Not sure about what to expect from a Headwater holiday? Wondering what you’ll need to take, how you’ll get there, or even which holiday to choose? Don’t worry – simply click on any of the categories below to discover everything you need to know.
We offer both independent and group walking holidays. On independent walks you have the flexibility to explore at your own pace and discover the heart of your chosen region. On our guided walking holidays you will walk in a group (typically 4-16 people) along with an expert local guides. They will tailor the walks to suit the ability and interests of the group.
On hotel-to-hotel holidays we will move all your luggage for you. Simply pack it away in the morning before you leave and it will be waiting for you on arrival at your next hotel. All you need to carry is you route notes, maps, and any food and drink you'll need during the day. For more strenuous holidays you should also take any necessary clothing too.
On our independent hotel-to-hotel holidays your route will take you from one hotel to the next. Our detailed route notes and maps (all included in the price) guide your way, but give you the opportunity for some additional exploring.
On our independent single-centre holidays we provide maps and walking suggestions - it's up to you how often you walk, and where you explore.
On guided walking holidays there will be a different trip each day - tailored to suit the ability and interests of the group, and the local weather conditions.
All Headwater independent walks are researched by Headwater staff, in collaboration with the local authorities. Our routes are carefully selected to give you a real insight into your chosen destination, weather it's quaint little villages, spectacular panoramas, or touristic honeypots. All this information is included in the detailed route notes that you'll receive in your pre-holiday pack. Why not download a sample copy to see?
All our holidays are graded so you can choose one that best suits your abilities. One-boot walks are fine for even the most occasional walkers, as there is no scrambling or dizzy heights and the longest day is around 4-6 hours.
Two-boot walks are better suitable to those who are used to walking all day - although you don't need to be specially fit or have a head for heights (unless specified on the holiday page). The longest day is typically 5-7 hours, with ascents up to 700m and some occasional scrambling.
Three-boot walks are suitable for the fairly regular walker. The longest day is typically 6-8 hours and may include ascents up to 1000m, so you'll need a reasonably good head for heights. Some scrambling (but not rock-climbing) may be involved. These holidays are not suitable for children under 12.
To help you choose a holiday that best suits your level of fitness all our walking holidays are graded using our 'boot' system . On the individual holiday pages (and in our brochure) you'll see that we've marked each tour from 'Lower 1 boot' to 'Upper 3 boot' so that you know what level of activities to expect. You can also search for your required activity level in our holiday finder too.
Our 1-boot rating follows gentle routes and are fine for even the most occasional walker, and there's no scrambling or dizzy heights. The longest day is typically 4-6 hours, with easy ascents up to 300m (1000 feet).
Our 2-boot walks follow slightly more challenging routes, these holidays are best suited to someone who's used to walking all day - but you don't need to be specially fit or to have a head for heights (unless specified on the product page). The longest day is typically 5-6 hours, ascents up to 700m (2400 feet) and, perhaps, some occasional scrambling.
For our 3-boot tours you need to be a fairly regular walker, with a reasonably good head for heights. The longest day will be around 6-8 hours and can including up to 1000m (3300 feet) ascent. The routes may also include some scrambling (but not rock-climbing). Due to the nature of the walks, these holidays are not suitable for children under 12.
On independent holidays we often provide alternative routes in our comprehensive notes booklets so that you can take in additional features along the way. If you find any walk particularly difficult our reps are always on hand to assist you.
On guided holidays our expert group leaders will help everyone to get the best from each days walking without over-exerting the slower members of the group.
Not at all, the most important thing is that you pack appropriately for your destination, whether that means lots of warm layers, or suntan lotion and a hat!
It is also essential that you have comfortable walking boots. We always recommend walking boots over shoes as they offer your ankles much more support and are stouter. So if you're going to be making one investment, make it some good footwear (but remember to wear it in before travelling!).
Some people like to walk with pedometers, a compass or GPS but these are not essential as our route notes (which are sent out approximately one month before your departure) are so detailed that even those not proficient at map reading can follow these alone to get from A to B.
