From high-level hiking in the Alps to coastal walking in the Hebrides, the latest issue of The Great Outdoors celebrates backpacking in all its myriad shapes and forms.

Image: wild camping in Great Langdale. Photo: Martin Hornsey

Wild camping and walking – both rewarding enough on their own, but mix them together and you get a magical concoction that’s far more than the sum of its parts. Backpacking is the key to unlocking some of the most transcendental joys of the great outdoors. It’s not just about reaching places where walkers with lighter packs will never venture; it’s about a deeper familiarity with wild places, a disconnect from the pressure of modern life, a chance to test your own limits and a gateway to new experiences.

Packed (ahem) with backpacking adventures from across the globe, the May issue of The Great Outdoors will inspire you to take to the trail this spring. It’s teeming with exciting and inspirational features, including:

  • Rudolf Abraham’s long-distance trek on the Alpe Adria Trail
  • Ursula Martin’s 3,700-mile walk across Wales
  • Island adventures on the Hebridean Way with Stacey McGowen
  • A roundup of incredible memories from backpacker extraordinaire Chris Townsend

PLUS: route of the month on Skiddaw, Russ Moorhouse’s Wainwright camping adventure, how the outdoor community is supporting Ukraine, Jim Perrin’s portrait of Slieve Donard in the Mournes, solo shelters and kids’ waterproofs reviewed, 5 wild walks and much more.

How to get a copy

  • Order a single copy of this issue and get it delivered with free postage.
  • Take out an annual subscription and take advantage of our new subscriber offer (£15 for your first 6 issues).
  • Download the digital version to your tablet or smartphone and start reading straight away.
  • Take advantage of our special lockdown offer (3 issues along with the accompanying digital editions for just £9.99 plus free postage, with no ongoing commitment to subscribe.)
  • Buy it in shops across the UK.

Read more: a look inside the issue

Moments in time: Britain’s most experienced long-distance walker, Chris Townsend, reflects on his most memorable camping moments from a lifetime of backpacking around the world.

“Hot sunshine woke me. The mist had begun to shrink downwards. It boiled up occasionally and tendrils lapped the ground, sometimes reaching my camp, but slowly it levelled off just below me. The mountains shone in the sun. The sky was clear and blue. This was another camp I didn’t want to leave. I wandered over to the rim of a big cloud-filled corrie. As the sun rose behind me I watched as my shadow formed a Brocken spectre on the mist. Then a fogbow, a white rainbow, curved across the mist. It was a glorious morning.”

The inner light: following major illness, Ursula Martin set out on an exhaustive exploration of Wales on foot. On this staggering 3700-mile walk, she discovered kindness, the peace of nature, and her own inner strength.

“It was the length of time that I travelled that allowed me to sidle closer to my wild nature. In 13 months of walking, I became attuned to my landscape; the Welsh abundance of rowan, oak and brook, lichen-coated stone, hawthorn steadfast at field edge. My awareness of tiny changes grew: the flutter of wing through dappling branches, small mammal tunnels through grassy undergrowth. Squirrels scuttered at the corners of my vision. I became a creature that stalked in their world.”

Island life: Stacey McGowan escapes the confines of lockdown on a music-inspired, public-transport-accessed backpack of the Hebridean Way.

“West Beach is so picturesque that the Thai tourist board once used images of it to advertise their own beaches. Despite four days of non-stop crystal-clear waters and white sands in unrelenting sunshine, I gasped as we first spied the beach. A backdrop of purple hills and blue islands, tall white sand dunes framed the sand. We ran laughing into the clear blue water, diving down to follow a jelly fish. That night we slept easy after another peaceful sunset camp, full-bellied, looking towards the water and tomorrow’s ferry crossing.”

Summit to sea: Rudolf Abraham and daughter take us 750km from the foot of Austria’s highest mountain to the balmy shores of the Italian Adriatic, via the Alpe Adria Trail.

“The Alpe Adria Trail is an epic 750km hike through Austria, Slovenia and the north-east corner of Italy, beginning at the foot of the Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria and the Eastern Alps, and ending on the waterfront in Muggia, on the shore of the Adriatic. On the way it winds through a huge variety of landscapes – from the jagged high peaks of the Hohe Tauern to the rolling wine country of the Italian-Slovenian border, crossing the Karavanke and meandering through the exquisitely beautiful scenery of the Julian Alps, and taking in rocky gorges, Alpine lakes, forest-clad slopes, rugged karst badlands and coastal trails.”

Order a single copy of this issue and get it delivered with free postage.