Discover challenging and dramatic walking trails shaped by the footsteps of traders, smugglers, saints and pirates. Cornish walking trails will reveal ancient tin mines, clifftop castles, timeless fishing villages and wild moors as you travel through a landscape of huge cliffs and hidden coves that goes back to the depths of time itself. In between the coastal drama, iconic harbours such as St Ives and Padstow give walkers access to some of the UK‘s best restaurants and coastal hotels. A county encircled by the wild Atlantic ocean, there is over 330 miles of spectacular world class coast path here taking you around the farthest corners of England - put simply it feels like walking on the edge of the world.
Stretching from coast to coast across the southwest of England, Devon is a richly diverse county with rugged shores and cliffs in the north, and classic Victorian seaside resorts in the south. In between you'll find tranquil green pastures, wooded gorges and the two dramatic wild moors in the National Parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Choose Devon for its walking variety, and you'll find that the popular image of cream teas and thatched cottages is true - but that Devon is so much more once you explore it on two feet. Coast to coast routes like the Two Moors Way will offer a journey through it all from the wild northern shores that inspired the Romantic poets to the maritime ports of the south coast.
Free your soul and clear your mind! Walking on the wild moors of these National Parks is a wonderful antidote to modern living. England's last true wilderness, Dartmoor offers 365 square miles of virtually uninhabited freedom with high moors and twisted dramatic granite tors a land of myths, ghosts and legends. Exmoor, its smaller and more gentle neighour, is 250 Square miles of near perfect and unique beauty, with high uplands swathed in heather and steep, wooded gorges and rushing streams. See Dartmoor ponies and Exmoor stags in these wildlife rich areas, home to 30 species of mammals and over 240 types of bird. The moors offer a unique opportunity for more challenging walking where the only human sound you will hear is the rhythm of your own breath.
Avoid the crowds and discover “Secret Somerset” missed by so many rushing headlong for the far South West. The 'land of the summer people' was named in a time when this area could only be visited in the summer months as the sea receded. Today its a rich, fertile and 'for real' landscape crowned by the fine walking ridges of the Mendip and Quantock Hills both protected areas of outstanding natural beauty. Rising up over King Arthur‘s Vale of Avalon along with the magical Tor at Glastonbury, walkers will find hidden gorges, wooded combes and the best inland panoramas of the South West. Also boasting its own Jurassic Coast Path, providing a gateway into the wilds of Exmoor National Park, Somerset offers walking routes without the crowds for those who want to find..... what the rest miss.
Dorset has a comfortable old world “English” feel to it and its walking routes traverse a rather more green and agricultural land of thatched cottages, cream teas.... and fossils ! Walkers here will find the more gentle rolling farmland, pretty villages and chalk ridges beloved by Thomas Hardy that sweep down to end abruptly at the World Heritage Jurassic Coast. Here, alongside the sea, those after more challenging routes can take a walking holiday through time itself amongst the dramatic chalk stacks, cliffs and arches of the Dorsetshire fossil coast. An area that can be very busy in high season but often suits walkers looking for more gentle and less exposed walking than the far west of the region.
Wales offers some of the best walking and outdoor activities to be had anywhere in the world. The 870-mile Welsh Coast Path was only fully opened in 2012 and is the world's first walk along the entire coast of a nation. The terrain is on an equally grand scale with towering cliffs, vast stretches of unspoilt golden sands, imposing castles, offshore islands and to the north there is the backdrop of Snowdonia National Park with its stunning mountains. Wales in general offers walkers great value for money compared to more popular areas like Cornwall with walking options to suit everyone, from those who want the cosmopolitan restaurants and facilities of towns like Tenby and St Davids, through to isolated and remote forests and coastal hills that sit on the very cusp of the Snowdonian Peaks. Bursting with confidence and pride in its “Welshness”, its Celtic history, language and culture there has never been a better time for walkers to enter Wales.
The South West Coast Path is the UK's longest National Trail and one of the top ten walking routes in the world. It snakes, dips and rises continuously on its way through a staggering 1014km (630 miles) of pristine coastline, 450 miles of which is through nationally protected areas. It's a challenge too; walking the entire South West Coast Path is the equivalent to scaling Mount Everest four times! From towering cliffs to hidden coves, ghostly tin mines to lush subtropical wooded creeks. One minute a dramatic rock theatre hewn out of the cliffs, the next a prehistoric fossilized forest or a 20thC Art Deco Island Hotel. What sets The South West Coast Path apart from other trails is that around almost every corner is yet another surprise as you retrace the footsteps and histories of the tin miners, fisherman, smugglers, wreckers and the customs men who chased them.
Our walking holiday was indeed a success! Everything went well, the accomodation you booked were very good, the luggage was transferred on time and very reliable.
