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Bran Castle
Horsefly River
Rural Roosts
Podlemorye, Maksimikha
Peak District
Grand Union Canal Leicester Line
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Cortijo de las Piletas
Thingvellir, Iceland

Þingvellir was declared a national park in 1930. A law was passed designating Þingvellir as “a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged.”

Preservation measures at Þingvellir were modelled on the national parks that had been established somewhat earlier in the United States to stem changes to the natural environment there resulting from encroachment by settlers.

National parks conserved large uninhabited areas, which people could visit and enjoy - but not settle or develop. Iceland identified a similar need to preserve certain natural and historical sites for future generations to enjoy them in their original state. Today, Þingvellir is one of the most frequently visited tourist sites in the country. Each year, thousands of visitors go there to become better acquainted with Iceland's greatest historical site and jewel of nature.

In the last few decades, research has made it clear that Þingvellir is a natural wonder on a international scale, with the geologic history and the biosystem of Lake Þingvallavatn forming a unique entity, a magnificent showcase. Being able to witness the evolution and formation of new species in a place like Lake Þingvallavatn is of immense value.

The Þingvellir area is part of a fissure zone running through Iceland, being situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The faults and fissures of the area make evident the rifting of the earth's crust.


Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle is situated 30 km from Brasov, between the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountains, on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia (Muntenia).

The castle is famous around the world as being Count Dracula's (a Bram Stoker character based on Vlad the Impaler) castle despite having little to do with the mentioned character.

This nickname is the result of the castle being "cast" in multiple film adaptations of the "Dracula" book by Bram Stoker.

Fortunately, the local economy speculated this connection to the maximum, many t-shirts and other souvenirs with Dracula and the castle being available for tourists.

The castle was built by the Teutonic Knights around 1212 after they had been relocated in the area from Palestine.

The Bran Castle was confiscated by the Communist government in 1948 after being seized from Princess Ileana of Romania.

The Romanian government returned the castle in 2006 to Dominic von Habsburg, an architect from New York and the Princess' son.

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria has been occupied since the iron age; 7000 years ago people found the salt mines, which gave them an opportunity to settle an area which they would make into a trade center soon after.

This rich cultural history is the basis for Hallstatt's inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travelers interested in lakeside archaeology will have a lot to discover.

Hallstatt has several museums, the main archaeological museum in Hallstatt center-and you can take archaeological tours of the salt mine.

The region's immense beauty also attracts hikers and trekkers.

Well-marked trails take you to interesting places in mountainous Austria.

Shoppers might want to take home some gourmet salt, bath salts, or even lights made of huge crystals of salt.

Hallstatt is located in the Salzkammergut Region of Austria, southeast of Salzburg and directly on the shores of Hallstätter See (Lake Hallstatt).

There are no direct trains from Salzburg to Hallstatt, so if you're trying to visit Hallstatt as a day trip from Salzburg, stop in a travel agency and get see about a direct bus journey.

You can take a bus from Bad Ischl, to the north, and then a train to Salzburg. If you manage a route by train to Hallstatt, you'll get to the town via a small ferry; the train station is across the lake from Hallstatt.

It's a nice way to get your first climpse of the town at the edge of the lake.

By car, exit the A10 at Golling and follow the B-126 to Gosau, then the B166 to Hallstatt.

Horsefly River, Canada

The Horsefly River is the second biggest salmon spawning river in the province of British Columbia.

Every year the salmon make the journey from the mouth of the Fraser River in Delta, through the Fraser Valley, up the rough Fraser Canyon, on to the Cariboo as far as Quesnel, then they make the turn into the Quesnel River and fight some pretty challenging water up into Quesnel Lake.

They swim up to Horsefly Bay and enter the Horsefly River system at that point.

There are natural spawning beds all along the river banks.

There is a healthy black bear population on the river and you should always be “bear aware” in the natural habitat along the banks of the Horsefly River.


Quillan, France

Situated on the Aude river, Quillan (pronounced "Key An") is a small thriving town with all amenities, including a municipal swimming pool, gym and cinema. There are local shops, supermarkets, and a market twice a week. You can enjoy the french cafe culture at one of the local cafes and Quillan also has a large number of restaurants. This is a lovely area for walking, birdwatching, sightseeing, horse-riding, kayaking, white-water rafting and most other outdoor activities.

The nearest Cathar castle is about 10 miles away at Puilaurens and there are many other castles in the area, each with its own special story to tell. Carcassonne city and airport, is 45 minutes away and is the only fortified town in Europe still inhabited, where an enormous old castle stands open to be explored. The outer walls of the castle stand largely empty, with winding stairways, beautiful stone arches and numerous passageways inviting you to explore their mystery. If you are interested in Rennes le Chateau, you are in a good location to carry out research, being only 10 miles away.

If that's not enough, the town is just an hour and a half from the Mediterranean coast, the Spanish border and, in the opposite direction, skiing (or shopping) in Andorra. In the South of France, fairly close to the Spanish border you'll find the departement of the Aude. The capital city of the Aude is Carcassonne which has motorway and train connections as well as an international airport. If you follow the Aude river due south of Carcassone at a distance of about 40 miles is Quillan.

Possibility of accommodation: Mode des Artistes

Many French properties, mostly rural and in region Languedoc-Roussillon, you can find here:

Rural Roosts, UK

Rural Roosts, luxury pine lodges on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

This hidden rural location is an ideal base for touring and exploring Lincolnshire, a county which has plenty to keep you occupied, whether you are looking for an action-packed short break or a calm and relaxing holiday.

