In some ways this trip was going to be a return "home" - a pilgrimage perhaps. For five years we had lived and worked in Montpellier, a beautiful city in the south of France. We had done many a great walk in different regions, but only ever day-walks. With a school age daughter, we had more family-oriented holidays, heading off to camp in different parts of France and beyond. Walking was always a part of these holidays and the memories of that time remain firmly and pleasantly embedded in our minds. But that was 20 years ago and it is time to renew the acquaintance.

Images of Montpellier - our "home" in France

Our plan is to first do a series of day-walks in the Cinque Terre in north-western Italy, a region of spectacular coastlines and fascinating old villages. We love coast-walking and this seemed the perfect spot to "walk ourselves in". From there we head to Montpellier, to catch up with old friends, before the first big challenge - The Way of Saint James, Chemin de Saint Jacques or Camino de Santiago, whichever - a 1500km trek following the route of medieval pilgrims across France and Spain. Not having the time to do the full route, we have picked the eyes of it and will attempt three sections. The pilgrimage actually has several beginnings and one end - we plan to start in Le Puy in central France and walk the first 200km to Conques, followed by a second stage across the Pyrenees, from St Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona. Having walked into Spain, we will then walk the last 200km of the route from Villafranca del Bierzo to Santiago. It will be interesting to see what a pilgrimage is like, walking a track steeped in a thousand years of history.

The Pic du Midi, a landmark of the Montpellier region
- whenever we saw it, we knew we were home

Our great trekking love remains the mountains and this trip would not be complete without a walk in the European Alps. We plan to do the Tour du Mont Blanc, a 170km walk around the base of western Europe's highest peak - it is one of the world's great treks and hence, for us, is a more secular pilgrimage. As the French would say "on l'attend avec impatience". We hope that we can say it too, as one of the challenges of this trip is to reacquaint ourselves with "la belle langue" after so many years of not speaking it.

Finally, if time permits, we might head across to the Dolomites for a few wind-down shorter walks - simply because this area has long fascinated us. We are setting ourselves a challenging schedule for eleven weeks, but without a challenge where are you? Feel free to join us for the good and the bad of our trip, but hopefully never the mundane.