We especially liked the stay at the Riverside Cottage in Lynmouth at the end of our walk: We had a cosy room on the 2nd floor with a balkony directly looking over the river Lyn and the harbour - a wonderful place to relax. And our host Debbie was very friendly and helpful in every way.
The weather was not perfectly kind. The first day out of Ivybridge we had strong wind (luckyly from behind!) and later on mist, rain and partly sleet until Scorrington - kind of an initiation. The second day was better, on the third day we started in mist and slight drizzle, but after we had reached Grimspound it turned better. The next days it was mixed, and we only had rain on the final day around Hoar Oak valley, but finally we arrived in Lynmouth in sunshine.
Now for the itinary:
On the first day we lost the way after the end of the trackway. It is vital to pass the hill on the left side (we followed a good visible track to the right and uphill, which was wrong!). Please make a remark for other walkers.
On our 4th stage from Drewsteignton to Morchard Road there is heavy road walking (>50 percent), and we were not aware of that before. Please mention it so other walkers will be prepared.
On the last stage you warn people with vertigo or scared of heights walking along the cleaves - but the way is very safe indeed, there is no exposure like for instance on the actual Coast Path. Anybody should be able to walk it and experience the looks of Lynmouth and the Sea - so some encouragement would help.
Walking the moor in any weather condition - a wonderful experience. Grimspound is very impressive. The Hoar Oak valley. The walks along the many rivers. The final stage looking down on Lynmouth.
So thank you once again for preparing an excellent walking holiday for us.
11 days walking from Wembury to Lynmouth. Great walk, we all enjoyed it very much. The route marked by Ordnance Survey across the moors is not exact so one should just use it as a guide not as the exact line to follow. In a couple of places we had to cut across the moors as we couldn't see a path where shown on the map. Even with this, route finding was straightforward with the OS 25k maps (using the AZ Adventure series books for Dartmoor and Exmoor) and two good hiking GPS. On the final day we had to backtrack at an impassable ford about 500 metres south of the suggested high water route. We returned to Exe Head then east to the road which we followed all the way to the A39. Looking at maps and Google Earth at home in the dry, it looks as though it would have been possible to go over Exe Plain to the east of Hoaroak Water and join the suggested high water route thus avoiding both crossings of the swollen stream. It would be useful if this could be added to the detailed itinerary.
An excellent and memorable holiday. Accommodation bookings and luggage transfers no problems and the dog friendly rooms where absolutely fine (but then our collie was very well behaved and usually ready for a rest at the end of the day). Weather was pretty good for the week not too hot or cold although one pretty damp day and ground was muddy under foot but never impassable. We had two long walking days of 22 miles each and with hindsight the second of them was 'tough'. Muddy ground slowed our progress, it was not easy to get an early start from the accommodation and that meant we finished in the dark crossing muddy fields (thankfully with a torch I had packed) arriving in Witheridge at 9.30pm. But the next day was only 7.5miles, so we had a lie in! Summer months and lighter evenings would make that easier.
Never lost our way but you could not do this walk and rely on the footpath signs all the time. We had to follow compass bearings on some stretches. (But I would say 80% of it is well marked overall) I would certainly recommend Ordnance survey maps for the whole route. The Harvey map supplied was okay but I would have preferred the bigger scale of OS for some of the Exmoor sections. I bought the Cicerone guide for the walk but have to say the local Devon Two Moors guide was much better and I referred to that every day for their route guidance. The cicerone was not that user friendly for the walk. Excellent time overall, and well organised by Encounter.
The holiday was wonderfull. We met very friendly people, were allways being offered help or a pleasant talk.
The B&Bs and the hotels were very comftable and we liked nearly everywhere the food.
Luggage transfer was perfect. And of course, the landscape was splendit, we saw a lot of animals, romantic rivers and wild open fields.
At first it was difficult for us to find the way over the open moorland, we got lost, especially since there are no signs and the description is some years old, some places have changed (grown trees, no bird nursery any more, ...). As we do not know how the naturally landmarks look like, the names in the description sometimes were not helpful for us. But that is probably because we do not understand enough English. And we did a little bit too much, we thought we could manage more miles than we did. But we took taxis or public transport or skipped one walk.
Alltogher we had a very nice stay, which we will like to remember!
Thanks for organising everything for us. Yes, great weather! It all worked brilliantly. All places very welcoming to the dog, which we appreciated of course. Withypool was lovely, as was the Bath Hotel. Eating at The Rising Sun in Lynmouth was great. We thought that if people didn’t have compass skills they might have had a lot of directional problems on Exmoor between Simonsbath and Lynmouth. I think that might be worth emphasising. We didn’t see a single soul, vehicle or anything…..and of course there is no signal there. We enjoyed it all hugely and appreciated all the luggage transfers by Michelle and all general friendliness and welcome.Thank you very much for all your help and for taking such trouble with all the arrangements.
