversity, while highlighting shared values. The European Capital of Culture programme, which was established in 1985, has been a huge success, with more than 60 cities…

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Outdoor World

The sweet air of the Cvennes: a British writer on life in the rural heart of France

As the Cvennes national park celebrates its 50th anniversary, Adam Thorpe reflects on how the intricate hills of the Massif Central protect its wildlife and way of life I sometimes think of the Cvennes as the massive knuckles of a sleeping green giant. Insular, tough-minded and Protestant, our home for the last 30 years has sharp granite and limestone hills that here and there stretch up out of deep valleys into proper mountains. Much of it is felted in dwarf holm oak, the evergreen and often impenetrable stuff of southern…

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Outdoor World

The wood life: my four days immersed in Latvia’s forests

Half of Latvia is woodland so no wonder its people derive so much wellbeing from foraging, ancient forest crafts and being at one with nature In Japan its called shinrin-yoku (forest bathing); in Norway its friluftsliv (appreciation of outdoors activity and nature). But in Latvia theres no special term for it. We dont need one this is just normal behaviour for Latvians, said Sigita Kltniece, our walk leader in a crisp, cold Gauja national park in the countrys north-east. We stood and breathed deeply, as light dappled through the snow-speckled…

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Outdoor World

10 of the best pilgrim routes in Europe: readers travel tips

From marching with monks to heavenly Korean food, our tipsters have experienced joy spiritual and earthly on these venerable trails Winning tip: Pilgrims Way, Winchester to Canterbury A 10-day pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, following Walking The Pilgrims Way by Leigh Hatts (Cicerone), included many ups and downs, both literal and emotional. There are many glorious parts of the walk, but the one that took my breath away was the hard push up Hackhurst Downs in Surrey, through a gorgeous yew-lined avenue, which then opened magnificently on to Blatchford Down.…

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Outdoor World

Spain road trip: Granada to Almera

The Alhambra marks the start of a drive taking in historic cities, a river valley and mountains and ends in Almeras spaghetti western desert Granada is dominated by its mighty Moorish fortress, Spain map On day two, take in the Alhambras Nasrid palaces, Generalife and the Alcazaba before driving north-west through rolling olive country to picturesque Priego de Crdoba (N-432 & A-339, 76km). The town is a restful place to be, and feels like the essence of Andaluca; its cities of Baeza and beda, both miniature gems (and renovated in…

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