Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts

What is snowshoeing?

In France last year I heard about something called snowshoeing. Can you tell me exactly what it involves, and do any firms organise snowshoeing holidays?

J Smart

Hereford

Jill Crawshaw replies: Snowshoeing - on what the French call raquettes - is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to downhill skiing, for several reasons. It is much cheaper and simpler - you strap a pair of lightweight snowshoes which look like the heads of large tennis rackets on to your walking boots, take poles only for balance, and set off. No complicated techniques or tuition are necessary.

It also enables you to get off the beaten piste even more than cross- country skiing, which means you have a chance of tracking wildlife which normally vanishes with the first arrival of the clumpy boots brigade. Many people also consider snowshoeing more environmentally friendly, reducing damage to pastures caused by mechanical lifts and beaten-down pistes, a continuing controversy in the Alps.

Headwater Holidays (01606 48699) can arrange independent shoeing trips to Autrans on the Vercors plateau above Grenoble, home of the French Nordic Championship. The firm also has two special snowshoeing weeks starting on 17 January and 28 February, with equipment provided and the services of a guide.

The January departure costs pounds 397 for eight days including the car ferry crossing for car and passengers (pounds 579 by air), guiding on the 26 kilometres of trails around the region, equipment, and half-board at the Hotel de la Poste. The week in February costs pounds 479 by car, pounds 658 by air.

Inntravel (01653 628811) arranges a fascinating snowshoe journey through the Pyrenees; you start in Font Romeu, walk over the lakes of Bouillouse at 2,000 metres (these are cut off from car traffic in the winter), stay in the tiny resort of Les Angles and then walk through the forest to La Llagonne, tracking animals en route. The price of pounds 598 includes return flights to Toulouse, picnic lunches, seven nights half board en route, hire of equipment and the services of an English-speaking mountain guide. Departures are on 17 and 31 January.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.

My boots are made for walking - but they're cracking

The leather is creasing and cracking on my walking boots. I usually brush mud off once the boots have dried - is this wrong? Don Walker, London

Clive Tully replies: If you can, you should remove the mud at the earliest possible opportunity. I always keep my eyes peeled for a stream or even a puddle at the end of a day's walk which I can slosh about in to get the worst of the mud off. You know why mud packs are so often used for skin care? It's because mud has good astringent qualities for sucking out natural oils. It does the same thing for dead cow skin as well.

Keeping your boots in a boiler room or heating cupboard isn't a very good idea, either, as any kind of artificially-induced drying is almost certain to damage the leather. The water soaked into the leather expands as it warms up and literally tears its fibrous structure apart from the inside because it can't vapourise and escape quickly enough. Cooked boots tend to lose their shape and get water-logged very quickly. As it is, the creasing and cracking on the uppers of your boots is an indication that the damage has already been done.

Even so, you should get some useful life out of them yet. Always wash the mud off your boots quickly and allow them to dry naturally. Putting them in a warm room is fine, but make sure they're away from any form of artificial heat, and preferably with some newspaper screwed up inside to help soak up excess moisture. Once they're dry, apply some shoe polish or a wax product such as G-Wax or Nikwax. Given the state of your boots, some extra loving care would be in order now - use Nikwax or Granger's leather conditioner.

Clive Tully is a leading commentator on clothing and equipment for walking, trekking and backpacking. He is editor of 'TrailWalk', a new online magazine devoted to the subject. The 'TrailWalk' website is at: www.trailwalk.com.

I want to go somewhere with healthy food

Whenever I travel I always come back feeling fat and ill because of the food. Now I want to go on holiday to the country with the healthiest food in the world. What are the options?

Bob Hayita

London

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: A healthy diet would include a great deal of fruits and vegetables for fibre, with very little red meat. Energy should come from carbohydrates such as pasta and rice, with the minimum of simple sugars being consumed. Fats should be of the polyunsaturated variety. Fish, especially oily fish, is said to be good for the heart.

It is hard to find any national diet that matches these requirements exactly. A Mediterranean diet is said to be very healthy, but a high intake of olive oil would cause weight gain.

In South-east Asia and southern India the high-fibre diet seems healthy, but coconut is used widely; it is fattening and contains extensive saturated fats. The most unhealthy diet is probably the Anglo/American one.

Do get this into perspective: a few weeks of a relatively unhealthy diet will do little harm if you eat reasonably well the rest of the year. Most exotic foods will cause weight gain if you overeat. One of my aims when travelling is to sample as wide a variety of foods as possible, while heeding the usual warnings about things that carry a higher risk of gut infections.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181 889 7014) which specialises in travellers' medical needs.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
News
Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine
people
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Arts and Entertainment
film
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living