Most walkers don’t just want to just ‘bag’ a mountain, or race from one valley to the next. Unless they are in search of complete solitude, most walkers enjoy getting off the beaten track on vacation to help them get in touch with the real country and its culture. Not the one laid on for tourists. A lot of walking vacations cater for this craving for cultural exchange, staying in traditional rural accommodation such as mountain auberges in the French Alps, or pensions in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey. In France’s Mercantour National Park, you sample food that is heavily influenced by its proximity to Italy, And in Catalonia, you score major brownie points by giving a greeting in Catalan as you cross paths with a local walker. That is one of the most wonderful things about walking vacations in remote spots. Hosts rarely feel threatened or ‘invaded’ by walkers. Turn up with a coachload of camera slinging tourists, however, and it’s a different story.