CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Essex Life today CLICK HERE

Bringing the hills alive

16:20 10 December 2014

Cross Country Ski Copyright © Matthew Tomkinson / In Partnership 2007

Cross Country Ski Copyright © Matthew Tomkinson / In Partnership 2007

Copyright © Matthew Tomkinson / In Partnership 2007

John Carter, long-time presenter of TV’s Wish You Were Here programme and seasoned globetrotter, reignites his flirtation with the many delights of winter sports

Back when I bore a lighter burden of years, and had time to spare, I became interested in winter sports. It was a brief flirtation, mainly because I could not see the point of queuing to be carried to the top of a mountain in order to slide down it, only to join another queue to be carried up again. The fact that I fell over a lot and was outclassed by pupils from the kindergarten may also have had something to do with my disenchantment.

However, I did, later, discover and enjoy cross-country skiing for a few winters. It made more sense to be going from one location to another at a reasonable pace. These musings have been brought on by a contemplation of holidays in the Ramblers Worldwide Winter Spirit brochure, because some of them offer the cross-country skiing that I enjoyed.

Take, for example, the seven-night holiday based in the Union Hotel in Dobbiaco, a small community in the Italian Tyrol, close to the border with Austria.

A little over 4,000 feet above sea level, it is reckoned to offer the best cross-country skiing in Europe, with a 125-mile network of tracks suitable for everyone from beginners to experts. (Ramblers work on the assumption that their clients will have a little experience, which is reasonable enough.)

Among the amenities of the Union Hotel are a swimming pool, sauna and solarium which would, I reckon, be ideal for easing the muscles at the end of the day. The provincial capital, Bolzano, is a little over 43 miles away and, as the holiday includes a free transport pass, is ideal as a destination should you want to take a day off from the snow.

Or try another seven-night, half-board holiday to the Stubai valley in Austria and the resort of Fulpmes (no, I’d never heard of it, either). Your base is the four-star Activ Hotel Donnerhof, a few minutes walk from the centre of the community. Again, you have access to a network of cross-country tracks and, I was interested to learn, that these are never far from local bus routes so, if you feel you’ve done enough, you can wait at a convenient stop for a ride home. A free ride, as it happens, as the local buses make no charge. However, that doesn’t apply to the tram which will take you all the way down into Innsbruck, should you fancy a day off.

For a winter holiday more in keeping with the RWH tradition, try hiking through the valleys of Cappodocia, in Turkey. The three-star Akuzum in Urgup is the base for this seven-night holiday. As it is a bed and breakfast arrangement, this gives you the option of eating out in local restaurants and the hotel is very close to the centre of the town.

The walking routes are along the region’s valleys and give you opportunities to visit local communities and see underground settlements and churches carved from rocks. The traditions of ‘rock settlements’ go back many centuries.

The Christmas markets of Dresden and Berlin are also extremely tempting, especially if, like me, your best walking days are behind you. The walking element on this holiday consists of sightseeing tours of the two cities, as the markets and general festivities of Christmas dominate this eight-night package. All meals are taken in the hotels or in local restaurants and two festive dinners are also included.

Perhaps, despite the burden of years, I shall take to the slopes once again with a new spirit of adventure!

Get in touch

To find details of these or other winter breaks, visit www.ramblersholidays.co.uk

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Christmas

Shopping for gifts on the high street can be daunting so we have compiled a list of Kent’s Christmas markets to inspire you this festive season

Read more

From woodlands and nature reserves to Dedham Vale, we pick 6 perfect places for countryside walks plus some of the best cosy pubs en route

Read more

From Waveney and the Suffolk coast to Dedham Vale, these 19 pictures are guaranteed to get you exploring the beautiful towns and countryside of Suffolk this winter

Read more

Rory Whelan, Executive Chef, The Crown & The Swan Hotels in Southwold shares his Christmas leftovers recipe – a delicious way to use up leftover turkey, brussel sprouts and chestnuts from the Christmas dinner table

Read more

How do Suffolk’s kitchen professionals celebrate one of the busiest seasons of the year? Whether its how to cook the perfect turkey, the best parsnip recipe or an unusual festive supper, these chefs are full of inspiration about what to cook for Christmas dinner

Read more

Feeling full after a festive feast? We pick 5 countryside walks perfect for walking off the Christmas dinner to the sound of local church bells - plus some of the best cosy pubs to visit along the way

Read more

The team at Great British Life, Archant’s online marketplace, share their tips for sale success

Read more

Whether it’s a cold country walk, a tranquil boat ride, or an afternoon spent next to the fire after a family day out, there is so much to do over the festive period on the Norfolk Broads.

