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Walking and Wine

Updated: May 18

Hastings to Rye - April 2024

Goggle search most beautiful coastal walks I came across Hastings to Rye - 26 kilometers. Always up for a challenge!

So being organised I put this walking weekend in the diary months ago! The Easter holidays arrived and it was a particularly cold and wet one, it just didn’t stop raining! So was a little apprehensive about walking at the end of the three weeks.

However, we really were very lucky. Friday morning  showed a warm, sunny weekend ahead so blessed!  We started with a coffee in the garden before packing up and setting off!

Arriving in Rye mid afternoon, we parked just behind the Lookout Hotel. Loved a quick walk around the town exploring a few of the cobbled streets including the Mermaid, a few galleries and shops and ended up at the bottom of the hill on Mermaid Street (fancy living on a street with that name!) in the Old Borough Arms for a drink and sandwich (a really good crab sandwich, btw) in the sunshine….

We walked to the little train station and caught the train to Hastings (they run every hour at this time of year) and it was a very easy 20 minute journey. Once in Hastings we walked to our AirBNB and relaxed with a cup of tea before heading out to explore. Meeting friends on Hastings beach was a slight mission as there was not really a clear place to meet but finally we met behind the Fishermans’ huts (probably not the most solubarious location) towards the end of the town! We enjoyed a great sunset and a drink before heading into the old town of Hastings. We really found the most delicious pizza - famous outoutside of Naples with supper that evening at the amazing Monellis.

One word OUTSTANDING! Thank you this made our night!

So heading off on Saturday morning we walked back through Hastings and took the steps up to East Hill. There is a funicular lift but that was closed, anyway that would have been cheating! Great views of Hastings to enjoy at the top.

There were eight ladies (including me) walking so if it was to blame the constant chatter or stopping to admire the views but yes, we got lost as we headed into the woods.  The bluebells were stunning and we thoroughly enjoyed going on the ‘rough track’ but realised after some time that we had wondered from the coastal path! Hilarious, as we always get a little lost! However, we had climbed up and had a good view down and spotted the real path we just had to rejoin it and decided as it was pretty steep to do it on our bottoms… it was like the slippery slip of mud! Great fun though!

Back on the path, heading to Fairlight Cove, and the coastal views were just beautiful. It was quite up and down in places.  A combination of bluebells, bright yellow gorse and the sea all in sunshine… we sat and admired the view with leftover pizza and a bottle of fizz (thank you to Elaine for carrying that in her rucksack!) .

We walked down to Pett Level beach and crossed the canal. I think we diverted off the coastal route at this point. We found a great tea shop right on the beach and decided to enjoy refreshments before continuing along the sea to Winchelsea.

At Winchelsea we headed across fields filled with baby lambs and beautiful scenery - Rye Castle on the right and the canal on the left.  I don’t think we went the most direct route but we arrived in Rye about 5.30pm exhausted and ready for a large, well earned drink!

We managed to do 30kms in a day, highly recommended but start early and make sure you have time for lots of refreshment stops!  The weather really helped too.

'Cinque Terre' - October 2023

These walks and trips away take a lot of planning and when we booked our holiday in the October half term I was convinced the weather would be beautiful in Italy. Unfortunately, the worlds weather has gone crazy and we were unlucky this time... still being away in Italy is better than not being away, still one of my favourite countries in Europe, and walking in warm rain instead the cold damp days in the UK - we had another great trip!

The cinque Terre means the five towns and the trial literally takes you through each beautiful hillside town! Its a very popular destination and we were really excited for the challenge!

We arrived in the famous Portofino for lunch on the Saturday. Thank goodness Paola was driving as these underground carparks scare the life out of me, so tight, hence the little Italian cars.... We had booked and enjoyed our lunch at the edge of the harbour. I didn't note the restaurant name - it was nice but as most places are in Portofino quite over priced and nothing special. Beautiful harbour and the houses and colourful buildings are very 'picture postcard'. The highlight for me was the lighthouse and sitting in the most stunning spot sipping my Aperol. The holiday had started!

I had booked a B&B -Tre Mari, up a steep flight of stairs but as promised 'nestled in nature' and with the most spectacular views of the town.

Stepping literally back in time up this hillside with quirky bathrooms and memorabilia but perfect to start out Italian adventure.

