Walking Holidays

Europe’s majestic mountains ~ with a genuine specialist
Organised & Self-guided Walking

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Tel. 01799 513331 - - Open Today - 9am to 5.30pmCollett's Ltd. is ABTA bonded W6883 - Travel with confidence
Organised & Self-guided Walking with a Genuine Specialist

With so many activities on offer during the summer months, it comes as no surprise that chalets, apartments and hotels alike are bursting at the seams during peak season here in the Italian Dolomites; But what about the low season? Despite a somewhat ‘sleepy’ atmosphere, the Alta Badia comes to life in June as the snow smelts and the South Tyrolean’s prepare to open their doors for another memorable season.

Group hiking on the GR11
The GR11
hike the GR11 in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays
Group hiking on the GR11
Group hiking on the GR11
Group hiking on the GR11
Hiking the GR11 in the Pyrenees
Group hiking on the GR11
hike the GR11 in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays
High level walking in the Pyrenees with Collett's
Walking in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays
Self Guided Walking Holidays in Spain with Collett's Mountain Holidays
Walking holidays in the Pyrenees - Hotel Sabocos, Panticosa
The GR11
High level walking in the Pyrenees
Group hiking on the GR11
Group hiking on the GR11
Group hiking on the GR11

There are a few things that define the Dolomites during June which create a contrasting atmosphere to the rest of the summer months. Patches of snow remain high upon the peaks that glisten in the sunshine; the melting run-off keeps rivers flowing high, filling the natural lakes whilst providing deliciously chilled drinking water found in troughs along the walking paths. The snow capped peaks against the fresh bloom of wildflowers creates a photographer’s playground; add to the scene with vast protruding mountains, quaint wooden huts and a friendly Marmot and you have a recipe for endless photo opportunities.

It is safe to say that temperatures are still quite low during this time and that most people come away on holiday to enjoy hot days and warm evenings outside. It has to be said however, that these cooler temperatures make for perfect walking conditions, especially in the mountains. Whether venturing out on an easier, moderate or high level walk, ascent is non-avoidable whilst exploring the alpine world, and with ascent comes a rise in core temperature – that’s when you can be glad it isn’t reaching over 25⁰!

Imagine yourself immersed in the Dolomites Mountains; do you see vast open meadows, an endless rim of peaks, and quiet towns with hardly a soul in sight? Perfect! June sits outside the annual school holiday and as most people will wait for peak season to take a break, cheap flights and discounts are blindly slipping away. Collett’s offer a 10% discount for the first two weeks of June and offer a full programme of walks in low season for people who wish to join organised days at a time when the mountains are quiet. Self-driving is much more enjoyable at this time of year as the roads are practically empty and the freedom to go further afield opens up a variety of locations. Later openings of mountain huts encourages a memorable picnic out on the hills, something which can we particularly enjoyed amongst the flora and fauna without much disturbance from other walkers.

Local events kick off the summer season with exciting music festivals and cultural activities. Corvara host presentations and exhibitions about the mountains, whilst Badia promote sports events and focus highly on cycling in the run up to the Sellaronda on the 23rd June. The Sellaronda bike day, a 55km ride conquering 4 of the main passes, is free for all to take part starting anywhere on the course, for as long as you want (or can physically manage!) – A fantastic personal challenge for the avid cyclist out there. With one starting point in Corvara, it is possible to sit and observe those partaking whilst enjoying a gelato or a fresh Italian coffee. Let’s not forget to mention the Maratona dles Dolomites, a well-known cycling race which sees serious riders from all over the world take on the mountainous roads. This end of the month event brings with it a ‘pasta party’ and evening music entertainment, not something to be missed.

Arguably the main attraction for a June holiday in the Dolomites is the explosion of colour in the wildflower meadows. The mountains come alive with some of the best floral sites in Europe, with a possibility of seeing hundreds of rare species. A range of habitats including upland meadows and rocky outcrops home beautiful orchids and an impressive composition of mauves, pinks, yellows and reds; creating a botanical array which would come as a struggle to recreate in a typical garden back home. The alpine pastures are at their best during early/mid June and it is the perfect opportunity to head out with one of Collett’s flower walkers. Organised walks are on offer 5 days a week, free of charge – a perfect way to spend a day (or maybe even two!) seeking out the rare Lady’s slipper Orchid, increasing your flower knowledge and practising your photography skills in capturing such delicate subjects. With a perfectly positioned mountainous backdrop and quiet paths at this time of the year, you will practically have the enjoyment of the wildflower meadows all to yourself.

