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.
With over 10 years arranging walking and walking holidays we have been asked pretty much every question, They are faithfully reproduced here in easy to find sections with the answers - so you should find what you need to know on this page ! If not just Contact Us and we will help - and post the answer to your question here to help the next person!
New for 2018 season 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
Walking Routes | Prices and Quotes | Planning my Holiday | Travel to my holiday | Walkers from Overseas | Accommodation | Luggage Transfers | Walking the Trail |
Evening Meals & Packed Lunches | Maps & Guidebooks | Distances, Grades and Times | Weather, Safety and Problems | Equipment & What to Bring
Dogs and Children | Walking Groups & Single Walkers | Booking my holiday | Cancellations and Insurance | Encounter Walking Holidays | Contacting Us |
We can help!
Start with using our interactive map - this shows all our routes and if you click on the icons you can read short summaries of each walk - highlights, difficulty, distance etc. You can scan a number of walks this way and then click through to read about the ones that interest you.
On the same page, if you want some ideas then take a look at the Find a Walk section - this gives short summaries of our main walks by theme, eg. coastal, moorland, easy, short breaks etc.
If you prefer, just contact us by phone or email and we can help make suggestions to suit your ability, available time and your preferences for which area you want to visit.
If you are emailing us then tell us about your level of experience ....or lack of it. We know the trails well and a walking advisor will be able to work out options with you to consider based on which routes may be of most interest for the area, scenery, accommodation or attractions that are of most importance to you.
Once you know which route you are interested in then the long route description sections on our website cover this day by day in detail. The descriptions here are more thorough than anything you will find anywhere else on the web. There are loads of images and video clips as well, giving you a good taste of what you will see and information about the overnight stops on route. After all this, if you still have questions, just let us know and we will do our best to help you narrow the choice down !
Of course that depends on how experienced a walker you are. The coastal routes often surprise people as there is a lot of climbing and descending on most sections as you climb from coves to cliff tops and back again. Some routes or sections are easier than others - the interactive map give a summary of the grade for each walk.
Or Click Here to read more detail about the grades and what these mean. You can also see pictures of examples of different grades of walking sections to help gain an idea of what the route is like.
We operate "walking holidays" - rather than "holidays with walks" so you should be reasonably fit and ideally also used to walking regularly. You should be keen to be walking most or all days you are with us, but how much you do each day is up to you. There is nothing technical on any of our routes and in the right conditions a 8-year-old or an 88-year-old can happily walk the most strenuous sections though they might not do the same distances as a 38-year-old.
When looking at the options, our standard itineraries tend to work out at around 6 hours of walking per day (not including breaks) - relaxed itineraries are around 4-5 hours but we can split things up further or arrange for you to walk longer days if you prefer.
One or two routes such as the Two Moors Way and the Smugglers Way involve exposed open moorland with very little route marking. These are best left to confident walkers with good map reading skills but we will always check that with you before taking a booking. On the more remote sections of coast path such as in North and West Wales there is often a lack of facilities which may mean long days an being self sufficent. However with the right preparation and organisation all of them are possible for anyone keen to walk!
Yes of course.
We create your itinerary working with you - a mix of our advice and your wishes leading to the right balance of distance and grade of walking. As long as good quality accommodation and facilities exist at the right point in the trail then we can tailor your walk to suit your preferences. Even if it does not we can build in transfers in or out of difficult locations to get your through a section of trail if you feel its too long for you.
If you look at the options for any of our walks you will find most routes have Standard, Fast and Relaxed itineraries either increasing or reducing the number of days on the trail to allow for your fitness, experience and the amount of walking you want.
For those who want more time, daily mileages can be reduced or tougher sections can be missed out completely. Very fit and experienced distance walkers who want to increase the daily mileage can be catered for but if we feel you are taking on too much then we will tell you and check that what you are requesting is going to work for you on the ground. One of our walking advisors will give you an honest appraisal of your plans, based on our own experiences of pushing the distances.
Don’t forget to allow time for exploring, taking pictures, the odd swim if you are on the coast and some restful breaks as you won’t want to rush through this scenery. In general its better to be cautious if you are not sure as you will always find distractions on the paths or at the overnight stops if you arrive early.
Yes - you can break the journey wherever you want with a rest day and we can include this in your quote. We can help you decide the best place for your rests - where you in better accommodation, where there is more to see and other activities and options to do in the local area.
Some locations have obvious iconic attractions to visit like St Michaels Mount in Marazion/Penzance or The Eden Project in Cornwall. In Pembrokeshire, Wales on a day off you can take a boat to explore some of the nearby islands and spot puffins and seals. We can advise on what is possible (or not possible) in all locations so just ask and make sure your rest days are not lost days!
There are often other outdoor activities you can do during a day off your walking - cycling in Cornwall and Devon on trails such as the Camel Trail at Padstow, surfing, coasteering, kayaking and other watersports, even caving in the Mendips or deep sea fishing trips from St Ives! We can advise on activities and pass on details of local operators so you can arrange this directly with them and fit it in with your walking holiday to suit you.
If you just want a long weekend of walking or a mid-week short break then we can arrange that for you. And you can go wherever you want !
We provide short breaks on ALL our routes as long as you have a minimum of 3 nights and 2 days walking. With limited time, some sections make more sense than others, where public transport is quicker, for example. BUT by including transfers we can start and end you at any point if there is a particular part of a walk you always wanted to do. See our Short Breaks Page for more details
There are also routes which you can complete in full with just 3 or 4 days walking on a short break such as The Saints Way, the "Exmoor Adventure", Coleridge Way and Lands End Coast Path.
Finally, for those wanting both a taste of Cornwall and the South West Coast Path look at our "Classic Cornwall Break" walk along the South Cornwall Coast - 2 or 3 days walking through one of the best parts of Cornwall.
If you need more ideas or want to discuss a short break plan, as always, contact us and let one of our walking advisors help.
Quite simply, it's the best way to walk in the UK for anyone keen on walking.
CLICK HERE and we explain what it means, how it works and why it's the way to get the most out of your walking experience.
It depends what you want to walk and how you want to walk it. We try to cover all budgets. You can view guideline prices and then request a guarenteed quote for your ideal holiday by clicking here
Absolutely not - a quote costs nothing and there is no obligation - so you don't have to take it up.
The quote will give you a very clear summary of the walking route, the accommodation and what else is included so that you can compare us to any other options you are considering. We want you to get the best options for you at the best prices we can provide and so won't take any bookings until you have seen a detailed quote.
There is nothing to lose by asking for a quote and no commitment to book.
Request a Quote now by clicking here
Talk to a walking advisor about what you want to do and ask them how to keep the price as low as possible.
The type of accommodation, time of year, choice of trail and where you overnight will all make a difference to the costs. Get a quote for what you want - but tell us about your budget if that is a key issue for you. Your walking advisor will tell you where you may be able to make budget savings.
If you have had already had a quote and want to try to reduce the cost, again, we can advise where it may be possible to do this and we will be clear about how this will change your plan.
We are all walkers here and we like nothing better than to see others walking the trails we love. For that reason we don't want to see anyone unable to walk because they can't afford the costs so we will always try to help - whether-or-not you end up booking with us.
We won't offer our walking holidays at prices where we can't maintain our standards of delivery but if our costs are beyond what you can afford we will try to help with other suggestions on how you may be able to get to walk what you want. Talk to us - we WILL try to help !
Absolutely not - the price we issue is guaranteed as your holiday price.
Unlike other walking holiday companies there are no charges for using credit cards to pay for overseas postage of books and maps. There are no additional taxes, VAT or insurances. These are all included in your quoted price.
Also, if you choose not to take up options by bringing your own maps, or carrying your own luggage for instance, then we will also deduct those costs from your invoice for you.
If YOU decide to add anything extra to your holiday after having a quote such as private transfers, extra nights, more copies of guidebooks then we will advise you of the costs of any changes you request before making them
The only time we will make an additional charge is where YOU changed your holiday plans AFTER booking - for instance if you change the route or dates and we need to rebook things for you. Even at that point we will advise what the cost will be before we do anything. Furthermore instead of applying a set "administration fee" - we will ONLY charge for the actual time it takes us to make the changes you request. If it's only a minor change it won't cost anything at all.
No we never charge for taking payments whether by credit card, debit card, bank transfer or cheque.
Visit the question "How do I make a Payment" for full details on how you can pay for your walking holiday but rest assured, we won't add any charges whichever payment method you use.
Generally, you can walk at any time of year on most routes with the main walking season running from mid-March to the end of October.
The most popular months for walkers in the UK tend to be May, June the first half of July and September - you get the better weather but miss the summer school holidays. However April and October are also fine for walking on most routes - one or two coastal routes require ferries that do not run early or late in the season but we will advise you such issues when you request a quote.
A few pointers that might help you decide when to walk -
Spring Walking - March, April, May - Fantastic for flowers on the trails with weather steadily improving so that by May you should be enjoying good sunshine and ideal walking weather. Be prepared in March and April for more spells of inclement weather but one bonus is that the trails are quiet and outside of Easter the accommodation options are excellent.
Summer Walking – June, July, August - Prime months weather wise as this is our summer – June is possibly the best option for walkers during this period, no school holidays or bank holidays but statistically some of the best weather of the year.
From the last half of July through to the end of August you are sharing coastal regions with those on their school holidays. Don’t be put off however if you can only walk in the school holidays; the majority of visitors never venture more than a mile away from the harbours and coastal towns so once you are on the trail you will still get your peace and solitude broken by only occasional fellow walkers on the paths.
However overnight locations will be busier and accommodation is much harder to find if you leave the booking until late but all the facilities are open and you have long daylight hours to make the most of those evenings. It can be very hot during some periods and for those on the coast paths it’s generally from this time onwards that swimming, canoeing, surfing and other water sports are at their best. Just try and book well in advance for this period.
Autumn Walking – September and October - If we had to pick a best month for walking we would usually go for September. The school holidays are over so the options for accommodation are generally good and the numbers of visitors decline rapidly. Generally however the weather is still very good, the last few years have seen late “Indian summers” stretching into late September. Trails are quiet, as are the overnight stops and the welcome in the holiday areas tends to be particularly good as the locals have by now got through the busy months of the summer. The expression here is "demob happy"! Just book early if you are looking for the first week of September as a lot of local walkers are also well aware its the best time to be walking.
Into October and availability of accommodation is excellent. The weather, whilst less reliable, is still not that cold and crisp, clear walking days are often the norm, although you need to be prepared for more wet spells. Distances at this time of year need some thought with shorter daylight hours but all- in-all with the right preparation, October can be an excellent choice for walking particularly on shorter breaks. We won't run holidays on one or two of the very exposed options and some of the coastal path sections such as South Devon that rely on seasonal ferries become difficult but other routes are all open. We often run a late season special offer and in all locations the prices from mid-September onwards are cheaper but with the best choices of accommodation.
Winter Walking Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb - Anyone walking outside the season will often have the trails to themselves and get superb value-for-money with many offers on accommodation. You need to balance against this the fact that the weather is much less reliable and you need to be an experienced walker to deal with it.
The daylight hours mean walking days will need to be shorter but as ever we can advise. The key in the winter months is to be realistic and flexible - have other plans in case there is a spell of poor weather, consider one or two centre walks - staying in places where there are other options and perhaps a warming wood burner to relax round at night. If a storm blows in remember the walking might be curtailed but need not stop, witnessing mighty waves and the power of the sea with the beach to yourself can be as exhilarating as walking the coast path on a hot summer's day. Careful choice of routes is key and we suggest getting quotes in principal and then booking them late so you can at least see if any longer spell of bad weather is likely before committing.
We don't operate walks during Christmas and New Year - our staff work throughout the rest of the year so we take a couple of well-earned weeks' rest then. In addition, B&B's are often closed and hotels frequently have "themed" events and parties that are best avoided!
Anyone planning Winter walking should talk to us for advice and suggestions but don’t rule it out if you are an experienced walker and happy to deal with whatever the weather brings - fortune favours the brave as they say! We have been sunburnt on Dartmoor in February so you can get lucky!
Click below for Annual Weather Summaries and Charts for the main walking regions
Met Office Weather Charts - South West England, Covers Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset
Met Office Weather Charts - Wales Covers Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia, Ceredigion & wider Wales
We have walkers out at all periods so you can book anytime you like BUT if you can avoid Bank Holiday Weekends then do so - or at least book well ahead if you can't avoid them. The walking trails are not particularly affected as most "Holiday" visitors are not here to walk and are heading to the nearby beaches BUT you will find overnight accommodation is in much shorter supply and overnight locations particularly those on the coast are much busier.
In the UK the Bank Holidays that affect walkers most are the following.
Easter - Good Friday and Easter Monday are bank holidays so it is a four day holiday in the UK. Dates change every year (see below) but try to avoid this long weekend.
The first weekend in May (May Day Bank Holiday)
The last weekend in May (Whitsun Bank Holiday) - and the following week which is school half term
The last weekend in August (Summer Bank Holiday)
For actual dates this year check the following website www.gov.uk/bank-holidays
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are the ones to avoid at Bank Holiday weekends with many British families heading to the coastal regions for a long weekend, returning on the Bank Holiday Monday.
These vary a bit but as a general rule those that may effect you and to try to avoid if you can are
Easter Weeks 2 weeks around the Easter Bank Holidays
Half Term (May) the last week of May/start of June starting with the Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend
Summer Holidays from around mid July and run through to the end of August / first days of September
Half Term (October) - usually the last week in October - not that busy so less effect on walkers.
