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Activity Level Guidelines

All of our trips list 'Activity Level' icons as guides to the type of itinerary and level of challenge one can expect to encounter while travelling on our holidays. The information below will give you an explanation of what each Activity Level means so you can make sure you find the right trip for you.

Our Walking & Trekking, Cycling Holidays and Winter Adventures have category specific guidelines, whereas all other trips (Culture, Wildlife, Family & Mixed-Activity) are covered by our General Activity Levels.

 


 

General Activity Levels

All of our itineraries have been graded to help you find the comfort level that best suits you:

Activity level 1 - LeisurelyActivity level 1: Leisurely
Designed for people who are in good health,enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip packed with interest.

Activity level 3: ModerateActivity level 3: Moderate
Requires a spirit of adventure and some fitness,as the trip may involve more activities or longer journeys.

Activity level 5: ChallengingActivity level 5: Challenging
Fitness is imperative at this level, as the environment may be more remote and challenging.

Activity level 7: Tough
At this level we recommend previous experience of the activity involved.

Split grades
In order to provide more accuracy, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or ‘split’ grade, for example; Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate).

 


Walking & Trekking Activity Levels

When grading a trip the following factors are considered:
  •     Length of trek and walking day
  •     Trail conditions underfoot
  •     Level of porterage and support
  •     Average altitude, maximum altitude and average gain/loss per day
  •     Likely prevailing weather conditions and temperature range
  •     Remoteness of local services and general level of comfort

All of our itineraries have been graded to help you find the comfort level that best suits you:

Activity level 1 - Leisurely1 - Leisurely
Experience is not necessary; anyone fit and healthy enough to complete a weekend walk can manage a Leisurely, Level 1 departure. Walks are often optional; but trails are seldom flat, so expect a reasonable amount of ascent and descent. You would normally walk for two to five hours during the day and daily ascents will likely be around 300m to 500m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 600m.

Activity level 3: Moderate3 – Moderate
These Moderate, Level 3 departures are either fairly easy medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks. No experience is necessary, but good health and reasonable fitness are important. Some walking at higher altitude and occasional longer/harder days may be involved, but general underfoot conditions will be fair. A walking day is normally five to seven hours and daily ascents will likely be around 500m to 800m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 900m to 1000m.

Activity level 5: Challenging5 – Challenging
Fitness is important at this grade, which compares to extended walking in mountainous terrain such as the Lakes or Snowdonia. High altitudes, climate and remoteness can also play a part. Previous trekking experience is desirable, but not vital if you are confident of your physical condition. Walking days are usually between six and eight hours, although they may be longer for passes or peaks. Daily ascents will likely be around 900m to 1000m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 1100m to 1200m.

7 – Tough
We recommend previous trekking experience, preferably at altitude, at this level. You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain. Extremes of altitude and weather may be encountered, as may the use of ice axes and crampons. Stamina is essential as walking days last six to nine hours or more on occasional days and daily ascents will likely be around 900m to 1000m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 1100m to 1200m.

Activity level 9 - Tough +9 – Tough+
An Level 9 tour combines all the elements of our Level 7, tough itineraries, but includes climbing a glaciated mountain peak. Specialist equipment, like ice axes and crampons will be needed and you should have experience of them. Please check the Trip Notes carefully to ensure that your experience and equipment meets the demands of a Tough + trip. When climbing, the peak days can be very long and you may be on your feet for eleven hours or more.

Split and optional grades
In order to provide a more accurate grading system, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or split grade, for example Leisurely/Moderate. Occasionally, there are optional ascents available en route, in this case the optional grade will be highlighted below the dial.

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Cycling Activity Levels

Please remember that it is impossible to be absolutely precise about how hard a bike ride may be, as there are many contributory factors. The main benefit of grading is to provide you with an overall indicator to compare one cycling trip against another. We therefore look at the following:

  •     Length of ride and length of cycling day
  •     Level of vehicle support
  •     Average altitude and height gain and loss
  •     Temperature range and likely weather conditions
  •     Road/trail conditions
  •     Remoteness of services and general level of comfort

Clearly conditions for a particular cycling holiday may vary from one month to the next. It is not practical for us to give grades for each individual departure, but you may like to take this into account before choosing a specific departure date.

Vehicle support
On the majority of our cycling trips, a support vehicle accompanies the riders. These carry tools and spares, refreshments, your luggage and even (on occasion) yourself. If there is a high level of vehicle support you can confidently book a certain grade in the knowledge that there is back-up should you get tired. Equally this means that friends or couples of different fitness levels can still enjoy the same trip together.

