Friday, February 05, 2016

Leakey's, a Great Little Scottish Bookshop with Oodles of Character



I confess. I have a thing for used bookstores housed in old stone churches. I love watching the play of light filtering through the stained glass windows. I can savor (for hours) the smell of the used books mixing with a hint of incense and oil from rituals past. And the sound of the aged wooden floors creaking under foot reminds me of a simpler time when our buildings and cultural trappings were fashioned by artisans, and not so far removed from the land.

Imagine my excitement, then, when I stumbled upon Leakey's Bookshop in Inverness, Scotland. Leakey's sells thousands of used and rare books, on "most subjects," and best of all, they're housed in an old church. 


A small placard on the outside of the building reads: Old Gaelic Church. Built 1649 for Gaelic Speakers. Rebuilt in 1792 and reconstructed in 1822 (Architect James Smith). Served as Greyfriars Free Church.

This place is heaven for people that love old stuff. 

They also have piles of antique prints (old engravings) from 18th and 19th century Scotland. The prints offer an intriguing window into the past, showing how people dressed, worked and carried out their lives. I especially enjoyed the old books on Scottish mountaineering. They were filled with illustrations and maps that could have kept me occupied for hours.

Here's another shot of the interior. They have a huge wood stove that keeps the place warm. What could be finer than a good book and the warmth of a crackling log fire on a cold day?!


Leakey's buys and sells modern books too. Be forewarned, however. This place is stacked to the rafters with rare tomes, antique maps and arcane tales. You'll need time, and you'll feel a desire to take pictures once you're inside. There's something about the color scheme of the interior and the quirkiness of the place that begs for photo-taking. Do yourself a favor though, and buy one of their postcards. You'll never catch the essence of the place as well as their photographer did. 

Go There.

Our Scottish Highlands and Islands hiking tour begins, and finishes, in Inverness this year. (We changed up the itinerary.) If you join our hike, then make sure to visit Leakey's when you're in town. They're located on the corner of Church Street and Friar's Lane.

Check out their Facebook Page, and give them a big thumbs up.  
You can also see a 360 degree view of the upstairs by clicking here

Photos: by Carolyn Costin-Martin and Chris Pranskatis

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Our NEW Engadine Hiking Tour Will Enchant You!



We recently announced our NEW eight day Enchanted Engadine Hiking Tour via e-newsletter. To view the original newsletter, click here, and be sure to subscribe at the top of the screen. We’ve added a little more info and few more photos below.

You'll Be Enchanted. We Guarantee It!

The Engadine is one of Switzerland's most enchanting and intriguing regions. Cute storybook villages, delicious food, welcoming inns, and hiking trails for every skill level entice the avid hiker. For those who enjoy a little magic, the medieval castles, ancient Roman settlements, and an official language called Romansh lend an air of mystery and wonder.


We know that you'll love this trip for the same reasons that we love it. First, this is the ONLY Engadine trip we offer that visits BOTH Switzerland and Italy during the course of the hike. Second, this is the only Engadine hike on our schedule that stays three full nights at the historic Hotel Meisser, a jewel in the Swiss Alps that everybody should visit at least once in their lives.


The Hotel Meisser welcomed their first distinguished guests back in 1893. Now in their fifth generation, the Meisser family's continued dedication to quality service and hospitality is beyond reproach. We love this hotel for its warmth, luxury, tradition, simplicity, tranquility, and a feeling of home away from home. We know that you'll love it too, when you sip a glass of wine on their sunny garden terrace or relax beneath your crisp down comforter after a hot shower and a satisfying day on the hiking trail.

The Meisser recently remodeled their rooms, offering a nice mix of contemporary comfort and rustic charm.







On day four, you'll hike across the Italian border to the tucked-away mountain village of Livigno. You'll stop at a mountain hut for lunch and you'll hike beneath the Piz Chaschauna (3,071m/10,075 ft). "Piz" is the word for a mountaintop, or peak, in these parts. The Piz Chaschauna straddles the border between the Swiss National Park in the Engadine and the Stelvio National Park in Italy. The following day, you'll hike back across the border into Switzerland with grand views of the glacier-capped peaks of the Bernina Mountains. The Bernina range is one of the highest mountain ranges in the Swiss Alps.


Finish the tour in a cozy three star historic Engadine house in Pontresina, with hikes into the Val Roseg, and a climb to the Segantini Hut (2,731m/8,960 ft) for lunch. The Segantini Hut was the final retreat of Giovanni Segantini, one of the most famous painters in Europe during the late nineteenth century. Seganinti was known for his pastoral landscape paintings of the Alps, and he climbed up to the small hut on the Shafberg (the Segantini Hut) to capture the breathtaking, uninterrupted views of the Bernina Massif and the Engadine lakes down below.