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CHARITY RAFFLE FINALE

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Win ALL of our previous giveaway prizes PLUS a 12-month subscription to Hertfordshire Life magazine! To enter, donate £2 to our JustGiving page for Age UK Hertfordshire

Read more

Suffolk in winter time is a magical place to be. There are Christmas markets, chilly walks, and days by the blustery seaside to be had. These 17 nostalgic pictures will definitely bring out that unique festive feeling.

Read more

Christmas creatures

Friday, December 11, 2015

Festive decorations to give your home some animal magic

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: Day 11

Friday, December 11, 2015

Win! A case of three bottles of Dark Festive Bitter from Farr Brewery in Harpenden

Read more

Top Christmas gifts for pets

Thursday, December 10, 2015

We all love a Christmas pressies, and that includes our furry friends

Read more

How to decorate your home this Christmas

Thursday, December 10, 2015

We have selected some gorgeous Christmas decorations and ideas so you can add that little bit extra to your house over this festive period.

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: DAY 10

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Win! A spa & afternoon tea package for two (worth £210!) from Luton Hoo near Harpenden

Read more

Our favourite gift ideas for kids from local Suffolk and East Anglian shops and businesses

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 9

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Win! A spa goodies gift set (worth £25!) from Champneys

Read more

Alexandra Nitka is a private chef who decided to follow her passion for food and wine and leave the big smoke as a commodities broker to pursue her dream job. From canapé parties to private cooking for families or celebrations and shoot dinners, no job is the same. Here she shares with us a delicious Christmas delight to entertain family and friends

Read more

Wrap up and head into Epping Forest for festive family fun

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 8

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Win! A bottle of Pinkster gin (worth £33!) from the Pinkster team in Barley, near Royston

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 7

Monday, December 7, 2015

Win! Afternoon tea for four (worth £56!) at The Old Post Office tearooms in Datchworth

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 6

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Win! A beautiful Georg Jensen Christmas ornament (worth £33!) from Wharton Goldsmith in St Albans. Enter by MIDNIGHT tonight to be in with a chance of winning.

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 5

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Win! A limited edition sweet orange, clove and cinnamon candle (worth £24!) from Heartwood Candle Company based in St Albans. Enter by MIDNIGHT tonight to be in with a chance of winning.

Read more

The season of goodwill inspires all kinds of charity events. We spoke to three of the county’s most heart-warming festive fundraisers

Read more

Our favourite personalised and DIY gift ideas for kids, all from local Essex shops and businesses

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 2

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Win! A Festive Afternoon Tea for two (worth £36!) at Aubrey Park Hotel near Hemel Hempstead. Enter by MIDNIGHT tonight to be in with a chance of winning.

Read more

Even with the cold weather and the longer nights, there is still so much to do in Suffolk to enrich your festive season. Here are 18 reasons to stay.

Read more

To celebrate the festive season, Great British Life is offering 12 lucky competition entrants the chance to win fantastic gifts in time for Christmas

Read more

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY: Day 1

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Win! A bespoke door wreath worth £75 from Betty and Bear Wedding Flowers in St Albans. Enter by MIDNIGHT tonight to win.

Read more

Ad Feature: Christmas Cheer at The Galleria, Hatfield

Monday, November 30, 2015

This year, make your Christmas sparkle with a little help from The Galleria, Hatfield. Boasting leisure and retail brands at outlet prices, The Galleria has everything you need to make your Christmas a merry one.

Read more

Newsletter Signup


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Essex's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area




Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search