If you look at any list of the world's great walks, there is one that always features highly - The Tour du Mont Blanc. A 170 km circumnavigation of the highest mountain in the European Alps, it is truly one of the classic treks, not only for its splendid scenery and demanding geography, but for its history. For thousands of years, people have been passing through this region for trade or conquest, Celts, Romans and others. The common historic and franco-provencal linguistic origins of the region and its people are implanted in the valleys of Savoie, Valdôtain and Valais, coloured by their relatively recent associations with France, Italy and Switzerland, respectively - three countries, but one overarching culture.

Mont Blanc is more than just a mountain - its 4810m summit is surrounded by secondary peaks, rock needles and glaciers, and isolated by deep valleys that connect via high passes, an "island" in The Alps. The first circuit of the Mont Blanc massif was in the late 18th century, though only in the past 50 years has the trek been defined, linking footpaths, shepherds' tracks, old Roman roads, gravel forestry trails and even the odd section of modern sealed road to form the Tour du Mont Blanc as we know it today. With well-defined trails and a system of mountain refuges, this trek is now within the reach of the ordinary person. However, these are the high mountains and for much of the year, the passes and trails are blocked by snow. Traditionally, the walking season is during summer and early autumn, from mid-June to mid-October. With a number of variants, trekkers can literally design their own walk; some hard, others harder, none easy, but all providing a superb mountain experience.

Val Ferret and Les Grandes Jorasses (4208m)

Our great trekking love has always been the mountains and our trip to Europe would not have been complete without walking the Tour du Mont Blanc - it is something that we have thought about for many years and, finally, we are here. We are doing the Tour very early in the season (late June) for two reasons - to avoid the peak holiday period when refuge facilities are stretched to the limit and to try and be there in the peak wildflower season, when the Alps turn to a tapestry of colour. Join us on our 12-day exploration of the landscapes of the TMB.