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Latest Update on Covid19 Virus and Walking Holidays - Updated Nov 10th

 

 

 

 

November 10th 2021 - Updated Information for Customers Walking in the UK

 

'Full steam ahead for 2021 walking holidays'

We hope this latest update finds you, your families and your communities well. We send our best wishes to you all from here in Cornwall. We managed to get walkers out on our trails from July to November this year and all those who made it had a great time. As we write this things are looking much more positive for 2021 with a vaccine in the UK close to release and provisions for on the spot testing at airports being rolled out. We remain confident that we will be walking during 2021 and are taking enquiries, producing quotes and making bookings (and re-bookings) for next season so do get in touch.

 Quick Links

Latest Update

Keeping in touch with Encounter Walking Holidays

What may be different on a Walking Holiday if COVID is here

New Quotes and Bookings for 2021 season

Official Advice and Updates on travel to and within the UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showery Tor Cornwall

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Latest News on Walking Holidays and Covid-19 - 

Whilst we are currently in a lock down here in the UK until December 2nd, infection rates seem to be levelling and we are all heartened by news of a vaccine, airport testing and the fact that we are much better prepared to deal with the virus than last year.  The official position from the UK Government is on this link but be aware that it changes all the time

There are no restrictions at all on local footpaths and National Trails where the space and freedom feels great after months of lockdown - we know because we have been out walking them! Holiday accommodation in SW England is due to reopen from 2nd December and this includes inns, hotels, B&B's and campsites. There are some changes on how these operate which you can read about below but anyone who wants to walk here will be able to as long as they are flexible about the accommodation and facilities in the overnight stops. Restaurants, cafes and pubs are all able to open with some restrictions in place so they may not be as full as usual but they are open

Planning the walk

We ran walking holidays throughout Summer and Autumn 2020 with no problems and we are now busy providing quotes and taking new bookings for walking holidays during 2021 including taking rebookings from those who were unable to walk in 2020

 

Keeping in touch with Encounter Walking Holidays at this time  -

As advised by the Government during this lockdown (until December 2nd) all our staff are working remotely at home so we are not taking enquiries via the office phone line.

Instead until December 2020 please use email to ask questions, request quotes or get updates on your bookings on info@encounterwalkingholidays.com

We are generally answering emails within 2 or 3 days so please get in touch and we will respond !

 

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What issues may there be for walking in 2021 if the virus is still present ?

Hopefully with the recent news about vaccine roll outs there may be very few issues in 2021 however no-one can be sure at this stage.  For that reason and based upon the thousands of walkers who did walk during Summer and Autumn 2020 IF COVID is still an issue these are the things would need to be aware of if you come to walk in 2021

A short video from Visit Cornwall from earlier in 2020 gives a nice summary of some of the issues-

Exmoor Coast PathThe Trails - First the good news - you can expect the trails to be as stunning as ever and if anything quieter than usual. Footpaths have been walked continuously by local residents and are now being managed and maintained as usual by the local authorities and their partners.  You can expect to find all the usual feelings of peace, space and freedom. Social distancing is no problem when walking - when you meet someone coming the other way if the path is a bit narrow one of you will step off to the side, say hi and you can safely pass each other.

Gates and stiles do mean you touch things other walkers have ahead of you, it's now accepted the virus does not live long in the outdoors but having hand sanitiser or gloves are options if you are concerned. Most of us walking tend to just make sure we wash hands or sanitise before starting and once ending the walk to avoid the small chance of any cross-contamination from gates on the route. Public toilets are re-opening and the Government guidelines are that these are kept clean for users protection, as usual most people will tend to use the toilets in cafes, restaurants and pubs that they visit. Public toilets are being opened by the local authorities in the main towns as well but this is taking longer than for private venues so we do advise bringing hand sanitiser with you and using it when entering and exiting facilities. As time passes the scientific wisdom seems to be that its much harder to pick up the virus outdoors and as such walking on what are already remote trails is a very safe activity.

Fern Pit CafeEating and Drinking Take-away cafes and kiosks, pubs, restaurants and cafes all operate unless its a full lockdown. Things are a bit different - those using sit-down cafes, pubs and restaurants will need to give their name and contact number on arrival for contact tracing. Seating arrangements will be set up so there is at least 1m and preferably 2 metres between customers and currently we are asked to wear face masks when shopping but not when sitting down to eat or drink.

