Wales & Cornwall
Nature & Coastal Walking at its Best
September 2018 • 13 Days • Price TBA
Join us to experience the unending beauty and multi-layered historical and cultural mosaic of this delightful, rural corner of the British Isles!
Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this 2018 tour! An Early Bird is a $50 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable!
Nature walks are the star of the show for this new Adventure—shady forests and grazing sheep at pasture, stiles and kissing gates to navigate, plunging waterfalls and placid lily ponds and, above all, glorious sea cliff walks in both Wales and Cornwall.
Along the way, we learn about the deep Celtic heritage here and resistance to England’s thirst for conquest—first Saxon then Norman, then the medieval monarchies of the English throne. We also sample some of the local specialties and will likely become embroiled in the long-standing debate between Devon and Cornwall about the proper way to spread a scone for cream tea—jam first or clotted cream?! If this kind of drama sounds like fun, we invite you to join us for our first ever walking adventure in Wales & Cornwall!
This is a draft itinerary. Revisions are currently being made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!
- All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
- Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations (3 or 4 star)
- 19 meals: 12 breakfasts and 7 dinners*
- All listed walks
- Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
- Cultural and historical expertise of local and national guides throughout program
- WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
- All tipping for national and local guides and coach drivers
- Horse-drawn ride along Llangollen Canal – Wales
- National Slate Museum – Wales
- Caernarfon Castle guided tour – Wales
- Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog – Wales
- Cardiff Water Bus cruise – Wales
- Big Pit National Coal Museum – Wales
- Plymouth Gin Distillery tour – Devon
- Traditional Cornish Cream Tea – Cornwall
- Lanhydrock House – Cornwall
- St. Michael’s Mount tour – Cornwall
- Land’s End – Cornwall
- Plus more fun and educational stops than we can list!
* (BD) indicates included meals: breakfast or dinner
“WAI is a premier outfit and meets my expectations of how I prefer to tour. I’ve enjoyed every tour we’ve taken.”
-Judi B; Goodyear, AZ
“I don’t have to think about details after I meet the tour leaders and the leaders themselves are always well prepared. I have met most of the WAI personnel and I find them all terrific!”
-Robert S; Portland, OR
“I have never been disappointed in any aspect of a Walking Adventures trip. The trips always exceed my expectations.”
-Thelma G; Richmond, IN
“It is a privilege to be a part of this quality experience. The opportunity of enjoying the authentic local culture and rich heritage expands perspectives and worldviews.”
-LaVae R; Cresswell, OR
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Scott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. Currently living in Puyallup, Washington, Scott loves to explore the unknown, knows how to have a good time, and enjoys including others in the fun! Scott has led tours on all 7 continents and is one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners. Scott will be guiding Wales & Cornwall along with an assistant.
This is a draft itinerary. Revisions are currently being made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!
Day 1: Arrive Cheshire, England (D)
Travelers arrive into England today and rendezvous at our hotel near Manchester International Airport. Since travelers arrive throughout the day, our only group activity is a Welcome Orientation this evening followed by our first dinner together.
Day 2: Cheshire – Betws-y-Coed, Wales (BD)
Thomas Telford Canal Walk – 10 km, rated 1A
The canal system of Great Britain was developed as far back as the Roman occupation, but was greatly expanded and improved to accommodate the transport needs of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today the canals are mainly used for recreational purposes and offer untold miles of boating as well as great walking. We cross into Wales this morning for a relaxing horse-drawn canal cruise, then plot a walking course along a delightful section of the Llangollen Canal between Horseshoe Falls and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Perhaps no other single individual impacted the course of modern England’s economic fortunes as much as the master builder Thomas Telford. His stunning aqueduct over the River Dee Valley has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the terminus of our walk. Finishing the walk, we continue to honor Telford by traveling the revolutionary London-Holyhead Trunk Road he engineered to our home in the delightful mountain village of Betws-y-Coed.
