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Are you planning on venturing abroad yet?

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 john arran 13 Sep 2021

Just finished bolting my latest sectorette (5 minutes walk from the house - 5 long single-pitch routes from 5c+ to 6b) and I got to wondering how long it's likely to be before we start seeing visitors from beyond France in any real numbers. We've been very busy with French visitors for most of this year, which of course is great, and the multiple local crags I've developed seem to have become some of the most popular in Ariège (probably largely due to them being just a few minutes from the road!), but international visitors have been notably rare. We've had quite a number of Spanish climbers here, and a few other nationalities, but we're only just now beginning to see UK climbers take advantage of the typically perfect Autumn conditions.

If you're the kind of climber who might usually be tempted by an autumn sun-rock trip but who isn't doing so this year, what is the biggest reason? Presumably covid is a big factor, with uncertainty about testing/certification an understandable concern (although it's now got to the point where it seems pretty easy and cheap to tick the required test boxes, particularly if you're vaxed, as I presume most climbers are by now, and most UK vaccine certificates are recognised by the French 'passe sanitaire' app - the covid passport that's doing such a good job in keeping infection rates down in France.) Presumably people aren't deterred by covid infection rates in France, being very much lower than in the UK. Are many people put off by a perceived need to fly, or is the existence of an efficient train service right across France well known by now?

All thoughts and opinions welcome.

 The Pylon King 13 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

I reckon the climate crisis is a bit more important than covid and its probasbly a good idea if people start changing their habits with flying everywhere at a drop of a hat.

In reply to john arran:

We are off to Mallorca a week on Sunday for a friends wedding. Been booked for a long time. I feel like I need the holiday and am looking forward to going, but if it hadn’t been booked, we probably would have waited until the spring.

Just the extra hassle and cost really, plus I am now slightly paranoid about catching it either in the next couple of weeks and not being able to go or catching it out there and being stuck there.

 Doug 13 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

I was in our local supermarket this morning where there was a group of maybe 5 or 6 British bikers, probably in their 50s & I guess on holiday. If British tourists are making it to the Champsaur I'm sure they'll soon be in the Ariege.

In reply to john arran:

I think it's getting easier, but it has seemed unreasonably difficult over the summer to work out what you need to do get out of the UK and back in again, to/from France or wherever. The rules kept changing so quickly. For France, the biggy was the the need to quarantine on arriving and then again on the way back. That must have put off almost everybody, even people like me, who had to balance the need to visit elderly relatives (my mum) with the demands of a UK job.

When the need to quarantine in France relaxed I decided to go, but it still wasn't clear what I had to do, plus there was the additional cost of tests. I paid £200 for testing just me, part of which proved unnecessary since the need to quarantine on the way back was removed when I was over there. I read dire warnings of fines if I hadn't got the right paperwork, or even of being turned back at the port.

In the event, getting through the ports was easy, and now I think only two tests are necessary, for a total of £100 or so per person. Even that must be a deterrent for many, however, and I am not surprised if you've seen a downturn in visitors from the UK.

In reply to john arran:

Can't be bothered going abroad until at least next year, all the COVID stuff is a faff and is likely to get worse before it gets better as Europe heads into winter.

 spenser 13 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Can't be bothered with the grief associated with travelling abroad yet. Will probably go abroad by train/ ferry sometime next year for a cycling trip.

 Enty 13 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

We've had British cyclists booked in here since France was taken from amber+ to amber and quarantine restrictions were lifted. Basically all the postponements since March 2020 now desperate for some sunny riding.
Got Brit cyclists booked in until end of October and hoping to get climbers in for November now our two new gites are fully up and running.

E

 ChrisJD 13 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Some of us have already been to France this summer:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/destinations/eurotunnel_for_france_and_back-738785

(and it was great)

Post edited at 21:31
 alex 13 Sep 2021

In reply to…

Just back from France. It’s super easy to go there and just a few tests to book on the way back.

So, maybe it’s the fact that Ariage 6as are totally nails… get some holiday grades lined up! 

 The Grist 13 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

I have just got back from a week mountain biking in France. It was a fantastic trip. I had to do a lateral flow test at a local pharmacy and provide a negative test to come home. It cost €25 which was fine and the result was negative. However, what if it was positive? That is the real risk to travellers. It was stressful as if it was positive it would have affected my work, family and those I went on the trip with. I am unsure what would have actually happened but it would have had quite significant financial implications. This is the risk that most people want to avoid. 
I actually booked the trip last December well before all these rules and tests came into place. I would be hesitant to book now with them in place. 

In reply to john arran:

I so want to go to France... but not yet. Going abroad anywhere feels like there is too much risk of unforeseen rule changes that could leave me stuck somewhere.

When I do go to France or Spain, I want to go by train. There has been, and still is,  too much flying.

 john arran 13 Sep 2021
In reply to alex:

> get some holiday grades lined up! 

Sorry, did I say my new sector had grades from 5c+ to 6b? Of course I meant 6a+ to 6c 😉

 AlanLittle 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

> Are many people put off by a perceived need to fly, or is the existence of an efficient train service right across France well known by now?

Not a UK resident, but on a slightly related note I did make a token attempt to look at rail connections from Munich to Athens for a November trip to Leonidio, before giving up & booking a flight.

I'm sure railway lines must exist the whole way, but neither the Deutsche Bahn nor Greek rail was willing to admit to a connecting service or sell me a ticket.

Post edited at 07:20
 The Norris 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

It sounds easy if all tests come back negative, but presumably if you get a positive test before you go it'll need to be cancelled and a pita insurance claim. Same issue if you catch it abroad I guess. It effectively means I'd have to self isolate in the week or 2 before going, which, working in a hospital, isnt going to happen.