You'll feel the same inspiration that Segantini felt as you sample the delicious treats from the hut kitchen and gaze across the top of the Swiss Alps from your well-earned perch on the airy mountain terrace.


Click here to view the entire Enchanted Engadine itinerary at our website.

Photos: #1, 2 and 7; by Ken Fuhrer. Meisser photos; courtesy of Hotel Meisser. 
Photos #8 and 9 by tour guest Reinhard Ludke.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Bhutan Dates





We have new dates for our Bhutan Chomolhari Trek Hiking Tour. The new dates are:
October 6-17, 2016.

Check out our video (above) of Bhutan's famous Tiger's Nest temple, day 2 of the hiking tour.

What is a typical day like?

5:00 am—Sunrise. 
6:00 am—Tea of Coffee provided by the cooks in each individual tent. 
6:30 am—Warm water available for washing. 
7:00 am—Breakfast, cooked by our friendly sherpas. 
7:30 am—Break camp. 
8:00 am—Begin trek stage. Visit must-see attractions like the Tiger's Nest, and hike to an elevation over 16,000 feet above sea level! 
12:00 pm—Lunch with awesome views. 
2:00-3:00 pm—Arrive in camp. 
3:00 pm—Afternoon tea. Relax. 
4:30 pm—Soup offered. 
7:00 pm—Dinner, followed by campfire stories and the awesome tranquility of a night spent in the Himalayan Mountains. 

You can read the full hiking tour itinerary by clicking here

Please contact us to put your name on the guest list for Bhutan 2016. 

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2015

RW Merchandise for Sale!



More great gifts! 

Our new microfleece jackets by Mammut with embroidered Ryder-Walker logo are oh-so-comfy. Our trip leaders wear these jackets everywhere! They're also the perfect 3-in-one jacket.
  • On the trail, they offer great mid layer insulation. (This is the layer above your hiking shirt, but below your rain jacket/shell.)
  • They're perfect as a stand-alone jacket for those days when the weather is a little chilly but you don't need something completely wind or waterproof.
  • These fleece jackets are really cozy when lounging around a mountain hut after a day on the trail.
Whether you're relaxing in front of the fire, or out on the trail, you'll love your Mammut microfleece!

Looking for a stocking stuffer? We also have Ryder-Walker baseball caps and hot/cold insulated to-go mugs too!

Yadkin Mens' Jacket

Color: Black
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Price: $100
Includes Shipping and Handling

Yampa Women's Jacket

Color: Black
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Price: $100
Includes Shipping and Handling

Ryder-Walker Adventure Cap

The light-weight Ryder-Walker adventure cap is ideal for hiking, walking, golf, running and most outdoor sports. The high-teck “Breeze” Lite performance fabric by Pacific Headwear keeps you dry and cool. Adjustable velcro back makes it virtually fit everyone.
Color: Graphite
Price: $20
Includes Shipping and Handling

Ryder-Walker Hot/Cold Insulated To-Go Mug

Our to-go mug with Café Cap is the perfect companion to keep your drink hot up to 6 hours, or iced for 24 hours. The 12oz, wide opening Klean Kanteen mug has a durable, double-wall construction, all-stainless interior that does not retain flavors and is super easy to clean.
Color: Black
Price: $30
Includes Shipping and Handling

We don't earn a penny! We're donating all the proceeds from the sale of these items to 350.org a grassroots movement devoted to the preservation of a livable planet. 

Please give us a call or send an email to place an order. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

For Sale: Limited Edition Paintings of Our Favorite Hikes in Europe



These would make awesome gifts!!! Ryder-Walker commissioned award-winning artist Wayne McKenzie to paint three of our favorite hikes in Europe, the Val Ferret (Tour du Mont Blanc), the Val Travenanzes (Italian Dolomites Trek), and the Val Bregaglia (Engadine Trek).

We’re selling the original paintings for $2500 each, and limited edition professional gallery wraps for $450 a piece including taxes, shipping and handling.

The gallery wraps are professionally photographed versions of the originals, printed on high-grade photo satin canvas, framed in a wrap style and protected with a UV fine-art satin finish. The finished art also comes with a hanging wire and is ready to be displayed. Note: We only have 10 wraps available for each painting. These won’t last forever!

The above painting is of the Val Bregaglia, day 7 of our Engadine Trek. The image is from a meadow just north of Soglio, Switzerland and features the mighty Sciora group of peaks along with the Piz Cengalo and the magnificent Piz Badile. Original painting with frame—$2500.


