So how are you all doing in this new-normal time of social distancing, virtual meetings and daily Covid bulletins? Thank goodness for the unbelievably lovely Spring weather over the past weeks. I trust you, like us, are enjoying local ‘health’ walks; even us living in Chester itself have discovered new ‘green’ tracks and paths around and out of the city. It’s been an absolute joy to see the trees bursting into leaf and masses of flowers in the fields and hedgerows.
OK, enough waxing lyrical…
We may not be gathering together for a Sunday morning walk these days but rest assured, your Committee is still here – albeit it by ‘Zoom’ (who knew what that was before Covid struck?}. So here’s a summary of our take on OHWC happenings (or non-happenings!) so far:
It’s very clear we won’t be out walking together for some time yet – our walking programme won’t resume in the short or even medium term. At some point on Boris’ roadmap to recovery (!) we’ll be allowed group meetings outside but we can’t imagine there’ll be any car sharing. Pauline is keeping an eye on, and taking advice from The Ramblers and other walking groups – we’ll keep you posted with any developments. In the meantime, if you would like any of the club walks and maps Pauline sent out at the start of lockdown, then please do contact her. The plan is to get this information on the website in the fullness of time. Unfortunately, a number of these are in Wales – only do-able (at this time of writing) for you few lucky members!
This year’s May Wainright Weekend has been cancelled but has now been booked for the same 2021 weekend, 7-9 May, and location, Braithwaite. All our bookings have been transferred. Likewise, this year’s June weekend has been moved to 25 – 27 June 2021, the same location, Pooley Bridge/Penrith. The Wainright project is now likely to continue into 2022 so if you are interested in joining one of these walks in 2021, please let John Trimble know.
Scotland Munro Bagging
With most May – July 2020 bookings transferring to 2021, plus an increasing demand for UK self-catering holidays next year (with increased prices!) and too much uncertainty at present, Bob has decided to put back this Scotland trip to 2022, most likely in early June.
2020, so far, has certainly turned out to be a bit of a disaster for OHWC holidays and weekends! As you can imagine, there have been huge complications involved in unravelling our HF bookings and we are very grateful to Sarah for agreeing to come out of ‘retirement’ and re-joining the Committee as Secretary Holidays and Weekends for 2020; she is working tirelessly to sort everything for everyone affected.
The UK Spring Walking Weekend to St Ives was cancelled by HF. Most members who booked this weekend have decided to transfer their booking with a £50 incentive from HF to the two weekends for 2021. We are negotiating with HF about members who do not want to commit to another booking at this point in time. I am sure you have all seen the disarray in the travel industry – it is affecting OHWC too!
The UK Autumn Walking Weekend to Malhamdale in October 9-12 October is still maybe happening. If anyone has a crystal ball and can predict that we will be going, you might like to join 23 of us there. Please let Sarah know.
Annecy in France has been cancelled. Most people have decided to transfer to our 2021 holiday (see below).
UK Spring Walking Weekend:
16 – 19 April, Thorns Hall, Sedbergh, Cumbria. It’s close to the Howgills, the Lake District and many lovely places to visit if you don’t wish to walk. The brochure price for 2020 was £295 full board. There are still spaces available.
UK Autumn Walking Weekend:
24 -27 September, Nythfa House (newly refurbished and with an indoor swimming pool) near Brecon – the Brecon Beacons being the location of a legendary OHWC walk some years ago… (Sarah says ‘I think we have learned from that mistake!!!’ but as I wasn’t there I’m not sure what that was!). The nearby area has lots of lovely places to visit: Sarah suggests visiting one of the finest sculptures in the world, the 15th century Jesse Tree in St Mary’s Church Abergavenny. The brochure price for 2020 was £295 full board. There are still places available.
Austria Summer Holiday:
4 – July 2021, Hotel Sonnof (with Spa), Stubai Alps, Austria; all grades of walks and guaranteed cafes on the top of the hills! The Manchester flight to Munich is with Lufthansa but due to all the current problems, a price for the holiday with the flight won’t be available until July. In 2020 the brochure price for the holiday was £1,049 including half board. Sarah has already emailed you with more details of this holiday.
Please contact Sarah if you are interested in joining any of the UK or overseas holidays.
And finally, back to March this year and the OHWC holiday to the Dolomites, just as Coronavirus began to hit Italy…to go, or not to go? Just 3 intrepid members decided to take the risk. Here’s Bob’s account:
OHWC at Badia 8th to ….er…11th March 2020
Manchester Airport , early morning, to news of lockdown in Italy, but not the Dolomites… flight cancellations, but not our EasyJet flight to Venice …should we go or shouldn’t we? Reports of wonderful snow conditions and the need for a break won, so after half an hour’s deliberation, Sarah, Bob and Bridge checked in. The rest of the original dozen booked to go had sensibly, it turned out, decided to cancel.
And so, as Boris was proving at the time, little knowledge of Coronavirus, combined with a complete lack of common sense and things can go horribly wrong.
We had the 60 seater transfer coach to ourselves and with no other drop-offs on the way, the scenic route through Cortina was glorious. The next day Bob and Bridge skied in perfect conditions on empty pistes, while Sarah had a great day snowshoeing despite falling face-first and taking some time to get out of a snow hole.
The following day rumours of the resort closing came true. Meanwhile EasyJet began cancelling flights out of Venice but were offering Innsbruck to Luton instead. Rumours circulated that the border to Austria was to close. The Badia Three had to get out.
Early the next morning Colletts organised a transfer to cross the Brenner pass to Innsbruck. The hills were alive! This proved to be uneventful (in fact we weren’t sure at which point we crossed ) but we were fortunate to cross so early. Others from our chalet were not so lucky: having decided to spend the day in Badia and taxi later, by that time border checks were in operation creating a huge tailback, so they then had to walk, carrying all their luggage often over a mile to the border, endure border guard checks and then find a taxi to carry on. The guards were only allowing people to cross if they were continuing on through to Germany and not staying in Austria – not an overnight in Innsbruck. So lies had to be told and worried taxi drivers had to be bribed!
We were concerned that our hotel in Innsbruck would not want us but they were extremely welcoming and sympathetic so a lovely tourist day was spent in the old part of the city and Sarah could continue shoe shopping. Then on to the airport – the Badia Three made their escape home and were never so happy to be in Luton. Hire car to Manchester, sterilising wipes to the clean inside the car, a confused looking car hire attendant, nobody seemed concerned. Arrivals into Manchester from Islamabad continued, but Italy remained verboten!
It had all gone fantastically well until the symptoms really started on the Friday……day 5 or 6, did we catch it in Manchester on the way out !? We had been extremely careful all the time away but had certainly picked up Coronavirus. The break seemed like a good idea at the time and the 14 day isolation on return passed uneventfully.
Here’s to the next holiday !
As you can imagine, I don’t have much to report…
Sadly, we won’t be able to get together in July for our annual charity walks and BBQ but it would be good to mark the occasion in some way. We’re thinking about a ‘Walk your own walk’ and make a donation. More details to follow shortly.
We really can’t make any plans for an end-of-year Christmas gathering as yet – it’s looking highly unlikely. We are looking at maybe incorporating next year’s AGM and a meal together next January/February, if possible. Unfortunately OHWC won’t be able to fund the AGM next year as no walk fees will have been collected during the year.
So that’s about it from your Committee at this time but we will continue to keep in touch. In the meantime, do send me any anecdotes, photos, anything interesting to share and I’ll circulate to all.
On behalf of the Committee, until we all meet again, keep safe and healthy,