We finally have been able to enjoy the table service from pubs that continental Europe has had and for now the very British occupation of queuing four deep at the bar is outlawed.  Many places will prefer you to use a credit or debit card, ideally using "contactless" payment, rather than cash but in general cash is taken if you have nothing else.

You will want to check ahead if you are relying on a particular place but we are providing the details and phone numbers in your itinerary for options during your walking day. We will make sure you have the email contact for every nights accommodation and information about booking evening meals where you are staying. Where these are not provided (such as in a B&B) we are asking your hosts in advance to give us information about the local alternatives they recommend so you can book ahead if advised to.

You will need to keep to social distance rules when using their services, currently these are that you stay at least 1 metre away from anyone else you are not travelling with and if possible 2 metres. Either way, eating and drinking places have had plenty of time and experience now on working out their social distancing rules and moving tables to make sure you are kept as safe as possible.  

Museums and attractions -  These are all open unless we have a full lockdown,  some with restricted days of opening, some you may need to book online in advance so that the numbers of visitors are kept at the right level. We include all the contact details and website addresses for the main attractions and Museums on your routes so you can arrange this in advance.

All are required to undertake a risk assessment to minimise any Covid-19 issues.  You are likely to find one way systems, markers for social distancing, contactless card payments rather than cash and lots of sanitiser points which you will be encouraged to use.

Bus Info Transport and Taxis  -  Transport has not stopped running throughout the pandemic in the UK -  trains and buses initially reserved for key workers are now for use by anyone who does not have the use of a car. You will find trains and buses are quieter than normal as there will be restrictions on the number of passengers so that there is better social distancing between passengers. It's important to book tickets in advance for trains but this has always been the case as it's a lot cheaper as well.

Currently it's a requirement that we should wear a mask when using public transport so make sure you bring one though you can buy them in the shops here if you forget.  Taxis are allowed to operate but may ask you to sit in the back to distance as much as possible and put your own luggage in and out of the taxi.

We provide taxi numbers with our itineraries and will review these when issuing your walking itineraries.  We will be checking on ferries if you are on the coast path to make sure these are running and if not, we will advise how to continue without them. Note that, as with any public transport, ferries will expect you to wear a mask whilst on board. Email us if you want an update on any travel issues.

Luggage Transfers SWLuggage Transfers  - These ran throughout the Summer and Autumn in 2020 and the only difference here is that the drivers will use sanitiser spray on the handles of your luggage to avoid any chance of cross contamination as they move them so you may notice the handle feels a bit damp if it's just been dropped off.

Accommodation providers this year will store your luggage at reception rather than take it to your room, again to minimise the numbers of people touching your luggage and to avoid having the luggage transfer staff coming into the premises when they don't need to.

Clearly, getting a ride with the luggage transfer vehicle is not possible at this time but you can take a taxi and we provide options each day.

Female WalkersAccommodation  - The main change is with your hotels, inns and B&B's. These are all required to undertake a risk assessment to make sure they have measures in place to keep their guests and themselves as safe as possible. Everyone is keen to get back to what they do best which is looking after their guests and a lot of thought and planning is going into making sure that there is as little disruption as possible whilst balancing that with keeping you and others safe. Most accommodation providers are providing information on their websites on how they are protecting you and their staff. What is done will depend on the type of accomomdation and the shared spaces it has but the following is an idea of things you will notice in many places.

Expect some of the following - Reduced numbers of guests meaning less rooms available - Markings for one-way systems in areas of the building which are narrow - Contactless "card" payments rather than cash - Later check in times and earlier departure times to allow for more cleaning time between guests - No daily "maid room service" instead room service items left outside your room -  No "help yourself buffet" breakfasts, instead order the night before - Staggered times for meals to avoid crowding in dining rooms - Swimming pools, spas and shared areas like lounges may remain closed - More options for eating in other areas such as your room, outside on a terrace or patio - No escorting on arrival to your rooms and you will need to collect and return your luggage to/from reception - Plenty of hand sanitisers and a lot of cleaning going on!

Insurance  - This has been a thorny issue all round the world as many companies advised they would not insure against Coronavirus as it was not a "named" disease. Check your policy carefully before buying. The better policies now include cover for Coronavirus if you contract it  just before you are due to travel so at least you can get cover in case you need to cancel at the last minute or during the walk due to COVID19.   Do buy insurance even if Coronavirus is not covered, all your other potential medical issues will be (twisting an ankle on the path), luggage insurance, cancellation for other reasons etc. It is a requirement that you have insurance for your holiday to cover you if you have to cancel suddenly - we realise this can be more difficult when Covid-19 is the issue but its still important to insure yourself for everything else as normal. 