This painting shows the stunning Italian Val Ferret beneath the Brenva face of Mont Blanc, day 6 of our Tour du Mont Blanc. In our opinion, the Brenva is the most spectacular side of Mont Blanc. Original painting with frame—$2500.


Here is the top of the Val Travenanzes, an absolutely wild and striking valley in the Italian Dolomites. Past guests will recognize this as the hike between the villages of Corvara and Cortina on our Italian Dolomites Trek. Original painting with frame—$2500.

Spotlight on Wayne McKenzie

Australian native Wayne McKenzie is a long-time friend to the Ryder-Walker family and an award winning plein air painter. His works are a visual journey into the landscapes he creates. His paintings hang in private collections throughout North America, Europe and Australasia. Along with his countless awards and Best of Shows in many national competitions, Wayne’s work has appeared in various publications in the United States including being honored as a feature artist in the hardcover book Best of Artists-Oil-Global edition by Kennedy Publishing. You can see more of Wayne's work at his website: http://www.waynemckenzieart.com/

Please contact our office to order one of these limited edition pieces.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Read Our 2016 Hiking Tour Catalog Online



It's a real pleasure to flip through our new 2016 digital hiking tour catalog. You can turn pages like a magazine, zoom in, print out a copy, and download a pdf version if you like.

You'll also find new trips, smart tips, feature stories and more inside.

New for this year's catalog:

Peter Walker talks about the founding of Ryder-Walker on page four and gives a definitive answer to the question asked by thousands of Ryder-Walker guests, "Where does the 'Ryder'in Ryder-Walker come from?"

We announce new hiking tours in Iceland, England, Switzerland, PatagoniaSpain, and the Rocky Mountains.

Ryder-Walker presents limited edition merchandise for sale on page 11, including sexy fleece jackets, form-fitting baseball caps and thermally intelligent beverage storage devices.

Also on page 11, we offer limited edition paintings (originals and prints) of our three favorite alpine scenes (the Val Ferret, Val Travenanzes and Val Bregaglia), commissioned by us and painted by award-winning artist Wayne McKenzie. These would make great Christmas gifts!

We also hear stories about Ryder-Walker guides Ken Fuhrer and Ace Kvale. Ken celebrates his 20th Anniversary with Ryder-Walker in 2016, and Ace is trying to raise $60,000 to support the reconstruction efforts going on in Nepal after the recent devastation there. Way to go guys!

There's a whole lot more inside.
http://ryderwalker.com/hiking-tour-catalog/ 

We hope you enjoy our new catalog. Please share with your friends and, as always, contact us to put your name on a tour.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Join Our NEW Hiking Tour in Eastern Switzerland



Did you know that we have a new hiking tour in Switzerland? Well, we do. It's called the Alpino Vino Wunderbar.

Wait? Didn't we offer this trip last year? And the year before?

Yes we did! The Alpino Vino Wunderbar is kind of like a hiking tour grab bag. Every bag is different. We change the itinerary each year in order to show you the most exciting (and often undiscovered) corners of the Alps. This year we're staying entirely in eastern Switzerland and visiting the regions of Appenzell, Klosters and the Engadine.

What you get:

Gaze across four different countries from atop the Hoher Kasten (5,876 feet). Five thousand feet may not seem very high, but consider this: You'll get 360 degree panoramic photos of Lake Constance, Germany; the Voralberger Alps in Austria; the rugged hill country of Liechtenstein; and the bucolic countryside of Appenzell, Switzerland. Whew!

You'll also have lunch at a traditional working farm, and you'll follow special hiking trails carved into  the twisted, tortured and malformed limestone. There are wildflowers too!

What else?

A private van will transfer the group to Klosters, a trendy ski resort with awesome hiking out the back door. Austria is just a stone's throw away, so virtually every hike offers rewarding views of Austria's glacier capped peaks. You'll also hike past quintessential cuckoo clock chalets on trails that have been in use for hundreds, (if not thousands) of years.


An exclusive treat.

Our guides will show you a secret hiking trail from Klosters to the Engadine. No other Ryder-Walker trip follows this route. You'll also hike beneath a peak called the Flüela-Wisshorn (10,121 feet) and you'll picnic at sparkling, high alpine lakes. One of the highlights of this tour is the walk into the Val Minger and the Val Plavna, rugged mountain valleys that stretch south from our hotel. There are some really beautiful mountains that surround these valleys including the Piz Lischana, Piz Minger, Piz Pisco and the Piz Plavna Dadaint (10,390 feet). The Piz Plavna Dadaint is basically 6,000 feet higher than our hotel in the Engadine Village of Scuol. The elevation change is striking!


Are you sold yet? Check out the itinerary for more info. Then call or send us an email to reserve your spot. See you in Switzerland!

Photos by Ken Fuhrer