TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: XIZHI to RUIFANG (淡蘭古道:汐止/暖暖/瑞芳)

The northernmost span of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails follows the course of the Keelung River upriver from Taipei almost as far as the coast before veering south towards Jiufen. The section between Xizhi and Ruifang jumps from small town to small town, passing lots of temples and traces of history along the way.

TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: NEIGANJIAO to SHIFEN (淡蘭古道中路:內柑腳/十分)

The stretch of the Tamsui-Kavalan trails leading into Shifen from the south is probably the quietest section of the middle route, but don’t let that put you off. This really has the feel of a functional historic trail, leading you over the hills and across the valley from one village to another. And those who walk it south to north can reward themselves with some snacks from Shifen Old Street.

TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: DALI to YILAN (淡蘭古道北路:大里/外澳/頭城/礁溪/宜蘭)

This leg of the journey ties up the northern, middle and southern routes on their route into the centre of Yilan. Along the way you can stop to take in some grand coastal scenery, soak up the sun at the surfer beach in Wai'ao, visit Toucheng's historic old street and dip your toes in Jiaoxi's hot spring waters. Although it may not seem like the obvious place to go for a stroll, those who do walk this way will certainly find plenty to keep themselves interested.

TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: PINGXI TOU to WAI’AO (淡蘭古道中路:坪溪頭/外澳)

If you know anyone who isn’t yet sold on the natural and cultural delights of Taiwan, then take them by the hand and lead them to the start of this trail for a condensed highlights-reel version of everything that makes me love this charming island. This portion of the middle Tamsui-Kavalan Trails follows the footsteps of the tea-traders of yesteryear over clear streams and vibrant forests to a mountain top and the coast beyond. Along the way you’ll meet the many gods who they trusted to keep them safe on their travels, and if you’re not utterly smitten with Taiwan by the time you finish, then you don’t have a heart.