Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Monday, 16 September 2019

Please Pass the Salmon....

Thanks to Millie, Mike and Sarah for hosting an excellent 'salmon' meal last night...

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 26

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 26 - Friday 20 August 2004 - Stage 21

Postcard Summary (on tomorrow's card)
Nice hostel to Camping Forcallo
Lovely weather for a walk in Spain south of GR11 – 9.5 hours, 18 km, 1500m ascent
A pleasant stay in the hostel at Bielsa, but the mountains called, and it was a sunny day.  Ate raspberries and strawberries during an extremely steep climb, but eventually reached a level path with excellent views of Monte Perdido.  Glad to see the campsite, which provided a welcome cheap beer when we arrived at 7 ish.
Diary Entry (by Sue)

Out of our real beds at 7.40. Breakfast in the '70's dining room of the hostel, where one wall was a display of stuffed birds and animals, was toast and cakes, plus some very nice 'café con leche' - a second cup was requested.
Away at 9.25 am under clear, sunny skies once more. The first path was lovely - Camino del Cao - well built and with a nice gradient. Not well used, so somewhat overgrown, and we soon got wet legs and feet. It led through poplars and oaks, being quite low.
After leaving this path and crossing the river, the new path climbed more steeply. It was coined 'Raspberry Rise' because wild raspberries grew in profusion and could be picked and eaten by the handful, which we did. Also, tiny strawberries were ripe, and bilberries higher up.
In the damp conditions, many different varieties of mushroom grew. Ants had piled pine needles against tree trunks to form giant nests.
After about 300 metres ascent, the path deteriorated, and we lost the small cairns. The steep hillside became littered with fallen dead, lichen covered trees, and in between were areas of fir tree, orchids and raspberries!
At one point we backtracked and tried again. After a while, we emerged from the trees, in the river valley, to scramble and climb steeply up grass beside it, crossing over once or twice for ease. We'd only had one short break, before a lunch stop at 2 pm. 
Not the best location, but at least we were now at the top of the steep section. There were casualties. I lost a sock that had been drying behind a rucksack strap, Julie a pair of gloves also strapped to the outside, and the ignition for the stove in Martin's side pocket was broken, maybe knocked against a tree. Also, very scratched legs for Sue and Julie.
 Lunchtime outside a shepherd's hut
After a lunch of bread, blue cheese and tomato, the path contoured round the now treeless hillside, views over Spain beautifully clear.

With the valley now below, it became clear we had ascended the wrong river valley and should have been further east. Anyway, the path became obvious now, and gave a good view of Monte Perdido. 

After 1000 metres of ascent during the morning, one more col had to be crossed, after a grassy climb. We reached Colla de Pardinas around 4 pm, and still had a good distance to go! 

For the next two hours, we descended grassy slopes, grazed by cattle, to join a jeep track that zigzagged widely, amongst several small dwellings / shepherd's huts. 
The late afternoon sunshine on this verdant valley was lovely. Eventually, the track joined another, and the GR11 path came in from our left.
Finally, at 7 pm, Camping Forcallo came into very welcome sight. Until the final kilometre, we had seen no one walking all day. Paid up and bought tins of beer, which went down very well before we put the tents up. Dinner was prepared rapidly - cup-a-soup, three cheese pasta with tuna and frankfurters, and hot chocolate. It soon went dark, so bed was around 9.15 pm.
Weather today was sunny but cool.
Stats and route (Viewranger):
21 km, 1700 metres ascent, 9.5 hours
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Saturday, 14 September 2019

Saturday 14 September 2019 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 408, and the Tour of Britain bike race

Refreshed from a night's sleep after my ten hour journey home from Kinloch Rannoch, I cycled to Wythenshawe park for a bit of exercise on a lovely late summer's morning. There was a gentle bite to the air.
Whilst 355 participants chatted and lurked near the start, a few were warming up on some newly laid tarmac on the path we use.
With tired legs from carrying a 12 kilo weight on my back for sixty miles, I was pleased to find an excuse for a slower than usual pace. Sue joined me, and we ran with Owen and Annie, celebrating Owen's 100th parkrun. Well done Owen.
"Done it!"
After a quick coffee, many of the parkrunners decamped by various means to Altrincham town centre, where the last stage of the Tour of Britain bike race was due to set off at 11 o'clock.
I got there just in time. It was crowded. I've never seen Altrincham so busy.
It was a short wait by the market, for the competitors to pass on their way to the official starting point. They were led out by members of the local Seamons club of which Paul and Jeanette are members.
After the peleton had passed through, Sue and I made our way up the street, only to meet the Seamons team coming the other way, led by none other than Jeanette (Paul being away in the Alps).
Nearby, in Goose Green, a huge TV screen was covering the race, viewed by lots of folk on what turned out to be a beautiful, warm summer's day.
A good day for Altrincham, that's for sure.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Backpacking with Markus - Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse to Kinloch Rannoch, then bus and trains to Timperley




Friday 13 September 2019

A 19 km walk, taking us 4 hours.