Santa Margarita is somewhere I would like to go back too! I had no idea that it was such a vibrant harbour town. We took a bus from Portofino to Santa Margarita's train station and then caught the next train to Bonassola. This is where our walk began...

It was a tough first day around 16 Kms but this time our walk was not great distance more about the climbs and then the steep walks down hillsides... we discovered the Italian 'surfers paradise' Levanto, and arrived hot and tired at Monterosso by mid afternoon - ready for a cooling swim!

These beautiful designs from the Cinque Terre are by local artist Monica Comunello M. with her shop in Corniglia.

Monterosso was a beautiful beach and a popular destination on a Sunday afternoon. We were at a small hotel "Affittacamere Da Flo' just across the road from the beach so very convenient. Sunday evening we walked up to the old town which was very pretty and found a great restaurant 'Ristorante il Moretto' for a seafood dinner.

Has to be done so close to the sea!

Monday we were up and off early. We managed to walk some way before finding out that the rest of our planned route was closed due to a landslide that weekend, the weather had been bad and it was due to get worse again. We decided to take the train. It was such a great service and as well as boat runs the length of the Cinque Terre. We trained to Monorola caught a small bus north of the town and joined another trail back to Corniglia, where we stayed for the night. This walk was again not so coastal but very beautiful across vineyards and woodlands, plenty of ups and downs! In Corniglia we stayed in a small self catering apartment - Residenza Solferino, which was perfectly located near the restaurants, bars and shops. These little towns are very quaint and they certainly are small. We walked down to the train and visited Vernazza for a drink on the harbour front, aware that the storm was coming in!

When I say storm I mean STORM, wow I didn't realise it could rain so hard... It was impossible to walk Tuesday morning so we had a late start and enjoyed coffee and pastries in a bar instead. We headed off to the train again braving the weather and christening our wet weather gear! I even found my waterproof cover on my new rucksack....

This time we only trained on one stop to Riomaggiore and by the time we got there, had another coffee stop the weather had improved. We checked in to our accommodation which was a beautiful apartment -à Vivaldi penthouse 5terreparco, Riomaggiore with the most stunning view.

We then trekked back to Monorola which was one of the most challenging walks... very steep climbs up and then literally clambering down. I was very pleased we left our heavy packs at the accommodation.

The final day of walking was from another hillside town and then a steep walk down into Ponte Venere. Another challenging but most spectacular day! We walked through all the seasons and even met a most innovative business lady (Gitana on the Road) at the top of one remote hill. It certainly brightened up our walk! She has her little camper van converted and serves coffee, tea, homemade cakes prepared in the van as well as Prosecco, wine and gin - only in Italy!

The Cinque Terre was everything I had hoped it would be and more... will need to go back for a visit with blue skies just to be able to choose my favourite of the towns.

'The Camino' - Summer 2022

So why ‘Walking and Wine’? Well this little adventure has been in the pipeline now for over two years. I have researched, planned and plotted over Covid lockdown and

been looking forward to the ‘open road’ and walking on the Camino (one of the world’s oldest and most famous pilgrim routes)for months now.

My Spanish friend Veronica trekked over 400kms when she was 19 years old and now just a few years later (ok, maybe 30 years), she inspired a few more of her friends to join her and have a go! Of course, I added a few extra days so we could explore San Sebastian, the northern Spanish coast, and then to have a relaxing few days to recover in Santiago de Compostela, the official ending of the 500 trek.

It’s safe to say we have had a few glasses of wine every day, sometimes just one when we had a long walk to do the next day but have enjoyed some of the best French rosés and for me I am now ‘hooked’ on a glass of Albariño. It’s been so worth the wait and instead of my usual ‘Foodie Friday’ I am very pleased to share a food and travel blog which for future reference will be known as ‘Walking and Wine’.


We left London shortly after 9am on the Eurostar. It was already a busy day at St. Pancreas and we were pleased to find a coffee and our seats. It’s been a while since I have used the Eurostar but it is incredibly easy. Before we knew it we were in sunny Paris and having lunch near to the Eiffel Tower at the Café Trocadero.

Researched from Seat 61, we then caught the double decker train from Paris Montparnasse to Hendaye just over the border in Spain. This was again easy (we did try and move a family from their seats – to discover we were all in the wrong carriage!). It also took me a while to cool down and relax as I had ventured off about 30 mins before the train to the nearby Monoprix supermarket to find it seemed to be a huge store and my simple picnic purchase had me running to catch the train!

