Travel: Fancy a summer walking holiday – just say cheese!

The traditional Alkmaar cheese market in operation in full swing.
The traditional Alkmaar cheese market in operation in full swing.

Once described by Ingmar Bergman as Sweden’s most beautiful maritime capital, leisurely guided walking and sightseeing company Adagio is offering a seven-night summer holiday to Stockholm.

As part of the award-winning Ramblers Worldwide Holidays group which was established in 1946, the highlights of the Swedish adventure include the old town of Gamla Stan; a boat to the island of Djurgården; Drottningholm and the royal palace and gardens of Lake Mäleren. You also sail around Stockholm’s archipelago exploring the island of Ingmarsö; the Tyresta National Park; the Vasa Ship Museum and the island of Vaxholm with its island fortress.

Walking holidays have become more popular in recent years.

Walking holidays have become more popular in recent years.

Price from £1,450 per person includes return flights, transfers, half board accommodation at Hotell Kung Carl in Stockholm and the services of a dedicated tour specialist. Check out or call 01707 386700.

For those who take walking a little more seriously, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, is offering a two-week tour of two of the gems of the Cyclades Archipelago – Santorini and Naxos. Santorini – has a dramatic landscape with sheer cliffs, sandy beaches, a crater (which boasts the world’s largest volcanic eruption) and picturesque white-washed villages with breathtaking views.

By contrast, the island of Naxos is very different from its neighbour with lush green valleys and idyllic sandy beaches. Ramblers will follow ancient footpaths and muletracks that link villages, towns and fortified mansions.

Highlights include, walking the crater rim of the volcano; traditional cuisine in local tavernas; rambling through the orchards on the plains of Naxos; many opportunities for a swim and ‘an essential’ visit to the village of Emporio with magnificent views to ancient Thira.

Price from £1,299 per person includes return flights, transfers, half board accommodation and the services of a dedicated tour leader. Check out or call 01707 331133.

For anyone who fancies something a little different, how about a North Sea crossing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland with Stena Line with your own car then visiting a traditional cheese market.

The spectacular and historic town of Gouda isn’t that far from the port while its market are held every Thursday morning. There you will see farmers negotiating the price, the deal sealed by a handshake as it has been for centuries.

The cheeses are delivered to and from the market on wagonettes and weighed after the sale in the monumental Goudse Waag building.

If you drive a little further, you can make your way up to Alkmaar, just north of Amsterdam, to see their cheese market which is held every Friday from from 10am until 12.30pm on the Waagplein.

The market place is filled with traditional wheels of cheeses and these are hauled by carriers in the time honoured way. In 1365 Alkmaar was granted weighing rights and a weighing scale, and in 1612 this number increased to four.

Exactly when the first cheese market took place is shrouded in mystery. Old documents have been found which confirm the cheese market certainly took place in 1622, but there is also evidence that the cheese bearer’s guild was founded in 1593; so it is now believed that the market dates back as far as the 16th Century.

Then on your way back to the ferry port, you could call in at Scheveningen near The Hague where on June 13 the Netherlands celebrates the first herring catch of the year (Hollandse Nieuwe) on Flag Day – or as the Dutch call it, Vlaggetjesdag.

It’s one of the biggest street festivals in The Hague – the Royal City by the Sea – with the local children dressing in traditional costumes while music is played and a party atmosphere is felt around the seaside area.

Herring is caught between mid-May and the end of June … any earlier than this and the it is too lean; later than that and it is too fatty. And the captain of the first ship that brings the herrings to land has the honour of personally bringing a crate of the fish to the King, the first cask being sold at auction with the profit donated to charity.

Then if you happen to be Holland just three weeks later, the Grand Départ of the 2015 Tour de France starts in Utrecht, the country’s fourth largest city, at the start of July. The tour actually gets under way on Saturday, July 4 with an individual time-trial with the riders passing straight through the city from west to east and back.

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