• E bikes open up The Highlands!

    17th July, 2019

    E Bikes open up The Highlands!

    A recent trip to Scotland to update our route for the Lochs and Glens to Edinburgh trip, gave one of the team a great opportunity to not only test the Ride with GPS app which is proving such a great hit with our clients this year, but also to experience the fun of riding an e-bike. We grade the 7-night trip as a Gentle – Level 5 (one of the more challenging ‘gentle’ trips but not quite in the ‘not so gentle’ category). So, while distances each day are rarely more than 25 miles, there are a few significant hills such as the climb out of Drymen and the ascent of Glen Ogle as well as the ups and downs of rolling countryside.

    E-Bikes Explained

    The e-bikes are undoubtedly much heavier than a regular hybrid because of the battery, however once you are underway this is not really noticeable especially if you keep the bike in low power mode as our host recommended we do. On approaching a hill a combination of changing down through the gears and up through the 4 power modes allows the rider to remain seated even up the steepest incline – and whilst a few good natured shouts of ‘cheat’ from other walkers and cyclists led to a fleeting guilt as we passed them going uphill, this was soon forgotten in the sheer joy of whizzing back down!

    Battery Power

    Concerns about the bike either ‘running away’ or running out of battery were both unfounded, and this would probably only be an issue if the power was kept on the highest level even on the flat. Even on the longest day the battery level did not fall below 3/5 and on most days only went down to 4/5. Still important to charge each night – just to make sure there is enough juice for any eventuality or detours! For a moderately fit walker, but not a keen cyclist, this was the perfect option; enough good exercise to give tired legs, a good appetite for dinner and a great night’s sleep, but not so much that we did not have time to ‘stop and stare’; enjoy a good lunch and the odd ice cream; but still arrive at our destination mid-afternoon in time to explore a little before dinner. E bikes are available in all our UK destinations – but please book well in advance as numbers may be limited at peak times.

    Ride with GPS

    Putting all our routes on GPS was a mammoth task for the team over last winter. This not only makes it easier to customise routes, but for the rider, the ease of following the route on the map as well as the verbal cues telling you when to turn etc have made it a big hit. Some clients have been concerned about roaming charges when using their smart phones, but links to download the routes are sent well in advance so routes can be downloaded at home. Phones are then used on airplane mode during the rides so avoiding data usage and conserving battery (although we do provide a battery pack and waterproof phone holder for each booking, just as back up). It is really worthwhile to download the app in advance and have a little play, so you can amend the settings to suit (miles or km for example, continuous visual or screensaver) and to make sure you get the most out of it.

  • Food specialities in Britain

    31st May, 2019

    Britain is known for its amazing variety - all within our small island. This is no less true of its food than of its landscapes and dialects. Many of these foods are associated with specific regions of Britain, some have a unique history and others are eccentrically British. Here is a selection from some of the regions where we offer walking, touring and cycling holidays. Your Adventure Handbook and route directions will highlight where you can find and eat these delicious specialities.

    Scotland's haggis

    The main ingredients of haggis are probably enough for you to never want to sample it! Having said that, it is delicious - sheep's heart, liver and lungs, and stomach (or sausage casing); onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. It comes presented as a large oval shaped sausage and is often served on Burns night around January 25th which is the birthday of poet Robert Burns, whom the event celebrates. It's an ancient recipe - dating back to the 17th Century and is thought to have been an easy food to prepare and eat after a day's hunting. We can offer the haggis but not traditional hunting whilst on our cycling or walking trips in Scotland.

    Welsh cakes

    Pice ar y maen, are a Welsh teatime treat passed on through generations and still as popular as ever. The cakes have been popular since the late 19th century with the addition of fat, sugar and dried fruit to a longer standing recipe for flat-bread, baked on a griddle. They are roughly circular, a few inches in diameter and about half an inch thick and are served hot or cold - so great for a snack whilst walking in Wales

    Yorkshire pudding

    As the main photo above shows, this is a savoury baked pudding made from batter consisting of eggs, flour, and milk. The secret to getting gloriously puffed-up Yorkshires is to have the fat sizzling hot before you put the batter into the oven. They are so good that they are cooked throughout Britain and are traditionally served with roast beef. They originated when shrewd cooks in Yorkshire devised a method of using the fat that dripped from meat to make puddings with wheat flour when it first became available. Preferably best eaten after, rather than during, one of our day's walking there!

