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This walk is 1300 miles/2000km in length and the purpose is to raise sponsorship funds for GORTA-SELF-HELP-AFRICA the internationally renowned charity. Secondary benefits include an improvement in health and general well being. If you can’t make it for all seven weeks, due to work or other commitments, we will be happy to see you for a section or two or whatever number are suitable for you. Please see the route map for the sections available.
Based on our past experiences Le Havre is the fastest starting point for walkers to get us into central and southern France and Rome is a magnificent end to a wonderful walk. It’s full of history. Roman legions in 412 AD and Allied troops in 1944 have marched it. There are no difficult mountain routes and we take the D roads, wherever possible, to enjoy the scenery.
Yes, we have-twice-first in 1979 and second in 2001. We know precisely what we are doing and how to do it.
Not at all-you can walk at your own pace in your own company, or in the company of others as you wish. This is not a military exercise or a road race so take it at your own pace-relax and enjoy it. However, we would advise you to walk in groups whether large or small. If you prefer to walk alone we advise you to keep others in line of sight. If you are having problems you will have a contact number for the back up team who will come to your assistance. Please remember traffic will be coming towards you on your left unlike Ireland so do walk on the left and please exercise extreme caution at all times-on busy narrow roads please walk in single file.
Yes we do. We leave at the same time as a full group every morning. Once we are outside urban areas you can walk as you wish and don’t worry our back up vehicle will monitor the group throughout the day.
Breakfast is usually at 07.30 hrs and we leave at 08.00 hrs every morning. Lunch is from the van around 13.00 hours. We leave early so we can get in early in the evenings. On rest days you can rise whatever time you wish subject to hotel rules.
Yes most definitely. This ensures that the group have a chance to socialise over an evening meal and a glass or two.
No you don’t but if you decide to make alternative dining arrangements it will be at your own expense. The walk price includes an evening meal taken together.
We have a back up van for your luggage which is, alas, subject to pay load and weight restrictions.. The limit per person is 20 kilos in load on luggage. We regret this but the authorities in France and Italy are strict on pay loads and we have no choice in the matter.
We stay in hotels-not hostels in twin rooms which we share. These are prebooked. Who you share with is your own business-this is not a school outing-so we leave that to your own good judgement. Please remember to remove all personal belongings from your room in the morning and take your bag to reception where the back up team will load it for you in the van. Remember your passport and always carry it on your person.
Absolutely. A small pack for your jacket, leggings, water and bits and pieces. Do please carry this throughout the day. You wont even notice the weight.
Yes-otherwise we would have chaos. The first walk was completed in January/ February and we encountered Siberian conditions for the first ten days including snow, hailstorms and blizzards. We still left at 08.00hrs every morning and got through. At the time of year you will be walking snow and ice should not be a problem.
Ordinary aches and muscular pains respond very well to treatments like ointment which we carry in the van. We also carry a full first aid kit-for more serious conditions we will get you to the local pharmacy and if necessary to a doctor. If you are presently on prescribed medication please ask your doctor for a two month supply as your prescription may not work in a French or Italian pharmacy. Please also note we cannot give you pain relievers-you will have to purchase these yourself. For very serious conditions we will, of course, ensure that you are returned to Ireland. France and Italy have excellent health services and there is usually a doctor and a pharmacy in even the smallest towns. Please have a thorough medical check up before you leave. Apply to your GP for a European Health Insurance Card before you leave.
PLEASE NOTE: we do not provide travel insurance this is up to you to provide and we cannot emphasise enough that this is ESSENTIAL.
From our own experience a sandwich/roll, chocolate bar and a high energy glucose drink or water taken at the van is ideal to keep you going. The van will stop until everyone has had lunch-if you have lunch at some restaurant, which we do not pay for, you will certainly not feel like getting up again. If you sit down and have this with a few glasses of wine you certainly wont be getting up again! Honest-our way is the best!
Hotel breakfasts in France and Italy usually consist of coffee/tea/croissants/cereals/ cold meats/juices. We have tried for full Irish on previous walks nothing doing! On occasion we have managed ham and eggs but that’s it. However, we promise to keep on trying every morning and see what happens.
