Why Choose Country Walks
We have been organising and leading walking holidays in both the UK and Europe since 1995. We have walked all the paths and personally know all our destinations intimately. At Country Walks we are passionate about the wellbeing benefits of walking in beautiful and interesting countryside.
June and Aubrey, the founders of Country Walks, started by offering day walks in the Surrey Hills, followed in 1996 by weekend breaks and then one-week holidays in Europe in 1998. This was all driven by returning customer demand. The walks were all guided, mostly by June and husband Aubrey. In 2013 their daughter, Sam, joined the company, helping to develop self-guided walking packs. These incorporated all the routes, hotels and local knowledge and experience gained over 18 years.
As a small family business we built our reputation on delivering the highest quality walking experiences, meticulous attention to detail and dedicated customer service. Now our focus is on self-guided walking holidays and we specialise in tailoring holidays to suit our clients’ individual requirements.
Who are our clients?
Over 50s Typically they are over 50, often retired professionals and well travelled. They are discerning, demanding high standards of accommodation, food and scenery. They are cultured and well-educated and particularly appreciate the commentaries on features of interest we include in all our route booklets. Valerie Jordan, in her 60s, from the United States wrote:
“This trip was absolutely fantastic (and I have already passed the website and contact information on to several friends!) All the details were taken care of and all we had to do was relax, enjoy the fabulous scenery and amazing food. We enjoyed reading the commentaries: it was like having our own personal guide.” (Valerie Jordan)“
40s-50s Our younger clients in the 40-50 age bracket, are usually are time poor. They would be capable of putting together a walking holiday themselves but haven’t the time to do so and are willing to pay to have everything organised for them. Anne Hazzard of Stroud, Gloucestershire, particularly appreciated having everything done for her:
“Yes, you could organise the whole thing yourself …. but the beauty of this holiday is you just don’t have to do all that. The walking notes and accompanying commentaries are clear and interesting, maps are included and recommendations abound. It left so much time to enjoy the walks knowing the chances of getting lost were minuscule and no mugging up every evening to sort the next day’s trip – just open up the relevant booklet and away you go. The people who organise these trips have a very close knowledge of the area. We couldn’t fault it.”
Families with older children We recently heard from Lynda Gouveia from Stockholm, Sweden, that she and her family had a wonderful time following our self-guided walking holiday on the Amalfi Coast:
“….. great family fun.” “… my three teenagers said they felt like they were completing ‘The amazing race’. I would read out the directions and it would be a challenge to see who could find the marker, site, landmark first – great family fun! We all had a fabulous time.”
What do we do best at Country Walks?
Find the best walking routes
We spend days perfecting just one walk; there is no compromise. We do not walk along roads, near noisy motorways or in countryside that does not inspire that connection with nature that takes us back to our roots. Nor do we follow the crowd on the most frequented paths; we seek out the lesser known ways.
Include features of interest
Each and every walk has to have highlights, whether fantastic views, interesting buildings, carpets of wild flowers or wildlife that moves! If we can include a visit to a place of interest, such as a National Trust property we do. And amongst important places of interest we include the all-important matter of lovely old inns for lunch and good olde English tearooms!
Dedicated customer service
We pride ourselves on providing the best possible experience for our clients, whether they are walking for two days in the English countryside or 10 days in Europe. We find out about our clients’ needs and tailor our holidays to suit their specific requirements, building in as many options as possible to shorten routes if required.
Features of self-guided walking holidays
Choose your own date
One of the great advantages of going on a self guided holiday is that you can choose a date to suit yourself. It’s important to select the best time of year so ask the advice of the holiday provider. It’s also important to consider accommodation options as early as possible if your choice of dates is limited. In very popular destinations such as the Amalfi Coast, the best places to stay are frequently booked up six months in advance.
Walk at your own pace
Another advantage of walking independently is that you can walk at your own pace. In a guided group the pace has to cater for the slowest member of the party which, if you’re a fast walker, can be frustrating. Conversely, if you are uncertain of your walking abilities, it can be rather daunting if you are struggling to keep up. You don’t want to have to worry about holding up the party. There are no such worries on a self-guided walking holiday.
Choose your own companions
On a self-guided walking holiday, you can choose to walk by yourself, with a partner or friend, with family members or with a small group of friends.
Choose times to suit you
Start your day whenever you like, so long as you allow enough daylight time to complete your walk! So you can linger over breakfast and during your walk you are free to stop whenever you please. On the self guided walks offered by Country Walks, there are comprehensive commentaries included so that you can stop and read all about the places of interest you pass on the route. You will be able to find out about the habitats and landscapes you’re walking through – so much more meaningful when you know something about the area, its history, its customs and personalities. If this interests you, make sure that your chosen company provides commentaries in your walks pack.
Self guided walking holidays vary considerably in their content. Some companies simply provide you with a guide book while arranging your accommodation and transport from one night’s stop to the next. Others, like Country Walks, provide proper Ordnance Survey Maps in the UK (or similar in Europe), appropriately marked up with the route so that you can see at a glance where you are going. If your map is not marked up, it can take some considerable time and effort to find your starting point and the actual route on the map.
Be your own guide
You may like to have GPS points provided – a useful addition if you know how to use a GPS. However, these should not be relied upon if you are walking in remote country as things can go wrong: you may run out of battery, walk through a forest of woodlands and lose the signal – a compass is far more reliable and, if you don’t already know how, the basics are easy to learn. If you feel worried or daunted about not having a guide, a solution favoured by many is to team up with a few friends. It’s then fun working out together the pathfinding. Country Walks’s route notes are renowned for their accuracy, being written by the founders of the company and meticulously checked at regular intervals.
Benefits of centre-based walking holidays
Choose your accommodation
Country Walks wherever possible offers a choice of accommodation to suit all budgets. Frequently you can choose whether to stay in a 4-star hotel, a 3-star hotel, an historic inn or a B&B, even self-catering. Prices of course vary accordingly. Bear in mind too that in many destinations prices vary according to season.
Choose where to dine
Check whether meals are included in your holiday. If you prefer to vary your evening meals, you may like to feel free to choose where you dine. On the other hand, it’s easier if you are staying at a hotel to simply be able to dine each evening in the hotel’s dining room. Some holiday companies arrange this for you, perhaps including wine which, of course you pay for, some offer advice on the best places to eat whereas others leave it entirely up to you. At Country Walks we provide a list of recommended restaurants.
Following a day out walking, it’s far more relaxing to return to a known base where all you have to do is go to your room, shower and relax so that you can enjoy the evening ahead. On a moving-on type of holiday, you have to find your hotel, check in, find your luggage and then unpack before you can start to relax. Then, in the morning before breakfast, you have to re-pack and check out, ensuring that you have all you need for your day’s journey.
On a centre-based holiday there is no pressure to reach your next destination by a certain time. You can take as long as you like, exploring en route as you please. It’s much easier to call a taxi to take you back to your accommodation which is unlikely to be too far away. If you wish to take a day off from walking, again, you don’t have to make alternative arrangements. If moving on daily, you are expected to follow the schedule since hotels will be awaiting your arrival and taxis will have been pre-booked to transport your luggage.
On a centre-based holiday you have time to get to know your destination, to engage with local people and to appreciate more the land in which you are holidaying. Relationships are built and accommodation providers get to know you and your specific requirements. 7 When moving on daily, you are simply a ‘ship that passes in the night’. Your impressions are likely to be fleeting since you have little opportunity to explore the area and its unique qualities.