A Clients view - we like to publish what our clients think about our holidays - and what it means to them

Caroline Whorlow has written a review of Secret Hills Walking Holidays in Croatia in October 2019

Brac, Croatia – Oct 2019:  This was a new trip organised by Secret Hills and it didn’t disappoint.  I would say the walks were slightly gentler than other Secret Hills trips I’ve been on, in that there were no steep climbs and the paths were really nice, which made for a wonderful week exploring Brac island.  Katya and Mica, our guides, were very knowledgeable and informative about the history of the island, they worked hard to offer a variety of walks and found some wonderful lunch spots to enjoy the local food, wine and grappa.  As with all Secret Hills trips the walking was quite varied incorporating beaches, olive groves and some stunning views across to both other islands and the mainland. I particularly enjoyed the after walk dip in the sea, cool but refreshing! The mid-week break day offered the opportunity to visit more of Brac island, take the ferry to explore Split or, as I did, just enjoy the local town of Supetar.  The small boutique hotel was difficult to fault, the breakfast was very nice and the staff were so accommodating and friendly.  It was the last week in the season so things were starting to shut  down locally, I enjoyed having less bustle, but it did mean there were some limitations on eateries that would take our group size.   That said, as ever, the team did a great job in finding them and we ate and drank very well!  Another wonderful trip and another wonderful group of people thanks Alan.

Sarah Fowler has written a review of Secret Hills Walking Holidays in La Gomera in February 2020

This was the first time I had ventured on a guided group walking holiday and I have to say it exceeded my expectations. La Gomera itself is accessed via a 50 min ferry crossing from Tenerife’s Los Cristianos and on arrival you immediately feel that you are in a less touristy part of the Canaries which makes the extra travelling worthwhile. I was the only one of 11 who had not been on a Secret Hills holiday before and only two of us had not been with the guide Jill which speaks volumes for both her and the company. The base at Valle Gran Rey provided a perfect spot for sunsets and transport each day to the start of the walks meant that we experienced almost everything the island has to offer from rugged mountainous terrain with truly fantastic views to beautiful valleys and the laurel forest of Garajonay National Park.  The local guide Ernst added much to the trip as he had a wealth of knowledge having written an exhaustive book (albeit in German Rhyme!) on the flora of La Gomera. A great trip with a lovely group of people. I shall definitely travel with Secret Hills again.

Mike Carter has written a review of the Secret Hills Walking holidays in La Gomera in February 2020

It is 10 years since I last visited La Gomera and this trip offered much greater opportunity to discover the island through a varied programme of walks.

A four hour flight to the Canary Islands rewards the traveller with much needed and assured winter sunshine; the addition of a ferry crossing from Los Cristianos gives access to the relative seclusion of La Gomera with it’s World Heritage status Garajonay National Park and also, an opportunity to enjoy the dolphins and pilot whales as they escort the ferry across the strait between the islands.

Based in Valle Gran Rey, the 3 star Gran Rey hotel, facing the beach offered excellent food and accommodation and a pool for those willing to take a cold dip after a hot days walk!

Each walking day provided the group with a variety of terrain accessed by bus over open and undulating hiking trails affording fantastic views across the island’s volcanic landscape and across to Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro and by contrast, the shelter and tranquillity of the forested Garajonay National Park.

All walks were escorted by a local guide who bought much added value to the experience, imparting knowledge of the island’s flora, fauna and geology as we walked.

A day of rest provided the group with an opportunity to explore the quiet resort of Playa de Valle Gran Rey or for the more adventurous, a sea trip from the port to see whales and dolphins further along the coast.

Altogether, a fun group and a very rewarding holiday. Well done & thank you Secret Hills!

Jane Rouse - La Gomera -February 2020

“ A truly inspiring and fabulous holiday. We were treated to  a variety of walking from coastal paths to high mountain tops, from open valleys to magical forests, led by a knowledgeable walk leader happy to share his enthusiasm for the local flora. Whilst the journey to la Gomera was long, much of it felt like it was part of the holiday.  I loved sitting in the sunshine on the ferry looking for wildlife ( we saw pilot whales of the return journey) and the drive across the island gave us a good introduction to the island and the views we could expect for the rest of the week.”

