Holiday on ice. Ice skating in Sweden – one of the best winter holidays

Ice skating in Sweden is one of the best winter holidays

I take my first steps out onto the frozen waters of The Baltic and my legs lock with fear. All that practice on the Christmas rink feels like a futile flirtation as my Swedish guide gently urges me to put my trust in the long metal ‘tour skating’ blades and just slide. Only weeks previously I had been proudly circling the rink, feeling all crisp and carefree, and now here I am, on the precipice of Swedish serenity, and I can’t seem to put one bleedin’ blade in front of the other.

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Loop Head on the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

I am often asked, which are the best bits of Ireland to visit? Which are the greenest? The most ‘Irish’? This is all very subjective, of course, but what most people don’t know is that the European Union has come up with a pretty efficient way of mapping some of the most sustainable regions of Europe. It has chosen Eden areas all over Europe, and Ireland boasts five of them. Because EDEN is an acronym meaning EU Destinations of Excellence, and are actually awards given to specific regions (often tiny enough to fall off the usual tourist maps) for their exemplary contributions to sustainable tourism. And I have the task of going in search of all of Ireland’s EDEN’s to see if they are as fruitful as they claim to be. My first one is Loop Head on the Wild Atlantic Way.

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Hiring an electric bike on a cycling holiday in Ireland

I was a bit nervous of the potential uncool factor of hiring an electric bike on a cycling holiday in Ireland, until I sped up my first hill on Mayo’s stupendously gorgeous Great Western Greenway and realised I wasn’t even out of breath. In fact, when I first saw the bike, a sophisticated Kalkhoff model, supplied by Electric Escapes, I was relieved that it looked pretty much like any hybrid bike, and that I was actually going to get to pedal, having been naively worried that I might just have to sit on it and be shimmied sloth-like all the way from Westport to Achill. In fact, the opposite is the case – the more you pedal, the more speed you generate from the battery’s power supply, so you can give it as much welly as you can muster basically, and trick those you overtake into thinking you’re  breezing it.

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Blown away at Galley Head – my stay in a lighthouse in Ireland

Sometimes the best things are on our doorstep and we just don’t even notice them. That’s what struck me when staying at the Galley Head Lighthouse in Cork recently. So many people I met who lived in the area said something along the lines of “Oh, I have always meant to stay there, but you know what it’s like when something is on your doorstep. You never get around to it”.  It’s hard to miss Galley Head lighthouse, however, its beautiful beam a familiar sight for many as it illuminates Clonakilty’s coast. Read more about one of the finest places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way, and perfect for a walking holiday in West Cork.

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