Beat the Xmas Pud

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Our alternative to Christmas Blues in the Shropshire Hills


In between Christmas and New Year - a social walking break in Shropshire glorious hill country. Evening entertainment, prizes for silly things, Two or three days walking.
A perfect antidote for those post Christmas blues, designed as the alternative to shopping, endless TV, visiting relatives and the boredom that Christmas can sometimes bring. Just relax, bring your sense of fun, and go away refreshed in time for your New Year celebrations. Relax and enjoy the antidote to Christmas with us.

Great reasons to join us

- meet new friends in a relaxed walking and social  atmosphere

- beautiful countryside to walk through and enjoy

- super value for money- no single supplement

- professional, friendly walk leaders who are passionate and knowledeable about this area

- hotel set in lovely countryside and a walkers favourite.




Accommodation is single en suite rooms - no sharing. We stay at Buckatree Hall Hotel which is a country house hotel set in a superb setting underneath the Wrekin hill.  The hotel has a bar, and two lounges and is just 1mile from the M54 motorway at Junction 7 - just beyond Telford and 10 miles from Shrewsbury. The hotel set in parkland with a lake in it's grounds is the perfect location for this Twixtmas walking break.

Three nights- 27/28/29 December

 See the hotels web site at


is three course plus coffee and breakfast is buffet style - both in the hotels main restaurant.  Walking starts at 9.30 am, and we generally finish for that welcome cuppa at 4.30 pm. This will give you plenty of time to get ready for dinner. Dress code is smart casual.


We have lunch at one of Shropshire’s lovely country pubs

Your walks leaders will make this weekend break relaxing and the wonderful walking will stimulate your enthusiasm for the wide outdoors.


We offer you the opportunity to stay additional nights, and many people extend their weekend as they wish. Just reserve what nights you need.

Guided walking programme

Your Get Active Short Break for Singles “Beat the Xmas Pud”   break

The programme starts on the afternoon of December 27 (with a two hour "get to know you walk” ) - the whole programme being three nights and three and half days walking,

December 28th Full days walk

December 29th Full days walk

December 30th finishes at either 1.30pm with lunch or 4.00pm

Check out on the morning prior to the walk.


Meet New Friends

Its all about meeting new friends. Each holiday is designed to be a friendly, relaxed and stress free occasion. Talking is as important as walking or discovering on Short Breaks for Single Travellers holidays. We don't go in for disco's, we may use an event that is taking place in the area we are in to boost the weekends activities - but its good, old fashioned chat that makes our short breaks successful.

"Make new friends that turn into old friends - that's our motto."

You might be surprised by what fun you’ll have with people who are older or younger than you during a holiday with us, and that’s exactly the sort of atmosphere we encourage; people find it very rewarding.

It doesn’t matter what your reasons for traveling with us are, we’ve had people who are single, divorced or widowed, people who have partners that are unable to travel, and people who can’t holiday with their friends anymore as they’ve all got married themselves. There are people who want to make friends, see sights, and experience something completely new. Whatever your reason, we’ll welcome you with open arms and our friendly hosts will help you to get the most out of your holiday.

Don't worry if this is the first time you have ventured to join a group holiday - its always a bit daunting - but we will look after you, ensure that you get used to being amongst friends again - trust us to to get you back into the swing of things"

Oh - by the way - its not a dating agency - over the years we have had people meet and fall in love - but that's just chance. Our aim is that you make like minded friends - just relax and enjoy.

Some of the walks we will choose from

Walking - Grades and difficulty
We walk between 8 and 9 miles per day. We walk at a steady pace, we don’t rush. We want you to enjoy our lovely scenery - these hills are a walkers paradise with good paths and an ever changing landscape.

On most weekends we organise two walks - a shorter, lower route so that everyone gets a walk suitable to their abilities.

There are hills to ascend  - we go up to a maximum of 500 metres over two miles of walking, but the climbing is gradual and we won’t rush. What’s the point of huffing and puffing, being exhausted then not being able to enjoy this fabulous land. Descending is not precarious, and is gentle in relationship to many walking areas.

