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South West Explorer Independent fully flexible (self-guided) holiday, walking

“ Everything we could have asked for in a walking trip. We lived in the moment for a whole week and slept like babies every night � Bob & Marjorie, USA

South West Explorer

As featured in the Los Angeles Times

Journey on foot through South West England Your trip to the UK might be a once in a lifetime experience. Or perhaps you cherish the thought of being able to see as much of the South West region as possible. You’ll need the best local expertise to do it justice and our South West Explorer (featured in press worldwide) will help you to discover the very best of the South West. The largest and most varied of England’s nine different regions. We know the region inside out, having lived and worked here for 16 years innovating award winning walking experiences. We will work closely and personally with you to create your own custom made walking tour between 10 and 21 nights. Your trip could include walking in up to six of the region’s counties, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, The Cotswolds, Bath and Devon. Be prepared for a little adventure. Longer grasses in summer, a little overgrown in places may sometimes apply, but your efforts will be richly rewarded with sights of villages, landscapes, secret views and country inns that most visitors simply never see. Warm regards, Alison Howell 3

About South West Explorer The South West Explorer is the ultimate personal walking adventure from 10 to 21 nights. With myriad possibilities, each trip is therefore totally unique and your trip will be hand crafted and tailor-made just for you. Using local knowledge and expertise that has seen us create high quality award winning walking holidays in this region for 16 years- discover the best of up to six different counties of South West England. Including Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, The Cotswolds, Bath and Devon. Discover a rich variety of landscapes and ancient villages, castles, rivers, canals and ancient waterways, great local food and hand picked country inns.



Pick of the highlights




Sample daily itinerary


Hand-picked country inns


Prices & booking


Our pick of the highlights * Discover highlights of South West England off the beaten track walking local paths * Explore Wiltshire’s immense historic villages and landscapes with a human history dating back thousands of years. Enjoy hidden medieval villages and a 14th century castle. * Discover Dorset – a timeless beauty that inspired author Thomas Hardy and many writers and poets. Its rolling chalk downs are havens for nature; places to spot wild flowers, orchids and rare butterflies as well as deer, foxes and hares. * Taste local produce including Dorset apple cake, Wiltshire ham, local bacon, cider, local ales, cheddar cheese, Somerset brie and more * Visit ancient market towns such as Sherborne with its world renowned abbey and independent shops and cafés * Explore the Cotswolds away from the crowds with our trails. See villages and churches of the famous Cotswolds stone and discover the region's history with the wool trade. * Admire Somerset’s picturesque English countryside dotted with church towers and villages and learn its ancient myths including that of King Arthur’s Camelot * Stay in centuries old country inns. Each hand picked and located in a gorgeous English village with great bedrooms and local food and drink * Discover Devon with its arresting coastal beauty, beaches and covers and tales of shipwrecks. Its fabulous food includes crab, fish, Devon beef and the wonderful cream tea with scones.


Where? Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, The Cotswolds, Bath and Avon and Devon are counties in the South West of England. How to get here?

“South West Explorer� is a varied walking adventure of 10 to 21 nights. With many possible options your start point will be determined by your own custom made itinerary and we will advise you fully on travel and the nearest train station, airports or directions or postcode for your satnav. The majority of our trails begin around a two hour train journey from London.


The suggested international airport is at London Heathrow which offers an easy transfer to London Paddington. You could also arrive to Bristol, Exeter or other London airports depending on your start point and we will advise you fully.

Travel is about a 2 hour drive from London by car.

Sample daily itinerary... Here is a short extract of some of the days on an itinerary, intended to be an illustrative example. The South West Explorer is both a custom made service and holiday experience which can be between 10 nights and 21 nights. Our team have created over 1000 miles of trails in the South West Region. Therefore your options are wide and varied. We like to work closely and personally with you, getting to know your wishes and preferences and abilities before we can suggest and craft your own tailor-made itinerary using our expertise. You don’t have to walk every day. Rest days or sightseeing days can be incorporated at your request. To help you, here are a few extracts from an itinerary and further information about each of the counties you can explore with us.

Day 1 Arrive to South Wiltshire and relax. You’re on your Foot Trail adventure. For those who want to explore immediately take our introductory short trail – The Great Ridge 4 miles.


Day 2 Lakes, Follies and Stones 11 miles - Wiltshire A splendid walk through a poetical medieval landscape. A blend of greenness, woods, villages and thatch. William Beckford's father (Beckford was a well known political figure in 18th century London) called this country estate 'Splendens'. It certainly still holds true. The grand stone entrance gate is quite a sight, as is the mile long lake. From here you make you way to an old village where once Roman quarry men camped whilst quarrying stone for the roads in this area. Then into the village that gives the stone its very name, the cottages and church delight. Pause for lunch then its off to one of the most delightful Wiltshire villages. A babbling chalk stream runs the length of the village, cottages, churches and castellated manor houses.

