Absolute Escapes April 9 2024

For more than 20 years, we’ve been crafting unforgettable walking holidays in the British Isles. Each itinerary is meticulously planned for you, drawing upon decades of expertise and first-hand knowledge.

Our team has a deep love of the natural world and many of our fondest memories have been forged through outdoor adventure. For some, it’s the immense satisfaction of completing a long-distance walking trail. For others, it’s escaping into the wilderness of our most untamed landscapes.

Because we’re avid travellers ourselves, we know how precious your holiday time is. And that life’s too short to settle for ordinary experiences.

So, what sets our holidays apart? Read on to learn everything you need to know about us and our award-winning walking holidays.


Who are the people behind Absolute Escapes?

Our adventurous spirit is fueled by our co-founders, Andy Gabe and Sheila Tulloch. Their passion for travel and discovery is woven into the fabric of everything we do.

The idea of Absolute Escapes emerged during a break from corporate careers at the turn of the millennium. Inspired by a eye-opening trip through New Zealand, California, and the Rocky Mountains, Andy and Sheila returned home with a vision to showcase our own awe-inspiring landscapes.

Upon their return to Scotland, they embarked on the iconic West Highland Way. It was during the trail’s final leg, from Kinlochleven to Fort William, that the seed of offering meticulously planned walking holidays, rooted in local knowledge, blossomed into reality.


Our intrepid team are bonded by a shared love of adventure. You’ll more likely find us ‘bagging a Munro‘ or exploring a castle than at home on the sofa.

Our office is located in Dovecot Studios in the historic heart of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. Feel free to pop in for a cup of tea if you’re in town, the kettle is always on!

For a more in-depth look into Andy and Sheila’s journey, including their bucket list hiking destinations, delve into our Q&A.


Why choose us?

We know that you have countless options when it comes to booking a holiday, including arranging it yourself. We’re not ones for blowing our own trumpet, but here are a few very good reasons why you’re in safe hands with us.

First-hand knowledge

We’ve been there. Our team of specialists have extensive first-hand knowledge of all the destinations we offer, meaning they can provide a wealth of advice based on their own experiences.

Planning a walking holiday can be overwhelming – accommodation options, trail transfers, where to get lunch and evening meals – and that’s why we’re here. We save you hours of research time, enabling you to fast-track the planning process. Through continuous research and a passion for exploration, we remain ahead of the curve.

Precision planning

We’re not ashamed to say that we’re a bit nerdy when it comes to planning. Each detail is carefully fine-tuned to ensure that you’ll enjoy a stress-free walking holiday where the logistics work.

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Responsible travel

As ardent lovers of the natural world, we’re determined to protect our wild places. We are firmly committed to sustainable tourism.

Financial protection

As proud members of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), we guarantee the highest standards of consumer protection for both your holiday and your finances.

Trust and reassurance

With over 700 excellent holiday reviews and multiple AITO Tour Operator of the Year awards, we offer unmatched quality and customer service.

Plus, our dedicated 24/7 support ensures peace of mind, with our knowledgeable team just a call away.

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How do our walking holidays work?

Are your holidays self-guided? Can I walk with a guide or as part of a group?

Yes, our walking holidays are designed to be entirely self-guided. This means you can relax and walk at a pace that suits you.

We’ll provide you with everything you need to enjoy a stress-free holiday, including a guidebook, map, kit list, and personalised daily itinerary.

Unfortunately, we do not offer guided walks or group tours.


What type of accommodation do you use?

As walkers ourselves, we understand the joy of indulging in delicious food and sinking into a cosy bed after a day of adventure. When you book a holiday with us, we’ll handpick your accommodation using our encyclopedic knowledge of the best places to stay.

For every trail, we offer a Standard accommodation option. This means you’ll stay in well-appointed, comfortable bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), guest houses, and small hotels.

Additionally, for many trails, we also offer a Premium accommodation option. This means you’ll be lodged in the best available accommodation in each location. This is an excellent choice for those seeking a touch of luxury.

We’ll always prioritise accommodation as close to the walking trail as possible. Occasionally, your accommodation may be a short distance away, or you may need to spend more than one night in the same place. In this case, we will arrange hassle-free return transfers for your convenience.


Not sure what to expect when staying in a B&B or guest house? Find the answers to all your questions here: What is a Bed & Breakfast? (And Why You Should Stay in Them!).


Are meals included?

Breakfast is always included to set you up for the day. Each establishment offers its unique style and regional twists, ranging from hearty cooked breakfasts to continental spreads, or even picnic hampers delivered to your room.

While lunch and dinner are not included in our packages, your personalised itinerary will advise where you can pick up lunch supplies. Additionally, we’ll provide recommendations on our favourite places to eat and drink each evening.


Do you provide bag transfers?

Absolutely. Your luggage will be collected each day from your accommodation and expertly transferred to your next overnight stay. This service liberates you from the hassle of carrying your bags. Simply pack your day bag with essentials and you’re free to wander unencumbered.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a standalone baggage transfer service.


