Cinque Terre, Italy – Riomaggiore & Santuario di Montenero

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Riomaggiore is 1st of the famous 5 villages of Cinque Terre.

Hiking in from Porto Venere, the highlight for me was the Santuario di Montenero, a Catholic church & monastery perched overlooking Riomaggiore.

I met the priest who was keen to see how my drone worked. I put this short video together for him.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Mathew conducts service in all 5 villages. I told him he had the best congregations in Italy.

He didn’t disagree.

Hiking the Walls of Lucca, Italy

The Walls of Lucca (4.3km loop) is the most popular hike in one of the terrific Tuscan tourist towns.

This is an asphalted path. Easy for everyone.

There are plenty of opportunities to sit on benches or picnic under large trees for breaks.

There are also many exits to go sightseeing if you want to leave the walls for a while and explore the historic centre.

Click PLAY or watch my hike on YouTube. Spaghetti Western theme. 😀

Lucca, near Pisa, has a population of about 90,000. No matter how many tourists arrive, it doesn’t feel crowded.

There’s much to see. But the highlight for most are the walls encircling the old town.

Initially built as a defensive rampart, it’s become a pedestrian promenade.

Click PLAY or watch Rick Steve’s highlights on YouTube.

Alice Pizza is a super popular chain. Light, airy dough made with little yeast. 

Of 60 varieties, my server in Lucca recommended something unique. Like a pizza ham sandwich. Served cold, not hot. Delicious. 

The Bear Grylls Story

One of the most important spokesmen for outdoor adventure.

Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls is a British adventurer, writer, television presenter and businessman.

He first drew attention after embarking on a number of adventures, and then became widely known for his television series Man vs. Wild (2006–2011).

He is also involved in a number of wilderness survival television series in the UK and US, such as Running Wild with Bear Grylls and The Island with Bear Grylls.

In July 2009, Grylls was appointed as The Scout Association’s youngest-ever Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories at age 35, a post he has held for a second term since 2015. …

Click PLAY or watch his story on YouTube.

NEW – Pamir Trail, Tajikistan

The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range between Central Asia and Pakistan. It is located at a junction with other notable mountains, namely the Tian ShanKarakoramKunlunHindu Kush and the Himalaya mountain ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains. …

The Pamir Highway, the world’s second highest international road, runs from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in Kyrgyzstan through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, and is the isolated region’s main supply route. …

The Pamir Trail is a proposed 1000km+ route. A work in progress.

Jan Baaker, author of Cicerone Trekking in Tajikistan, hopes to connect the entire route in 2024.

We wish him luck. Some of the rivers can be impassable.

To learn more, click through to the

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

#5 Hiking Town – Chamonix, France

I spent a couple of weeks hiking out of the mountain town in 2009, astonished at how down to earth and welcoming it is for outdoor sportsmen from around the world.

It’s one of our Top 10 Hiking Towns in the World.

photo – ptpotts

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc or, more commonly, Chamonix … was the site of the 1924 Winter Olympics. The commune’s population … around 9800 …

… Mont Blanc, at a height of 4810 metres, is the third most visited natural site in the world …

… well known and loved by skiers and by mountain enthusiasts of all types. …

Chamonix is located 80 km southeast of Geneva, Switzerland …

Chamonix Place Balmat

More interesting photos tagged Chamonix.

You can hike out of town in any direction. And be blown away by wonderful mountain vistas. Here I am just above town on a trail run.

fit hiker in the Alps

The most famous “best hikes” in the region are:

• Chamonix to Zermatt – Walkers’ Haute Route <my trip report> (top 10)
Tour of Mont Blanc (TMB – top 10)

More best hikes in the Alps.

Best time to hike is late June to early October.

Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni BC

Hole in the Wall, a short day hike, is a is fast becoming a major attraction for the Vancouver Island community.

The hole is all that remains of a decades old water line.

Click PLAY or watch my 2023 video on YouTube. At dawn I had the waterfalls to myself.

Check in at the Port Alberni Visitor Centre for directions.

Parking can be difficult though the trail itself is only an easy 1.3km return walk.

Rather than following the normal route as posted on AllTrails Port Alberni Hole in the Wall, I walked instead from an industrial park end of Sherwood Road.

Definitely muddier and less traveled, I did find it interesting. Nobody else parked there.

Here are the rough trails as shown on

Click PLAY or get a glimpse of my 2021 hike on YouTube.

Vancouver Island Waterfalls

Quincy, originally from Australia, has been living out of his vehicle, touring Vancouver Island with the goal of seeing all the major waterfalls.

Vancouver Island is home to some of the wettest conditions in Canada, with some regions experiencing more annual rainfall than anywhere else in North America.

It’s no surprise that the result is an island that is covered in a dense forest of giant trees, ferns, and mosses, as well as raging rivers and gorgeous waterfalls that cascade down lush slopes from high mountain peaks.

Waterfall chasing is a popular pasttime here, and one of the best things to do on Vancouver Island.

There are so many fantastic waterfalls, of varying accessibility levels, that it can be hard to know where to start. From easily accessible roadside waterfalls right near cities to ones requiring longer treks, there are tons to choose from. I’ve compiled a list of all the Vancouver Island waterfalls I’ve been lucky enough to visit, and will continue to update this blog post as I visit more. …


I’ve hiked a lot on Vancouver Island and have only seen a small percentage of these on Quincy’s list.

