‘Must Do’ Overseas Walks

Often when travelling abroad there is a well known mountain, hill or walk which simply have to be done. In this section I have included some of these. They are all straightforward and not difficult.

Each section includes information on where to climb from, how difficult the walk is and other important practical information. For example did you know you needed a permit to climb Mount Teidi.

To date there is information on the following:

Table Mountain, South Africa

Kosciusko, Australia

Mount Teide, Spain’s highest

Climb Mount Washington, USA

Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy

Corno Grande, Italy

Walking in Madeira

Puig Galatzo, Majorca

Table Mountain, Cape Town

1,085ms (3,558ft)

Table Mountain is the most climbed mountains by tourists to South Africa. Most of those go up by cable car. Not everyone goes to the summit which is Maclears Beacon. This is a couple of miles to the east of the upper cable station and restaurant.
It is possible to get a bus, a taxi or even to walk to the lower cable station. This station is on the red bus route so you can take in Table Mountain while on a tour of the city!
The start point for walkers is nearly a mile to the east of the lower cable station at a bend in the road. Normally the start point is obvious because of the large number of cars and people going up or coming down the route. However I recommend that you obtain a copy of Slingsbys Table Mountain National Park map as this will reassure you of the route and the start point.

Tourist Route Climb

It is not advised to stray from the main tourist track up Table Mountain or areas that are patrolled by the rangers. In particular I have heard stories of people going missing when climbing Devils Peak which is off the tourist route. The tourist information at the lower cable station will update you on safe areas as the position appears to change from year to year.
Anyway when I have been to Cape Town late in 2006 and early in 2012 the main tourist route up Platteklip gorge has been safe and indeed popular, on each occasion I have seen about 200 people going up and down the route.

It was a hot day when I went up on 5 January this year and I needed plenty of water. The steep ascent of over 2000 feet takes between 1 hour and 2 hours to reach the plateau. It is very satisfying to break out of the gorge onto the summit plateau. It is also a relief because in hot weather the climb is hard work.
On reaching the plateau turn left for the summit. This takes a further 30 minutes of relatively easy flat walking or right for the restaurant. I turn left as I like to tick off the true summit before going to the restaurant!


It is best to return by the same route or get the cable car back down. In 2006 I walked along the 12 apostles for a mile or so before descending into Camps Bay but that was not recommended in 2012 for fear of robbery or worse.
Whilst Devils Peak is not recommended a number of people were climbing the Lions Head in 2012 which at just over 2000 feet gives an interesting climb with some easy scrambling and great views over the city. The best start point is about 200 yards north of the major road junction at Kloof Nek and you should see cars parked at the start point. Sadly when I did this peak in 2006 it was covered in cloud.

Kosciusko, Australia’s Highest

2,288ms (7,310 ft)

Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in Australia and used to be regarded as one of the 7 summits, highest mountain in each of the 7 continents. However the Australian continent is now seen as including New Guinea and the highest peak is therefore the Carstenz Pyramid, an awkward and serious climb by all accounts.

Probably the main challenge of Kosciuszko is getting to it, the nearest city is Canberra, about 100 miles to the north. I drove up from Melbourne entering the Snowy mountain region from the west. There was a fee of 32 Australian dollars to enter the Kosciuszko national park, equivalent to just over £20.

Kosciuszko can be climbed from Thredbo or Charlottes Pass. From either it is a relatively easy walk on a good path or boardwalk. The easiest route is to get the chairlift from Thredbo. It is then an easy 5 mile walk to the summit with only a few hundred feet of ascent. I started from Thredbo without getting the chairlift which meant a 7 mile walk and 2800 feet of climbing to the summit. An alternative would be to start from Dead Horse gap which gives a higher start point than Thredbo

The Climb

From Thredbo a path led up near the chairlift and the 2000 foot ascent to the top of the chairlift took about an hour and was at times fairly steep. There was hardly anybody about so I was surprised to see a large number of people at the top of the chairlift. As I started along the boardwalks leading to the summit there was a steady flow of people. They included a large number of families climbing the mountain. Kids raced passed me and I discovered it was Australia day which had no doubt contributed to the popularity of the walk

It took a further one and a half hours to reach the summit from the top of the chairlift making two and a half hours from Thredbo. Although the walk is easy in good summer conditions it could well be a different proposition in bad weather or winter. One of the rangers had told me that there are a number of fatalities on the mountain in bad weather.