This is a superb poem written by Margaret Stokes following her holiday in Slovenia with her walking group South Dorset RamblersJune 2018



Thirty old ramblers set off on vacation,

Each of them ready at pre-set locations:

Getting away from their own daily grind.

This was the thing that they had on their minds.


Timing was perfect at every pickup

Till we encountered a tachograph hiccup.

Now it seemed plans were about to unwind.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Barley and cabbage at huts on the mountains:

Radlers and goulash and clear water fountains:

Tour guides and locals all equally kind.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


When a dog runs

Up the mountain,

Wanting to join in,

I simply remember Slovenian things,

And then I begin to grin.


Hotel was lovely and Stefan iconic,

Powered by something that made him bionic:

Always obliging whenever we dined.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Bringing the drinks in then serving the ice cream.

Clearing our tables and making the place clean.

Pouring the sauce on is what he’s refined.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Whizzing up mountains on four-seater chairlifts.

(Really, at our age, we ought to have stair lifts!)

Leaving the ground and our troubles behind.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


When we pack up.

When we go home.

When we pay our bills,

I simply remember Slovenian things,

And then I recall the thrills.


Stonking great hailstones that fell on our footpath.

Targeting Christine and causing a bloodbath,

Causing a gash for the medics to bind.

These are the things that will stick in my min


Wild flower meadows and gardens so tidy:

Everyone weeding from Monday to Friday.

Saturday dancing and hats misaligned.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Susie encountered a duck with no sat-nav

Plummeting downwards, en route to Mount Triglav,

Found on the balcony, fully reclined.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Bashed on his head,

He was quite dead.

It was rather sad.

If he had remembered the way to go home,

Things wouldn’t look so bad.


Gardens all bursting with veggies and roses.

Joy for the senses: the eyes and the noses.

This is a place where my soul was enshrined.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Final day deluge, and everyone’s dripping.

Wet clothes to pack means the scales will be tipping.

Added to which are the bottles of wine.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


Getting to Gatwick and finding our way home,

Roadworks and closures are causing a huge groan.

Life isn’t perfect and so, never mind.

These are the things that will stick in my mind.


When it all ends,

When we get back,

When I’m feeling sad.

I’ll simply remember Slovenian things,

And then I won’t feel so bad.



Margaret Stokes 19/06/19


Suzanne Rushton Ullswater Way May 2019

This was the second of my Secret Hills holidays this year and I wondered whether it would match up to the brilliant couple of days  I had recently experienced in Derbyshire. I wasn’t disappointed!

I arrived at the hydro on the Friday afternoon to be met by Jill and Paul and the rest of the group. Jill and Paul, both experienced mountaineers were excellent guides and had the knack of creating a fun atmosphere getting everyone to gel.

The hotel where we stayed, the Hydro was a lovely old building. Currently being refurbished, the reception and dining rooms were of a high standard  furnished with contemporary bright coloured upholstery. The rooms we were allocated although more basic were warm with comfy beds.  The more traditional style TV’s were a delight  as I could actually work out how to turn them on!

The food was excellent , particularly the amazing puddings (one of the group had sticky toffee puddings every night they were so good).

That first afternoon we all set off led by Jill, walking directly from the hotel. As Jill lives in this area she knew exactly where to take us to quickly achieve amazing views. We walked around 6 miles but it was the perfect introduction to the weekend as it wasn’t too strenuous after a fairly long drive to get here.

The following two days we walked the Ulswater way, a lovely undulating walk around the entire lake. To get to the start points we travelled by taxi but this in itself was a treat travelling over the Kirkstone pass and seeing more of the Lake District.

The Ulswater Way is lovely and varies greatly, sometimes hugging the lake and at other times moving away from the lake through forests and gaining height taking in wonderful views. I am of average fitness and generally used to walking at higher levels but this seemed a good compromise to me and I felt suitably tired at the end of each day (walking on average 12 miles ) and deserving of a big dinner!

