Our second tour was a very special one. At the request of Jamie Anderson, whose grandfather Lt Col Arthur Nicholls died in Albania during World War II, while serving behind enemy lines as part of a British Special Operations Executive mission, we put together a trek in the mission’s footsteps. We were able to retrace their route through the Çermenika mountains and Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park in eastern Albania by using Lt Col Arthur Nicholls’ own diary, the memoirs of Enver Hoxha and mission commander Brigadier “Trotsky” Davies, and various other sources including long-forgotten documents held in the UK National Archives at Kew.
Even today the area the mission operated in is extremely remote and hard to access. But that of course makes for an incredible experience for trekkers who want to get off the beaten track. Think dark beech forests, endless mountain vistas, villages unconnected to the outside world by asphalt roads, bear and wolf prints, and warm welcomes from lonely shepherds tending their flocks miles from civilisation. Read Jamie’s comments here.
“We had a great trip in Albania with Ed Reeves and Dori, retracing the footsteps of our grandfather, Lt Col Arthur Nicholls of the Special Operations Executive. As well as providing general insight on our grandfather’s mission, at times, we were able to imagine specific episodes in different settings, as relevant passages were read to us from diaries and historical books. This atmosphere also benefitted from spectacular storm watching, bear prints and the absence of a single mountain tourist sighting.
“We met several local families who were warm, welcoming and generous. This gifted us with opportunities to try a wide range of mountain cuisine and also learn and converse with locals via our sociable translator and guide, Dori. We consider ourselves most privileged to be among the only tourists to meet these people and experience this region of Albania’s diverse and raw beauty.”
Jamie Anderson, October 2014.