The Return

From the summit I headed on northwards for nearly an hour reaching the top of Mount Northcote (6900 feet) just off the main range track before turning back. I was now having a problem with lack of water. There was none up there and I hadn’t brought enough. I got back to the top of the chairlift and went straight into the Eagles Nest restaurant for much needed water and orange juice before heading back down the path to Thredbo

Kosciuszko is an interesting but not spectacular walk. The terrain is comparable to the white peak district in Derbyshire but clearly much higher!
The route from Charlottes Pass could give a good day by returning along the main range track past Carruthers Peak on the way back. This would certainly make for a long day as the total distance is nearly 20 miles.

Mount Teidi, Tenerife, Spain’s Highest,

3,718m (12,198ft)

3,718m.  It’s a long way up from the Costas, but the volcanic landscape of Los Canadas caldera and the view from the summit is worth the trip.  It’s a “must do” if you visit Tenerife.


First you need a (free) permit to access the summit, which you get from the National Park offices.  This needs pre-booking and daily numbers are limited, they require you to choose a two hour timeslot – plan ahead and get in several weeks early.  The online application process is simple and you print off your permit and take it with you.  There is a cable car (€25) from the caldera at about 2,300m up to about 3,450m, and several walking options to the cable’s top station, but the single summit access route is manned by a Park official.  

The cable is a popular excursion, so prepare to queue.

Once up the cable you need the permit and your passport to get through the gate.  Go slowly; the 150m climb is simple, on a prepared path, but beware the altitude and wind.  It may be baking on the coast but it will be cold on top.  Fumaroles give a whiff of sulphur in the small summit crater but it is the far reaching views to the rest of the Canaries that hold the attention.

How to get a permit .

If you plan to climb avoiding the cable car you’ll need a hire car.  Public transport is available to the caldera but does not allow sufficient time to summit from the road.  It’s a good 90 minute drive from the various coastal resorts, either north or south.  Have your car available to you for an early start and, as the landscape is arid, take plenty of water.

Mount Washington, NE United States

1,917ms (6,288ft)

Barry climbed Mount Washington with his son James. it is possible to drive to the summit area but clearly he did not!

Mount Washington is in White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire. It is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States

I was there in 2004 with my son James and we decided to climb it. There are a variety of options, you can drive up the auto road for a fee, go up via the cog railway which I imagine is spectacular or walk up. James wasn’t given a choice and we walked up from the Pinkham Lodge Visitors Centre which lies to the east of the summit at 2000 feet on route 16. The Visitors Centre was about 20 miles north of North Conway where we were staying.

The Climb

We went up from the Visitors Centre via the Tuckerman Ravine route, the most popular trail up the eastern slopes of the mountain. It was an 8.5 mile return trip with a height gain of approximately 4300 feet. There was a good path all the way but I would recommend you obtain a trail guide at the visitors centre

We had a beautiful sunny day for the climb. The route started through the trees and then above the trees climbed a headwall of some 900 feet next to a waterfall, the Tuckerman Ravine. After this we reached the broad summit ridge of the mountain which led to the summit a few hundred feet higher.

At the summit we joined all the people who had driven up or used the cog railway. The scene was similar to the summit of Snowdon on a summer day.
We returned down a similar route but varied it slightly by going off to the left over the Lion Head. Here we rejoined the main trail just below the Hermit Lake shelter.


The route is not long but there is a considerable amount of ascent. The trail guide suggests 9 hours for the return trip. Whilst it may not take this long you should allow a day for the return trip. It is well worth the time and I would recommend walking up to see Mount Washington properly. This route is far better than you would anticipate with the climb up the headwall next to the waterfall being the highlight.

Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy

3,350 m (10,990 feet)

A friend of Barry’s, Jay Badiani, visited the island of Sicily in November and managed to find time to climb to the top of one of the craters on Mount Etna.

Jay at the Refuge
Jay at the Refuge

“I flew into Palermo, probably not the best place to start for Mount Etna (Catania on the east coast of Sicily is much closer) but I was intent on a tour of many of the sites of Sicily as well as a climbing Mount Etna, or at least getting as close to the summit as possible. Despite it being November the weather was good. We toured some pretty hilltop villages and spectacular Roman Sites in the hire car. Some of the Italian driving made this challenging before driving to Mount Etna.


Mount Etna is a live volcano. The last eruption was only 10 years ago, and it has continued to be active in recent years. This creates some difficulties and, at the time of our visit, people were not allowed to go above 3,000 metres (10,000ft) but this was still a very interesting and a great trip.

