Sunday, 17 April 2011

Great trips for singles

I got asked by my editor at the Guardian (natch) this week to submit a few words on adventury trips that are good for single people. Which I took to mean trips you can go on solo, rather than in order to find a new fling, sorry long-term love.
Here are five I came up with. The others you can read online at some point.

1) The Orange House, Costa Blanca, Spain
If you are, or aspire to be, a rock climber then the Orange House is the perfect place to meet new people who won't drop you. Located in the village of Finestrat and close to some of Spain's most celebrated climbing spots, the Orange House sports it's own bouldering wall, slackline (never been a fan myself ... ) huge BBQ, swimming pool (just think of all those six-packs on show. Ahem) kitchens and everything else you need to get your fingers aching. You can book a private or a dorm room and there are always loads of people on hand to go out climbing with - or just book on one of their courses. Plus the Orange House has been known to let you stay for free if you help out with the daily chores.

2)  Flow MTB, Morzine, France
I write a lot a about Morzine, I know but that's because it really has the makings of something excellent. At the epicentre of the Morzine mountain bike scene is Flow MTB and its associated MTB shop Torico. Dinnertime at Chalet Musardiere is legendary with the cooking almost as good as the craik. If you can't find a kindred bike spirit over one of their gut-busting mealtimes then I'm afraid there is no hope for you. Sara and Guy know the trails in the area so well it's almost like they built them themeselves, the chalet has its own workshop, TVs and DVDs in every room, Garmins, route planners, the works. Never ride alone again.

3) MountainGirl, Sardinia
Should chicks only climb with chicks? Well no obviously. But if you fancy escaping from the well-meaning clutches of your male counterparts ('foothold there, then drop your right knee, that's it, nice, pull through, great!' 'Dude, its a 4a warm up, back in your box') then MountainGirl offers superb instruction from top climbers and mountain guides in the sunny climes of Sardinia. A mandatory belay workshop at the start of the week means trust is established pretty quickly and after that it's up to you how far you want to push yourself. This year's week is being run by top guide Isabelle Santoire. See her wield an ice axe and you'll want to make her your friend. Or else.

4) Hiking Mount Whitney, California, USA
Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the lower 48 US states, rising to a regal 14, 495ft. It's summit can be accessed by a gruelling, but achievable day hike and as such is pretty popular (ergo crowded) during the peak season. But the day trail is not the only way up. International Mountain Guides offers a three-day trek up the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney's east side. Expedition camping skills, setting running ropes and hiking in snow shoes are just some of the skills you'll be expected to pick up on the trip. Needless to say the view from the summit - and the smug feeling that you did it the hard way - will more than make up for the calloused hands and pounding heart.

5) Cycle Cote d'Azur, Nice, France
There's always a chance that you sign up for a holiday to meet some new people who share your passion for a sport, only to decide that you hate them all and really don't want to communicate. This is a bummer if you're there for seven long days. But the beauty of Cycle Cote d'Azur is that you sign up for daily rides with difficulties ranging from easy to very hard. If you don't fancy riding one day, or just need some head space, simply don't tick he sign up sheet. Run by Olympic cyclist Emma Davis and super-triathlete Claire Scrutton, you get to ride legendary cold like the Madone, enjoy fantastic Nice nourishment and meet new people, without any pressure to face them again if they blow you off the tarmac on the first hill. Not that meeting new people is all about finding new people to compete with of course ...

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