Three of us walked this during the first week of September over 7 days. The weather was perfect and the holiday couldn't have gone any better. The luggage transfers worked faultlessly. We had an absolute blast and the walking was straightforward. I've put accommodation reviews on Trip Advisor. The Sportsman in Ivybridge was a little tired and in need of refurbishment but the food was fine. Other places were great. Tip for day 2. Eat at the Rugglestone Inn! It's only a 5 minute walk from Manor Cottage. The landlord at the Tradesman Arms in Scorriton phoned ahead and booked us a table. The steak and stilton pie is highly recommended. The burgers at Sandy Park on day 3 also come highly recommended. The Devonshire Dumpling was fine, but sufferred with a lot of road traffic from the adjacent A road. The hosts were great though.
Lunches:- we bought food at Ivybridge for day 1. Day 2 was short so wasn't required. Packed lunches were ordered for days 3, 6 and 7. We bought hot pasties from the village shop at Drewsteignton on day 4 and Morchard Bishop on day 5. The path was well way-marked in the central sections but not so in the National Parks, which we were expecting. Use of a compass and GPS helps the stretch from Crossways to Chalk Ford on day 1 and over Exe Head on day 7. We heard tales of two Australian ladies having to be airlifted off the moor the week before due to getting lost on this stretch in bad weather. All in all, a fantastic week. Thank you. We all wanted to just turn around and do it again!
This was a rewarding walk with a large variety of differing scenery and history. The services of Encounter Walking Holiday and their nominated luggage carrier were first class and everything worked like clockwork. Navigation is relatively straight forward, although close attention to the guide book is required at times, as the quality of signage varies considerably. Special attention is needed in two sections on Dartmoor where it is easy to go off course. The first of these is north of Ivybridge when leaving the old tramway just below Red Lake Mire going towards Petre's Cross, as the correct path is easy to miss and the second is after Ponsworthy when you need to make sure that you turn left at the road junction in Jordan, as the guide book is a little unclear here. As mentioned on Encounter's web site, the final day across Exmoor and down into Lynmouth is just a stunning finish to a great walk.
This is a very fine walk with a great range of scenery and terrain. Fine long views from the Moors, beautiful coast at each end and a lovely mix of picturesque river walks and country villages in between. Good weather too - just one damp morning. And only 106 miles! Navigation was mostly straightforward, though we did have the compass out on a few occasions and found ourselves going completely the wrong way on Hamel Down - quickly sorted! There are plenty of places on the moors where the waymarking is poor and you do need to be able to navigate with map and compass - or maybe GPS these days. The information and organisation from Encounter was spot on and all the accommodation was exactly as described/expected. All the transfers worked very well. Thanks to Damon and all for a great success.
We were blessed with many days of glorious weather. This walk was a great combination of wide open moor walking with river and field walks through beautiful little villages. We were a party of 6 and all of us used the taxi option to cut down the daily mileage at least one day (14 miles to 9 for example). Between the maps, directions and an iPhone GPS app (View Ranger with downloaded maps) we found our way without significant difficulty and just a little bickering. One day we had thunder and lightning and a high walk over Exehead which was a little scary. We didn't need any extra support from Damon during our walk, but we were very pleased with the thoroughness and seamlessness of his advance planning. The lodging was comfortable and food options were great!.
We had a marvellous time. It was very timely for us, and it went very well--thanks in no small part to your excellent work. The weather undoubtedly helped.
Our assessment of the overall difficulty of the hike would place it as rather less demanding than the two week Welsh coastal walk and the two week north of England coast to coast walk we did three years ago (each of them longer). And we had then had time to train beforehand (and were of course three years younger...--a factor in our seventies). I quickly acknowledge that the weather was a positive element in regard to this year; it was not an issue in Wales but was to some extent (in the other direction) in the north England hike, especially in Yorkshire.
A truism, but it must be said: the scenery is always beautiful, and very varied within several broad patterns--such as the austere and evocative moors and the verdant, tidy, hilly farmlands between--not to speak of the small, cheerful woodlands and tall, evocative forests. So many reminders of humanity's long interactions within, and with, their natural environment.
Re arrangements, i.e. your work: everything went very smoothly. Hosts were always ready. Our baggage moved smoothly and arrived safely. You provided full service and responded nobly to our additional requests.
The accommodations were varied and interesting--quite a feat given the relatively few such resources you had to work with and our late approach to you. They were welcoming and helpful. Food was good--though menus acquired a certain sameness fairly soon. We were glad to explore the varied fish dishes included among the traditional meats. And interested to note the growing extent of broader world currents, including curries etc.