The train really had great views, sunflower fields and plenty of beautiful chateaux.

We passed through Bordeaux Saint-Jean, Biarritz then into Spain arriving in Hendaye. As we had read before it was a quick change onto a little local train into San Sebastian and we arrived around 9pm. Would have been easy to jump into a taxi but as we had all been sitting most of the day it was a really lovely walk to our Air Bnb near the old town and beach. This time of night was very pleasant walking along the water and seeing a few sights lit up!

It was a lazy first morning and we were very pleased to have a lovely breakfast place just round the corner, where I certainly over indulged. At the Polka café I had – ‘’tostada con jamón, aguacate, tomate, croissant y café con leche”.

We spent Saturday exploring San Sebastián. We walked to the end of La Concha Bay, had a local beer at a little café on the beach before taking the funicular up Monte Igeldo. This is a place where the past meets the present. You can relive your childhood years by visiting the traditional fairground or, as we did, travel back to 1912 when the funicular railway started (making it the oldest funicular railway in the Basque Country), taking us all to

marvel at the most iconic views of the city. The Igeldo funicular is a cog railway with wooden carriages which takes you from the lower slopes of the mountain to the fairground at the summit.

At the summit, we were all so impressed with the stunning views of the city as well as part of Gipuzkoan coastline and the immense Cantabrian Sea.

Once back in town we timed our ice cream so well as the one day bike race taking place across Spain finished in San Sebastian. One of the group is a huge cycling fan, so it was fun joining the crowds lining the streets, and cheering on the UK cyclists pushing to the finish line.

We then managed to squeeze in the catamaran boat trip around the island and the San Sebastian bay, lovely for a different view, before our ‘tapa crawl’. I had read one of the main reasons to travel to San Sebastian was the food and I could not believe the number of Michelin starred restaurants I saw. It really is a gastronomic paradise where I could have stayed for several nights.

However, we were leaving the following day so we made the most of Saturday night and enjoyed a ‘tapa crawl’ or Tikiteo. This not only allowed us to enjoy as many small plates as we could, but was also a great opportunity to visit different bars and cafes. We agreed amongst us our favourite was Txuleta – famous for its steak croquette!

Sunday, we were off to Bilbao and where we headed to the famous Guggenheim museum. Once we had our rental cars sorted out we explored the beautiful drive from Bilbao to our destination for the night - Oviedo.

Oviedo pronounced ‘Obiedo’ we discovered was the city of cider. In Calle Gascona (Boulevard of cider) there are sidrerias after sidrerias. We sat down in Alterna Sideria

Rosal with a 5 star trip advisor rating we were not knowing, the etiquette or what to expect…

Focusing forward the bottle is raised over the pourers head and the glass is tilted at their waist. The pourer does not look at either the bottle nor the glass but straight ahead and starts to pour. The idea for this is to aerate the cider by creating bubbles, but don’t be surprised if some is spilt.

Only a small amount is poured from the large bottle. You are then handed the dry, partially still, cloudy cider which may also include sediment to enjoy, and enjoy we did.

We enjoyed strolling the old town with bars stacked high and shelves of green cider bottles, We ate just outside the Cathedral, in the square with our very Spanish and lovely waitress Marta… I noted we ate a delicious tomato salad and Bonito fish ‘Ventresca debonito’. The underbelly of a type of tuna called Bonito.

On Monday we left the city of cider to arrive and dine in the ‘Street of the wines’ in Lugo. This is a walled city and much more appealing than I had expected. We strolled the old, narrow streets and found there to be a great atmosphere and again incredible food. We went for tapas plates again!

We then were all happy with an early night as we left the following morning on our 4 day Camino adventure…

Day 1 - Lugo

We left our Lugo Air BnB at around 6am, although we did get faster at heading off before the sun was up! It was already 18/19 degrees and as I had explained to the girls we had about 21 kms to walk. I had misunderstood the map and actually this first day turned out to be one of the longest walks of the trip over 30 kms in total.

I won’t lie, it was tough. We enjoyed our first rural stop, in a garage with a coffee machine for a euro and a welcome toilet stop. This is where we first saw a fellow walker, carrying his guitar on his back, who walked much faster than us! This was our first stamp too, and as we didn’t have the official paperwork I used my roadmap of Spain which is now well and truly stamped! To explain at every coffee stop, albergue or sometimes a random point in a village you could collect stamps to mark your journey.