Many people take younger children on 1-boot independent walking holidays and, of course, very young children can be carried in papooses. We can also carry passengers in our bag-moving vehicle, if it should prove necessary.
If you have teenage children who enjoy an active lifestyle then check our suggested family walking holidays.
You get a very different view of things with Headwater. Travelling by bike, at your own pace, there's time to notice things you would miss from a car. You'll get to know the place you've chosen intimately and absorb the sights, the scents, and the atmosphere, in a way that you never could on an ordinary holiday. Cycling gives the most scope for independent exploring, as you can follow any route you choose using our maps and notes. Explore the heart of the country, in your own way and at your own pace, to discover the curiosities and splendours that make our holidays so interesting and so diverse.
No not at all! All our holidays are graded, starting off with just enough exercise to work up an appetite for the next great meal. There are longer route options if you're feeling energetic and, as we have fully trained reps in each cycling area, there's always help available if you need it.
The simply answer is - you won't need to! Our resident reps will collect your luggage each morning just after you leave your hotel and transport it to your destination, so your bags are always waiting for your each evening. What's more, on selected holidays, they'll even collect your wine purchases for you too.
Our suggested routes use quiet country lanes, and go by places we think are most interesting. There are route options for avoiding hills, and suggestions for detours and off-road exploration. All this information is included in the detailed route notes that you'll receive in your pre-holiday pack. Why not download a sample copy to see?
Children over about 8 can go on 1-bike cycling holidays, and 2-bike holidays are fine from about 11. We have special children's mountain bikes. You may find our list of recommended cycling holidays for families helpful.
For children up to about 4 we have child seats which attach to adult bikes. With these, any of our 1-bike or 2-bike holidays is possible. Remember, though, that it is harder pedalling with a child on board, and you have to do a lot more stopping. Unfortunately, our holidays are not suitable for children aged 4-8 as they are usually too big to go on child seats, and they can't really do a day's cycling till about the age of 8.
To help you choose a holiday that best suits your level of fitness our cycling holidays are graded using our 'bike' system . On the individual holiday webpages (and in our brochure) you'll see that we've marked each tour from 'Lower 1 bike' to 'Upper 2 bikes' so that you know what level of activities to expect.
1-bike rating- These holidays follow mainly flat, gentle routes with hardly any hills. The time you'll spend cycling is typically 2-4hrs, every other day. These holidays are a good choice for first timers, families with children, or mums and dads who haven't been on a bike in years! Longer route options available for the more energetic.
2-bike rating- These holidays offer more varied cycling, often on the flat, but with the occasional hilly section en route. You'll typically spend 3-5hrs cycling every other day. You don't need to be a regular cyclist or especially fit but, in hot weather, be prepared to start early and take it easy.
All our bikes are cleaned and maintained by our resident reps, so we don't expect any problems. If anything does go wrong we'll come out to your hotel to fix it. Straight handlebars (not racing bike drop-handlebars), 21 gears, Mudguards, Pannier rack, Gel saddles, a set of panniers, a puncture repair kit & tyre levers, a pump, a lock, a phone holder, plus a Headwater bike briefing.
You may bring the following items to fit to Headwaters bikes, with rep supervision. (We will fit them as long as the rep thinks it is safe, compatible with our bike and will not damage them)
Pedals, with or without toe clips, Cycling computers, Saddles, Water bottle cages, Handle bar bags, Child seats and helmets
For safety reasons we are not able to fit: Handlebar extensions, Handlebar ends, Toe clips (if compatible pedals are not provided), Mirrors that fit on the handlebar end, Stabilisers or Electric motors.
The Headwater range includes cycling holidays in France from 1-bike to upper 2-bike level,cycling holidays in Italy from 1-bike level to upper 2-bike level, lower 2-bike cycling holidays in Spain (and 1 bike cycling on Mallorca) and a cycling holiday in Austria with 1 and 2 bike options.
Cycling helmets are a legal requirement in both Spain and Portugal.
We are unable to provide helmets due to the fact that we cannot guarantee their history, however we do STRONGLY recommend that all customers bring their own helmet and wear it at all times when cycling.