The one slightly minor chord on accommodation would relate to the final night. It is a great location and building, and we make no complaints about the building, surface cleanliness etc etc. The manager seems to have had some health problems and we were not sure about the energy being put into the direction. We were the only ones there whereas some other places in town were full. Nothing very specific, a bit of a sense of coasting.
With regard to the trail: It is a pity that some way cannot be found to place a few more--discreet--markers in spots on both moors. We in fact had few problems: but I had my compass out frequently and made use of visual terrain markers etc; clearly, in fog and heavy cloud it could have been an issue.
In the portion between the two moors, there are several places where the markers suddenly stop--or perhaps were just hidden to us (we cleaned off quite a few). One gets used to their being there, then finds that they are not and--whoops, where are we? I had the impression that some farmers and other owners may be less than enthusiastic about the trail. On the other hand, some were exceedingly helpful--one even coming after us some distance to redirect our steps onto the right trail. With the fences and hedges, it is in some ways more difficult (than on the high moors) to follow the way without markers--and once off the track, much harder to find it again, or get back onto it if located on the other side of a bristling hedge (without of course fully retracing steps).
Thank you, once again, for all your help!
We enjoyed the music in the London Inn in Padstow very much and all the other accommodations too. Every accommodation was special and different. We liked them all without exceptions. Great work of your side!
One note: The second day the walk from Holne to Chagfort was described with 16.5 miles and 6 – 7 hours. From our experience the walk is at least 19 to 20 miles with a lot of ups and downs, at least 800 meters totally (means additionally 2 hours). So we walked about 9 hours on this day. Maybe you could check it.
We will recommend your company to our walking friends in Switzerland. There is a great interest for such a good service. Thank you very much this great holiday experience. I am sure we will come back again
Fantastic - we loved every minute of it (even the rainy muddy bits). All our accommodation was clean and comfortable and we were made very welcome everywhere, special comment has to be made for Lynn at Farleigh Cottage who was truely delightful (and Kellen awarded her 10/10 for her full english). Its hard to pick a favourite day or route, but I've always loved the area around the Tarr Steps and the walk alongside the Barle was breath taking. The final days climb along the Cheriton Ridge would have to be high up there too.
Navigation was straight forward and the route well marked. The day from Withypool to Simonsbath was misty and visibility poor this made the trail difficult to distinguish. We had way marked some points and with the GPS were quickly able to find the route. But a little latter we came across a faster group of walkers who had left well before us but had got a bit disorientated. The guide book (which is generally excellent and well worth its cover price) was a bit confusing here as it has a split page (with the earlier part of the route appearing below the latter part (obvious when you look at the numbering but against convention) I think this may suggest following the river too soon?
The only other part of the trail we needed the GPS was approaching Exe Head, where boundaries have moved from those indicated in the guide book, and therefore can't be used as a reference point. Best to use the compass here if no GPS and make for higher ground until the NE boundary appears and follow this to reach the boggy ground around the ford. Best views would have to be the medieval field system at Headland Warren (near Grimspound) completely awash with blue bells. The deer and ponies on both moors were a treat but the very close sighting of a hare on route to Knowstone was wild life highlight. Luggage transfers worked perfectly, a very slick operation. Thank you for a great adventure that we will remember for many years to come.
Had a great walk. But I have to admit, the weather helped a lot! Everywhere our dog was more than welcome. Good beds and good food. And Cadleigh Manor in Ivybridge is our absolute winner.
The trip was fantastic. All of the planning and itinerary were excellent. The hotels and B and B's were all quite nice. Special kudos go to Lyn at Farleigh Cottage in Chagford, Steve and Sharon at Cadleigh Manor in Ivybridge, and Mike and the whole crew at the Tradesman Arms in Scorritan. We never met the luggage transfer people, but they performed they task on time and in the proper location. The weather was great throughout the whole two weeks. The only negative was the long 16.5 mile (plus add-on mileage due to a missing trail marker near Morchard Road) trip from Chagford to Morchard Road.
After the coast path we walked the Moor for two days and then through the Teign Gorge to Dunsford. Everything was great again - Accommodations, walking instructions, luggage transfer, weather. Encounter even checked the last part of our tour as they don't have the gorge in their program. Our way through the gorge was accompanied by a steady drizzle so we didn't make Castle Drogo but went directly to Dunsford. The gorge is really beautiful, especially the first part of it. After the two days on the moor its vegetation seemed almost unreal.