YES-the golden rule-we have a detailed specified route laid down which we all follow every day. No deviations are permitted otherwise we would have walkers lost all over the countryside. Neither are shortcuts permitted. Do not trespass on French or Italian railway lines. Apart from the inevitable legal consequences for you, it is highly risky and very dangerous!
You will be issued with a reflective weatherproof jacket, reflective leggings and a reflective waistcoat. These remain your property. On warm days it is essential that you wear the waistcoat even in daylight for your own security. We repeat again please remember you will be walking on the left to face oncoming traffic. Please exercise great care at all times especially at junctions, roundabouts and crossing the road as traffic approaches on the opposite side of the road to Ireland.
You will be given a French/Italian mobile number to call from your mobile phone which links straight to the back up team. Stay where you are, stay calm, give us as much information as you can about your location, and the van or back up vehicle will find you. Stick to the route and you should not get lost but the outskirts of towns and cities can be confusing. Don’t worry and put on your jacket-it’s the only way we can pick you out in a crowded area.
We have four days off. Take your laundry to the local laundrette in the morning and it will be ready for you in the afternoon. Laundry is a personal expense which we do not cover.
Of course! your time is yours after your meal to do with as you wish and from past experience evenings and rest days were used to sight see, shopping trips or go on a tour. Ventimiglia is a very popular rest day as it is close to the famous casino at Monte Carlo If you do decide to try the casino, set yourself a limit and stick to it !! The street markets are terrific and all street traders expect you to haggle.
Strong, light footwear with a GORE-TEX® membrane will repel rainwater but allow your feet to breath. Wear them for a week or two before you leave to break them in. Don’t buy them the day before you start the walk and find yourself in trouble half way through the first day. Also put a pair of lightweight runners in your knapsack so you will have a change of footwear during the day. Cotton socks only for comfort.
We normally eat in local restaurants, wherever possible, to support local family business so whatever is on the set menu the choice is yours-we can’t guarantee Irish stew but the local food is usually delicious-when you are walking to Rome you can eat all the pasta you want -you will burn it all off the following day!
Vegetarian should not be a problem-vegan or special diets please let us know well in advance. We will discuss your requirements and see what we can do.
There are many wi-fi hot spots along the route and internet cafes. Many of our hotels also have wi-fi access. Some charge-some don’t-we don’t cover internet charges so please enquire first. Also please remember phone calls from hotel bedrooms are horrendously expensive and these we do not pay for either. The cheapest way is to travel with an open mobile phone and buy a local prepaid sim card and also use viber and whatsapp etc.
We can accommodate up to 50 walkers on this charity walk. Your back up team will be with you throughout your walking day. This number is small enough to allow people to get to know each other but large enough to accommodate diverging views and opinions. On previous walks we had 20/40 with no problems. If you start on your own you wont be alone for long and will make life long friends. We don’t operate a gender quota policy so that ratio is in the lap of the gods.
Of course. We would suggest rest days as an ideal time to be with family and friends…also keep in touch with them on social media.
Barring serious illness that’s the whole point of the exercise. If you decide to go on a charity walk, for all or some of it, then that’s what we and your sponsors, expect you to do. This is a brilliant opportunity to raise sponsorship funds for GORTA-SELF-HELP- AFRICA through family. friends and work colleagues.
If you really think about it , outside your immediate family, its amazing how many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends you have-make a list and if they all sponsor you for a minimum of say, €10 upwards, you should have no difficulty in raising a quota of €1000 in sponsorship. If you are just coming for a week then we would like you to make €250 your minimum sponsorship target. The first walk to Rome in 1979 raised £15,000 for charity and that’s when the purchasing power of the pound as it was then, was worth a lot more than it is now. We will supply you with all the promotional literature you need but your sponsorship funds raised go directly to GORTA-SELF-HELP AFRICA not through us.
Yes you do-the UK and Ireland are not presently part of the Schengen open travel area and you will need a valid passport to enter France/Italy. If you hold a UK passport, post Brexit, you may also need a visa. Please check your passport carefully before you leave home.
If you hold an ROI or another EU passport you will not need a visa. If you do not hold either of the above passports you may need a visa to enter France and Italy and this is your responsibility to arrange. Please carry your passport with you in a safe area on your person and not in your load on luggage in the van. Remember this is a legal requirement and also leave a copy with friends or family at home. Please also note we do not accept responsibility under any circumstances for missing, lost, stolen, out of date, incomplete, damaged or void passports-neither are we responsible for arranging visas for those who need them.
