A Client's View | Secret Hills Walking

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

GR221 - Majorca -  Tramuntana Traverse - September 2015 - Clive Fletcher

Here is Clive Fletcher's very individual story of his holiday in Majorca in September 2016 - following the long distance footpath GR221

What makes a perfect holiday; too some it is the beach and the boom of the local nightclub. To others, as like minded as me, it is the allure of the outdoors, with beautiful scenery, good company and the added bonus of some challenging walking.

If that’s your recipe for a perfect holiday then look no further than Secret Hills, trip to Majorca, walking the length of the Tramuntana Mountains in a week.

Our mixed party of enthusiastic walkers slowly assembled over the course of a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late September, and after settling in to our base at Port d’Andraix-  a two night stay, it was off down to the harbour side for our first memorable evening meal, followed by an early night in anticipation of the first days walking. The next day we soon left the coast and enter into that lesser experienced and un-discovered side of Majorca. Slowly, slowly, slowly, taking the lead from our excellent co-tour leader Jill, traversing into the pine woods and slopes of the Tramuntana range of mountains.  As the day and attitude progressed, then so the views opened up, and you were suddenly looking down on a days good walking, with always that added incentive, that the view will be even better around the next corner.

This became the pattern for the next few days, good challenging walking, great views, perfectly complemented by the company of your fellow walkers and our excellent tour leads, the double act which is Jill and Tom. A good breakfast, a good days walking, followed by a pleasantly relaxing evening enjoying good food and good company, what’s not to like!!!

Added to this is the sense of achievement that you are also progressing up the spine of Majorca, with each day, notching off a little more off the total distance of the mountain range. This holiday also has the advantage of being able to spend time in different locations and hotels on the way, which I personally really enjoyed, waking up to a new view as the curtains are dragged back to give you your new window on the world!

It’s quite difficult to condense a full weeks walking into a short snappy review, so hopefully this oh so brief missive and following highlights will give you a flavour of a great holiday. The highlights of the week would be the sheer sense of achievement at completing a walk that takes you the length of the island, a mornings traverse to reveal a breath taking view, or the distance sight of your intended destination, the mornings walk out of Soller, (who did so helpfully, make all those steps), the little hidden tea shop, with the lemon meringue pie, PG Tips and two delightful French ladies (the stuff of which only dreams are made of!!).

These are but a few of the highlights, but what really brings it all together, is the excellence of the tour leads, the “husband and wife” team of Tom and Jill, who are great, they become part of the group, but never forget their responsibilities to ensure that you get a complete holiday experience, both during the day whilst walking but also in the evening ensuring everything is just right. They are that added bonus that sort of brings the whole holiday together.

It would be fair to say that this was a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. You don’t really notice the climbs as they are always taken at a sensible pace, and always accompanied by lively conversation, on a whole range of subjects. We all made it from the south of the island to our final destination of Port de Pollensa in the north and returned to the UK with many memories, unfortunately my boots did not quite make the return journey, but they rest in a fitting place!



This is a Kay Gaitskell’s view of how she saw her holiday in Madeira. Kay has been on many Secret Hills holidays.

My Madeira Holiday

After leaving a cold, wet Manchester and arriving in warm, sunny Madeira, this was surely a good omen!

 The drive from the airport to our hotel in Funchal  took about 20mins and was very scenic, giving us a taste of what this volcanic island had to offer.

Everyone arrived at different times from different places so it is the evening when we all meet up, introduce ourselves and go off and have a meal ready for our walking adventure the next day.

The first of our walks we went by minibus to Camacha to walk along the very beautiful levada-Paradise Valley. Secret Hills always use guides who live in the area and who are very knowledgeable, and our guide Honorio was brilliant, always stopping to explain and point out interesting things along the way, and making sure he led the walks at a pace comfortable for all. If we ever tired of such scenery there was always Honorio's leg tattoos for us ladies to feast our eyes on!

Day two brought a different type of walking - the trek from Pico du Areiiro to Pico Ruivo the highest point on the island - 1862mtrs. There is always two different walks each day so if the Pico trek was not for you, then no problem there is always an alternative. After gently persuasion from Alan & Chris I decided to do the hike along with three other brave souls. There are no words or pictures that could adequately describe the sheer awesomeness of the magnificent terrain we encountered, we were above the clouds in a completely different world, it was just breathtaking, and will live with me for ever.

And so the week progressed, apart from all the fabulous walks, there was botanical gardens, orchid gardens to explore, stopping off at delightful tea shops for cake n tea, meandering round busy Funchal harbour,  visiting the flower market, open top bus tours, and of course. one can't go to Madeira without having a Madeira wine tasting hour- very enjoyable.

We ate in different restaurants each evening, all offering excellent food and wine. Our group was made up of 10-  all from different parts of the UK, and we all got on really well and had many laughs over the week.

And last of all i would like to thank Alan & Chris,  the partnership at Secret Hills for making all this happen. nothing is too much trouble, always on hand with advice and making sure everything runs so smoothly, and such fun too!!


Judith Mulcahy January 2017 – A personal view of the holiday


What a fantastic start to the New Year! The hotel was excellent with delicious meals & a great party atmosphere! The walks were varied & interesting led by our very friendly & able guides Jill & Tom. The group gelled very well together and was a good manageable size where fortunately a uniform pace could be maintained on the walks. The weather was amazing! Not a drop of rain & wall to wall blue skies. I would recommend the Lakes for New Year.....couldn't fault it in any way!

Judith Mulcahy



Giovanna Mills January 2017 - a personal view of the holiday.

As a veteran of a few Secret Hills holidays, I knew that my weekend in the Cotswolds would be a  mix of good walking, conversation and food.  However, I was blown away by just how much fun and laughter was had by those of us who shared the New Year weekend.  As expected, the walks were excellent; a variety of terrain, scenery and walking pace meant that everyone was happy. Even the weather couldn't spoil our enjoyment, although it tried hard enough. The promise of a pub lunch and a gorgeous cream tea kept most of us going to the end. We finished on the Monday with a lovely walk through Cirencester town and the country park and the sun finally shone - a fitting way to end the holiday.


The hotel was very comfortable, with excellent food - did I mention the cream teas - and superb entertainment every evening.   We certainly welcomed the New Year in style: tuxedos and glitzy dresses really made the evening special. Who would have thought that I could have danced for almost four hours, having walked all day.  I just hope we didn't scare the other guests in the hotel as we were having so much fun.  For me though, the best part of the weekend was the people.  I have made some lovely new friends and we have already planned some trips, walks and evenings out.  I don't know what 2017 will hold, but it certainly started the right way.


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What Others Said...

David Bailey - Group Walking Week organiser East Brekshire Ramblers Alan, Chris, Julie, I have waited nearly a week since our Group returned from our Wye Valley holiday just to see how many more acknowledgements I get from members who were on it, saying what a great holiday they thought it was! I can honestly say that everyone was very happy with what you came up with for us and they are all now anxiously waiting to hear what we decide to do next year with Secret Hills. Personally, I was so impressed with the help and encouragement I had had in the planning of the holiday during the ten months leading up to it, that I was in no doubt at all that everything would be fine when 14th September arrived. As indeed it was! Some of our members of course, having had years (and years!) of experience with HF and Ramblers Holidays - and many of whom had never even heard of Secret Hills -  were perhaps understandably a little apprehensive of something new. But their worries proved to be totally misplaced. Well done to all of you, and especially to your local leaders and other helpers who were excellent.

David Bailey