Author Topic: CHA memories, anybody?  (Read 2562 times)

GeoffB

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 24
CHA memories, anybody?
« on: 22:46:21, 28/08/17 »
There must be other people here who remember the Countrywide Holidays Association? My first walking holiday in the Lakes was just after finishing school in 1971, when I stayed for two weeks at Stanley Ghyll House in Eskdale. It was a great set-up, with full board and lodging and a programme of guided walks of three different categories, from easy stroll to strenuous summit walks. Some walks started from the house, but most commenced with a minibus trip to Wasdale Head or Brotherilkeld. In the evenings there were quizzes, dancing, and so on. Good clean, old-fashioned fun which nobody seems to be interested in these days. The following summer I spent a couple of weeks at Forest Side Guest House in Grasmere, with the same, familiar CHA set-up. I subsequently left the country to live abroad and only had a couple of short visits to the Lakeland Fells between then and 2013. In the meantime, of course, the CHA had ceased to exist (I'm not sure when that finally happened). I guess the whole set-up was too old-fashioned and people these days just want to drive to a location, walk for a few hours and then drive home again? I have passed Stanley Ghyll House (now called the Stanley Hotel), a couple of times since and looked wistfully in through the windows, reviving old memories. In 2013 I actually stayed at Forest Side. In those days it was still a reasonably-priced place to stay, and I was intrigued to see that the old carpet with the CHA logo on it was still on the floor in the “annex”, which contained the most reasonably priced (not en-suite) rooms. Otherwise the house was very much as I remembered it, with wainscotted walls, huge fireplaces and old, comfortable furniture. Maybe a little run-down, but perfectly acceptable accommodation, and in those days probably the only place in Grasmere where you could get a room for less than £50 a night. While I was there the manager informed me that the place was going to be closed for renovations at the end of the season, and sure enough, for at least a couple of years it was completely off the market, with articles in the local press featuring som entrepreneur who had bought it and was planning to turn it into a “country house hotel”, with luxury en-suite rooms and gourmet dining. For a long time I suspected that he had bitten off more than he could chew and the whole project had collapsed, but eventually that is precisely what it became, with rooms from £199 and dinner consisting of a tiny piece of meat in the centre of a huge plate, accompanied by half a dozen peas and a sprig of water-cress. I don’t know what kind of accommodation the average British fell walker is used to these days, but I’d hazard a guess that not many stay at this place. Having said that, I suspect not many stay in Grasmere. I certainly wouldn’t, as it’s become nothing more than a Beatrix Potter theme park where bus-loads of Japanese tourists wander from one overpriced souvenir shop to another, and the last thing that enters their minds is to look up and notice the fells around them. There’s not a real pub in the place, either. It’s sad really, especially from the point of view of somebody who remembers Grasmere – and Forest Side, in the 1970s. All I can say is, thank goodness there are still places like Wasdale Head. But what a pity there are no longer places like the CHA guest houses.  :(

Pura Vida

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 378
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #1 on: 08:06:38, 30/08/17 »
Hi,
I believe that Glaramara in Borrowdale was a CHA house. It is still operating as an Outdoor centre and Wedding Venue. Still available for B&B.


Two of the Staff started their own Walking/Guiding business. Walkwise.

Show a man a route then he will have an Adventure; Teach a man to navigate then he will have many adventures

GeoffB

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #2 on: 14:08:47, 30/08/17 »
Hi,
I believe that Glaramara in Borrowdale was a CHA house. It is still operating as an Outdoor centre and Wedding Venue. Still available for B&B.


Yes, that's right, it was. I'm sure there was at least one other CHA guest house in the Lakes (Ambleside?). The CHA also had several other houses in other parts of the country, notably the Peak District and I think near Dartmoor.

Lakeland Lorry

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 352
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #3 on: 18:30:52, 31/08/17 »
Wasn't CHA the fore-runner to HF Holidays?  The HF Holidays format today is exactly the same as you described.   They have about 16 houses in the UK and offer full board with 3 guided walks a day and evening activities.


https://www.hfholidays.co.uk




GeoffB

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #4 on: 19:23:55, 31/08/17 »
Wasn't CHA the fore-runner to HF Holidays?  The HF Holidays format today is exactly the same as you described.   They have about 16 houses in the UK and offer full board with 3 guided walks a day and evening activities.


https://www.hfholidays.co.uk


Yes, that's right. Since posting I have found the website of Douglas Hope http://douglashope.co.uk/, who has done a lot of research and presents histories of both organisations. CHA was founded in 1891 by T.A. Leonard, a Congregational Church minister from Colne, Lancashire. In 1913, for somewhat obscure reasons, he resigned from the CHA, despite it being a thriving organisation, and founded the Holiday Fellowship, which seems to have been pretty much identical to CHA in all respects apart from the name. I hadn't actually searched for HF, so I hadn't seen that website. It looks as if HF Holidays runs (among other things) a set-up very much like the original CHA/HF one. So in fact, the concept is not, as I thought, unworkable in this day and age. HF Holidays seem to be carrying on the tradition, albeit as one element of a somewhat more diversified range of products. I notice also that CHA does still exist on as a business entity, and has the same address in Didsbury as in the 1970, but no assets or liabilities.

Lakeland Lorry

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 352
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #5 on: 20:45:33, 31/08/17 »
HF holidays are still very popular especially with the over 60s.  I know some people who have been going on HF hokidays for years.  Their holidays are great for people on their own as every is very friendly.   


I must read my book on the history of HF Holidays to find out why they split from the CHA.