After the first day and lovely warm weather we all headed to the Patterdale hotel for a welcome drink before being picked up to take us back to the hotel.

On the second day, we stopped by Aira force. There was an option to visit the waterfall but as this was a bank holiday and fairly busy we decided to have the most amazing full cream tea at the cafe instead!  Then on to the end of the walk and a ride on the steamboat back to Glenridding, a perfect end to the day. Jill and Paul even presented us with badges  to commemorate the walk and our efforts which was a lovely thought.

Forget  the stereotypes, The great thing about Secret Hills holidays is that after the first day you feel like you are on holiday with a great bunch of friends. It is geared to solo travellers and you never feel left out. If you are like me and you like to walk at a fairly leisurely pace and not march along, this is the holiday for you. I love the fact that the guides tell you about the local area and stop regularly to point out views etc.

I would say for this walk you need to be of average fitness, 12 miles is quite a long day but it’s not rushed and at the end of the holiday you really feel like you have achieved something.

All in all I had a lovely three days, finishing off with a bit of shopping on the last day in Ambleside.  I came back refreshed, feeling like I had actually had a holiday and met 10 inspiring interesting individuals.

What’s not to like, can’t wait for the next break! 

Roger Gorman Tenerife 19-26 January 2019

Having holidayed with Secret Hills in Gran Canaria in 2018 I was keen to join them again in Tenerife.

Secret Hill’s formula for success is based on excellent client relations and super holiday locations. You are treated as an individual throughout - from their initial contact to final goodbyes. Having 20 years’ knowledge of walking holidays with several organisations I think that Secret Hills/New Experience offer a unique holiday. What is most notable is the friendliness of all the participants and the professionalism of those responsible in leading and organising the whole holiday.

I received excellent, bespoke information regarding my holiday with comprehensive pricing and was able to choose flights from my local airport.

We stayed at the excellent Vallemar Hotel on the sea front at Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island. The staff are friendly and helpful, the rooms are well appointed, and the quality and variety of the food is very good. The hotel has an excellent roof top bar and swimming pool – the bar is a super place to meet for drinks before dinner. It’s a shame that there is no resident’s bar but there are many convenient, good quality watering holes nearby for that post dinner get together.

Walking on Tenerife is varied, interesting and as challenging as you want it to be. Jilly was our fantastic Group Leader, ably assisted by Anna our local guide. They have a marvellous rapport and were able to organise our walks with imagination and flexibility. If the weather was inclement we were able to alter our programme and walk in a different area.

The walks were universally fabulous, giving us all a feel for the topography, geology, culture, and traditions of the island. Each walk was well planned and led with Anna at the front and Jilly acting as back marker. Safety was paramount, and those with more limited experience were helped over obstacles or difficult land. We were able to walk at our own pace, taking care not to go too fast or get out of touch with the group. Jilly is extremely skilled in ensuring each member of the group has a rewarding holiday experience – caring, compassionate and knowledgeable.

We covered five walks in a wide variety of terrain – from the pleasant and beautiful around Erjos and Masca in the west of the island, to the more rugged and spectacular near Taganana in the north. Walks on the Teide plateau were scenic and interesting, having a lunar landscape with varied flora.

Transfers from and to the airport were efficiently organised.

I spent a second week organised by New Experience in Lanzarote. They dealt with all my transfers, including my flight from Tenerife to Lanzarote, and located me at the excellent Vik Hotel, San Antonio, in Puerto Carmen. I had three organised walks, booked by New Experience, with Lanzarote Active. I visited five volcanoes/craters with a geologist and went on a Wine Tasting and Gastronomy Tour of the island – 3 vineyards, 9 glasses of wine and a local meal....

I AM DEFINITELY joining the trip to LA PALMA in March 2020.... cant wait...