For actual dates in any given years CLICK HERE
Advice if you will be walking during a Bank Holiday Or School Holidays - The busy Bank Holiday weekends book up very quickly with the accommodation providers so if you are planning a walk on a peak weekend just get in touch as early as you can. The earlier you contact us the better the chances and choices of accommodation will be. On the busiest Bank Holiday weekends some accommodation may require a 2 night stay so trying to build a rest day in around a Bank Holiday is often a good idea if you are on a longer walk and are in a popular location. We an advise on this for you and make suggestions.
The most difficult dates of the year are usually the Whitsun Bank Holiday and half-term break during the last week of May. The most difficult places are the most popular coastal resorts and beaches so Cornwall between Padstow and St Ives for instance where there are lots of family beaches, North Devon's surfing beaches around Woolacombe and Croyde and Pembrokeshire beaches in Wales. Inland areas such as Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks are much less affected by Bank Holidays and school holidays and whilst its still their busy time you are much more likely to find options here.
If it’s a late booking for a busy weekend don’t despair but be prepared that you will need to be flexible and will have a more limited choice of accommodation. In some situations we will have to say that a particular route or overnight stop is just not going to be possible if all the accommodation has gone but we will check for you in case it is still possible. We can usually come up with an alternative plan or suggestion however, which may be the same route but just staying in another location or at a different type of accommodation.
When to Book In general the booking rush starts just after Christmas with a lot of UK families booking summer breaks and holiday accommodation - if you get in early and book your walk before Christmas for the following summer you are much more likely to get the options you need to keep walking through the Bank Holidays and school holidays.
Yes you can but if you are planning a walking holiday at this time you need to remember that not all routes are open. You should only consider a winter walking holiday if you are experienced walkers, you are well-equipped and essentially happy to deal with whatever the weather brings! It's not a time to book your first ever walking holiday or for people who don't walk regularly or can't bear the thought of walking in the rain.
Winter Walking November through to mid-March. The good news is that if you walk "out of season" you will often have the trails to yourself and you will get superb value for money, with many offers available on accommodation. Hotels and B&B's appreciate the business at these times and you are likely to be particularly welcomed and looked after if you are staying during the off-season. You need to balance against this that it is our winter (!) so the weather is much less reliable - indeed if you are unlucky it can be very poor indeed and you need to be an experienced walker to deal with it or be prepared to have days with no walking at all. Of course we live here and walk all year round and there are some superb walking days in the winter - crisp and clear and sunny - the issue is that predicting them more than a few days in advance is pretty much impossible!
The daylight hours mean your walking days will be shorter so be conservative with times and distances - in the middle of winter it can be dark at 4pm - but as ever we can advise. Many facilties such as pubs, cafes and restaurants are on reduced hours or may be closed so you need to be more self-sufficient while you are out walking. But there will still be options in the overnight locations for eating and drinking (and we do a lot of that in the winter months!)
The key is to be realistic and flexible - have other plans in case there is a spell of poor weather, consider one or two-centre walks, staying in places where there are other activity options or attractions you can visit if the weather is awful and perhaps a warming wood burner to relax round at night. If a storm blows in remember the walking might be curtailed but need not stop, witnessing mighty waves and the power of the sea with the beach to yourself can be as exhilarating as walking the coast path on a hot summer's day. Careful choice of routes is key and we suggest getting quotes in principal and then booking them late. That way you can see if any longer spell of bad weather is likely before committing to the walk.
So, if you are considering winter walking talk to us for advice and suggestions as some routes won't be possible. Exposed moorland routes and higher ground like Exmoor and Dartmoor can be prone to snowfall and any exposed moorland sections like Bodmin Moor are not worth the risk if booking in advance. Other areas on the coast path such as the South Hams Devon section rely on seasonal ferries which don't run after late September so are not really viable without having to build in lots of transfers.
On the other hand there are routes such as The Coleridge Way which are not on the exposed coast and are as well protected as you can get from any winter storms and this one can make superb out- -of-season adventures for those happy to take a risk on the weather. The Classic Cornwall Short Break route passes very close to the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan and if you get really bad weather on this route you have these non-walking options that can save the holiday.
Christmas and New Year - We don't operate walking holidays at this time of year; our staff work throughout the rest of the year so we take a couple of well-earned weeks rest during the festive period. In addition, it's not generally a good time to try a multi-centre walking holiday - B&B's are often closed and hotels have "themed" events and parties on that are best avoided.
For an honest appraisal of whether your winter walking plans are viable contact us and we will be happy to talk them over with you.
Click below for Yearly Weather Summaries and Charts for the main walking regions.
Yes, you can start anytime to suit you – we fit around your schedule so just let us know the dates you want to walk and we will create the best options to fit in with your plans.
Try to avoid starting on Bank Holiday weekends, particularly in popular coastal areas. Sunday arrival by public transport is often slower and with less options than during the week so is not the best day to arrive or depart. We can advise on both these issues if you can't be flexible.
For links to check the actual Bank Holiday Dates for this year see the question in this FAQ section which is titled "What about Bank Holidays and school holidays?"
Most definitely! We are the specialists in this and will try to suggest options for any locations where you want to take a rest day.
Other Outdoor Activities You can take time off your walking in a rest day activity, which could be anything from a gentle canoeing trip in Cornwall through the wildlife creeks of the Fowey Estuary on the South Cornwall Coast Path, through to an adrenaline water sports day, coasteering, kite surfing and more in Newquay.
Many routes have options for some cycling on trails like the Camel Trail at Padstow; you could even try caving in the Mendips or deep-sea fishing trips from St Ives! We can advise on what is available and pass on details of local operators so you can arrange this directly with them and fit it in with your walking holiday schedule.
Attractions, Gardens and Heritage Some locations have obvious iconic attractions to visit like St Michaels Mount in Marazion near Penzance in Cornwall, the Tate Gallery at St Ives or Corfe Castle in Dorset.
There are superb gardens in many places which are either on the trail or just a short walk from it, but South Cornwall has the largest concentration due to its climate, with The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah, Glendurgan and the Eden Project which can all be combined within a single week of walking on the Coast Path in South Cornwall
Island Visits - The Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales is great for these - on "rest days" you can take a boat to explore some of the nearby islands visiting the monks on Caldey or to search out puffins and seals at Skomer and Ramsey Islands. Also the North Devon Coast path allows access to magical Lundy Island by ferry. If you want a longer break then take a look at the Scilly Isles in the far south-west of the UK which are accessible from Penzance on the SW Coast Path. You do need to take at least a couple of days off from walking to fully experience the Scilly Isles.
Wherever you want to walk, if you want to do more on rest days than just relax (though that's fine too!) then ask your walking advisor for suggestions for what you can get up to on days off the walking trail.
You can walk whatever you want. You can mix sections from connecting trails, for example, walking part of the South West Coast Path and then crossing Cornwall inland on the Saints Way for some variety.
Or you can just extend your holiday by walking multiple sections of the longer trails - the whole of the Cornwall section of the South West Coast Path for instance, which is around 4 weeks of walking.
Those with more time can complete the full South West Coast Path and we have a number of walkers do this every year - you need around 8 weeks to walk the full route - for those that do it in one go it's the walk of a lifetime! Contact us for more info and prices.
We cover this in detail at the bottom of every quote so it's crystal clear. It will depend on your specific plans but we always include:
- A choice of accommodation, breakfasts every day and luggage transfers (if you want them),
- The best and highest scale walker's maps, guidebooks and a detailed itinerary / route notes document written by us for your specific walk.
- A named personal walking advisor to work with to help you with planning and to support you from your first enquiry through to the end of your walk.
- An out of hours contact line during your walk and ongoing updates on trail news, walking conditions and any diversions.
- Support and Advice for arranging travel to and from the trail, long stay parking information, help with booking public transport and transfers back to your car or train stations if required.
- Administration of all your bookings, transfers and payments.
- A clear guaranteed price with no surcharges, no extras and no price rises!
You can arrive by public transport (train and bus), by car if driving or by private transfer from the main train stations or airports. Whichever way we will help advise you - Read more on our Travel to your Walking Holiday Page
Yes – for those using public transport, and this is something we are keen to encourage - we will provide the help and advice you need about how to get to and from the trail.
We recognise that public transport in the UK is often confusing and can seem complicated to arrange. Services change and with lots of different operators and different route options, we spend a lot of time checking and advising walkers on the latest situation.
International Travel We don't arrange international travel but can advise on how to get to your walk from all the main airports in the South West and London as well as ferry ports and Eurostar Train services from Europe. See our Map of how to get from points of arrival in the UK to the walking routes and follow the maps links to find out more about travel across the UK.
Travel Summaries for every walk For any walk you are looking at click on the "TRAVEL" tab at the top of the walk information on this website and you will see detailed info on bus, train and car travel options for your specific route. We will also include this in your quote as a summary AND give full details in your final itinerary to help.
Getting to the walking regions from the rest of the UK If you are UK based but unsure how to get to the South West or Wales or you want to see the main rail and airport options then use the Travel Map to see a summary and links to the main train operators and airport websites.
A great resource for trying to work out your options in advance is www.travelinesw.com (for the South West from London) and www.traveline.cymru (for Wales), these are government-run websites that include detailed options for bus, train, ferry and coach travel. If you are still stuck however, just contact us and ask for help!
Cheaper Options for Train Travel - We work closely with Great Western Railways who are the main providers of services across the walking region and have a very detailed factsheet we can send you covering how to check services, book and arrange cheap travel.
This includes vital information on how to book train tickets and reserve your seats in advance from the UK and Overseas so that you can take advantage of much cheaper advance purchase tickets which can save a considerable amount of money.
Private Transfers - Where public transport does not exist or is impractical for your departure from the trail then we can arrange private transfers to the nearest or most practical station or airport. We can also give you contact details for you to arrange this yourself if you prefer. Our responsibility does not stop at the end of the footpath and helping you to work out how to get to and from the walk is part of our service to you. If we think a transfer will be a cheaper and more sensible option for you than public transport then we will let you know!
Rail to Trail walking holidays are designed for those who want the best walking routes which can be easily reached from the rail network and have been developed with and are supported by Great Western Railways who are the main train operators in the South West.
Direct and fast train routes to the trails including sleeper options to Cornwall so you travel straight to your first overnight location
Then Walk the Trail....
And travel by train straight back out from the other end after your last night with no need for transfers or uncomfortable bus travel.
Go Rail to Trail and you can forget the traffic jams, parking charges and wasted time having to travel back to where you started to recollect your car.
You will find Rail to Trail holidays for all the main walking routes so click here to view the easy and environmentaly friendly way to take your walking holiday. We provide lots of information to help with timetables, reserving seats and booking cheap advance purchse tickets in advance so these holidays are not only the most stress free and convenient way of arriving for your walk but are often the most economical.
Consider our Rail to Trail walking options first off as you then won't need to arrange any of this. We can help with public transport advice and if needed short transfers to allow you to leave your car at home and still walk any of the routes we operate on, getting to and from the region by train or plane.
However we recognise that for some people arriving by car is the preferred option, perhaps if you are bringing a dog or you want to stop at locations on the way to and from your walk.
Parking - If you tell us you are arriving by car we will provide all the information on long-stay parking options. In the older fishing harbours of the South West this is often in specific long-stay car parks set back from the waterfront accommodation - these towns were built for horses and carts not cars! So often the accommodation is situation on very narrow streets with no on-site parking. Locals and visitors alike all use the long-stay car parks instead. We cover the options and costs for you in detail so you know the parking situation for any given location.
At accommodation in more open areas such as Dartmoor, Wales and away from the smaller harbours we may have arrangements where you can park and leave you car at the first nights accommodation or use free on street parking outside it. In any event your quote will cover these options for you.
Returning to your Car - We will always provide the public transport options explaining how you can to return to your car at the end of your walk. We give you a summary with your quote and also cover this in detail in your final itinerary. In some cases, such as between Penzance and Falmouth on the SW Coast Path, or St Ives and Penzance, returning to your car is relatively straightforward and easy using the rail network. In other, more remote areas, you may either need to take a bus OR we can arrange a private transfer for you over some or all the journey if travel times are slow or you want the convinience of a quick get away at a time to suit you. If we think a transfer will be a cheaper and more sensible option than public transport then we will let you know!
So let us give you the options, consider them against using public transport to and from the route and if you do decide to come by car you will have all the information and options you need for parking and returning to your car at the end of your walk.
Absolutely. If you prefer to have a private transfer instead of taking public transport options then we can advise on prices and either book these for you as part of your holiday or give you the information so you can arrange it yourself.
We can have you collected from regional airports, train and bus stations and taken on to your first nights’ accommodation as well as returned at the end of the walk to the same or a different location to suit you.
Where we are arranging to collect you from public transport we will work with you to establish the time for your pick up once you have managed to arrange your travel to the area. We will then book your transfers so you are met straight from the train or plane, ensuring you get straight to your holiday, losing as little time as possible en route.
Just let us know when you book if you are going to take the public transport options to the trail OR prefer to have a quote for a private transfer.
Yes we do - we have many walkers from all over the world visiting our trails every season and have become specialists in helping overseas walkers, not only with arranging walking and accommodation but also in assisting with information on how to travel to the trails from overseas and get the most out of a visit to the UK.
Having a named walking advisor looking after your booking means you have someone you can ask other questions that you need help with for your visit, whether it be car hire options, useful tips or just information on what to bring with you for your walking holiday.