Activity Level (formerly Grades)

If you want to push yourself, we can provide the challenge, but most of our cycling holidays are exactly that – holidays. In response to customer feedback, for 2014 we have introduced a new grading system to help you select the perfect trip.
The Activity Level dial offers an immediate illustration of just how challenging the trip will be. Ranging from Leisurely to Tough, the grading takes into account the daily cycling distances and terrain, as well as any technical riding skill required. We also consider the number of cycling days as there can be a cumulative affect from tiredness on a longer trip and the type of accommodation used, as this can also influence your day to day recovery. The activity levels are equivalent to our previous grading, so if you’re used to B grade cycling you’ll be perfectly at home on a level 3 (Moderate) trip.

If you are in any doubt, please give us a call on 0845 863 9626, or email us.

Activity level 1 - LeisurelyActivity level 1: Leisurely
If you can ride a bike and enjoy gentle exercise, these are an ideal introduction to a cycling holiday. No routes are entirely flat, so expect some short climbs and descents. Maximum daily height gain is approximately 250 metres and daily distances rarely exceed 50kms (32 miles), any longer days are often optional.

Activity level 3: ModerateActivity level 3: Moderate
Most people who enjoy a weekend riding at home will enjoy a Moderate trip. You need to be in good health and reasonably fit. Ideal for occasional cyclists, or as a more relaxed trip for fitter riders. Moderate off-road trips require no previous experience. Distances rarely exceed 70kms (43 miles) per day.

Activity level 5: ChallengingActivity level 5: Challenging
For any ride at this level, fitness is important. Challenging trips require confidence in your ability and physical condition. They are equivalent to an extended period of cycling at home. Previous mountain biking experience is essential for Challenging off road trips as they will involve some technical riding.

Activity level 7: Tough
Previous experience of the cycling style or surface is a must as these routes have long cycling days and tougher terrain on both road and off road trips. You need complete confidence in your fitness and technical ability to cope with difficult or steep terrain, rough surfaces and longer distances. Ideal for those seeking a challenge!

Split grades
In order to provide more accuracy, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or ‘split’ grade, for example 2: Leisurely/Moderate.

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Winter Activity Levels

Information on snowshoeing activity levels and cross-country ski grades is below. All other trips, such as mixed activity, Northern Lights or winter cultural trips, are set according to the general activity level descriptions as detailed above.

Snowshoeing Activity Levels

Activity level 1 - LeisurelyEasy activities requiring a little physical effort for a short length of time. Previous experience is not necessary at this level, anyone who is reasonably fit and healthy enough to complete a weekend walk will manage.  

Activity level 3: ModerateRelatively full days, with 4-5 hours of snowshoeing, although occasional longer,harder days may be involved. Previous experience is not necessary, but you should be confident of your fitness level.

Activity level 5: ChallengingGenerally 4-6 hours a day, with longer ascents and a faster pace in order to complete circular routes. There may be more challenging sections throughout the week and/or more basic accommodation in the evening. Previous experience of mountain snowshoeing and a good fitness level required are required.

 

Our grading system works the same in the summer as the winter, as we take the terrain into account when calculating the grades. So if you have enjoyed a moderate level 3 grade summer trip, choose a moderate winter trip (level 3).

Cross-country skiing grades

It is essential to choose the right grade of trip for your level of cross-country skiing experience or ability. Please read our grading system carefully, and see the notes for each trip on the dates and prices page.

Grade 1 Beginners.
Recommended for beginners, or those who feel the need to improve basic techniques. We teach you the essentials and explore gently undulating terrain. All or most skiing is on prepared tracks (loipe). More experienced skiers are welcome, but the pace will be set for the beginners. Towards the end of the holiday you might ski 10-15km or more a day, at a gentle pace. Throughout the week you will be taught how to snowplough and different techniques to have you gliding along the tracks in no time.

Grade 2 Improvers and confident beginners.
A mix of flat and hillier terrain. Grade 2 weeks are for people who have enjoyed a Grade 1 holiday, grasped the snowplough and now want to improve technique. We ski a little more quickly and over more challenging ground than on a Grade 1 trip. Acceptable for newcomers to cross-country skiing, but you should be very fit and proficient in sports that develop balance – ice skating, roller skating or downhill skiing. Most skiing is on tracks but there may be some offtrack skiing (mainly in Norway).

Grade 2+Intermediates (unsuitable for beginners).
On these holidays we will be skiing on some steeper terrain. Suitable for clients who have learned good basic technique and developed an effective snowplough so they can cope fairly confidently with undulating tracks. Also suitable for those wishing to progress on to a skating week.

Grade 3 Advanced.
Choose this level if you can tackle ‘ups and downs’ competently, manage a controlled snowplough descent, and if you want to ski at a lively pace. You should also be able to get up swiftly and easily by yourself after a fall. The mix of track and off-track skiing varies.

Grade 4 Strenuous.
Be prepared for long, steep ascents and descents, and for off-track skiing over variable snow. You need good fitness, stamina and sound and controlled technique. Climbing skins will be needed on some days.

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