The better wander uncoverings of 2017- be selected by Guardian novelists

This year the Guardian Travel team experienced a Hooghly in India, meditated in Bali and hitched a wagon in the Wye valley amongst other memorable experiences

Belmonte Calabro, Calabria, Italy

In the summer, we drove from Naples through Campania and Calabria, then took the boat to Sicily. Along the method, we broke the journey at terrific agriturismi and guesthouses but “the worlds largest” exciting target was EcoBelmonte, Calabria’s only albergo diffuso . This ancient, car-free village was once residence to 3,000 beings , now there are just 30 permanent residents but, thanks to the painstaking duty of Gianfranco Suriano, who grew up there, 14 of the hamlet residences are available for tourists to hire. Clinging to a hillside, invisible from the road but with deems over the gleaming Tyrrhenian ocean, the thick-walled residences are stacked on top of each other- and linked by bend alleyways. On our tortuous, we rarely came across one of the elderly occupants, or bumped into Gianfranco’s wife Gabriella, who runs development projects. Most of the time we felt like we had the place to ourselves: it was both eerie and enchanting. For relief from the scorching August heat, we drove down the hill to the beach- a long, straight stretch of pebbles shelving into clear ocean. Rendering hot and sandy felt like stepping back in time to a magical hamlet that’s barely altered in centuries.
* From EUR3 0pppn, children EUR5, ecovacanzebelmonte.it
Isabel Choat

Shell Beach, Western Australia

Shell
Photograph: Getty Images

A beach that’s a spate for sore attentions after the nerve-jangling drive up the North West Coastal Highway from Perth, on high alert for kangaroos that can bounce across the road at any time. It doesn’t adjudicate the nerves any to know you’re in a place called Shark Bay, but it is about to change the most western phase in Australia is a world heritage area, dwelling to living fogies called stromatolites( a single-celled photosynthesising microbe) and to a beach that’s one of the natural amazements of the world. Shell Beach is made up of the millions of shells, specific cockle shells that multiply unchecked due to the high-pitched salinity of the ocean and the lack of piranhas able to survive in everything that salt. It pulls for 70 km, looks like a vast salt wash and feels like an oasis on the border of the outback.
Andy Pietrasik

LakeGaube, French Pyrenees

Lake
Photograph: Alamy

Crystalline oceans, flying mountains, wildflowers and the best-situated cafe I’ve ever called( even topping the one at Cirque de Gavarnie which, with my two boys, I’d saw the day before ). We reached this beautiful lake after parking the hire auto at Pont d’Espagne and treading past a series of epic cataracts and up a steep-sided hollow for an hour or so. On contacting the pond on a red-hot date, the grassy, boulder-strewn province around the cafe was perfect for disintegrating out, experiencing a slice of blueberry pie- a local speciality- and seeing the wondrous panorama. At the far end of the lagoon is jagged 3,300 -metre Mount Vignemale, France’s highest Pyrenean summit. We marched towards the peak to the other side of the lake where there was another, more remote-feeling, expanse of flows, stones and pines. It seemed as if I were in the Canadian Rockies , not a two-hour flight from home.
Adam McCulloch

Ari region, Bangkok

Paper,
Paper, Butter& Burger, Bangkok

The first time I visited Bangkok, I was on a backpacking trip that included a
de rigueur stay in a hostel simply off the breach year-apocalypse of Khao San Road. Rendering this spring, I wanted to see a different side of it, so went to Ari, a residential district that has fewer sightseers and one tonne of street food-style restaurants, cafes and rails. It’s also on the
Skytrain line, making you can zip back and forth across the city. Our basi was the Yard Hostel: a modern seat made out of carrying receptacles, with a courtyard rail to wind down in. In figurehead of the hostel is a coffee shop, as well as the amazing burger joint Paper Butter& the Burger. A few minutes walk, on Aree Soi 2, you’ll find Summer Street grill- a nutrient truck sufficing up immense dishes of clams, mussels and crayfish extradited fresh for “youve got to” barbecue at your counter. Or, in our case, cooked by the waiter, who took our plate away after verifying us obliterate one too many scallops on the grill.
Will Coldwell

Pendine Sands, south Wales

Pendine
Photograph: Getty Images

I’ve often learnt myself writing about seeing emptines, or seat, while on trip-ups, whether it’s in Oregon , or Iceland, so get away from people must be a “thing” for me. I wasn’t expecting to discover the largest wide open in Wales, but I did- and it was on Pendine Sands. On a sunny autumn daytime, I stepped for about a mile from coast to the sea( and back, naturally) but I could have walked further: such areas on Carmarthen Bay has seven miles of beach. And it has history, very: in the early 1900 s its flatness and interval checked it used for motorbike hastens and property velocity record attempts. The drummer in my strip even learned to drive here in the 1980 s. I’m not naive enough to praise it for total privacy- the country has spate of vacation camps and caravan commons- but there is batch of opening on that long, fabulous beach.
Robert Hull

Omunity, Bali

Omunity,

Spirituality has become quite commercialised in Bali. There are no end of ” healers” offering to counterbalance your chakras, but I came across a place in Singaraja in the north, far from the majority of sightseers, which is the real deal when it is necessary to an authentic local event. A little shrine accosts you as you step through the old wooden gates into garden-varieties leading to a creek, with 10 rooms dotted all over the natural wading pool and yoga shala. It’s an eco-homestay: stepping into the life of owned Zanzan, his wife and three young children. Vegetarian banquets are eaten together, beginning with the sung praises. Zanzan was born in the village and recalled after working in hospitality, with the purpose of demonstrating tourists the real Bali- so a stay includes excursions: hiking in the mountain backdrop, visiting local craftspeople, meeting temple ceremonies and heading to the quiet black sand beach nearby.
* $96 pp a nighttime, including all banquets and activities( 10% dismis for pairs ),
omunitybali.com
Jane Dunford

