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Embrace the beauty of the great outdoors...

Discover the stunning natural and historical attractions of the Makarska Riviera, head to Spain to follow in the footsteps of countless pilgrims as you trace one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes, or breathe in the fresh air amidst Slovenia’s spectacular mountain scenery.

With carefully crafted itineraries that balance days of walking with days at leisure, and informative hosts who will provide lots of hints and tips, these holidays are the perfect choice if you love nothing more than exploring incredible landscapes on foot.

Pat and John Bookwood

What do you think sparked your interest in walking? Have you always been interested? Where did you learn about walking and acquire the knowledge you convey to guests?

John and I lived near the Derbyshire countryside and have always walked. We are currently both members of Cirencester Ramblers. This is how we met in 2002, leading us to get married in 2007. You discover things as you walk. A couple of years ago we managed to find a sound mirror, used to pick up the noise of approaching aeroplanes during the war.

One thing we like to do at the hotel on one of our walking holidays is a session called ‘Bookwood Top Tips’, where we try to pass on all of the tips we have learnt over the years, such as how to lace your boots and how to use your poles. We try to make it all fun and we also pick up tips from our guests.

What do you think is the most interesting/ exciting part of your job?

We are always interested in the countries that we work in. It is also interesting to learn about our walkers. Before every holiday, I make the effort to learn every guest’s name before they arrive to add a personal touch. We make it interesting by doing quizzes that walkers can do whilst walking and have also instituted group dining to get people talking. Some guests like to follow us around on various holidays!

We have always said that as soon as hosting walking holidays stops being fun, we will stop doing them – we continue to do this because we enjoy it.

Where is your favourite place in the world to walk? And are there any particular firm-favourites with our customers?

We enjoy all of the places that we walk! Many of the walks we have put together ourselves. I have done a little bit of the Inca Trail, so that has to figure high. And perhaps walking a little bit of the Great Wall of China. When we walk in Slovenia, we go to Three Borders Peak where you can be in Slovenia, Austria and Italy, all at the same time; it’s the little things like that.

Why should they choose Saga?

Saga is the best! When we are walking, we are in interesting places and with Saga you always get a really good hotel. Over the year we have come to know Saga walkers – we know what they’ll love.

Some customers may be concerned that they may not be up to taking part in a walking holiday – what advice would you give them?

Many of our holidays are for 7 nights with 5 walks. Our normal pattern is to do 3 walks, have a day off and then 2 more walks. People often underestimate the amount of stamina needed to do that amount of walking. It is important to do some walking before the holiday.


A little more about Pat and John...

Pat has been a Saga host since 2004 and John since 2005. The pair are on the committee of their local Ramblers group, where they lead walks, and Pat co-ordinates their winter walking programme.