Call 800-724-8801 English Lakeland Ramblers ~ Exceedingly good tours since 1985
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Spectacular scenery, splendid lodging, superb meals, and simply unexcelled guides
 
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  Frequently Asked Questions


What is the level of hiking? How should I choose a tour?
Our tours are enjoyed by people of all ages and all levels of experience. You needn’t be a “hiker” to participate fully and enjoy your tour. You carry only a light daypack containing spare clothing, personal items and, often, a packed lunch. All tours offer opportunities for sightseeing. It’s always an option to take the day off for personal relaxation, reading, sightseeing or shopping.

Our pace is leisurely, for maximum enjoyment of the exquisite scenery. Each of the six individual tour itineraries describes its walks and hikes in terms of distances and elevation changes.

Tours with Challenging options have daily choices of Easy-to-Moderate walks for the average walker, and more difficult hikes for those who seek the challenge of longer, rougher walks, often leading to the tops of mountains.

All the Scottish trips and the Lake District Inn-to-Inn trips are at a Moderate level, though in the Lake District there is always a rendezvous with our minibus at midday, allowing the option of a shortened walk. Hiking conditions in Scotland are often more rigorous than in England due to the unpredictable weather and the longer distances between roads.

The Cotswolds walks tend to be easiest.

We encourage all participants to be active before departing for Britain, and to bring an ample supply of enthusiasm. If you have any questions about the suitability of a trip, please call.

What are trail conditions?
Trail conditions in the Cotswolds are gentlest -- mostly level underfoot and not steep. In the Lake District and Scotland, trails may cross areas of rough or rocky ground. There may be sheep, and occasionally cow, droppings. And conditions may be slippery underfoot after rain. In sections, the trails may be steep and there may be loose stones underfoot. If they cross boggy ground they are likely to be soft and wet. Long, wet grass may sometimes have to be negotiated, and this is more wetting to feet and ankles than falling rain. Be prepared for whateverlies in your way!

What weather can I expect?
All in all, hiking in this part of the world is a most pleasurable activity. At the time of year when our trips operate, weather conditions are usually quite agreeable. Temperatures are more moderate year-round in the British Isles than in much of the U.S. It’s rarely “hot” by American standards. There are unlikely to be major variations in weather between the two areas of northern Britain included in our tour program: the Lake District and Scottish Highlands & Islands. The Cotswolds, lying further south, tend to enjoy the most benign climate, with warmer temperatures and less wind.

Daytime temperatures in spring and fall tend to range from 55 to 70F (feeling cooler at higher elevations on some Lake District and Scotland hikes, especially with wind). In summer, add several degrees. The Cotswolds tends to have the mildest weather. Wet weather is not as common as many might expect. The average week has one, or sometimes two, days with some rain.

What are some of Nature’s highlights?

April/May: little lambs, bluebells, rhododendrons, spring flowers
June: slightly bigger lambs, rhododendrons, wildcherry, orchids, long evenings
July: foxgloves, orchids, roses, heather, long evenings
August: heather, blackberries by trailside
September: heather, blackberries
October: autumn colors

And, one of our tour participants, Brenda Overcash, writes:

"Consider visiting England's Lake District in May. There is no other month quite like it. The days are sunny with temperatures ranging from 55 - 65 F.....perfect for hiking in a t-shirt or turtleneck and a jacket. You may encounter some sporadic rains overnight, but they usually clear up by mid-morning... then the sky is a crystal clear blue with big, puffy white clouds.

May is lambing season. All the Cheviot, Swaledale, and Herdwick lambs are running about in different stages of 1-day to 3-weeks old, bleating for their mommas. When they find them, they bump under their belly to start the milk flowing and then they nurse. As they nurse, their little tails are wagging fiercely! Many of the lambs are born two at a time, so they are nursing simultaneously! Only in May!

The bluebells are in bloom everywhere with their sweet fragrance carried softly on the cool breeze. The yellow flowering gorse is in full bloom as well with a fragrance that reminds me of coconut. This thick bush will stick you if you get too close, but it bathes the mountainside with dashes of yellow against spring-green grass. The delicate primrose is also in bloom along the woodland trail. Hiking amidst this beauty, you feel compelled to be silent and let your eyes and nose feast on the beauty around you.