On the Guided Tour
On the Guided Tour

We started by driving to the Rifugio Sapienza at 1,900 metres (6,300ft) where we stayed the night. This was a good hotel and relatively cheap (about £50 per night each) but we were out of season and I suspect booking accommodation here would not be easy between May and September.

The following morning we took the Cable Car (25 Euros) to 2,500 metres (just over 8,000ft). However this section could be walked and I would walk it on a return visit.

On the summit plateau
On the summit plateau

On the Tour

From the top of the Cable Car we joined a guided tour. It was not permissible to go higher on your own but relatively easy to join a guided tour. We climbed steadily for one hour to nearly 3,000 metres. At times this was tricky because of the icy conditions. We were now above the cloud level and conditions were perfect, blue sky and unbroken sunshine. It was a wonderful place to be.

We were prevented from going higher than 3,000 metres and thus to the summit crater by a locked gate. However, we were able to view one of the other craters before returning. A great walk but I intend to go much higher next year with a visit to Kilimanjaro planned in June”.

Corno Grande, Italian Peninsula

2,912ms (9,554 ft)


JP and his family were holidaying in central Italy and felt obliged to climb Corno Grande. It is the highest peak on the Italian Peninsula (basically the bit which excludes the Alpes). It is in the Appenine Mountains pretty much bang centre of Italy. Here is his story of their climb which goes left to right along the ridge in the first photo.

Having visited the excellent Sibilini range (link) we moved on to the Gran Sasso. We based ourselves to the north of the mountain in a small village called Collevecchio.  This overlooked a verdant rolling landscape, above which the mountain looms.


Topping out at 2912m Corno Grande is the biggest hill in central Italy.   It has a small glacier cupped in the open hand of its summit cradle. This presents all sorts of rocky towers and pinnacles that make climbing it look tricky.  There are plenty of routes up which involved hands on scrambling and/or ropework, but walking is possible.  A fine walk it is too, but be prepared for a lot of loose rock high up. There is no water at all, so pack all you need.

With the Family

As we had children with us (9 and 11) we started high at 2100m at the Rif. Duca di Abruzzi roadhead (you can also get a cable car from Assergi).  This is a rather well sited complex overlooking a small ski area and the Campo Imperatore. It is a massive 20km long broad flat valley, at around 1500m high, along which we later drove.


A well marked trail traversed upwards across a hillside, leading to a wide grassy ridge.  You have a choice to turn left and walk round the main ridge. Alternatively go straight on up.  We decided to descend the easy route and headed straight on.  The south face was an “in your face” 400m scramble which we all enjoyed tremendously with the sun on our backs, despite some points that are quite exposed.  Plenty of panting in the thin air.

The summit

The route summit is a great airy place, mind your footing though!  We skirted the rim to the NNW and found a bivvy area to have lunch, overlooking the ice cube/glacier.  You can easily see the Adriatic.

The descent onto the broad NNW face is not pleasant, being outwardly sloping broken up slabs with lots of scree.  The trail is marked, but it is a slow, tedious and concentrated few hundred metres descent until you hit better footing.  A rocky trail drops slowly west in great scenery until you meet the ridge.  There you turn back on yourselves to descend the ridge’s south side, on a good track, and rejoin the grassy ridge of the upward route.

About 6 hours evenly split on up and down.  Wear decent boots to protect ankles.  The rifugio has food and drink.  Great day out.

Walks in Madeira

‘The Buzzards nest’, a viewpoint on route PR1 which crosses the roof of the island.

A flight of just under four hours is required to reach Madiera, an island which for walkers is a North Atlantic paradise. It can be visited at any time with the temperature varying from 18 degrees centigrade in winter to 25 degrees in summer. Winter is a great time to go, the warm sunshine and lighter nights in stark contrast to the average British winter.

The walking is superb. The Rother guide gives details of 60 varied walks on the island which include coastal, ‘Levada’ and mountain walks. One of the best coastal walks runs from Funchal to Camera de Lobos (see below) where Churchill used to paint in the 1950s. There are many Levada walks. Levadas are irrigation channels with paths running alongside them. They give excellent walks, often flat but with outstanding views. The Levadas cover most of the island so there is plenty of variety.