We would advise to take a spread in personal funds, not too many euro in cash, a credit card for shopping and emergencies and a debit card for cash-take loads of images and selfies and post away on your social media accounts-you will have many treasured memories! A mobile phone is essential as we will give you a French and Italian number for the back up team if you get lost.
Alas, we would love to give you a month in Rome but due to time and other considerations its not possible. We will arrange a meal for all of us in the Scoglio di Frisio restaurant, Via Merulana, on the night of arrival ( we can recommend the fish).
Yes of course-however it will be at your own expense as will your return journey to Ireland. We cover return travel to Ireland for participants who finish the complete walk.
After our evening meal your time is your own to relax. However, if you are doing a tour of a strange town or city just use common sense. Don’t wander off down strange streets on your own at night, stay with your friends and do not leave them to make friends with someone you don’t know-no matter how plausible they seem. Remember the name and address of the hotel (write it down) – please remember the back up team is there to take care of you during your walking time in the day-they are not there to rescue you from late night sessions. If you find yourself alone take a signed metered taxi back to the hotel and do not accept transport from strangers! The emergency number in both countries is 112, the average response time is 9 seconds and all operators speak English.
We will advise you during the day the name of the hotel where you will be staying that night and our back up team will park up on the outskirts of the town or city and give you directions to get to the hotel in the evening.
Yes there are but are very short and simple-we leave together every morning, we follow the same route without deviations or short cuts and we eat together in the evenings. We also expect you to walk the route, serious illness excepted. Participants who take trains, buses and taxis etc. will promptly be removed as will persons who bring our walking group, GORTA-SELF HELP-AFRICA or their country into disrepute. Refunds will not be provided in such cases. Any forms of anti-social behaviour, or breaking French or Italian laws have no place on this walk. The possession and/or use of any class of drugs is illegal and the penalties for either in both countries are very severe.
Walking reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, lowers blood pressure, reduces high cholesterol, increases bone density, helps prevent osteoporosis, reduces the risk of cancer of the colon and of non insulin dependent diabetes, reduces body fat and helps to control weight, relieves osteoarthritis, improves flexibility and coordination thus reducing the risk of falls-in short, its very good for you!
When I started on the first day of the first walk I was 42 pounds over weight and could barely walk to the bus stop. When I arrived in Rome 50 days later the 42 pounds was gone (and never came back) and I would have gladly walked it all the way back again. If, at the moment, you enjoy a good walk after Sunday lunch, then increase the distance day by day coming up to departure date and you should be fine. Pride and team company are powerful motivators.
No-not at all-although if you have a few words of either now might be the time to brush up-you will have plenty of opportunities to chat with the many people you will meet on the way-local people in our experience are unfailingly friendly. Our team have always managed-our fluency is very far from perfect but we have the essentials and seem to do just fine.
We have kept the price to an absolute minimum to give you the best possible standards of accommodation, food and service. Its the same price as a second hand car or a ten day cruise in the Med. The car will rust and disintegrate, the cruise will be forgotten, but the satisfaction of completion, the knowledge you have made a difference to the lives of others through your sponsorship for GORTA SELF- HELPAFRICA the wonderful memories and the life long friendships will be with you always-now that’s what we call very good value for money.
Yes. Please arrange to arrive in our hotel in Le Havre on Tuesday 10th March we will take care of you from that point on and issue jackets and leggings. We will advise you of the name of the hotel and contact details well in advance. Naturally, for those who are coming for the entire walk we will provide transport back to Ireland. Do tell your travel provider what you are doing-they may well offer a discount.
No. Drew or Mary and the backup team or a combination of two or more will be on the ground with you throughout all the days from Le Havre to offer help, support, guidance and advice, as, when and if required.
No. Any kind citizen of France or Italy who wishes to support this work can donate directly online. Any offers of contributions directly to any walker should be politely declined. Sponsorship funds for this project are not raised in France and Italy.
We will issue you with information leaflets which you can give to anyone who asks. These will be printed in French and Italian to avoid any problems with either language.
We will be pleased to answer any other questions you may have and look forward to seeing you on the road to Rome in March/April 2020.