We all hope by 2021 we will be in a situation where Covid-19 infections are either a thing of the past or managed by vaccination rather than isolation.

What do us walkers need to do?

Not much that you are not already doing in your own homes. First of all enjoy yourselves of course, celebrate finding the freedom and space of the great outdoors which we have been denied for so long!  Be mindful and respectful of the accommodation providers who after having a very difficult time earlier in the year now need to do more work than usual to keep you all safe. Make sure you follow their instructions and observe their social distancing rules so your hosts do not feel you are putting them and other guests at risk.

Be patient and tolerant when you arrive off the path into places with other people and understand that things are returning to normal but with some new social rules. Whilst our accommodations in general have not asked for guests to wear masks it is required on public transport and in shops and it's always possible rules may change. For that reason please make sure you bring some masks with you whilst Covid-19 is still an issue.

Hand WashingBe aware of your own health, if you feel unwell before your holiday do not come. You may be asked at some accommodation to sign a short statement to confirm you have not had any symptoms when you arrive to check in. Of course we hope no-one gets the virus whilst here but if you become ill with mild Coronavirus symptons you will be asked to check out and return to your home base if you are well enough to do so. You should contact your insurance company to see if they will assist you in the first instance and let us know about the situation at Encounter Walking Holidays.  If you are too ill to travel then the local authority will be informed and they will assist with the situation and you may be moved to recover in their isolation accommodation. In the event of you being seriously ill, remember in the NHS we have one of the best healthcare providers in the world with none of the barriers to treatment that some other countries have - all will be treated the same here whether its a minor issue or something worse.

Wales Coast PathObserve the current social distance rules and any requests from your accommodation and food and drink providers. Wash hands and use sanitiser frequently and make sure you avoid coughing or sneezing over others.  These are all things we realise you will already have been practicing in your own areas or countries - so please continue here.

Lastly make the most of your walk and that fact that once again we are able to enter these wild spaces whenever we want to escape the bustle of the modern world and perhaps also hold a thought for those who are unable to join you ...for whatever reason.

 

New Quotes and Enquiries for 2021 season - NOW is the time to start your planning !  

For 2021 working with our accommodation providers we managed to open bookings 2 months earlier than usual in July 2020 and since then we have a large number of loyal customers who have asked us to move their cancelled walks from 2020 over to 2021 and we are  busy re-booking these along with new requests and enquiries for 2021. 

Send in a Quote Reqest Form and we can help plan and start the process for a personalised walking holiday quote there is no obligation to book but having a quote will mean that whenever you are confident enough to go ahead you will be able to move straight to getting a booking in place

If you don't know where to walk use our interactive map to view the options by clicking here or email us for ideas telling us what sort of things would be in your ideal walking holiday.

We can't wait to get a full season of walking underway after the difficulties of 2020 and we hope you can be part of a return to walking the paths and trails during 2021

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Official Advice on Travel to the UK and where to get it

Keep an eye on the advice from your home country for up to date advice on issues in the UK or contact us for an update on the local situation here.

You will find the latest official advice from your Government on travel and staying healthy on these websites.

UK -  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA - www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/UnitedKingdom.html

Canada www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/united-kingdom

Australia - www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/united-kingdom

If you want more up to date information about what the UK Government is currently doing to deal with the virus this can be found on this link. This is updated regularly and is the "official" UK position - www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan  

You can contact us at any point if you want to know the latest local situation in the walking regions or have any worries or questions about your forthcoming holiday - email us on info@encounterwalkingholidays.com

Once in the UK, we advise walkers keep up to date with national news programmes and follow local advice. We will be ready to help you once you have started your holiday if any restrictions prevent your holiday running as planned and we will take responsibility to help you through any issues that arise.

Finally all of us at Encounter Walking want to thank all those in the NHS and other organisations who have selflessly put themselves in danger to look after the rest of us.

Covid 19Love the NHS sheep

 

 

 

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Quick Links

Latest Situation in the UK www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan 

South West Coast Path Association information on Walking the Coast Path www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/newsapp/article/347/