So, if you intend to self-drive during your holiday, wish to enjoy the vast array of mountain paths to yourself and are keen to experience some exquisite wildflowers unique to the area, then booking your holiday in June is a good a time as any.

Walking Holidays with Collett’s

It is always great when a group of people collectively venture out for the day somewhere unknown. A simple shared interest, such as walking holidays in Europe, bring people from all different backgrounds together, beginning as strangers but ending with a real sense of connection – a sign of a good day out in the mountains!

This was particularly true late in August 2013, as Chalet Angelo guests headed to the northern Dolomites for a walk around Sas de Putia. Neither myself, or our guests had explored this area before, so we started the day by planning our route on the map with Emma, our walk organiser for the day. Sas de Putia stood over us as we made our way round the circular route along the gravel path. It soon seemed rather busy as we climbed the many switchbacks and realised that we were walking part of the Alta Via 2 – a hut to hut excursion still very popular at this time of the year.

Venice in Winter
Venice in Winter
Mountain & city breaks - Venice Hotels
Mountain & city breaks - Venice Hotels
Venice in Winter

We reached a point where a route to the left could be taken to the summit. Gazing up into the low, grey cloud perched right on top, we were all thankful today’s walk wouldn’t take us up there. That couldn’t be said however, for one of Haus Valentin’s guests who caught us up and excitedly prepared for the 1A Via Ferrata to the top! I was already looking forward to hearing all about it over dinner that evening.

As we descended across wide-spread grasslands, the walk suddenly became very unique. In the distance we would hear a low booming sound coming from the edge of a hill. Upon approach, we came across 3 very large wooden horns; an instant temptation. Everybody gave it a go, blasting out funny sounds across the valley and creating intrigue for the next walkers drawing near. Carvings of snails, an eagle and even a bicycle sat in the surrounding area, a fantastic hand-made collection by very proud local people. What a very unprecedented and unforeseen addition to our walk that could be enjoyed by everybody.

Just when we thought it was over, another charming place came into view as we traversed our way along a rocky path. Munt de fornella, a small wooden restaurant stood with a beautiful back-drop of the Sas de Putia peak. A sweet signpost pointed to places across the globe, as well as their distance – even the 15m walk to the restaurant itself had been included. Docile goats wandered the premises, ponies stood munching the grass nearby and a low hum of a happy crowd filled the place with a sense of contentment after a long days walking!

Collett’s Blogs

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

Follow Collett’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

Whilst in the UK it is very difficult to spend a night in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle, in the Dolomites it is possible to escape for a night (or three) to enjoy a very unique experience in a mountain hut or rifugio.

If you prefer a bit more comfort than what is afforded by the hut on the Col di Lana (featured in the blog below), you can spend nights out in the mountains – we can easily organise self guided hut to hut itineraries in the Dolomites.

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Chalet Verena, Corvara
Skiing Holidays
Skiing above Arabba
Snowshoeing Holidays
Snowshoeing in Italy
Snowshoeing

Collett’s now offers self guided hut to hut holidays in the Dolomites from late June to mid-September. You choose the itinerary and dates that take your fancy, whilst we take care of all necessary arrangements, including the provision of maps, route notes and airport transfers to and from Venice or Treviso. We accommodate you in Badia or Corvara on the first and last nights of your holiday. Click here for more information on our hut to hut walking itineraries.

The Col di Lana

The Col Di Lana, standing at 2452m, is a mountain situated in the Livinallongo del Col Di Lana a few Km East of Arabba. During World War 1, it was the scene of heavy fighting which resulted in over 200 deaths, many due to avalanches alone. When the Austrians discovered that the Italians had silently executed a mine in the peak, they retaliated by creating a counter mine nearby before blowing it up. This resulted in a loss of almost 100m from the summit of Col Di Lana and was surrounded by the Austrians in 1916.