You can find out about the main travel routes to the walking trails by using our interactive travel map and we help with advising on timetables and travel options. We understand that this is one of the most difficult aspects of getting around the UK. We also have a range of useful factsheets you can access which are aimed at overseas visitors, including how to book and reserve cheap train travel and on what to expect on the trails.
We have been at the forefront of welcoming walkers from overseas to the major walking trails for many years now and are pleased to be currently working with Visit Britain and the South West Coast Path Association on the "Discover England" project promoting the South West Coast Path to specific overseas markets by making the walking trail information and booking process as accessible as possible for those visiting the UK. You can read more about this ongoing work by clicking here
We are very happy to welcome visitors from any country in the world and we enjoy communicating with and getting to know people from other countries and regions whilst working with you on your walking plans.
However you do need to be able to have at least a basic understanding of English to book with us and also to read the guidebooks and walking itinerary. You can read more about how we are hoping to improve this here.
Take a look at the walkers reviews page - you will see feedback by walkers from all around the world - if you are looking for other walkers from your country they are easy to find as the reviews are marked with your country's flag.
It's a good idea to read these as it will give you an idea of the experience of walkers from your country - we ask walkers to leave tips and useful information for others in their feedback and this can be very valuable to you.
If you are interested to know which countries we have regular bookings from - then the biggest groups are as follows:
Walking and walkers are very much an International Community!
Sadly at this point we can only work on bookings in English and all the guidebooks and route materials currently available for UK walking routes are in English. There are some useful German language walking publications for the South West and Wales produced by Rother - see www.rother.de These are very good guides to walking in the regions and can be useful as an additional source of information if you read German but they don't cover the main paths in full - though we do keep asking them to consider that!
Working in languages other than English is starting to improve and the Discover England project we are part of is now working on producing the South West Coast Path Assocation's Handbook in German, Dutch and French during 2017. This is still only a summary guidebook but it will be great to be able to offer this as additional information for German, Dutch and French speakers in future years. In the longer term we are hoping to employ a walking advisor here who can work fluently in German and French with a view to the possibility of translating both enquiries and walking materials.
However at this stage you do need to be able to read and understand English at a basic level to be able to make a booking with us and to follow the itinerary notes for any walks here. We try to be as clear and straightforward as possible with information and we don't expect you to be able to speak or write to us in perfect English!
To get an idea of what the cost is at the current exchange rate just use an online currency convertor such as: www.xe.com/currencyconverter or www.currency-converter.net
If you are paying by bank transfer you will instruct your bank to send the required amount in Pounds Sterling and again they will convert it and advise you of the cost in your local currency.
For full details on how to pay for your walking holiday see the question "How do I pay for my walking holiday?"
Yes we do - we provide all our walkers with a Walking Holiday Information Factsheet that covers many of the issues that are sometimes not clear for first time visitors to the UK. We also have a range of factsheets you can download on topics such as travel options, booking cheap train tickets, safety tips and culture and customs in the UK.
When booking with us you will have a named walking advisor who will look after your booking and answer all your questions until you have finished your walk. You can call or email us at any point for help.
We can offer you advice and answer any questions you have about visiting and travelling in the UK - Just ask!
It depends where you are based but currently (December 2017) you don't need a Visa for the UK if arriving from any EU state or from American, Canada or Australia provided the reason for your visit is "Tourism".
However it's worth checking the latest situation and for those in other countries you can get a quick answer from the UK government website at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration.
Currently we don't work with overseas travel agents or booking agencies. The reason for this is that the walking holidays we provide are all tailor-made and in general we need to be talking with the people actually walking to make sure the route, accommodation and options are suitable for you. Dealing through a third party slows things down a lot as messages and questions go back and forward via an agent and we also lose the personal touch of dealing with you directly with the planning of your walk.
Yes you can – this is an key part of our service and what sets us aside from other walking holiday companies.
Once we know what you want to do, we will provide a quote with accommodation options to look at.
Where choices exist, and they do in most locations, then your quote will give standard, alternative and an upgrade choice to consider. You will have links so you can view the acccommodation websites to find out more about them and clearly see the cost of any upgrades.
Then it’s up to you - you can pick and choose where you stay according to your requirements and budget, giving you control over where you will stay as you walk. You might want to consider upgraded accommodation for the first and last nights and perhaps any rest days where you may spend more time in the place you are staying during the day, for example. On the other hand your priorities may be the competitively priced or the most luxurious options all the way along your walk. It's really up to you.
Let us know as much as you can about the type of accommodation you want with your enquiry - for instance if you like staying in inns - or indeed don't like staying in them - then tell us and we can try to provide the most suitable options available, based on what you tell us about the type of accommodation you want.
Being independent, we are not tied to any particular places though of course we have a very good knowledge of the best options in the different locations, based upon our experience. But if there is a particular accommodation you have found yourself or have stayed in before that you want to include in your walk, then if its available we can book it for you.
Once you are all booked in we will send you a booking confirmation. This confirms with you where you are staying, which dates and which type of room, day by day for your itinerary - you can then check through this and make sure you are happy with your accommodation before moving onto the next booking stage. If not we can make adjustments to get it right.
With Encounter Walking you will not only know where you will be staying each night but you will have been involved in selecting your own accommodation before we even accept your booking.
You will be able to use the links from our quotes to view the full accommodation websites before you book. The accommodation websites give you plenty of information and will frequently also have images for you to look at. We only use reliable, clean and good standard accommodation options - as the largest holiday provider we quickly know about any problems and won't use places that are not of an acceptable standard for our walkers.
If you have further questions about a particular accommodation you can ask us or if you prefer you can contact the accommodation directly - we don't discourage this and we also have a good relationship with the accommodations we use. If you are still unsure then consider checking Trip Advisor for some recent and independent reviews - look at general trends from those commenting there. A better source of feedback is from our walkers and the reviews section. You can find these for every walk and the reviews will often have comments about accommodation that they felt particularly stood out on their walk.
If you still want to know more then ask us - one of our staff may well have stayed or visited the accommodation and we can put you in touch with them if need be. We want you to be sure BEFORE you book that we have helped you make the right choice of accommodation and so are happy to provide you with any information we have to ensure this happens - so do just ask!
Yes you can. These days around 95% of rooms on the walking routes are en-suite (a bathroom immediately adjoining the bedroom within your own room). Occasionally bathrooms are private (for your own use but located outside your room). We very rarely use shared facilities (where the bathroom is shared with other people) and will only include them if there is no other option. So only in situations where due to the remoteness or lack of accommodation there is no choice OR where we have been asked to keep the costs as low as we possibly can by you.
We realise most walkers want en-suite rooms or failing that, private bathrooms. Our quotes, booking confirmations and itineraries all specifically state whether a room is ensuite, private bathroom or shared bathroom so you know exactly what has been suggested before any bookings.
In one or two small and remote locations en-suite rooms can be a problem, usually where the only accommodation is a farmhouse or similar. However we are clear about this AND if you can't manage that night without an en-suite room then we will work to provide a solution. Changing the daily stages will often will get you around the problem (so walking on further to the next village or stopping at an earlier point) OR if that is not possible then staying 2 nights in the previous location with transfers to and from the problem area to get you along the trail with en-suite rooms all the way.
So you will know what the bathroom arrangements are before booking and if there are only shared bathrooms available at any particular locations we will come up with solutions if you raise this with us as a problem.
Bathrooms will be one of the following and your quotes will clearly confirm which for you
En-suite - With your own bathroom adjoining the bedroom within your room - most rooms these days are en-suite on the walking trails.
Private Bathroom - Your own bathroom for your use only but just outside your bedroom - so perhaps across the corridor. These can occur more often in older historic buildings such as in the fishing harbours where properties may have been built 300 years ago and the layout is difficult to change.
Shared Bathrooms - A bathroom shared by a small number of rooms. We only use these if there are no other options in that location OR if you are looking for the cheapest accommodation options. You will only use rooms with a shared bathroom if you have agreed to it.
Yes - if seaview options or deluxe or premium options exist in a particular accommodation then you are very welcome to request them. As superior rooms usually cost more than the standard rooms, where we think they may be of interest we include them as an option and advise you of the difference in price - you can then choose them if you wish and in most cases you can see the rooms on the accommodation websites to help you decide.
If you know you want the best rooms possible throughout your walking holiday then let us know when you request a quote and we can price it based on upgraded options from the start. Othewise our advice would be to pick and choose from the quote but if you see a particular room on a hotel website and want us to try and secure that for you then just tell us - if it's available we can arrange this for you.
Yes. This is a very important question which you should always ask of walking holiday companies before booking.
Encounter Walking will always try to use accommodation as close as possible to the route you are walking. We are aware that, sadly, some other walking holiday companies either don't check this or will use accomodation that is further away from the trail because it is cheaper.
We don't do this and location of the accommodation is a very important component of the way we operate.
We are walkers as well and we fully understand that having walked all day you don't want to find you then have to walk several miles further to your bed after reaching your destination and worse still have to return to the centre of a village or town in the evening to eat.
In most cases you want to be as near to the centre of a village as possible - its easier for evening meals, likely to be closer to the path and will also be a more interesting location to spend the night at with the centre of the town to explore close by along with its restaurants, shops and facilities.
So for instance on a coastal route, if possible, you want to be by the waterfront or overlooking a pretty or historic harbour - not a one mile walk up a steep hillside in an area of dull modern housing on the edge of the town. In one or two places the reverse is true - for instance at Newquay in Cornwall the centre of the large town there is noisy with nightclubs and bars and we place you instead in a much quieter location around 2 miles further along the coast path above a beautiful beach at Fistral Bay. You can choose the nightclubs and the centre of course but in the first instance we are very aware of the importance of WHERE your accommodation is in relation to the walking trail, the location centre and any possible annoyances and we will be using the best options based on those factors.
The only other reasons for NOT being in accommodation as close to the path as possible is where things are already booked out, where there is no accommodation on the path and everyone has to walk inland to the nearest village OR if there is particularly good accommodation option that you have chosen or we know about that may be worth a bit of extra distance.
If you have to walk any significant distance from the path we will make you aware of it such as places like Zennor or St Just on the Cornish Coast Path where all accommodation is in villages inland of the trail and the path does not go near any habitation.
By providing you with the information about which accommodation you would be in BEFORE you book you are able to see for yourself the distance from the trail but be assured that we will be looking to locate you in most cases as near as possible to it.
UK bed sizes are different to the USA and Canada and are as follows:
Small Single Bed - 75cm x 190cm (2' 6" x 6' 3")
Standard Single Bed - 90cm x 190cm (3' x 6' 3") - This is the usual single bed / twin bed option
Small Double Bed - 120cm x 190cm (4' x 6' 3")
Standard Double Bed - 135cm x 190cm (4' 6" x 6' 3") This is the usual double bed option
Kingsize Bed (US Queen Size) - 150cm x 200cm (5' x 6' 6") - These are available in some locations
Super Kingsize Bed (US California King Size) - 180cm x 200cm (6' x 6' 6") - Not common in the UK
Bed size refers to mattress size and these are the standard names for those sizes.
More information and a handy chart can be found on this site for UK Bed Sizes
Wi-Fi - These days most accommodations will provide free wi-fi at some level and recognise it as something people want to have if possible. Larger and more modern hotels will often manage it in most or all rooms whilst in smaller and older B&B's and Inns it may be restricted to public areas like the bar or lounge.
You will be walking in remote areas and staying in locations that are often at the end of any physical internet network so don't expect to get super-fast speeds or to be able to download movies, particularly as you move further away from major towns and cities. That said, most places will be able to manage some sort of connection or if its urgent may allow you to use their computer to check emails if you ask.
If its a key issue you can always contact the accommodation in advance to find out exactly what they will be able to provide - you will have been given their details and you can therefore plan around this but remember that remote inland and coastal areas are NOT the places to go to on holiday if its vital for you to have constant and fast internet or mobile phone connections 24 hours a day.
Mobile Phone Signal - This is always patchy once you are in rural and remote areas of the UK, although it is improving year by year. Generally, you should be able to find a phone signal in higher locations and hillsides, so if you lose connection in the valleys you should pick it up again at the top of the next hill although you may find using the internet on a smart phone is not possible.
Overnight stops in hamlets at the bottom of deep valleys or at the end of narrow river estuaries are usually the worst. If it's urgent then ask at your accommodation; if you are in an area where there is no signal the locals will all know where you can get a signal for service - usually by walking a short distance to the top of the nearest hill to get above any black spot. The UK still has some village telephone boxes usually in locations with bad mobile phone signal (for obvious reasons) and your accommodation will also allow you to make any calls in an emergency.
Is one mobile service better ? We are often asked if one mobile phone provider is better than another but it doesn't make too much difference as most of them share masts and have pretty similar coverage. You will get some slighth variance between providers - one may be better than another in one overnight location for instance and if you are planning to stay in one place for a long time it can be worth trying to establish the best. However for those walking on every day to a new location the level of phone coverage from different providers will effectively even itself out and its not worth agonising over. All the main providers such as Three, EE, Vodaphone & O2 provide coverage maps on their websites but they are not particularly reliable guides on the ground - you could spend more time trying to work out who claims to offer the better service than it would take to actually walk the route itself!
This can be a confusing issue particularly for overseas walkers as a "double bedroom" can have a different meaning in other parts of Europe and the USA.
Double Bedrooms - These are a single large bed for 2 people to share - so usually for couples.