Homestay near the Taj Mahal

Aman

The Taj Mahal is wonderful but the sheer number of tutors, tour guides and series inns in Agra can make it a mass-market experience. We countered this by remain in a inexpensive homestay a short distance from the Taj. Aman Homestay is delivered by Ranjana, who loves to swap life floors and express regretful exasperation at her ne’er do well partner. Comfortable en suite redoubles expense about PS22 a night, and there’s a garden-variety, two tiers of balconies and the roof terrace. To do our own room on foot to the Taj after breakfast( missing the sunrise gathering, but before the central race) was the perfect route to enjoy this most stupefying locate .( Dinners at the homestay are basic; for something more interesting, Bamboo Cafe on the area- 30 Shilpgram Road- does curries, thalis and koftas for about PS1. 50 a brain .)
* on Facebook
Liz Boulter

The Thames below Greenwich

Foot
Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

It may seem ridiculous to suggest that the Thames is a detection of its first year but I don’t mean the bucolic glory of its upper reaches. I signify below Greenwich. Seduced in by the Silk River prowess project, I sauntered to Southend, intersecting via hoof tunnels( at Greenwich and Woolwich) and shuttles( last the second is Gravesend-Tilbury ). Here i am post-industrial ravaging but too radiant elegance. At Rainham Marshes you are able to view osprey, in Gravesend there is the grave of Pocahontas, at Dartford railway station a plaque to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who first encountered there. Time things right and you can catch the Waverley paddle steamer back upriver to Tower Bridge.
Kevin Rushby

Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Lews
Photograph: Alamy

Lews Castle overlooks Stornoway harbour on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was built in 1847 and had many applications over the years- private dwelling, naval infirmary, college- before falling into dilapidation. For roughly 20 times it was empty. But no more: the castle has been transformed into a museum and inn, where I stayed in May. There’s a mix of rooms and accommodations, a cosy prohibit and a grandiose ballroom, plus lovely woodland grounds- the situate for the HebCelt music festival each July. The museum’s centrepiece is six 12 th-century Lewis chessmen bits. Stornoway is a lovely plaza to browse: buy contemporary tweed from By Rosie and neighbourhood pottery or seaglass jewellery from Salka, then watch a strip at McNeill’s. Don’t miss a Stornoway Seafari( I encountered white-tailed ocean eagles, risso dolphins and otters ), the prehistoric Callanish Stones and the fabulous beaches.
* Doubles from PS110, naturalretreats.com
Rachel Dixon

The sanctuary of Difunta Correa, San Juan, Argentina

Difunta
a Photograph: Alamy

In the 1840 s, the partner of teenage bride Deolinda Correa was conscripted to oppose in the Argentinian civil war and dragged from their house in the largely desert district of San Juan. She swore to track him down and set off with her child son but soon operated out of furnishes and rested on a hillock. Days eventually, legislating gauchos received her dead body but were stunned to identify the baby feeding from her “miraculously” full breast. It was the first of many miracles accredited to La Difunta( The Deceased) Correa.

It is in the middle of the desert but, since the 1940 s, the enshrine of this semi-pagan saint was transformed into a small town, is supported by disciples, without any support from the authorities and certainly nothing from the Catholic Church, which shuns the whole heretical business. To non-believers like me, of course, the whole circumstance seemed wholly bonkers. But could the millions who’ve placed plaques on the 17 votive chapels, giving thanks for the miracles they’d received, all be fantasists? And all those who’d left their gondolas, and 3,500 motorbikes( soon to be auctioned for the poorest of the poor) in gratitude? Or several hundreds of footballers and soldiers who’d left their shirts, accolades, dress and artilleries? I can’t remember the last period I prayed but, touched by the unshakeable sect of those around me, I shut my eyes and expressed my piece.
*
visitedifuntacorrea.com.ar
Gavin McOwan

Leechpool and Owlbeach Woods, Sussex

Leechpool

Owning a dog gives me the opportunity to explore more of the countryside, and one of the many other benefits is an excuse to duck out of household patronize excursions. That’s how I detected these ancient woodlands in the High Weald of Sussex, a short drive from Horsham.

A Google search afterwards and we’d swapped the stallings of the Christmas market for stands of oak, ash, hazelnut and hawthorn; “the worlds” of piped carols for cathedral-like serene; silver spray-painted holly crowns for a carpet of frost-rimed needles. You’d never know that half of Leechpool wood was wiped out by the Great Storm of 1987, so enveloping is the sense of privacy. In homes, the forest tracks are knotted with root causes of ancient oaks- these lumbers were once part of St Leonard’s Forest, a chase sand in medieval periods, and there’s a sense of meter pas tramping through the passageways of trees. In two hours, we didn’t make it over to the 55 hectares of restored heathland at Owlbeach- the dog was busy chasing squirrels and I was in a portal to another world. AP

Frioul Islands, Marseille

Onboard
Photograph: Alamy

Multicultural Marseille is an underrated city-break destination. I invested my birthday weekend there this year and learnt so much to do I missed the flight home. One of my best good uncoverings was the Frioul Islands, a four-isle archipelago 4km off the coast, part of the Calanques national park. Frequent ferries call at If for the eponymous chateau, the real-life prison of the imaginary Count of Monte Cristo, though it was too windy to dock when I was there. Instead, I territory on Ratoneau, the only island with bars and restaurants. Saint Esteve beach has a tempting snorkel course but I bridged the causeway to wilder Pomegues to hike among ocean lilies and lavender. There is no accommodation on the islands at the moment but the French decorator Ora Ito is becoming Fort Bregantin on Ratoneau into a hotel in 2018. RD

The Hooghly river above Kolkata

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