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Webcam from Rifugio Bioch, between Corvara & Arabba
View of Santa Croce and the Alta Badia above Badia from Rifugio Bioch
Webcam from Rifugio Nagler, above Badia
Webcam from Rifugio Moritizino, between Corvara & Badia
Webcam from Piz La Ila, between Corvara & Badia
Webcam of Corvara
Webcam from Piz La Ila, between Corvara & Badia
Badia Webcam from Haus Valentin
Webcam from Chalet Haus Valentin

A continued interest in the peaks history alongside stunning views and a challenging walk is what has kept Col Di Lana on the map for both locals and tourists alike. A chapel stands on the summit as a memorial to the soldiers who died during the war and communications trenches have been left for visitors to explore. On top of that, a small hut just metres from the summit has been built to encourage avid walkers to enjoy a sheltered lunch, or even to stay the night.

The room holding two bunks beds has been personalised by previous guests and includes a wardrobe of blankets, dried food stuffs and a pack of cards. The adjoining room is complimented by a large wooden table and bench, perfect for eating, socialising and playing games as the view of Marmolada can be enjoyed from the window. For added effect, note books have been left in hope for frequent messages from the huts valued customers; an interesting read dating as far back as 2009.

A popular route up to Col Di Lana follows path #21 which starts just north of Soraru. Expect to climb 700m across 3.5km and enjoy stunning views over Civetta, Pelmo and the surrounding Dolomite mountains as you reach gaps in the tree line. The steep climb becomes worthwhile as the summit comes in to view, followed by a breath-taking 360⁰ view of the surrounding mountains.

If a challenging but pleasant walk and an exciting night in the hut won’t suffice, might I suggest setting the alarm clock in time for sunrise. Enjoy blissful silence as the sun creeps up from behind the Fanes National Park, catching a glimpse of the orange glowing Limestone. The Marmots will soon awaken and can be heard from the valleys below; keep your eyes peeled for Chamois bouncing across the scree.

An evening on the Col Di Lana can be enjoyed either alone, with friends or family and is an easily accessible home from home. An evening in the hut is cost free but an unobtrusive donation box can be found near to the door. It is just one of the Dolomites treats that will have you begging the question – “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The First World War

In July, August and September Collett’s offers WWI Historical Walks for you to learn more about what happened in the Dolomites on the Austrian – Italian front during the First World War.

Collett’s Blogs

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

Follow Collett’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

When thinking of a mountain holiday many of us may think that this activity is exclusive to professional climbers, sportsmen and adrenaline junkies alone. Here at Collett’s we aim to prove this notion wrong – with holidays in the mountains available for absolutely everyone. Seaside holidays are ten-a-penny, sightseeing getaways are typically too expensive, spa resort holidays can be boring and cruise ships allow no room for real adventure. So why not try something different? Try something unique, memorable and completely customisable to your own personal wishes.

Whilst holidaying with us in any of our fantastic destinations, you choose when you arrive, when you leave, where you wish to stay and what activities you’d like to take part in. In a nut shell – your holiday is tailored and designed totally by you. All of our organised walks are completely free and utilise our unrivalled knowledge of the Dolomites area; running every day apart from Wednesday. For self-guided walks, we are always happy to help with route planning, recommendations and advice.

Italian Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites is one of the most awe-inspiring valleys in the Alps and provides a picture-perfect environment for walking holidays. With such a wide range of different routes available to you, at various different grades, the Dolomites really are the envy of the rest of Europe. The area also includes two National Parks, a range of rare flowers and birds, old WWI sites and the magnificent Sella massif and Marmolada (3343m mountain). Collett’s exact location in the Dolomites is set in the neighbouring villages of Badia and Corvara within the Val Badia.


Moderate Walking in the Passo Gardena
Easy walking in the Val Badia

Accommodation: We have four fantastic chalet hotels available, all with en-suite bedrooms and excellent cuisine. You also have the choice between three mountain hotels, all of which come with spectacular views and incredible hospitality. Your options are full-board, half-board, self-catering and B&B – the choice is up to you. All accommodation provided is within easy walking distance from the village centres and the starting points of many of our walks.