Day 3 Knight's Medieval Castle 7, 5, 8 or 12 miles


A glimpse into old England with a rare peaceful feel. Stride through charming hamlets with old manor houses and thatched cottages before arriving into two castles. New Wardour, built in the 18th century for the Arundel family as a fine English country house. And then after lunch (buy a picnic of goodies or stop at a traditional country pub) arrive at Old Wardour. 14th century, this once magnificent castle, partly destroyed during the English civil war by canon fire, stands as quite possibly the most romantic ruin in Southern England. Explore its silent grounds,

lakes and grottos and marvel at the kitchen and banqueting hall. If that doesn't intrigue you sufficiently, further delights can be found walking the carriage ride, passing the village duck pond and heading out near a castle hill fort returning to your country inn on foot.

Day 4 Optional day – see Stonehenge, rest day or continue with trail

Day 5 Out on the chase 8. or 11 miles - Dorset The Chalk downs provide a real contrast to the valleys offering some sensational walking. You are surrounded by sweeping views and curving downs where the sheep graze. You will pass through a string of medieval villages with poetic names such as Ebbesbourne Wake. Picturesque with their flint cottages and fascinating stories. Walking along the ancient Ox Drove is a journey through history. A likely pre-Roman track along which cattle and sheep were driven to market. The chalk downlands themselves are a great place to spot wild flowers and butterflies. High on the chase, a former hunting ground of King John, and once notorious for smugglers and poachers you can enjoy some of the furthest reaching views across Dorset. After lunch at the pub you'll walk through an undisturbed valley to have the pleasure of arriving by foot to your next country inn located in north Dorset.

Day 6 Dorset Miller 8 or 12 miles A picturesque and fascinating trail through the heart of rural Dorset. An area where many mills established themselves on the banks of the river Stour. Milling is among 12

the oldest of human occupations. And millers had the important job of grinding cereal crops by stone to make flour which was turned into bread. You'll pass one such ancient mill which established itself in the time of the Doomsday book. (11th century) and it makes a beautiful scene. And you'll walk past the Pure Drop inn which featured in Thomas Hardy's Tess D'Urbervilles. Life in the village here can be traced back to the iron-age. Discover ancient villages, enjoy a traditional English pub lunch and cross farmland to arrive at your next country inn on foot.

Day 7 Into Somerset 10 miles It is over the county boundary today as you set out across the western most part of the Blackmore Vale. Water is a quite a feature out here with brooks, ponds and reservoirs. Cross old fording points and find streams that wind their way through the villages. In one village find the ancient cross where St Aldhelm is said to have preached in 705AD. We are heading into the heart of old Wessex and soon there are tales of ancient times passed and the ending of Roman Britain. Call by an inn for lunch or visit the local shop. Then pass land once lived in by our Mesolithic ancestors and stand on the edge of the ridge before plunging into your next overnight stay.


Counties to discover... Wiltshire Down to earth and full of history. Man first settled in Wiltshire centuries ago and has been drawn over time by wonders such as the World Heritage site of Stonehenge. In more recent times the Saxons and Normans have left their mark which is evident in the villages, architecture and the landscape itself. Foot Trails was born in Wiltshire and so it has a special place in our hearts. We love its peace and quiet, rolling chalk downs, sweeping landscapes, big skies, medieval villages and castles and hearty food and real ales. Dorset North Dorset's understated yet striking timeless beauty has attracted writers and poets for centuries. You can explore the landscapes which inspired Thomas Hardy to pen some of his most famous novels and which have been the setting for films. Walk in the footsteps of Tess D’Urbervilles and even if literature isn’t your thing you can’t fail to be captivated by the thatched cottages, ancient tales and quiet beauty. Walk the Cranborne Chase, a former royal hunting ground of King John and enjoy the chalk downs with their orchids, wild flowers, butterflies and deer, badgers and foxes. Or walk down the river Stour with its heron, kingfishers and reeds.


Somerset South Somerset is a place of mystery and intrigue. It’s very name, Someset came from the Summer Set – land of the summer people who would come to the area when the seasonal waters subsided on the levels. Today it’s perhaps well known for its wonderful local food and drink which includes the famous cider which you can sample on our trails here and many artisan and locally produced meats and cheeses. Discover the legend of King Arthur, see the reputed site of Camelot and enjoy market towns and villages with stories to share with you as you walk. The Cotswolds Quintessential England and pretty well known worldwide. Walk with us here and we’ll use our local insider’s knowledge to get you off the beaten track and away from those crowds. Enjoy impressive market towns like Stow on the Wold or Chipping Camden and also a wealth of secret and little known villages which lie off the tourist trails. Walks here are punctuated with villages of honey coloured Cotswold stone and the area also has a rich Roman history which you can explore with villa’s en route, one with an impressive mosaic floor.