My Favourite Walk

In my view the best walk on the island, and indeed one of the great short mountain walks in the world, is the high level traverse over the roof of the island from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, the highest summit on Madiera. On a sunny day this walk is stunning. With fabulous mountain scenery and views across the whole island. In Madiera the best chance of sun in the mountains is before midday so it is worth starting early.

It is possible to drive to Pico do Arieiro, which at 1818m (5,965ft) is the third highest peak on the island. There is a cafe, a mere 50 feet below the summit of Arieiro, which, of course,should be visited before starting the walk.

Snow had fallen in the mountains the previous week and the hotel was warning that the path was closed for this reason. However, I decided to go up to the cafe in any case and have a look at the route. On arriving there were plenty of walkers setting off along the path to Pico Ruivo so I joined them. It was a very short 50ft ascent to the summit of Ariero. From here Pico Torres and Pico Ruivo, the highest two mountains on the island, can be seen a few kilometres to the north.

The view north from the summit trig point of Pico do Arieiro, Pico Torres is the mountain in the centre.

Continuing to Pico Ruivo

The walk continued with a short descent, and the route to Pico Ruivo could be seen stretching ahead across some of the rockiest mountain terrain imaginable. It would be impossible to complete this walk without the well built paths, steel cable railing and tunnels cut through the rock. At this stage there were no problems with snow on the path. However,the steep descents and ascents and precipitous rock faces means a good head for heights is required for this walk.

The path headed towards Pico do Cidrao (1,799m) and was well protected by wire cables. I was expecting to go over the summit of this peak but the path traversed round the right hand side of its steep slopes. Any route to the summit of this peak looked hard and steep so I carried on along the path. The first signs of snow appeared although the route continued to be well protected by steel cabled fencing.

Two walkers heading in the opposite direction told me that the snow made the path dangerous just before the second tunnel so they had turned back at that point.

The first section of the walk to Pico do Cidrao, the mountain in the centre of the picture


After a steep descent to 1,550m the path went through the Pico do Gato tunnel. This stretched for 100m (a torch would have been useful) and avoided any need to go round or over Pico do Gato, the summit of which was a steep and rocky 800ft above. I continued for a short time before turning round at an unprotected snow section. Just under an hour later I was back at the cafe for coffee and cake.

I will be returning to Madiera soon to complete this walk, climb the magnificent Pico Grande and many others.

Puig Galatzo, Majorca (1,026m, 3,368ft)

Puig Galatzo is the most popular peak in Majorca, towering magnificently just to the west of Palma. It is known as the ‘Matterhorn’ of Majorca, the views are superb, and it is easier to climb than it looks. The walk from Es Cucui take about 4 hours, just over 2 hours for the ascent and just under 2 hours for the descent.

It is possible to drive to Es Cucui by following the road from Palma to Puigpunyent, then a minor road, signposted to the Reserva Puig de Galatzo, for three kilometres. Park at Es Cucui (400m above sea level) and walk up the minor road which goes right up the hill. Follow this minor road for about 30 minutes, ignoring tracks going off to the right. Finally, turn right continuing the ascent on the minor road and walk for another 400m to the walled spring at Sa Font des Pi. It would be possible to drive to this point. However, it is not clear whether this is allowed and, in any case, it is not necessary as it is a pleasant walk.

Approach to Sa Font des Pi

Standing in front of the walled spring follow the left hand track up the hill. At the next junction after three minutes, take the path to the right, and ascend through the forest. As the path gets steeper, the wood thins out and you will see the fire lookout coming into view ahead on the Coll des Carnisseret. The tower is at a height of 703m.

Keep left on the track which passes 100m left of the tower. The path turns left and heads towards the top of Galatzo. After a short distance, the path goes right to begin the traverse below the north side of Galatzo. It heads directly towards the rocky tower called Es Bispe, descending slightly, then crossing over a scree slope. The path now ascends right of Es Bispe to a col at 825m. Here there is a signpost, left to Puig Galatzo, and straight ahead to Boal de ses Serveres. Take the left turn to Galatzo and follow the path as it makes the final ascent of 200m (650ft) to the summit of Galatzo. The path follows rocky terrain and ascends steadily, at one point going through some huge boulders. Near the summit, keep right to scramble onto the final summit ridge a short distance from the round Trig Point.

Looking west from the summit

Care needs to be taken on the ascent and descent, but on a clear summit day, the summit can be reached by most walkers. Expect to find others sharing the summit with you. We descended the same way back to Es Cucui and a late lunch at Puigpunyent.

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