Activities: Whilst holidaying with us in the Dolomites you have the option of participating in the following activities:

  • High level walks on rocky terrains
  • Moderate walks through stunning mountain scenery
  • Easy treks along woodland and riverside paths
  • Floral walks with a flower specialist throughout June & July
  • Painting strolls take you somewhere majestic armed with watercolours
  • Self-guided walks allow you to roam independently with the use of our expert knowledge

Extras: The Dolomites has a wealth of amazing extra activities for you to take part in, including tours of the famous Via Ferrata and World War walks that take place every Wednesday. There are also guided glacier tours and summit ascents available on the same day. We can help you hire a mountain bike for your adventures and can also put you in contact with local suppliers of alpine pursuits; including climbing walls, canyoning, white-water rafting, horse riding, tandem paragliding, golf and much more.

Picos de Europa

Located within the autonomous communities of Asturias, Cantabria, Castile & León (20km from the north coast of Spain) the spectacular mountain range forms part of the Cordillera Cantabrica. The majority of rocks in the Picos are made up of limestone and some peaks can reach altitudes up to 2,600m. The area itself, famous for its cider and piquant blue cheese, is largely protected by the Picos de Europa National Park and as such can offer some absolutely remarkable views.

Accommodation: Our main hosted accommodation is the beautiful Posada El Corcal, located 2km away from the town of Potes. With en-suite bathrooms, modern interior design and rustic tradition – this is the idyllic setting to lay your head after a day’s walk. These rooms are available as full board, half board or B&B. Alternatively; you can stay in Tama near Potes or arrange your own self-catering apartments.

Activities: Whilst holidaying with us in Picos de Europa you can participate in the following activities:

  • Hard level walks along magnificent high trails
  • Moderate rambles through meadows and the beautiful Picos massifs
  • Easy walks following woodland tracks and riverside trails
  • Floral walks throughout May and June
  • Self-guided walks of all grades with local knowledge provided

Extras: Supplements in Picos de Europa include mountain biking, horse riding, canoeing, paragliding and canyoning. Also, if you’re visiting this remarkable area you won’t want to miss the Cares Gorge or the Fuente De, where you can take cable car rides to enjoy the breath-taking scenery and atmosphere.

Organised walks with Collett’s

High level walking in the Picos

Self guided walks with Collett’s

Pyrenees

This natural border between Spain and France spreads across approximately 491km of land and encompasses numerous National Parks along with the beautiful Valle de Tena. These magnificent assets make the Pyrenees a photographer’s heaven with beautiful wildflowers and charming scenery to revel in. Collett’s is based in Panticosa – an idyllic village placed amongst the beautiful scenery high up in the mountains.

Accommodation: The Hotel Sabocos is a wonderful 3 star hotel located in the Valle de Tena, right in the centre of the Pyrenees. With modern interior design, en-suite bathrooms and many balconies available to enjoy the view; rest assured your stay will be a comfortable and relaxing one. This hotel is available on half board or B&B basis. You also have the option of self-catering in apartments that sleep 2-6 people.

Activities: When staying with us in the Pyrenees why not take part in the following activities:

  • High level walks along the peaks of the frontier ridge and Ordesa canyon
  • Moderate strolls through wonderful wilderness areas
  • Self-guided walks of moderate and harder levels with expert advice and direction
  • Walk 5 stages of the famous GR11 footpath, involving 700-1000m ascent and 11-20km of walking

Extras: Third party suppliers also have a range of extra activities to offer, including mountain biking, horse riding, canyoning, high ropes, swimming, tennis and much more. The Mediterranean and Costa Verde are also within easy reach for something a little different.

Organised walks with Collett’s

Hike the Valle de Tena, Pyrenees

On the Pic du Midi circuit

Yorkshire Dales

You do not necessarily need to leave the country to enjoy some of the greatest views nature has to offer; here in the UK we display some of the most spectacular scenery available to man. Our base in Yorkshire is perfect for those wanting a quick and easy trip, or maybe a quiet weekend away with family and friends. Leyburn, close to Dales National Park, is where we are based; but there are many options of different walks available to you in this magnificent setting.

Accommodation: Eastfield Lodge in Leyburn is a beautiful guest house just 300 yards away from the village market square. This lodge consists of 8 en-suite bedrooms which are furnished to great taste and individuality. Each room comes with Wi-Fi, flat screen television, DVD players and unmatchable comfort. Awarded four stars by Visit England, you won’t be disappointed with your time spent here!