Day 3: Activities from Betws-y-Coed (B)
Mining is a livelihood woven deeply into the fabric of Welsh culture. In North Wales, slate was the chief commodity and we learn more about its extraction and the life of the miner families with a stop at the National Slate Museum on the slope of Mount Snowdon in Snowdonia National Park. English hegemony is another theme in Wales, especially in the north. In the 13th century, King Edward I built an “iron ring” of fearsome castles around North Wales. Our visit to Caernarfon Castle, where the first Prince of Wales was christened, is a testament to the tension between the English overlords and freedom-loving Welshmen. Our final activity of the day is a ride on one of Wales’ many nostalgic, narrow-gauge, little trains built first to serve the mines, then restored to share the heritage of Welsh trains with visitors.
Day 4: Betws-y-Coed – Carmarthen, Wales (BD)
Vale of Ffestiniog Walk – 8 km, rated 3C
Our walk of the day follows a delightful nature trail through Snowdonia National Park along a lovely valley best known for its connection with slate mining and the Ffestiniog Railway. Grazing sheep, fields of fern and heather, cliffs of Mount Snowdon, and the passing of the train fill a cornucopia of visual treats on this memorable North Wales trail. Leaving Snowdonia, we head south toward Pembrokeshire National Park in preparation for the first cliff walk of the Adventure.
Day 5: Carmarthen – Cardiff, Wales (BD)
Stackpole Head & Bosherston Ponds Walk – 11 km, rated 2B
The quiet village of Bosherston marks the start of a walk that combines the pastoral pleasures of tree-lined lily ponds with the panoramic drama of a cliffside walk to Stackpole Head, one of the most spectacular points along the Welsh coastline. We spend this evening in the bustling capital city of Cardiff, one-time coal capital of the world, now a fascinatingly diverse city with a newly renovated waterfront along Cardiff Bay.
Day 6: Activities from Cardiff (B)
Cardiff Past & Present Walk – 9 km, rated 1A
A pleasant water bus cruise down the River Taff connects two contrasting faces of Cardiff featured on today’s walk—gardens, public buildings, and fascinating shopping arcades from the old center of Cardiff lead to a couple miles of walking along Cardiff Bay—the new face of the city—past attractions like the Doctor Who Experience, the Senedd (the new National Assembly of Wales), and the stunning Wales Millennium Centre for performing arts. The afternoon is free to relax in the environs of our hotel, or join us at the Big Pit National Coal Museum to gain an underground understanding of coal mining and its visceral connection with the Welsh psyche!
Day 7: Cardiff – Plymouth, Devon-England (BD)
Dartmoor Bronze Age Walk – 9 km, rated 2B
Leaving Wales, we drive into South West England and Devon County. The main event of the day is on one of England’s famous moors – Dartmoor to be precise. Our walk features several Bronze Age sites, including a well-preserved “cist”, a 4000-year-old gravesite built of large flat stones. The highlight of the walk could be Bellever Tor, a hill covered with dramatically differing granite rock formations with sweeping views of the moor. We spend the next two nights in nearby Plymouth on the southern border between the counties of Devon and Cornwall.
Day 8: Activities from Plymouth (B)
Mount Edgcumbe Walk – 6/11 km, rated 3B
The significance of the Port of Plymouth in English and world maritime history is difficult to overstate. From our hotel this morning, we stroll along Hoe Park, paying homage at several memorials, including one to the indomitable Sir Francis Drake, one-time mayor of Plymouth and vice admiral of the British Royal Navy who was widely credited with the 1588 defeat of the supposedly invincible Spanish Armada. Other notable seafaring events and people linked to Plymouth include the Pilgrim’s departure aboard the Mayflower (1620) and Captain James Cook, arguably the supreme mariner in a country of outstanding seamen. A late-morning tour of the Plymouth Gin Distillery enlightens us to another element of British maritime history. The afternoon is free, or consider joining us for an optional walk across the county line on Mount Edgcumbe. Great coastal views and lovely forest trails combine to make this a delightful first walk in Cornwall! Travelers will pay individually for transportation, including a roundtrip pedestrian ferry crossing!