Another successful week (plus) of walking thanks to Encounter! These are becoming our most favorite trips because they make it absolutely effortless from start to finish - all we have to do is enjoy. The accomodations on this trip were ALL spot on. The suggested diversions en route for lunches at pubs were all worth it - Warren House Inn however is REALLY busy with multiple coaches stopping while we were there so the recommendation to book a table is a wise one (that we didn't follow of course but it worked out).
The weather they arranged for us was slightly hot the first few days but wonderfully full of sunshine and breezes just at the right times. The walking notes were extremely helpful and luggage transfers of course priceless. The Way is well marked in both Dartmoor and Exmoor so it is extremely difficult to get yourself 'lost' unless you just are not paying attention. We did the REALLY slow walker itinerary due to our daughter being with us so no days were overwhelming and allowed us relaxed morning starts and the two really short days were welcome breaks.
The very last day we did for reasons we still can't figure out get befuddled going over Exe Head but with the help of passing walkers to locate ourselves on the OS map we got back on track with only a small diversion down and up that probably was not necessary. We had simply forgotten the golden rule of looking for the waymarkers is all. Subsequently because of the time we lost (and potential mutiny by said daughter if we had done differently) we did choose the 'easy' route into Lynmouth despite my secret desire for the steep ascent/decent to complete the official way. The viewpoint however of coming into town from the bottom of the river gorge was spectacular in its own right to see the town open up in front of you as you round the last river bend.
Our favorite parts were being on top of the moors with the wonderful vistas; and seeing all the ponies with their foals in tow. Along with that were the warm welcomes each afternoon as we arrived at our destination and the truely outstanding food we enjoyed each evening. As we journeyed home we were already on the website deciding which walk would be next! Pretty sure it will be Jurassic Coast Path in Dorset. Three cheers to Damon and colleagues for a job more than well done.
Overall an excellent and challenging walk which we are happy to recommend to fit walkers. We thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely do more walking in the area in future. Perhaps the only down side of the walking is the middle section across Devon farmland where often permissive paths are routed around the edge of fields - the overgrown paths and the use of electric fences gave us the impression that quite a few farmers were not that keen on walkers on their land. Nevertheless this is beautiful countryside and a delight to walk in. The days walking across Dartmoor and Exmoor were excellent but we had quite a lot of low cloud and rain to contend with. The reduced visibility together with the indistinct and unsigned route meant we had to rely heavily on our map and compass skills at times. Having said that we never went wrong and overall route finding was pretty straight forward.
We stayed mainly in pubs and one farmhouse. Overall these were very good and surpassed our expectations. In particular we liked the Church House Inn at Holne, The Globe in Chagford, The Devonshire Dumpling at Morchard Road and the Royal Oak in Withypool. A nights stay on a farm near Knowstone made for an interesting and enjoyable change. All the arrangements made by Encounter Holidays, including bag transfers went without a hitch, and we would certainly use them again. It is difficult to pick out a single highlight. Each day's walking brought its own highlights and every night's stop was memorable for all sorts of reasons! Walking the moors sections was fantastic and would certainly have provided some 'favourite moments' had we had some better weather. We will just have to go back again!
Fantastic nine days of walking through beautiful countryside. We found the maps and book very easy to follow and in most places there were markers but we did find in Somerset they were less frequent and rather old looking. The places we stayed were all varied but great especially as we had a dog with us. Our favourite was Cadleigh Manor in Ivybridge. Steve and Sharon were very helpful and nothing was too much trouble. Our favourite place for eating was the Rugglestone Inn at Widecombe and the Royal Oak at Withypool. Our favourite day was walking from Knowstone to Withypool apart from fantastic weather the scenery was so varied and then cream tea at the Tarr Steps in the sunshine, heaven. We would totally recommend our friends and family to Encounter walking.All the information we were given was very useful and the telephone contact before going sorted out our problems quickly.
I can honestly say we all thoroughly enjoyed the week and could not fault the organisation of the walk and the entire group would like to thank all at encounter for organising.
The Royal Oak was probably our favourite overnight stop with the excellent quality of food/beer and nice room’s breakfast was excellent with very friendly staff
But all the accommodation was of good standard but if we had to pick a winner then it was the Royal Oak.