Twin Bedrooms - These rooms will have two SINGLE beds - so suitable either for couples who prefer their own bed or for 2 friends who want the same room but not the same bed!
Single Bedrooms - These rooms will be a single bed for a single walker. They often tend to be quite small but are the best value for single walkers. If you want more space but your own room then consider upgrading to a double bedroom for single occupancy. You will then have a larger room and a larger bed though the accommodation will charge a bit more for it.
Family Rooms - Larger rooms usually for families - normally a double bed and a single bed - which will sleep two parents sharing a large bed and a child in a single bed.
Larger family rooms may have 2 single beds (or bunk beds) so they can now take 2 children, or a small put-up camping bed can be added if its for a younger child. Larger family rooms are not that common on many of the trails as accommodation is often in older historic buildings that tend not to have the large rooms. If you are a family of 2 adults and 2 or more children you are likely to have to take 2 rooms on some nights to fit everyone in.
Triple Rooms - These are not common but you can find them on occasions and will be 3 x single beds for 3 adult friends - they will be cheaper than a twin and a single if there are 3 of you.
Dormitory / Shared Bedrooms - Tend to be in youth hostels only. We don't generally use these unless you have specifically asked for the cheapest possible accommodation - you will share a larger room typically of around 6 beds with other guests - these are very cheap but not suitable if you don't want to share a room with strangers. Dormitories will almost always be single sex - which means female only or male only rooms.
90% of walkers choose to have their luggage transferred whilst they walk rather than carry it every day on the trail.
Every year we move over 6000 pieces of luggage around the South West and Welsh walking routes so this is a large and well established operation.
The bags to be moved need to be ready from 9.00am for collection. You leave your luggage with the accommodation when you check out to start your day's walk. You head off to enjoy your walk and the luggage is collected and delivered to your next accommodation while you are on the trail.
Your luggage transfers are all booked in advance so you don't need to be writing out luggage labels every day or advising drivers where the bags are to go.
Luggage delivery drivers move along a section of the coast path each day collecting and dropping luggage on their way. Collection and delivery times depend on how much luggage is being moved by the driver, but we aim to have all bags delivered by 4.00pm. Most luggage is dropped off much earlier than this during the delivery and collection run.
You are left to walk the route free from the weight and effort of carrying your own luggage and most people just take a daypack with their maps, itinerary information and some food, water, waterproofs and essentials.
Our quotations are based on one item (suitcase or backpack) per person so for a couple that means two bags included in your luggage transfer service.
There is a strict limit of 25kg per item and we cannot move heavier bags than this. The reasons for this and what to do if you have heavier items is dealt with in the question below this on luggage weight.
If you have more than 1 bag per person then you can add additional items to the transfer service. These are charged at £5 per additional item per day. You need to book these extra bags in advance with us before you start the walk and our pre-walk information will advise you how to do this.
There is a strict weight limit of 25kg per item for luggage transfers on most routes. For Welsh routes north of Pembrokeshire the weight limit is 20kg per item.
No individual item can weigh more than this and we cannot transfer bags that are heavier than 25kg. Luggage transfer drivers will weigh luggage so please observe this limit. You can book in as many items as you want to BUT no single item must weigh more than 25kg.
The main reason for this is for the health and safety of those delivering luggage and those moving it around your accommodation. Many of the delivery locations are in old harbours and towns where its very difficult to get vehicles close to B&B's and hotels and drivers are often left to carry or move bags some distance. Old fishing villages like Looe and Polperro in Cornwall have tiny lanes and flights of steps to negotiate and moving overweight bags by hand often over some distance is just not possible.
We don’t expect luggage transfer staff and the staff running the B&B’s and the hotels to lift unsafe loads day in day out through the season and we don’t think it would be responsible for us to let this happen.
What if my luggage does weigh over 25kg ?
We strongly advise you not to bring bags which weigh more than this on your walking holiday. Consider splitting down your luggage into two bags if you need it all with you on the trail OR leave an item in storage if you are travelling out and back from London.
You will find trying to get around the UK, on the underground in London, on and off trains and to and from stations etc will be very difficult if you have a single very heavy bag. You should be able to lift any item you bring with you if you want to be mobile when visiting the UK. Only a few of the more expensive London hotels will have porters to help you with heavy cases.
If your luggage does weigh over 25kg and you present it for transfer on the walking trails then after the first delivery the luggage transfer drivers will leave a second canvas bag for you. You will be asked to transfer some of your luggage into that so that neither item is over 25kg. You will also have to pay a surcharge for the second bag every day for delivery. If you don't do this then the drivers will not be able to move your luggage and you will have to make your own arrangements.
Weight Limits for luggage apply with ALL companies and ALL Luggage Transfer services on walking routes in the UK.
For those arriving into the UK and then heading off to walk then the best place to store luggage you don't need on your walking holiday is in London or at your arrival / departure airport. Space for extra luggage on trains to the South West and Wales is often limited and it makes little sense to bring lots of luggage with you back and forth on the train and then pay to have it moved every day along your walking trail if you are never going to need most of it during the walk.
As most walks are starting and ending at different points, storing items at the accommodation on the walk does not make usually make sense as you would then need to spend time on another journey to return to the first nights' accommodation just to collect the luggage.
The best advice is use storage facilities in London if arriving from and returning to London
In the London area there are left luggage facilities at all the airports (though these are the most expensive), at the main train stations such as Paddington and Kings Cross, the main bus station in Victoria, Central London (this is the cheapest option) and in some hotels and private facilities.
A good website for viewing the options is http://www.toptiplondon.com/practical-tips/left-luggage This covers all the main options in central London as well as the airports and has some tips for cheaper options if time allows such as self storage companies. Follow the links to the providers websites however to check current prices and booking procedures.
One other suggestion is you are staying a night before your walking holiday in Central London OR close to one of the airports and you are then returning for another night after the walk then try to find a hotel that will store your luggage for you whilst you are away walking. Some will do it for free as long as you are returning for a second night and are brazen enough to ask! The guesthouse type places will normally be fine – the smarter hotels often may offer it as a service anyway and have their own facilities for storing luggage. Just be sure to check with the accomodation you intend to use before booking the rooms.
Yes for sure – there is no requirement to have a luggage transfer and if you don't need on then, depending on the route, this can result in a substantial reduction in the cost of your walking holiday.
Your quote will show a price with bags transferred and a price without. Unlike most walking companies we work your price out on an actual costs basis so we pass the savings for not having to organise your luggage directly onto you. For those looking for a budget option and who are fit enough to carry your own bags, it’s an option to consider and will produce good savings, particularly if you are a solo walker.
Just make sure its viable for you to carry your own luggage. You will find the walking slower, the effort much greater and the distances you can comfortably cover in a day will be reduced so remember to allow for this when planning your route. You will be very aware of the weight you are carrying on coastal routes in particular, where there is a lot of climbing up hills and steep descents. However if you pack light and are used to carrying your own luggage when walking it will certainly save you money.
If you did NOT book a luggage transfer option but decide a day or so into the walk that you do want one then these can be arranged directly so get in touch - we need 24 hours notice in most cases but once you contact us we can book in luggage transfers for the rest of your holiday and you can pay the luggage transfer company directly for this at the usual rates.
A variety of means are used to transfer bags depending on where you are walking. On key routes such as the South West Coast Path, we use a commerical luggage transfer operator but at quiet times of year and in less visited areas it may be transferred by your accommodation hosts or by one of our local drivers. We arrange whatever is required to get your luggage to you. In Clovelly, North Devon, for example, where there is no road access to the village your luggage arrives down the narrow cobbled lane on a sledge pulled by donkeys! (click here to read more)
We take every care to make sure your luggage arrives securely and in good condition. In 2015 season we made over 6000 luggage deliveries for our walkers, so its a large and well-organised operation with vitually no issues with security and care of luggage.
Of course, in any location, things can go awry, most notably when travelling on trains and planes to us in the South West and Wales or within your accommodation around the UK. This is where having travel insurance in place is common sense and you should make sure you include basic cover for your luggage and any valuable items within it.
We will, of course, take responsibility for any problems with luggage due to negligence whilst it’s in our care and we cover your luggage up to a maximum of £200 in total for loss or damage during transit along the trail. However any basic travel insurance policy can cover for valuable items and contents and give you that security during the rest of your travelling in the UK and whilst its in accommodation, airports, stations, on trains and in hire cars. It should also cover the day packs you use when walking which are often more vulnerable to being left or lost somewhere and indeed many policies will cover your cash, credit cards and travel doccuments. For more information on travel insurance and where to get it see the section on safety in the frequently asked questions below.
Valuable Items & Types of Luggage We don’t advise taking very valuable items with you on the walk (if you do want to bring lap tops, jewelry and expensive camera equipment then check your insurance will cover them in full for the duration of your holiday in the UK).
Remember also that on a two week walking holiday your bags will need to be carried multiple times to and from accommodation, up and down flights of stairs and be loaded in and out of luggage transfer vehicles along with many other cases and bags. The transfer staff take as much care as they can of your luggage but it's not a holiday for which you should a brand new suitcase, as its going to be moving around a lot as it follows you along the coast path.
So to be safe, we suggest you don't bring fragile or valuable items or very expensive state-of-the-art new suitcases. If you do intend doing this then please let us know in advance and make sure you have insurance that will cover you in the unlikely event of any problem. We are pleased to say that in the last 10 years with many thousands of luggage moves every season, we have had to deal with less than 5 issues of theft or damage to luggage and these have been within the accommodation rather than during the luggage delivery service. So, whilst a problem is very unlikely, it's still common sense to be aware that your luggage is going to do a lot of moving during the time you are walking and a walking holiday where luggage is moving every day is not a place to bring brand new bags or irreplaceable and fragile items.
No this is not normally recommended or possible. With large amounts of luggage moving along the main routes this is not a good idea. You won't know what time during the day the vehicle will arrive at your accommodation to collect luggage and with multiple pick-up and drops you would spend a very dull day waiting for and stopping at every accommodation location on the way to your next destination. In addition most vehicles are not insured for taking passengers.
We can advise on other ways to move on to your next overnight without walking if you need a day off the trails. In some areas there are buses on the routes and we always supply local taxi numbers with your final itinerary. It's a much better plan to use one of these options and to spend the day exploring at either end of the walking day rather than sitting in a luggage transfer vehicle that is making multiple stops to drop off and pick up bags.
Yes - for those who have booked a dog in for their walk we allow an extra luggage allowance to cover whatever you need to bring for your four-legged friend. So your dog's bedding, food and other items will be carried - if you have a cage for smaller dogs this can be included but you do need to just let us know when you book that you will have one.
It depends on the trail, but in general the more popular routes and the National Trails in the UK are easy to follow. However you should always have a high-scale map to help with any confusing bits and be able to understand it!
National Trails and Coastal Routes - The South West and Welsh Coast Paths are National Trails and due to this they are generally are very well signposted and maintained. They also have a good numbers of walkers on them, the locals you meet will know the routes and direct you back to them and possibly the biggest aid to navigation is that you have the sea on one side to help guide you. These are not wilderness areas so you won't get dangerously lost.
Inland footpath Routes. Walks like the Saints Way and Coleridge Way are not National Trails but they are marked on all OS (Ordnance Survey) mapping, which we provide, and are reasonably well signposted on the ground. However they tend to have less walkers so the trails can take a bit more concentration to follow.
High Moorland Routes - If you are planning to walk these you need a higher level of navigation skill. We will advise and check this with you before booking you onto them. This only really applies to sections of the Two Moors Way over Dartmoor, a few parts of Exmoor and on Bodmin Moor routes where you walking across open moorland, at times without signposted trails or obvious tracks, and for these you need a higher level of navigation skills and experience and should have at least basic compass skills in case mist or fog comes down.
Maps and Guidebooks The section in these Frequently Asked Questions covers what we provide in more detail but rest assured that you have the best possible materials available for your walk as we see this as an important component of your walk. Our daily itineraries also include notes to highlight any potential issues. Our walkers feed back issues and we can keep you informed about this, although these are really not common on the main National Trails these days.
Ideally, you should be able to follow a map for all the routes. You will generally find UK paths easy enough to follow but it is important to have and refer to mapping in places where signposting may not be as good as it could be.
If you are unable to use a map or have no experience with one then its important to let us know as we can then suggest walks that the easiest to follow and well signposted AND we an help with advising on a few websites that you can visit to give you the basic skills so that you can use your map at some level if you get stuck.
Summary The West Country and coastal areass of Wales feel remote but they are not a wilderness and if you do lose your way you will come across a house, village or road pretty quickly. If you are not sure of your location you will be able to use your map and guidebook to work out where you are or to return to the last place you were correct -you may have missed a signpost or trail junction. Asking for help in most cases is the easy solution - local residents and other walkers will happily direct you back onto the path.
This very much depends on the trail you are walking, so ask your walking advisor if you want specific details. In most cases you are not walking in a wilderness and although coastal routes will feel remote, even in their wilder areas there is almost always habitation a mile or so inland. On coastal paths you will come across small villages at some point on most days where you will normally find a shop, cafe or pub you can make use of. In the high season many beaches will have seasonal cafes as well, right on the trail.
Our itineraries cover this day by day in detail for you, with sections on what refreshments you will pass on that day's walking. This will allow you to plan before you set out for your walk and have a good idea of where you will break during the day and what you can expect to be available. In season there are often great inns or beach cafes that can make superb lunch stops on the main walking routes and its good to have this information in advance.
