Gorgeous Georgia: walking in the Svaneti’s mountains

New flights from the UK have opened up the country’s unspoilt north west, an area of mighty peaks, flower meadows and fantastic hiking country

Armenia – Amberd Fortress

From the Park of Letters the road to Amberd is not in great condition and it’s just as well there’s not much traffic around as drivers have to avoid large potholes and large cracks in the tarmac every few hundred yards. Amberd Fortress is one of those old places where visitors can climb all over the ruins without their being any warnings, in any language. The walls are mainly, but not all, in good condition and I enjoyed scrambling along one wall to a corner tower where I enjoyed tremendous views towards the mountains along a river gorge. If you suffer from vertigo though, don’t attempt this route as there’s a long drop on all sides.

The present Amberd fortress dates from the 12th Century although there had been a stronghold at this site 500 years prior to this date. The fortress withstood the Mongols invaders in 1236, but was eventually abandoned in 1408. The church beneath the fortress, referred to as either the Vahramashen Church or Amberd Church, dates from 1026 and is worth a visit to see the umbrella-shaped cupola and the views the church enjoys.    

Mountain huts and lodges in Europe: readers’ travel tips

Walkers share their favourite places to rest on a long hike, with ‘volcano huts’ in Iceland, mountain shelters and a hostel dug out of the cliffs among the highlights

The best climbing areas in Europe – for improving your skills

Here are some suggestions for the best of Europe’s climbing areas for those who want to progress from indoor or beginner climbing to great outdoor adventures