If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful escape not far from Naples, try the Orchid Trail in the Vallo di Diano in the Cilento National Park.
Most of the year, the gentle hills of the Vallo di Diano are a quiet wilderness above the tiny, traditional village of Sassano. But the grassy slopes hide a glorious secret; just below the surface lie hundreds of species of Orchids – over 180 to be precise. In Spring (mid April – late June), they burst into life, enticing orchid lovers from all over the world to see the colourful display. No wonder; this 47km zone has it’s own microclimate and hosts two thirds of all 319 orchid species found in the whole of Europe.
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Over our school holiday in February, I led a couple of kids walks for the British community here in Naples. It’s the first time I’ve led walks for children and it was a lot of fun!
It’s easy to get stuck in the urban jungle here, so it was great to see almost 30 kids and parents join me for a lovely walk to the Woodcutter’s hut. Continue reading →
Sometimes you come across something that stops you in your tracks and truly speaks to your heart. The Women of the Mountain film project impacted me this way a couple of days ago. Led by journalist Rebecca Byerly, the film follows her story and those of three other women who come to terms with challenges in their life by running ultra marathons. Continue reading →
As I sat in the hot sun drinking tea and surrounded by a like-minded group at the Woodcutter’s Hut, I took a moment just to exhale. Christmas prep is in full swing and most people I know are either loving every minute (under 10s), running around madly trying to get organised or travelling across the globe to see friends and family. But last Thursday, a group of us stepped away for a few hours to soak up some peace in the hills near Falciano del Massico in Campania. Continue reading →
Last Sunday (11th Dec) was International Mountain Day so I celebrated my favourite landscapes with a trail race in our local mountains, the Monte Lattari Regional Park on the Sorrentine peninsula.
My alarm went at 5.45am and I did my ‘early morning adventure shuffle’ which is to somehow get up, get into my gear, wolf down some porridge and jump in the car whilst being half-asleep. I collected Sally (my good friend and partner in running crimes) and headed off into a beautiful misty morning to Amalfi and the start of the race. It was organised in memory of ‘Rupert’ – no one I know, but apparently he was a long time guide and runner who was passionate about these hills. Since we both have kids the journey is always a great opportunity to catch up without interruption, so Sally and I put the world to rights as we wound out of Naples and over the pass by Monte Faito (1131m) – the park’s the high point and the familiar dark step in the skyline which is visible for miles around. Continue reading →
The countdown to my next adventure has begun! Tomorrow I set off on the “Sentiero Spirito” – an 85km trail which crosses the Majella National Park in Abruzzo. It’s an ancient route that links the Celestine hermitages of the region and winds over three mountains (>2000m). There are deep gorges, waterfalls, beautiful mature forests and wide rocky plateaus. It’s a rare, untouched wilderness where bears, wolves, boar and wild horses still roam freely. My friend has written a great description on her blog http://kokopelli-italy.blogspot.it/…/the-spiritual-trail-jo… (although we’re doing the route the opposite way). Lots of info to come including full route & accommodation info (if you don’t fancy wild camping!).
I’m really happy to announce that I’ve become a SisuGirls champion. Sisu is Finnish for ‘bravery, courage and resilience’ but it’s more than that – it’s a mindset, a spirit, a belief in ourselves that says ‘yes, I can do this’, no matter what. There are so many inspirational women who’ve helped me along the way and I hope I can sprinkle a little of that chutzpah on the path ahead for girls I know growing up today.
The SisuGirls program helps young girls to develop ‘Sisu’ through adventure programs and inspiration from incredible female role models who are out there ‘living’ their Sisu on mountain, bush and beach adventures around the world.
You can watch one of my favourite ultra runners, Anna Frost talk about Sisu and raising brave children at TEDExter here or check out SisuGirls for more info.
A few months ago, I suggested to some girlfriends that we do a mountain trail race. None of us were fit or experienced or even had the right gear. But we did it. When we didn’t want to train, we encouraged each other. When we didn’t know how to prepare, one of us found out info. When one of us fell on race day, another picked up the pieces, when one was tired, another waited, when we finished we ran each other in and celebrated together. It wasn’t easy but together we found our Sisu and ‘made it’. And now we’re doing another one.
I’m looking forward to encouraging more girls (& women) in my community to sign up for an adventure!
(And if you’re interested in Trail Running in Campania, Italy – I have a race schedule – message me and I’d be happy to send it out. Or try http://www.trailcampania.com to start.)
I hope you had a great Easter break and managed to get out walking. I’m just back from 2 weeks in Cornwall, UK visiting family and friends and I even managed to squeeze in some training (but more on that later). Here’s the latest…
First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to all of ‘YOU’; the fantastic folk who’ve hit ‘subscribe’ and followed this blog so far. I absolutely love exploring the wilderness in southern Italy and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. It’s also really early days for the Hiking Campania website so another thank you for your patience as I complete the full details for each walk and add new ones too. (Having said that nearly all the walks have a decent map and sat nav info so you should be able to find them pretty easily). If you’ve got feedback re the walks, the website or perhaps just some questions as you plan a day out – please do get in touch.
I’m working on dates for group walks in Campania, Italy this Spring (which should be out very soon) plus some new formats to keep things interesting; think mountain-top yoga and different level hikes including some longer and faster routes.
Sunday 20th March was a very special day out with a fantastic group in near perfect conditions. I took 18 people of all ages and abilities to climb Monte Maggiore and soak up the extraordinary views of Campania. There was warm spring sunshine, a challenging trail through mediterranean forest, ancient chapels to explore and plenty of cake and banter. You can read all about it and see photos and lovely feedback here.
During my trip to the UK I took the opportunity to brush up on my skills with Mountain Training UK and spent a fantastic couple of days on Bodmin Moor with Phil from Climbing Cornwall and some of the Cornwall Search & Rescue Team. The weather was typically British with everything thrown in; strong wind, rain, fog, mist, hail and a rainbow to keep us smiling. It was challenging but I updated my knowledge on walk planning, navigation, safety, gear and leadership (so you should be in good hands!). This part of the moors really is ‘home’ for me and come rain or shine it was amazing to be in that wild and isolated landscape again, especially with such a knowledgeable and friendly team.
Hope to see you out hiking soon, as always, give me a shout if you need any info…
It’s the first day of Spring and I’m taking a group to Monte Maggiore today to see these views…
Photo credit: Drusilla Gillen