European ‘wilderness’

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  • European ‘wilderness’
  • Premier Icon molgrips
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    Of course, there’s very little if any true wilderness left in Europe, and I don’t want to a grumpy discussion about the impact of humans – just interested in a bit of outdoor wilderness tourism to cheer me up as I sit in work. Where do you fancy going in Europe for mountains/rivers/lakes/forests and so on? Been anywhere cool? Got anything planned?

    tjagain
    Member

    Poland is perhaps your best bet for this. Or Norway and Finland

    tjagain
    Member

    But of course the highlands remain to me by far the best of anywhere I have visited or know of

    russianbob
    Member

    There’s a chap I know who did some shepherding in the Alps a few years back. Proper back of beyond nowhere for days/weeks, food/supplies were helicoptered in.

    Central Spain do you? Less than 1 human pre square km is on a par with Lapland but a bit warmer in the Spring. Did this trip in Sept, epic vistas and great riding.
    Montanasvacias

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny
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    molgrips – do you mean lack of management/human intervention, or do you mean distance from humans settlement?

    TJ, genuine question – why do you say that?

    As a swiss resident (not for long!), it is very apparent that, unsurprisingly, ever cm2 is tightly managed. At the top of the Matterhorn you get super fast 4G and there is always a wee sign pointing you to various destinations and how long it’ll take on well marked trails to walk there.

    Ok slight exaggeration, but you get my drift. I’ve not really been anywhere else truly wild, but as a scot, I have spent a lot of time in the highlands – and I still find it incredible how fast you run ou of any infrastructure and are suddenly truly ‘on your own, sunshine!’

    I love it.

    But, it’s not exactly a wilderness – its all managed to some degree, no? Just not as tightly as Switzerland!

    Theres huge vast chunks of the US and Canada that are proper wilderness, would love to visit there – both for being totally cut off, and a long way for any human intervention too.

    Premier Icon bikebouy
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    Auvergne Region in France.

    Iceland has some of the last really wild bits in europe (by some definitions of wilderness) but their taste for whalemeat makes visiting again a nope from me.
    But apart from that go east and north.
    In Scotland real wilderness comes with altitude, but lower down its a largely man made landscape (denuded by people and kept that way by deer overpopulation).

    Shortcut is to Google image search ‘europe from space at night’, and look for the dark bits.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    molgrips – do you mean lack of management/human intervention, or do you mean distance from humans settlement?

    Just large areas that are not farmland and not city. I’m talking on purely aesthetic terms not ecological/scientific. So probably the latter.

    Theres huge vast chunks of the US and Canada that are proper wilderness, would love to visit there

    Much less than you’d think, in the US. Alaska is about the best place to go. Most ‘outdoor’ destinations like national parks are heavily managed as actual parks – like tourist attractions. Overwhelming rules, regulations and sanitisation in many of them.

    Canada more so though, and Alaska – but this is all certain ecosystems – tundra and Taiga forest mostly. The reason I asked about Europe is that the ecosystem would be different, with dense temperate forest and marshes etc.

    5thElefant
    Member

    Iceland has some of the last really wild bits in europe (by some definitions of wilderness) but their taste for whalemeat makes visiting again a nope from me.

    The taste of puffin is considerably worse.

    tjagain
    Member

    TJ, genuine question – why do you say that?

    You mean why I think the highlands the best? ( apart from the scenery) Right to roam, recognition from the vast majority of landowners that folk walking and cycling are no threat. Wildlife ( slowly returning but so much better than when I was a kid) No need to carry water means you can go longer without having to return to cilisation. Accessibility – its literally get on a train and set off walking. NO killer critters

    No where else I know of has all this. I have trekked all over the place in europe and wider but nothing comes close to Scotland for making it pleasant and easy to spend time in ” the wilds”

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    No where else I know of has all this.

    Scandinavia.

    Scotland is good, but there’s no one place that’s best. It’d be nice to see different ecosystems, as I suggested above.

    I do fancy Romania, also for a really easy trip the Black Forest sounds fun.

    tjagain
    Member

    Scandenavia does not have right to roam in the scottish sense and distances are much larger so it not nearly as accessible.

    johnners
    Member

    Auvergne Region in France

    I expect it’s very nice but for a wilderness that photo seems to show an awful lot of tracks.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny
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    TJ, I’m with you on those items, it really is amazing.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Scandenavia does not have right to roam in the scottish sense

    I think it does…?

