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TRAVEL

Turkey’s Black Sea coast: food to drive for

A cinematic landscape of monasteries, mountains and lakes offers a delicious slice of Anatolian life and makes for a superb culinary road trip

It was the talk of a traditional sweetshop that did it. In the Black Sea port city of Sinop, where boats have names like Masallah and Seref Kaptan, I had just finished a plate of mantı, large, soft dumplings topped with melted butter, chopped walnuts and thick, silky yoghurt. As I floated happily on a carb cloud, the waiter handed me a marzipan-style sweet (“a gift, you are our guest”) crowned with half a walnut. It was the handiwork of master confectioner Mehmet Gürbüz, whose shop, Sekerci Mehmet Gürbüz, run by his son, stands opposite the dumpling purveyor, Ornek Mantı. Mehmet himself, I was told, looks after his original wood-panelled shop in a small town called Boyabat, an hour inland.

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TRAVEL

Nordic walking: a pilgrims’ route from Oslo to Trondheim

This medieval pilgrim trail has a much lower profile than the Camino. And that’s a good thing for those who like to enjoy Norway’s beauty in solitude

We were deep in the Gudbrands valley, several hundred kilometres along St Olav’s Way in Norway, when Stig Grytting got the call. Sitting outside his 13th-century farmhouse, drinking wine and eating homemade bread, he was talking about renovations to the building when the call came. Not the voice of God, you understand, but the buzz of his mobile phone.

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TRAVEL

Leaps in the dark: 12 of the best night-time activities in the UK

Moonlight paddleboarding, after-dark running, tracking wildlife … the onset of warmer evenings is ideal for venturing out at night. We shed light on great nocturnal activities

Psyched Paddleboarding runs SUP sessions and retreats in north Wales, and sometimes further afield (the west coast of Scotland, Ibiza). Now adventurers can join a two-hour guided night SUP trip (£50pp with equipment and refreshments) on Llyn Padarn, a sheltered lake in Snowdonia. The lake is surrounded by lofty peaks under a star-studded sky if you’re lucky (Snowdonia is a dark sky reserve). There are lights on the bottom of the board, and head torches are recommended. If conditions allow, it also runs a night trip in a bay in Anglesey. The next step up is an SUP overnight expedition, with an evening paddle and wild camping (from £130). Elsewhere, South West SUP runs full-moon night paddles around Plymouth (from £20).

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TRAVEL

Highlights of Morocco: readers’ travel tips

Serene hotels, exquisite Islamic gardens and mountain hikes are just a few of the country’s stars, say our tipsters

This is a recently renovated garden on Rue Mouassine, dating back to the 16th century. It’s a perfect place to escape busy Marrakech, with an exotic range of plants and an ingenious water system created in the 11th century, fed by an aquifer. The Islamic garden is split into four sections, laid out to geometric rules established as early as the sixth century BC in the Persian gardens of Cyrus the Great. A perfect relaxing place to spend a few hours. The entrance fee is about £4 and there is small extra fee of about £2 to climb the wonderful old tower.
lejardinsecretmarrakech.com
David Fargher

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TRAVEL

Sky-high trekking: taking on California’s High Sierra Trail

This demanding adventure amid granite domes and giant trees ends in a climb up Mount Whitney – and it’s worth every lung-busting step

As soon as we set foot on California’s High Sierra Trail, the clamour of the world fell away, replaced by the rhythm of our footsteps, the chatter of forest birds and a feeling of stillness. A week of wonder lay ahead. It was euphoria of the purest kind.

We would follow the metre-wide path from the beauty spot of Crescent Meadow in Sequoia national park to the other side of the Sierra Nevada, land of the gold rush, the glacier-sculpted granite dome and the giant tree – a place “father of the national parks” John Muir described as “the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains”. It had been pulling on my imagination for a long time.