There are a few remote areas and walking days, generally on Exmoor and Dartmoor where you won't pass anything during the day but these are clearly indicated in the itinerary. On these days you need to be sure you have supplies (packed lunch and water) with you to see you through the day.
Public toilets tend to be limited to larger towns and villages on the route and many have closed in recent years, so in general the easiest and more pleasant option is to head into any cafe or pub on the route, have a rest, buy a drink and make use of their facilities before heading off again. (But please note, many establishments are not keen on members of the public using their facilities if you are not also a customer.) On more remote days with few or no villages along the route, you will need to use the bushes if you are "caught short" - with walking in the UK this is totally accepted and everyone has to do it in remote areas when there are large distances between any habitation.
We do not arrange international flights or ferry travel into the UK but to help you can use our UK Travel Map to see the location of the main air and ferry ports in the South of England and Wales. You can follow links on that map to the websites for the airport and ferry operators to find out about flight and ferry services to the UK.
We are able to help with advice and information for getting to your walk from your point of entry and again the map above is the place to start. You can see the routes to the walking areas and follow links to find the main train operators as well as view timetables. If you get stuck with travel within the UK then do contact us and we can help you work out options and timetables.
This can happen to us all at times or you can be unlucky with really poor weather and decide you want to finish early and transfer to the next overnight location.
Public Transport On many routes there are local bus options that can work fine. We provide you with details for the travel information organisation Traveline with your itinerary and you can call up and get details on the next services, although often just asking in a local pub or shop is often the quickest way to get this information if you are not sure. You can also telephone and ask us for information and advice during office hours for your options if you want to shorten a day's walk.
There are several sections of the South West Coast Path which are well covered by bus routes (ask us for details on which ones if you think this could be an important issue for you). Along the whole of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales a superb network of Walkers Coastal Bus Routes allows travels up and down the walking route through the summer. For northern sections on the Welsh Coast Path pretty much the whole route between Aberystwyth and Snowdonia has its own coastal railway just inland of the route which allows you to jump on in many small locations and move forward if you need to cut any day short.
Taxis In some more remote areas there is little or no public transport and options are therefore very limited - for example, parts of the Lizard in Cornwall, the North Devon/Cornwall borders and inland Dartmoor and Exmoor - here if you want to finish early you are likely to have to call in a taxi.
Our itineraries have local taxi numbers for every day of the walk so the usual way out if you suddenly decide you want to stop is to head into the next village, find a pub or cafe and call from there. Taxis in rural areas are not like metered London Cabs - they are generally not that expensive and are used by the locals to get around where there are no public transport services. In many cases for around £10 you will be able to cut the walk short with a small taxi ride if you need to and get a lift to your accommodation.
Its a difficult question and of course the answer very much depends on how severely you experience vertigo or fear of heights
A severe fear of heights - In general if you have severe vertigo and can't bear the thought of being near high drops then coastal routes are not a good idea for a walking holiday as you will come across high cliffs and sheer drops fairly regularly. All sections of the South West Coast Path have times when the path runs along the tops of cliffs with drops to the sea on one side.
If you have a very severe fear of heights then consider inland routes such as the Dartmoor Way, Saints Way Coleridge Way or Two Moors Way as alternatives. These routes do not involve cliffs or sheer drops and on some routes, like the Coleridge Way you can still have coastal views but from a distance.
However, if you are very keen to walk on a coastal route then there are a few exceptions, for example, the Meirionydd and Snowdonia Coast Path in Wales. Here you can walk for five days right next to the sea but you will not encounter any sheer cliffs or sheer drops on the route.
A mild fear of heights - If cliffs and sheer drops just make you feel a bit uncomfortable then just note that there are no dangerous traverses on very narrow ledges, ladders or technical scrambles on our walking routes, so you may be fine - you can expect along the coast to be on paths that at times will run very close to the edge and you will feel exposed, which is normal but you not be in any real danger of falling off and you can often just keep to the inland edge.
One way to get an idea of whether the route is suitable is to look at as many images of the path as you can - this will give you a good idea of what the walking and the cliffs can be like. So run an internet search for "South West Coast Path" for instance and click on the image button - you can quickly scroll through hundreds of images of the path and get a better idea of whether it is going to be a problem for you. If you see places which make you nervous then its best you avoid that route.
Some sections are worse than others of couse and we can advise on which so feel free to call BUT its very difficult for us to advise if you will be able to do a particular section when we don't know you or your vertigo - so if you have a severe fear of heights, our advice will tend to always be to avoid the coast path routes and try an inland walking holiday as an alternative.
This is often a concern for solo walkers and you can read more about how to walk safely if walking alone in the safety section of these Frequently Asked Questions.
On the National Trails you will come across other walkers on the route, although, in general, once you are a mile or so outside towns and villages the local walkers dissapear and the routes are quiet and not crowded. In high season you will usually pass other walkers at fairly regular intervals along the coast paths and when you reach beaches, villages and harbours you will find plenty of people who have driven to visit these rather than walked to them.
At night in overnight stops you will often find you are staying with other walkers particularly in the smaller locations and its often quite amusing to bump into people you met a few days back down the trail who are walking a slightly different schedule to you. Walkers will often share experiences and tips with each other and its well worth getting in the habit of asking anyone walking the opposite direction what the next bit of walk is going to be like, what places they stopped at, any wildlife they saw, what the trail condition was like - the most recent information is by far the best!
Inland paths like the Saints Way and Coleridge Way see many less walkers and you may be pleasantly suprised not to see any at all as you walk them, however you are never that far from habitation or small villages should you need them.
In remote inland walking areas like Dartmoor and Exmoor and in some of the most wilder coastal parts of North Wales it is possible though not usual to walk for several hours and not see anyone at all.
As a general rule - on well known walks, in good weather and in the walking season there will be other people out walking the trail that you meet during the day but out of season or on less walked routes you may walk for sometime without seeing anyone at all.
You will find lots of useful information in both your personal itinerary and also your guidebook about things not to miss on each day's walk - such as good beaches, attractions, places to rest up and highlights for that day's walk. On coastal routes the Trailblazer Guidebooks also provide plenty of information about the overnight locations with suggestions on where to eat, what to see, locations of services such as banks and shops and interesting things to look out for.
When planning your walk its well worth reading the relevant sections on our website to find out about larger and more significant visits you want to build time in to see - such as St Michaels Mount or The Eden Project in Cornwall, Castle Drogo on Dartmoor or some of the many offshore islands and castles in Wales. Some routes such as The Dartmoor Way have as many things to see off the trail as on it but they are all places you can reach on foot on your walking holiday.
Let us know what interests you and we can work with you to make sure that you have built in enough time on any given days walk for any of these larger type of larger attractions.
All our holidays include a full cooked breakfast every day within the holiday price so you are well set up for the day's walk.
We provide information in your final itinerary so you can choose to arrange packed lunches with your accommodation or eat at inns, cafes or restaurants on the trail during the day. You will pay for these locally.
You will pay for your own evening meals but again we cover the options in your itinerary for you. Inns and hotels will usually have evening meals available on site. With smaller B&B's we advise on where to find local eating options in the location where you are staying. These will always be close by, we are walkers here as well and we understand you don't want to have to walk a long way again in the evening to get something to eat.
We give you all the information you need about lunches in your final itinerary.
A lot of accommodation will provide a packed lunch. Your walking itinerary will tell you which accommodation provides packed lunch and how to order it. However to give you complete control we also note where there are places on the route each day where you can buy lunch. You can then choose to stop at a nice pub or cafe if there is one for instance. In one or two remote locations where accommodation can't provide a packed lunch and there are no options during the walking day then we make sure you are aware of where you can buy provisions before setting out on that day's walk.
So for each walking day we make sure you have all the options and you can then make your own decision - and won't go hungry!
Most of our walking routes include overnight stops in locations where there are plenty of pubs, restaurants and other eating options close by. In remote sections, if these are not available, your itinerary will advise on whether evening meals can be obtained at your accommodation or what other arrangements there are to eat.
Whatever the location, your itinerary will have advice for every night about eating options so you will never be caught out.
Yes - these days vegetarians will have no problem getting options for meals even in remote locations and accommdoation is very used to providing vegetarian breakfasts. Make sure you tell us when you book, however, so we can advise your accommodation in advance.
More specialist diets such as gluten free and vegan can be requested and in the larger and more cosmopolitan towns like Padstow and St Ives, the restaurants, B&B's and Hotels are usually able to help here. However in smaller and remote locations it will be more of a struggle. We will always advise your accommodation of any special diets if you tell us about them so they will know in advance but you need to be realistic and prepared for the fact that in remote areas you may well not be able to get the options you want.
So, if there are things that are very important for you to have - such as gluten free bread, non-dairy spreads and soya milk for instance - then we advise that you send a supply with your luggage to cover any nights where the accommodation is not geared up or able to fully cater for your diet. In remote locations you won't be able to find these items in local shops and there may not be a shop anyway!
You will have the details of the accommodation in your itinerary and if it's a key issue we would advise you contact them in advance to discuss what they can and can't provide for you. Often there is just a lack of understanding in smaller B&B's and Inn's about what you need. By checking with them, if they can't manage everything you need, you can at least be prepared by having items in your luggage transfers to get you through areas where special diets are not fully understood or available.
Quite simply - we provide the best maps and guidebooks available - we are walkers here and we know the value of having the best information for planning and using during your walk.
So we use the highest scale mapping options in all cases and the most useful and informative guidebooks and texts, instead of just sending out the cheapest ones!
You can see in detail what we include in our walks by clicking here . All our quotes list the resouces included for each walk and these are always the best options for your route.
In addition we produce a very detailed day-by-day itinerary that is tailor-made for your individual holiday. This includes not only details of where you are staying and how to find the accomodation, but also what to look out for on each walking day, notes on any refreshment options on the route, distances, grades of walking and likely walking times. We keep them constantly updated through the season with feedback from other walkers and include details on any path diversions or issues on the trail you are walking. For most week-long walking holidays this will run to a very comprehensive doccument of around 20 pages or more - all tailored for your specific itinerary and holiday plan.
Yes of course - you may have guidebooks and maps from a previous walk you have done with us that will cover your current route OR you may just want to purchase your own.
If so we will deduct the costs of the literature from your holiday price so you are not paying for items you don't want. Your detailed itinerary doccument is still included of course.
All our quotes show the price saving if you want to provide your own maps and guidebooks (or already have them) putting you in control of what you pay for.
Yes - we send out all our literature packs to wherever you are based in the world and unlike some we don't charge any more for doing this, wherever you are.
You can, if you prefer, have them sent to your first night's accommodation but in general we recommend having them sent to your home address so you can do some advance reading before your holiday starts. We send the books out as soon as possible after your booking to help you with this.
Yes - we provide one set of maps and guidebooks per group as its keeps the costs down given that most groups don't need lots of copies of the same information. Our walking itineraries are emailed as PDF's so everyone can print off and store that information at no charge.
If you are in a larger group and want more copies of the guidebooks and maps just let us know how many extra copies you want and we can add this to your booking and send them out to separate addresses. Maps and books are charged at the standard retail prices but we don't charge for post of packaging no matter where in the world they are being sent.
We want you to have your maps and guidebooks as soon as possible after booking as it means you can start reading and researching your walk. It's also nice to have them to look at whilst you counting down the days to your holiday!
So as soon as you have gone ahead with a booking and advised your address we will aim to get your books and maps out to you. This is often, therefore, several months before your walk starts so you can use them for planning. We send items out by airmail if you are overseas, so you receive them within a few days of posting.
If you have booked at the last minute and its too late to send the items overseas then we can send them to any UK address or the first night's accommodation for you to collect on arrival for your walk.
Quoted distances on main walking routes will somtimes vary a bit; paths have been re-routed over the years, GPS data has replaced older methods of calculation and different guidebooks have taken different approaches and starting and finishing points.
We always use the official mileage figures produced by those who are responsible for maintaining the routes. So for instance the South West Coast Path Association and the Welsh Coast Path body. Smaller routes such as the Two Moors Way and Coleridge Way have management groups and again the figures for mileage they publish and promote tend to be the most accurate so we use their figures.
Note that mileage figures will be taken from key and obvious location points on the route - for instance the centre of a town, the harbour in a fishing village or perhaps the county boundary in an area like Exmoor. These don't allow for the distance to your accommodation from that point on the trail so you need to allow for that if comparing official mileage to what you may record with a GPS for instance. We make sure we use accommodation that is as close as possible to the trail so this is generally only a small walk, if it is over half-a-mile (around 0.8km) we will advise this in the notes so you are aware of it and can allow for it.
All distance figures should therefore always be taken as approximate but are generally accurate over any days walk to within around 10%, so no more than a mile or so and any variances won't make any significant difference to your walking day - remember most people will walk a mile in around 1/2 hour.
GPS units add a further dimension to the mileage question and don't reflect what we actually walk step-by-step - they are a great asset to the walking world but have some issues with practical accuracy - for more info see "Why does my GPS give me a different distance to the official mileage"
We grade our walks as easy, moderate, strenuous and severe. Please see the Walking Grades Page for information about how we grade the walks. We also explain the difference between gradings for coastal and inland walks and give examples and images to help you understand how we have graded our walks. Grading the walks allows you to quickly decide whether a route is suitable for you.