We met Mark while we munched our picnic lunch. We had bought some fruit and bread back in Lugo and it was most welcome with a cold drink. Mark, Dutch with the necktie,

seemed to have walked every corner of the world and was full of advice to us beginners. He warned us the first three days would be the worst and I didn’t really manage to explain we were only doing four in total! Anyway we waved goodbye and knew we would see him at our overnight accommodation that night. We arrived at Albergue Pointe Ferreira at 3.15pm. We had to play seriously loud music to get us up the last few hills which seemed to last 4/5kms. It seemed to help walk with a beat… With the help of Ed Sheeran we made it and were so grateful for a refreshing shower and to sit in a deckchair. However getting up an hour later when the last of the group arrived, was a real struggle!

Ria, owner from the Albergue Pointe Ferreira and I have been emailing for over 2 years now so it was so nice to finally meet. She and her husband served a really nice vegetarian meal for all her guests and I think there was about 14 round the table for supper. We really enjoyed meeting the American University Professor and his partner and a Dutch couple that looked as tired as we were! There was no rocking required as we all fell in to our bunks

hoping that dawn did not come too soon.

Day 2 - Melide

Luckily for me, Kate (one of our group of girls) was talking to me again after a good night’s sleep as we all set off in the dark. It was slightly drizzling and the scenery we experienced walking to Mellide was very surprising. We walked through more farms and past more fields and fields of corn but also we climbed up on to what I can only describe as the ‘moors’. I am sure in blazing sunshine, a few hours later it would have been different but in the early morning and being misty it felt like we were in Dartmoor or on the Yorkshire moors back home!

As we entered the town of Melide, Veronica introduced us to the lovely Lola who was preparing white beans outside her house. She had a little allotment right there and

proudly explained what she grew and why. She had just picked the bowl and enjoyed chatting to us, well Veronica as it was the most fluent Spanish! As we turned

to say goodbye, explaining we were staying in town for the evening she not only recommended where we should eat but she invited us all to a picnic at “Las Catedrales” (Lugo river beach) with her family - Rex. We really did meet such friendly people on our walk!

Lola recommended the Garnacha octopus restaurant which, coincidently, we had looked at the night before. Melide is famous for its Galician octopus and as most of us love to eat it, we had to visit this restaurant. The ‘Pulpeira’ explained that she boiled an average size

octopus for about thirty minutes, then left it in hot water till it was needed. Then she cut it in to pieces with scissors, added coarse sea salt, paprika and then bathed it generously in olive oil. It really was the best I have ever tasted, so tender and delicate a real treat!

Day 3 - Salceda

Thursday we were off bright and early again. We met a Nicaraguan family who had stopped to decide which direction they would take and advised us too! Would it be the traditional primitivo or the new maybe slightly longer route.

That morning a couple of children came up to me and they wanted to play a game – swap something for something else. I got a banana and carefully counted out my last

few sweets in exchange. We stopped for a really good ‘café con leche’ at an Auberge, owned by a German couple. We met the American Professor again, and several other Dutch who had been on the road for several months.

We walked through Arzúa, known for its cheese, and finally the walk and wait had been worthwhile as we came across a recommended organic café.

This was such a jewel to be found and we really enjoyed spending time resting and refueling!

We had beautiful salads, sandwiches that the owner lit on fire, so to melt the cheese, local traditional Galician coffee (boiled for over 3 hours) and and homemade tarte de Santiago, the traditional almond tart which we all agreed was the dessert of choice!

Thursday night we were in another hostel or auberge. This time we had the dormitory to ourselves so it was much easier to get up in the morning as we could put a light on and leave in the dark without disturbing any other sleepers.

Day 4 - Santiago de Compostela

This was again a long day and I walked quite a while on my own as we all found different paces. What I love is when you are walking by yourself you tend to chat to more walkers and I knew my friends would be waiting at the next stop for a coffee or cold drink.

As I walked through the towering eucalyptus forest, I knew I wasn’t far from a rural village as I seemed to be following the local bread delivery.

We walked into Santiago de Compostela, earlier than anticipated. As a group we had all done so well to achieve more than 100kms in just four days!

As we stumbled the last few kilometres to the Cathedral I chatted to a Dutch guy who had been walking for 93 days. He had started in March and had a few stops along the way and still wasn’t sure if he was stopping or continuing his journey. Maybe the toy monkey on his shoulder made the final decision!

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