Les Bright is a retired charity director who lives in Exeter with his wife, Jane. They are both regular walkers, with Les leading walks on Dartmoor for Exeter & District Ramblers, of which he has been Chair for the past three years. The only ‘package holidays’ Les and Jane have ever taken have been with Ramblers Walking Holidays – in Poland and Bulgaria some years ago and more recently in Germany and Austria. Here Les explains the benefits his local group receives from members booking an RWH package quoting the group name. Group benefits plus an excellent holiday = winners all round!
We have received more than £200 this year as a result of members booking RWH holidays, so I thought I should write a little about one of those holidays, Tirolean Summer – a great holiday for us that also earned £40 for the group.
Should I start with the four course evening meal? Or the goulash, strudel or wheat beer served up in mountain huts? No, I ought to mention the walking! The holiday, located in a very traditional independently owned hotel in Fulpmes in the Stubbai Valley around 12 miles from Innsbruck, catered for two grades of walking and provided excellent well-researched choices, whether you were looking for a very demanding day out or just to come back tired and exhilarated. The group consisted of 17 people and generally six opted to stretch themselves with long climbs, a fast pace and a more ‘driven’ approach. Eleven of us were a little more laid-back, though sometimes walking further than the others – albeit with fewer stomach-churning moments!
We walked every day – bar a ‘rest day’ each week – mostly leaving the hotel before 9am to pick up a bus heading up the valley, or walking to the nearby cable car station from where we would be transported to higher routes . We were well served by Paul and Eileen, a couple who have been leading for RWH for some years – 10 in Eileen’s case, and considerably longer than that for Paul. They knew the area like the back of their hands, and seemed to have an endless supply of walks up their sleeves if weather conditions demanded changes. They were also on good terms with many of the families running alms (alpine farms serving food and drink) and seemed to have a similar rapport with the operators of mountain huts. This was helpful when it came to making decisions on whether to take a packed lunch, or follow their recommendation of locally sourced and produced traditional cooking at reasonable prices.
When I reflected on why we came back home so happy with the holiday it was easy to pin it down:
- The walking programme was designed with attention to detail that ensured we made best use of the time available, and experienced a sense of achievement while viewing stunning scenery; and
- The people leading gave us confidence that they knew what they were doing, and paid attention to the differing abilities of the people whom they were leading.
In that sense I felt very much at home, as if I was out on a walk organised by Exeter and District Ramblers – just a few thousand feet higher up a mountain!