By Ursula Whitehead
To celebrate our Silver Wedding anniversary we decided, now that we belong to the "gammy-knee" brigade, that we would try a cross-country ski holiday in Switzerland. We chose to travel (from Manchester) with Waymark Holidays (which we would recommend) to S'chanf, a delightful small village at a height of nearly 1700 m in the Upper Engadine. Although we have done quite a few years of downhill skiing this was a long time ago and we therefore opted to go on a beginners course - we didn't fancy too much uphill work!
At Zurich we met our leaders, a Swiss retired schoolteacher and his English wife, and the other party members who had flown from London, and then had a wonderful 4 hour train journey, a large part of which was on the Glacier Express route.
Our first morning was spent getting use to the feel of the cross country skis, and this was followed by a straightforward "plod" skiing along the prepared tracks to other villages in the valley. Thereafter we travelled around the area quite a lot, taking the train to different starting points, and visited Val Bever, Pontresina/Val Rosegg/ the Morteratsch glacier, etc., Our knees coped well but the shoulders were a bit sore at first!
Yes, it was a completely different ski holiday, and yes, there were things we missed from a "downhill" holiday, such as the views from the top of the lifts, etc., and the exhilaration of skiing back down. However, the advantages which we did enjoy were getting away from the rat race of lift queues, and having time to enjoy the peace and quiet and the beauty of the area as we skied. Yes, we would love to go there again.