The Mason Arms was it usual excellent standard
FYI then post office/shop in Drewsteignton now offers coffess/tees and a very good selection of cakes as take away or sit outside
Once again thanks for organising
I am now looking forward to mine & Susie’s walk of the Saints way
Thanks Damon, we will certainly recommend Encounter to others, and plan to use you again next time we are in the South West. The walk was magnificent but the pre-walk contact and great response to our feedback was also superb. We certainly preferred to have slightly shorter walk at the end from Simonsbath and thought Exmoor Forest Inn was an accommodation highlight!...... Best days walk was Knowstone to Siminsbath, quite long but brilliant varied scenery Tarr steps (with refreshments) and the fantastic stretch by Barle River. We enjoyed the road walking too, contrary to people’s predictions, quiet and odd scenery....... Generally walked slower, lots of speculation with other walkers on route about the different mileages we all had, and although we think we walk fairly fast, your 7 hour estimates were usually 8 hours not including stops. However this was not a problem. Great tea room in Withypool, worth the walk out to ‘Pack of Cards’ to see the building as well as eating in Coombe Martin...... All accommodation was very good including food on site where taken. Very welcoming B and B in Chagford, lovely old tea room in West Bowden Farmhouse, superb room/comfort and food at Exmoor Inn, welcome and food very good at Harbour Lights, with magnificent room on top floor with superb views (not all rooms have this) and very close to bus stop for Barnstaple if moving on..... All information good- not 100% sure about mileage! Could be worth mentioning that there is no bank or ATM on any part of the route so you need cash to support your cards....... Your website is so thorough that people are it to supplement that given by other companies! Seems a shame that you do not always get the direct benefit...... We were invited in to the main farm in Ceriton to eat our packed lunch in comfort, and we were made tea. Many thanks- a great trip, and I did manage the potentially ‘vertiginous’ bits!
In general no problems, but the weather was perfect for walking with good visibility on the moors. The Devon County Council guidebook was excellent and the notes from Encounter complemented it perfectly. Last day across Exmoor to Lynmouth was undoubtedly the best, with open moorland, wonderful views, river valleys and the descent into Lynmouth across the Cleaves. We hardly saw another walker and it felt like we were alone on the moors...... Good restaurants were the obvious one you already know about- the Mason’s Arms, the Old Inn (probably the best meal we had) and the Church House pub in Holne. The evening meal in the Bonnicott Hotel in Lynmouth was excellent...... Generally very good and everyone made us feel welcome and provided great breakfasts, comfortable accommodation, and plenty of advice. Some places didn’t start breakfast until 8.30 which then made quite a late start on the longer days....... All the information seemed correct. My measurement of some of the mileages was a little higher than supplied but that could have been down to specific accommodation being a little more off route than I thought, you seemed to have provided everything...... Encounter’s organization was excellent. Right from the start you provided us with all the information we needed and answered all my queries promptly and efficiently. The holiday itself ran smoothly, with our luggage moved on without a hitch, and all the accommodation being of excellent standard. We are particularty when having left our guidebook at a rest stop halfway through our walk, Damon managed to bring a replacement to us the very next morning. Thank you all very much.
The route was well described in the booklet and together with a map and the occasional compass bearing there were few problems....... The first day which was fine weather was the best day and we walked slightly faster than the estimated times but times were very weather dependent.....
From another member of the party : I thought that the Friday walk from Witheridge to Withypool was probably the best because it was fine, the distance was challenging and it was a mixture of road, moor and grassland (plus the pub at the end was great!!)
Accommodation : Holne: Comfortable, friendly, food and rooms very good. -Chagford: Comfortable, friendly food and rooms very good. -Coleford: Friendly, very comfortable, large well appointed rooms, food excellent. The royal Oak-Withypool: Without doubt the best of stops, they could not have been more helpful or friendly and the food and rooms were excellent.
Everything worked as described. The luggage transfers worked like clockwork, again thank you.
Generally route finding was not a problem. When we went astray it was usually due to incompetence on our part- usually talking too much rather than paying attention to the route!!!.... Difficult to say which was the best day we had different options. For me Ivybridge over to Holne. The open Moorland was fantastic...... There was no worst particular day, rather, the section between Drewsteignton and Hawkridge had sections of road and lane walking with very restricted views to to high hedges, also many fields to cross where fottpaths were rather overgrown and the weather was at its worst here making paths muddy and hard work. No-one's fault but it did make progress slow at times.Generally the accommodation was very good...... The providers themselves were very good, especially helpful at the Inn at Witheridge, where we arrived absolutely dripping wet, literally leaving pool of water on the floor where ever we stood!..... No problems at all. Everything went according to plan apart from the weather! Can you provide us with some sunshine and dry paths next time please!! Carol’s cars also arrived on time and transferred us to Barnstable station with no problems..... We had a great week and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Thank you for all your help and organisation which was spot on throughout- I don’t really hold you responsible for the weather you know! I will certainly recommend your services to anyone else thinking of a walking holiday in the South West.
As we approach the season of our trip to England one year ago, I feel like I am back in Devon and Somerset, walking through that beautiful landscape, enjoying kind hospitality and delightuful, genuine accomodations. Memory is a wonderful thing. I only wish I were coming back for more this June!
