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Isles and Isles of Hiking

Thanks to a splendidly mis-spent youth, I am addicted to hiking on Mediterranean islands. There are islands to party on, and islands with beaches; islands for honeymooners and islands with Greek temples. Here are some islands that are just great for taking a stroll.

First up, in Greece—the tiny island of Symi in the Dodecanese. Not far from Rhodes, and with a beautiful, surprising neo-classical harbour town, Symi won’t keep you striding for weeks on end, but a couple of days of pretty thorough walking will help you work off the ouzo hangover.

Then to the Cyclades. Again, nothing too surprising: Paros (pictured) is big enough to have some great interior hiking; not as big as neighbouring Naxos, where the paths are even better. But worth a few days nonetheless, and there are a few half-decent hotels. Plus a great taverna or two…

As  previously mentioned, I’m also very partial to Amorgos, a beautiful island distinguished not only by the severals days of good trundling around the bay of Aegiali, but also for the monster hike that runs the length of the islands great granite backbone.

Consolation prize: Sifnos. Known for its extant pottery trade and its cuisine, Sifnos is a picture-perfect Cycladic island, if you’ll excuse the cliché; and if you won’t, take a look at the picture of the church beneath Castro (above) which ends a particularly fine walk on that island.

For those who don’t know Sicily’s Aeolian Islands: you’re missing out. Great food, great snorkelling; great hiking. That’s all I needed to know. Pictured is Salina, but each of the ten or so islands has good paths.

Croatia is a thoroughly democratic country: it seems they have nearly one island per inhabitant. Many are so tiny that 30 seconds of hiking would do it. But it’s worth pointing out that Hvar, now trying to set itself up as Party Island Adrijatica, has some lovely walks in its lavender and rosemary terraced interior. Lopud, nearer to Dubrovnik, also shows what’s great about Dalmatian Coast hiking: namely, the imposing mass of the Balkans towering above you.

Mallorca is the jewel in the crown if you want to hike for weeks. The best hiking is high up; not coastal hiking. But once you’ve done the GR 221 (pictured) and have knackered your knees, I suggest you pop a bottle of bubbly in your backpack and take in the sunset on a coastal trail (also pictured) as a reward. In brief: Mallorca’s great for genuinely combining mountain with sea. Of course, Corsica ain’t half brilliant for that, too.

A late addition, and not a Mediterranean spot, is the lovely enigmatic island of l’Ile-Aux-Moines in Brittany’s Golfe du Morbihan. An island surrounded by the mainland, it sits as if afloat in a huge inland bay. There are barely any cars allowed on the isle, so you bike or walk, like the locals who pootle around merrily with their shopping, children or terriers in bike-trailers behind them. You can hike the entire coast of the island in a day, but if you do so, you’ll find you’ve hiked back in time to the 50s. Le bonheur.

And finally, England may not be in the Mediterranean either, but given that half of its inhabitants are(at least in the summer), there’s nothing better than a walking holiday in the British Isles in the summer months. After all, you’ll probably hear less English than you would in Mallorca.

Jack and his cronies have been known to tackle any good adventure—be it scaling a mountain, or drunkenly defeating a mighty riverEmail Jack if you’d like him to get your next big hike moving in the right direction.

Once you’ve done the GR 221 (pictured) and have knackered your knees, I suggest you pop a bottle of bubbly in your backpack and take in the sunset on a coastal trail (also pictured) as a reward.