So based on that it's going to be small weekend trips in the uk that arent a big deal if they get cancelled for the foreseeable. 

 Forest Dump 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Got smashed in the pub on saturday, felt bold and adventurous. Going to hold off til Spring for a proper holiday

In reply to john arran:

I think folk will travel if it wasn't for the inconsistent messaging on covid rules, disorganised airports and the risk that the rules in either country might change whilst you are away. 

I was away recently, work not pleasure, but had to live in a bubble because if I tested positive my trip would suddenly extend by two weeks. Most people can't risk a 1 week climbing trip, that could suddenly become 3 weeks off work. 

 yorkshireman 14 Sep 2021
In reply to johnarran

I live in the Vercors and have noticed a few more UK number plates driving around but most of the foreign vehicles are Dutch or Belgian and my two neighbours who each run gites, have had a bumper summer of bookings but only French visitors.

I was up in Chamonix a couple of weeks ago for the UTMB and was amazed by the number of UK number plates around. A fair number of my French friends have holidayed abroad, but not far, eg Corsica (ok not abroad), Sardinia, Italy, Switzerland but it's much easier to move across the internal EU borders.

In reply to AlanLittle:

> Not a UK resident, but on a slightly related note I did make a token attempt to look at rail connections from Munich to Athens for a November trip to Leonidio, before giving up & booking a flight.

To be fair that's a bit more of an epic trip complicated by potential multiple border crossings and disjointed rail networks. France is a lot simpler for UK residents, especially in the south of UK. Eurostar are going to be relaunching their direct service to Bourg St Maurice for the ski season this coming winter.

I'm traveling back to East Yorkshire on Thursday (sick family, not a holiday) from Grenoble and am getting the TGV to Paris and will connect with the Eurostar to London. It takes longer and is a bit more expensive but firstly I wanted to avoid flying, and with WIFI on the trains (although BA have wifi on their flights now) and not spending most of my time faffing boarding/security etc I could actually get some work done on the journey. Treated myself to first class as well mainly as TGV and Eurostar have a 2:1 seat configuration in first so I could avoid being sat next to anyone to reduce any Covid transmission risk.

Anyway, the train is definitely a viable alternative to Grenoble which then gives you easy access to a lot of the Alps.

 AlanLittle 14 Sep 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

>> Not a UK resident, but on a slightly related note I did make a token attempt to look at rail connections from Munich to Athens for a November trip to Leonidio, before giving up & booking a flight.

> To be fair that's a bit more of an epic trip complicated by potential multiple border crossings and disjointed rail networks. France is a lot simpler for UK residents, especially in the south of UK. Eurostar are going to be relaunching their direct service to Bourg St Maurice for the ski season this coming winter.

Indeed, but it does illustrate the point that for rail to become a serious alternative to short haul flights for anything broader than just UK-France, governments are going to have to put considerable pressure on national rail companies to think cross border. They have no incentive to do it on their own initiative.

Rail connections from Germany to most of the old Austro-Hungarian empire are actually ok, which makes sense considering when the railways were built. It's beyond that that things get complicated.

 Doug 14 Sep 2021
In reply to AlanLittle:

I wonder if international train travel, or at least booking a journey, has got worse over the years - I still remember going to a local travel agent to book London to Sion (Switzerland) including a cross channel crossing in 1976. Took about 5 minutes for the travel agent to check trains & issue the tickets & as it was some form of student deal, it was pretty cheap.

 AlanLittle 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Doug:

Yeah, I saw that a Munich-Athens express used to exist too. Probably killed off by the advent of affordable flights.

 colinakmc 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

A few of our club members are booked for Kalymnos; not really my thing, I like tall & snowy….but despite being at an age when I’ve not got many more Alpine seasons in front of me (if any) I don’t fancy foreign travel this year. We’ll see about next year.

Ive been looking at Switzerland by train and somehow the costs are starting to look ok compared with flying, so that’ll be my preference. Next year hopefully.

 john arran 14 Sep 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

>  my two neighbours who each run gites, have had a bumper summer of bookings but only French visitors.

Same here, at least 95% French, although it is slowly starting to change now. We have climbers coming from the UK again for the best October conditions, and we haven't seen that for two years.

> I was up in Chamonix a couple of weeks ago for the UTMB and was amazed by the number of UK number plates around.

I suspect a lot of those cars will belong to Brits who are living in the area. I was up there last summer, when international travel was all but impossible, and I still saw what seemed like hundreds of UK plates.

>  France is a lot simpler for UK residents, especially in the south of UK. Eurostar are going to be relaunching their direct service to Bourg St Maurice for the ski season this coming winter.

> I'm traveling back to East Yorkshire on Thursday (sick family, not a holiday) from Grenoble and am getting the TGV to Paris and will connect with the Eurostar to London. It takes longer and is a bit more expensive but firstly I wanted to avoid flying, and with WIFI on the trains (although BA have wifi on their flights now) and not spending most of my time faffing boarding/security etc I could actually get some work done on the journey. Treated myself to first class as well mainly as TGV and Eurostar have a 2:1 seat configuration in first so I could avoid being sat next to anyone to reduce any Covid transmission risk.

> Anyway, the train is definitely a viable alternative to Grenoble which then gives you easy access to a lot of the Alps.

A lot of places in France are pretty easy (and quite cheap) to get to now by train from the UK. Most will need to change in Paris, as for here, but then there's a direct overnight service right into the Pyrenees that stops 4km from our house, currently only 40€!

 yorkshireman 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

> I suspect a lot of those cars will belong to Brits who are living in the area. I was up there last summer, when international travel was all but impossible, and I still saw what seemed like hundreds of UK plates.

