Spring - a time for heading into the great outdoors with nothing but a rucksack, the open road and a sophisticated GPS tracking system. Here's our pick of the world's greatest trekking routes - if you've got a week or two to spare.
1 Everest Base Camp, Nepal
It's actually possible to do this independently, with teahouses right up to about 17,000ft. You want to go higher? Then pack warm clothing, a sleeping bag and a good tent. Most do this as a two-weeker, flying in and out of Lukla at 9,380ft. But the most rewarding and challenging route, and indeed the best for acclimatisation is starting at Jiri, which adds five to six days of meadows and villages. We also recommend a detour to Gokyo Lake.
2 The Glacial Path, Haute Route, The Alps
The Granddaddy of long distance European footpaths, the Glacial path was formed over 100 years ago linking the two climbing centres of Chamonix and Zermatt. You may need to hit the gym for a few weeks in anticipation of this epic effort - it will require all of your stamina, but the rewards are self evident; 13,000 foot alpine peaks including the piece de resistance Mont Blanc, and the infamous Matterhorn. Panoramic views of the vista and flora, chocolate box villages and barren glaciers make this route the most dramatic route going.
3 The Wilderness Walk, Torres Del Paine, Chile.
An 8-day circuit of the Patagonia’s Paine Massif, with its 15 cuernos (horns) and torres (towers) and sitting at an impressive 6,500ft. Highlights include countless cobalt craters and the vast southern ice field, from which four mammoth glaciers descend into the electric blue waters of Lago Grey. The wildlife here is astounding too, you will encounter everything from Guanacos to Rheas. Forget the Inca trail; this is seriously a journey to the ends of the earth that no trekker worth his salt should miss.
4 The Summit Attempt, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Half beauty, half beast, it's the resolute king of all Africa’s peaks. The campsites that host 15,000 trekkers a year can get ugly. To avoid this however, we encourage you to take the Shira route; a 7 day ascent from the west. Two days longer and more expensive than the key ring and coffee mug route it may be, but that’s why the crowds don’t attempt it. Plus, it also gives you 2 extra days to acclimatise, crucial for your chances of being among the 40% who actually make it to the top.
5 The Home Run, Pennine Way, England
At over 250 miles along the central spine of England, this is the oldest, gnarliest long-distance footpath in Britain. Starting in Edale and ending just over the Scottish border in Kirk Yetholm, the trail crosses some of the highest and wildest countryside in Britain. You’ll marvel at the Peak District, gaze in wonderment at the ravaged relief that is the mighty Yorkshire dales, gasp at the natural barrier between Lancashire and Yorkshire, and hop over (literally, it’s not that big) Hadrian’s Wall and into the Cheviots. Sixteen days should be enough, but add a few more for rain, blisters, or simply to enjoy a pint in England’s highest pub - the Tan Hill Inn.