The company was set up in 2006 as a family business called Encounter Cornwall in the village of Lerryn, mid Cornwall and originally its main work was offering kayaking trips on the River Fowey which passes through the village. We also started offering short walking breaks on our local section of the South West Coast Path initially between Mevagissey and Looe, what we now call the Classic Cornish Short Break route.
Our initial aim was to fill a gap in the market by providing tailor-made walking trips where the walker had some control over building their walking itinerary and choosing where to stay - and so the concept of - your walk.... your way was born. With a staff group who were all keen walkers, several of us had already taken walking holidays with other companies and as a result we knew the shortcomings in what was currently on offer. We often ended up with poor accommodation, long walks off the trail to find our beds and a general lack of knowledge (or interest) about the walking routes from those providing it. So, left to work things out for ourselves we did just that - but we decided to learn from the poor service we experienced and instead start to offer a better walking holiday service with more suitable options for those who wanted to enjoy the trails we love.
The walking holidays quickly became very popular and we expanded to research options and then cover the full 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. We decided to concentrate all our efforts into our walking holidays and sold Encounter Cornwall who, we are pleased to report, continue kayaking on the River Fowey under that name and are well worth joining for a paddle if walking in South Cornwall. On our side, we had long outgrown Cornwall's walking trails by that point and so became Encounter Walking Holidays and from that point on concentrated only on our walking holidays.
With a high number of loyal customers wanting more routes we added coast to coast routes such as The Two Moors Way and Saints Way. By 2011, keen to keep unearthing the best routes for our regulars, we worked with the Wales Coast Path which was instrumental in opening the first continuous walking route around an entire nation, a massive 870 miles of trail ... and we continue to expand along that route every year.
The England Coast Path brings us new future route opportunities and meanwhile we are busy working in areas such as Somerset and Dartmoor which provide superb and comparatively unknown walking routes giving our walkers quality alternative options to areas like Cornwall and Devon which can suffer from a severe lack of available accommodation at peak times.
We are often asked by our regular customers about walks in other regions such as the North, the Cotswolds and Scotland and about well- known routes like the Coast to Coast and Hadrian's Wall Path. However we are very careful about only providing walking holidays in areas we have researched in detail and have walked in full, often several times, so our expansion is steady and controlled from the South West routes through Wales. Whilst we do increase the portfolio of options every year, we won't offer to arrange a walk in an area in which we do not feel we have expertise. As a result of this policy, in the South West and coastal Wales we have more options and more expertise than any other organisation and for several years now we have been the largest provider of self guided walking holidays in the region. It is an immense source of pride for those of us that work at Encounter Walking Holidays to state confidently that we know we are the most experienced operator at what we do.
We became a limited company around 11 years ago and have enjoyed hosting a big rise in overseas walkers in the last few years, particularly from areas such as Scandinavia, America and mainland Europe.