Frequently Asked Questions

About Contours

Contours Walking Holidays has been organising walking breaks since 1996 and strives to be the best value self-guided walking holiday company in the UK and Ireland.

We offer a broad variety of customisable holidays, with competitive pricing, hand-picked service providers and excellent customer service.

Not a walker? Find out more about our Trail Running Holidays and Cycling Holidays.

What is a self-guided walking holiday?

From the door of each night’s accommodation, you’ll follow our maps and guidebooks on foot through the countryside — with complete freedom to walk at your own pace, stop for breaks when you like, choose your own meals and linger as long as you want at the sites that interest you most.

That’s because a self-guided holiday is built around you. There’s no need to choose from a limited selection of dates and you won’t join a group of strangers. Gather your walking companions from amongst friends and family, pick a trail, select the itinerary that best suits your pace and let us know your dates. We’ll arrange everything for you and provide all the details so you can act as your own guide.

Read on for all the specifics.

What does Contours provide?

  • Nightly accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • Daily luggage transfers
  • Personalised holiday pack
  • 24-hour emergency support
  • Exclusive members area
  • Transfers to and from the trail

We offer expertly-planned walking holidays and complete peace of mind. In this section you’ll learn about everything that goes into your carefree excursion through the beautiful British countryside.

Nightly Accommodation

We book three star and above or equivalent accommodation at family-run bed and breakfasts, friendly guesthouses, country inns and small hotels. Each has been carefully chosen for their quality, the warmth of their welcome and their closeness to the trail.

We aim to book en-suite rooms each night, but please be aware that this is not always possible, especially in the most remote areas.

Breakfast

A continental or cooked breakfast is included at your accommodation each morning as standard.

Inform Contours of any dietary requirements within your group and we’ll notify each accommodation in advance. We recommend telephoning your accommodation prior to your arrival to discuss your specific requirements. In some cases it may be worth carrying your favourite substitute items with you.

Daily Luggage Transfers

A light daypack is all you’ll need to carry during the day. Your larger luggage will be transported for you between each overnight stop.

We transfer one bag per walker, up to a maximum of 20kg (44lbs). Extra allowance may be available at supplemental cost.

Personalised Holiday Pack

Your pack contains all the information required to guide you along your chosen trail.

  • Official Ordnance Survey maps, map booklets or Harvey maps
  • Guidebooks or route notes describing the trail
  • A day-to-day itinerary
  • Details of each night’s accommodation and how to get there from the trail
  • Luggage tags

Your Holiday Pack will be posted to you four weeks prior to your holiday’s start date, after receipt of full payment. An electronic version of your Holiday Pack, minus the maps and guidebooks, will be emailed to the Lead Walker. We provide one Pack per party, with additional copies available to purchase on request.

Not at home to receive your Pack? We’re happy to deliver it to your holiday’s starting accommodation or an alternative address.

All Holiday Packs are produced in strict rotation. We are unable to generate any Packs earlier than the specified four weeks before your holiday begins.

24-hour emergency support

Our office is manned from 09:00 to 17:30 British local time, Monday to Saturday (excluding bank holidays).

If assistance is required outside these times, details of an out-of-hours emergency telephone service are included in your Holiday Pack. You can also find this number in our Members Area.

Exclusive Members Area

Here you’ll find travel information, downloadable GPS files where available, an interactive feedback form and much more. If you’ve booked your holiday, access the Members Area now. You’ll need your Booking ID and the surname of the Lead Walker to log in.

Transfers between the trail and your accommodation

There may be occasions during your walk where your accommodation is situated more than a mile from the trail, or you may have to spend more than one night in the same place. Where this is the case, we generally provide transfers between your accommodation and the trail, which will be included in the holiday cost.

Exceptions typically include trails which do not feature an accessible location for a taxi pick-up; in these cases you may need to walk a little further off the trail. There are also a handful of stops where public transportation is more convenient, such as Wallsend on the Hadrian’s Wall Path. The cost of any public transportation is payable by you.

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What is not included?

  • Transport to and from your holiday
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance
  • Transport should you decide to skip a stage
  • Walking equipment and clothing

Every trail we offer brims with great sights and local cafes and restaurants. One of our top targets is to make sure you can visit your favourites at your own pace — not hustled along by a tour guide or a lunchtime reservation. To maximise flexibility on your self-guided walk, here are the things we leave to you.

