Now is the season to take a hike over hill and through vale. Guest blogger Gareth Williams, founder of Large Outdoors, puts on his walking boots…
Spending a day out walking is a great way to explore Britain’s fantastic countryside, and is healthy to boot. But if you’re a little cautious about venturing into more remote areas of the countryside, joining a guided walking group can be the perfect solution.
There are a number of guided walking companies out there all offering a variety of walking trips according to location and fitness/experience level, from easy strolls through to more challenging hikes.
Walking company Large Outdoors runs a range of hiking holidays across the country for a range of abilities. It also donates a portion of the proceeds from each booking towards conservation charities such as Friends of the Lakes whose work helps protect the Lake District landscape.
What to expect on a guided walk
Trips come in all shapes and sizes but generally you can expect to join a small sociable group of like-minded walkers and spend up to a day out walking with a guide.
The guides are fully-qualified (highly-experienced in route-finding and navigation and have first aid qualifications) and, importantly, are experts in motivating people to get the best out of the group.
Routes are planned in advance and aim to take walkers through a variety of landscape that offers heaps of interest and umpteen view stops (cameras at the ready!).
Making a break of it
Once you’ve started, it’s hard to stop! On a weekend or week-long guided walking trip, accommodation is based in hotels, cottages or hostels. In contrast to the traditional image, many hostels are now a really good option, providing guests with an affordable way of staying in some fantastic properties in idyllic locations.
For instance Ilam YHA in the Peak District is a gothic manor house set in 84 acres of parkland, while the converted school house in Dalby Forest now provides an eco-retreat with cosy lounge area complete with log burner.
It’s also important to scrub any thoughts that these trips mean eating ready meals out of packets. The quality of the food is all-important with home-cooked meals served using local ingredients as much as possible. You only need to bring any alcohol that you might want to drink (walking is thirsty work!).
Range of walks
There really are walks to suit all abilities and fitness levels across some of the most scenic areas of the UK. Very often two different levels of walks will be organised during the course of one weekend.
A Large Outdoors trip to the Lake District usually involves one group taking easier ‘non-summit bagging’ routes that explore the scenic gentler side of the Lakes, following shorelines and wooded valley routes. Meanwhile, a second group will set out to tackle the challenging higher peaks.
Recommended for… Solo travellers or anyone who enjoys the camaraderie that comes with walking in a group (without the hassle of finding your own route)
Be aware that… It pays to look at the grade of walk (the level of challenge and average distances covered) to be confident that you’re fit and experienced enough for a particular trip. It’s also important to ensure you have the right items on the kit list provided by the guide.
Sample weekend: Large Outdoors is running a guided walking break in the Lake District from the 4th-6th September, costing £125 per person. This includes two nights staying in the comfortable and well-equipped YHA Caldbeck, a former shooting lodge nestling in the foothills of the northern fells; all meals apart from Sunday lunch, and two days’ of guided walks with a qualified guide.
For more information and to book visit www.largeoutdoors.com or contact 01653 740400.