Activities: Yorkshire has a wealth of activities to offer, some of which include:

  • Pennhill circuit covering 11 miles, taking you through Coverdale, Bishopdale and Wensleydale
  • Fremington Edge encompasses 500m of ascent across 10 miles, providing an immaculate view of Arkengarthdale
  • Gunnerside Gill and Swinner Gill stretch across 11 miles and takes in amazing woodland and limestone scars.

Extras: There are countless other things to enjoy around the Yorkshire Dales, such as visiting nearby Middleham, Richmond, Kettleworth and Reeth. You can also see the Dales National Park Visitor Centre, the Wensleydale Railway, Aysgarth Falls and the beautiful Bolton Abbey. Wherever you choose to visit, you will not be too far away from the lodge and transport is readily accessible at most times of the day.

Another bedroom at Eastfield Lodge
One of our bedrooms in Eastfield Lodge, Leyburn
Walking in Wensleydale

Winter in the Italian Dolomites

As well as offering fantastic summertime walks in the Italian Dolomites, we also cater for winter holidays in the same stunning surroundings. When the snow falls on these mountains the landscape turns into a magical winter wonderland, perfect for winter walkers and skiers alike. Here at Collett’s we organise walks, cater for downhill skiing and also offer snowshoeing as an alternative activity. Don’t let the cold put you off – come and experience something different this winter!


Skiing the Val Mesdi
high in the Dolomites

Snowshoeing on the Pralongià Plateau above Corvara

Santa Croce above Badia

Capital city of the province of South Tyrol, ranking the top spot for the best quality of life in Italy and home to Otzi the Ice Man; Bolzano creates a lot of intrigue to say the least. Only an hour and a half drive from Corvara in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains, it begs to question why you wouldn’t venture out for the day to experience the Italian city lifestyle. So with camera in hand I set off to wander the streets to get a feel for such a beautiful city.

Bolzano’s gothic cathedral

One of many little cafe’s found along the narrow streets

After finding a convenient car park in the centre, I wandered out onto the Walther Platz, a large cobbled square home to the magnificent cathedral dating back to 1184 and a multitude of open air restaurants. I went in search of the main street, Via Portici, which stretches a mile long through the city centre and is home to the main high-street shops. It was quite evident I had come upon it when a slow stream of people pulled me in to join the flow. I noted the ever-popular Sportler and Mountain Spirit on my journey, outlets providing excellent outdoor gear for a mountaineering adventure so close to the city. Although it was noticeably busy (compared to the secluded mountain paths), I never felt suffocated by people and never found myself fighting for space on the kerb.

The one thing that screamed out to me at every turn was the fantastic medieval architecture. Pastel colours of green, blue, pink and yellow stood side by side along busy, narrow streets below. The gothic cathedral and the many castles scattered in the area provide ideal photographic opportunities and will have you standing in awe.
As I wandered to the outskirts of the city, I came across the river Talvera and headed straight for a bridge. Looking over the side, I could see many cyclists passing underneath, heading towards an open field where many people were enjoying a wander and a snooze in the sun. I found a signpost offering 10 different suggested running routes – running, cycling and walking are hugely encouraged by the three-way division of the path. Cycling was evidently the most popular as every street had rows upon rows of parked bikes. Nobody objected to cyclists carefully riding through the streets and it added a conventional feel to the city.


A fantastic grassland
can be enjoyed Just outside the city

A daily market offers fresh fruit, flowers and tempting Italian treats

The 23 museums on offer in Bolzano are very accessible from the centre and I myself came across 3 without even trying. Possibly the most sought after, the South Tyrol museum of Archaeology (dedicated to the Otzi exhibition since the 20th anniversary of his discovery), is a 10 minute walk from the Walther Platz – a must see for the keen historian. Contemporary art and natural history can also be enjoyed in an afternoon; just pick up a free map from the tourist office!
What I feel really adds to this wonderful city are the numerous cafe’s found along the criss-crossing streets. Many sit reading their paper whilst they sip their coffee or afternoon Spritz, momentarily glancing up to watch passers-by. If you fancy some fresh fruit or Italian delights, then the market with its wide open stalls has plenty to offer, and if the tantalising smells don’t convince you to have nosey, then perhaps the genuine friendly conversation with stall holders will.


