Donning her best boots, GLT’s Editor Keeley Rodgers heads out on foot to explore the stunning Sorrento peninsula on a walking holiday with HF Holidays.
As the American newspaper correspondent Paul Scott Mowrer once said: “There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo”. After a few days treading ancient trails and paths to discover the fascinating area skirting the Amalfi Coast, I absolutely concur.
“You look like a walker” commented Sandy, one of our leaders, as our group headed out on the first route of our trip in the area. I must admit, I do enjoy heading out on an adventure, the earth beneath my feet, but this was my first actual walking holiday – much to the amusement of some friends. Armed with a map, sunscreen and of course the all-important snacks, our group was full of anticipation for the week ahead. And it didn’t take long to see why.
Keeley Rodgers with members of her walking group on the trip
Exploring the area
A short walk from our base – the four star Hotel Caravel in Sant’ Agnello, a mile from Sorrento, was the first of many striking panoramas with magnificent views across the bay. The walk around the immediate area was a great way of orientating ourselves and getting to know one another.
The great thing about HF Holidays’ trips is the choice. Yes, you’re all there because you enjoy walking, and exploring, but how you tailor your holiday is up to you. Each day there is an easy or hard walk to choose from with our leaders – Dr Sandy Smith and Peter ‘Wolfy’ Snelson – explaining what was involved.
Keen for a challenge I opted for the ‘hard’ walk on day two, and I wasn’t disappointed. The eight-mile route began in Sorrento, arguably the most important town on the peninsula with a fascinating atmosphere and a bustling centre. We enjoyed coffee with a view – looking across the marina from The Foreigners Club, complete with an interesting story after visiting the 15th Century Cathedral. The narrow streets lead you down the cliffs to the sea level, with plenty of shops along the way. I hadn’t realised how many things you can make with lemons!
Refreshed and invigorated, we headed higher above the cliffs, for even more stunning views and to begin the next part of our route. “This is the hardest part”, Sandy told us, “so once you get this done, it’ll be easier”. I’ll admit it was pretty tough going but also a chance to share experiences and take in the incredible scenery.
Lunch in the cool, shaded woods made it all worthwhile too – you can opt for a packed lunch from the hotel which is ready for you in the morning – a great hassle-free way of ensuring you have enough fuel for the day.
Peter ‘Wolfy’ Snelson leads the group on a route
It was then time for the ascent, a gentle route to St Agata, a pretty little town straddling the hill between the bays of Naples and Salerno. Offering views of the island of Capri and the archipelago of Li Galli, the town offered a welcome refreshment break and time to rest our legs, as well as some entertainment offered by the legendary Orlando of the infamous Bar Orlando. I won’t give it away but it involves a smoking cat (yes) and a very interesting story! Again, the delicious Italian cheese with bruschetta, washed down with an ice-cold beer, made it all worthwhile – and even more justified after our long walk.
After some free time to explore Sorrento and the district of Sant’ Agnello, surround by gardens and more lemon trees, it was time to sample the culinary delights on offer at Hotel Caravel. It’s very easy to see why HF has been using the hotel, owned and run by the Liccardi family, for more than 16 years. We even tried out the inviting swimming pool. The reaction? ‘Bracing’, but refreshing!
It’s no surprise that HF has been taking groups to the Hotel Caravel for many years
There were so many highlights of the trip but nothing could have prepared us for the incredible experience offered by Pompeii, the famous buried Roman city. Arriving by train, the hours exploring the sprawling and haunting site flew by and with so much to see, many of the group were soon vowing to return.
Dominated by Mount Vesuvius, which is in view wherever you travel around most of the peninsula, the most compelling archaeological site in Europe offers visitors so much to take in, from the ruins of shops, the first pizzeria, cats eyes to the impressive Teatro Grande – the theatre that once sat some 5,000 people.
All too soon the trip with HF came to an end, but bidding farewell to my group and fellow walkers, I left with an enormous sense of discovery, friendship, and some well-toned calf muscles. And one thing’s for sure, the boots aren’t being packed away any time soon!
Pompeii is the most compelling archaeological site in Europe
About HF Holidays
The company has been organising outdoor holidays for more than 100 years and is the only provider that is a co-operative, owned by 36,000+ members. In the UK it operates 18 of its own Country Houses, well equipped for outdoor holidays, with boot and drying rooms. It offers a choice of walks on UK and European Guided Walking holidays as well as self-guided holidays.
For group enquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org