Shropshire is a land of ever changing vista’s - on any walk we get four or five different landscapes to enjoy. The views over 360 degrees are unrivaled - we see into Mid Wales to Cader Idris, the Berwyns, Malverns, Clee’s and Staffordshire peaks, as well as Shropshir’es own individual hills. Walking boots or shoes are obligatory, and many walkers find a walking pole useful, especially on the downhills. You will also need wet weather gear—generally we have a mild climate, lovely springs and autumns, and winter walking too is outstanding in theses secret hills.

The following are examples of the walks we may do – dependent on weather, grade of walker etc.

Sample Walk One

A superb walk through Carding Mill Valley, ascending to the top of the Long Mynd at Pole Bank. Walking along the heather-clad ridge before descending down one of the many delightful valleys for our lunch stop at a local hostelry. In the afternoon, we ascend Ragleth Hill and walk along its ridgeline with superb views in all directions. We finally return to Church Stretton in time for a cuppa.

Sample Walk Two

Leaving the hotel we ascend the iconic Wrekin hill. Over the top and join the Shrophire Way – through Little Wenlock and into Loamhole Dingle – the water course that fed the first Iron making foundry in Coalbrookdale. The walk splits into a longer walk – to the Rotunda and the Ironbridge, or a shorter one – along the old coach road to the Museum of the Gorge and onto the Ironbridge.

Coach return

Sample Walk Three

From the hotel – we skirt the Wrekin hill on a circuit round it and out into the Shropshire countryside- eventually returning to the Buckatree Hotel for lunch. In the afternoon – a 1.5 hour walk around the Ercall area, or simply get on your way home at about 2.15pm.

Sample walk Four

We walk into the Ercall woods and take in Ercall Hill and the Ercall quarries - following a circular route over Wellington golf course and through the woods on the side of the Wrekin Hill. Return to the Buckatree Hall Hotel along the Wrekin woodlands paths footpaths.

Just arrive and enjoy

Whats included

What you get on a Secret Hills break

  • Hotel bed and breakfast– en suite three nights
  • Dinner- three nights
  • Lunch- three days
  • Personal service
  • Expert guiding
  • Flexibility
  • No single supplement
  • Complimentary wine on first evening
  • A social, relaxed approach

Customer Reviews

Gill Crippen - Beat the Xmas Pud, December 2019.
Hi Alan, I would just like to say how much I enjoyed my holiday with you and our group in Shropshire.
I really could not have faulted my time away. The hotel, the food, the walking and the friendship of the people I met was amazing. I had absolutely no concerns about being on my own and will most certainly book another holiday later in the year. Once again a big thank to you and the rest of the team for the happy time I had.
Kind regards Gill Crippen



Christine Fogg - Beat the Xmas Pud, December 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Guided walking experience and organisation excellent. Leaders had safety in mind and were v knowledgeable adding interest to well- planned walks. They made appropriate adaptations to suit all members of the group when necessary.  Couldn’t have asked for more. My holiday was the perfect end to 2019, thank you Alan.  I hope to enjoy more walking trips with Secret Hills in 2020.


Jane Robinson - Beat the Xmas Pud, December 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reservation, organisation of holiday excellent and guided walking. Was very impressed with the last minute changes made to the walks to accommodate the needs of some members of the group.  Something that other tour companies wouldn’t necessarily provide. Jane Robinson 



Melanie Lambert Beat the Xmas Pud 2018.

This was my first walking holiday and I really enjoyed it.  I found it challenging in places but that is what I needed. Very well organised with friendly, experienced leaders.


Eileen Moss  Beat the Xmas Pud 2018.

I very much enjoyed the guided walking holiday. Good, friendly, knowledgeable guides and friendly people walking. Very well organised.


