History of Belfast CHA Rambling Club
C.H.A. stands for Countrywide Holidays Association.
The C.H.A was founded in 1893 by the Rev. T. Arthur Leonard from Colne in Lancashire who pioneered the outdoor movement in Britain. The organization was originally known as the Co-Operative Holidays Association, and was set up as a body to provide holidays. In 1913 he left the association to form the Holiday Fellowship, now commonly known as hf.
The organization expanded quickly with rambling clubs being formed in all parts of the UK. The first club in Ireland was the Dublin club, formed in 1922, followed by our club in 1926. On almost every Saturday since, members have been out discovering places of beauty and interest which are so plentiful in the province.
By the end of the Second World War there were approximately 80 clubs across the UK and by 1978 this had risen to 98. In the early 1950’s the name of the Association was changed to the Countrywide Holidays Association.
In 2004 the CHA changed its structure and became the Countrywide UK Trust, an association with no members and therefore no affiliated clubs. For historical reasons and because its objectives remain the same, the Belfast club retained the name.
The Dublin club is now known as the Countrywide Hill-Walkers Association. We have strong links with Dublin CHA enjoying a joint ramble and dinner once a year, attending each others’ annual reunions as well as sometimes going on holiday together.
We also have a close association with the hf Rambling Club, Belfast. This includes a joint ramble in July, a Carol Service in December, and mutual invitations to our annual holidays.
We have had many very able and talented Presidents over the years but are very proud to say that the late Mr. Wilfred Capper MBE, who was a driving force in the development of the Ulster Way, was a President and member of the club for many years.
Wilfred also helped to found YHANI and the Ulster Society for the Preservation of the Countryside. In 1996 he was awarded the John Hunt Award by Countrywide Holidays for outstanding achievement or endeavour in increasing human well-being through outdoor activities.
Many firm friendships have been formed over the years and the purpose of the club is not only for healthy activity but also for social interaction. We will give you a very warm welcome if you decide to join us.