The high quality, self catering pine lodges surround a tranquil fishing lake, well stocked with coarse fish and only available for use by guests.

Rural Roosts is part of Manor Farm, located in the quiet village of Stainfield, about 8 miles east of the city of Lincoln. The mainly arable farm surrounds the 8 acre Rural Roosts site. There are walks around the site, with a viewpoint to Lincoln Cathedral, plus longer walks around the farm as well as many walking and cycling routes in the surrounding area.


Waunifor, UK

Waunifor is an excellent base for a holiday or short break, you can reach the unspoilt beaches of Cardigan Bay in 25 minutes or visit nearby Pembrokeshire.

Our craft and pottery classes for adults and children are really popular and you can also relax and enjoy a range of beauty treatments including massages, facials, manicures and pedicures on-site.

As well as fishing, walking, climbing, bike riding and other outdoor activities there is a rich variety of local attractions both indoor and outdoor for the whole family to enjoy.

Alternatively you may want to just relax by your cottage and breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birdsong and relish the tranquillity of the countryside.

Waunifor is in the Teifi Valley on the borders of Carmarthenshire (the garden of Wales) and Ceredigion (the heritage coast) and within easy reach of Pembrokeshire. It is a 40 minute drive from the end of the M4 and a 25 minute drive from the wonderful beaches of Cardigan Bay and is located along a quiet rural lane surrounded by countryside.


Podlemorye, Maksimikha

The village of Maksimikha is one of the remarkable places in the Barguzinsky gulf of lake Baikal.

Maksimikha is situated 235 kms far from the city of Ulan-Ude, deep in the southern bay of the gulf into which the river Maksimikha flows.

The village is called so after the name of the cossack Maxim Perfilyev, who had lived here for some time. The writer Michael Zhigzhitov, the author of the popular book in Buryatia "Podlemorye” also used to live here for a long time.

The bay is very convenient for rest: Water here is warmer, than in many places of Baikal (in August the temperature of water reaches +14+16 С), there is a fine beach and a shallow, next to the village there are high slopes of the mountains covered with coniferous forest rich in berries and mushrooms in autumn.

Coastal waters of the bay are rich in fish.

The village has a post-office, a communication centre, a village club, shops and a cafe.

In previous years the village has developed as the tourist centre.

There are several objects of accommodation of tourists.

Their location is denoted on the scheme.

Some of them admit all holiday-makers.

The network of guest houses develops.

There is no visiting centre in the settlement yet, and it makes difficult the search of vacant places.

In summer there are two yachts which can be employed for walk in the lake.


Peak District, UK

The Peak District’s very special qualities are well known to the people who live in the towns and cities that surround the National Park but for visitors from further away, whether from Britain or abroad, the magic of the Peak District is just waiting to be discovered.

There is a wide range of sports and outdoor activities to be enjoyed and accommodation to suit all taste and budgets - order a free Visitor & Accommodation Guide.

DovedaleA short break, or longer holiday, will allow you to explore some of England’s most spectacular scenery and in the towns, villages and hamlets - amongst the prettiest in the country - you will find a warm and genuine welcome wherever you go. Every taste is catered for and many exciting activities are available.

The Peak District also enjoys the most extensive public transport network of any national park giving you a unique chance to visit the countryside without having to worry about taking the car. Peak Connections publishes guides to visiting top attractions by bus or train.

For a fun and informative day out try one of our ranger guided walks and events.

For people who are less mobile, or have young families, Access for All provides you with information and ideas on how to get maximum enjoyment from your visit.


Books, maps, photos:

Grand Union Canal Leicester Line

The Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal is a quiet canal through rolling hills and beautiful countryside, including the waterway landmark of Foxton Locks and the highest point on the Grand Union.

The canal meanders its way through unspoilt rural surroundings, constantly changing direction as it lazily motions you northwards.

Beyond the Watford Locks, boaters can enjoy 20 miles of easy cruising. The Leicester Line passes through Crick Tunnel and the village of Crick, home of one of Britain's largest annual boat shows, held each year in May.

Short arms to Market Harborough and the village of Welford offer tempting diversions. Nearby Saddington Reservoir, built to keep the canal well watered, is a wildlife haven.


Lake Clark, USA

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve was created to protect scenic beauty (volcanoes, glaciers, wild rivers and waterfalls), populations of fish and wildlife, watersheds essential for red salmon, and the traditional lifestyle of local residents.

Lake Clark's spectacular scenery provides a true wilderness experience for those who visit.

Geology, biology, botany, volcanology, paleontology....the list of subjects for scientific study in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is nearly endless. Coastal cliffs on Cook Inlet hold fossil remnants of 150 million years of sea life. Below them, salmon pass through tidal estuaries on their way to spawning grounds in mountain lakes, chased by hungry seals and brown bears. Two active volcanoes – Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt – tower above the landscape. Glaciers wind their way down into valleys where the Alaska and Aleutian ranges join. Dall sheep share treacherous mountain slopes with delicate alpine wildflowers. Continuously inhabited since early prehistoric times, the Lake Clark region nevertheless remains sparsely populated by humans. Follow the link below to learn more about this wild, complex place.


Cortijo de las Piletas

Cortijo de las Piletas is a country hotel located in the heart of Andalucia.

Only 12km. from the picturesque town of Ronda, in the Natural Park of Grazalema, the Cortijo allows visitors to explore a great variety of natural environments, both on the property grounds as well as the surrounding areas.


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