Very simply - any section times given for the time it takes to walk from Point A to Point B are guidelines only
We all walk differently - There is a huge variation in us all as walkers in how long we will indivdually take to complete a day's walk. A walk which a very fit and experienced walker will complete in 4 hours can take someone who is not used to walking more like 6 hours. In addition, we all walk in very different ways: some people like to stop frequently, take in views, take photographs, explore a little off the trail and stop and chat to passing walkers on the route. Others like to challenge themselves to walk as fast as they can and push on through the day and keep stops and breaks to an absolute minimum.
Look at the reviews section on our website for the walk you want to do - you will find comments from others that walked before you. Some will report the times were right for them, many will note they took much longer than the estimate given but wanted to spend time stopping on the way. A few will have walked faster than the estimate. Reading the comments will give you a good idea of how easy or difficult people found that particular walk and the effort and time it took.
Times given are therefore a general estimate using an average of the above variations. You should already have an idea of how long it takes you to walk a set distance in your normal walking activities and this is your BEST guideline for your holiday, always allowing for the grade of the terrain. We provide grades and average walking times for all sections.
Ultimately of course there is no right or wrong way to walk and the only rule should be that you walk the way that suits you - but remember that this will often be very different to the next walker or indeed the "average" walker.
What effects the Guideline Times -
Times DO NOT include for stops and breaks. They are walking times only - that means the time you are actually walking! So unless you don't stop at all for lunch or to pause to look at the views you will need to add to the walking times to cover your breaks.
Times are based on the route from Point A to Point B - they won't include the time it takes to walk to and from the trail from your accommodation or to visit that pub just inland of the trail or explore the side streets and shops of that fishing harbour.
On top of this are things like weather and trail conditions. In wet and windy weather your actual time to complete a section will increase dramatically - even if it's sunny, if the trail is muddy or slippery from recent rain you are going to move much more slowly. If you are carrying a heavy pack that will also increase your walking time substantially, particularly if there are steep climbs and descents.
Using Guideline Times So, the best way to make use of section times is to be cautious - you are on holiday after all. See how you compare on Day 1 to the guidebook times (or the times in our notes) and then you have your yardstick for the holiday - if it takes you an extra 2 hours to complete a 10 mile day then you can allow for that to guide you for the rest of your walk and it gives YOU a measure of how long YOU are likely to take rather than how long the "average" walker will take.
Avoid becomming obsessed or upset with times and how you perform against them - if you walk a lot more slowly than the guidebook suggests then we can guarantee you will have seen more and experienced more than the person who walked it super-fast, hell bent on getting to the end as early as possible. These times are not a test of your fitness or walking ability and if it takes you an hour or so more to complete sections if you are enjoying the walking and the experience then ask yourself... is that really a problem?
First of all remember that "official" mileage figures for UK National Trails may well vary by around 10% when you walk them on the ground - there are various reasons for this and you can read about them in the section on "Working out daily distances"
GPS Mileage - In the new age of GPS units, smartphone Apps and pedometers its easy to get rather too obsessed wtih exact mileages - you won't find that what you walk matches exactly the "official" point to point figures - no-one walks a route in exactly the same way, you divert to see views, stop at cafes, walk along beaches when the tide is out, take official and unofficial diversions where the trail is less clear or maintained and you need to allow for getting to and from your accommodation.
There are also issues with how GPS units and Apps record walking data - they are a great asset but don't treat them as infallible. They operate by checking where you are usually every 5 to 20 seconds but they can only pinpoint you to a 10m circle - your GPS assumes you walk in a direct line between the points when it locates you - but none of us do! We walk around things on footpaths that are anything but dead staight and this adds and adds through the day. The problem gets more accute if you can't be located even for short periods because of poor signal or interference. The GPS will pick you up again as soon as it can but again it assumes you walked a dead straight line in-between. One of the biggest problems we come across is when you stop to rest. With many units, if you don't pause or switch it off your unit it continues to bounce signals back and forth from space but within that 10 m circle that surrounds you, so it gives different location results every time, even though you are not actually moving. So whilst you are sat in the pub for an hour at lunchtime the GPS can end up recording that you moving around within that 10m circle for the whole duration - this is the so called Spider Effect and can make significant increases in the mileage you record. If you are interested in the science you can read lots about these issues online, particularly on running sites where runners (for obvious reasons) get very frustrated when their GPS watches tell them they ran further than the official race length. For instance, see this article in The Guardian and there is also some sensible information for walkers from the UK Walking Club - click here
Without doubt units improve every year and will get more accurate but in the meantime just don't expect your GPS system to match the "as the crow flies" figures.... unless its strapped to a crow (!) and ALWAYS have a paper map back up in case your system runs out of power or malfunctions.
Remember all official mileage for UK Long Distance paths are guidelines only, don't expect or aim to walk or record the exact figure quoted and indeedyou can expect to walk anything up to 10% more per day on the ground. Allow for that when planning for far you are able to walk in a day.
As an intersting footnote - one little known GPS fact - and thank you to www.walkingclub.org.uk for providing this one - is that we have the unlikely source of Ronald Reagan to thank for GPS:
'After the 1983 shooting down of a Korean airliner which has wandered into Soviet airspace, Ronald Reagan announced that GPS would be made freely available as a public good. Initially the signal was intentionally degraded to provide 100 metre accuracy, however, that was switched off in 2000, improving the accuracy to 20 metres for public use. Due to arms control restrictions, you may find you GPS device will not work above 18 kilometres (11 miles) altitude or faster than 515 metres per second (1,240 miles per hour) to prevent you using it as a component in a ballistic missile !'
Weather in England and Wales is often said to be unpredictable and it's right that you should always be prepared for rain and bad weather at any time of year - the running joke (partly true), is that it is so changeable that it's all the British ever talk about!
See below for a brief summary of the walking season and for weblinks for temperature, rainfall and sunshine graphs in more detail.
March to Mid May - Our Spring - A period of contrasts. March and April can still have cold and wintery spells but mixed with warm spring days. The winter storms have normally passed by this point so the main walking season opens. Once you reach May you would normally expect warm and pleasant temperatures, good daylight hours with some sunshine - ideal walking conditions.
Mid May to August - Our Summer - We now move to the warmest and sunniest months although this is the UK and so you may still experience wet weather, but its never really cold. In theory the summer provides the best weather of the year and if we get a heatwave we would expect it to be between June and August.
September and October - Our Autumn - Early September is often the most popular time to walk - at the end of the summer it is still warm and if it's an "Indian summer" then there will also be lots of sunny and dry days. As you get nearer to October the days get shorter and the weather more autumnal with wetter and windier periods mixed in, although in the last few years, the late summer weather has continued well into October. British Summer Time ends at the end of October and at that point it starts to get dark by around 5pm, the weather starts to become colder and the walking season generally ends for most casual walkers by November.
November to February - Our Winter - only experienced walkers who are happy to deal with any type of weather will book the trails at this time. Short daylight hours, storms, snowfall and long periods of wet weather will put most casual walkers off. However for those with the right equipment and attitude you can be lucky and have superb spells of winter sunshine and dry periods - we have been sunburnt on Dartmoor in February before! If you are considering walking at this time of year, however, we will check carefully with you to make sure your route and your experience is up to what the British winter can throw at you!
So whilst you can never guarantee the weather on any particular date in the UK, there are general patterns during our seasons. Use the links below from the UK Met Office for detailed charts and discriptions on the rainfall, sunshine and temperatures and you can have a good idea of the averages that will apply to your walking month - but as its the UK just be prepared for short spells of "unseasonal weather" which may alter things for short periods.
Its very unusual that the weather is so bad that it is to dangerous to walk and you are forced to miss out. During the usual walking season there may be one or two days a year when a major storm arrives and gale force winds mean that walking on the coast path in particular is not advisable. However these events are widely forecast in advance and if you are unlucky enough to get caught out by a storm you will just take a taxi or public transport onto your next nights accommodation. Indeed if you are in a coastal area then a short walk from where you are staying will show the ocean at its most dramatic and "Storm Watching" from a safe position is a great way to deal with making the most of this kind of weather event.
What is more common is that you may have poor weather on any particular day or days but weather that does not make it unsafe to walk and the decision then is yours. On very wet days if you have good waterproofs and a sense of determination then the paths are quite to safe to walk and you can continue as planned with your walk - whilst wet and windy weather makes things more challenging, these are usually the walks you remember with a smile many years later and the ones that give most satisfaction when you do complete them. If you don't want to walk in wet weather however then once again you can take a taxi transfer or public transport onto your next location, have a day out and just explore locally in the overnight locations instead
One or two exposed routes on Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Welsh Coastal Mountains have sections that are wild, with no shelter or habitation and these can be prone to mists or fog which can make navigation very difficult. Anyone walking in these areas will get advice in their itinerary to alert them to the issue as well as suggestions on what to do in the event of very misty or foggy weather on the moors. Once again this in general only disrupts for one or two days during the usual walking season, so its most likely it won't be a problem you come across on your holiday but we will give you advice in case.
Yes a single walking female is not unusual on these trails and won't attract any special attention or interest. Many females walk alone and use the main trails across the South West and Wales and will report feeling secure and safe whilst walking them, as we are thankfully blessed with very low crime rates in villages and rural areas of the South West and Wales.
In the one or two larger towns and cities in our region, places like Plymouth, Penzance and Newquay just take the usual care if you are out late at night. These towns all have licensed taxis you can use and any pubs, inns, restaurants or your accommodation will be happy to help call you a taxi if you need to go anywhere late at night - and its common sense to do so if you are a single female in a larger urban area you don't know well. We also provide taxi numbers in our itineraries.
See the section on Dangers in these frequently asked questions as the more significant issue for single walkers, both male or female, concerns being more aware and prepared in case or any accidental fall or injury whilst you are walking the trail.
One of the biggest pleasures of walking in the UK countryside is that in general it's a very stress free, relaxing and safe haven that we can all enjoy. The following are potential dangers but they are just that - potential - with common sense, awareness and good preparation you are very unlikely to have any problems with these issues on your walking holiday.
Walking Injuries The main safety issues arise from injury if you take a small fall, twisting an ankle and walking related strains and sprains. To avoid these, make sure you have good walking boots that are worn-in as these will give you ankle protection, particularly important on rocky coastal routes. Try not to over estimate what you can comfortably walk each day (so be cautious at the planning stage) and if you are tired be aware that most injuries come towards the end of the day when you are getting tired and not concentrating on where you put your feet OR are rushing for that end of walk pint in the pub!
Having a mobile phone is a good insurance policy for this kind of mishap - whilst you won't have service in all locations, where you do it will allow you to call for help, or just to call a taxi - solo walkers in particular should carry a mobile phone if possible and a whistle as an option in case you need to attract the attention of other walkers.
Crime - Major crime is pretty much unheard of in the rural walking regions and in the UK. It tends to only be a issue in urban built-up areas. So single female walkers should take care (and use taxis) at night if travelling around in unfamiliar larger cities or towns. On the trails and in the villages just keep an eye on possesions in any crowded holiday areas and tourist attractions as well as when travelling on trains to and from the region from the UK's main cities.
Natural Dangers -
Weather - Be prepared for all weather conditions - you can read more about weather issues elsewhere in the Frequently Asked Questions. On remote sections, if you get caught in heavy rain you may have to battle on for several hours and you should always be well prepared, with good waterproofs and warm clothing whatever the time of year. Check the weather forecast the night before every walk, either on the internet or local news channels - if any servere storms or gales are forecast you should avoid walking on cliff paths or high moorland where you will be very exposed to the elements.
The Ocean - The biggest danger on the main trails is from the coastal environment itself, so always keep to the path, obey any signs advising of dangers and follow any diversions in place around cliff falls – these are in place for your safety. The coast has some very unstable sections of cliff and if you walk off the designated path then you may inadvertently end up walking in these areas. Avoid cliff edges and don’t sit directly below cliff faces on beaches for obvious reasons. If you see any dangerous erosion on the path, cracks, slips or loose rocks find a safe route around this and get in touch with us as we will report this to the Path Rangers for action.
Be aware of tides, the power of the sea and use our tide tables – every year in the South West people get cut off by the tide on beaches and sadly from time-to-time a few are swept away by rip currents and “freak waves”. It is safest to swim ONLY ON THE MAIN BEACHES where information is available on conditions and lifeguards patrol in the peak season. Away from the patrolled beaches, if you do decide to risk a paddle on a remote beach, be very cautious and don’t go out of your depth or into areas with surf. In stormy weather the seas can be stunning and dramatic but always keep well back from the waves and shoreline in turbulent conditions to avoid any risk of being swept off rocks or esplanades.
Mining Areas - In any of the mining areas open shafts still exist. Some are fenced off but others are not ...again stick to the path and you will avoid this hazard.
Getting Lost - The South West and Welsh Coast Path are not "wilderness" areas and you are never that far from habitation, either just inland of the coastal strip or at the next village or harbour. In the majority of walking areas therefore, getting very badly lost is almost impossible. However one or two open moorland sections in the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks and the Welsh mountains should be avoided in very poor weather, or when mists and fog are forecast, as navigation becomes very difficult. in these places, if you do not have advanced navigation skills, you can wander around for some time in the mists without any reference or habitation. We highlight any sections where this could be an issue in your itinerary so just follow advice and check weather forecasts before going into exposed high ground.
Wildlife and Animals - There is very little that can harm you on the main trails. The UK's only poisonous snake, the adder, is present on the main walking routes, mainly in rough heather or in sand dunes, where they like to sun themselves. However its a rare treat to see one these days and if you do spot one, it's likely to only be the sight of it disappearing into the undergrowth, as they will hear you coming long before you see them. A final note is that the last person to die from an adder bite was a child and this was over 40 years ago. Hospitals all have anti-venom but it's extremely unlikely you will even see and adder, let alone be bitten by one.