Finally, the Lake District in May offers climbing up steep rocky paths, through woodlands full of waterfalls, over farm lands with cows and sheep 5 feet away, and over Bethecar Moor, where the bracken ground cover, now in the brown stage, creates visions of Heathcliff riding towards you.

When I shut my eyes, this is what I remember about May in the Lake District.....the cool breeze on my face as I hike uphill; the warm sun that requires me to put on sunblock; the sweet smell of gorse and bluebells; the bleating lambs and ewes calling out to each other; the changing scenery as the day progresses; the call of the cuckoo bird and the little chaffinch that eats from your hand; the view in every direction that is breathtaking of mountains, lakes, little farms, and villages; signs that point me in the direction of Sticky Toffee Pudding at the next Inn.

I have always loved England in May."

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Who travels with English Lakeland Ramblers?
Most notably, participants are friendly, supportive and interesting. They come from all 50 states, and occasionally from abroad. On the typical tour, about a third are couples, a third friends traveling with friends, and a third are single travelers. The majority are over 45 years of age, and many are over 65 or 70. Some have been on walking or hiking tours in the past -- for many, this is the first. Some, but certainly not all, walk or hike or exercise regularly. All appreciate the pleasures of experiencing a place slowly by foot, one step at a time.

How many walkers will be on my trip?
The average group is 8 to 12 participants, with some smaller and some larger. Group size will not exceed 15 plus two guides. So, group size is limited and early reservation is recommended. As we do maintain waiting lists for trips, call anytime as space may be (or become) available.

Will I be comfortable as a single traveler?
Solo travelers invariably find our tours a congenial, convenient way to travel. Tours are a mix of couples, traveling friends and single travelers. We can assign you a roommate or you may choose a single-bedded room and pay the $425 supplement.

Can I contact tour references?
Don’t take our word for how wonderful the trips are. We’ll be
delighted to provide you with references of others who have rambled with us. They would be delighted to share their experiences with you. Just ask.

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What’s Included in the Price?
All Lakeland Ramblers tours include:

  • First-class accommodations in charming country inns, lodges
    and hotels. All rooms with private bath
  • All meals, featuring authentic regional specialties and fresh produce
  • Inspired itineraries with scenic trails, and an emphasis on
    local culture and history
  • Local guides who are unexcelled in experience and in their desire to ensure you a most enjoyable and memorable experience
  • Our minibus
  • Admission fees to castles, museums, boat rides...
  • Talks by experts over tea and biscuits at your hotel
  • Tax
  • Fresh air, healthful exercise, a congenial group, and
    some pleasant (we hope) surprises...

What’s not Included?
Laundry, beverages not included with meals, travel or entertainment not in the itinerary, or health, accident or baggage insurance.

What will accommodations be like?
We’ve chosen superior, well-run inns and hotels offering a splendid combination of location, comfort, service and food. All rooms have private bath.

Hotels are typically located in idyllic settings, where you can enjoy early morning and evening walks along meandering country lanes, or relax in quiet, flower-filled gardens.

The 17th-Century Mortal Man Hotel, nestled in the exquisite and tranquil Troutbeck valley, has over 300 years of experience making guests feel welcome. The congenial hospitality of management and staff complements this handsome and magnificently-situated property and its superb cuisine.

Surrounded by rich gardens Duisdale Country House Hotel, on the Isle of Skye, enjoys a commanding view over the Sound of Sleat. For generations a family of MacKinnons had acted as standard bearers to the Macdonalds of Sleat and was enfeoffed at Duisdale. Here is served some of the finest cuisine in the West of Scotland consisting of fresh local fish and game, as well as herbs and vegetables new from the garden.

Myrtle Bank Hotel, situated amidst the grandeur of Wester Ross, overlooks Gairloch Bay and allows magnificent views across to Skye and the Outer Isles. This family-run hotel, with its high level of personal service, provides superb Scottish cuisine using the best of local produce.

The Grange Hotel, built in the 1860’s as a large-scale replica of the town’s railway station, overlooks spacious, well-kept grounds, wooded hills and the tidal sands of Morecambe Bay.

On the Isle of Skye, Skeabost County House, with large and
lavish private grounds, stands at the edge of Loch Snizort bounded by its salmon and trout river. Its luxurious accommodations were developed from a mid-19th-Century Victorian hunting lodge built by MacDonalds.