Transport to and from your holiday

How you get to the start and from the end of the trail is up to you, but we’re more than happy to offer advice. Details of public transport links are provided in your Holiday Pack.

If you plan to travel by car, let us know and we’ll look into your car parking options. If the accommodation where you are booked to stay has car parking space available for the duration of your holiday, we can arrange this with them for you. Any charge will be payable to your accommodation directly. Where this is not possible, we will provide information on local long stay car parking options in your Holiday Pack.

Looking to get stuck in with planning? Traveline is an extremely useful website that allows you to plan your journey using local transport. Trainline has a searchable timetable for the UK’s rail network and is a great help when seeking out the best value fares.

Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks

With our suggestions for where to purchase packed lunches and evening meals included in your holiday pack, you’ll enjoy the freedom to choose where to eat as you walk. Breakfast is pre-booked and included in the price of your holiday.

Transport should you decide to skip a stage

If you decide not to complete a day’s walk, you will need to make use of public transportation or a taxi to reach your accommodation for the night.

Travel insurance

We strongly recommend that you take out holiday insurance in order to cover you against cancellation, personal accident, illness and loss/theft of personal possessions or money. Contours Walking Holidays unfortunately cannot be held responsible for any of the above.

Walking equipment and clothing

If you’re unsure of what to bring, take a look at our kit list of recommended equipment for your walking holiday. A compass and a trusted pair of walking boots are essential.

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How do I choose my holiday?

  • Locations
  • How many days of walking?
  • Customisable itineraries
  • Who would you like to walk with?

We proudly offer a wider range of UK routes and itinerary options than any other walking company — but we understand that’s a lot to choose from! We’ve listed the major points for consideration below.

If you need help reaching a decision, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be more than happy to advise you. Get in touch though our Contact page.

Locations

You can search for trails in your favourite areas by taking a look at our Holiday Location Map or using the search tool below.

How many days of walking?

Our huge range of holiday options allows our customers to walk for as long as they wish. Our shortest breaks start from three nights and two days of walking, while our longer tours can last for several weeks. You can even connect some of our routes together to create even longer holidays as desired.

Check out the tour itineraries listed under your chosen trail to find your ideal holiday length. Bear in mind that the quoted mileages do not include the distance to your accommodation from the trail, which could add up to two miles each day.

Looking for something short? Take a look at our map of short walking breaks for inspiration.

Customisable itineraries

If our pre-made itineraries aren’t quite right for you, simply contact us with your ideas and requirements and we will be happy to discuss your options with you.

All of our holidays can be adjusted to incorporate extra days for resting or sight-seeing. If you would like assistance in deciding where to spend an extra night, please get in touch. You can find our top picks on the “Extra Nights” tab on each tour page.

All extra nights must be booked at the time of booking your holiday. They cannot be added at a later date.

Who would you like to walk with?

We happily cater for groups of up to 16 people, including families and friends of all ages, subject to availability. If you wish to walk with a larger group, please contact us to discuss your options.

If you’re planning to holiday as a group, make sure you take everyone’s experience levels into account when choosing your tour.

Solo travellers are also very welcome on our holidays. All of our walking holidays (except for the Bob Graham Round and Snowdon Round Mountain Route) are suitable for solo travellers.

We haven’t forgotten about man’s best friend either! We offer a range of dog friendly walks for those wishing to walk with their canine companions. Check out our list of dog friendly holidays for more information.

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How are holidays graded?

  • Easy
  • Moderate
  • Demanding
  • Strenuous

Many factors contribute to the difficulty of the trail, including the daily mileage, terrain and the typical weather conditions of the area. Our grading scheme, along with the route profiles offered on each holiday page, offers a general indication of a tour’s difficulty to help you decide which holiday best tallies with your experience and fitness level.

Remember that all walkers, regardless of the holiday grade you choose, should know how to use a compass and read a UK Ordnance Survey or Harvey Map.

If you are unsure of which grade to choose, or have any questions concerning distances or terrain covered on your preferred trail, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Easy

Generally between 5 – 8 miles (8 – 13km) walking per day.

Tours graded as Easy may involve a few short ascents/descents and varied terrain. This grade allows for walking at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to explore sites of interest along the route.

Easy tours are ideal for novice walkers or those embarking on their first long-distance walking holiday.

Moderate

Generally between 8 – 12 miles (13 – 19km) walking per day.

