Monthly Archives: July 2016

Ely

Sunday 31 July 2016. Today’s walk was organised in support of OuseFest and was open to the general public as part of this two-week event. There was 14 of us on this walk; 6 from Fenland, 2 from other local groups and 6 local residents. It was a beautiful day and the riverside was very busy as we set off from The Maltings heading south following the course of the Great Ouse. We could see quite a few cyclists using the Fen Rivers Way on the opposite bank.

Quite soon we moved away from the river bank stopping for a group photograph on the footbridge at Bramham Dock. After 3.4 miles we arrived in Little Thetford in the hope of having a drink and lunch at the Sports and Social Club. I’d cleared this in advance by email but wasn’t advised that we would have to sign in and pay £1 each if we wanted to buy a drink and sit inside. This was too much hassle for me so I turned around and had my lunch and coffee outside. The Social Club was happy to sell us cans/bottles of drink that we could take outside. I appreciate that it is a Members club but there were only two customers inside and one would have thought that they would have been keen to gain extra custom.

After lunch it was only a short walk across a few fields and the golf course before we were back at the start in Ely. The walk was only 6.25 miles with negligible ascent/descent.

Ely – walk route

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Selva and the Dolomites

Sunday 24 July 2016. My journey home from the Dolomites was a lengthy one both in distance and time. Our bus to the airport was scheduled to leave at 06:15 local time (05:15 UK time) so breakfast was rather early at 05:45. We were leaving so early so that those flying back to Manchester could catch their 11am flight whilst our flight back to Gatwick wasn’t scheduled until 12am. The coach transfer was quite speedy so we arrived at Verona airport a little after 9am with hours to kill. It is a relatively small airport so the checking-in and security process went without a hitch. All that I could do was to get a coffee and listen to my music until flight time.

The APU on our aircraft wasn’t working so we were a little delayed both on departure from Verona nd arrival at Gatwick. Border control at Gatwick was chaotic with long queues for passport checks and baggage reclaim was as slow as ever. Consequently, I didn’t clear the airport until 2:45pm (UK time) and got home just after 5pm meaning that I’d been on the go for almost 12 hours. A cup of tea was needed.

My reflections on the HF Holiday at Selva are that the harder walks were perhaps a little too hard for me and that the easier walks were definitely too easy for me. Something in the middle would have suited me better. Our leaders were a mixed bunch with 2 out of 3 being highly competent whilst the 3rd had much room for improvement.

The Hotel Malleier was fine and the 5 course evening meal was generally okay. My own limited dietary preferences meant that I missed one or two courses at times but I was never hungry and even lost a couple of pounds whilst away.

The big drawback to HF holidays is that you can’t choose your fellow holiday makers. There were a few loud and obnoxious guests on each week which made meal times difficult. Fortunately I was able to escape them whilst out walking by putting some distance between me and them. The issue with guests and the wholly unpleasant airport experience mean that this will probably be my last overseas holiday with HF although I’ll probably continue with their UK houses on a self-led basis.

I don’t want to bore you with pictures that you’ve already seen but these below are what I consider to best represent the holiday. I walked on 12 days covering a total distance of 84 miles with 15,000ft of ascent and 27,000ft of descent.

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Passo Gardena

Friday 22 July 2016. The final walk of this holiday was 9 miles with a total ascent of 800ft and a total descent of just over 3,000ft. Rather than catching a bus we started and finished from the hotel. The Dantercepies ski lift took us up to a height of 7,500ft from where we made a steady descent to the Utia Forcelles hut for mid-morning coffee. it was a warm and humid day with thunderstorms forecast by early afternoon so the stop was very welcome.

Having come down quite a long way, we retraced our path uphill to Passo Gardena. Most of the climbing had been done by now and it was largely downhill back to Selva stopping for lunch along the way. It started to rain only 30 minutes after we got back so it was a well-timed walk.

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Secada to Selva

Thursday 21 July 2016. Walking with the easy group today. Some of my least favourite guests and my least favourite leader. We took the ski lift up to the top of Secada mountain (8,000ft) for today’s wander around a large area of high meadow in the shadow of some even higher mountains. As expected the pace was too slow and after the mid-morning coffee stop I advised our leader that I would make my own way along the route but would wait for them at the planned lunch spot at the Firenze Hut. I’d been waiting for them for almost an hour before they arrived at the hut. Apparently they had stopped for lunch along the way. This is the last time that I act responsibly and wait at the appointed place as they don’t seem to care about inconveniencing me.