Bolzano Market

As like many cities, Bolzano has modernized over the years. The buildings have however kept authenticity and the general Italian lifestyle adds a unique feel to the city, creating a contrast of modern and traditional living. With so much history to explore, a collection of museums to visit, many Italian delights (and many ice-cream flavours) to try, Bolzano really does offer a perfect respite between a unique walking holiday in the Dolomites and a flight home back to reality.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

Jon Scanlon is yet another one to succumb to the charms of the Dolomite Mountains. After holidaying in the area for many years with Collett’s and with a strong passion and hobby for history, Jon has now joined Collett’s to deliver presentations and organised walks based around World War One. With a total of four weeks at Chalet Angelo, a daily programme has been put together to ensure all of the local areas of interest have been included. A weekly repeat of walks and presentations guarantees new guests do not miss out on any of the history filled events.


Col di Lana – Click to enlarge

Jon and guest Betty heading for Col di Lana in the distance

I had met Jon during his presentation on the “Origin of the War”, completely engaged in his every word (his enthusiasm and excitement on the subject was infectious). It was his story about Col di Lana, one of the mountains heavily disturbed during the war, which caught my attention the most and so I jumped at the chance to join him on a walk to investigate it first hand. Together with guest Betty from Haus Valentin, we headed out in the glorious sunshine.

Parking up next to the Tre Sassi Forte, Jon already had plenty to tell us about what had happened here. He explained that we were standing on what was once the front line, pointing out the mountain peaks, telling us their names and who would have been defending them during the war. As we began our walk, there were plenty of trench remains in every direction; something me and Betty agreed would never have been noticed without Jon’s keen eye.

The route itself continuously offered stunning views across the land and Col di Lana could be seen in the distance. Even the Marmolada poked its head out, reminding me of said tunnels that were dug into the glacier by the Austrians – conditions we today could not imagine living in. Along the rocky path we spotted some great wildlife; a sly Marmot scurried across the grass, Ravens soured above us and Betty stopped in her tracks to let a large grass snake slither across our path. I was also amazed by the amount of flowers still standing tall at this time of the season.

Jon talking through the events on Col di Lana during World War One

Betty enjoying the views upon return to the fort

Upon reaching the mountain, Jon answered all of our questions with sincerity and detail. He explained about the large, prominent crater and how it represents an explosion from the war; an Italian attempt to gain possession of the peak from the Austrians. The events that happened here were brought to life by Jon’s description and knowledge of the subject. Although on this particular occasion we did not venture to the top, trenches can be explored on route and a chapel and many crosses can we found at the top, dedications to the countless fallen soldiers.

After a leisurely lunch overlooking the Sella Massif and Pralongia Plateau, we strolled back the way we came enjoying a different perspective of the mountains. The World War was of great discussion during the day but this didn’t prevent us from getting to know one another as we walked – something I will always appreciate about small groups such as this.

Read more about WWI walks with Collett’s here.

WWI Fort on Passo Valporola with the Col di Lana behind

In trenches at the Cinque Torre
open-air museum

Read about the Italian front in ‘The White War’ by Mark thompson – Paperback or Kindle Version.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

Collett’s Mountain Holidays have been working alongside Isabelle Johnson, a local war historian, for many years. Every Wednesday guests are encouraged to join a fascinating walk through the tunnels, trenches and fortifications of Sass di Stria built by the Austrians in the First World War.

It has to be said that the morning’s weather really set the scene for a day reminiscing about World War One. Isabelle greeted every guest as they arrived in turn at the Tre Sassi Fort and soon enough fourteen eager faces, a mixture from Chalet Angelo and Chalet Haus Valentin, stood ready to go. A short walk along a flat path gave everybody a chance to make introductions and become familiar with one another.

Upon reaching a clearing, Isabelle sat everyone down to give an introduction to the War in general. As she delivered prime information, she passed round photographs which set the scene perfectly. The clouds continued to creep across the mountain tops so we headed up higher in anticipation for them to come into view.

On the saddle of Sass di Stria, we all explored the trenches before coming together to listen to more of what went on in the area during 1915 onwards. Direct quotes from soldiers’ diaries were read out and Isabelle pointed out that almost six months passed without any mention of gunfire or fighting. This was apparently a common occurrence; propaganda photographs gave the impression that most of their time was spent smoking and drinking instead!