Lorraine Bassett  Beat the Xmas Pud Shropshire 2018

This is the second Secret Hills holiday I’ve had and it didn’t disappoint. Everything was fantastic. The Bucakatree Hotel was superb. The food at the hotel and pub lunches were excellent. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and walk in locations that I wouldn’t normally know about and certainly not do on my own.  Many thanks to Alan, Ian and Paul for good walks and interesting facts along the way.


Susan Geldart Beat the Xmas Pud Shropshire 2018

Thanks for another great trip. Such a good thing to do in the twilight period between Christmas and New Year. Friendly company which seems to attract friendly people.


Andrew Cooke Beat the Xmas Pud Shropshire 2017

The highlight for me was Caer Carodoc in the snow, it was stunning, we were so lucky there.  A fabulous few days with a fabulous group of people. 


Paul Russel Beat the Xmas Pud- Shropshire 2017

Hi Alan,

Happy New Year – I hope your New Year's Eve performance went down well !

I just wanted to say thanks for a wonderful holiday in the Shropshire hills. What lovely people and fantastic walking; I can't wait for the next one (I'll book earlier next time !).

All the best,Paul



Kate balmond Beat the Xmas Pud- Shropshire 2017

Hi folks


Just to say thank you for a lovely walking break in Church Stretton.


I enjoyed the set up, the company and the food and of course the walking


Happy New Year to you all



Kate balmond


Sue Ashmore Beat the Xmas Pud- Shropshire 2017

Excellent food and had a large comfortable room, good value for money and would recommend to other walkers. Thank you Alan, Liz and Ian for great guided walking especially as the weather conditions were not always as we wanted but it was an experience walking in the snow and ice.  Once again an enjoyable holiday….Sue A



Hazel Salisbury – Shropshire August 2017

Just wanted to drop you a line to express my thanks for organising such a great weekend of walking in such a lovely area. The guides were great - everything was organised so well yet the weekend didn't feel regimented - all very relaxed. We had great weather which helped a lot and met some lovely people too.

The walks were as I expected from the Description of 'moderate ' in terms of length and terrain / difficulty etc. . 

Thank you for being so organised and bringing this altogether .I'll be keeping an eye out for my next walking trip with you .

Our group was great company too - and it also was nice to be with a similar age group. Look forward to next time and thanks again for all of your help in the booking process, all my questions / requests etc.


Judy Steele-– Shropshire August 2017

All of the walks were interesting and exhilarating. The pace was good with time allowed to drink in the fantastic views. The guides were knowledgeable about the local area. The destinations were stunning. And the weather was perfect. What more could anyone ask for!

Everything was so well organised from pick up at the station, which was very much appreciated given the hill up to the hotel, to drop off back to the station. All events and walks ran seamlessly. Enough time allowed for pints and showers before dinner. Plenty of time for leisurely breakfast before the walks. Lunch ready and waiting at the pubs.

Just a huge thank you to Alan and Barbara for excellent organisation and to Ian, Liz, Paul and Lesley for 4 days of fabulous walks that I will always remember. Thank you all for introducing me to an area of the country I hadn't really noticed before. A wonderful weekend!  It's a joy to deal with a company that focusses on solo walkers. I get so fed up being discriminated against for being single with single supplements I really appreciate the effort that must go into finding places that will release up to 15 rooms for single people.


Andrew Cook– Shropshire August 2017


I was very happy with Liz, Lesley and Paul, Barbara, Ian and of course Alan. They are all really knowledgeable. I would definitely reserve another Secret Hills Walking holiday. They are so reliable. I would definitely recommend your holidays to others


 Susan Lauder – Shropshire August 2017


The bed was very comfortable and the room was spacious. Hospitality from Stuart and Becca and Duncan (chef for breakfasts) was outstanding. Best that I have ever had. 

Breakfast portions plentiful with great options. 

Would definitely stay here again if in the area.

Taxi driver to ferry us to the main hotel was friendly and helpful. This was good value for money. Appreciated the range of ages within the group and modifications to routes which were made in light of time/walking abilities. Appreciated no single room supplement.  