I made my way back from the lunch stop to Selva on my own and three-quarters of this walk in blissful silence and at a pace that suited me. It was 6.5 miles with a total ascent of just under 500ft but a total descent of over 3,300ft. My thighs were burning by the end.

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3rd Rest Day Wander

Wednesday 20 July 2016. I was in a better humour today after having dinner last night with an Australian couple who like me are on their second week in Selva. I was joined by 3 other more agreeable guests so it wasn’t quite the ordeal of recent nights.

My cold is still hanging around and I didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do very much so I took a bus down to St Christina from where I caught the Col Raiser ski lift up to 6,850ft. There is a cafe at the top so I had coffee and bought a sandwich for lunch before I even thought about walking. I’d planned something which was an up and down circuit with a ski lift back down. It was incredibly warm and the up and down circuit was quickly abandoned in favour of a walk with considerably more down than up. It turned out to be only 4.25 miles with a total ascent of 370ft and a total descent of 2,050ft.

I walked less than a mile across to the Firenze hut from where the walk plan changed in favour of a downhill stoll back to Selva. This was in and out of the woods and provided some very welcome shade. I had a couple of stops on the way down and got back to the hotel in time to watch the Tour de France on TV with German commentary.

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Corvara

Tuesday 19 July 2016. I lost my cool today in very many ways. It was the “Old Woman’s” turn to be the leader of today’s easy walk and just when I thought that he couldn’t be any worse than he excelled himself today. He may have been a good leader in his time but in my opinion he’s clearly past it! This was evidenced by him telling us that our bus passes weren’t valid for the hour-long journey to Covara so he, on behalf of HF, paid for 10 tickets which I think cost 40Euro. When went to get on the ski lift at Corvaro we were told that our passes weren’t valid and that we would have to pay 7Euro each. He had got the ticket validity the wrong way around. The bus passes that we had were valid and the Ski passes weren’t. Needless to say, he/HF paid for the ski lift.

This is just one example of how poor a leader he is. He doesn’t set any ground rules, doesn’t set a pace and consequently the walks just meander along in an aimless fashion. He won’t be getting a good report from me. A one hour bus ride each way around countless hairpin bends and over the Passo Gardena to do a short 6.5 mile walk seems extreme. He didn’t know the way from the bus stop in Corvara to the ski lift which was only 200yds away. We stopped for coffee after less than a mile and again for lunch before we had done 3 miles. All the while people were stopping to photograph bloody flowers making the pace more suitable for a 2-year-old. To top it all he agreed to a request from some of the guests to stop and buy lunch at one of the Refugio’s. This added an hour to the day whilst I waited outside in the sunshine having my picnic lunch.

The descent was just as slow and when we got to a signpost advising that Corvara was 70 minutes away, I’d had enough and told our leader that I’d make my own way back to town. It took me 50 minutes and the rest of them joined me 35 minutes later.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this will be my last HF holiday as I just can’t stand group walking with people who I don’t particularly like and I don’t want to enter into small talk with them or to listen to their conversations with others along the way. I know that I’m a miserable bastard and that I’m not the best of company but dinner each night is something of an ordeal to be overcome and if I could have it on my own then I gladly would. Thank heavens that I’ve only 3 more days to endure. One week would have been more than enough.

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Alpe di Suisi

Monday 18 July 2016. Just 5 of us and our leader Anne on today’s 6 mile easy walk around Alpe di Suisi with a total ascent and descent of 1,700ft. It was a spectacular day weather wise with warm sunshine and 27c; a little too warm for walking.

We took a new (to me) ski lift from Ortesei up to a height of about 6,500ft before making an easy climb to look down on the Alpe du Suisi. This is a vast area of alpine meadow, much of which is being currently mown to make hay. Luckily some of it was still uncut and we were able to see a profusion of alpine flowers. I was so impressed that I even took a couple of pictures. The rest of the walk was down to the valley floor and back up again to our starting point for the lift to Ortesei and a bus back to Selva.

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