Tours graded as Moderate include longer low-level walks and those trails with a few longer or steeper ascents and descents. The terrain will be varied and paths may be uneven underfoot.

Moderate tours are suitable for regular walkers with a good level of fitness.

Demanding

Generally between 12 – 16 miles (19 – 25.5km) walking per day.

Tours graded as Demanding are typically more challenging, including even higher mileage low-level walks and trails with several longer and steeper ascents and descents. The terrain will be varied and paths could be rough or rocky in places.

Demanding tours are suitable for experienced walkers with a strong level of fitness.

Strenuous

Generally 16+ miles (25.5km) walking per day.

Tours graded as Strenuous involve long, challenging walking days either with very high daily mileages or prolonged ascents and descents. Some scrambling may be involved. The terrain will be varied and tough under foot in places.

A strong level of fitness and previous mountain walking experience are both essential for Strenuous tours.

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Holiday availability

All of our walking holidays are available from March to October, but many are available during the winter months too. Details of the season for each holiday can be found on its trail page. If you wish to book out of season, get in touch with our friendly team. An extra cost may be involved.

Please be aware that, if your ideal holiday dates coincide with a public holiday or a local event, availability of accommodation becomes limited very quickly. During these times it is advisable to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Our team at Contours Walking Holidays are always on hand to advise you on availability throughout the year.

How much will my holiday cost?

Solo and single walker supplements

Daily dog charge

Special tour supplement

Group discount

Loyalty discount

Refer A Friend discount

New offers and discounts

Tour prices are provided on each route page. The prices, which are per person, are based upon two people booking and sharing a twin or double room.

Please note: if you book your holiday online and quote a discount, voucher or special offer code, these will be manually deducted from the cost of your holiday after you have submitted your booking. Your holiday acknowledgement email and invoice will reflect this accordingly.

Solo and single walker supplements

Customers walking alone are subject to a solo supplement. This covers the extra costs of a single room or single occupancy of a two-person room, as well as those expenses usually shared across multiple people: luggage transfers and a set of maps and a guidebook. The cost of the solo traveller supplement is shown next to the itinerary of your chosen tour.

If you are booking as part of a group but require a room of your own, the single supplement will apply for the same reasons. The single supplement cost can be found next to the itinerary of your chosen tour.

These are two separate supplements and you will never incur both at once.

Daily dog charge

Walkers bringing their dogs on one of our dog friendly holidays are subject to an additional supplement. This covers the costs of transporting your dogs’ luggage, additional accommodation charges for a dog-friendly room and any transfers that may be required to bring you to the nearest dog-friendly accommodation.

The daily dog charge is shown next to the itinerary of your chosen tour for all dog friendly trails.

Special tour supplement

If you wish to add extra nights into your holiday, the cost of these is shown below the tour price. Any other special customisation can be requested prior to booking and priced as required.

For assembling bespoke special tours, we apply a £25 charge per walker to a minimum cost of £50.

Group discount

Discounts are available for groups of three or more people booking a tour together. We calculate our prices on the assumption that there will be two people sharing the fixed costs, so we’re able to offer reduced rates when these costs are shared across a larger group.

The size of your group discount will depend on the number of people in your group, up to 10% for a party of nine.

Please note that the group discount and loyalty discount cannot be used together or in conjunction with any other promotion.

Loyalty discount

As a thank you to our many returning customers, we offer the following loyalty discounts:

  • Save 5% on your fifth to fourteenth walking holidays
  • Save 7.5% on your fifteenth walking holiday and any subsequent trips thereafter

When booking your next Contours Holiday, simply tell us that you qualify for a loyalty discount and list the holidays you’ve taken with us before.

Please note that the loyalty discount and group discount cannot be used together or in conjunction with any other promotion.

Refer A Friend Discount

If your friends are new to Contours and they book a holiday with us following your recommendation, we offer rewards for you both. Your friend will receive an introductory £25 off their booking, and you’ll get a voucher for £25 off whichever walking holiday you book next.

To activate this Refer a Friend Discount, your friend simply needs to let us know at time of booking that they’re eligible for the offer and provide your name and address. Exclusions apply.

New offers and discounts

We frequently run short-term promotions so that our customers can enjoy even better value for money. Visit our frequently updated Special Offers page for the latest details.

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Gift Vouchers

Contours Holidays Gift Vouchers are available to purchase from our website. They’re the ideal gift for a loved one who enjoys hiking in the Great British countryside. Our gift vouchers can be credited with any amount and the recipient can apply them to any of our holidays. Visit our Gift Vouchers page for more information.

