Read an extract from Remarkable Treks by Colin Salter

Remarkable Treks is a compendium of exhilarating walks from around the planet – some lasting weeks, some lasting just a few days, but all of them set against spectacular backdrops.


Travel broadens the mind, but what’s the hurry? The faster you travel, the less time there is to absorb the world through which you are travelling. It’s not just the sights that are missed at speed, but all the other unique sensory delights of a place – the smell of a spice market, the sound and feel of snow beneath the boots, the splash of water from a waterfall during a hot summer hike. Walking is the only way to take in all that a place has to offer.

My new book Remarkable Treks has just been published by Pavilion Books. It’s the third in a series of travel books which round up the very best of long-distance routes for the dedicated traveller – someone for whom the journey is as important as the destination. After Remarkable Road Trips and Remarkable Bike Rides, Remarkable Treks offers more than fifty multi-day walking routes which strip away all barriers between the voyager and the voyage. This is no-tyres travel, on trails all around the world from the shores of Europe to the base camp on Mount Everest.

Walking as a leisure activity has a relatively short history. It coincides with the start of the Romantic movement in music, art and literature. The newfound delight in natural sights, sounds and emotions encouraged people to get out into the country and tune in to nature. It was recognised that doing so could be good for the body as well as the mind; and so walking is part of the history of the European spa resort, to which eighteenth and nineteenth century doctors sent their wealthy patients for a rest cure.

Pure mountain air is still part of the attraction for today’s hikers and Remarkable Treks includes many alpine trails including circuits around the great peaks of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Classic routes in the Swiss Alps, the Pyrenees and the Dolomites now compete with newly developed paths in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, the Andes, the foothills of the Himalayas and on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

It’s not all about height, however. Geography presents challenges on a map that the dedicated trekker is driven to attempt on the ground. Just as the mountaineer George Mallory replied, when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, “Because it’s there,” so today’s walkers tackle the Pennine Way along England’s undulating spine of hills – because it’s there. It doesn’t go anywhere: its start and end points are two of the smallest villages in Britain. Similar explorers choose to walk the entire length of New Zealand – just because they can.

That route, Te Araroa, clocks in at 3000km, putting it in the Top Three of routes by length in this book, just shorter than the Appalachian Trail near the east coast of the US and a long way behind the Pacific Crest trail in the west. These super-routes require not only a high level of fitness but lots of time and organisation. Even hikers who complete them in shorter sections over years will have devoted many months of their lives to the project, overcoming the challenges of accommodation and re-supply. The reward is the experience of being somewhere that could not have been reached any other way but on foot.

As well as visiting places where no human has settled, long distance walks can lead to places long abandoned by people. Treks to Macchu Pichu in Peru and the lost city of Teyuna in Colombia are two popular South American examples. In the Middle East the sandstone world of Petra in Jordan inspires awe; and on the now underpopulated southern shores of Turkey, the Lycian Way walks through a bustling ancient Greek past of lost ports and temples. Everywhere has a past very different from one’s homeland, and a different geology too. Iceland’s landscape, one of the youngest in the world, continues to be shaped by its very present volcanic underbelly.

Some trails choose not just to pass through remarkable countryside but to explore it more thoroughly. By not going directly from A to B but meandering by a circuitous route, hikers can really immerse themselves in a world. The Colorado Trail takes its time over its almost 500 miles of dramatic scenery shaped by wind and rain, while the South West Coast Trail around England’s long narrow southwestern peninsula absorbs every aspect of the region’s history and its very physical battle with the sea – parts of the route are only passable at low tide. The Drakensberg Grand Traverse in South Africa and Venezuela’s Mount Roraima literally transport their users to another world atop unassailable plateaux, where the climate and the natural environment are quite different from the landscape below.

Remarkable Treks features several of Europe’s Grandes Rondonnées – “great rambles” – a network of long-distance walking and cycling routes designated by the European Union, which cross the continent from the tip of Norway to the tip of Italy, from the west coast of Ireland to the west coast of the Black Sea. One of them is Germany’s Rennsteig, which weaves its way through the forests of Thuringia as it has done since at least the fourteenth century. It was first proposed as a leisure path in 1832, making it one of the oldest of the modern hiking routes in this book.

Whether you’re a committed through-hiker, a weekend stroller or an armchair traveller, the words and pictures in Remarkable Treks will transport you to places which you’ve never seen – but may now be inspired to walk through. Happy trails!

The featured extract is from Remarkable Treks by Colin Salter.

Other Articles


Read an exclusive extract from Botanical Block Printing by author and print maker Rosanna Morris. Creating a texture block is a great opportunity to explore your carving tools and see what they are capable of. I like to make a couple of back-up copies of my texture blocks to… Read More

Read an extract from SowHow: A modern guide to grow-your-own veg

Read an excerpt from SowHow: A modern guide to grow-your-own veg. SowHow is an innovative grow guide for the modern gardener. With its fresh, bright design and clear-cut know-how, this clever little book provides all the expert advice and encouragement you need to get growing. Read More

Squash & mussel soup – a warming autumn recipe from PROVENÇAL by Alex Jackson

Cook the simple and flavoursome food of the South of France with acclaimed chef Alex Jackson’s Provencal. This unique collection of recipes encapsulates the beauty and simplicity of Provencal French cooking and shows you how to recreate the flavours of the South of France at home. This might seem an… Read More