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TRAVEL

10 of the best activity holidays in Ireland

With its rugged coast, lakes and hills, Ireland is one big adventure playground – perfect for kayaking, hiking, cycling and road trips

Standing at 1,039 metres in the middle of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks range, Carrauntoohil is the tallest mountain in Ireland. The range spreads out across 100 sq km in the heart of the Ring of Kerry, adding drama to the Iveragh peninsula’s wild, beautiful landscape. Start the Carrauntoohil ascent from Cronin’s Yard, a car park with services south of touristy Killarney. There are several ways to the top, but the exhilarating Devil’s Ladder (12km return) is the shortest and most popular.

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TRAVEL

40 of the best beaches in Europe

Travel writers pick their favourite beaches to swim, surf, party, eat and just hang out from the Atlantic to the Aegean, from the UK to Turkey

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TRAVEL

10 of the best beaches in the UK

In a hot summer, there’s no better place than a UK beach – but even in more typical weather these shores offer walks and wildlife, picnics and rockpools

A network of paths and boardwalks crisscrosses this 6,000-year-old dune system leading on to expansive sand flats and the shingle beach. The unusually high dunes are nearly four miles long and lie across the head of Dundrum Bay, with views of the Mourne mountains in the near distance. There is plenty of room here to hunker down among the marram grass, open a flask and, in summer, watch butterflies and moths (more than 620 species) and look for lizards. Common and grey seals are also frequent visitors.
Stay Portaferry Hotel (doubles from £80 B&B, family room from £120) at the head of Strangford Lough is a half-hour drive and a short ferry journey away.

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TRAVEL

A local’s guide to Seville, Spain: 10 top tips

Cobbled alleys, ancient bars, flamenco and the world’s biggest gothic cathedral are just a few of the Andalucían capital’s attractions

Some of the best places in Seville are found by taking a wrong turn. Like when you stumble into a time-worn taverna peddling crisp local sherry or come across the rickety home of Seville-born painter Diego Velázquez. Which makes it all the more of a shame that many visitors to Spain’s fourth biggest city don’t venture much beyond the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Although the cobbled streets and alleyways that surround it are worthy of close inspection, this enchanting city has much more to offer a little further afield.

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A local’s guide to Lille: 10 top tips

Lille and its neighbour Roubaix have been reinvented as cultural hubs. Curator Didier Fusillier and local artist Fanny Bouyagui pick their highlights

Smack in the middle of Lille’s main square, La Vieille Bourse is its former stock exchange, probably the most beautiful building in the city, dating from 1652. Walk into the open courtyard to discover book stalls, chess players, street musicians and, on summer Sunday evenings, tango dancing. There are eight permanent bouquinistes, booksellers who since 1982 display thousands of rare tomes, cinema posters, prints and maps, plus bandes déssinées, comics from vintage English-language Marvel and DC to Tintin and Mickey Mouse. We may be in the age of Kindle but in Lille, print culture is alive and well. Afterwards, enjoy a chocolat chaud and signature gaufre pastry at Meert’s 17th-century tearoom and pâtisserie.

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TRAVEL

A local’s guide to Verona: 10 top tips

This most romantic of Italian cities offers more than just Juliet’s famous balcony. Wine and olive oil producer Giovanni Éderle spreads the love

This is the “other Verona”, the right bank of the Adige, across from the historic centre. For us, it is the authentic part of the city, popular with the big student population for its cheap street food, pubs and late-night bars. Walk across any of the Adige bridges and the crowds disappear, though there is still plenty to see: the Roman theatre, overlooking the river, and adjoining archaeological museum explain how much ancient history is still waiting to be excavated; higher up, the 16th-century Giardino Giusti is one of Italy’s finest landscaped gardens. Veronetta is also called Little Jerusalem, as medieval pilgrims to the Holy Land were reminded of Jerusalem by the neighbourhood’s steep hills and cypress trees. Today, volunteers run free Hierusalem Tours on selected dates, when five churches normally closed to the public can be visited (next one 26 February).

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