British Off-Beat Tours Are Homes for Holidays

Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

Youths who are in Britain during the Christmas holidays may enjoy an off-beat program offered by the British Youth Hostel Assn.

For three nights beginning Dec. 24 you can test your powers as a super-sleuth by taking part in a murder mystery at a Victorian mansion in Haworth. The cost is 45 (about $78 U.S.). It is one of a variety of short holiday packages being offered by the association this year and next.

The Leisure Breaks packages in England and Wales are inexpensive because accommodation is provided in single-sex shared rooms in youth hostels.

Packages include meals, a guide where appropriate, equipment and a guest pass for the duration of the stay. Transportation to the hostel is not included.

Packages also offer walking, riding, water sports, bird watching and cross-country skiing. For example, you can join a cross-country ski weekend program in the Lake District for 49 ($84 U.S.). Upcoming departures are on Jan. 22 and 29, Feb. 5 and 26.

Another program offers a two-day visit to the world of William Shakespeare in Stratford-on-Avon for 55 ($95 U.S.). It includes a guided tour of Stratford, a live theatrical performance, a glimpse backstage and time on your own. In 1988 the excursion is available Jan. 15 and 29, and March 11 and 25.

Murder mystery weekends also will be held at Colchester Youth Hostel on Feb. 12 and 26, and March 11. They cost 35 ($60 U.S.).

For more details on Leisure Breaks, contact YHA Travel, Trevelyan House, 8 Stephen's Hill, St. Albans, Herts, England AL1 2DY. Be sure to ask about the average age of participants for the program you are interested in.

Cycling in Britain

If you are considering cycling in Britain next year, you can get information about routes through a new publication offered free by the British Tourist Authority. "Britain Cycling" gives basic tips on how to transport your bike within the country, road laws, accommodations, maps and bike rentals. It includes 12 suggestions for cycle routes.

The routes include notes about sites, accommodations and area tourist information offices. Youth hostels are indicated by triangles on the maps, but someone forgot to explain this in the booklet.

Copies are available from the British Tourist Authority, World Trade Center, 350 S. Figueroa St., Suite 450, Los Angeles 90071; (213) 628-3525.

For more information, contact Cyclists Touring Club, Britain's national cyclists association. Membership costs 7 ($12 U.S.) if you are under 21, 14 ($24 U.S.) for those 21 or older. The CTC also provides members with information about traveling within Britain and in other foreign countries.

Members receive a handbook that lists inexpensive lodgings suitable for cyclists in Britain, a bimonthly magazine on touring, and the right to request a variety of information sheets.

Those information sheets include the Byway network (a collection of routes covering Great Britain that have been designed to avoid heavy motor traffic); fixed center tours (routes for day trips that originate from 34 cities), and circular tours (including Castles of the Welsh Border or the Mary, Queen of Scots tour in southern Scotland).

General information is in a special booklet, "Cycling in the British Isles," designed for visitors and newcomers to cycling.

Members also can receive some insurance and legal aid service, general cycling information sheets for 66 countries, and details on tour routes in 25 countries, such as the Alpine Foothills and the Black Forest in Germany, day rides on Majorca and a route for the chateaux of the Loire Valley in France.

You can contact the CTC at Cotterell House, 69 Meadrow, Godalming, Surrey GU7 3HS, England.

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