That was my first thought too - along with the fact that they're legally obliged to register it with French plates if they're long term (more than six months) residents.

Great that you have the sleeper nearby as I heard it was threatened with the axe, it can be a good way to travel and I guess especially if you get a whole family or group of friends to a cabin. I used to live close to the Paris-Briançon line (nearest stop was Veynes, near Ceuse) and would occasionally get it up to our Paris office - run along the Seine with my backpack and get a shower at the office ready to start the day.

 Doug 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

40€ seems cheap, was more than that for Paris - Ax les Thermes 20 years ago. Unfortunately there's been no night train from Paris to Gap & Briançon for most of this year due to engineering works & its not scheduled to run again before December - last time my wife looked at the SNCF website for a possible trip to Paris it suggested a bus to Marseille then a TGV

 Doug 14 Sep 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

looks like we posted about the same line at the same time

 john arran 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Doug:

> 40€ seems cheap, was more than that for Paris - Ax les Thermes 20 years ago.

They're doing a lot more variable price ticketing nowadays - the Ryanair model I suppose - which means there are bargains to be had! 

 AlanLittle 14 Sep 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

> my two neighbours who each run gites, have had a bumper summer of bookings but only French visitors.

It's been difficult to find weekend B&B's in the Frankenjura this summer too - lots of Germans not holidaying abroad, plus quite a few campsites still closed because they don't have enough facilities to comply with distancing regulations

 AlanLittle 14 Sep 2021
In reply to colinakmc:

> A few of our club members are booked for Kalymnos

Is that the KMC as your username suggests? I wonder if anybody's going that I (used to) know. Was a member back in the early 90s.

 girlymonkey 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

I am wary of even going away in the UK, let alone go abroad anywhere!!

I was guiding in the North of Scotland last week and I was pretty worried about it. We traveled up by train, went on a coach tour of Orkney, ate in restaurants etc. I was testing daily (some clients in 70s, I couldn't risk spreading Covid to them if I contracted it) and still am now for going back to care home work later this week. I have to go in today and get a PCR before Thursday's shift. If I had tested positive when I was somewhere like Bettyhill, what would I have done? I didn't have a vehicle to drive myself home, and my clients would all have had to isolate too. I would then have had miss out on a couple of weeks of work once I had got through the faff of getting home. Then if my husband caught it from me, he'd be off work too. So that's both of us lost 2 weeks of income! It's one thing going through that risk for work (it is well paid work), but not for a holiday. 

We do have a week's holiday next week, but we will just pootle around Scotland in the van and do hills etc. We won't eat in restaurants or go to pubs etc.

I'm not worried about my own health if I catch it- I have faith that the vaccine will do it's job and keep it mild if I catch it, but don't want to lose out on income and can't put others at risk.

 colinakmc 14 Sep 2021
In reply to AlanLittle:

> Is that the KMC as your username suggests? I wonder if anybody's going that I (used to) know. Was a member back in the early 90s.

Sorry, my friend, the kmc is just the initials of my middle & last names. Very unimaginative I know….

 Jim Hamilton 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

You say the covid formalities seem pretty easy, but a contributor on the thread above said he needed a laptop and a stressful 3-4 hours on it to make the return arrangements.  Also as said, the consequences of catching Covid whilst on holiday would be a right PITA.

However I wonder whether this autumn is as good as any time to go, with travel rules possibly relaxed in October.  A winter wave lockdown might coincide with the skiing/ice climbing season and some new horror variant appear in time for next summer!

In reply to john arran:

Not is a rush to fly anywhere for a climbing trip as it is too much hassle.. May drive to a mate who lives in Provence for some sports climbing later in the year or in the Spring.

 ChrisJD 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> You say the covid formalities seem pretty easy, but a contributor on the thread above said he needed a laptop and a stressful 3-4 hours on it to make the return arrangements. 

Yes, that was me. Sorting everything on the way out and way back for two (double vaxxed) adults and two teenagers was pretty stressful and felt time consuming, mainly because of the unknown/first-time and the fear of finding out you'd done it wrong at the border etc!

Thankfully, turned out it was all simple at the (Eurotunnel) borders as we'd done it all right (... or they didn't check that well).

In reply to john arran:

I returned from a week in France on Saturday.

Travel is both easy and difficult. The covid restrictions slow things, airports aren't really equipped to check all the faffy documents efficiently so this slows things. Slow to the point that after queueing for 90 mins with little movement we had to barge to the front of the baggage drop queue to avoid missing our flight.

Testing prior to return proved difficult, our pre booked appointments were an hour late which ate into our climbing day.

Airports are stressful places at the best of times, add in Covid stuff and tempers get quite frayed.

Greece next month, I hope things have bedded in a bit more by then. 

 mutt 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> I returned from a week in France on Saturday.

> Greece next month, I hope things have bedded in a bit more by then. 

Please let me understand you. Surely you are aware of the climate crisis. How can you justify being one of the super polluters? I struggle to rationalize 1  flight per 3 years.  

In reply to mutt:

OK I will bite

It is only in recent years that I have been able to afford the luxury of flying. I already have 45 years of offsetting under my belt. Mostly when engines were less fuel efficient.

You make me feel like a hipster, I was offsetting before it was fashionable and when it was more effective.

