On Tuesday 17 May, Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre and Conferencing hosted 80 staff, family and friends for the first ‘community paddle’ evening on the riverfront.
Bisham Abbey staff member Alona, connected with local families, many hosting Ukrainian refugees and approximately 20 families gathered on the lawn to share the river front activities provided free of charge by Boat Rental Thames.
Bisham Abbey’s manager James Ewart commented, “We wanted to showcase to our staff and local community the wonderful riverfront we have here at Bisham Abbey. Boat Rental Thames offer all sorts of activities to help people to experience the river, be it on a paddle board, kayak or electric boat. Many of our staff haven’t had the chance to try these and to have so many local Ukrainian families join us as well made for a very special evening in the sunshine.”
Guy Fisher, Owner & MD of Boat Rental Thames added, “we expected to be hosting staff and their families and were absolutely delighted that so many local families supported the evening by bringing their Ukrainian guests. It was a real pleasure to show everyone all of our river craft, the new water bikes were a big hit and the younger family members were able to take a trip out on our skippered electric boats.”
The evening saw over 50 people take a boat of some kind on the river, over 80 guests shared the BBQ and drinks organised by Bisham Abbey on the lawn.
Local boy Walter, was delighted to be gifted this Boat Rental Thames t shirt, the Ukrainian family who are being hosted by the boys family, insisted he be given it for their kindness!
Located between 1,200 and 3,200 meters above sea level, the Vallée des Belleville with its flower filled meadows rises up to snow-capped peaks, from the authentic village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville to the lakes of Les Menuires, the green meadows give way to the blue colours of the glaciers and the peaks of Val Thorens.
Discover these three unique and contrasting areas via the free shuttle buses and lifts accessible to all, making trips between each resort extremely easy. Explore the valley by its many trail paths or by a mountain bike – find the secret valleys of Deux Nants and Les Encombres or discover the Belleville traditions.
The new Pointe de la Masse cable car is 3,318m long and covers a height gain of 1,050m at a speed of 7m/s or more than 25km/h. It is one of the longest in the Vallée des Belleville, but also one of the fastest in France and only the second one of its kind in the country. Hikers can go up to the top in less than 8 minutes and enjoy incredible views and hikes. Open from 9th July 2022
New eMTB bike track – ‘Via 3 Vallees’
This new cycling track is 34 km long and is asphalted from Courchevel to Val Thorens, passing by Méribel and Les Menuires. It’s both accessible to families on electric bikes and other riders on normal mountain bikes. It is dedicated to cyclists and stays away from hiking paths. One section is still to be completed, this new track opens for summer 2022 for bikers to experience the ‘Via 3 Vallees’. The whole valley offers 260km of bike tracks, with a new training area at La Croisette, ‘The Ludizone’ in Les Menuires.
Explore Vallee des Encombres
Relatively unknown, the Vallée des Encombres is accessible by mountain bike or on foot solo or with a guide. When leaving Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, head towards the Châtelard hamlet, with its tiny, winding alleys and renovated chalets. Stop at the Gittamelon refuge in the hamlet at 1700m, this family chalet turned refuge is one of the last private refuges in the Alps. A typical mountain hut, it sleeps 18 and belonged to the grand-parents of Marc Jay, the current guardian who has run it along with his wife Anne-Sophie since 1993. The last ascent leads to the summit of the Col des Encombres at 2,325m with 360° views of the Ecrins massif and the high summits of the Vanoise National Park.
Tarentaise Baroque Music Festival at La Bouitte in Saint Martin de Belleville
La Bouitte – a 3 Michelin star Belleville restaurant, hosts the 31st edition of the Tarentaise Baroque Music Festival. The Vallée des Belleville is a hotspot for alpine baroque architecture – with 36 chapels and churches -enjoy a Michelin-starred dinner accompanied by music performed by soprano, Maria Cristina Kiehr, and harpsichordist Jean-Marc Aymes from Concerto Soave. Chefs René and Maxime Meilleur have a great rapport with the musicians who will taste each dish a few minutes before the guests, and then play music which takes into account the emotions that the food evokes. It is a true musical, culinary and wine focused experience.
