The only thing that is currently certain about taking summer holidays, is that the Covid-19 pandemic has made the near future ‘uncertain’. Having said that we are optimistic as Governments across Europe are due to re-open their borders on 15 June, 2020. From that date many countries within the Schengen Zone are easing restrictions allowing travel for example between France, and Switzerland.
September and October are our favourite months and we are hopeful that any guidelines will soon be clarified to allow adventure travel operators to go-ahead with trips in late autumn. Indeed, we have often thought we should offer more trips at this time of year as the mountains are at their most beautiful and peaceful, as the leaves turn red and gold, and nature prepares for its winter hibernation.
One thing is certain, that businesses within the travel industry are reacting as best they can to ensure the industry is back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so. We will know more about this and the guidelines we must adhere to in early June. We would like to reassure our guests that at Tracks and Trails we will always ensure you travel in the safest possible environment. In order to provide you with peace of mind during this challenging period we will be producing a Health and Hygiene Policy for future travel.
Many of the hotels we would normally use for summer trips are now staying open later into October so we’ve been able to add dates to some of our favourite trips so you can still enjoy them.
Scroll down for our top picks for Autumn, including our new ‘West Highland Way’ in the Scottish Highlands, new 6 day 'Dolomites: Alta Via Trail Run' and great escapes to the warmth of the Spanish isle of Mallorca and remote Tuscan mountains of Italy.
And remember, full refunds are guaranteed if your trip doesn’t run due to Covid-19.
After over 40 years zipping down ski slopes all over Europe without incident I’d always fancied cross-country skiing – graceful, quiet, relaxing, no snowboarders to avoid and best of all, comfortable boots. So this was how I came to book a three day beginners’ course in Cogne, Italy.
In case you read no further I have to say – it was fantastic. I am already looking forward to booking on an ‘improvers’ holiday next year, no more ‘zombie walking’ for me.....! But was it what I expected? Yes and no.
For the last 10 days I've been lucky enough to be in Italy. First off the lovely the Ferret & Cogne valleys with our Italian Ski Weekend (ISW) who were learning/freshing their cross country skiing skills. We enjoyed great food, excellent snow, tried both classic and skating styles and ended with great apres ski in Courmayeur.
Next stop the Dolomites! Two of the ISW team combined their trips and came with me. We base our Dolomites Track Explorer in the lovely family run Hotel Zanon - more amazing food! Good thing we are skiing everyday to keep up with the 4 courses in the evening. Our week 'explored' different ski areas, different ski styles & ski types, developing technique, visiting local villages and day ski tours. The icing on the cake for many though was entering the 22k Classic Ski Race the 'Lavazeloppet'. The Tracks and Trails team entered the event the day before once having skied the course and felt confident that they could do it. So a nervous 24hrs followed whilst they planned what to wear, to eat & to carry and whether it was now such a good idea! On the race morning of the race they were joined by some 150 other skiers at the start line at Passo Lavaze. As the sun rose to another blue sky day I stood on the hill side and enjoyed great views of the skiers leaving the starting pen and making their way around the very hilly/challenging course. I proudly watching all of the T&T's ski team complete the event all in good time - they were given 3h30 to complete. So well done to them all as their results were: Nick:1h40 - Caroline:2h00 - Gill:2h20 - Sue:2h58.
My final day in the Dolomites took me to the start line of the Italian 70k classic race known 'Marcialonga'! This amazing event is like the London Marathon on skis. Joined by 7500 other skiers from all over the world the course takes you up the Val di Fiemme and Fassa valleys. The views and ambience are incredible. This race i've wanted to take part in for many years and is seen as the 'classic of all classic events'. And it was for me too. Although a little fatigued in the legs I was happy to complete the course in 6h23 minutes.
Being able to combine Italian coffee, food and hospitality with a healthy quantity of snowshoeing is my ideal week! So I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my week in Etroubles, near Aosta with the Austrian Alpine Club members. This is the second year that Tracks and Trails has guided a week of snowshoeing for Club members and as per last year I think I can say that a good time was had by all.
Last week I was joined by Leslie from the US, Arletta from Poland, Team SA (from South Africa) and Susie from the UK on our multi-activity winter week. There truly was an international feel to our week. Over the 6 days the group stayed in a luxury chalet and were able to enjoy getting to grips with both cross country skis styles - trying both the classic and skating - and experienced days out in the mountains in winter travelling on snowshoes.
Last weekend we ran our January cross country ski weekend in Italy. Aimed at beginner level or those wanting to refresh their nordic skiing skills we spend 3 full days skiing the tracks at different locations in the Aosta Valley. The cross country tracks are in perfect condition at the moment. We've had plenty of snow (and continues falling as I type) and as the temperatures stay cool the pistes are pressed into excellent condition.
What a wonderful discovery - the Apuane Alps in Tuscany. Just been staying in the area for ten days with a view to perhaps offering trips there next year in 2010! The area is truly wild and beautiful with forests of beech trees covering the mountainsides with rocky limestone ridges rising high above the treeline. It was my first visit to this part of Italy and it did not disappoint me.
We keep saying it I know, but we really have had a great season of snow. I first dusted off my 'skinny skis' in November & I can't believe it's now April and I'm still able to teach & train on my cross country (xc) skis. Apart from various trips to the Jura mountains near Geneva (see last blog) I have also spent time xc skiing in one of my favorite locations close by, Val Ferret in the Italian Val d'Aosta.