We would like to tell you a story of how it all began.
An adventure across France
Many years ago Alison & David gave up their jobs, house and car, and boarded a boat for France. They carried with them an appetite for adventure, a small two man tent, a few essential clothes and a calor gas stove to make tea and cook supper.
Together they walked & hiked 680 miles across France, doing what they loved most, being close to nature and exploring.
They got up when the day turned light, sometimes to the sight of stars, and went to bed as the light fell.
They lived in harmony with the rhythms of nature. They wandered fields of sunflowers, lavender and vines, crossed plains and travelled through ancient villages.
And they not only discovered countless stories, they made many of their own… returning to the UK they lived for a short time on a campsite in Therese the tent and pondered the future.
Foot Trails was born
Alison was so inspired by the journey they had made, that she had a desire to help others take their own adventures, experiencing the beautiful but also local, all through the simplicity of walking & hiking.
But at the same time she was frustrated by the stereotypical image of walking in England. She wanted to show it wasn’t about the number of miles that are clocked up, she was determined to prove how walking and hiking could be enjoyable, fun, relaxing, indulgent. She set about researching the possibilities of doing just that, and thinking about how to do things differently in British walking and rural travel.
In 2002 Alison launched Foot Trails, destined from the start to do things differently.
It avoided the formulaic nature of mass tourism and focused instead on people, individuals and their experience. It helped people enjoy walking in rural England with experiences that were tailored to them. And lovely places to stay, country pubs and inns with lots of creature comforts and great food. Places which showed the authentic nature of the south west of England.
Determined to create a business with values, Alison wanted Foot Trails to be a force for good in people’s lives, as well as be successful. The trails avoided all the busy touristy areas which were full of coach tours, travel en mass and crowds. It vowed to be responsible, minimising impact to nature and with community at heart.
Starting from nothing Foot Trails journey has had its challenges but with the encouragement of our guests, and the feedback from their adventures, over 2 decades Foot Trails has grown into a small and dedicated team that shared the passion for helping our guests discover the very best of south west England on foot.
Now and our future
In 2015 Alison had a set back, becoming unwell it would be nearly 3 years before she was diagnosed with Bipolar. Supported by David, Alison continued to run and grow Foot Trails and in 2018 in recognition of her work was awarded an honorary degree ‘Master of Business Administration’ by Solent University. Commenting on her award, Alison said;
“Life doesn’t come without its setbacks, but these tough moments are what makes us who we are, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
This became the natural time for Alison to take a step back from the day to day, very much still with Foot Trails as our lead founder, walking regularly with our small team, being a champion for our values, and visiting our country inn partners. Today Alison also splits her time working with Bath City Farm, a charity that helps others with their well-being, and the wider local community.
Foot Trails day to day is looked after by David (Alison’s husband) and our small local team here in Somerset & Dorset. Guests travel from all over the world to enjoy a Foot Trail, exploring spectacular countryside, villages and historic sites on a custom made Foot Trails journey. Plans are afoot (ahem!) for many more adventures and trips.
Thank you for reading our story.
Dreams of walking in rural England?
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