How do I book my holiday?

  • Online
  • Over the phone
  • Deposits
  • Payment
  • Paying as part of a group
  • Protection

Once you have chosen your holiday and wrangled your walking partners, you can send your booking to us in a number of ways. Don't worry if your group members would like to pay separately — we make partial payment easy. Read on for all the details.

Online

Go to your chosen holiday trail on the website, find your ideal tour and click Book Now beside your chosen itinerary. Follow the steps on the secure online booking form. Don't forget to add any comments or specific requirements you may have, and to include any discounts or voucher codes you wish to apply.

Over the phone

Call us to discuss your requirements and we will process the booking with you over the telephone.

From within the UK:    01629 821 900
From outside the UK:   +44 1629 821 900

Our booking team is available during office hours: Monday to Saturday, 09:00 to 17:30 local time, excluding bank holidays.

Deposits

All bookings require a non-refundable deposit of £100 per person per holiday (or per tour section if booking consecutive tours).

If you book your holiday within six weeks of commencement, you will need to pay for your holiday in full at the time of booking.

Payment

You may pay for your holiday by debit card or credit card. We accept MasterCard, Visa or Amex. You may also pay by cheque or Sterling bank draft (made payable to “Contours Walking Holidays”) or by bank transfer. Please contact us for details. All payments must be made in pounds sterling.

Paying as part of a group

If you are walking as part of a large group, you may wish to pay your portion of the balance separately. This can be done easily by visiting the Members Area of our website. Simply enter the Booking ID and the surname of the Lead Walker.  Within the Members Area, enter the amount you would like to pay, followed by your card details as prompted by our website.

All bookings are subject to our Booking Conditions.

Protection

In accordance with The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, all persons booking with Contours Walking Holidays Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all monies paid to us, including repatriation if required, arising from cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Contours Walking Holidays Ltd.


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Once a holiday is booked

  • Holiday Acknowledgement
  • Contact during the process
  • Making changes to a booking
  • Joining a party
  • Cancelling a booking

The process once your booking has been submitted is straightforward. Read on for details of our Holiday Acknowledgements and the contact you should expect to have with us between the date of booking and the first day of your walk. Need to make an alteration, add a new walker or cancel a booking? All you need to know can be found below as well.

Holiday Acknowledgement

When we have received your booking and deposit and checked accommodation availability, we will send you a Holiday Acknowledgement email. This acts as recognition that we have received your booking and that our team have begun processing your walking holiday.

You can expect to receive your Holiday Acknowledgement within two working days of making your booking.

Your Holiday Acknowledgement contains a summary of your chosen itinerary, an invoice, your unique Booking ID and our Booking Conditions.

It is important that you read through this information carefully and check that everything is exactly as you are expecting. In the unlikely event that there is an error with your itinerary, please contact us immediately, quoting your Booking ID.

Contact during the process

Once you’ve received your Holiday Acknowledgement, we generally will not need to contact you again until we send out your Holiday Pack four weeks before the start of your holiday.

In a small number of cases, however, difficulties may arise in securing accommodation for your holiday. Should this be the case, we will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Making changes to a booking

We will do everything we can to help if you wish to make changes to your booking prior to the due date for final payment, but please be aware that we charge an administrative fee of £50 per person in your group for any alterations.

If you choose to add another person to your party after making your initial booking, this will be considered a change to the booking and will incur an administration charge. Please be aware that we cannot always guarantee that there will be availability for additional people in the accommodations we have booked for you.

If you wish to add a person to your booking, please contact us to discuss your requirements and we will do our utmost to help.

If you wish to make changes after the final payment has been made, please see our Booking Conditions for details of charges.

Joining a party

We often receive requests from people who wish to surprise another walking party by joining them on their walk. While we encourage customers to share their experience with their friends and family, we also have to respect the privacy of each of our customers. Please do not be offended when we refuse to disclose the details of another customer’s holiday. We are required by the Data Protection Act 2018 to follow strict security procedures.

With the permission of all parties involved, we would be more than happy to assist two parties who wish to join each other on one of our walks.

Cancelling a booking

If you have to cancel your holiday, please inform us in writing via email or by post as soon as possible. The date from which we receive your written cancellation is the date from which cancellation fees will be calculated. Cancellation terms will apply.

Please see our Booking Conditions for more information.

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