Llyris Young Gran Canaria January 2019

I have been enjoying Secret Hills walking holidays for a few years now and regularly hear about the joys of walking in the winter sun. Well this year, I finally got there….and what a treat it was! I can’t believe how wonderful it was to spend a week in the glorious sunshine on Gran Canaria…in the middle of a grey, wet and cold London winter!! The island is incredible with such a diverse landscape and the most spectacular views in every direction – there was a ‘wow’ around every corner! I love walking in the UK, but this island is something else – rugged mountains, barren moon-like plateaus, lush forests, woodlands and quaint villages. Jill was our walk leader and as always, she inspired, encouraged and challenged us all and we were rewarded with an amazing and fun week. We stayed at the most fabulous hotel, perched on a hill with incredible sunrises coming up over the valley and coast. I would highly recommend everyone to take advantage of any (or all !!) of the winter sun holidays – it’s so good for the soul to see the blue sky, feel the sun, breathe the fresh air and spend a week in the company of great fun people.


Kate Brockman - Edges and Valley of the Derbyshire Dales - Castleton  July 2018

Hi Jill, Alan and team,

Prompted by your recent posts and FB updates from the cheery, tanned, beer-sipping groups in the Canaries, I’ve been scanning through this year’s offerings in your ever-expanding portfolio.  ‘Blue Monday’ has slipped by, the ‘Blue’ certainly seems rather appropriate judging by the seasonal blue tinged skin-hues up here in Scotland as we’re being hit by yet another northerly blast of snow⛄️

I had a great time and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the ‘Edges and valleys’ SH holiday in the High Peaks... and have since revisited this stunning area to hookup with friends and relatives from the south - a few photos attached (you may deduce I like stalking sheep!)

Glad to see on a recent tv programme rating ‘best UK walks’ that two of the ‘edges’ from our itinerary, Mam Tor and Stanage Edge, were featured up there with the UK’s best.   The routes were thoughtfully planned to minimise gradients as we ascended from the valleys, and yet as we walked into the ‘wilds’, you would never know the Peak District ‘oasis’ is flanked by the likes of Manchester and Sheffield.

From the five routes we covered, my favourite was along Derwent Edge above Ladybower reservoir, where the lofty moorlands were dotted with bizarre gritstone tors including ‘Cakes of bread’, and the ‘Salt cellar’ . . plenty of clambering and a posing playground! The Ladybower Inn was a welcome lunchtime stop.  Other group members chose different walk-days as their favourite, such was the consistently high level on offer.  Keith was our guide, and we were joined on different days by two others from your team. They were all knowledgeable, enthusiastic and most entertaining!

Our hotel accommodation was great....  a selection of 52 gins at the bar and a good breakfast menu (including marmite!).  My room had a four poster and a view up towards Peveril Castle. There was a choice of venues for our evening meals too with some memorable banter and a fossil-reconstruction masterclass!

Fossils, orchids, and even the illusive ring ouzel can be spotted so anyone with a penchant for geology, nature . . . trig points, folklore, fresh air, ancient or industrial history, I would certainly recommend packing your boots, hand lens, binoculars, camera and get yourself on an SH trip in Derbyshire to experience some real gems, other than Blue John!  Apart from the fantastic walks, there’s so much else to do in the Peaks, so any prospective participants I would suggest it’s well worth staying on an extra day or two to explore further, whether it’s caves, historic towns or properties (and bring your National Trust or English Heritage card).
Don’t be put off by distance either,  our group weren’t . . . it’s not that far south of the border or north of Watford, and only a short drive from the M1 or M6.

I look forward to joining another of your trips soon, it’s just a matter of deciding which one!  And maybe mentioning it to friends from my first trip just incase they fancy tagging along too?!


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What Others Said...

Very well thought out and flexible approach depending on the weather and conditions, clear and informative info and advice provided by Jill at the evening briefing which was very useful, I had a really lovely time, met some lovely people and caught up with people I had met on previous holiday with SH. Jill is a great guide she has the ability to understand the needs her group very quickly and is always very helpful and goes out her way to offer support and guidance, she is an asset to your team, And Tom - they are a great team!

Lynn Prescott Tenerife January 2018