In January 2011 new legislation was introduced in Italy making it a legal requirement for children under 16 to wear cycling helmets.
Canoeing is relaxing, fun, and easy to get the hang of. We've chosen pretty stretches of river with pleasant riverside hotels along their banks, and mini-rapids and gorges providing excitement without actual danger. There's no easier way to discover unspoiled France.
We use top-quality equipment, and the canoeing lessons we give are thorough. We are proud not to have had a single serious mishap since we started canoeing holidays back in 1985. We supply waterproof containers for stowing picnic things etc, a buoyancy aid and helmet for each member of the party.
You don't need any experience, and the flow of the river does much of the work of propelling you along. Before you set off, our staff show you how to handle your boat. The canoes are light (around 30kg), stable, and carry two adults, or two adults plus two children. Kayaks are even lighter (14kg) with open cockpits.
Yes, but please note that all members of your party must be able to swim at least 50m clothed. Younger children can go on the centre seat of our Coleman canoes. Older ones usually want kayaks.
For safety reasons we do not accept single travellers on this holiday. All customers must be able to swim at least 50m fully clothed. Children under 12 years old are allowed in kayaks if they are experienced. Please note: we may require further details before allowing anyone under 12 on our holiday.
If you've never been on skis before, you'll want to get the hang of just standing, walking, and turning round, with skis on your feet. Then we'll get you cruising down a gentle gradient, adjusting your weight distribution till you feel secure on your skis. You'll learn how to land comfortably, and get up easily, if you fall. By lunchtime you'll be ready to set off on a fairly flat prepared trail, practising your 'gliding stride'. Already you're skiing!
No, it's not just for the fit and glowingly healthy! Anyone can do it, at his or her own level. There isn't really a skiing equivalent of a gentle ramble, though - think of it as more like a brisk walk, or gentle jogging pace. Cross-country skiing limbers up the whole body, and exercises all the muscle groups. No other activity does this. But remember, you don't have to be an athlete. Even if not too fit at all, you can find a level that suits you and makes you feel good.
More and more of our clients come back, and each year they're more experienced, and able to do more. Control and steerability on descents, and a gliding stride that permits you to do a lot of kilometres without getting tired, come into their own here. If you need help our rep can offer tips and suggestions, though a lesson or two at the local ski school might be better?. Ski schools can usually also teach telemark turns (elegant, cool, difficult) and the skating step used by racers and show-offs!
Many of the ski villages we visit also have good downhill facilities in the area. Snowshoeing is getting more popular too - you can get to places skiers can't go, and get closer to shy wild animals. There's also winter walking available at some locations, with well maintained and signposted trails. Dog sledging (really exciting, as the dogs don't wait around!) can be arranged, and there's horse-drawn sledging, snowmobiling, and curling on offer, too. Uniquely Scandinavian ways to get along include kick sledding, and ski joring (with a horse pulling you along)! For more information on which villages are best for different things - give us a ring.
You don't need to buy any expensive ski clothing - what you wear for walking is usually fine. You generate quite a lot of heat, so that you are usually taking clothes off! The best plan is to wear a thermal vest, several light layers and to carry a waterproof. Waterproof over trousers are very useful as they tend to keep you drier when you are still mastering the technique. Later, when you're gliding along, they keep the wind off you. You won't need gaiters for cross country skiing but, if you already have a pair, they will come in handy for snow shoeing - although it's not necessary to buy a pair specially for your trip as the waterproof trousers should be fine for most conditions.
We search out small, family-run hotels, with great regional cuisine, and hoteliers who take a genuine interest in their guests. All our hotels are special, but in lots of different ways. So we have historic castles, old manor houses, working farms, stylish villas and converted convents with wonderful cloisters and hidden courtyards. As there is no direct British equivalent of many classifications, the broad expression 'hotels' includes all the different sorts of accommodation we use from family run auberges to ***** luxury hotels.
Many of our hotels have pools, or swimming facilities nearby. In our winter hotels there is often the choice of heated pool, jacuzzi or sauna to relax in after a day in the snow.
