Walking, hiking, tramping, trekking. Each conjure up different images, from the afternoon stroll with the pushchair, to the lung-bursting Himalayan expedition. You don't have to take a long-haul holiday to enjoy the great outdoors, to explore the quiet places and get away from the cars, the buildings, the noise. See things on a bigger scale.
If you haven't done much hiking before, or you aren't sure what is involved, you may want to begin with the Getting Started section. In there you'll find some tips on different kinds of walking you can do where you are.
You may also want to see what equipment you need in order to get going, depending on the kind of hiking you want to do.
Inside the Swiss hiking sections, you'll find descriptions of several hikes, with photographs, transport details, links, and even GPS waypoint data (including Kmz files for Google Earth) to keep you on track. You can look up all the details of Swiss day hikes or some longer Swiss multi-day hikes, including the spectacular Alpine Pass Route from Sargans to Montreux, and the less well-known Jura Ridgeway from Dielsdorf to Nyon. Here the emphasis is on splitting it up into bite-sized weekend sections, and using public transport to break up the journey.
For a zoomable guide to all the Swiss hikes, whether half-day strolls or multi-day treks, see the Swiss hike map. This overview is also available as a Google Earth file: Swiss hikes kmz. It shows the rough location of each of the Swiss hikes, and the accompanying bubbles contain links back to the hike descriptions here at the Activity Workshop.
There are currently only two hikes described in the German hikes section, which will hopefully be expanded soon.
There are currently three hikes (or treks) described in the Nepal treks section, all in the Annapurna range of the Himalaya. These are all multi-day treks, and can be done either on your own or with a guided group.
The Portuguese island of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic offers a variety of walking from the rugged cliffs to the lush levadas. A small selection of these walks are described in the Madeiran walks section, including of course coordinates and plots.
Of course there is plenty of hiking also in Britain, from the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coast, from the beautiful valleys of the Lake District to the rugged Yorkshire moors. A small selection of these is presented in the British hikes section.
Most of the hikes in the Activity Workshop use a GPS to plot the hike in 3d, to get a better picture of the hike profiles. The points are also colour-coded to give an indication of the scale, as follows:
Dark green dots show points under 1000m
Light green dots show points between 1000m and 1500m
Yellow dots show points between 1500m and 2000m
White dots show points between 2000m and 2500m
Light blue dots show points above 2500m
Large, dark blue dots show waypoints, like a village or a signpost
If you already have the Google Earth program installed, you'll know that it's an astonishing tool for exploring and flying around the world's landscapes in 3d. If you haven't got this program already, it's highly recommended and doesn't only cover Switzerland. You can download it for free from earth.google.com for Mac, Windows and Linux.
This icon for a hike indicates that a Kmz file is available for download. This small file contains the coordinates from the hike, including the named waypoints, and can be opened in Google Earth to let you fly around the hike in 3d. If you press the 'play tour' button underneath the list of waypoints, you can fly from point to point automatically along the hike.
In addition, these Kmz files can also be viewed in Google maps, just by following the link given for each of the hikes, and in many other programs.
If you want to create the same kind of plots with your own data, loading tracks from your hikes and making 3d pictures or exporting them to Google Earth, you can find Free software to do this (called "GpsPrune") in the software section.