    Access is plenty good enough for me, at least. You can get PT to most towns and get off where you want. Without wishing to get into a pointless competition, the access situation is excellent both in Scotland and across Scandinavia, and I’m happy with that.

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
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    I was also going to suggest Romania following the recent deaths from bear attacks, although a video I watched of some people who travelled there recently would suggest it is suffering from a huge explosion in local tourism leading to most of the country being overrun with people and a HUGE litter problem.

    I imagine northern Scandinavia would be the closest you can get to true wilderness in Europe. Basically, if you want wilderness, get thee to those places with the losest population density.

    tjagain
    Member

    Aye that will do molgrips.

    The detail of right to roam is different.

    ton
    Member

    northern Norway is vast.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Basically, if you want wilderness, get thee to those places with the losest population density.

    You’re probably right about Northern Europe. But the problem is that much of the low-population high-wilderness areas are far north, which means that we end up associating wilderness with taiga forest or tundra. What attracts me to say, the Carpathian Mountains is that it’s a different climate and a different biome.

    tjagain
    Member

    I love that pic of the Auvergne above. I love the area and have trekked there a couple of times. However a pic covered in built trails is hardly wilderness in any sense and it does not give much feeling of remoteness. Was it posted ironically?

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    This intrigues me:

    null

    mariner
    Member

    France every time but one on the list I have never made it to is the Ariege.
    At one time it was designated the last wilderness area in France.
    It is now listed under Parc naturel régional des Pyrénées ariégeoises.
    Go play.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    I did a little bit of walking on the Appalachian Trail, which was fascinating and different, being surrounded by forest all day every day was strange to me – I’m used to views. I scrambled to the top of a crag on top of a hill to try and find a view, I got something like this, with forested mountains as far as I could see:

    null

    I’d like to find similar in Europe.

    Premier Icon bikebouy
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    I expect it’s very nice but for a wilderness that photo seems to show an awful lot of tracks.

    It does, but hey.. nice pic.

    And I think thats what molgips wants, some nice pics to look at whilst he’s tapping away at work.

    crikey
    Member

    Imagine how disappointing it would be to struggle through miles of unspoilt wilderness and find molgrips asking for a photo!..or me having a cheeky wild poo for that matter…

    tjagain
    Member

    Poland for that I think Molgrips – or Futher east along the tatras

    CraigW
    Member

    The Chernobyl exclusion zone is becoming pretty wild.

    Ewan
    Member

    I was also going to suggest Romania following the recent deaths from bear attacks, although a video I watched of some people who travelled there recently would suggest it is suffering from a huge explosion in local tourism leading to most of the country being overrun with people and a HUGE litter problem.

    This is very true, I did a mtb tour in the mountains a couple of years ago with a local guide (ex shepard). We went to a spot that was a popular tourist spot (two rocks that looked vaguely like two woman), complete with ski lift to get to the rocks. The amount of litter was absolutely unreal – our guide was embarrassed by it – he put it down to the older generations not being used to ‘going out in the country’ plus not being aware of being environmentally friendly, and just tended to leave stuff around – there is a lot more environmental teaching in schools nowadays, so things should improve. The other thing that we noted was that if you were further than 300m from the lift station there was no litter whatsoever as the tourists only turned up, walked to the rocks, ate some food, then went home!

    Can’t say i’ve ever thought of the highland as wilderness tho, except for maybe a few bits of ancient forest – all the rest is a man made landscape. Likewise, snowdonia, lakes, etc.

    tjagain
    Member

    Molgrips did put ” wilderness” in inverted commas. You are right in that almost all of europe is manmade landscapes and much of the highlands is huge deer and sheep farms

    The black forest is all plantation is it not for one example

    Premier Icon Drac
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    I did a little bit of walking on the Appalachian Trail,

    I’d love to have a go at the more remote sections of that.

    malgrey
    Member

    Much of Scandinavia, as others say, is closer to wilderness than we have in the UK. Generally, their right-to-roam is as good as Scotland. The main difference is, perhaps, that its actually bloody tough going to leave the trails, which are often marked (paint splashes etc).
    We went to Rogen (Sweden) and Femunden (Norway) a couple of summers ago, for a 12 day canoeing trip from 1 to the other. In 110km (including long portages) we crossed no roads until near the end. Halfway through the trip I climbed a hill, off trail which was tough walking and made me consider how alone I was in the middle of nowhere (mates stayed in camp), and looked out over an enormous expanse of country in which there were virtually no settlements at all, certainly none visible.