I also spent 20years as a vegetablesbian. I have done my bit, time to enjoy the fruits of my labour. 

 mutt 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

You have disarmed me. I was going to point out that offsetting doesn't help as it takes 30 years for the CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere by tree planting by which time we will be properly fcked. But you appear to be ahead of the game. 

Having said that I  am vegetarian, cyclist, and home generator of sustainable power and I still can't get used to the idea of becoming part of the problem wrt avoidable damage from flying when other transport options are available. I wish I was able to rest on my laurels.

It's fairness that troubles me. A 400 quid flight to the US passes down costs of 3000 quid to our children in  cleanup.

 robhorton 14 Sep 2021
In reply to The Grist:

> However, what if it was positive?

That's my biggest concern - especially if camping, where on earth would you go? It would probably be manageable in a hotel / self catering, particularly if you had a laptop and were able to work remotely but it would still be a massive hassle.

Hopefully next year...

 john arran 14 Sep 2021
In reply to robhorton:

> That's my biggest concern - especially if camping, where on earth would you go? It would probably be manageable in a hotel / self catering, particularly if you had a laptop and were able to work remotely but it would still be a massive hassle.

That seems to be the most pressing concern that people have right now, which is understandable. But of course if the alternative is going somewhere within the UK, your chances of catching covid are currently around 3.5 times higher than going to France!


In reply to john arran:

Currently in Annecy, France, heading home tomorrow via TGV and Eurostar. Had a great week walking in the Vanoise from Landry to Modane. Most places will check your health pass before allowing you in, which is reassuring, not so good was that a few of the refuges did not check and everyone was in the one room as it seems many had closed off some accommodation (neat end of the season?). Anyway I had my test yesterday and it was negative, so relieved!

 owlart 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Abroad? I'm barely venturing out my front door except for work and shopping when really necessary.

 Paul16 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Hi John. We're coming out to your place the first week in October from the UK. Our reasoning for the timing is that it's probably the best window of opportunity in terms of Covid. Factors for this include:

1. Winter might see numbers climbing again, which means it could be spring before we stand a chance of getting away again. That's without a variant that shuts us all down for months.

2. We avoid the summer because places are too busy, it's too hot and prices of most things double.

3. International travel was not really possible in the spring.

So early autumn it is.

We're driving, so reducing chances of exposure and also because driving is great. Even without considering the environmental impact of flying it's dull and stressful. By driving we can stop anytime for an awful French coffee

See you in a couple of weeks!

 Fiona Reid 14 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

We'd normally have been in the Alps in the summer and an autumn trip to the Ariege or Kalymnos too. This year just seemed too uncertain thus we opted to stay in the UK and holiday there instead.

I do very much hope to travel next year but likely won't book until I've seen what autumn and winter brings. The tests and ever changing rules are pretty off putting along with most insurers excluding anything related to covid which means you need to try to get for fully refundable/ changeable tickets, accommodation etc.

Don't suppose anyone knows if the new Scottish certificates work in France? The original ones didn't have QR codes but from last Friday they have the codes. 

 CPH 15 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

If you were on holiday in France currently and received a positive Covid 19 test result before planning to travel back to the UK what do you have to do? Googling was to no avail!

Have you a link to the current french regulations?

Thanks 

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to The Norris:

> ... It effectively means I'd have to self isolate in the week or 2 before going, which, working in a hospital, isnt going to happen.

It's not that simple. Given the current low infection rates, an asymptomatic positive LFT result is more likely to be a 'false positive' (you don't have covid, but the test gave the wrong result) than a true positive (you have covid). That's fine from a reducing-spread-of-covid perspective, but it also means that self-isolating beforehand doesn't materially affect the probability of getting the dreaded positive result.

In reply to Marek:

> It's not that simple. Given the current low infection rates

WTF? Where are you talking about??

>, an asymptomatic positive LFT result is more likely to be a 'false positive' (you don't have covid, but the test gave the wrong result) than a true positive (you have covid).

This is complete crap I'm afraid. It starts to become arguable when cases in the community are down around the 1 in 180 people mark, but we're currently around 1 in 70, so absolutely not. Using sensitivity 0.5, specificity 0.997 and prevalence of 0.0142 (1 in 70), a positive LFT currently has about a 70% chance of being correct.

 john arran 15 Sep 2021
In reply to CPH:

> If you were on holiday in France currently and received a positive Covid 19 test result before planning to travel back to the UK what do you have to do? Googling was to no avail!

> Have you a link to the current french regulations?

I've just had a look, and advice specific to non-residents in France doesn't seem to exist. However, the advice for French nationals testing positive in other countries is to follow the requirements of the country they are in, so presumably that will be the case for France too.

If you test positive by PCR, the advice is to isolate for 10 days and to supply info about people who you have been in close contact with. It's explained in detail here: https://www.ameli.fr/assure/covid-19/tester-alerter-proteger-comprendre-la-strategie-pour-stopper-lepidemie/les-tests-de-depistage-de-la-covid-19/en-cas-de-test-positif-la-covid-19

I haven't found anything to suggest you wouldn't be able to stay isolated in a holiday apartment. And speaking personally, I know we would be extremely supportive were this to happen to any of our guests, by way of hugely discounted accommodation wherever possible, to try to minimise any impact on all concerned.

In reply to john arran:

I'm keen to head abroad, but as a family of 4 the rules seem confusing.  Wife and I are double vaccinated but the kids aren't (too young).  This means our daughters don't qualify for some of the relaxed restrictions, and if we all need multiple tests costs start racking up.  I'm hoping we'll be able to go skiing, but haven't booked anything yet, trying to decide between Feb half term and Easter.

