Monday, 4 February 2013

The World's Greatest Wall Walks: Best in Travel 2013 /Lonely Planet

The Lonely Planet guidebook imaginatively suggests ten of the world’s greatest wall walks for 2013.

1. The Berlin Wall
2. Cartagena, Colombia
3. Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania
4. Ávila, Spain
5. Hadrian's Wall
6.   Offa’s Dyke, England–Wales
7. Essaouira, Morocco
8.   Québec City, Canada
9. Aurelian Walls, Rome

10  Great Wall of China
Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall


Cyclists and walkers can follow clear signs on the ground where the wall used to be, and three sections of the wall have been retained. It is well worth seeing the 200m stretch of wall between Potsdamer Platz and Niederkirchnerstraβe and the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery where many striking murals remain.
Construction of the 87 mile-long Berlin Wall by the German Democratic Republic GDR, East Germany began on 13 August 1961. The GDR called it the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall/Anti-Fascist Protection Wall but West Germany’s Berlin mayor Willy Brandt named it the Wall of Shame.
During the years of the Iron Curtain, it is thought about 5,000 people defected from East to West Berlin, and about 136 were killed while trying to escape.
Civil unrest and political changes in the Eastern Bloc led to the GDR announcement on 9 November 1989 that citizens were free to go to West Berlin. Euphoric Berliners from both sides started to knock down parts of the wall for souvenirs: the wall was officially demolished by 1990. The reunification of East and West Germany took place on 3 October 1990.

Cartagena City Walls

Cartagena colonnades

Cartagena, Colombia

You can walk along the top of the wall, which forms part of the seventeenth century fortifications, in an hour and a half, in what must be one of the most beautiful cities in the world: a Unesco World Heritage site. You can have your leather shoes polished sitting in antique leather chairs in a plaza lined with colonnades and get a traditional shave with an old fashioned razor blade. Make sure you have ajiaco, the traditional Colombian national dish made with chicken, corn, potatoes, avocados and guascas herbs.

Gabriel García Márquez based Love in the Time of Cholera and other novels in Cartagena.

Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania

Walls of Jerusalem National Park

Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania

The walls are Jurassic ranges of igneous dolerite rock, and from Mt Jerusalem and other peaks there are wonderful views of forests, lakes, and heaths. The park is a plateau shaped by the last ice age, with alpine meadows, lakes, pools, wetlands and rare pencil pines.

The national park is for walkers only, who need to bring tents, fuel stoves and supplies. Campfires are not allowed. Fishing is possible, and walkers also need to be equipped for severe weather. Organised bushwalker trips are recommended.

Ávila, Spain


The castellated walls with eighty-eight towers enclose the city of Ávila. It is possible to walk along parts of the top of the walls, which date back to the 11th century. They are the best-preserved mediaeval walls in the world.

Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens
Ávila is also famous for Saint Teresa of Ávila, 1515 –1582,  a Carmelite nun who reformed the Carmelite Order, a theologian and an important writer during the Counter-Reformation. She wrote Camino de Perfección /The Way of Perfection, her autobiography, El Castillo Interior/The Interior Castle  and mystic poetry. Her work is still read today.

Hadrian's Wall

In AD 122 the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall tto keep the Scots out and to mark the most northern boundaries of the Roman Empire in Britain. Hadrian's Wall runs for 73 miles/117 km and is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England, with about 11,000 visitors a year. Walkers have been asked to walk abreast to limit grass and soil erosion along the track. Snow and heavy rain have also caused damage to the wall in places. Cyclists can follow the wall on National Cycle Route 72.

Last year Doris Hancock, 95, from Cumbria, did a sponsored walk in five mile stages along Hadrian's Wall last year and raised £7000 for Centrepoint, a charity for homeless young people.

The Unesco World Heritage Site is run by English Heritage and the Hadrian's Wall Trust.

Offa’s Dyke, between England and Wales

Moel Arthur, Clwydian Range
Offa's Dyke

Offa's Dyke

Offa's Dyke marks the original border between England and Wales, and was built by Offa, the king of Mercia in the 8th century, to keep the Welsh out. Mercia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom.
Offa's Dyke is backed by a wall of mud, so it qualifies as a wall in the Lonely Planet Guide. Offa’s Dyke National Trail goes from Sedbury Cliffs to Prestatyn, via the beautiful Black Mountains, Hay on Wye and the Clwydian Range.
lt takes about 12 days to complete the walk, which is 180 miles/290 km long.

Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira wall along the top


The wall was built as a fortification in the 18th century by Sultan Mohammed III. From the top it is fascinating to look down on the old Arab quarter of the bustling market in the medina, and to view the Atlantic beaches and harbour. The sea is excellent for surfing.

Québec City

Québec City, Canada

The imposing walls surrounding Québec were built in the 17th century, 4.6 km in length. Walkers can go along the top in places and look down on the St Lawrence River and the ancient streets of the old quarter. Wall tours organised by Parks Canada take an hour and a half.

      Aurelian Walls, Rome

Aurelian Walls, Rome

The walls were built in only five years from AD 270 by Emperor Aurelius against northern invaders. They are 19 km. long and 6.5m high – with 381 towers and 18 gates. Some sections have collapsed, and the Lonely Planet guide calls the walls ‘tatty in places, but  'well-preserved' considering their age.  The guide recommends a walk along the parapet at Porta San Sebastiano.

Great Wall of China


Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is surely one of the wonders of the world and is 21,196 km/13,171 miles long: in places it is 9.1 m /30 ft. wide. It was built as a defence to keep out nomadic tribes, Mongolians and other warlike invaders from the north. Certain sections date back to the 7th century BC. The Lonely Planet guide recommends three walks:

1.  4000 km from Jiayuguan to eastern Shanhaiguan, on the Bohai Sea, across mountains, steppe and desert.

2. 11km Jinshanling–Simatai on a day-trip from Beijing

3. 12km at Huanghuacheng, which is less well-known.

It is a myth that the Great Wall can be seen from space, as the wall is similar in colour to the natural surroundings.

A marathon is held there every year in May on the section east of Beijing, and it is tough on competitors, with 5164 steps and numerous steep inclines.

There are of course numerous organised trips to the wall. Hadrian’s Wall,_Spain