Guides were knowledgable, friendly and enthusiastic about their walks and locality,

Karen Wilcox– Shropshire August 2017

This was my first holiday alone in over 10 years and it has reconfirmed that these are the types of trips I’d like to do – can’t wait to book my next one with you!


Lien Hoang – Shropshire May 2017

The running of the hotel was very well organised, helpful and friendly.  I especially liked their grounds which has a garden and sculptures and trails which you can stroll in and explore

Ian Betteridge- Shropshire May 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.  Excellent walks, great views, a really good mix of people, delicious lunches and top notch guides.  5 out of 5. I liked Ian's relaxed and flexible approach which really made it like walking with a group of friends.  Both Ian and Tristan were very friendly and made everyone feel at ease.   This was my first Secret Hills break and I am seriously impressed.  Thanks very much!

Stephen Faine- Shropshire May 2017

Shropshire was an excellent weekend spent with a fantastic group of people. 

 Julia Carrol – Shropshire May 2017

Had a wonderful time with many thanks to Ian for showing us round the lovely hills of Shropshire

Susan Rees – Shropshire  April 2017

Guides very friendly and informative and good at making sure everyone was being looked after. It was the first time I had been on a holiday of this type and I was very impressed and came home having had an excellent break


Mike Compton Shropshire- April 2017

My first time but thoroughly enjoyed it. Your concern for all your guests was very apparent and appreciated. Good mix of people. Particularly liked pub lunch and tea!

Celine Lachevre- Shropshire Hills April 2017

The team was very responsive when I had queries about the trip before booking. Great location, excellent service, comfortable

John Rippin- Beat the Xmas pud- Shropshire 2016

The hotel was comfortable and easy with good food.  Perfectly adequate for the short stay, I enjoyed the guided walking very much - helped by superb weather!  Quite a revelation as I did not know the area.

Judith Daniels- Beat the Xmas pud Shropshire 2016

Reservation process was really customer friendly and efficient.Thought the hotel,service and food all good. Walking routes lovely.Both walking guides very helpful apart from one area.

Lunch time pubs lovely with great food.

Jasmine Anigbogu Beat the Xmas pud Shropshire Dec 2016.

Very nice trip, perfect weather, committed guides, I felt safe and looked after.  I would and have recommended Secret Hills Walking to others


Jane Hawksley- Shropshire Hills and Church Stretton October 2014


I really enjoyed the whole experience and as this was my first solo holiday- I was more than satisfied. I felt at ease with everything that was arranged


Gillian Fifield- Church Stretton October 2014


Very enjoyable weekend, excellent leader and very pleasant people to walk with.  Perhaps a slightly larger group would have meant a bit more socialising after the evening meal (although perhaps it was good to get 2 early nights!)


Linda Jones August 2014

 I enjoyed my time with Secret Hills, sadly the weather slightly marred the walks, but the leaders were great. I particularly want to thank Darren for his last minute stand in, when you realised I was staying the extra night, and his chat which got me through a couple of “hairy” moments. For me, the food was reasonably tasty at the hotel, the guinea fowl was fabulous and my room had great views. All in all , I had a lovely time. Thank you.


Janet Ross - August Bank Holiday 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, despite the disappointing weather.  It is not the rain that will stick in my memory but the warmth of the welcome we received from the Secret Hills team and the effort they put into making the weekend a success.  It was my first Secret Hills holiday and I suspect it will not be my last.


Sally Stow - August Bank Holiday 2014

Thanks for the holiday in Shropshire, I had a lovely time.


Sue Tite - August Bank Holiday 2014 Shropshire Hills

I really enjoyed my first Secret Hills holiday. Thank you to you and the team for excellent arrangements and lovely walks. Even the not so good weather on Monday didn’t detract from the good company! I’m looking forward to your programme for next year when I hope to join you again. 