Glacier hike and the Three Lakes circuit
From the top of the new La Masse lift, after a fast eight minute ascent to 2,804m enjoy a 3hr 30 descent, via the Three Lakes Circuit taking in the Longet Lake, Black Lake and Crintalia Lake. From the heart of the Vallée des Belleville, you are surrounded by majestic alpine peaks that are reflected in roughly 15 mountain lakes spread out in this exceptional area. Enjoy breathtaking scenery in the Lou Valley. Or take a guided day walk above Val Thorens to the Chavière glacier.
Kilbert Silvestre and the Black Honey Bee
Born in the Vallée des Belleville, Kilbert is a mountain guide and ski patrol member in winter and has been a beekeeper in La Biellaz since 2006. His grandparents already had beehives in Saint Marcel when he was just a boy, so the interest came naturally. He has been fighting to protect the black bee in Savoie. It is now threatened by hybridisation waves, a phenomenon that makes bees more fragile and less resistant. He also owns a hundred production beehives in the Vallée des Belleville and participates in a project to breed queens which allows him to give local beekeepers in the valley an isolated strain of black bees. The beehives are kept with respect to the bee’s life, so the honey is harvested with care and sold in shops of the actual producers and in local Vallée des Belleville markets. You can visit his “honey house” in la Biellaz with the Bureau des Guides.
Key Diary Dates:
Every Monday: Solar workshops at the top of the Cime du Caron at 3200m
1-3 July 2022: Ultra Cycling Tour de la Vanoise – Team or solo long distance cycling event
16 July 2022: Craft Beer Festival, Saint Martin de Belleville
28 July 2022: Dinner & Concert at La Bouitte, Saint Martin de Belleville
30 July & 20 August The Tougnete Climb – depart Croisette @1800m to bike to 2304m
5-7 August 2022: Val Tho Summit Games: Trail Running for all ages, Val Thorens
Four fantastic bike and run events kick off Summer 2022 in Val Gardena – with its three main villages – Ortisei (1,236 m), Santa Cristina (1,428 m) and Selva di Val Gardena (1,563 m) in the heart of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 600km of bike trails.
11th June 2022: Sellaronda Bike Day & the Dolomites Saslong Half Marathon
The Sellaronda Bike day is a celebration of everything cycling as the roads on the Sellaronda will be closed to cars, allowing cyclists to take over.
The whole event boasts 53 km, while a 1,600 m elevation gain awaits those willing to complete the whole distance. Cyclists of all ages and levels will have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful, free to attend, cycling tour featuring unique views on traffic-free roads, as the Sellaronda and its passes around the Sella Group will be closed to cars. The second date of the summer Sellaronda Bike day is 17th September 2022.
On foot, the Saslong Half Marathon takes place on the same day. For experienced runners this route, stretches from its start point at Monte Pana, extending between 1624 and 2363 m, with 900 m elevation. After reaching the Comici Hut the athletes will run across the City of Rocks to Passo Sella boasting a breathtaking view across the Marmolada. The asphalt-free trail winds its way across an environmentally protected area.
18th June: HERO Südtirol Dolomites
The HERO Südtirol Dolomites in Selva Val Gardena represents one of the hardest mountain bike events for amateurs and professional cyclists. The competition is spectacular and a great opportunity for international professional athletes and ambitious amateur cyclists to come together, allowing them to pursue the same dream: race and conquer one of the two demanding distances. All participants can choose between two distances stretching around the Passo Sella and Sassolungo:
The classic distance comprises 60 km and 3,200 m elevation gain.
The marathon distance boasts 86 km and a total of 4,500 m elevation gain.
Selva Val Gardena represents both the start and the end of the HERO Dolomites. Both the classic and marathon edition will take participants around the Passo Sella at the feet of the legendary skiing carousel, the Sellaronda. The day before the HERO Südtirol Dolomites, children can take part in the “HERO Kids” – starts in Selva Val Gardena and is a great event for younger cycling fans that will put their skills to the test in a friendly ‘competition’ where all that matters is having fun on two wheels.