GeoffB

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #6 on: 21:42:35, 31/08/17 »

I must read my book on the history of HF Holidays to find out why they split from the CHA.


Yes, it's a bit of a mystery. Even Douglas Hope, who has clearly done a lot of research, doesn't mention any specific reason why Leonard should start up one organisation, get it running well and then leave it and start another, almost identical one, except to say that it was an attempt to form an organisation that was "truly working class".
« Last Edit: 21:45:46, 31/08/17 by GeoffB »

Alain BAUDRU

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #7 on: 17:46:30, 23/06/19 »
Dear Goeffrey !
I spent so many CHA holidays in Grasmere and Kinfauns castle, coming from Bordeaux in France.
From 1965 till 1975, I think...
Often looking for old friends having spent, as I did, wonderful holidays there.
A lot of simple people, great food, lovely walks and splendid evening.
And, of course, a lot of girl friends so pleased to have a french boy there !
Now, of course, I think the same as you do : it's a pity not to have any more this sort of holiday.
But when social holidays take place in mansion or casles, the cost became soon too high.
Moreover, people spend holidays more and more abroad (flight prices so low !) and social holidays are no more wanted.
I am so pleased to read you.
If this message reaches you and/or people like you, please write
Just like you I spent a few days at Forest Side when it became an hotel and I noticed too the floor with the CHA arms.
The owner told me it was there as a large quantity not used was stored in the house.
Sure you are sad not to carry on dancing at night, playing games, having fun with the hosts and hostesses, but so is life and all young people remember the good time they had when they were young.
I noticed secretary and host commenting your information as Ron. I think I met him one year at grasmere where I used to spend 5 weeks during the summer. How lovely were certains girls on the staff.
Awaiting your reply and as many souvenirs as you can.
I'm still surprised that this good time is not reported in a website "the old friends of the CHA" to which we owe so much...!!!

S4r4h

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #8 on: 09:33:57, 30/06/19 »
Morning! I’ve just found a wonderful photograph album at my late fathers house of a walking group at the CHA BORROWDALE CENTRE dated 1941..


I can’t bear to throw them away, and was just interested to see whether anyone knew of a website dedicated to the friends of CHA over the years that could document such photographs.  The photos appear to be taken by J C Flemons (Notts)


I know it’s a long shot but I’m trying!!

barewirewalker

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3079
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #9 on: 10:07:36, 30/06/19 »
Interesting read. I was fortunate to be offered a chance to do a walk leaders assessment with HF holidays, it was great fun and I learnt a lot about walking holidays old and new. Why they offered me the chance mystifies me because at the age I was I could hardly have been a long term prospect. Eternally grateful for a great few days being put through our paces in the Howgills.
I don't think I failed miserably, my tendency wander of the righteous way was noted.  :o
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

vghikers

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 948
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #10 on: 10:15:54, 30/06/19 »
Another CHA website, assuming it's the same crew, they have some old stuff there.

Pauline13a

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #11 on: 18:10:58, 20/08/19 »
We used to go on CHA holidays.  For a few years, my parents Jean and Bill Gaskill were hosts.  I know we stayed at Barmouth, Hindhead, Whitby and Cromer but now I’m walking the Wainwrights, and it set me thinking about the walks we did from our holidays in Ambleside and Stanley Ghyll House in Eskdale.  Is there an archive anywhere, or might anyone even remember?





sunnydale

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8696
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #12 on: 16:23:19, 28/08/19 »
Gosh....I'm digging around in my memory banks now but I'm pretty sure I remember something about CHA. Am I even old enough?? :-\  Hmmm.....
***Happiness is only a smile away***

J David Wright

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #13 on: 22:09:47, 06/10/19 »
My father, Frank Wright, became Assistant General Secretary of CHA in perhaps 1938. He subsequently became General Secretary in 1949, taking over from Donald Shilton, ( a stand up guy). During WW2 the CHA, (or, perhaps, the HQ), took on the running of accommodation camps of workers who were involved in the production of war materials. I remember going to ‘Little London’, near Warrington, to a wonderful concert, at which stars of the radio, ( no TV then), enthralled the audience.
As nobbut a lad, I was enamoured of holidays in Loughbrig Brow , Forest Side, Glaramara, Eskdale, Rhu, Kinfauns Castle, Hope, Whitby, Bolton Abbey - anyone remember that?, and many others.
As a result of my experiences in the ‘hospitality industry’ - even though ‘twas at a fairly low key level - I’ve forged a successful career in that area.
What does slightly annoy me, is that - I believe - by the time my father retired the 36 guest houses owned by the CHA were all held Freehold! Since then the CHA has gone to hell in a handcart.
Was in Forest Side recently: stunning place; can’t blame the new owners, (similarar to Fowey), but, oh dear, it ain’t the same as afore.
C’est la vie, I suppose..

TJ

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: CHA memories, anybody?
« Reply #14 on: 07:32:55, 10/10/19 »
What happy memories CHA & HF holidays have for me - I was brought up on them - every year we went to a different place in the UK - my favourite was Kinfauns Castle up in Scotland, now a private home I believe.   I got sunstroke on the Isle of Wight in '76 at Freshwater Bay and loved the rolling sands up at Alnmouth.  What a wonder way to see our lovely countryside - I especially remember in the evenings after dinner there were activities such as country dancing and every Thursday night there was a concert in which you could perform your party piece.   The walks were always so beautifully organised, even in the rain which was quite often as I remember, and I loved the packed lunches.  I don't do much walking now as I have a knee injury but I'm sure all that fresh air and exercise in my youth stood me in good stead!  Tullia