After a quick stop for lunch, it was time to clip on our helmets and turn on our torches, for we were about to head inside the tunnels. Some of the lookout points were very small and had to be explored in small groups whilst the rest would gather in dormitories and artillery storage caves. Many times I heard guests describe each turn and discovery as extraordinary, swapping theories and ideas on what the living conditions must have been like for the confined soldiers. More photographs relating to each part of the tunnel were handed round, giving a real feel for what it was like. I was amazed to find out that a diesel generator had been placed deep within the tunnels which provided electric lighting and powered the drills used for cutting rock. After witnessing the charred ceilings you can only imagine how the smoked filled rooms would have affected the soldiers’ lungs over time and the smell it would have created.

World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
Walking Holidays with Collett's Mountain Holidays Walking Holidays with Collett's Mountain Holidays
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War
World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War World War I Historical Walks - Dolomites - The White War

Isabelle did extremely well to keep everybody involved, answering any questions she could with confidence and detail. It was agreed by most that without a knowledgeable historian to co-ordinate the walk, many facts would be missed and the tunnels would not come to life as they did with Isabelle’s presence. In fact, many would not dare explore the tunnels in fear of safety issues and the unknown route without the organisation and enjoyment of a group. Upon return, with perfect timing for the museum to open, many of the guests headed inside to expand their knowledge further on what must have been a horrific war here in the Dolomites.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

Chalet Angelo were offering some high level walking this week and one of the options took guests to Lago di Sorapis, a majestic lake just the other side of Cortina.

As the drive took us to the Falzarego Pass and away from Badia, the blue skies sadly disappeared in the distance as a huge rain cloud hovered above Cortina. Guests sat questioning why they had chosen shorts for the day as organiser Gemma reassured them that clear skies were definitely forecasted! It was a small group of five, including myself, out for the day and the route was new to everybody. We had all heard stories that Lake Sorapis is a place of awe-inspiring beauty so we could not wait to start the walk.

The first hour flew by as we all conversed, getting to know one another. It soon became evident that we were sharing the route with walkers of the Alta Via 3, a long distance hut to hut walk. The traffic built up as we begin the gentle ascent heading for the small section of protected path. One of our guests, Rebecca, commented “If she can do it, then so can I!” as she pointed to a little girl no older than 3 years. The protected ledge, which offered a trustworthy wire to hold on to, opened up fantastic views across the valley as far as the eye could see.


Views across the Gruppo del Sorapis

Soon enough, Rifugio Vandelli poked its head out of the trees in the distance. We all put a bet on how long it would take us before we were sat comfortably enjoying a coffee; at a minute past midday, it couldn’t have been better timing. It wasn’t long before our eagerness to see this supposed majestic lake overcame us, so we plodded the extra 5 minutes up the hill before it came into view.


Lago Sorapis

A simultaneous “WOW” escaped everybody. The pure blue colour of the water, the protruding rock formations in the background and the sudden arrival of sunshine (something we weren’t sure we’d see!) created a picture-perfect scene so commonly found here in the Dolomites. We took advantage of such a place by enjoying a long lunch in the sunshine as the boys headed down to skim stones across the water. Before time escaped us completely, we decided to carry on with our walk at a leisurely pace.

Up until this point, it was difficult to understand why the walk was graded as hard. However, we soon came across an interesting path which incorporated steep ascent, light scrambling and loose rock – nothing our adventurous and sure-footed guests couldn’t handle nevertheless. Reaching heights of over 2200m, views were ever extending and changeable as we wound around the rock face.


Making our way across the protected ledge, hoping for some sunshine

When you go up, you must come down. The last downhill section introduced unstable scree which had some of us down on our bums – sometimes intentionally. Much support (as well as laughs) was offered to each member of the party and we all got down safely, with thanks from our knees. A nice, flat 2km stretch brought us back to swapping stories and having a good old natter before the track brought us out right alongside the van. A great day had by all unearthing one of the many hidden gems found here in the Italian Dolomites.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

By day, Corvara is alive with traffic. Cafés are full with coffee enthusiasts, coaches arrive and unleash excited visitors en masse as cars slow to find a space and cyclists push themselves to the top of the hill. By night, and particularly every Thursday evening in the summer, the road closes and local acts come out to entertain.