    Kendal Mint cake

    One of the Lake District's most famous food and exports is its mint cake. It originates from Kendal, one of the Lake District's biggest towns, where 4 generations of the Romney family have been making it for a hundred years. The cake is a glucose-based confection flavoured with peppermint and is high energy so popular among climbers, mountaineers and cyclists. It famously comes wrapped in grease proof paper in a distinctive blue tin, a nice memorabilia of your trip in itself. Include it in your day pack when taking our walking or cycling tour in the Lake District

    Cotswold cheese

    Stinking Bishop is an unlikely name for a soft cheese but it is produced on one farm in the Cotswolds and is made from the milk of Gloucester cattle. It's strong flavour is a favourite of mine - or perhaps I just love its characterful name! Single Gloucester cheese also emanates from this area. It was sometimes known as the haymaker's cheese as it was matured for a short time and ready for eating by farm labourers during the haymaking season. It can only be sold under this name if it is produced on farms in Gloucestershire with pedigree Gloucester cattle.

    Devon clotted cream

    Clotted cream is a must try experience when you stop for a break whilst walking or cycling in Devon - perhaps less justifiable if you are on one of our touring itineraries! The thick cream is made by heating full-cream cow's milk and then leaving it to cool slowly. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and produces "clots" or "clouts". It forms an essential part of a cream tea when you pile the clotted cream onto a scone and add strawberry jam. Some say you add the cream below the jam; you can argue that one either way!

    Cornish pasty

    Although widely available throughout Britain these days, the pasty is thought to have originated in Cornwall for consumption by tin miners there at lunch time. Its shortcrust pastry, crimped on one side means its easy to hold and OK to eat with dirty hands. Filled with meat, potatoes, swede and onion, it's a substantial food. Traditionally it was made with the addition of a sweet filling at one end making a complete meal. Go underground in the tin mines on our Captivating Cornwall bike holiday.

  • Islands that inspire

    30th April, 2019

    We include such a wonderful array of islands on our cycling, walking and touring trips that we thought we would share a selection with you.

    13th Century split

    Marken was separated from North Holland by a storm 8 centuries ago and remained an island until a causeway was built in 1957. Its isolated history remains evident in its wooden housing. To keep their feet dry, inhabitants built their houses originally on artificial knolls and later on stilts. Cycle this tour to enjoy.

    A river folly

    As you cycle, walk or float along the Thames river, you pass many islands but none as high profile as Temple Island. It marks the start of the Henley Royal Rowing Regatta and its fishing folly, designed as a Temple is a gorgeous landmark in one of the prettiest stretches of the river.

    Narrow sand dunes

    The Curonian spit is joined at its southern end to mainland Russia; its northern end has a narrow opening into the Baltic at Klaipeda in Lithuania, so strictly it isn't an island. Formed of sand dunes, it's 61 miles have been moulded by sea currents to form a spit, barely 400 m wide at its narrowest. It was the loved summer retreat of Thomas Mann and the playground of military officers during the war. Its peace and extraordinary being are beyond measure. Enjoy it on our Curonian lagoon cycling holiday

    The Long Island

    Scotland has its own Long Island, otherwise known as the Outer Hebrides. They are a collection of islands off the west coast including Lewis and Harris which are hilly and the Uists and Benbecula which are flat. Wind and history play a part. Barra on the other hand hosts the only airport that has a runway where tides are relevant - you land on the beach. How romantic is that? Cycle our Highlands and Hebrides trip


    Just 7 miles off the coast of Connemara in Galway, Ireland, the small island of Inishbofin has 180 inhabitants, white sandy beaches and magnificent scenery. Its name, meaning island of the white cow is these days more linked with traditional Irish music and a half marathon every May. Visit on our walking holiday or cycling holiday of Connemara.

    A mountain in the Mediterranean sea

    An island of contrasts, Corsica is French whilst retaining a distinct Italian culture. It has craggy peaks alongside dense forest and stylish coastal towns and beaches that range from the absurdly busy to frankly, remote. It's good local produce and wine and its size - smaller than Sicily or Sardinia but the 4th largest in the Med, make it a fascinating visit. Check it out on our walking trip

    Fossils and Needles

    The Isle of Wight sits off the south coast of England and several of our New Forest and Dorset cycling holidays take you there for a day. There is great fossil hunting and the famous 3 stacks or huge chalk rocks known as the Needles lie adjacent to its coast as shown in the photo above.

  • The Five Best Walks in the UK

    9th April, 2019

    We have been walking in the UK for many decades so as you might imagine we've learnt a thing or two. Below we give our pick of the 5 best walking routes. They may tell you something about the amazing choices available in these varied and historic lands. What you may not know, is that all our walking holidays based on these routes are completely unique to The Carter Company and cannot be found anywhere else.

    Our Celtic Caper in Europe's 50 Best walks

    No surprises our gentle walk along the south coast of Wales was listed in the Telegraph's top 50 walks. The scenery is breathtaking and the wildlife is second to none. Add luxury boutique hotels, a puffin spotting boat ride and a drink in the favourite watering hole of Wales' most famous poet.

