An Interview with a Loyal Customer

29/03/16

At Contours we are always excited when a customer comes back and continues to book their holidays with us, and one of our most loyal customers, Jonathan Julyan, has recently booked his 30th Contours Walking Holiday! We recently contacted Jonathan and asked if he would like to be interviewed – as we were sure he would have some wonderful stories and advice to share – and he kindly agreed. Here is what he had to say:

What is your favourite walking trail in Britain, and what do you enjoy the most about walking there?

I particularly like coastal walking, so it has to be the South West Coast Path, which I’ll be completing this month (exactly 4 years since I started). I love the constantly changing variety in the views and landscape, ranging from sandy beaches and holiday resorts through the industrial vistas of the far west (I have Cornish tin mining ancestry) to Exmoor and the remote cragginess of North Cornwall.

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I also love the sometimes challenging terrain, the changeable weather, the wildlife and simply the sound of the sea – and the fact that it’s pretty hard to get lost if you just keep that sound on your right!

What is your fondest walking holiday memory?

It’s really hard to single out just one, but it would probably be my 2014 trip to the West Coast of Scotland when I combined the Arran Coastal Way with the Kintyre Way. I love walking in Scotland, and the scenery on both routes is just magnificent. I saw my first wild otters on Arran, and the ferry journey from Campbeltown back to the Ayrshire mainland was one of my best boat trips ever.

What is the most unusual or funniest thing to happen while you have been out walking?

Sadly (or perhaps not!) my walks are pretty much comedy-free zones, but I do have a very soft spot for red squirrels, and my closest encounter with one was in the Scottish borders. We startled one another on a woodland path – after careful consideration the squirrel decided to give way, but not until it had allowed me time to get within a few yards for a really good view. I also once strayed from a footpath near Tetbury in Gloucestershire only to be met by some delightful police officers from the Royal Protection Branch in a Land Rover, who politely escorted me off the Prince of Wales’ Highgrove Estate.

What are your walking plans or ambitions for the future? Is there anywhere in Britain you have yet to walk but would like to?

Now I’ve completed the South West Coast Path, my next long-term project will be the Wales Coast Path, starting with Anglesey in September (so I’m hoping Contours has future plans for the southern section eastwards of Pembrokeshire).

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I also want to do lots more in Scotland; indeed, at the very top of my to-do list is the walk from Village Bay up to the summit of Conachair on Hirta (St Kilda). In itself this is not a long walk, but the challenge is in getting to St Kilda in the first place. My first attempt last year floundered owing to prolonged bad weather, but I’m planning to try again in 2017.

Based on your experiences of walking holidays, what piece of advice would you give to someone about to embark on their very first walking holiday?

Make sure you’ve got comfy walking boots that are well worn in, as well as some good waterproofs, and do some practice day walks of about the length you’re planning to do each day of your holiday, and if possible over similar terrain. For example I met a couple on the Hadrian’s Wall Path who had to give up after their first day because they “weren’t expecting all those hills”. Then just unplug yourself from the 21 st century, put one foot in front of the other and enjoy the peace, the views, the wildlife, and whatever the weather throws at you (which is why you’ll need those waterproofs!)





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