It’s between 5pm and 10pm that barriers are laid out to prevent any cars driving through. Almost instantly people take advantage of being able to walk on the road without worry as shops open their doors for late night intrigue. It’s at 9pm that the town really comes to life!

As I headed down to the open air stage, crowds began gathering from every direction in anticipation for the first act of the night. Before long, a group of ladies in long skirts and cowboy boots joined the stage to show off their country style moves. A warm round of applause encouraged the dancers to put all of their effort in, persuading the crowd to tap a foot to the music.

Between acts I decided to have a look inside an inviting building behind the stage. The open room had been filled with impressive water colour paintings for all to browse and enjoy, with each piece representing the Dolomite Mountains. It was clearly a perfect place for parents to respite as I saw many children queuing just outside for the free candy floss and popcorn on offer.

Upon hearing an accordion further up the street, I wandered over to have a look. Two young boys, no older than 12, sat confidently each with their own instrument, taking it in turns to play. Fantastic skill and entertainment surely enriched the dinner being enjoyed by a couple sat outside a restaurant behind them.

Toward the bottom of the street, I saw yet another gathering. Bouncing excitedly down the road I caught a glimpse of men dressed smartly in traditional Lederhosen. As I ducked through the crowd, the men burst into Schuhplattler, a traditional folk dance, rhythmically striking their knees, thighs and soles to the beat of an accordion. It did nothing but bring smiles to people’s faces as the tempo increased and then men churned out some striking high kicks in turn.

To top off a wonderful fun-filled evening, a Zumba group burst into action, blasting out catchy music across the street. With a large area at the back (covered mostly in darkness), it would have been rude not to join in and give it a go. The Zumba-experts let out a cry of encouragement as I jumped into position, promoting the idea to other passersby. The atmosphere during the entire evening was fantastic with a wide variety of entertainment; I might just have to pop back next week to find out what’s in store.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

Anyone who comes to the Dolomites in search of adventure is surely spoilt for choice when it comes to Via Ferrata. With 76 in the immediate area, it stands to question what makes the Brigata Tridentina so popular for our Alta Badia visitors. Walk organisers ventured out at the crack of dawn to get a feel for the Via Ferrata that receives such bright eyes and beaming smiles from our guests.


Climbers approaching the start of Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina near Corvara in the Italian Dolomites

Upon arrival to the car park just below Passo Gardena, we were not sure how long the walk in to Tridentina would be. However, after following the well signposted ‘Via Ferrata’ for ten minutes, we caught sight of the iron wire – easy! Simultaneously a large waterfall revealed itself which attracted our eye to the iron stemples creeping up the side of the rock and out of view.


Climbing on Via Ferrata Tridentina

The view over Passo Gardena to Sassongher and Corvara

The first hour of the route changed between stemples, iron pins and exposed rock. At no point did the climbing become difficult as stemples were perfectly placed when no visible footholds could be found. As we twisted round the face and climbed higher, the waterfall continued to flow alongside us among the orange-tinged limestone. Easy, manageable hand holds were obtainable throughout which took focus away from the exposure, but having the wire present meant that it could be used if needed. Breath-taking views across Passo Gardena, Corvara, Sassongher and the Fanes National Park opened up during the second hour, encouraging frequent breaks to soak it all in.

Passo Gardena

Climbing the ferrata

A local man of an older generation confidently overtook us at a safe place, whilst exchanging a warm smile and a chirpy good morning. His self-assurance and ability to do this Via Ferrata alone supported the 3B grading that this route has; any age and ability can happily complete this route with little difficulty or skill.

A small, vertical ladder took us almost to the top before bringing to light the spectacular bridge. Balanced between two separate rock faces and supported by numerous iron wires, the bridge sits above a very large ravine from where the road below can be seen – an adrenaline filled experience in itself.

Lago Pisciadu, 2500m
Rifugio Cavazza

As we reached Rifugio Cavazza, a five minute walk once unclipped, the temptation of Lago Pisciadu was upon us. With its pristine turquoise water glistening in the sunshine, we all agreed it would be perfect for a post Via Ferrata swim before heading to the balcony for a well earned Cappuccino and strudel.

For more information on Via Ferrata with Collett’s, Click here.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.