Yuer from Taiwan

I have back to Taiwan and started my work. Thank you so much for showing us the magnificent tour in which Catheley and I were enjoying very much!  We really felt special as we have been given so many privileges to see those secret gardens, not to mentioned going to the top of Long Mynd hills which made us feel in top of the world! Thank you very much indeed again for the wonderful tour you have arranged! Please also send our best regards to Alan(hope he has recovered!), Barbara, Darren, Chris, Pam.

Paul Summerskill April 2014 Shropshire Hills

Hi Alan, I really enjoyed the 3 days / 2 nights I spent in Church Stretton, really nice people and I thought the guides were very helpful and it was very well run in general.
The hotel room was excellent and I really enjoyed the scenery while walking.I really enjoyed the 10 or so miles we did on Saturday and was thinking possibly I should have booked for 3 nights although when we were leaving on Sunday afternoon it did start to rain quite heavily so maybe we timed it quite well..
 Thank very much for a great holiday.


Kay Gaitskell - Shropshire Hills Easter 2014

Attention to even the smallest detail, Comfortable, good food, well stocked bar, friendly efficient staff


Charles Abell – Shropshire Hills March 2014

Alan & Paul
I attach your form. Thanks again - I know it takes  effort and attention to detail to make things go smoothly, and your professional efficiency seems a pleasant surprise, in these times Charles


Cheryl Parker  Shropshire Hills Feb 21 2014 Anyway I really, really enjoyed the weekend. I love the way you have organised the walks, the info and the flexibility.I can not complain about the hotel, the rooms, food and service were all perfectly adequate and pleasant.  I would happily stay there again. Although the walks were very lovely and in part breath taking, the company was  the best part of the weekend.  Paul and yourself were well informed  and lovely company. My fellow walkers were also a  pleasure to be around.

Thank you for a good weekend and I will see you later in the year, as  I am already looking at when I can make my next booking.kind regards Cheryl Parker


David Kingsbury Personal Trainer January 2014  

Hello Alan,

We would like to thank you and your team for making our walk so enjoyable. The guides were very informative about the Shropshire Hills, and we all had a wonderful time. I will send a message around to the team members at Seven Stones and ask them all to 'Like' your Facebook page. 

Thanks very much and all the best for 2014 Kind Regards,

David Kingsbury Personal Trainer


December 2013 Paulette Cain.  Shropshire Hills

 I had a wonderful time and will aim to book another weekend during 2014.Really enjoyed the entire experience and felt completely looked after whilst, at the same time, having a degree of freedom to ‘do my own thing’ if I wanted to.


 December 2013 Shropshire Hills Shropshire Hills Helen Weinbach

Thank you very much for the beautiful holiday!!  Real English Walking Experience; open-minded people; caring organisation: I really enjoyed it! Helen


Tina Bloch Beat the Xmas Pud - December 2013 Shropshire Hills

Thank you for an excellent couple of days walking - I really enjoyed it and appreciate all the effort and attention to detail that you and your team put into the holiday. Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy and  Prosperous New Year. Tina


Tina Bloch Beat the Xmas Pud - December 2013

Hi Alan,
Thank you for an excellent couple of days walking - I really enjoyed it and appreciate


Great reasons to join us

There are other walking holiday companies that cover the Shropshire Hills but we believe we offer the best value for many reasons….

  • We are a small friendly company
  • We have a loyal customer base who return again and again (so we must be doing something right) – read our testimonials page on the website
  • We offer a lot of flexibility – you can stay extra nights which we are happy to organise for you. We are also very flexible on the walks we provide, adapting to suit walkers and weather conditions
  • Our walk leading is second to none. Unlike some other large Walking Companies, we use LOCAL leaders who live in the area and who love their surroundings. They have expert knowledge of everything you need to know to make an area come alive.
  • You are safe in our hands – our guides are experts, fully qualified in first aid. Also, because of their local knowledge of the hills, they can respond to any situation that might for example demand cutting short a route. They don’t need to consult maps – they know the hills intimately.
  • Our leaders are all easy-going, genuinely sociable people who want to ensure that you have the best time you can with the rest of the group. They make the weekend fun by engaging with all members of a group, and ensuring that everyone feels part of the group experience.
  • We give great value for money. Because we recognise that lots of walkers holiday on their own, we have negotiated no single supplement deals with all our hotels to ensure the best possible deal.
  • We always use good hotels. Our hotel in Ironbridge is set in lovely surroundings  and the standard is really good.
  • We have smaller groups than some of the larger walking companies, because we believe the social experience is much better in a smaller group. People can talk to everyone, especially at dinner where you can all sit on one table in a small group. Our numbers vary from holiday to holiday but an average group size would be 8-12.