Single rooms are usually available - some with no single supplement. Occasionally we may offer sole occupancy of a double room due to the size or style of the hotel. Please note that single rooms just confer privacy, and may be of a lower standard than twins. In Europe, people requesting a room for three will often be given a twin our double with an extra bed, which may be cramped. In Norway, twin beds are universal: most hotel rooms have a sofa bed for a third person - and we can sometimes get larger family rooms. Just tell us of your requirements when booking.
Breakfast is either continental style or a buffet breakfast - check the individual holiday pages for details. Dinner is nearly always included, except in a few places where there's a good choice of local restaurants and we think it's best to leave dinner to you. For your evening meal (see the individual holiday pages for details), we encourage chefs to offer the dishes they do best, that are most typically regional, and that rely least on the deep freeze. Where there is a middle budget menu of a consistently good standard, we arrange for it to be offered. Otherwise, dinner will be a specially-prepared fixed menu. Whichever the arrangement, one thing is always the same - if you don't like what's on the menu, just say, and alternatives will be offered.
Good vegetarian cooking is offered, with southern countries, and places near the sea, generally doing best. Just let us know when booking, and do say whether you eat fish.
Yes, all of our hotels will do their best to cater for special meal requirements, including vegetarian, Gluten free and no-dairy meals. Please advise our sales team at the time of making your reservation to ensure the hotels can prepare for your arrival.
On group guided holidays, lunch (either a picnic or at the hotel) is mostly included. If there's an inexpensive fun option en route (tapas bars in Mallorca, for example, or Berber inns in Morocco) we'll use it. On independent holidays, lunch is left to you. Shopping in open-air markets for interesting hams, cheeses, and tempting little cakes is fun!
Although, in most cases, prices and timings are based on departures from London airports, we can often tailor your plans so that you fly from your local airport, often at little or no extra cost. Should there not be a suitable flight from your regional airport, then we can also look at booking UK shuttles or connecting services. This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have to travel via London either sometimes, the best connecting services are via Paris, Amsterdam or one of the other European capitals.
For each individual holiday, we've tried to include as much information on flight options as possible on our website. Simply look up the holiday you're interested in and follow the 'Your travel options' link for further details.
Where self-drive is available (typically for our European holidays) details are shown on the individual holiday page (in the 'Travel' section). Your standard holiday price includes a return Folkestone-Calais channel crossing for a car and up to 5 passengers with Eurotunnel. All other routes with all other companies can be booked through us, at times with no supplement, you just need to tell us your preferred means of travel.
For holiday areas reached by train from Paris or Lille, we can book, at a small supplement, connecting Eurostar services for customers preferring not to fly. Metro tickets to cross Paris are included, and we can arrange no-smoking seats where available. If you want to travel in luxury, first class seats can also be booked reclining seats, a complimentary drink and 3-course meal served at your table both ways. Of course, if you want to spend extra time in either Paris or London, we can book you onto a different train - you just have to let us know at the time of booking.
If you prefer to book your own travel, but require our standard transfers to and from the airport/ railway station (as detailed on the individual holiday page), then we can arrange this for you. Do please be aware though that you will need to take out adequate travel insurance to cover you for time changes, delays and disruption to any flights not booked through Headwater, and that this insurance will need to protect you if you can no longer connect with our standard transfers.
Unless specified in the individual holiday page, return transfers from the airport or local railway station are included in your holiday price. For some of our holidays we recommend the use of a hire car, which can be collected from the airport on arrival.
Our reps (or local partners) will usually meet you at the airport or railway station, although in some regions alternative transfer arrangements may be necessary. The reps or guides will then meet you for a welcome briefing (including route planning, cycle fitting, canoe training etc.) on the first morning of your holiday.
Should you require overnight airport accommodation, secure airport parking or even a private transfer from your house to the airport, we can arrange this for you. Call us for full details and prices.
In the light of the increased security, please allow a minimum of 90 minutes to check-in before take off. If you are flying out of either Heathrow or Gatwick, we advise that you checkin a minimum of 2 hours before departure.
