As summer approaches and the snow melts in the mountains, it's time to think about dusting off your hiking boots and stepping outdoors. If you're stuck for ideas, take a look through our selection of 10 of the world's classic routes.

Tour du Mont Blanc, France/Italy/Switzerland

Length of walk: 170km (106 miles).
Time: 10 to 12 days.

This classic Alpine route does exactly what it says on the tin, taking you round Europe's mightiest mountain. The trail encircles the Mont Blanc massif via France, Italy and Switzerland. Most hikers set off from Les Houches, in the Chamonix Valley in France, continuing in an anticlockwise direction. The super-fit can take part in the annual Ultra-Trail, a non-stop race along the route. Held from 24-26 August 2007 - only the insane need apply.

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GR10, France

Length of walk: 866km (538 miles).
Time: 47-50 days (allow about 2 months with rest days).

If you've got more time on your hands, the GR10 (Grande Randonnée 10) traverses the French Pyrenees, connecting Hendaye on the Atlantic coast with Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean. The path crosses five French departments, passing through traditional Basque villages, vertiginous mountain passes, areas of relative wilderness and parched Mediterranean scrub. A series of gîtes d'étapes, mountain refuges and former shepherd's cabins provide accommodation.

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Via Alpina, Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Monaco

Length of walk: 5,000km (3,100 miles) across five trails.
Time: 341 days.

And if you've got more time than you know what to do with, try the new Via Alpina. Created only in the past few years by linking a series of existing trails, the route connects Trieste on the Adriatic coast with Monaco on the Mediterranean. There are five different trails, the longest being the Red Trail, which weaves through eight countries, crossing national borders 44 times. From sea level to the highest point (the Niederjoch Pass on the Austrian-Italian border at 3,017m/9,898ft), the route takes in an enormous variety of cultures, dialects and landscapes.

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West Highland Way, Scotland

Length of walk: 152km (95 miles).
Time: 6 to 7 days.

For cooler climes, head from the suburbs of Glasgow along the dreamy shores of Loch Lomond and into the magnificent landscape of the Highlands, across the wilds of Rannoch Moor, finishing in Fort William. (If you're still full of energy, you can also bag the UK's highest peak, Ben Nevis.) Some walkers choose to camp, but if you prefer a lighter load (and creature comforts), there are B&Bs dotted along the route. May is probably the best month to walk the Way, but also the most popular, so book accommodation in advance.

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West Coast Trail, Canada

Length of walk: 75km (47 miles).
Time: 5 to 7 days.

Canada's classic coastal walk hugs the Pacific shore of Vancouver Island, alternating between a cliff-top trail in towering temperate rainforest and stretches of wild, open beach. It's no walk in the park however, as you need to tackle ladders, cable cars, slippy boardwalks, single-plank bridges, and a lot of mud. But your efforts are rewarded by a wilderness of pristine trees, glorious waterfalls and beachside camping. Then there's the chance to spot eagles, seals and sea lions, migrating whales and even black bears or cougars. A quota system limits the number of walkers on the trail, which is open from May to September.

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John Muir Trail, USA

Length of walk: 340km (211 miles).
Time: 21 days.

The John Muir Trail, named after the Scottish-born conservationist, runs from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney, the USA's tallest mountain outside Alaska at 4,417m (14,491ft). The route passes some of the most spectacular mountain peaks of California's Sierra Nevada range, taking in three national parks - Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia. Don't expect any luxuries - this is very much a camping route, with few stops to pick up provisions. Be prepared for an extra 18km (11 miles), as the trail officially finishes at the top of Mt Whitney, and unless you're planning a helicopter pick-up, you're going to have to hike out.

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Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Length of walk: 60km (37 miles).
Time: 6 days (including acclimatisation day).

To gaze down from the roof of Africa, you have a choice of six routes. The most popular (and easiest) is the Marangu route, also known as the ‘Coca-Cola' route, being the only path with sleeping huts and drinks for sale. You hike through lush rainforest (watch out for monkeys), passing through scrub up to a lunar-like landscape, before skirting the volcanic crater to Uhuru Peak. Although no technical climbing ability is required, the permanently snow-covered summit hits 5,895m (19,341ft), so an acclimatisation day is strongly advised. The Machame route is a scenic alternative if you're happy to camp.

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Road to Choquequirao, Peru

Length of walk: 60km (37 miles).
Time: 4 days.

With the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu now limited to 500 hikers per day, take the route less travelled along the Apurimac river to its sister settlement, the ‘lost' (and less crowded) city of Choquequirao (‘Cradle of Gold'). A tough two-day hike takes you to the hilltop terraces, palaces and temples of this former Inca metropolis. Only about a third of the remains have been uncovered so far, meaning many of the city's secrets are yet to be revealed.

Abel Tasman Coast Track, New Zealand

Length of walk: 51km (32 miles).
Time: 3 to 5 days.

This is an easy and well-maintained path through Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand's South Island, taking you past secluded bays of golden sands and turquoise water. The walk can become extremely busy in summer, so try it in early winter for quiet days on the track and cosy nights in the huts with a handful of fellow hikers. Stop off for mugs of hot chocolate and games of Connect 4 at the luxury Awaroa Lodge. A word of winter warning - you might need to wade through the tidal inlets, so brace yourself for a chill.

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Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia

Length of walk: 17km (10.5 miles).
Time: 2 days.

At 4,095m (13,435ft), Mt Kinabalu dominates Kinabalu National Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site owing to its immense biodiversity. The mountain stands in the Malaysian state of Sabah, in northeast Borneo. Hiking to the summit takes a little courage, with fixed ropes aiding you on the final section. Afterwards, treat yourself to a well-deserved soak in the nearby Poring Hot Springs, built by the occupying Japanese during WWII. Or head to Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, where orphaned orang-utans are cared for and eventually returned to the wild.

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