Slow Travel. It’s taking the time to connect with the landscape and the people you meet along the way. It’s about savouring the local produce that has come from the fields or vineyards you’re cycling through. It’s about noticing the wildflowers beside the path or pausing by the river to watch the sun glinting on its surface.
The Inntravel Discovery Day
I recently visited Inntravel’s Discovery Day at Cheltenham, a free public event that enables you to meet many of the faces behind the destinations and hotels that Inntravel partner with, to taste the local food and hear their stories. It’s an ideal way to find out more about the self-guided walking and cycling holidays that Inntravel offer, before you decide where to book your next holiday.
Walking around the stands, I was struck by the passion of those representing a region or hotel, often small family businesses that have grown over several generations. They invariably have a lifetime of knowledge of the places they represent and are eager hosts who want to share with you the best recommendations on what to see and do.
Slow Travel – and why you should travel this way
Inntravel’s speciality is slow travel – it’s all about taking the time to enjoy the people and landscapes, often walking or cycling to enable you to move at a slower pace and appreciate them more fully. You can immerse yourself in local life, taste the food that has come from the local farm or small producer, staying in family run hotels where you can enjoy the local hospitality. By travelling at a slower pace, you’ll return home feeling energised and refreshed, perhaps inspired to try out some of those local flavours and dishes that you enjoyed on your holiday.
Kate Humble talks about Slow Travel
It was inspirational to hear Kate Humble, TV presenter of wildlife and outdoor programmes, talk about her love of Slow Travel at the Discovery Day. Kate convinced us that the real beauty of travel is in the discovery – doing the things that make you feel a little bit like a local and not being in a panic if you haven’t seen absolutely everything.
Kate shared why she enjoys travelling by train or on foot, to allow the places she visits to reveal themselves as a landscapes unfolds. We heard about Kate’s recent cross-country ski trip to the Goms Valley in Switzerland, where after only an hour’s lesson she was off on the cross-country trails.
This sounded just my sort of place, where if you get tired ski-ing you can hop on the local “put-put” train to get you back to the hotel in Blitzingen with delicious food and warm hospitality.
More about this holiday: Cross country ski-ing in the Goms Valley
Cycling to Bayeux and the beaches of Normandy in France
Just a short hop across the channel are the green, rolling landscapes of Normandy, with their small farms and apple orchards, producing cider, calvados and creamy Pont l’Eveque cheese. This is the landscape you’ll be cycling through on Inntravel’s new cycling holiday which includes visits to the D-day landing beaches of Arromanches and Omaha beach – the German batteries are now a great spot for a picnic.
Another highlight is to wander around the medieval streets of Bayeux which escaped destruction in WW2, home to the Bayeux tapestry that chronicles the Norman invasion of England in 1066.
You’ll be staying at La Ranconniere, a fortified 15th century farmhouse in Crepon and the elegant and historic Hotel le Lion d’Or, a favourite watering hole of General Eisenhower, both of which are known for their excellent food and local cuisine.
Be sure to try the fabulous fresh seafood – from Moules Frites to the scallops that are a speciality of Port-en-Bessin. If you have an extra night to spare, a visit to the iconic Mont Saint-Michel is highly recommended, to visit the medieval abbey built on top of this tiny island which is accessed by a causeway that’s covered at high tide.
More about this holiday: Bayeux and Beaches of Normandy
A stroll in the Lima Valley, Portugal and the Minho Manor Houses
Just north of Porto lies the fertile Lima Valley, with chestnut groves and vineyards that produce the region’s sparkling Vinho Verde, designed to refresh you on a hot day. For this walking holiday you’ll spend some time on the pilgrim’s route of the Camino de Santiago, meandering north towards Santiago de Compostella.
The region is known for the elegant manor houses, that have been restored and now open their doors as luxurious guest houses offering traditional hospitality. You may want to take a detour to explore the Lagoas de bertinandos wetlands with their rich birdlife, or to visit some of the gardens of Portugal’s oldest town, Ponte de Lima.
At the InnTravel Discovery day, I was pleased to meet Francisco, Count of Calheiros whose family have lived for 700 years at Paco de Calheiros, one of the Manor Houses where you’ll stay. As we sipped the Vinho Verde that is made on his estate, the Count told me how he himself is a great walker and likes to hike different sections of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago each year.
More about this holiday: Manor Houses of the Minho
By boat and train through Sognefjord in Norway
Inntravel offers a journey by boat and train that starts in Oslo and ends in Bergen, taking in the unspoiled landscape of Sognefjord, the longest ice-free fjord in the world. Part of this holiday takes you on the dramatic Flåm Railway past waterfalls and deep ravines, with thrilling excursions by boat along the fjord. The deep, cold water of the fjord is framed by rugged mountain scenery, topped by the white cap of the Jostedalsbreen glacier.
I was pleased to meet Bård Huseby who was one of the speakers at the Inntravel Discovery day and runs the Fjaerland Fjordstue, which was built in 1937 and is situated right beside the fjord. The classic white hotel is elegantly furnished in pale, Scandinavian style and dinner is taken overlooking the water, with fish from the fjord and herbs from the garden, washed down by the beer that Bård brews himself.
You might want to try a spot of fishing yourself in a rowing boat, visit the Glacier museum or leaf through the book room in the hotel, since Fjaerland is also the Norwegian Book Town.
More about this holiday: Bustling cities and serene fjords in Norway
With Slow Travel holidays from Inntravel there are endless possibilities to relax and unwind, to discover new places and landscapes and to have a stress-free holiday where the arrangements are made and all you need to do is enjoy yourself.
Information to book your Slow Travel Holiday
To book your Slow Travel holiday take a look at the Slow Motion Journeys offered by Inntravel, with self guided holidays that enable you to discover each place you visit at your own pace. Whether you like to travel on foot, by bike or by car, Inntravel take care of all the arrangements, with detailed maps and route notes, overnight stays in characterful hotels and often transportation of your luggage – so all you need to do is enjoy the places you visit to the full.
This article was brought to you in partnership with Inntravel who hosted my day at the Cheltenham Discovery Day.
Photo credits: Arromanches by ncBurton on Flickr, La Ranconniere by ranconnierre.fr, Blitzingen by Hotel-castle.ch, Paco de Calheiros by PacodeCalheiros.com , Fjaerland Fjordstue by Fjaerlandhotel.com.