We have an annex on our house which we rent out as a holiday let (south Shropshire).   We're still busy and I think we'll be near-fully booked October/November.  This is a significant change from previous years, I assume that people are staying in the UK rather than going abroad, with autumn numbers swelled by people who couldn't find any available accommodation during the UK summer  We've never had a significant number of international visitors, so travel restrictions don't really affect our bookings.

Came to your place for our honeymoon about 13 years ago.  Was great then, sounds even better now, highly recommended if people are looking for somewhere friendly to stay with great climbing all around.

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> WTF? Where are you talking about??

> This is complete crap I'm afraid. It starts to become arguable when cases in the community are down around the 1 in 180 people mark, but we're currently around 1 in 70, so absolutely not. Using sensitivity 0.5, specificity 0.997 and prevalence of 0.0142 (1 in 70), a positive LFT currently has about a 70% chance of being correct.

No, it's not crap. The numbers vary week by week (I got mine a few weeks ago from a BMJ report, which also makes the point that national statistics on covid prevalence are unreliable (at three significant figure as you quoted) because of false positives in LFT), but my point was that although self isolation significantly reduces your risk of getting covid, it's not an very effective method to avoid getting a positive LFT result (which was the OP assumption).

In reply to Marek:

"an asymptomatic positive LFT result is more likely to be a 'false positive'" is complete crap. There's no argument to be had.
The 1 in 70 comes from the ONS Infection Survey, which is completely unaffected by LFT false positives, because it doesn't use them.

 Offwidth 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

Don't you think it was possible to make your points politely to Marek given his posting history here?

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> "an asymptomatic positive LFT result is more likely to be a 'false positive'" is complete crap. There's no argument to be had.

> The 1 in 70 comes from the ONS Infection Survey, which is completely unaffected by LFT false positives, because it doesn't use them.

OK, I'm curious (seriously). The ONS survey tests for antibodies - i.e., it detects people who have had covid in the past. So the 1-in-70 figure is the number of people who have HAD covid (most have recovered), not the number of people who currently HAVE covid. Am I missing something?

In reply to Marek:

> Am I missing something?

They're primarily testing for infection, and also, separately, for antibodies.
The 1 in 70 is the number who would test positive for covid, i.e. 1 in 70 people had covid last week.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/10september2021

Not talking about antibodies; That's a different number reported elsewhere:
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveyantibodyandvaccinationdatafortheuk/latest

Post edited at 12:05
In reply to Offwidth:

I'm not familiar with the posting history of everyone on UKC. My post was about the content, not the person.
The content in this case was objectively complete crap. Solidly factually incorrect. Nothing against Marek at all. How would you prefer it to be worded?

In reply to john arran:

Font last month, Kalymnos next month, and penciled in Chorro for January. 

I'm making up for lost time, personally. 

Stings every time I hand £80 in testing fees to Hancocks dinner party mates, but not cost prohibitive enough to stop me travelling. 

For any businesses owners out there, who rely on climbing tourism.. I am only booking things that can be cancelled within 2 weeks of departure date, for free. I aim for 1 week, but will accept 2 weeks notice if there's not much else on offer. 

Might be a way to attract customers right now. I literally ignore any hotel/hostel/airbnb that doesn't offer that. I even pay a bit more, as long as the option to cancel is free. 

Disclaimer: I have never really taken much notice of COVID. I would have been travelling this entire time, if it was legal. I just had to wait for the legal quagmire to get sorted out. 

Post edited at 12:39
 ChrisJD 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> How would you prefer it to be worded?

As you asked ... perhaps just try and come across a bit nicer, else people could conclude you are just an armchair keyboard warrior ****** and then ignore your (valid) input.

In reply to ChrisJD:

Fair.
Also didn't mean to derail this thread. Back in box now.

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/10september2021

Thanks, interesting, However, they are based on unverified assumptions about the specificity (false positive rate) of the tests. There does appear to be a problem with lack of good quality data about the specificity of the PCR test. WHO and CDC have both expressed reservations about the lack of useful data - various trials have suggested figures of 2-3% in lab conditions and far higher in certain mismanaged cases. The reality seems to be that we don't actually know how the specificity compares with the true infection rate - they seem to be of the same order of magnitude - which means that you cannot rely on self-isolation to avoid getting a positive test result (my original point, before we got onto statistics-tennis).

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> I'm not familiar with the posting history of everyone on UKC. My post was about the content, not the person.

> The content in this case was objectively complete crap. Solidly factually incorrect. Nothing against Marek at all. How would you prefer it to be worded?

Just for the record, I'm not bothered (too much) about the 'wording'. I wouldn't even have noticed if we'd been in a pub. I'm more of a 'content' than presentation' person myself. Interesting - if slightly off topic - discussion.

 Vigier 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Fiona Reid:

I am currently in France.

Last week  I downloaded the QR code showing my vaccination status from the Scottish NHS portal and it did seem to be accepted by the French health app ( TousAntiCovid). Saying that, when presented for scanning, it was twice deemed ‘invalid’ by the places doing the scanning, so I don’t know what’s going on with it. We did manage to get into the places by showing our vaccination letters; however, it did involve a bit of explanation. An English friend had no problems with the English code being accepted. 

Since then we have applied and received a QR code from the French health system and that has worked for us.

Of course, the glitch with the Scottish code may now have been ironed out.

In reply to Marek:

Apologies again to everyone else for the divert. Skip on.

