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Discover the Difference: Guided vs Self-Guided Walking Holidays

couple enjoying a self-guided walk up a grassy track in the National Forest. Photo Credit Diana Jarvis and NFC
Walking at Boothorpe in the National Forest. Photo Credit Diana Jarvis; NFC

What's the difference between a guided and self-guided walking holiday?

Walking holidays are a popular way to explore new destinations, whilst getting some exercise and enjoying the health benefits of being outdoors. If you're considering a walking holiday, you may be wondering whether to choose a guided or self-guided option. In this post, we explore the main differences between these two types of walking holidays to help you decide which is right for you.

Couple on a self-guided walking holiday in England. They are sat at Moira Furnace, looking at a map of the National Forest.
On a self guided walking holiday you follow instructions at your own pace and in your own private group.

What is a Self-Guided Walking Holiday?

On a self-guided walking holiday, a detailed route and accommodation are organised, but you won't have a physical guide to lead you each day. Instead, you follow the detailed instructions in your own private group (or solo), setting your own walking pace, without the pressure of having to keep up with a larger group. This makes this option perfect for independent travellers, who prefer to have flexibility over their schedule, with the convenience of an arranged itinerary and accommodation. Self-guided walking holiday providers can often personalise your holiday experience, to suit you and your interests, from tailoring the daily mileage to visiting specific heritage sites or building in additional experiences into the holiday package.

Many walkers love the flexibility and independence that a self-guided walking holiday offers. Set off when you are ready each morning and stop where you choose along the way, without keeping to a predetermined schedule.

On a self-guided walking holiday, you can make your own discoveries, take detours and spend more time at the sights that interest you the most. You can linger over a relaxing long picnic, or enjoy a chat with someone along the way, without the pressure of holding up a group. For guests seeking an authentic experience, a couple or person walking solo are often more approachable than a group of walkers. This makes it easier to get chatting to the locals in the pub or volunteers at a local experience along the way.

Group of walkers and walking guide in the National Forest in England.
On a guided walking holiday, you will generally walk as part of a larger group, with a guide to lead the way and set the pace.

Guided Walking Holidays

A guided walking holiday is led by a professional guide, who takes care of everything and leads you along the route. They will be knowledgeable about the area, its culture and the sights along the way and will often have insider tips to share with you. Generally there will be multiple bookings of different people, brought together in a single group. This can be a great opportunity to meet new people and learn more about them, as you walk. This make it especially attractive to solo walkers, wanting someone to share the experience with them. However, group dynamics can sometimes lead to dissatisfaction and friction within the group.

The group leader will decide on start times each day and will generally decide where and when you stop along the way. This is perfect for those that prefer to follow someone and allow them to take care of all the logistics along the wa

Should I choose a Self Guided or Guided walking Holiday?

So, which option is right for you? If you want a care-free, structured experience with the opportunity to meet new people, a guided walking tour may be best. If you like to be independent and prefer to have more control over your itinerary and set your own pace, a self-guided walking tour may be ideal. Regardless of your choice, a walking holiday is a great way to disconnect from the fast pace of daily life and explore, at a slower pace. With either choice, you will get some healthy exercise and be sure to have a memorable experien

Self-guided walking holidays in the UK's National Forest

We offer a range of self-guided walking holidays in and around the UK's National Forest. In the heart of England, the region is perfect for those seeking an easy walking holiday, or who don't want to walk too far each day. The landscape is varied and interesting, without being challenging. There's plenty to explore along the way, from castles and heritage homes to steam trains and glorious gardens. Unlike some walking holidays, you will never be far from civilisation, yet the walking is quiet and tranquil. Guests often remark on the sense of satisfaction and achievement that they feel from finding their way each day. However, there's peace of mind knowing that our self-guided walking holidays include detailed daily route guides, with turn by turn instructions and information about the route, as well as a list of our favourite places to eat and drink along the way.

Hotel accommodation is arranged, every walking route is tried and tested and your luggage is transferred daily between accommodation. Whilst we're not personally setting the pace and guiding you, guests have the reassurance of knowing that we are only a phone call away, should anyone need a helping hand or have questions about their route.

couple on a self-guided walking holiday, sat at a table outside, in the grounds of Bosworth Hall Hotel, Market Bosworth, England. There is a fountain in the background
Guests on our self guided walking holidays benefit from our expert local knowledge of the best places to enjoy a drink or something to eat along the route.

Choose your perfect self guided walking holiday

We would love to help find your perfect walking holiday. View are range of walking holidays here. Alternatively, contact us on or on 01530 417482 to discuss your requirements.

young couple on a self-guided walking holiday, stood by a stile, in English countryside.
Let us help you find your perfect self guided walking holiday in the National Forest


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