25th June: NEW Val Gardena Family Bike Day
Part of the “Respect the Dolomites” projects, the first edition of the Val Gardena Family Bike Day will be held on Saturday, 25th June 2022. A day dedicated to cycling, explore Val Gardena in a green and sustainable way on two wheels. The route starts from Ortisei and takes you to Plan, in Selva Val Gardena, cutting across picturesque S. Cristina. The itinerary features different check points and sightseeing highlights, as well as spots where you can refill your water bottle and tank up on energy with a quick snack. Collect stamps at the checkpoints and sightseeing spots – only three required – to receive a small treat at the end of the itinerary.
with “Accueil Velo” – Cyclists Welcome – accreditation
OVO Network, chalet rental specialists in the French Alps, is increasing the number of its chalets that have the Accueil Vélo (cyclists welcome) accreditation.
Aside from skiing, the French Alps are renowned for their amazing cycling routes and events; biking enthusiasts will find no end of adventure for both road cycling and mountain biking, with challenging climbs, great views, and flatter valleys for all abilities.
Tim Andrews, founder of OVO Network comments, “The number of cyclists coming to the Alps continues to grow each year. The chance to cycle some of the famous cols and to follow in the tracks of the Tour de France are a major attraction for road bikers.
“But what these cyclists also want is a comfortable base to return to after a long day in the saddle. That’s where our chalets are proving very popular. Many are well equipped for cyclists, with secure storage, cleaning facilities, bike repair areas and extras such as hot tubs and saunas to help ease tired muscles.”
In response to the growing demand for high end cycling chalets, OVO Network is working with its chalet owners to help more properties gain the Accueil Vélo (cyclists welcome) accreditation. To achieve this, chalets must pass several checks, such as proximity to cycling routes and secure bike storage, which many OVO Network properties already have.
Andrews adds, “Accueil Vélo is aiming to help France become the world’s top destination for cycling tourism by 2030. We want to support this by encouraging our owners to apply for the accreditation. According to YouGov, 1 in 5 UK adults watched the Tour de France in 2021, so we know the demand for accommodation suitable for cyclists is there.”
OVO Network works closely with all its property owners to help them to maximise the potential of their chalets. With a strong demand from cyclists, chalet owners have increased occupancy rates, especially for the low seasons of spring and autumn shoulder seasons when cycling is at its best.
Upcoming cycling events in the French Alps include:
5-12 June: The Criterium du Dauphine [stage 8 passes through Thones & Le Grand Bornand where OVO Network properties are located]
11-12 June: Le Belier NEW Mountain bike event in La Clusaz
10-12 July: Tour de France [stage 9 Chatel, stage 10 Morzine – Megeve where OVO Network properties are located]
The following chalets are ideal for cyclists and/or already offer Accueil Vélo accreditation:
* Chalet Crechoua in La Giettaz – A new five bedroom, five bathroom chalet set in the pretty mountain resort of La Giettaz with easy access to fantastic cycling, including the famed Col des Aravis. The chalet has bike storage, an electric bike charger, a hot tub and a sauna, as well as Cool for Kids Extra facilities such as swings and table tennis. 7-nights rental from €1990.
* ChaletsCaramel & Nougat in Manigod – These two luxury chalets have everything a cyclist could want and have the Accueil Vélo accreditation. Set just off the famed Col de la Croix Fry, which is regularly part of the Tour de France, there’s great cycling on the doorstep. The two chalets share an indoor pool, with both having a hot tub, and Caramel also having a home cinema. 7-nights rental from €3090.
*ChaletsMacaron and Meringue in Le Grand Bornand Chinaillon – Le Grand Bornand is regularly a stage finishing point in the Tour de France, and these two designer chalets have the Accueil Vélo accreditation. Semi-detached, making them a great option if you’re holidaying as a large group, each has its own hot tub, secure bike storage, and easy access to world-class cycling. 7-nights rental from €1690 for Macaron and from €2490 for Meringue.