PCR specificity is known to be very high. It's been shown to detect old infection in some cases, which could be what you're reading into??
Need to be very clear whether talking LFD or PCR, but as far as LFD goes, if you lived in a bubble and definitely didn't have covid, you'd have about a 3 in 1000 chance of returning a +ve LFD.
If you lived a normal life like Mr Normal in the population the ONS is sampling from, and if I've done the maths right, at last week's rates of incidence you'd have about a 1 in 100 (total) chance of a +ve LFD, which would have a ~71% chance of being true +ve.

The original line I took issue with, about a +ve LFD being more likely to be wrong than right, only comes true for a much lower rate of incidence. By my maths, if the ONS was saying 1 in 180, then a +ve LFD would be as likely right as wrong. I.e. if you tested positive then, you'd have a 1 in 2 chance of having covid. Which still isn't great odds.

> Just for the record, I'm not bothered (too much) about the 'wording'. I wouldn't even have noticed if we'd been in a pub. I'm more of a 'content' than presentation' person myself. Interesting - if slightly off topic - discussion.

+1. Same goes. Tone gets lost too easily here.

 MischaHY 15 Sep 2021
In reply to AlanLittle:

I just googled 'Munich to Athens Train' and found this website which lists three different possible routes: https://rail.cc/train/munich-to-athens#r3 

Granted the journey time is rather long. The best option IMO would be the connection through Italy (overnight from Munich on a sleeper train) and then a train connection followed by a ferry from Ancona (IT) to Igoumenitsa (GR) and thereafter a train connection to Athens. 

So you'd have to sacrifice a few days to travelling, but it's very doable. 

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> PCR specificity is known to be very high...

I think this is where we differ. The ONS assumes it to be high for the purpose of their exercise (what else could they do?), but many other reports state that we actually don't have much reliable clinical (as opposed to analytical) data, e.g.,

"The current rate of operational false-positive swab tests in the UK is unknown; preliminary estimates show it could be somewhere between 0·8% and 4·0%."

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30453-7/fulltext

In reply to Marek:

> I think this is where we differ. The ONS assumes it to be high for the purpose of their exercise (what else could they do?), but many other reports state that we actually don't have much reliable clinical (as opposed to analytical) data, e.g.,

> "The current rate of operational false-positive swab tests in the UK is unknown; preliminary estimates show it could be somewhere between 0·8% and 4·0%."

The next sentence is "This rate could translate into a significant proportion of false-positive results daily due to the current low prevalence of the virus in the UK population"

i) This is from last september, when prevalence was low. It isn't now.
ii) Every other estimate I can find puts PCR specificity higher than that, which is logical given how PCR works.
iii) Not sure why this is relevant to the LFD question.....? If you're saying the ONS figures are off because of false positive PCRs, well, even if they are, they'd have to be off by a lot more than that to make a difference.

 Iamgregp 15 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

I'm off to Kalymnos next month, as are a whole bunch others I know.

Went last October too.  Yes there's some hoops to jump through, but once you're there everything is just as lovely as ever, though slightly less packed!

 CPH 15 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Thanks John.

 Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator  UKC Supporter 15 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

We have been away two months now - as you know and have entered Spain from the UK, crossed into France, crossed into Italy, crossed into Slovenia and Croatia. Before every border crossing, we have prepared the required paperwork - which varies a bit from country to country. We were especially careful to get it right exiting Schengen into Croatia.

We haven't had to show any documentation anywhere - and in fact haven't actually been stopped,

Chris

In reply to john arran:

Maybe, just maybe... hoping for a Chamonix trip next summer, starting to think about fitness for it. But who know what might happen between now and then. Fingers crossed travel returns to normal

In reply to john arran:

Just had almost five weeks in the south of France, including a week in the Ariege. Absolutely no hassle and lovely and quiet - I don’t really understand why folk are putting it off but I hope the people that rely on tourism get back on their feet soon. 

 Marek 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> The next sentence is "This rate could translate into a significant proportion of false-positive results daily due to the current low prevalence of the virus in the UK population"

> i) This is from last september, when prevalence was low. It isn't now.

> ii) Every other estimate I can find puts PCR specificity higher than that, which is logical given how PCR works.

> iii) Not sure why this is relevant to the LFD question.....? If you're saying the ONS figures are off because of false positive PCRs, well, even if they are, they'd have to be off by a lot more than that to make a difference.

'Low' is woolly - let's look at the numbers: According to the report the best estimate of false positive rate is "0.8%-4%". The Sept 2021 ONS figures (based on the assumption of a perfect test) suggest 1-in-70 have covid. They are comparable, hence to first approximation the probability of a false positive and a true positive are also 'comparable'. The error bars on the data don't allow you to say much more than that.

It's a bit of a chicken-n-egg situation: To measure the prevalence of covid in the population you need a test (e.g., PCR) with a known clinical specificity. But to measure that latter you need trials where you accurately know who has covid and who hasn't. For which you need and even more accurate test. It can be done, but it's hard, expensive and really not the top priority with respect to controlling the epidemic (you don't need to know the infection rate to three significant figure to know you have an epidemic).

I've search for more definitive reports of clinical specificity, but haven't found anything. Yes there are some from the manufacturers quoting analytical specificity (i.e., test conducted on isolated - uncontaminated - viruses in the lab). Those number are obviously much higher (~99.9%), but can't be usefully applied to what you might call the 'real world', i.e., clinical use.

Anyway, I think we're generating seriously off-topic noise now, so call it a day?

In reply to Marek:

> Anyway, I think we're generating seriously off-topic noise now, so call it a day?

Deal. On that note: I'm not planning any foreign trips. I just don't want to understand or care about what's required. I know I can find out everything, but I just don't want to have to. There's plenty on the to do list in the uk, and there's never been a better time to crack on with it. I don't have to think about whatever the ehic is now, travel insurance, arseache hire car companies, fannying around in airports, and then finding out which covid hoops I'd have to jump through. It just sounds like a giant ballache compared to throwing the gear in the car and heading off. Maybe next year.

