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.
The concept is simple, even when your requirements are not - We organise everything for you, leaving you free to walk the trail without worrying about the arrangements.
Self-guided holidays give you the freedom to do this, to walk at your speed, to stop for breaks when you want and to explore the villages, towns and historical sights along the trail - all at your own pace and under your control. For those with free spirit the satisfaction of planning, walking and finding your way independently should not be understated - it's all part of the adventure. We are walkers here too so we understand the real joy and satifisfaction of discovering the trail for ourselves, finding our own way and experiencing the areas we pass through at our pace and under our own steam.
You won’t find a holiday booking code at Encounter Walking as there are no "standard" holidays that you can book. People walk at different speeds, some like the challenge of pushing long distances, others want extra time for breaks and photos. Some of you will want to explore off the trail, take rest days or visit attractions on route, others want nothing more than following their nose and pile on the miles day in day out. Walkers want different types of accommodation to choose from, rest days in places that interest them and routes that allow them to explore and walk at a pace that works.
By working with you to create your ideal daily distances, accommodation and routes we will get as close as we can to your perfect walking holiday – Together we build up a picture of what you want before you book and then the most satisfying part of our job is trying to match it as closely as we can with a personal draft itinerary.
No "standard itinerary", no "set accommodation" and no "fixed dates" instead you will have your own walking advisor who will know the trail and the options and work with you from the start of your planning to your last step on the trail to make it "your walk....your way"
Self-guided walking holidays let you walk on from one place to another, moving on to a new overnight location at the end of each day's walk. With new locations, new people and new places to eat every night you experience an ongoing journey as you work your way along the trail. This is the true pilgrimage approach, a return to the days long gone when the only way to cross the country was on foot through the day arriving at a new place of rest every night.
You walk and we carry. Just leave your bags every morning after breakfast and while you are out on the trail they will generally overtake you and be waiting in your next accommodation when you arrive – you can choose to carry your own pack if you wish but you will lose the feeling of freedom and mobility in having to take only what you need to get through the day
We research and provide the best guidebook literature and maps available for each walk. This is supplemented by a detailed, day by day, individual trail itinerary for your specific booking. You are in control with all the information you need to find your accommodation, work out where to eat during the day and be aware of what to see (and what to avoid). You will also be clear about the mileages, the grade of walking and the likely times to complete each section. You are informed, prepared and ready to discover the trail on your terms.
As walkers we know how important it is to have a welcoming, clean and friendly place to rest waiting for you at the end of a day’s walk. We take the nasty surprises out of walking holidays. Our wide range of customers want everything from B&B, Inn’s, hostels and small hotels through to the best available luxury hotels possible. We cater for it all where it exists and this is why we work with you at the quote stage to find out what you want from your walk to try to match it with what is available.
Encounter Walking is the only company operating these trips who will go through the accommodation options with you and provide you with full details and websites to look at before you book. Our competitors only let you have this after you have paid up by which time it’s too late if you don’t like the look of what you have signed up for !
Take control of your overnight stays, recharge in the accommodation that suits you and the experience is that much more than just the walking day
Read more about the benefits of booking a self guided holiday with Encounter Walking Holidays at Why you should walk with us !
We are providing all our walkers with copies of this excellent guide to help answer questions about our walking holidays. Those booking onto them receive booklets with their maps and guidebooks but if you have general questions about how our holidays work day to day its work looking at it online for more info. There is lots of useful information if you have not walked in the UK or not been on a walking holiday before.
Click here or click on the image to view The Walkers Information Booklet now
We also have a section of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) - Click here and of course you are welcome to just contact us directly with any specific questions if you can't find the answers you need.
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