ASK THE EXPERTS
Need a relaxing break from the thrum of London life? Want to conquer the frigid peaks of Kilimanjaro without collapsing? Fancy biking around Ireland’s coast? Our experts can help...
Q AI want to get away from London for the day to relax – but where should I go?
Jessica Peggram, via email
The seaside is the perfect place to relax, as long as you choose your destination wisely.
Deal, in Kent, is an ideal spot for a grown-up, stress-free break: charming, easily accessible by train and with a fine selection of pubs. The compact town centre resembles a film set, with rows of Georgian houses and fishermen’s cottages leading to a shingle beach lined with boats. The thriving high street is perfect for a spot of aimless mooching, or you could take an easy, scenic stroll along the Saxon Shore Way to Kingsdown and the beach-side Zetland Arms.
Thorpeness, Suffolk, offers a dose of comforting nostalgia, with quirky buildings (most notably the towering House in the Clouds), a windmill and a picturesque boating lake, the Meare. Everything is within walking distance of the beach, and the pace is delightfully slow.
For a complete change from the big city, head further along the Suffolk coast to Dunwich. Spend the afternoon on the beach here, tucked behind the dunes; apart from a swim or a trudge on the shingle, there’s blissfully little to do. Fish and chips can be had at the Flora Tearooms in the car park behind the beach.
Of course, you may just want miles of sand, in which case head for Camber in East Sussex, or West Wittering in West Sussex – but avoid high season, when everyone has the same idea.
Sarah Guy, author of Ebury Press’ London On Sea: 50 Capital Days Out on the Coast
QI’d love to climb Kilimanjaro but I’m nervous about getting altitude sickness and not making it to the top. Do you have any tips?
Graham Vaughan, via email
AAltitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness (AMS), occurs because your body is unable to take in sufficient oxygen at high altitudes. As a result, you start to feel ill. Typical symptoms include headaches, nausea and difficulty breathing, though if it is not treated then much more serious complications – and even death – can quickly occur. There are seven golden rules for ascending Kilimanjaro safely and successfully. Walking slowly is the first. Emulate the deliberate, careful tread of an elderly, cautious elephant or a jaunty tortoise. Take as long as
you can on the ascent – six days minimum, seven is better and eight days is best. Drink plenty and aim for at least three litres of water a day and also eat well. Don’t worry, it’s very unlikely you’ll gain weight on your trek, so tuck in! If it is at all possible, try and acclimatise to thinner oxygen levels by climbing up to high altitude before you arrive at Kilimanjaro.
Consider taking Diamox as well. This ‘altitude wonder drug’ wasn’t actually developed to combat AMS but it does seem to have a positive effect on many climbers suffering from it. Have a chat with your GP about whether you should take it on your climb. Finally, choose your tour company carefully. My book reviews the trekking agencies. Henry Stedman, author of Trailblazer’s Kilimanjaro – The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain guidebook
QI’ve just got into bikepacking. What’s a good route in Ireland for a relative newcomer? Stewart Fraser, via email
AIreland has great options for bikepacking newbies. Your choice of routes will depend on how far you want to go, how you will get to and from the route, and what you want to see.
One of my favourite circular routes is to start at Sligo, on the north-west coast, and then follow the coastline west and south to Achill Island. Sligo has wide, open beaches, while Achill has stunning mountain and cliff scenery. Then you can head back inland to Sligo via the lakes around Foxford and the slopes of the Ox Mountains.
The total distance will be around 470km, a good six-day ride for a newcomer, and the hills start a few days in. There’s a good mix of accommodation along the way. Sligo also has a regular train service to Dublin, although you must book bike spaces.
If you don’t need a circular route, you can continue south along the coast from Achill and push on along the Wild Atlantic Way to Westport (375km, five days from Sligo) and through Connemara to Galway city (630km in total, nine or ten days). Tom Cooper, author of Cicerone’s Cycling the Wild Atlantic Way and Western Ireland guidebook
Got a hot travel question? Email email@example.com and we’ll ask our experts