I’m partway through a new guided walking holiday in the Balkans. In truth, “walking” is understating things. Over five days of hiking, our group of 12 – mainly Munro-hardened Brits, with a smattering of unstintingly cheerful Americans – is making the expedition a busy one. We’re climbing the tallest mountains in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, leaving time, too, for a much-needed hearty meal or 10. It is a week for the robust of boot and the sturdy of thigh.
If it sounds quite full-on on paper, that’s because it’s quite full-on in practice. But there’s more to the itinerary than peak-bagging. The majority of the walking follows one continuous 33-mile trail through Albania’s northern borderlands, criss-crossing between countries with no hint of a passport check. And with bad visibility happily confined to Kosovo’s battered apex, the week succeeds in showing why the region attracts outdoor-lovers. This is a thunderously beautiful pocket of Europe.
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