In reply to john arran:

Just a thought... Remember loads of people will have been allowed/able/fortunate enough to carry over a ton more holiday into next year but have to use it in '22

In reply to john arran:

Back in the UK now, felt safer in France regarding covid! Anyway soon home and then can forget about using public transport for a while.

 Fiona Reid 15 Sep 2021
In reply to Vigier:

Thank you 😀. I'm hoping that by the time I travel to France any issues will be sorted, but good to know it can be uploaded to the French app. 

Post edited at 21:35
 Donotello 15 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

I only hold a British passport, have been to Sardinia, France, Spain, and Portugal in the last 9 months with another trip to portugal lined up and haven’t had to take a single test or quarantine, no one either side asked for either. 

 steve taylor 16 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Off topic (though I've had no significant issues getting in and out of France under the testing regime over the last year, other than a couple of ill-informed check-in desk operators)...

Down where we live near Beziers I am surrounded by virgin crags. Have you dealt with the FFME or local mairie to get permission to bolt stuff?

 john arran 16 Sep 2021
In reply to steve taylor:

> Down where we live near Beziers I am surrounded by virgin crags. Have you dealt with the FFME or local mairie to get permission to bolt stuff?

It's the CAF around here who seem to be far more involved, but there's no standardised permissions process (thankfully!) The mayors have huge say as to what's permitted, and I don't get on well at all with our mayor, for reasons that have nothing to do with climbing, so I keep well away. I did, however, talk with other local equippers when they were interested in developing a local sector and encouraged them to meet with the mayor. The outcome was that, although he refused to grant permission, he was prepared to turn a blind eye to any development that was done responsibly. So that's good enough for me! 

In reply to john arran:

I would be deeply concerned about testing positive just before I was due to fly back.

In reply to RX-78:

Can second this. My impression was far less likely to catch it in France than UK. 

In reply to john arran:

France seems to be somewhat random in its approach to pass sanitaire - our vax certs here don't have qr codes so there was an email process for getting a pass sanitaire. The system was overwhelmed so they simply gave up with it.  I had to take a regional train and two TGVs a couple of weeks ago and no- one asked to see the pass or any certification.  Currently in Germany visiting folks and mountain walking,  as I'm vaxxed there's no problem doing anything but I notice some things aren't running (like the Zugspitze cablecar). Going to be repeating my train journey to get home at the weekend! 

 jimtitt 16 Sep 2021
In reply to Toerag:

Err the Zugspitze seilbahn has been open since June.

 CPH 18 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

All a lot less worrisome since from 4 October you will not need to do a Covid 19 test in France before returning to England.

 steve taylor 19 Sep 2021
In reply to Toerag:

I'll agree about the TGV - they were the only people who didn't ask to see mine... They wanted proof of my railcard though!

Absolutely everywhere else wanted to see it, which involved a five minute chat in Franglais explaining my Saudi vacc certificate wouldn't work with their scanner, followed by a shrug and a "ca marche" once I'd explained.

There is a new website now to convert foreign vaccinations to a pass sanitaire, given the dismal failure of the email system. I'm about to register now to see if it works for my trip home next week...

https://www.demarches-simplifiees.fr/commencer/passe-sanitaire-etrangers

Edit: I've just seen this doesn't include vaccinations taken in the UK....

Post edited at 06:37
 steve taylor 19 Sep 2021
In reply to steve taylor:

And my response to the application says it's taking them 16 days to respond... I'll have left France by then.

 Webster 19 Sep 2021
In reply to The Pylon King:

that is of course a very important reason full stop. but it is not the reason why people are still reluctant to travel right now. that is purely down to the pandemic, and more to the point, the uncertainty with travel restrictions changing every 30 seconds! many people will have no faith that the government isnt going to change the goal posts once they are mid trip, causing a very expensive and stressful re-arrangement.

 climbingpixie 19 Sep 2021
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> It just sounds like a giant ballache compared to throwing the gear in the car and heading off. Maybe next year.

My thoughts exactly. I just don't care enough about going abroad to deal with the hassle of covid/Brexit travel issues. It seems easier to just leave it for now.

 Fruit 19 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Hassle factor (maybe perceived to be greater than is) plus hoarding days (90/180 rule)for Spanish winter and hopefully less hassle spring travel.

missing Autumn warm weather trip though!!

 timjones 19 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

> All thoughts and opinions welcome.

I have flown to Spain and Switzerland to run raced that were deferred from 2020.

The travel felt safe and whilst there was more paperwork required than usual it was all well explained and easy to complete using a smartphone.

The biggest ballache was delays at check in due to passsengers who appeared oblivious to the extra requirements despite the multiple reminders sent out by the airlines.

 elsewhere 19 Sep 2021
In reply to timjones:

> The biggest ballache was delays at check in due to passsengers who appeared oblivious to the extra requirements despite the multiple reminders sent out by the airlines.

And then the flight is delayed when their luggage is off-loaded.

 yorkshireman 19 Sep 2021
In reply to steve taylor:

> I'll agree about the TGV - they were the only people who didn't ask to see mine... They wanted proof of my railcard though!

I got the TGV from grenoble to Paris on Thursday and they didn't ask for it. Eurostar was carnage at check-in though verifying all documents. 

I'm at LHR now and been queuing for ages for check-in as they won't allow web check-in for flights back to France. 