Let me say this was the best trip I've taken as an adult, in part because of the unspoiled beauty of this part of England but even more because of the careful and conscientious preparation that Encounter Walking Holidays provided. I cannot say enough for the quality of planning that this tour orgnaization offers. Damian, your gentle guidance through pre-trip jitters, your careful listening to what we were looking for in a walking trip and then your willingness to tailor our itinerary to meet those expectations, really created the structure for success. I am so sorry you haven't heard from me before this. I offered up a "thankyou, Damian!" so many times during and after the trip, but only now have you heard that "thanks"! I have been so grateful for what you did for us and I realize the success of the trip was largely due to your efforts and skill.
We found the combination of the Two Moors Way booklet and your excellent daily summaries to be invaluable. The accommodations were carefully chosen and gave us a range of experience from cozy rooms above pub/restaurant to farmhouse to local country inn and gracious priory. At each one we found warmth, cozy shelter, good cheer and good food.
Maria and I are glad to give you the feedback you requested so long ago.
The Walking: Problems Finding the Route: Problem crossing the Cheriton Ridge, a wide open windswept grassland. We completely lost the path, finally followed a fence to a town that was in your day's description. Also, the Two Moors Way is not marked as clearly in Somerset. We no longer saw the "M W' signs.
Best Days Walk: So many highlights! A few here: the walk from Tar Steps to Simonsbath, starting with that gorgeous trail following the river and then out into some really wild country. For a long stretch, we were way up high and looked below into thie gorgeious broad valley with the river winding through. We saw a remarkable chase between a couple border collie dogs and one pesky sheep. At another point, we were walking behind huge rocks in high, lumpy moorland. We came upon more sheep happily grazing in the rain. I understood! (The Tar Steps clapper bridge was incredible, too, the river sliding through fast and clear. ) The high land on the way to Lynmouth felt like we were held up to the sky, on the curve of the world. I also loved the green countryside, with the open rolling vistas of mixed woods and fields.
Were you walking faster or slower than the estimated times? Slower by probably a couple hours, but we still had time to complete the day's walk.
Any useful information for future walkers? The bartender/ manager at the Royal Oak Inn in Witheypool was a bit put out with our muddy shoes. I wondered if he had had any walkers before us!! On the other hand, the people at the Inn in Simonsbath offered to dry our rain clothes in their laundry room, gave us plastic bags to put our wet, muddy shoes on, and sat us down for a cup of tea. Also, the husband and wife at the Black Dog pub and restaurant actually opened for us during their afternoon break when they saw us looking in the window! They prepared a lovely lunch, sat and chatted while they ironed their cloth napkins and then even gave Maria who was quite tired a ride to our destination in Withypool!
Probably our biggest highlight was the priory in Lynmouth, the Bonnicott House. Thankyou so much for getting us in there! The husband and wife are extraordinarily kind. They love what they do, and every evening we felt a festive atmosphere. The interior is gracious, elegant and wonderfully appointed with antiques and curiosities from all over the world. The view through the three-sided glass paned windows was unfortgettable. We felt so welcome and genuinely "cared for". We just wanted to sit in their wonderful home and soak it all in.
Again, one of the truly wonderful hallmarks of Encounter Walking Holidays is the careful selection of accommodations and the chance to experience a wide range of situations.
The Bottom Ship in Porlock Weir was a wonderful building, however, it doesn't seem to have anyone at the helm, so to speak. Nonetheless, the absentee owner/manager had hired some helpful, nice people to run the pub and point the way to the rooms and I wouldn't have missed that town or the building for anything a bit spiffier.
Also, the accommodation in Minehead was spectacularly clean and well-run. The couple who runs it -- can't recall their names -- were definitely in charge, and very committed to their business and to providing an exceptional experience from the sparkling interior, the high quality mattress and pillows, to the respelendant breakfast that they both cooked on the spot. W
One of the best parts of staying in the accommodations you chose was meeting really nice people! We came away with quite a glowing impression of the English!
Thank you, Damian, for all your preparation and careful choices. I certainly hope I can work with you to plan another trip in the next few years!! If you need any other "feedback" or questions answered, don't hesitate to e-mail me. I will get right to it this time.
All the best to you and your company,
We very much enjoyed our walk, truncated through it was. The last day from Lynmouth to Combe Martin was stunning and we all enjoyed it hugely. The best days were walking Simonsbath to Lynmouth and Lynmouth to Combe Martin - stunning scenery even in less than perfect weather.