What will meals be like?
Food is a highlight of every trip. You’ll feel pampered from morning’s hearty breakfast to a sumptuous dinner each night. Menus range from sophisticated continental fare to traditional local favorites like roast leg of lamb, Scottish beef and salmon, and fresh vegetables. Meat, fish and vegetarian choices are provided -- and we do whatever possible to accommodate special diets.

Which meals are included?
All meals -- breakasts, lunches and dinners -- are included in the tour price. Breakfasts and dinners are at your hotel. Lunches are either packed and taken on the trail or are pub lunches.

What is the smoking policy?
Our policy is to book only hotels which have no-smoking dining areas, and generally to provide a smoke-free environment throughout the tour for clients preferring this. There is no smoking in our minibus, and many of our hotels are entirely no-smoking. Smoke-free bedrooms, lounges and bars are normally available

Who will be guiding my tour?
Alan Heppenstall, our Principal Guide since 1985, was born in Newcastle, England. Since childhood, Alan has been a keen walker and climber. He graduated from Oxford University with an honors degree in modern languages and joined the British Tourist Authority for tours of duty in London, Rome and Toronto. Since 1978, Alan has specialized in touring and recreation in northern England and Scotland — his favorite spots for these activities. As a guide, Alan has been awarded the most highly regarded Blue Badge license.

Our staff is unsurpassed in experience and in the earnest desire to ensure that your tour meets, and exceeds, your expectations. Besides Alan, there’s Janet Niepokojczyka and Anne Strange in the Lake District, Donald Mackenzie in the Scottish Highlands and Chris Ryan in the Outer Hebrides. In the Cotswolds, there’s Christopher & Ann Knowles and Colin Boulton.

Seth Steiner, Director of English Lakeland Ramblers, began hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains. He has walked and trekked in Europe, North Africa, South America and the Sinai. As a licensed professional guide and founder of an outdoor recreation company in 1982, Seth has led trips throughout the American Northeast — and delights in the hills and forests of New York and New Jersey. An Anglophile since rambling in England over thirty five years ago, he returns eagerly each year for more.

Should I tip?
Gratuities to the tour guide (and assistant) are not included in the tour price. Although tipping is neither necessary nor ever solicited, many of our participants have asked us to advise them of what is customary. If you consider the level of service exceptional, and we trust this is the case, we suggest an amount in the range of £1 to £3 ($2 to $5) per day per person for the guide, and 50p to £1 ($1 to $2) per person per day for the assistant.

If you travel in Britain outside of the trip package, note that some restaurants and hotels add a service charge of 10%-15% to the bill. In this case you are not expected to tip. If no service charge is included, and provided you are satisfied with the service, a 10% tip is customary. It is not necessary to tip in pubs if buying a hot meal or drinks but if the pub offers a full restaurant service (which is increasingly the case) tipping is appropriate. Taxi drivers are tipped around 10% of the fare. Hotel porters should receive about £1 per piece of luggage.

Do I need medical or travel insurance?
We recommend that you protect yourself and your baggage with a short-term travel insurance policy. Trip cancellation insurance will cover your losses of non-refundable air and land costs on a trip you cancel due to personal or family illness or accident.

Review your existing health and homeowner policies. Some health insurance plans cover health expenses incurred while traveling, some major medical plans cover emergency transportation, and some homeowner policies cover theft of luggage.

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How do I book a tour?
A $500 deposit will reserve space for you. Balances are due 60 days prior to the tour. You may reserve here.

When we confirm your reservation, you’ll receive details of meeting time and place, and information about transportation to the hotel. Much more information including suggestions for clothing, gear and footwear will follow. We can assist you with transfers to and from airports and our hotels. We’ll also send you a recommended reading list so your “travels” can begin before leaving home.

What if I Need to Cancel?
If notification of cancellation is received more than 90 days prior to the start of the trip, the deposit will be refunded less a $100 per person cancellation fee. Cancellations 60 to 90 days prior to trip’s starting date will result in the loss of 25% of the trip price. Cancellations 30 to 59 days prior to trip’s departure result in the refund of 50% of the trip price. No refund is given for cancellations received within 29 days of the trip’s starting date.

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How can I arrange my flights?
For flight reservations, many prefer to make arrangements themselves on the internet, directly with the airlines, with a travel agent or a travel consolidator. We don’t offer airfare discounts but would be happy to assist with your plans.