It's been quite worrying back in the UK for a couple of days. It feels like they've given up fighting covid, masks and distancing now the exception rather than the rule which is quite jarring compared to being in France. 

 steve taylor 19 Sep 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

That sounds grim. Hopefully I can avoid the UK until this all settles down properly. Despite the ant-vax protests, France feels safer. Saudi feels safer than both.

 john arran 19 Sep 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

> It's been quite worrying back in the UK for a couple of days. It feels like they've given up fighting covid, masks and distancing now the exception rather than the rule which is quite jarring compared to being in France. 

Hopefully it's just England that's playing fast and loose with covid good practice. The other home nations seem to be taking a less irresponsible approach.

In reply to steve taylor:

The TousAntiCovid app should recognise your uk vaccination, it did mine and my wife's no problem, actually very handy as its stores it on the app unlike the NHS one where you have you log in.

 steve taylor 20 Sep 2021
In reply to RX-78:

> The TousAntiCovid app should recognise your uk vaccination, it did mine and my wife's no problem, actually very handy as its stores it on the app unlike the NHS one where you have you log in.

Tried that already as I've had the Tous.. app for a while now. It won't scan the Saudi QR Code...

In reply to timjones:

> The biggest ballache was delays at check in due to passsengers who appeared oblivious to the extra requirements despite the multiple reminders sent out by the airlines.

The average airline passenger is still unaware that there are limits on liquids, toiletries have to be in a clear plastic bag not buried in their carry on bag thats bigger than the biggest suitcase ever invented, and yes, you might have to remove those massive boots that take 20 minutes to get on/off.

Edit: Also the Dominican Republic isn't in the EU, and you'll need a passport.

Post edited at 08:07
 TomD89 20 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

Won't travel anywhere abroad unless they have no covid related restrictions and requirements. Happy to wait until the twelfth of never if need be as it saves a fortune that I could probably spend more wisely elsewhere. Plus I end up inadvertently limiting covid spread and reducing emissions more than those hypocritical-sanctimonious types who can't stop harping about the dangers of both while continuing to jet around the world.

In reply to jimtitt:

> Err the Zugspitze seilbahn has been open since June.

I spent most of my time at the top of Schellschlicht waiting for one of the cars to pass along the section of cable that was glinting in the sunlight for a photo and didn't see a single one. So if it is running it's not very often!

 jimtitt 20 Sep 2021
In reply to Toerag:

0800-1745 min half hourly.

 bpmclimb 20 Sep 2021
In reply to Webster:

> that is of course a very important reason full stop. but it is not the reason why people are still reluctant to travel right now. that is purely down to the pandemic,

Speak for yourself! My motivation right now not to fly is the climate crisis - pretty much 100%.

 Webster 20 Sep 2021
In reply to bpmclimb:

but you were happy to fly a year or two ago?

 bpmclimb 21 Sep 2021
In reply to Webster:

> but you were happy to fly a year or two ago?

Not happy, exactly - I took flights but had been feeling increasingly conflicted about it. My most recent flight was Feb 2019, so about 2.5 years ago, after which I resolved to stop flying.

You made the assertion that people's motives for not flying, currently, are all to do with Covid and nothing to do with the climate crisis. I was simply using my own case to show that your assertion is an over-generalisation, and not universally true.

Your point is .... ?

Post edited at 23:20
 climbingpixie 22 Sep 2021
In reply to bpmclimb:

I'm increasingly feeling the same about flying. My last flight for a climbing trip was November 2016 and I had one return flight the year after, to visit family in Spain. Prior to that I'd had a couple of French climbing trips (Seynes, Ceuse/Verdon) by train and would happily do that again. And I skied in the Alps via Eurostar in Feb 2020 (just as Covid was starting in Europe) and am hoping to go again next Feb. I'm not saying I'll never fly again but I won't go back to it being something I do casually or unthinkingly.

Post edited at 08:26
 Webster 22 Sep 2021
In reply to bpmclimb:

my point is you have made a conscious decision to limmit your flying full stop (prior to the pandemic by the sounds of it), therefore your standpoint (and others like you) is not really relevant to the OP. They want to know why people havent yet returned to climbing trips abroad since restrictions eased. by the sounds of it you never would have been flying to go climbing anyway, so in that regard the climate crisis is irrelevant, it has been going on for decades.

 bpmclimb 23 Sep 2021
In reply to Webster:

And therein lies a big problem. Saying my post is irrelevant to a thread about reasons for not flying. Same alarming lack of joined-up thinking we see over and over on the news, so many pieces about changing travel rules, airlines and other travel companies facing financial problems, etc ... and the climate mentioned how often? Almost never.

It's like we have to compartmentalise climate issues, we can watch a special programme on them, get all worried; then conveniently forget all about it. Because it's too huge a problem to think about for long - but also because of a deep-seated fear that we might have to consider changing our lifestyles.

The climate issue is directly relevant to this thread, as it is to those TV clips, and I think it's important to say that, even if it's not what people want to hear, because of this dangerous tendency to sweep it under the carpet.

In reply to bpmclimb:

I agree completely. Gave you a "like" and would have given lots of lokes if I could.

This is really hard. There are trips I want to do that would be easiest if I fly but that is no longer ok.

In reply to john arran:

Hi John

Family demanded their normal summer in France this summer. At that time the confusing situation with tests/bureaucracy was a total pain and bloody expensive for a family of 4. Now these issues are settling down a little, I would expect you to see more Brits where you are soon ish but I'm not convinced we'll be back to 'normal' until next spring? However on the other hand, I'm sure you're aware that Brits are currently on their way to Kalymnos in numbers.

Cheers

Simon


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