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/WkX1L6]IMG_5730-Pano[/url] by Mal Grey, on Flickr

    I’ve also been to southern Sweden’s forests. These are managed, but not planted, and are full of lakes to paddle on. However, they don’t feel as “wild” as the north.

    Both areas are described via links on my blog site if in interested; https://www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk/scandinavia

    Iceland certainly feels wild, and its possible to escape from people in the centre for weeks. It seems to have become rather busy in the more accessible areas (I’ve not been since 1986!)

    Whilst the Highlands aren’t as remote or a true wilderness, I agree with TJ that they are amongst the most remarkable landscapes I have visited. And if you make an effort you can escape from it all; last Easter a group of us undertook a canoe trip with lots of portages that crossed Inverpolly for 9 days, and only on the 7th day did we meet another soul. That’s a whole week in Scotland, during a holiday period, without meeting anybody. It did take a rather imaginative route though! More here; https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/destinations/across_inverpolly_by_canoe-12352?fbclid=IwAR0Tg1Cv5Iytsns4mg14d552eB6KHQ_25qwEshrSnw4xxqcyAMl9TxDxOc8

    I always say that the landscapes of Assynt, Fisherfield and Torridon are not bettered by anywhere else in the world for beauty. Its a combination of hills, lakes, moors and that fabulous, intricate coastline that do it for me.

    I’ve not really been to the Alps other than short ski (drinking) trips, but whilst the higher parts no doubt have many quiet corners, it doesn’t appeal to me in a “wilderness” way. The Pyrenees feel a little wilder, in my limited experience.

    I’m intrigued by the forests and rivers of Poland and other bits of eastern Europe, and have looked at paddling trips there.

    I’ve also been attracted by the look of the landscape in the Balkan countries, and I suspect there are some pretty wild and untouched places there.

    America has some amazing wilderness areas, not just the National Parks. Even there, only the central parts are busy, but there are rules and regulations that apply. Some of the best areas seem to be those near to National Parks, but not actually in them.

    Canada remains very high on “the list”, and has to be the ultimate “western” country for true wilderness travel, if only for the fact that it is enormous and everybody lives huddled in the southern parts.

    Premier Icon tomd
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    West coast of Jura is about as remote as it gets in the UK. Spectacular landscape of sea and mountains. Definutely on my list to get back and explore.

    tjagain
    Member

    Many of the treks I have done in ~Scotland we have spent days without seeing anyone else. This to me is one of the big differences with other European trekking I have done. In most of Europe you are on defined trekking routes, you cannot go off the paths and you keep on meeting up with folk – often the same folk

    IN Scotland I make up my own routes using the “scottish hill tracks” book and maps. We have been on some routes I doubt anyone else had been on for decades!

    malgrey
    Member

    I’d forgotten Jura. Completely agree, the west coast is amazing, and the terrain extremely rugged! We found a fantastic cave to sleep in, on the raised beach above a wonderful cove with views out over the distant isles. The floor was dried goat dung, which smouldered slightly when we built a fire!

    willard
    Member

    Look at getting to Kiruna in Sweden and then head north, east or west from there. Most of Scandinavia is pretty sparsely populated, so as soon as you leave most roads outside the “densely” populated south (ok, south of Gävle) you are into forest.

    Finland has just a huge swathe of forest on the north part and Norway is pretty much the same.

    doris5000
    Member

    Surprised no-one has mentioned Slovakia. Beautiful country IMO, plenty of mountains forests and lakes, with varying levels of wildness. Decreasing levels, to be honest, as the country gets more developed and the ski industry moves in. But still. Definitely worth a look.

    Miles and miles of bugger all
    As you descend from the Montanasvacias route high point, this is what you see.

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