At the start, if your international flight brings you into a London-area airport for a transfer onward to Manchester or Glasgow, be sure to allow at least two hours in your flight schedule for any such transfers. This will ensure sufficient time for you and your luggage.

Tours conclude with breakfast on the last day. In the Lake District and Cotswolds, it’s possible to arrive at the airport for a return flight departing late morning or early afternoon. On Scotland tours, a domestic flight from Inverness’ Dalcross Airport allows for transfers to Glasgow, Heathrow and Gatwick airports arriving by early afternoon; then an international flight may be boarded for home. Our minibus transfer service arrives at Glasgow Airport by 4pm. Arrangements can easily be made for overnight lodging at a Glasgow Airport hotel for flight departures the following morning.

What luggage may I check-in and carry on the flight?
It is recommended that you arrive at the airport at least 2 to 2 1/2 hours before departure time. American Airlines, British Airways and most others permit two pieces of check-in luggage, neither to exceed 70 lbs, with both up to 62 inches in total dimension (i.e., length + width + height); Continental Airlines limits the second piece to 55” total. (There is a charge for additional check-in luggage.) Carry-on pieces (limit of one) may not have total dimensions exceeding 45" (51” on Continental; BA limits it to only 13 lbs); American Airlines, British Airways and Continental permit an additional personal piece (e.g., purse or laptop). If flying with another airline, call them to inquire whether their policies are different.

Do I need a passport? a Visa?
All U.S. citizens must have a passport to enter Great Britain. Be sure yours is valid. A visa is not required for stays of up to six months.

What can I do to be more comfortable on the flight and
reduce jet lag?

  • Drink lots of fluids (the airplane's cabin is extremely dry).
  • Avoid alcohol or limit it during the flight.
  • As an aid to circulation, loosen your clothing and take off your shoes. Walk up and down the aisle a few times (a bit of airplane rambling), and exercise your leg muscles while seated.
  • If you wear contact lenses, consider removing them while in flight, so that your eyes do not become irritated in the dry
    cabin atmosphere.

How do I go from the airport to the hotel on the first day? And back to the airport after the tour concludes?
All tour participants receive information about public transportation by train and bus. We also provide a transfer service by taxi or minibus from airports to our hotel, and back again to airports at the conclusion of tours. The cost is $75-$125 per person each way for a standard transfer.

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What clothing & gear should I bring?

  • HIKING BOOTS ARE ESSENTIAL -- most critical for your comfort and safety.
  • Thick socks (wool is an excellent all-weather material)
  • Sock liners (thin, synthetic fabric; for comfort and to reduce the likelihood of blistering)
  • Water-proof rain jacket with hood or firm hat
  • Rain pants (water “resistance” is sufficient; need not be expensive)
  • Daypack (small backpack to carry lunch, rain gear and extra clothing)
  • Walking sticks have become increasingly popular. They aid with balance on rough terrain and with support on steep downhills. We have a few available in our minibus, but you may prefer to bring your own.

A complete list, including optional/suggested items is sent to all tour participants.

What dress attire is appropriate at meals in our hotels?
Casual dinner attire is appropriate at all of our hotels and inns, and you are asked not to wear hiking boots inside.

What about local currency and making payments in Britain?
Travelers cheques and major U.S. credit cards, particularly Visa and MasterCard, are generally accepted throughout Britain. In smaller towns and in small restaurants, pubs and shops, cash (British pounds) may be required.

It's useful to change a small amount of money into sterling before you go (or, failing that, at the airport on arrival in the U. K.). This will enable you to make purchases, or pay for services, before you have an opportunity to exchange money at a bank or currency exchange booth.

Many banks are now equipped with external 24-hour cash machines, which provide a convenient means of obtaining cash, assuming you know the relevant PIN. This method also allows you to benefit from the most favorable exchange rate.

To settle any personal tabs (for drinks, etc.) at hotels and inns, credit cards are normally, but not always, accepted.

The most favorable rate of exchange is obtained by using your credit card for purchases.

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English Lakeland Ramblers

English Lakeland Ramblers | 4222 Fortuna Center Plaza, #629, Montclair, VA  22025
Call: 800-724-8801 | Tel: 703-680-4276 | Fax: 703-680-4985 | Email:
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