Getting to us and local area

Getting to our destination

By train - Church Stretton is the nearest station, some  3/4 miles away.  Contact us for a transfer to hotel from the station - it is uphill..See

By car -  the post code for your Sat Navs is SY66AG . A good way of checking a route is using the AA route finder.

 Full detailed journey instruction will be sent with your Joining Details prior to the holiday.

The Local area

Church Stretton is an historic Market Town situated in the heart of the South Shropshire hills on the English/Welsh border known as The Marches. It is the only town in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the first Walkers are Welcome town in the Midlands and a Fairtrade town. The area is renowned worldwide for its geology, with some of the oldest rock formations in existence.

Church Stretton and its picturesque surrounding villages forms an excellent base for the country lover and sportsman alike at all times of the year whether hikers, horse riders, mountain bikers, or naturalists . The Long Mynd rising above the west of the town is renowned for gliding, hang gliding and paragliding, and boasts the second highest golf course in England. The beautiful countryside, with its wild uplands and breathtaking views, features prominently in the books of Mary Webb, A E Housman, and Malcolm Saville.

Church Stretton is very well situated to act as a base for visits to many local attractions. At the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are market towns & villages, castles, hill forts and much much more nearby.  Whether you walk, go by train, car or bus...with great scenery along the way – you can enjoy a great many days out from this What to See section.

It’s not just the stunning scenery that will captivate you, but the people and places, its history and heritage, the walking and wildlife, its food and festivals.  Combined they offer magical experiences. Such magic is best summed up by the Independent newspaper review in 2009 which claimed Church Stretton to be "England’s ultimate retreat".


Within a short car or train journey, you have

Ironbridge Gorge/Shrewsbury - its castle, gardens and medieval centre/Ludlow and its foodie centres/ The Mid Wales coast line/Powys Castle/Historic Chester and the Dee Valley/

The Severn Valley, its railway and Bridgnorth town/

How to book your holiday

How to book a UK guided walking holiday AND holidays in France, Algarve, Douro Valley  and Ireland

To reserve a place on any of our holidays, please follow these simple instructions.

Reserve online  - once you have chosen your holiday, click on the booking button and complete the online form
OR  contact us by phone or email, and we will send by post or email, a booking form to you
OR  you can call us direct on 01694 723600, and we will take your reservation over the phone. Please note we cannot take credit/debit card details over the phone; you can, however, post us a cheque. Alternatively, you can pay via the Pay Pal system attached to our website, which allows you to pay either by debit/credit card, or by using your Paypal account if you have one.

We will also accept a Bank Transfer and on request we will supply our bank details to you.

It is important that you read the terms and conditions before you sign the booking form.

Note - if you are reserving a holiday within a month of the start date then the full amount is due immediately and no deposit should be paid.


Secret Hills Walking, 35, Sandford Avenue, Church Stretton, Shropshire, SY6 6BH

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Our Promise To You
You matter to us & we promise to provide you with a superb walking & social holiday, tailored specifically to your needs. We provide walking holidays for walkers & as walkers ourselves, we appreciate & understand the requirements of a walking holiday.

What Others Said...

Kay Gaitskell - Shropshire Hills Easter 2014 Attention to even the smallest detail, Comfortable, good food, well stocked bar, friendly efficient staff

Kay Gaitskell