We are a family-run walking company established in 1997 in North Wales. Initially set-up to provide guided walking trips, we went on to become the first provider of self-guided walking holidays in Wales. Now in our 20th year our home is in the Wye Valley and we provide over 60 different self-guided walking destinations across 7 countries, to clients from all over the world. Below you can delve into Celtic Trails’ first two decades through our timeline, as well as a selection of our favourite photographs.
The Celtic Trails story begins in a small home office in Bala, North Wales. A one-man, one-dog team, Angus Cunningham and his border terrier Fergus began taking guests staying at the family's B&B out on guided ‘scrambles’ around the Snowdonia National Park.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from American visitors lead to the introduction of our first group guided tours. Our first group is made up of members of the American Embassy and explores the mountains of North Wales lead by Angus and his wife Judy. From here, Celtic Trails begins a regular programme of luxury guided walking tours exploring Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire, the Cotswolds and Scotland. Our most regular walkers continue to come from the USA.
Celtic Trails relocates to the Wye Valley in South Wales. The decision is sparked by Angus’ hope to introduce self-guided walking holidays to the Welsh tourism market (back then, a very novel idea!). The Wye Valley location is chosen for its proximity to the Offa’s Dyke Path, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the Wye Valley Walk, which become our first self guided walking holidays.
Foot-and-mouth disease spreads across the UK. The outbreak is catastrophic for both the British agricultural industry and the outdoor tourism industry. All public footpaths are closed and Celtic Trails are forced to put all walks on hold for the remainder of the year.
Celtic Trails are able to re-open for business. This is a chance to restart and revamp our first self-guided walking holidays - the Offa’s Dyke Path, Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the Wye Valley Walk. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke Path remain our most popular self-guided walks thereafter. We also take on our first permanent employee, Lesley - who stays with us until her retirement in 2013!
Our first self-guided walks in England are launched, with the Cotswolds Way and Hadrian's Wall. Once again, they become firm favourites with our walkers for many years to come. Angus and Judy's sons, Mark and Ben, are routinely roped in for the high season to provide support and logistics for the guided trips.
Celtic Trails begins to offer self-guided walks in Scotland. As a nod to his childhood spent on the shores of Loch Lomond, Angus chooses the West Highland Way as Celtic Trails’ first Scottish walk. As the company grows, we celebrate our 1,000th walker, and launch a second base in Llangollen, which sits very suitably at the other end of the Offa’s Dyke Path. Our new base is headed by Anne, who also takes charge of our guided walking tours.
Penny joins the team and is still with us 12 years later. Our Channel Island walks are launched.
Celtic Trails moves into a new office right on the edge of the River Wye and in the shadows of the magnificent Tintern Abbey. Just meters from the Offa’s Dyke Path and Wye Valley Walk it is a perfect location to engage with our walkers and we remain there until this day.
Nathan joins and becomes our second longest standing team member. Our portfolio of walks increases to over 25 walks including the launch of our first Irish Walk.
Another key member of the team, Kate, joins Celtic Trails.
We enjoy a very special celebration with two of our walkers - over 1,000 miles walked with Celtic Trails! Back in the office, our team are equally busy, now offering over 50 different self-guided walks.
The year begins with an exciting new chapter for the company as Angus’ son, Ben, takes over as managing director, allowing Angus more time to enjoy what he loves best, walking! Anne also retires her long standing directorship but still remains a key advisor. We launch our focused European offering with walks in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands.
2017 is a year of celebration for Celtic Trails as we mark our 20th anniversary. We also announce our return to guided walking, taking on Langdale Walking Holidays and become the first operator to offer the full 870 mile Wales Coast Path, allowing clients the truly unique opporutnity of circumnavigating an entire country by foot!