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.
12th September 2023- We are sorry but we are now fully booked until October on all our routes - please contact us for Autumn and 2024 dates
We are very happy to answer any questions about Encounter Walking Holidays Ltd, so if you don't find what you need to know in the information below then please contact us directly and we will help.
| Who we are | Company History | Where we are | What we do | Our vision | Why trust us ? |
Our core team is currently a group of about 9 dedicated staff who are keen walkers and love being outdoors in Cornwall where we all live. Between us we have walked in most areas of the UK and indeed around many parts of the world - from Japan to the Himalaya, Peru to Portugal. We also receive occasional help from others in the walking community who do some freelance research, writing and photography for us in other areas of the UK and we work closely with other walking organisations and trail management groups, which you can read about under What we do.
The company was set up in 2006 as a family business called Encounter Cornwall in the village of Lerryn, mid Cornwall and originally its main work was offering kayaking trips on the River Fowey which passes through the village. We also started offering short walking breaks on our local section of the South West Coast Path initially between Mevagissey and Looe, what we now call the Classic Cornish Short Break route
Our initial aim was to fill a gap in the market by providing tailor-made walking trips where the walker had some control over building their walking itinerary and choosing where to stay - and so the concept of - "your walk.... your way" was born. With a staff group who were all keen walkers, several of us had already taken walking holidays with other companies and as a result we knew the shortcomings in what was currently on offer. We often ended up with poor accommodation, long walks off the trail to find our beds and a general lack of knowledge (or interest) about the walking routes from those providing it. So, left to work things out for ourselves we did just that - but we decided to learn from the poor service we experienced and instead start to offer a better walking holiday service with more suitable options for those who wanted to enjoy the trails we love.
The walking holidays quickly became very popular and we expanded to research options and then cover the full 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. We decided to concentrate all our efforts into our walking holidays and sold Encounter Cornwall who, we are pleased to report, continue kayaking on the River Fowey under that name and are well worth joining for a paddle if walking in South Cornwall. On our side, we had long outgrown Cornwall's walking trails by that point and so became Encounter Walking Holidays and from that point on concentrated only on our walking holidays.
With a high number of loyal customers wanting more routes we added coast to coast routes such as The Two Moors Way and Saints Way. By 2011, keen to keep unearthing the best routes for our regulars, we worked with the Wales Coast Path which was instrumental in opening the first continuous walking route around an entire nation, a massive 870 miles of trail ... and we continue to expand along that route every year.
The England Coast Path which is due to be completed by 2020 brings us new future route opportunities and meanwhile we are busy working in areas such as Somerset and Dartmoor which provide superb and comparatively unknown walking routes giving our walkers quality alternative options to areas like Cornwall and Devon which can suffer from a severe lack of available accommodation at peak times.
We are often asked by our regular customers about walks in other regions such as the North, the Cotswolds and Scotland and about well- known routes like the Coast to Coast and Hadrian's Wall Path. However we are very careful about only providing walking holidays in areas we have researched in detail and have walked in full, often several times, so our expansion is steady and controlled from the South West routes through Wales. Whilst we do increase the portfolio of options every year, we won't offer to arrange a walk in an area in which we do not feel we have expertise. As a result of this policy, in the South West and coastal Wales we have more options and more expertise than any other organisation and for several years now we have been the largest provider of self guided walking holidays in the region. It is an immense source of pride for those of us that work at Encounter Walking Holidays to state confidently that we know we are the most experienced operator at what we do.
We became a limited company around 4 years ago and have enjoyed hosting a big rise in overseas walkers in the last few years, particularly from areas such as Scandinavia, America and mainland Europe.
Our core staff are based in a small office right by the train station in Lostwithiel, Cornwall with others working from home as part of our flexible employer policy.
All trains in and out of Cornwall pass us at Lostwithiel and its nice to see them fly by and know our walkers are on them heading to the trails in West Cornwall. Anyone who finds themselves in Lostwithiel is very welcome to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat!
It's probably clear by now that we provide Self Guided Walking Holidays (!) but for those who want to know more about what that means visit the About our Holidays page which explains this in full.
We don't provide any other services but we do spend a lot of time providing general tourist information and will always give free help and advice to anyone who contacts us with questions about walking in the region... whether they book with us or not. We are a group of walkers and as such we are always ready to help other walkers who are stuck and need our expertise.
As we have grown larger we have been able to allocate staff time to assist in supporting management of the walking routes and lobby work to represent the wider walking community. We currently have staff represented on, or supporting, the work of the following management and interest groups:
The Coleridge Way Steering Group for promotion and maintenance of The Coleridge Way
The Cornwall Countryside Access Forum protecting access for walkers across all paths in Cornwall
The South West Coast Path Association for promotion and maintenance of The South West Coast Path
Exmoor National Park and Exmoor Tourism Association for promotion of walking in Exmoor National Park
Working with the Mendip Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the relaunch of The Mendip Way
Working with Visit Britain, Visit Cornwall, Visit Devon, Visit Somerset and Visit Wales on promotion of those regions to walkers.
Its fairly simple !
It's wise to ask a few questions and check that whoever you are booking with is not only reliable and professional but also that the money you send for your holiday is protected.
With over 10 years of providing walking holidays and as the largest operator on the trails we have built up more experience of the options and issues than anyone else. We specialise in providing solutions that work for difficult enquiries but we are also able to be very clear if we think your plans won't work. We won't take on work that we can't complete to our high operating standards. Instead, in those situations we will always try to make suggestions on how you can get as close to your ideal walk as possible.
Click here to read reviews from those who have already booked with us. We ask every walker to upload a review of their walk and experiences with us online and you can easily scan through them. You will see if you read them that we don't change anything in the review and we upload all reviews, hundreds every year.
We work with over 600 accommodation providers and you are welcome at any point to contact them if you wish to get reassurance about us and our work with them.
Call or email any of the hotels and accommodation suggested by us in your quotes and ask them about us - we are sure you will get a very positive response
If you want to read more about the benefits of booking with us under Why Book with us?
Finally, we are here to help so if you still have any concerns contact us and we will try and reassure you and provide you with the information or answers you want.
Map of all
Go to top
Company Registered in England No: 8227323
VAT Registration No: 138 8656 68