Hilltop Treks: Meet Terry Lambert
How did Hilltop Treks get started and how long has it been in business?
I have always loved the outdoors and in particular walking and discovering new places in which to do this.
After I returned from some traveling in 2005, I decided that I wanted to change careers and train as a mountain leader.
The initial idea was to bring tourists to beautiful parts of Ireland and areas that they wouldn’t get to on regular tours. I also wanted to offer activities from these tours such as walking, cycling, or even horse riding.
The company was started in 2008 offering guided walks, photography walks, full moon walks, walking weekends and even some walks for singles.
When I got my first bus in 2010, I then took the company to the next level and started day tours from Dublin to County Wicklow, including Glendalough.
This tour is still operational today and has been growing steadily ever since. From this tour, you can decide to take a guided walk, go horse riding or not do any activity at all, and just visit the Powerscourt Gardens, also in County Wicklow.
We now have 6 buses and a staff of 2 admins and 12 guides.
We also offer tours throughout Ireland, from one-day tours to 15-day all Ireland tours. We like to operate these tours with the same passion for the outdoors but with some Irish history, folklore, Irish music, and local food and drink thrown into the mix.
What is your background in the tourism business?
My background was originally in computer science. I had no previous experience with tourism before setting up my company.
Today though I’m a qualified guide and a mountain leader. I have appeared on our national TV station talking about the outdoors and guiding groups.
I also give some talks for government bodies and to other people about setting up their own tourism business.
Why decide to offer walking tours across Ireland rather than just one specific area?
At this point, I have walked in every part of Ireland. So, it was just a natural progression to offer walks in different areas as more and more people requested me to bring them there.
It also keeps the job interesting and the guides interested to do walks in different areas.
What does a walking tour with Hilltop Treks typically include?
We offer many different kinds of treks, from the Full Moon, 2.5-mile walks to more strenuous hikes.
But a typical walk would include transport and pick up from a convenient area in Dublin. Then a drive into the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
We usually cater to participants of all ages with a mix of fitness levels. The walk would normally be approximately 3-4 hours long with plenty of stops along the way to take pictures and drink some water.
Then at a suitable scenic area along the way, we would stop and take a break for lunch.
People on our walks normally bring along snacks, sandwiches, and hot drinks. At the end of the walk, we would normally visit a café or pub for a drink before driving back to Dublin.
I see that you offer a bit of everything at Hilltop Treks, from guided tours to self-guided walks, as well as castle tours. Which of those is your most popular?
Well, popular tours would be our day tours of Wicklow and the Boyne Valley.
We do get plenty of interest in our guided walks, weekends away, walking holidays, self-guided walks, and others also.
What can people expect when taking a Hilltop Treks walking tour, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, or more?
They can expect that everything will be looked after for them, from their accommodation, transport, areas to visit along the way, as well as their guide knowing everything about the area they are visiting and its local folklore.
We also pick walks that we can shorten or lengthen depending on the group’s abilities. The guide can also recommend where to eat and drink and where the best place might be to listen to some Irish music.
What age group is most attracted to your walking tours?
We get a real mix of ages from 30+ to 70+.
Where do most of your tourists come from?
A lot of our customers come from all parts of the world, but I guess traditionally Ireland has always been a great attraction for Americans.
Then Europeans, including Germans, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, and a lot more Asians recently.
What is it that they are looking for in particular when they sign up for one of your walking tours?
I guess they are looking for a good guide that will bring them to beautiful locations to enjoy a nice walk.
They are also looking for some local history and stories of the areas they are visiting.
And of course, an insight into Irish people and culture.
What makes Hilltop Treks different from other walking guide companies in Ireland right now?
What really sets us apart is that when I’m looking for guides, I always want to see a passion for the outdoors so they can relate this to our customers.
I like a guide to be friendly, social and a people person, which is very important for this kind of work.
We also prepare our itineraries together so that the guides can really offer their strengths in our tours, be it music, Irish language, culture, history, or local trails that they know.
How can people book a walking tour or holiday with Hilltop Treks?