Your baggage allowance is 23kg (although for some airlines the maximum allowance is 20kg; please check your airline tickets for specific details) and provided that you remain within this allowance, your luggage will be carried for free.
British citizens require a full 10-year British passport, but no visa, except for the USA. For certain countries, including USA and Canada, passports must have a minimum 6 months validity remaining before the expiry date. Non-EU nationals may require a visa for EU countries: tell us when booking, so we can advise.
Electronic or e-tickets are now becoming more commonplace and are quickly replacing conventional paper flight tickets. You are provided with a flight receipt, which only details the arrival and departure airport and the flight number. It does however, contain a reference number as proof of booking (although in theory, you do not need a receipt to be able to check-in, just your passport as identification). Many airlines prefer e-tickets as a quick and easy way to check-in and they allow you to travel without having to remember to take your paper flight ticket with you, you just need your reference number. When checking in on an e-ticket you will not be handed any form of paper ticket, just your boarding pass.
We do have the facility to book certain low cost carriers for you. Alternatively you can book your own travel and make your travel exclusive arrangements through Headwater. You should note however that all low cost flights must be paid for in full at the time of booking and we'd strongly advise you to check terms and conditions (including cancellation policies) with the individual carriers.
It depends on the airline. Certain low cost carriers, Jet2 for example do allow you to pre book seats (at a supplement) Others, such as EasyJet, charge for 'Speedy boarding'- which gets you on to the plane first, although does not allocate you a specific seat. On certain European charter/scheduled airlines, you can pre book your seat online, but usually only within 24 hrs of travel. On selected long haul flights, we are able to request specific at the time of booking.
You'll find navigation tabs arranged along the top of each page which will take you to all of the major sections of the site. As you move your mouse over each of these tabs you'll see a sub-menu which can be used to jump to a sub-section of the site.
You can search for holidays using the holiday finder panel at the top left of every page. Just tell us what you're interested in and we'll find all the holidays that suit your requirements. You can then refine your search – see below.
If you're trying to find a particular page, you can use our search facility (top right of every page). Just type in the words or phrase you're looking for and hit return. If you need any further help then (during office hours) please use our live webchat facility, or simply call us – we're only too happy to help!
Using our interactive holiday finder
Whenever you see a list of holidays on the website you have the option refine the search results, to help you find a holiday that's perfect for you. Simply specify which elements of the holiday are most important to you by using the 'Refine your search' panel on the left of the page. With each selection you make the system will tell you how many matching holidays are available - you can change the criteria, add extra options or clear your selections if no holidays can be found. To view the results click the 'Show holidays' button.
Looking up details for a specific holiday
If you'd like further information on a particular holiday that you've seen in one of our brochures you can use the search box at the top right of each web page. Simply type in the five character holiday code - you'll find it in our brochures, printed at the bottom right of the page.
We'd be delighted to send you a copy. Just use the link at the top right of the and let us have your details. You'll receive your personal copy within a few days.
All our holidays are processed individually by our highly skilled and experienced sales team, but you can still make your holiday enquiry via our website at any time of the day or night! We will review your booking details and contact you (usually within one working day) to guide you through the booking process. We believe this combination of technology and hands-on human contact allows us to provide you with very best levels of service possible.
To make an on-line holiday enquiry click on the 'Dates and Prices' tab on the individual holiday page and then click the 'Enquire now' button for your preferred departure date. We'll need to take some basic details about your booking and, of course, your contact details too. Any additional information (such as alternative travel dates, preferred airport, other holidays you’re interested in, etc.) will help us to deal with your request more efficiently.
It is a condition of booking with us that you are adequately insured. You must therefore either take our personal insurance or arrange a policy yourself giving equivalent cover. As our holidays involve more physical activity than your average 'bucket and spade' holiday please ensure that, if you choose to make your own insurance arrangements, that there are no exclusions - this is especially true for many of the free policies offered through banks and credit card companies.
Our recommended insurance is provided by AXA Insurance, and covers you for all activities available on our range of holidays. Please see our travel insurance requirements for full details, or call our sales team on 01606 720199.