Ticks, small blood sucking parasites that live in dense undergrowth, are more of an issue and whilst again it's unlucky to have any contact with ticks, they are present in all areas of the UK. It's normally dogs that pick them up but they will attach to unwary humans from time to time so the best advice is keep out of the undergrowth and wear long trousers rather than shorts. A bite from a tick can in some cases lead to Lymes Disease which can be serious if untreated, so its a good idea to be aware of the issues when walking. Click Here for a useful leaflet about ticks, how to avoid them and what to do if you are unlucky enough to find one.
Herds of cattle, encountered when crossing farmland, can potentially be an issue for walkers although 99% of the time you will just find them either mildly inquisitive or oblivious to passing walkers. However if they stampede it can be very frightening. Problems tend to arise if you get inbetween cows with calves, when walking with dogs or with young bullocks. In most cases waving your arms and yelling will see cattle rapidly move away from you but it's worth being cautious in fields with a lot of cattle if they are very inquisitive and just have a mental plan of a quick route out if needed. There is more detailed common sense advice from The Ramblers on this issue available on this link
Our walking itineraries are very thorough and our holidays are individually created for you, so it's unusual for walkers to need to contact us while out on your walking holiday. If you need to contact your accommodation, call in a taxi to shorten a walk, or need to speak to the staff moving your luggage then all this information is on your detailed itinerary which you will have with you as you walk.
However if you do need to get in touch, our offices are open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 17.00pm throughout the walking season and staff will assist if you need anything. Outside of those hours you have access to an emergency out of hours helpline staffed by the "on call" walking advisor who can deal with anything that is urgent which can't wait until the office is open.
Thankfully you need very little - which for many of us is one of the attractions of walking over other outdoor pursuits which require lots of expensive gear - on a walking holiday you don't need much more than your two legs, a map and a sense of adventure.
We make sure you have all the information you need in your itinerary and together with your maps and guidebook this is more than enough for you to navigate the trails.
We always recommend good quality walking boots which are broken-in as these minimise the risk of twisting an ankle by giving support and if there has been wet weather they will provide good grip and protection on rocky or muddy coastal paths.
In the UK good waterproofs are essential at all times of the year, as you can always be caught out by heavy rain showers. You also need a small back-pack to carry the items you need during the day and plenty of water.
As ever, with outdoor pursuits there are plenty of oppotunities to buy extras such as walking poles and GPS systems - if you are used to using these and enjoy having them on your walks then by all means bring them, but they are not vital. There's no need to have "all the gear" if you don't normally walk with these items.
We provide some basic ideas in the itineraries of useful extra kit to pack such as a torch or headlight, towel, swimming gear etc. but if you get the right footwear and good waterproofs then you have the main requirements covered. If you are going to spend money on anything then these are the two items worth the investment.
Walking Poles are very much a matter of taste. Those that use them swear by them, particularly for the extra support and stability they can give on steep downward descents. Those that don't use them will in general find them something that just gets in the way....or more often than not gets left behind somewhere by accident! Some use one pole, others two.
If you are used to walking poles then bring them - no doubt you will feel something is missing if you walk without them BUT if you have never used poles there is no need to feel you have to have them just because everyone else does - they don't!
For overseas walkers they can be a pain to transport with your air luggage. Look for models that are telescopic - the best ones can fold right down to fit inside a case. You can't rent them in the UK but basic models tend to be very cheap and widely available with most larger towns having an outdoor equipment shop. So if bringing them on the plane is an issue, one option is to just buy a basic set here for around £20 for your walk, once you are finished you can donate them to someone before you leave.
GPS systems are talking the walking world by storm and indeed many people are now using their smart phones with GPS apps to monitor where they are and record their walks electronically.
If you don't have a GPS and have never used one to walk with then there is no need to rush to buy one for a walking holiday here. The maps, guidebook and itineraries are more than enough to find you way and in general the routes are well walked, signed on the ground and there are usually other walkers or locals to ask if you need pointing in the right direction. Buying an expensive GPS system is therefore not a requirement. If you are heading into an arctic wilderness where you could get seriously lost for days on end, than clearly its fairly vital, however that is not the case for most of the walking trails in the UK which are never far from habitation or the nearest road. On the routes we work on, even a compass is not an essential item, apart from on remote patches of Dartmoor, Exmoor and in the Welsh Mountains.
If you have a GPS already and enjoy using it then of course bring it; you can download GPX files for most of the main coast path routes and buy electronic OS Mapping to upload onto your unit should you wish to have that as well. You may feel its not worth the expense and remember you will have and should ALWAYS have paper maps at least as back-up. GPS units go wrong and run out of power so don't rely on that alone for navigation.
GPS Apps on smart phones are becoming more and more popular - the good ones seem ok but again remember your paper map - smartphones in particular have really poor battery life with a GPS switched on and often run dead, they tend not to be anything like as tough and waterproof as a GPS unit and are very difficult to read in bright sunshine.... should you be lucky enough to have that.
It also has to be noted that the free or cheaper GPS walking apps are often quite unreliable with distances and measurement - if you are keen to use your smartphone then do a bit of research and buy proper Ordnance Survey mapping (don't try to navigate UK footpaths with Google maps for instance) and choose a well-reviewed and tested app. If you don't then be open minded about the quality of the information you will end up getting from your "free" walking app!
In summary if you have a GPS with you and enjoy using it along with the information it can provide about your walk then its a good idea, just have a back up in case of problems, but don't rush out to buy one just because you think you must have one.
Yes, we give a basic list with your final itinerary of items you should consider bringing. You receive this around one month before the start of your walking holiday. If you have any specific questions on what to bring however, then just email your walking advisor for help and advice.
Several of us here at Encounter Walking Holidays are dog owners and we understand that you may want to share the walk with your four legged friend!
A lot of accommodation will not accept dogs and if you have walked with your dog before you will be used to this. However there are routes where there is sufficient accommodation along the rail that will take dogs and on this routes it is possible to bring your dog on your walking holiday and these are a good mix of inland and coastal routes.
The issues and routes can be complicated so visit our Dog Friendly Walking Holidays pages for lots more information and suggestions for routes that work best if you are bringing a dog with you.
Yes they are - as long as your children are keen on walking! Family walking holidays can be great adventures with everyone enjoying a shared experience and journey and a sense of acheivement when its completed - whatever their age!
For instance see the holiday report from 12 year old Kellen who walked the Coleridge way with us and ended up inspired enough to write this !
Of course there are issues to consider, depending on the age and walking ability of your children, so talk to a walking advisor about how much walking they manage and what else you might want to build into the holiday.
Getting the daily distances right is the key and often we will split sections to make sure they are manageable for smaller walkers but by doing this pretty much all routes are safe and accessible in theory. We will question you closely about how much experience of walking your children have in order to help you plan the best option for your walking holiday. If we think that your walking plan will be too much for them, we may make suggestions how to improve the plan by breaking sections down into more managable distances.
Depending on the age of your children some routes stand out as being more family friendly - the coastal routes for instance have plenty of beaches, which can make a great break from the walk. Areas like Dartmoor and Exmoor have wonderful peaks and tors to scramble up for children and with gorges and river valleys plenty of variety in scenery to keep their interest up.
Visitor attactions like The Eden Project and the stunning castles of Wales can add another dimension to the holiday, with rest days spent exploring, or for older children we can look at suggesting locations where surfing, kayaking, cycling and other non walking activities can be built in. A one or two centre holiday with a mix of walking and other activites can work well and will also keep the costs and the logistics down.
Accommodation needs careful thought - you need family friendly options, so stuffy B&B's that don't really like chilidren won't work and nor will noisy pubs, but there are some great family friendly hotels particularly in holiday areas where there are facilities for children. Whilst family rooms are often available, on a longer walking holiday there may be nights where you can't all be in one room together (or don't want to be!) - we can advise what the room configurations for each night so you can be sure you have suitable arrangements for your family at your accommodation.
Time of Year - Most families have little choice about when to walk and are constrained to the busy school holiday period. If you are in this situation then it is best to start your enquiry early and aim to be booking well in advance to get the best options. July and August in busy coastal areas book up very quickly with holidaymakers and so you need to get in early.
So if you want to consider taking the family walking send in a quote request form and tell us which areas you are interested in, your ideal room configuration, what sort of walking experience your children have and what other options may be of interest. We can then provide suitable suggestions and options for you.
Up to 10 walkers - We specialise in assisting small groups along all our walking routes. On most routes it is possible for groups of ten to stay together every night in the same accommodation at each location. Due to the remote nature of some routes and the lack of accommodation in some locations, it becomes more difficult to place groups of more than ten people all together in the same accommodation. But this does depend on the route, the type of rooms required and the time of year.
10 to 20 walkers - If your group is between ten and twenty people then it is likely that you will need to split between accommodations options in some of the smaller places, although you will all be in the same location. So you can all be together during the walking day and in the evenings but you will often be sleeping in different accommodation options within the same village.
We may suggest that in order to avoid difficulties in places with very limited accommodation that you spend more than one night in certain locations and we then arrange transfers to take you to and from the trail. We can advise you on the best solutions for your size of group depending on where and when you want to walk.
Over 20 walkers If your group is more than twenty people then you really need to be looking at a different type of holiday where you stay in a large hotel in one single location and bus out to walk. This is not something we specialise in here.
Group Discounts - For groups of up to twenty walkers we can organise your walking holiday for you and this can be a very economical way to walk because many of the costs can be split between the group reducing the price per person.
You can read more about group walking holidays and how they are priced on our Group Walking Page
Or contact us with details of your group size and where you want to walk and we can advise you on your options.
Yes very much so! At Encounter Walking Holidays we specialise in small groups and we work on actual costs for your group. So, the greater the number of walkers, the more of you there are to split the administration, luggage transfer and accommodation costs which brings down the price per person and can result in some substantial savings. This is all explained in more detail on our Group Walking Holiday page so look here for more information.
We welcome single walkers every year, both male and female, on all our main walking routes. There is nothing unusual or dangerous about taking walking holidays in the UK on your own and many people prefer the freedom of walking and experiencing things alone.
The main issues for single (or solo) walkers are the additional costs and the need to be a bit more self-sufficient on the trails.
Costs - As a single walker the biggest disadvantage you face is that it's relatively expensive compared to sharing a room or at least splitting luggage transfers and administration costs with a friend.
There are single rooms available on the walking trails but there are far fewer of them than double or twin rooms. If there is no single room available then you need to take a larger double or twin room for single occupancy and this also increases the costs for single walkers. Unless you specifically ask for double rooms for single occupancy, then we always try to use single rooms wherever possible to keep your costs down.
When walking alone you bear the full costs of the walking holiday alone and it will therefore cost more for rooms and for luggage transfers than it does for two people sharing rooms and costs. As a guideline, this tends to add around £20 to £30 a day to the costs. We recognise this is an issue and we don't want to see anyone prevented from walking the trail due to cost so we do reduce our charges for single walkers to try and offset the extra costs and for this reason, we attract a higher proportion of single walkers than most walking holiday companies.
You can see our guideline prices on our Prices and Booking page. If the cost is outside your budget, we can offer advice on how you may be able to reduce your costs, for example by using more basic accommodation or carrying your own luggage, but the largest reduction in costs will be if you can team up with a friend and share the costs although we appreciate that this is not always an option.
Safety - See the section on Safety and Dangers for general information on these issues. In general the issues are the same but of course if you have any problems you are on the trail alone. However most of the routes on which we operate are used regularly by other walkers and so help is likely to be close at hand. In general you are never far from a road head or habitation where you can ask for help or arrange a lift.
Having a whistle or way of attracting attention and a mobile phone are wise precauations if you can't rely on having someone else with you when you walk. Try not to push the distances too much, most minor accidents such as ankle sprains happen when you are rushing or are tired and if you are unlucky enough to be in this situation as a single walker then it's more of a problem than if there is someone walking with you who can go for assistance. Sensible planning will minimise this risk.
One or two routes have remote areas where you need to be competent with a compass and you are more exposed to the elements. If you are interested in one of these routes and are a solo walker then we will make sure you are aware of any potential issues and we will also check your experience.
Single female walkers need to be a bit more careful at night in the largest towns but the usual common sense applies here as it would anywhere in the world. For more info see the question on "Are the walking trails safe for single females?"
You can visit our How to Book page to see the six steps from your initial enquiry through to your walk.
Once you have received your quote, if you want to go ahead and book then it is a very straightforward process. You simply let us know you want to go ahead and we then take over all the arrangements for you. You will have a named walking advisor as a contact right through the booking process and that person will also be on hand to help you with anything you need until you finish your walk.
The key message is "try to book as early as possible". We don’t say this for our benefit - the big issue is availability of accommodation and getting choices. In popular places such as the Cornish coast, accommodation books up very quickly every year for the peak holiday periods (July/ August, other school holiday perioes and Bank Holidays.) If you are booking at the last minute then unfortunately you should not expect to still be able to have all the options and choices available to you. Sometimes your chosen route is not possible and you will need to consider another walk. We are making bookings every day, so we have a good idea of what is available so if you are considering a last-minute walking holiday then contact us and ask us for our opinion.
Early Bookings - We start making bookings in September for the following year’s holiday season and you can ask for a quote earlier than that if you are able to plan a long way ahead.
