Celebrating 20 Years of Absolute Escapes

2004 – 2024

2024 marks two decades of orchestrating incredible walking holidays and self-drive tours throughout the UK & Ireland.

From humble beginnings in a spare bedroom in Edinburgh in 2004, our co-founders, Andy Gabe and Sheila Tulloch, have transformed Absolute Escapes into a multi-award-winning tour operator based in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. As we have grown and evolved, we have taken pride in staying true to our founding principles:

  • Integrity
  • Team
  • Love Wild Places
  • Effectiveness
  • Expertise
  • Determination
  • Creativity

Join us as we commemorate this exciting milestone and reflect on our journey. From the best new long-distance walks and the most exciting road trip destinations, we’re eagerly looking forward to creating more unforgettable travel experiences for you. Here’s to another 20 years!


What do we do?

Absolute Escapes provides award-winning walking and self-drive holidays across the UK & Ireland. Through meticulous planning and our first-hand knowledge of the best travel experiences, we offer our clients imaginative, unique and unforgettable holidays, free from the daunting task of planning it themselves.

You can relax knowing that every detail of your holiday has been taken care of by our team of travel experts, who will listen carefully to you and do their utmost to turn your dreams into a perfect tailor-made itinerary – a careful balance of dreaming and planning. We pride ourselves on a culture of continuous discovery, always seeking out the best new travel experiences and hidden gems to ensure our knowledge and recommendations are up to date.

We believe that travel and exploring new places are essential for our well-being and we operate with a genuine love for the destinations we offer and respect for the people and landscapes we work with. We want you to travel with us again and again and we’re proud to have a large number of returning clients who understand that we consider every aspect and detail of their holiday.

Read on to discover how Absolute Escapes began …

Our Story (by Co-Founders Andy Gabe & Sheila Tulloch)

The Inspiration

The adventure began in 2000 when we escaped busy careers and finally gave in to an overpowering urge to travel. Our principal destination of choice was New Zealand, where we spent much of our time hiking many of the spectacular long-distance trails in this beautiful country. With time to stop, think and enjoy the world around us, a business idea began to emerge. We eventually returned to the UK filled with a spirit of adventure, discovery and entrepreneurship and keen to share our love of the great outdoors.

On returning home, Andy joined Sheila in her native Scotland, and together we spent time exploring every corner of our country. We discovered superb accommodation, unforgettable experiences and many hidden gems, harnessing the knowledge it would take to begin an exceptional travel business.

In 2003 we walked the West Highland Way, one of the world’s most famous long-distance trails. During this week walking through the Scottish Highlands we finally decided to take the plunge and begin our business. We decided we wanted to share our experiences and local knowledge with clients and allow them to explore our wild and wonderful places, without the need to worry about planning and logistics.

The Beginning

Absolute Escapes was founded a year later, offering two of our favourite walking trails; the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way, as well as bespoke self-drive holidays around Scotland. The business operated from our Edinburgh flat where every booking was cause for celebration, which remains true to this day. We are very proud that some of the clients who booked in those early days are still with us today, ticking off new walking trails or driving routes each year.

Growing Up

As the business expanded so did we. In 2011 we moved to an office in the heart of Edinburgh and took on our first employees. We were delighted to become part of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and corporate members of the John Muir Trust.

We also expanded the products that we offered to include nearly 50 walking trails across the UK and Ireland, as well as new destinations throughout Scotland. These include Orkney, Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and the idyllic islands of Coll and Tiree.

Our latest venture has seen us expand our self-drive destinations to include England, Ireland and Wales with countless more beautiful routes to be discovered and explored.


Today, we continue to be a privately owned, Edinburgh-based company backed up by a hugely loyal, dedicated and experienced team of like-minded people.

We are truly passionate about the UK and Ireland, and we continue to explore new places and discover unique experiences to create unforgettable holidays.

We really do believe in the restorative power of travel and exploration and are committed to doing all that we can to help each of you have the holiday of a lifetime.

We are particularly proud of the high number of excellent reviews we have collected over the years and the number of repeat clients we are lucky enough to have. More recently, we have been proud to become multiple award winners at the annual AITO Tour Operator of the Year Awards, and to have developed a comprehensive Sustainability Policy that now sits at the heart of everything we do.

Celebrating 20 years of Absolute Escapes, we eagerly look forward to seeing where our spirit of discovery takes us over the next two decades. We hope to welcome you on that journey soon.

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