Day 9: Plymouth – Carbis Bay, Cornwall (BD)
Polperro is a classic fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall that counts smuggling as its other traditional occupation of renown! It’s difficult to imagine a more picture-perfect Cornish setting than Polperro, and we celebrate our first official stop in Cornwall with a traditional Cornish tea together. Our second stop on this non-walking day is Lanhydrock House. Those who’ve been following the PBS television serial Downton Abbey will find much that is familiar on a self-guided tour through the elegant house and expansive grounds of this National Trust site considered the grandest house in the county. We spend the next three nights in a lovely hotel overlooking Carbis Bay!
Day 10: Activities from Carbis Bay (B)
Lizard Peninsula Walk – 10 km, rated 3B
Pasties are a Cornish specialty, handy for a hearty miner’s lunch in days gone by. A lively local master pasty chef we met in the village of Lizard has offered a short baking demo followed by a chance to purchase one of these treats for our picnic lunch to be eaten on today’s epic cliffside trail along Lizard Point, the southernmost part of Great Britain. Our afternoon’s highlight excursion takes us across a causeway often covered by high tides to the island fortress aerie of St. Michael’s Mount. The shadowy story of what locals call “the Mount” begins perhaps with a monastery on the Mount in the centuries before the invasion of the Normans (1066 AD). Over the years the Mount’s purpose and ownership varied, though it was always centered on either religion or defense. Whether we walk the causeway or cross by boats depends upon the day’s tide schedule.
Day 11: Activities from Carbis Bay (B)
Cape Cornwall Walk – 10 km, rated 3B
We walk the South West Coast Path today, a contiguous seaside route covering 630 miles of the Cornish coast. Our final walk threads its way along the north coast of Cornwall, providing alternating panoramas of breathtaking seascapes and tin and copper mining ghost towns that provided the backbone of Cornwall’s economy for many centuries. Later this afternoon, a stop at Land’s End offers the opportunity for a final cliffside stroll to this westernmost point of mainland England. We finish the day with a relaxing evening back at Carbis Bay.
Day 12: Carbis Bay – Wells, England (BD)
Many Americans are aware of the popular British comedy-drama “Doc Martin,” set in the idyllic Cornish fishing village of Portwenn. We visit this cute-as-a-button village today, and discover that its real name is Port Isaac. A pleasant walking tour takes us by many of the haunts featured in the TV series including Bert Large’s Restaurant, Doc Martin’s house, the Pharmacy, and others. Even those unaware of the show will enjoy the local fishing village ambience of Port Isaac. The remainder of the day takes us north to the delightful cathedral city of Wells, base for tomorrow’s transfers to the Bristol Airport. Our hotel is directly across from the west front of Wells Cathedral, a 12th century gothic architectural gem! We anticipate a late afternoon arrival with time to relax or stroll the town before our farewell program followed by dinner at the hotel.
Day 13: Depart from Wells (B)
Your guides will help arrange taxi transfers to nearby Bristol Airport today according to departure times. We leave Wales & Cornwall with friendships made and renewed, and a greater sense of appreciation for the unique history and culture claimed by these delightfully rural corners of the British Isles!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
Call or mail in your Early Bird ($50) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on this Adventure.
First Time Traveler Savings
In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on international tours!
Group Travel Credit
Start a Group of 5 or more to receive a discount on this Adventure!
Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.
How is airfare arranged?
The official start point for this Adventure is our hotel in Cheshire near the Manchester Airport, and the finish point is our hotel in Wells near the Bristol Airport. More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure.
What about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. The success of the walks is therefore predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system that is similar to one used by the American Volkssport Association (AVA), which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below.
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
What happens next?
We are currently developing the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits ($500) to save space.
If you have Early Birded with a refundable $50 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.
Join us as we explore Wales & Cornwall in 2018!