The diversion to the Warren House Inn on Dartmoor was worth it for the food but the trail linking back to the 2MW is quite challenging in a hard to find/lots of animal tracks way - hard to actually get lost but rough cross country walking! Rugglestone Inn in Widecombe had excellent food and drink as did the Tarr Steps Inn which is open every day and in a superb position. The accommodations were varied and good quality. Everywhere was welcoming to us and the dog. Generally excellent food. Lots of baths were much appreciated! The Royal Oak Inn at Withypool was especially dog-friendly and we had the most comfortable bed in the world in our room. Channel Vista was a good stop and the owners enormously hepful when we had to drop out - they have also very kindly sent back some stuff we left. Sheena Tower very kindly drove us down to the pub (The Rugglestone Inn, recommended by other walkers) where they had booked us a table and showed us the FP short-cut.
The information was all pretty comprehensive and useful, the luggage transfer worked well - Good job well done.
Waymarking on the Erme trail is not good and we made several mistakes. Probably the best day was from Port Gaverne to Padstow- nice weather, beautiful scenery and the surprise of getting a place at the bar in Rick Stein’s Seafood restaurant........ Generally we were much slower- partly our age, partly the mud, rain and long grass. I think for older walkers stages of much more than 12/13 miles on the steeper cliffs of North Devon are problematic...... In general the standard of the accommodation was high. On the whole pubs are preferablle to B and B’s and other establishments. The King of Prussia in Fowey is quite outstanding...... Luggage transport was faultless. Your notes were generally accurate and helpful.
Would just like to say thankyou for your help on organising the trip. We struck ‘gold’ with the weather and we all had a great trip and would thoroughly recommend this route for a 3 day trip- particularly for those with only limited experience- though care would need to be taken on Day 3 in bad weather. I have been very impressed with the service and advice offered by Encounter Walking Holidays, which has contributed significantly to making this a memorable trip for all of us......We had good visibility over Exe Head so no problems there...... Day 2 walking form Tarr Steps via the river to Withypool was our best day, which was great and then over the moors, but not much between them and we had 3 days of contrasting variety of scenery...... We generally walked at around 2 miles/hour average, but our daily distances were not long and we were quite leisurely with stops at churches and villages- and even watching the Exmoor Hunt for a while between Withypool and Simonsbath..... Also the views in the final descent into Lymouth were great...... The accommodation was all very good offering different levels, but all can be recommend- we dined in all 3 places...... Tarr Farm is expensive but excellent- if it had been wet on the following morning I doubt the 2 ladies would have left the place. The location, rooms bar environment and meal were excellent and we arrived late afternoon with the sun shining and we relaxed overlooking the river with a beer- it was beautiful and a great reward!..... Nothing I can think of was incorrect/misleading...... The information was very helpful on terms of route planning, highlights, good recommendations, with extra info on taxis etc which we didn’t need but was reassuring as a backstop...... No problems at all- rooms were good and everything worked like clockwork- luggage transfers worked well......My small party included relatively novice walkers and was the first extended walk experience for 3 of them. . I would have no problem in recommending this trip to walkers of any level, but this was an ideal 3-day walk for people not used to this type of trip. I will have a problem matching it next year!
The first half of the walk (Two moors rather than Erm-Plym Trail) was not as well signposted as the second, but we didn’t go far wrong! But you definitely need to be able to map read or have good GPS......The best day was walking up from Widecombe-in-the-Moor, finally getting to see Dartmoor with clear blue skies rather than the rain, wind etc of that Sunday!.....Worst day was the worst, epic weather of the worst sort! Better safe than sorry. Got up on to the Moor and then decided to walk back to Ivybridge. Caught the bus to Buckfast and then walked into Holne and the Inn who welcomed a couple of drowned rats with good beer, good food and drying facilities in the form of a nice log fire!......Good lunch stop was the Inn at Witheridge (very welcoming-boots off by the open fire)> At Widecombe-in-the-Moor we went to the Rugglestone Inn for our evening meal whilst staying at the Farm- great food, beer and atmosphere. Need to book at busier times!.....All the accommodation was very welcoming. All expecting us too..... Plymouth B&B , off to a great start. Church House Inn-excellent! Widecombe Farm nice farmhouse B & B. Drewe Arms had lovely four poster bed. West Bowden Farm – Loved it! Didn’t eat because of having lunch at Witheridge and not fancying the Mason Arms. Great breakfast and a lovely lady. Royal Oak at Withypool- Wow what a bed! Great room too with nice food and good ale. Great breakfast also! Lymouth hotel- what a stunning view we had from our room......All information was very helpful and would happily recommend you to friends.
Waymarking variable, mostly quite good, but some were absent where needed and some arrows faded. Any problems resolved by GPS.
Best Days Walk : Ivybridge to Holne: weather dry with some sun and visibility good. Fast walking over good track Accommodation variable, some very good......Organisation generally very good and comprehensive.
Only once were we welcomed with tea and cake in the sitting room. This should be encouraged in all the accommodation, as it makes a big difference to us, and to our appreciation of the place.
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