Nickie Mabey, Founder and owner of adventure ski specialist Mabey Ski (www.mabeyski.com), has become an ambassador of the charity, The Skiers Trust.
For over fifty years the Skiers Trust has been empowering young people, helping them to thrive and reach their potential through snowsports. It gives a life chance to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, with physical disabilities or with special educational needs, such as autism and down’s syndrome, whilst supporting the next generation of British competitors to develop so that they can compete internationally and at the Olympics.
The Penny Mabey Fund, part of the funds allocated to these young people by The Skiers Trust, was established in 1990 by a major donation from Penny Mabey (1923-2002), Nickie Mabey’s Grandmother. Penny was an active member of the Ladies’ Ski Club and had a lifelong passion for skiing, given to her by her mother and which she passed on to all members of her family.
Nickie Mabey comments, “My family has this incredible, historical connection to The Skiers Trust and whilst researching my family’s skiing history, I wanted to make sure the Trust and our family connection with the charity continues. We are a family of passionate skiers and whilst many of the family went down the ski racing line, I found myself escaping the crowds, skinning up remote mountains and exploring off-the-beaten-track ski destinations. This love for discovering new places like a local was behind me setting up Mabey Ski in 2017, and now as an ambassador for The Skiers Trust, I am looking to help the charity grow to keep supporting upcoming young skiers.”
David Budge, Chairman of the Skiers Trust adds, “We are delighted that Nickie Mabey has agreed to come on board and work with us to take the Skiers Trust forward in our mission to help young people.”
Nickie Mabey’s family have been skiing since 1912. Her great-grandmother Dorothy was one of the British pioneers of skiing, spending winters in Switzerland, learning to ski in long woollen skirts on 230cm wooden skis. Nickie’s grandmother, Penny, was unsurprisingly a natural skier. Tackling the slopes without gloves or a hat (let alone a helmet) she learnt to ski on the slopes of Murren, skiing on old wooden skis, which eco-conscious Grandpa Bevil would then cut down to size for daughters Biddy and Isy. Nickie’s father and five aunties progressed from ski school to trainees, two of whom made the British Ski Team. After competing at the FIS World Cup, Nickie’s auntie Isy, became the first ever female racer to be selected by BUSC in 1972, breaking a 47-year tradition.
The Penny Mabey Fund is given as a single award and is presented to a young amateur female skier who shows exceptional commitment and drive to become an international skiing competitor. Nomination for the award is made by the Ladies’ Ski Club. Recent awards have been given to members of the GB Snowsports Alpine World Cup and Europa Cup squads including current Alpine ski racers Alex Tilly ,Charlie Guest and Telemark athlete Jasmin Taylor.
Mabey Ski creates out-of-the-ordinary ski adventures across the globe that push boundaries and challenge the conventional. Mabey Ski is a British-owned adventure ski specialist based in Whistler on a mission to conquer every continent. Founded by Nickie Mabey, whose family have been ski pioneers for over a century, skiing is more than just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle that has led her to ski peaks less tracked, explore remote regions, and create unforgettable ski adventures not found anywhere else. Find out more about Mabey Ski and its unique trips at mabeyski.com.
ABOUT SKIERS TRUST
The Skiers Trust is the UK’s oldest and widest reaching national snowsports charity for young people. It was created in 1966 to be the formal charity element of the triumvirate of British Snowsports alongside the National Ski Federation (now GB Snowsport) and the Ski Club of Great Britain. It was established by a core group of National Ski Federation and Ski Club members guided by Sir John Hunt who had been the first Director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which he played a major part in devising and led for its first ten years. Sir John Hunt is internationally renowned for having led the first successful Everest expedition in 1953.
Today it supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who couldn’t otherwise access snowsports. It operates a Pool of Talent to recognise up and coming talented young competitors and has supported four of the current six person GB Snowsports World Cup Squad over recent years. It supports activities at UK dry ski slopes, snowdomes and ski resorts across Europe. The Penny Mabey Fund is a Foundation Fund operated by The Skiers Trust. Its aims are to support young female ski racers.