Book Your Own Walking Holiday
Follow this step by step guide to book your own walking holiday and save yourself the fees of a booking agent!
How to book your own Walking Holiday
You will need a notebook and pen, a phone, a good broadband connection, a couple of hours at least, and ideally a small diary!- Unless you are unbelievably lucky, you won't have your whole walking holiday booked inside 2 hours, you will have to dip in and out of the process in order to catch accommodation providers at home / receive quotes back from them and other service providers etc. In total, it generally takes a few days of dipping in and out to book a typical week long walking holiday, but if you put in a solid couple of hours first, then you can get most things set up, making the rest easy..
1- Choose the stretch of coast path you wish to book your walking holiday on
The entire 630 mile South West Coast Path is regarded as being walked in (suggested|) 8 weeks, and walkers therefore will choose to break it down into 8 x week long manageable chunks. But of course it is completely up to you. Many walkers will just pop down for a long weekend and locals will often walk just one day here and there, so whether you have a half day or 8 weeks, you can still walk part or all of the path.
So.... to decide which stretch of the path to walk, we recommend you go to http://www.southwestcoastpath.com This is the home of the South West Coast Path Team who are like the tourist information of the SWCP. They have a distance calculator if you want to plot the walking distance between one place and another as well as many fixed short or longer walks on the path. It is easily the best place to plan and decide which walk to do.
Note: You should ensure that the length of each day's walking is not too long or arduous for you. The above website does advise but if you have not done it before, you will likely be shocked at how hard a typical coast path 5 miles is, versus a flat 5 mile walk! Better to take it easier over at least the first few days of your walk, and give yourself regular days or half days off.
2- Book your accommodation
By clicking on the following link, you will come to the one night friendly accommodations database which covers the entire SWCP. Although it has been put together by us, this is not why we are signposting you to it, the reason being it is the only comprehensive list of walker friendly places out there for the SWCP and it generates over 1,000 enquiries a week. It is in coast path order and broken down into sections and daily legs which allows you to easily plan your walk- just click here: Short Break Accommodation
Note: Before you book with the accommodation owners, make sure you have a clear plan of which villages and towns you wish to stay at, and also ensure you have a means of payment to pay the deposits which many owners will want up front. Remember that one night stays are not very popular with accommodation providers at certain times of the year, so get your deposit paid early! This reduces the chances of an accommodation owner contacting you later to cancel because they have since received a longer booking. To save time later, have a word document open and write down each address as you book it, including telephone numbers, post code and grid reference, or you can use your diary - this will be the beginnings of your accommodation itinerary!
3- Book your Luggage Transfers
We would like you to book these with us, for a variety of reasons..... We move more walkers' bags than anyone else in the South West, we insure them, are much cheaper than elsewhere, (if you find a cheaper baggage transfer specialist and can provide us with a written quote we will endeavour to Price Match it.... we can't be fairer than that!) and we are the only company who can always take care of all your transfers anywhere on the SWCP or within the entire land mass in between. If that is not enough, because we move so many bags together, when you book with us you remove needless vehicles from the roads and reduce carbon emissions. To book or get a quote, just complete this Baggage Transfers Enquiry
4- Book your Taxis
If you need a taxi service in Cornwall, we would recommend Lt TAXIS click and fill out the "get a quote" form for an almost immediate reply.
5- Print off your route itinerary
Your "walking route itinerary" is different to your "accommodation itinerary". A route itinerary will explain the route and pick out any interesting and historical features, as well as warning you of such things as path closures - as in the case of the firing range at Lulworth which at certain times in the day and week closes the coast path!
You can choose the relevant leg/day walk from our own itinerary section and print it off for free by using this link: walker route Itinerary. Or you can go to the SWCP association website itinerary area and perhaps buy their walking guide by clicking: here
Note: Once you have your walking route itineraries as well as your booked accommodation itineraries, keep them together!
6- Buy a map
You will definitely need a map! We recommend Harveys maps as they are the market leaders for the South West Coast Path and feedback from walkers who have used them has been excellent! Harveys also break the SWCP down into 6 sections which are easier to digest, as opposed to the 25 ordnance survey maps you would need! The 6 sections are:
Minehead to Bude, Bude to Portreath, Portreath to Lizard, Lizard to Plymouth, Plymouth to Sidmouth and Sidmouth to South Haven Point.
We have a book and map store which we have placed the Harveys maps on first so they are really easy to find. click here to go to our store.
You may also wish to buy a guide book, but they usually cover what you will have already printed off using the itinerary link. There are a number of guides on the market and each one has its own merits. We like:
- The South West Coast Path - by Paddy Dillon, published by Cicerone
- The Official guide by the South West Coast Path Association
- Exmoor & North Devon Coast Path, Cornwall Coast Path, and South Devon & Dorset Coast Path - by Trailblazer
7- Other stuff you will need for your walking holiday
You will definitely need a good pair of walking boots and some light but waterproof clothing. (for the typical British weather!) You can get a good pair of boots usually for £40 or more from places like Mountain Warehouse or Millets. We always recommend to get them properly fitted so we do not advise mail order. Here is a full kit list (beyond boots and waterproofs) for you to consider. The ones underlined are those we think essential:
- Small Daysack (consider a waterproof liner too)
- Water Bottle (you may want to avoid re-using the disposable water bottles as the plastic breaks down and is said to have a harmful cumulative effect on health)
- Personal First Aid Kit (small one with plasters, foot powder, lip salve, insect bite cream etc.)
- Map Case (If it rains your map will die without one)
- Whistle (we think this essential as in the unlikely event that you fall and become trapped, a whistle will raise the alarm easily)
- Thick Socks
- Hat - for sun and for the cold if out of season
- Walking Poles
- Sit Mat
- Insect Repellent
Other Top Tips For Your Walking Holiday
It can get really hot when walking on the coast path as the heat rises up from the cliffs, so be sure not to wear too many thick layers. Thin layers are definitely the best option!