    Hadrian's Wall

    As the UK is big on history, there are no surprises that a walk along Europe's largest surviving Roman monument, Hadrian's Wall features in our list. This ever popular tour is a fantastic walk through history as you follow the Roman fortification through a wild and utterly wonderful landscape. As you walk from coast to coast, you stay in luxury boutique hotels be it a castle or family run pile. And once completed, you get the certificate!

    Hand Picked Cotswolds

    We are incredibly proud of our own crafted walk through the beautiful Cotswolds. We designed this walk to include our favourite gems of the Cotswolds - huge views from an aristocrat's folly, timeless hamlets hidden in tiny valleys, an extraordinary castle, the arts and crafts of Chipping Campden and a choice of luxury boutique hotels or the inns we love.

    Scotland's West Highland Way

    The West Highland Way in Scotland coupled with boutique luxury hotels gives drama by day and elegance by night. Nothing can be more impressive than pulling on your boots and heading along the shores of Loch Lomond, up the Devil's staircase, past Rob Roy's cave and across Rannoch Moor to Glencoe. Add simply the best hotels in Scotland with private transfers and you have a walk with it all.

    Coast to Coast

    Legend Alfred Wainwright created this iconic route as he walked coast to coast picking the best paths through the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales and wolds and we can help you pick the section most suited to you. Choose luxury boutique hotels or handpicked inns. It'll be a winner!

  • Notes from Connemara

    20th March, 2019

    ‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet’

    William Butler Yeats

    As we recently took a trip to Connemara we thought we would share some of our thoughts and highlights -

    Connemara is a region on the west coast of Ireland, with coastline that is part of The Wild Atlantic Way. The closest airport is at Westport, or alternatively Shannon. Dublin is approximately 3 ½ hours to the east. When we were there in February the weather was sunny and glorious and the climate is generally mild and breezy but a little prone to rain – it is not called the Emerald Isle for nothing! The landscape is stunning – rugged with the lowland areas criss crossed with streams, and mountains that rise up from the landscape almost as if they had been strategically placed! The roads are quiet and perfect for a cycling holiday – very few cars but a lot of sheep!

    Killary Fjord

    In the heart of the region is Killary Fjord (the only fjord in Ireland), which forms a natural border between Counties Galway and Mayo. Here you will find some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland as Mweelrea the highest mountain in Connacht (one of the five ancient kingdoms of Ireland) rises from the north shore, and on the south side you can see the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.

    The Famine Trail

    Take an exciting RHIB ride along the fjord past mussel beds and salmon farms, then walk back along the south shore ‘Famine Trail’. The first part of the trail is rocky but then opens to some easier walking past abandoned homesteads and on towards a sheep farm where you may be lucky enough to see a sheepdog demonstration or feed some lambs before continuing on to the village of Leenaune at the head of the fjord.

    Connemara National Park

    Connemara National Park is a protected area with four trails up Diamond Hill – depending on how energetic you feel! The hill gets its name from the resistant quartzite which forms the top of the mountain and sparkles in the right light. The park also contains evidence of human settlement 4000 years ago as well as ruined houses, old sheep pens and other evidence of a greater population and more extensive use of these lands in times past before the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s. On the way back down you can reward yourself with a stop in the Tea Rooms or in Letterfrack perhaps a pint of Guinness in Veldons Bar.

    Kylemore Abbey

    One of the most lovely spots in the area is Kylemore Abbey. Originally the site of a hunting lodge, the 15,000 acre estate was bought by English Doctor and Industrialist Mitchell Henry as a gift for his beloved wife and he began to build the beautiful fairytale castle. At this time over one third of the population of Connemara was lost due to starvation, fever and emigration and the remaining tenants were concerned about their futures following a long and troubled history with England. However Mitchell Henry created much needed employment, paying high wages and improving housing for his tenants and other facilities including a school for local children. Sadly Margaret Henry died in 1874 on a holiday to Egypt and the property had a chequered history until it became the monastic home of the Benedictine nuns in 1920.


    A visit to the coast would not be complete without a trip to the beach and there are some breathtaking beaches along this stretch possibly the most lovely of which is Glassilaun. Reached by a narrow road which keeps it a hidden gem, the huge horseshoe of sand is bounded by rock pools with views of the mountains in the distance.

    Ballynahinch Castle

    We feature some very special hotels on our Jolly Around Connemara cycling holiday and one of our favourites is Ballynahinch Castle with the Owenmore River on one side and the Twelve Bens on the other. Built in 1754 on the site of a former castle, Ballynahinch has had several famous owners including Richard Martin (Humanity Dick) founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and His Highness Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, otherwise known as the famous cricketer Ranji – much loved in the local area and commemorated in the Ranji Bar at the Hotel.

    We are also planning a walking holiday as this area has so much to offer, and if you would like us to tailormake an itinerary for you – let us know hello@the-carter-company.com