The health benefits of walking are well-known and strolling with your friends is a great way to enjoy the countryside – or a city – as we discover.
Exploring somewhere on foot can be the best way to experience new sights and sounds and there’s a wealth of options for an organised walk, be it an urban tour, a day out in a National Park or a walking holiday. Walking in good company adds a further beneficial feel-good factor to a ramble. So not surprisingly, nearly two thirds of people prefer to walk with a partner or a group, and one in four of them feel happier after a walk, according to a survey by HF Holidays, specialists in walking and leisure activity breaks.
Matthew Humphreys, Head of Operations at HF Holidays who commissioned the research says: “In today’s busy world, we believe that among the things that matter is an appreciation of natural beauty and a love of the open air. Walking doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be a means to an end, it has a huge array of social, physical and mental benefits and we want to share that with the people of Britain.” HF Holidays is a co-operative society that has been organising outdoor holidays for more 100 years.
The company has 19 country houses in the UK’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as independent hotels for overseas holidays. The company has won numerous awards including a Which? Recommended Provider status for the fourth successive year, was voted Best Large Tour Operator by Guardian and Observer readers 2010- 2014, and earlier this year picked up the Silver Travel Award for Best Specialist or Activity Tour Operator.
OFFERS FOR 2017
Booking on 2017 UK breaks, groups can save up to £150 and get one free place for every 15 people, enjoy single rooms with no supplement, plus the group organiser can take advantage of a £50 voucher and an upgraded room. Free fam trips are available. You might even decide to tackle Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks over the course of a long weekend, or simply enjoy gentle countryside walks, following tea shop and pub trails to discover tasty local treats. Prices start from £349 per person for three nights.
Each holiday includes full board en-suite accommodation, use of all the house facilities including WiFi, a boot drying room and at some houses a swimming pool, transport to and from the walks on guided walking breaks, the services of experienced leaders, and evening activities, from cheese and wine tasting to live music! For those looking to travel further afield, HF Holidays has a selection of stunning destinations across the world. European and worldwide holidays include half board or bed and breakfast accommodation, the services of an experienced leader, a daily choice of guided walks or activities, flights (where applicable) and one free place for every 15 adults booked on European breaks. For more information on HF Holidays call 0345 470 7557 or email info@hfholidays. co.uk www.hfholidays.co.uk
RAMBLING FOR GROUPS
The name Ramblers is synonymous with local walking groups, but did you know that the Ramblers organisation run groupfriendly holidays? Private Groups Manager Dawn O’Farrell explains to us that as well as welcoming groups on established holidays joining others, they are happy to create bespoke trips, with an option to choose the length of trip, walking grade, preferred regional airport and even specific walk leader. Groups are eligible for a five per cent discount on their booking and there’s flexibility in terms on deposits too. There’s a huge range of holidays to choose from in the UK and abroad, with countries including Barbados, Morocco, and Croatia proving popular with groups. And if your group would prefer their walking at a gentler pace, the Adagio selection of trips with higher grade hotels, would be ideal.
GIVING SOMETHING BACK
Booking a holiday with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays has the extra bonus of benefiting walkers at grass roots level through The Walking Partnership which aims to provide financial support to local walking clubs and societies. The company has donated many millions of pounds to assist walking charities and conservation projects in Britain and the countries they visit on worldwide holidays. If your group supports walking by organising walks, encouraging people to get out walking, helping to clear and improve footpaths, providing equipment to help walkers or some other contribution to walking in your area, you may be eligible to join The Walking Partnership. Martin Skipper’s organisation has benefited from membership.
He says: “Hillingdon Ramblers joined the Walking Partnership Scheme in March 2012. Knowing how very popular Ramblers Worldwide Holidays were with our members, we were eager to join and benefit both our group and the countryside in which we walk. “Since joining the scheme we have received £1,840 in total. These funds have enabled us to buy equipment to help promote our group at local events and provide better facilities and accommodation for our Annual General Meeting.
“In addition through the Chiltern Society, we have provided three Kissing Gates, one in the Coleshill, Chenies and Little Chalfont. Our gates carry a plaque ‘Donated by Hillingdon Ramblers in association with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays’ an advertising benefit to both organisations.” For more information on Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, call the Groups telephone line on 01707 386 723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.ramblersholidays.co.uk
Themed walks in London!
Muggle Tours specialises in Harry Potterthemed tours, where you can expect to see the entrance to the Leaky Caudron, the alleyways off Charing Cross Road which inspired Diagon Alley, and the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic. Call 07914 151 041 or email bookings@ muggletours.co.uk. www.muggletours.co.uk
If you and your group are Charles Dickens fans, join a walk with London Walking Tours and you’ll see the prison where his family was incarcerated, the Crossbones Burial Ground, and the spot where Nancy betrayed Bill Sikes. Call 020 8530-8443. www.london walking-tours.co.uk
With Halloween fast approaching, now’s a good time to plan a spooky experience. Take a tour with London Walks and you’ll find yourselves in the company of the Duke of Darkness himself, discovering some of the darkest tales and goriest stories of London – ghostly appearances are guaranteed! Call 020 7624 3978 or email email@example.com www.walks.com
The Tube tour starts off at the first-ever London Underground station and ends at one of the most futuristic. Telephone 020 7183 1055. www.insider-london.co.uk