Bath Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage City. Those who see it for the first time are overwhelmed by its architectural beauty. Much of the city which can be seen today dates from the Georgian era and makes a handsome sight with its golden Bath stone dwellings which rise up over multiple floors. Bath’s delight is its position. It is really a country city. From all corners of the city its surrounding green countryside and valleys are visible and you can even see sheep graze in front of houses in its crescents. Whilst the city, with its Roman Baths and ancient streets, is a delight you will be really rewarded when you head out of the city and into its valleys and villages. Most never visitors never do make it this far and, wow, you are in for a real treat as you explore canals, aqueducts and rolling hills. Devon Deep in the west country or far South West, Devon is well worth the trip. Our trails take you into the South Hams, an area of immense beauty with cliffs, coastal paths, beaches and coves that will delight you as you walk. The sight of the sea is beautiful and, in addition, our trails which take you off the beaten track include little known Devon villages with their white plastered cottages. There are tales of shipwrecks and a peace and relaxation that comes from being close to the sea.


Here seafood is the local speciality and depending on the time of year you can enjoy crab, locally landed fish and we recommend some great places for terrific fish and chips. Don’t worry if seafood isn’t your thing, the Devon reared beef, scones and cream teas, local ales and other delights are great too.

Where you stay One of the reasons guests choose Foot Trails is for our choice and quality of accommodation. During your South West Explorer you will stay largely in country inns and country pubs, all of which are hand chosen. The exception is in Bath when you will stay in a small boutique Georgian hotel. Largely independently and privately owned, we enjoy a close and strong working partnership with all of our country inns. Small, personal and friendly with excellent hospitality each country inn sits in an English village with comfortable bedrooms and delicious local food and produce including real ales and a selection of wines to enjoy with dinner after your walk. Each inn and bedroom is uniquely designed. All our bedrooms have en-suite private bathrooms with modern facilities.

As featured in 19

What's included and prices This tour is available arriving any night (subject to availability)

Prices from: 14 nights from £2160 per person* *Based on two sharing, staying on a bed & breakfast basis Every trip and price is custom made and crafted by hand. Price is determined by the length of your stay, time of year, your choice of bedroom accommodation either standard or superior, the transport required during your tour, luggage transfers. When we work with you we will provide you with a full itinerary and quote with details of what is included.

Included in your tour: • Independent (self guided) walking days custom-made to you and the season • Tailored Walk and Explore Box • Local Ordnance Survey™ maps (waterproof ) • Trail guide cards (waterproof, one for each day with easy to follow instructions) • Local stories and histories • Recommended lunchtime stops at country pubs and cafes • Nature cards for identifying wild flowers, trees and animals • Seasonal nature guide book • Sweets (for a boost en route) • Your en-suite accommodation in a classic en-suite bedroom (superior upgrades available) • Breakfasts. • One bottle of wine • Transport drop off services as required by your itinerary. • Luggage transfers between your country inns. • Services of your own dedicated expert Trail Consultant holiday planner to create and organise your trip.• Services of your own dedicated Trail Concierge before arrival. 23

Words from our guests “We've used Foot Trails 4 times now and would book with them again. Foot Trails is a company where you can just pick your destination and that's all you have to do. They have a standard and they stick to it.” Fleur, UK

“Thank you so much for organising a carefully planned program. We have booked with other companies in different parts of the world but we would have to say your company has been outstanding in all areas.” Adele, Australia

“The more we talk about your company to our friends, the more we realize what a unique and special service you provide. We are already talking about our next holiday with you.” Bob and Linda


Why a Foot Trail? A Foot Trail avoids the formulaic nature, crowds and predictability of mass tourism and focuses instead purely on the quality of your experience. Take a Foot Trail and you will explore deep beneath the surface. You will walk and hike in real and authentic places. Enjoy real, not manufactured moments. Shared conversations with a local person, the stillness of time spent in beautiful landscapes and the joy of encountering stories and moments from England's past. Three words describe a Foot Trail perfectly.

Journey - real – handcrafted “My over-riding memory of my hike in England was of an overwhelming prettiness, as well as a calibre of food that was far more local, whole and mindful than I had expected. I really wasn't expecting the South West of England to have such an informed foodie focus.” Sarah Wilson, Australian foodie author. Foot Trails hand-pick each country inn and accommodation, we plan and create each walking trail and each trip or vacation by hand from scratch. It's tailor-made for you. We work with local people and in partnership with rural businesses, creating memorable and authentic travel on foot that also impacts positively on the same rural communities and economies. 25

To book Call +44 (0) 1747 820 626 with your chosen date, we will then confirm your place for you upon which a 35% deposit will be payable. Full balances due 8 weeks before arrival. PayPal & all major credit & debit cards accepted. +44 (0) 1747 820 626 (landline) 9 Berwick Courtyard Berwick St Leonard Salisbury Wiltshire SP3 5UA


Call +44 (0) 1747 820 626 Email

South West Explorer  

Self-guided (independent) walking & hiking tour in South West England. This is a unique and enjoyable way to walk in and explore up to six...

South West Explorer  

Self-guided (independent) walking & hiking tour in South West England. This is a unique and enjoyable way to walk in and explore up to six...