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.
Thinking of booking elsewhere ? We think that checking out several operators is the wise way to choose your walking holiday. But make sure you get the following from whoever arranges it and if you don't get the following reassurance then please... talk to us!
1 - Route Choice - Get the walk you want, the best walk for you. We have more routes and more options in the South West and Wales region than anyone else - some unique to us, You should be able to combine the best bits from different trails to make the most of your limited time here and find out about alternative route options so you won't miss any highlights located just off that trail. Start with our interactive map to create what you want to include into your holiday
2 - Holiday Flexibility - Don't accept the standard option that everyone else is walking - we are unique in working with you to build a tailor-made draft itinerary to fit you, your requirements and your ideal walk. There are no set holidays, fixed accommodation, standard itineraries or 'same as everyone else' experiences with us. Avoid the mass conveyer belt and make sure your walk is personal!
3 - Choice of Named Accommodation - Don't get nasty surprises - Only Encounter Walking provide an individual quote to let you view full details on your accommodation BEFORE YOU BOOK. You can view where you could stay, look and pick from choices, reject and control your overnight stop locations and accommodation. Send us a quote request form and see what we suggest
4 - Experience and Reliability - We are the largest walking holiday operator in the South West and have been operating here for over 10 years. Your accommodation, luggage transfers, itineraries, maps and holiday are all taken care of for you by our experienced team leaving you free to just wander. We leave nothing to chance and are unique, for instance, in re-checking and re-confirming every nights accommodation and every transfer during the period before you arrive. We do this every day, week in week out and we don't get side-tracked as a company by trying to do or sell anything else - we know where our strengths and experience lie. Read more in About Us
5 - Local Walkers Knowledge - Our walking portfolio has spread outwards over the years along the trails and paths we walk, we love and we can specialise in. We therefore know the locations not to miss as well as those to avoid and are full of extra ideas and suggestions for “distractions” along the trails to make your holiday more than just a walk.
When you talk to our walking advisors you will get to speak to people who have actually walked the trails - which is not the case with companies that are not based here. To get the best advice on grades of walking, route highlights, good and bad bits of trail, make sure you are dealing with someone who has walked it before you.
We sponsor our staff to sit on various Trail Management and Walkers Interest Groups (see About Us for more info) by doing this we not only support the routes you walk but understand and can share with you the current issues and options better than anyone else.
6 - Value for Money - Our flexibility in tailor-made itineraries means we can offer walking holidays to suit whatever you can afford, from the best value basic B&B’s through to the five star luxury hotels. Whichever you select our planning and delivery will give you not only the best value for the amount of money you want to spend but more importantly the best walking experience possible for it! Four or more of you? See our Group Walking Page - because we price every walk on its actual costs we will be the most economical for your walkers.
7 - The Best Map and Guidebook Package - Don't accept second best here - after your legs your maps and route info are the most important thing for your walk! Over the years we have created and developed the best package for walkers - rather than just the cheapest. Don't settle for guidebooks using only ultra thin strip maps for instance - they won't work if you need to leave the path or you just happen to wander off it. Avoid trail guides without town plans, that don't provide advice on things like, chemists, cash machines, good restaurants or stand by travel options - they can leave you spending a lot of your holiday searching these things out. It has taken us years to get the ideal package of guidebook, maps and personalised itinerary for each different route - read more and see examples on our maps and guidebook package - ask any other provider if they do the same.
8 - No Surcharges and Guaranteed Prices - Quite simply we won't take a booking from you until you have seen a detailed quote and accepted it - it gives you the guarantee of a fixed price and a comprehensive list of what is included - no confusion and no misunderstandings. You will know exactly what you are getting for your money BEFORE you hand it over. There are no surcharges if you pay by credit card, no charges for making overseas bank transfers or for paying by cheque
9 - A Named Walking Advisor to Look After You - From your first enquiry to your final step on the trail you will have one of our walking advisors take charge of your quote, booking and walk. You can go back to them time and again should you wish to and they will answer your questions and queries quickly, by email or phone. Your advisor will have built up a relationship with you to work with you on creating your walk, setting up your booking, dealing with your questions and managing the walk right through until you complete it - at which point they will be contacting you to find out how it all went !
10 - Openness and Honesty - We do very little advertising - our business has been built on returning customers which means we want to make sure you to have the best experience possible. That you tell all your friends how good it was and that you come back for another walk, another year. This won't happen if we are not open and honest about both your plans and our service and deliver on our promises.
So we won't let you sign up for a walk if we think its too much or unsuitable for you or indeed if we feel it's too dull for you. Ask a walking advisor here a question and you will get an honest answer. Our quote system means we are clear and open about our services, prices, your accommodation, the appropriateness of our trails and the suitability of your holiday plans. We won't avoid giving you the right and responsible advice - even if that's not what you want to hear and we don't get a booking !
Don’t take our word for it – read our walkers Reviews - you will also find their reviews for every specific walking route on the individual walk pages. See real feedback posted by walkers who have walked the route not only reviewing our organisational skills and delivery but also sharing information about the best and the worst bits of specific trails and routes. Read and make use of their tips and comments - knowledge is power !
Encounter Walking Holidays - For more information on our company, our staff and our vision for UK walking visit the About Us pages.
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