Many of our holidays are offered to all ages. If not, we give details of age restrictions in the pricing panel on the product pages in our brochure. Typically we do not accept children on our guided holidays, so you can expect a more mature party - typically though, anywhere from 40s – 70s. If you choose an independent holiday, the age of our clients can vary quite a lot. We find adults in their 30s to 70s as well as many young children and teenagers enjoying the headwater programme.
A number of our holidays are available as 4-night 'tasters'. Ideal as a long weekend break, they're based on our existing holidays (so you can be assured of their quality), but you walk/cycle every day. There's also our range of stay-put short breaks, with everything from city center exploring to hand-picked luxury accommodation deep in the countryside.
We can also adapt any of our itineraries to give you a shorter, or longer, break. What we can do does vary from holiday to holiday, for example, we recommend that, on independent hotel-to-hotel holidays, you add or remove blocks of 2 rather than single nights simply so that you fit back in with our standard bags runs. On guided holidays, we suggest that you have extra nights at the beginning, or end, of the tour so that you can still follow the itinerary with everyone else.
No problem. Over 75% of the holidays people take with us are effectively tailor-made to suit their individual requirements. We can arrange extra nights at any of the 300+ hotels in our programme, and we can combine holidays to suit. If you want to combine a Headwater holiday with individual exploring (a private villa, for example), then we'll happily arrange your travel to fit in.
Of course it's wonderful if you can converse with the local people, but it's certainly not something we expect or rely on. We provide some useful words and phrases in our holiday notes booklets if you'd like to try. An open mind and a willingness to try and make yourself understood are useful!
Only if you're looking to go on one of our independent high level, challenging mountain routes. Otherwise, you have the choice between following the map provided, or simply using our detailed route notes – and most of the walking paths are waymarked too. On all independent holidays, in the unlikely event of you not turning up at your hotel by a certain time, we do have a system in place where people will come out to find you.
On our guided walking tours you won't need any map reading skills as our expert local guides will be with you every step of the way.
Not especially, although you might find the first couple of days more enjoyable if you've done some gentle pre-holiday exercise. Our information pack, sent well in advance of your trip, gives lots of helpful tips and suggestions. And, don't forget, all holidays are graded so, if you don't do regular exercise, then you're probably best suited to a 1-boot or 1-bike holiday the first time round.
Before you travel our team of dedicated sales staff will assist you every step of the way. From the moment you book you are given a direct line to the person who will be looking after your booking - no waiting around in queues, no having to push buttons to get to right department, and no having to explain the same thing time and time again. All our sales team have firsthand knowledge of our holidays and can help you choose the one that's just perfect for you.
Once you travel, our team of specially chosen reps will meet you on arrival, help you plan your route and suggest things to see and do locally. They fit you with your bike or canoe. They'll move your bags, assist in an emergency, and pick up any wine purchases for you. Otherwise, they're only there if you need them, but won't interfere on your independence. Our guided holidays are mostly run by resident walking guides. They're all experienced, knowledgeable and bilingual, and get a lot of fun out of sharing their country with interested and appreciative guests.
Our cycling, canoeing and discovery holidays run from April to October to, hopefully, catch pleasant weather without too much heat. Our walking holidays run all year round in various locations - again, each destination is chosen to provide the most suitable conditions for your holiday. There is no particular 'best time' to travel as the right variety of flora, fauna and wildlife are constantly changing throughout the year.
If you're worried about heat, would like to see something in particular, or you're trying to avoid the crowds please ask our sales team for advice when you book.
All our holidays are based on a small number of people travelling - the exact figure will depend on your chosen holiday. For independent walking, cycling, canoeing and discovery holidays you may be the only person travelling on a particular date, or there may be several others with you. In either case, you can choose your own pace and, to some degree, your own route too - and no matter how many people are in the area you will always have full back-up from our resident reps and local partners.
On guided walking and cross-country skiing holidays the size of the holiday groups are shown for each individual product (groups of 4-16 people are fairly typical). We'll be happy to tell you how many others are travelling on the same date as you.