For example, I hadn’t realized there was a Niagara Falls on Vancouver Island. Easily confused with the much more famous falls on the border of Ontario and New York State.

UK hike – Ivinghoe Beacon

Guest post by Mike, the Vans wearing hiker behind the blog HikerHero:

One of my favourite hikes so far is Ivinghoe Beacon, an accessible walk in Buckinghamshire with plenty to see. Just a short drive from London will see you wandering on part of Britain’s oldest road and on a grassy path with stunning views of the Chiltern Hills. 

Do you know what Harry Potter, Star Wars and me, Mike, have all got in common? Well, we’ve all in some way been filmed at Ivinghoe Beacon.

Ivinghoe Beacon Itinerary

Ivinghoe Beacon is a prominent hill (233 meters above sea level) with amazing views, but the walk itself is not too strenuous. Most of it is actually fairly flat, which makes it popular with walkers of all abilities.

There are a range of routes of varying lengths that take you off in all directions. But we opted for the Bridgewater Monument North Trail which takes close to 4 hours.

There is a large National Trust car park to park in at the Ashridge Estate, which is super handy.

My Ivinghoe Beacon Experience

I love London, but I do think you have to leave it behind every now and again to truly appreciate it.

So that’s what weekends are for. To get out to the countryside and shake off the city with a good walk.

After my Chess Valley Walk, I’d become quite excited with the idea of a return to the Chilterns and I’d heard that the Ivinghoe Beacon Walk was a good day out.

Our Ivinghoe Beacon Walk started and ended at the Bridgewater monument.

The Bridgewater monument 

From the monument, we followed the signs leading into the woodland for the first section of the walk. It was fairly flat and we passed a photogenic old wooden shooting lodge before reaching a small dwelling known as Clipper Down Cottage.

From here there’s a few options. Straight on will get you to the top quicker, but taking the route to the left (as we did) will take you out o the woods and onto a field with views over to Pitstone Hill. Eventually you will pass what’s known as Incombe Hole, a small valley and be near to another landmark called Grim’s Ditch.

Alongside some Bronze Age burial grounds, Income Hole and Grim’s Ditch are some of the things that earn the Ivinghoe Hills area its Site of Special Scientific Interest title.

Incombe Hole to the Ivinghoe Beacon

After Incombe Hole, you will cross over Beacon Road and once over the road, any of the paths will take you to the trig point at the top. Look out for the wildflowers, butterflies and other wildlife along the trail as you climb.

At the top, we discovered that Beacon Hill has great views but doesn’t have a beacon anymore. Instead, there were just two stones on the ground. Legend has it that the hill used to be part of an old signalling network using the tops of prominent hills to send messages during the time of the Vikings, not so needed in modern times!

From the trig point on Beacon Hill you can see the Pitstone Windmill turning in the distance and something far more interesting, the Whipsnade White Lion. The White Lion of was a piece of marketing for Whipsnade Zoo, completed in 1933 and recently restored with 800 tonnes of chalk.

On the way down we wandered through a golf course and ended up passing through the village of Aldbury which conveniently had a proper English pub for a celebratory pint.

Another 20 minutes on from the Greyhound and we were back at the car just as the light started to fade.

Final Thoughts

The Chilterns are fast becoming my go-to place when I want to escape from London for a bit.

The Ashridge House Estate is in a great area to see a little wildlife, try new walks and take in some beautiful views.

Overall I’d say that Ivinghoe Beacon is an enjoyable walk. It has a well-marked trail, pretty views and the climb is easy enough for most walkers. Plus, with a pub on route you can’t go wrong!

To read more about my latest hikes, head to I love to share my adventures and favourite hikes in the UK and across the world.

Granite Gear Virga 3 Backpack

I used Granite Gear lightweight packs for about 20 years. Thousands of kilometres. A great product.

Finally switched to a Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack in 2019 for the aesthetics, water proofing, and durability.

But I’m still a fan of the Virga line.

… longtime Minnesota-based brand, Granite Gear. Its latest ultralight backpack, the Virga 3, is a top-to-bottom rethink of the previous Virga, with more inclusive sizing at the center of the new design. …

The Virga 3 isn’t the first size-inclusive backpack, but it’s among the first explicitly made for an ultralight audience. It’s frameless, designed to carry 25 pounds or less, and weighs in at 27 ounces for the 55-liter version (the 26-liter pack totals 20 ounces).  …

… accommodates waists from 28 – 42 inches (26 – 40 inches for the women’s model), and is exchangeable for a larger ReFit belt that fits waist sizes from 36 – 52 inches for no additional cost.  …

Granite Gear’s Size-Inclusive Ultralight Pack Is a Step in the Right Direction

I like the looks of the Virga 3, as well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

#7 day hike – Caminito del Rey, Spain

One of our top 10 day hikes in the world


Once called the most dangerous pathway  in the world.

  • Caminito del Rey is near Ardales in the province of MálagaSpain, Andalusia
  • first built 1905, the walkway had fallen into disrepair and was partially closed for nearly 15 years due to deaths
  • re-opened in 2015
  • new pathway still offers a walk of 2.9 km
  • 1 metre (3 ft) wide climbing over 100 metres (330 ft) above the Guadalhorce river
  • the entire trip from the start at the town of Ardales to finish at Álora would be about 8km and might take 3-4 hours
  • originally built to provide access to workers at hydroelectric power plants Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls

World → Europe → Spain → Caminito del Rey

For details click over to our Caminito del Rey information page.

BestHike editor Rick McCharles 2022
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