The busiest period for booking is from January to March for walks later in the same year. Many people in Britain begin to think about their holidays as soon as Christmas is over! If you can get in before that rush you will have a wider choice of accommodation. So if you intend walking at a popular time of year, in a popular holiday area, you should try to get things reserved as early as you can and ideally before Christmas.
Late Bookings - We continue to take bookings throughout the year and as long as the accommodation is still available we can still make last minute bookings up to a few days before walking. However if accommodation is unavailable in some places then you may need to stay for two night in another location and have transfers instead. If that is the case we will always tell you about this on your quote BEFORE any booking is made.
The best advice is to ask for a draft quote as soon as you have decided which walk you want to do., even if you are not in a position to book at that point. Once you have worked out the dates you can walk then you already have an agreed plan that we can try to book up for you without losing any more time. If you have booked late and we can't get the original quote choices in all locations we will look for alternative solutions and check them with you as we book.
Get ahead of the crowd and Request a Quote now to see the prices and options for your walk.
Its only likely to work if you are walking outside of high season, on a route that is not popular OR if you are happy to be very flexible and walk whichever suitable route has available accommodation.
In the popular coastal areas the reality is that Bank Holidays, school holidays and peak season dates (July and August) are almost always booked up quite a few months in advance. But if you are looking to walk outside peak times or away from the popular areas then as long as we can find the accommodation you can book at the last minute for your walk BUT be aware that you are likely to need to be flexible where some options are booked out.
We are always happy to advise on the chances for a last minute booking so contact us and tell us what you want to do and when.
We will always try to help if you need to make changes to your booking. Just get in touch with your walking advisor who will advise you.
If you want to change any bookings which have already been made and confirmed with you then this will mean cancelling existing bookings and re-booking them which is additional work for us
The impact of this depends on what changes you want to make.
Unlike other companies we don't make a flat set charge for any changes. We only charge you for the actual admin time taken to make the change. So, for instance, if it is a very straightforward change of details, we won't charge you as this will take us very little time.
For more complicated work, which will take time to re-arrange, we will advise you how long it has taken to make your changes and we will charge an administration fee of £10 for every hour of extra admin work. If this also involves changing accommodation bookings then you may also need to pay charges which the accommodation apply for cancelling or altering the booking.
Please contact the office as soon as possible in the event of having to change your route / holiday dates and we can advise on what costs would be involved. Remember that your travel insurance may well cover these costs if you have to change dates due to unforeseen circumstances that were not your fault or outside of your control.
We feel this is the fairest way of dealing with any changes. You are therefore not penalised if you are asking for a very minor change but if your holiday needs major alterations you know that you are only paying for the time it takes to actually make the changes you want and you are not paying an arbitary penalty charge.
You can read more about changes to your holiday and our other Terms and Conditions here
You will find the details on how to pay on all our quotes and invoices so its easy to make payment.
We can take payment by credit or debit card, bank transfer or cheque. Depending on where you are in the world, some options may be easier for you than others, but we can help advise so just ask if you are not sure.
Note that we NEVER make charges to you for card payments or bank transfers. The only charges you ever have to pay is if your bank or card provider charges you for making a payment on your behalf - most don't do this but its worth checking with your bank.
Current Payment Options in detail.
It is very easy to find our Terms and Conditions. We don't try to hide them or make them confusing and difficult to understand.
You can reach them by following the link at the bottom of every page on our website. We also describe how to find them on our quotes and invoices.
You can also follow the link here now to view the Terms and Conditions
Yes absolutely. We are covered by a Travel Insurance Bond scheme that means anything you pay to Encounter Walking Holidays Ltd is fully covered if we fail to provide your holiday or cease trading - not that we intend to!
You can read full details about the scheme and reassure yourself that your money is safe by clicking here
We require everyone booking our walking holidays to have travel insurance.
Why you need travel insurance. This is to protect you and the money you have paid against any sudden or last minute cancellations before or during your walking holiday. So if you, someone you are walking with or a close relative is suddenly taken ill, for instance, you can cancel the holiday and seek to claim back the costs from your insurance.
If you don't have insurance and cancel your holiday you will be subject to the cancellation policy and will either lose your deposit OR if its less than 8 weeks before you arrive you will lose the full cost of your holiday. This is because many smaller accommodation providers generally are not able to refund cancelled bookings. It is therefore important for you to protect yourself against sudden cancellation with an insurance policy. These are generally inexpensive and easy to obtain.
Include some Luggage Insurance - Its also worth making sure your insurance policy includes some baggage insurance - we cover you for up to £200 for your luggage transfers while you are walking with us but this won't cover you for onward travel across the UK - and its often at this point that your luggage is most vulnerable. If you have high value items such as laptops, expensive camera equipment etc. it's worth including this on your travel insurance - its very easy to leave an expensive camera at a lunch stop for instance!
If you are not sure where to find insurance see the question on "where can I get insurance" OR contact us for help.
You can find full details on our Cancellation Policy in our Terms and Conditions
In summary this is
So if you cancel your holiday after having made your deposit payment you will lose the deposit you have paid but you may be able to reclaim this on your insurance policy if the reason you cancelled is covered by your policy. This is why it is a requirement to have travel insurance in place to protect the money you have paid against sudden cancellation - read more about this in the question on Why do I need to have Insurance? .
If you need to cancel after having paid your balance payment (less than 8 weeks before arrival) then there will be no direct refund on your holiday. This is because the accomodation in remote walking areas are not able to offer refunds for cancelled bookings. In this situation you will need to make a claim on your insurance policy.
We will help your claim by providing you with an industry standard letter which will detail the payments you have made and confirm when and why you cancelled with us. You will need to submit this with your insurance claim.
We require all those booking with us to have cancellation insurance in place to protect yourselves against having to cancel your holiday after booking.
If you choose not to take out insurance, against our advice, then the cancellation policy applies and without insurance this will mean you will lose some or all of the money you have paid.
The Cancellation Policy is -
We feel that adults are able to make their own decisions and take their own risks but if you do decide to travel without any insurance cover it is at your own risk. Remember that sadly, we do deal with a number of cancellations every season where walkers have suffered an injury, a bereavement or illness of a family member, either just before their walk or while on their walk and have to cancel some or all of their holiday.
If you have no insurance in these situations you will lose the money you have paid. If you have an insurance policy in place you will recieve your money back and you have the option of re-booking in the future should you wish.
Basic insurance often costs less than £10 to £15 for a short walking holiday and its well worth having in place just in case. See "where can I get insurance" if you are unsure of where to find a policy.
First - Make sure you don't have it already! If you already have a travel insurance policy for your travel to the UK its probably going to cover what you need anyway. Check the policy, but provided it has curtailment and cancellation cover and some baggage insurance then it's usually sufficient for your walk. Make sure you check the policy DOES include the UK however - some policies only cover you for overseas travel.
If you are in the UK and you have a "premium" bank account with a monthly fee then you may have an annual travel insurance included as part of the package - check with your bank if you pay a monthly charge for your account.
Where to find insurance options We don't provide travel insurance but you can usually find plenty of options available on the internet available within the country where you live. For those living in the UK these policies are often not much more than a pound or two a day for basic cover.
One thing to note is that in nearly all cases you can only buy travel insurance in the country you are resident in. So you can only buy a UK based travel insurance policy if you are a resident here.
Its worth reading our information on Insurance - What type should I get - so that you don't over-insure and pay for more than you need.
In the UK options like Insure and Go, Colombus and Direct Insurance all provide basic policies you can just buy online. If you want to compare prices try one of the comparison price websites which will display many of the options in one place and advise the cheapest - see https://travel.comparethemarket.com for instance
The main supermarkets nearly all provide online policies so search for the likes of Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda Travel Insurance and there are often leaflets offering the products in store.
Europe and Australia - As with the UK a search online will generally provide plenty of options for insurance cover that you can buy from the internet - or you can try your local travel agent. Note that its wise to have insurance if travelling to the UK whatever you are doing so get a policy that covers you for your whole trip not just the walking
USA and Canada - Insurance can be more difficult to find here - there are often options for "flight insurance" but these usually only cover the airfares. For a policy to cover you if you have to cancel accommodation and services you book here there are some more specialised options you can try. Those below have been suggested by or used before by customers from the US and Canada but do search online or ask your travel agent as there are more.
www.worldnomads.co.uk are recommended by Lonely Planet and Rough Guides and are unusual in that they will provide insurance for residents of multiple countries though they do have upper age limits
Its worth reading our information on Insurance - What type should I get - so that you don't overinsure and pay for more than you need.
Don't over-insure! Look for a stripped down policy to keep your costs down particularly if you are just trying to insure the walking holiday itself and don't need insurance for any other onward travel before or after the walk.
All you need is a small amount of curtailment cover (finishing the holiday early) and cancellation options (cancelling before you arrive). These are usually included in all standard policies and you just need to make sure the limits cover what you have paid for you holiday in case you need to claim. The maximum you will be able to claim for your holiday is the total cost so take the lowest level option that covers this.
You will normally find the policy will include luggage insurance to cover your belongings - if not then add enough to cover what you might have with you, so unless you are bringing expensive equipment you won't need a high level of cover. We insure your luggage while you are walking with us for up to £200 per booking but this won't cover you when you are travelling to and from your holiday which is when its most vulnerable to loss or theft.
Watch out for optional extras which you can remove from the policy if you don't need them - for instance you don’t need options for volcano, civil strife and riot insurance – there's not a lot of this sort of trouble in Cornwall and Wales!
If you are UK based then look for a policy where you can restrict the cover to the UK only - no need to get a European or Worldwide policy as these will cost much more.
Finally try to find a policy where you can specify the number of days required - i.e. 5 days of insurance to cover a 5 day walking holiday will be cheaper than a policy that runs for a month.
Remember to check and make sure you don't already have an annual travel insurance policy in place anyway that will cover you or if you have insurance cover included with your bank account. See our FAQ on where to get insurance
We are a medium sized company that specialises in Self Guided Walking Holidays in the South West and Wales. That's all we do - but we are largest and most experienced operator in the region.
See the "about us" page for more information on why you can trust us, our company details, vision and history.
There are several companies providing walking holidays in the areas we operate in. We believe we are better than the rest. We provide a higher level of service, local expertise, good quality named accommodation and your named walking adviser will look after you from your first enquiry to the end of your walk.
CLICK HERE to see the 10 reasons why we think you should book with us and why you will get a better walking holiday experience if you do.
We've been offering walking holidays for over ten years - you can find out more about us and our history by visiting our "about us" page.
Click here to read the latest reviews from those who have already booked and walked with us.
We ask every walker to upload a review of their walk and experiences with us online. We don't alter the review in any way and we upload all the reviews which amounts to hundreds every year.
They are a great source of information and tips about specific walks so we encourage you to read them. On every walking route section in this website you will find a button for "reviews" that will display the reviews for that particular walk so you can easily read about other walkers' experience on the same route and their suggestions for future walkers on the trail.
We are proud to say that complaints are not something we generally have to deal with. We ask all our walkers for reviews and feedback at the end of their walk as it's a great way for us to take on board comments and ideas which we can then use to improve the experience for the next walkers.
If you do have any suggestions or complaints then we would encourage you to let us know as soon as you can by contacting us directly at which point you can expect a quick and thorough reponse from us.
We are covered by a Travel Insurance Bond scheme that means anything you pay to Encounter Walking Holidays Ltd is fully covered if we fail to provide your holiday or cease trading - not that we intend to!
We are based in the ancient riverside, stannary town of Lostwithiel in mid-Cornwall. Our offices are next to Lostwithiel train station which is on the mainline from London Paddington to Penzance. We are in a great location for covering our South West walks. The Saints Way is our nearest trail around 1 mile away and the South West Coast Path at Fowey is only around 5 miles down river!
To obtain details of our address or to find the office, please visit the about us page for more information and a map - you are always very welcome to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat!
Core office hours are Monday to Friday 9.00am to 17.00pm British Standard Time (BST) and the phone lines are open throughout this period.
The booking office is closed at weekends, on UK Bank Holidays and for around 1 week a year at Christmas (well we need a break too!)
Those who have booked with us have an out-of hours emergency line number they can use to contact us whilst walking and we have an on-call member of staff covering this when the booking office is closed throughout the walking season.
You can contact us by email at any time and we will respond quickly to any enquiries or messages we recieve when the booking office is next open.
Email - These days email is often the best way to get in touch in the first instance to ask us about walking options. It allows us to think carefully through your request, come up with the best solutions and email links back to you, so that you can read more about walking routes, overnight locations and anything else you need to know.
If you already know where you want to walk then send in a quote request form and we will provide a detailed plan by email showing accommodation options that you can click through to view, walking details day by day, travel information to and from the walk and of course prices for you to consider.
If you just have a general question you can email us now through the website via the contact us page
Phone If you prefer to speak direclty to someone then you can also phone anytime during office hours (Monday to Friday 9.00am to 17.00pm) and speak to the bookings team or one of our walking advisors.
Tel +44 (0)1208 871066.
Just so you know, those who are booked and out walking with us also have access to an out-of-hours emergency number but this is only for those currently walking with us.
We are ALWAYS happy to talk to you and we spend a lot of time talking and conversing by email with our walkers while we work with them on building and booking their walking holidays. Many become longstanding friends and we keep in touch after their walks. In any event don't feel you are bothering us by asking question after question as we see it as part of the service we provide to the walking community.
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Company Registered in England No: 8227323
VAT Registration No: 138 8656 68