Where do you offer holidays?

We offer holidays across the picturesque landscapes of Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and the Channel Islands. Every walking holiday undergoes extensive behind-the-scenes research, blending office expertise with regular, on-the-ground exploration.

We will never introduce a new trail until our meticulous team has researched it thoroughly, and we’re confident it will be met with the same enjoyment experienced on our existing collection of holidays.



How challenging are the walks?

Our walking holidays are designed to cater to every level of ability, ranging from easy strolls to invigorating challenges. We grade the difficulty of our trails on the following scale:

  • Easy
  • Moderate
  • Challenging
  • Strenuous

We offer a variety of itinerary options for all of our holidays. Taking the West Highland Way as an example, you may choose to complete the full route over 5 days – averaging 19 miles each day – or over a leisurely 9 days – averaging 10.5 miles each day. There’s an array of itineraries nestled in between, ensuring you can find a perfectly paced adventure.

It’s important to remember that consecutive days of walking can be physically demanding on your body – even on gentle terrain. To make your experience more enjoyable, we offer the option to add additional days anywhere along the routes.


I want to do something different to the itinerary on your website. Is this possible?

We would be delighted to customise a bespoke itinerary which is perfectly aligned with your preferences and individual requirements.

Simply provide us with a minimum of four nights, and let us handle the rest.

Couple walking the St Cuthbert's Way in the Scottish Borders


Do you offer any other types of holidays?

Our multi-centre walking holidays are designed around some of Britain’s best walking destinations. These relaxed itineraries require the use of a car, which will allow you to explore a variety of nearby walks and immerse yourself in the regions you are visiting. Compared to a long-distance walking trail, this is a great option if someone in your party would like a less active break, you’d like to combine walking with sightseeing, or you’d rather avoid unpacking and repacking your case each day.

For a similar experience focused on sightseeing rather than hiking, consider our popular self-drive holidays. These offer the same flexibility and exploration but with an emphasis on scenic drives and cultural discoveries.

Alternatively, if you prefer to leave the driving behind, our self-guided train holidays provide a leisurely journey through our magnificent landscapes. With a flexible rover ticket in hand, you’ll experience some of the world’s most iconic railway routes and immerse yourself in the beauty of the journey.


How far in advance should I book?

Certain trails are incredibly popular and accommodation fills up quickly, particularly during peak season. In Scotland, peak season tends to be May, June and September, while across the wider UK & Ireland, July and August see heightened demand.

To secure your spot on our most sought-after trails during peak season, we recommend booking 9 – 12 months in advance. This is especially true for iconic routes like the West Highland Way, Great Glen Way, and Skye Trail in Scotland, as well as the South West Coast Path and Coast to Coast in England.

If you wish to travel at shorter notice, we offer many off-the-beaten-track trails with ample availability year-round. Please get in touch with our team who are eager to share their insider knowledge and recommend our favourite hidden gems.


Can’t find the information you’re looking for? Learn more on our Walking Holidays FAQs page. If you’d like to speak with one of our experienced specialists, don’t hesitate to call us on +44 (0) 131 610 1210 or email enquiries@absoluteescapes.com.


How we plan your perfect escape

1 – Find inspiration

If you don’t already have a specific walk in mind, we’d suggest looking at the wealth of ideas on our website. You’ll find superb walking experiences everywhere from rugged Shetland to the sun-soaked Channel Islands.

Not sure where to begin? Our travel blog is brimming with tips and recommendations from our team. 20 Unforgettable Walks in the British Isles – Our Team’s Picks is a great place to kickstart your journey.

Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do, or if you would like some guidance and advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


2 – Tailor your adventure

Once we receive your enquiry, we’ll put you in the hands of a dedicated walking specialist.

Your specialist will take your requests and put together a detailed proposal and quotation for your holiday. We’ll keep perfecting your itinerary until it matches your vision perfectly and you’re ready to book.

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3 – Leave the arrangements to us

To confirm your booking, we require a deposit of 20% of the total cost of your holiday. You can read detailed information about our booking process on our How to Book page.

We’ll immediately begin making arrangements for your holiday using our wealth of experience and first-hand knowledge. We’re committed to ensuring every aspect of your walking experience exceeds your expectations.

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4 – Prepare for your journey

The remaining balance is due eight weeks before your holiday. At this point, we will start putting together your information pack which includes:

  • Your personalised daily itinerary
  • Guidebook and map
  • Recommended kit list
  • A list of useful phone numbers including our emergency contact number

During this entire process, you can call or email your dedicated specialist anytime with any questions about your holiday.

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5 – Embrace your adventure

With all the logistics taken care of, all that remains is for you to relax and enjoy your walk.

Our service continues during your holiday, with your dedicated specialist on hand to assist or advise whenever needed.

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How to book a holiday

To begin planning your perfect escape, get in touch with one of our travel specialists today:

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