Eddie's fine breakfast fuelled us for a gentle stroll along the south side of Loch Rannoch. There was very little traffic as the road was closed due to it's being widened to cater for timber wagons. Apparently the felling of the forest will take many years.

The sun shone intermittently as we strolled along beside more banks of tasty looking mushrooms, and rowan trees heavily laden with berries. There were fine views across the loch.

Entering Kinloch Rannoch, we befriended a stalker called Richard. We enjoyed lunch with him in the café, but regretted that the chanterelle season is apparently over - we had to put up with 'ordinary' mushroom soup. Very tasty nonetheless.

An efficient bus took us to Pitlochry, where we spent an hour in Café Biba.

Then it was goodbye to Markus, with thanks to him for organising this trip.

The train to Glasgow was late, and got steadily later as the journey progressed. I was glad I'd given myself an extra hour in Glasgow. I'd have missed the obvious connection.

The Trans Pennine train on which I was booked was cancelled. 'Seek advice from Trans Pennine staff' the board announced. After much searching, Virgin staff were helpful... 'There are no Trans Pennine staff here, but you can travel on a later Virgin train and change at Lancaster'. There goes another hour!

So I'll be home, hopefully, rather after midnight.

At least it's a comfy train and I have a seat!

I'll post some route maps and some more photos in due course, but in the meantime CJ Sansom's 'Sovereign' will keep me occupied. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Backpacking with Markus - Lubnaclach to Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse




Thursday 12 September 2019

A 21 km walk, taking us 6 hours.

After a showery, drizzly night in diminishing wind, we both woke, after very good sleeps, to see thick cloud draped over Carn Dearg, the Munro in whose direction our tents were pointed, and which was on Markus's itinerary for today. He looked out, and crossed it off.

We exited our camping spot (luckily no vehicles had come to run me over, and we didn't see a soul all morning) in light rain at 8.45. A boggy path, up to the bulldozed track linking Rannoch with Corrour, annoyed Markus, whose leaky Meindl boot had him cursing about his wet foot. Astonishingly, my old Scarpa Delta boots, with about 2500 km on the clock, have kept my feet perfectly dry despite the wet terrain we've been walking through.

After the uphill grind to that main track, with views back to the misty environs of Lubnaclach, the track towards Rannoch was easy going. We stopped for a brew in the drizzle at the derelict site of the sanitarium at Corrour Old Lodge. Hard to picture what it must have been like in its heyday. Far from what you see in today's top picture.

Then an uneventful stroll (second picture) to an early, drizzly, lunch stop in the shelter of some power company sheds shortly before a bridge over the Allt Eigheach river. Not much by way of views, but the weather was improving and the mist was slowly clearing from Sron Smeur, a small hill with a good viewpoint.

My suggestion that we go up Sron Smeur was vetoed on 'wet foot' grounds and we continued our gentle stroll to join the quiet road between Rannoch and Bridge of Gaur.

The weir at Dunan Power Station was most impressive, with the River Gaur in spate. We had another break, now in welcome sunshine, here.

Continuing our stroll, we reached my favourite guesthouse before 2.45 pm. Soon we were ensconced in the living room with tea and coffee and the imminent prospect of a hot bath.

Backpacking with Markus - Lubven to Lubnaclach (NN 373 643) 




Wednesday 11 September 2019

To this spot via Corrour Station - 25 km, taking us 8 hours.

Overnight heavy rain had subsided by the time we left our excellent camping spot at 8.45. It was to be a day of light showers, with waterproofs on and off, principally the former.

After a good track for about 2 km, we continued along a muddy stalkers' path before heading over the pathless bealach leading to Strath Ossian. There were a couple of river crossings. I was glad of my Saucony barefoot running shoes for the first, which Markus managed to cross in his boots, by some miracle not getting his feet wet. Or so he claimed.

The second crossing, after we had tired ourselves out negotiating a network of peat haggs whilst battling a strong head wind, was easier. Unusually I was ahead, and I took the top picture of Markus. I didn't expect him to slip in after that, so there's no photo of him succumbing to a wet foot!

On reaching Strath Ossian, we climbed a deer fence, only then to realise we were trapped in an enclosure. So we climbed back out and made our way to a rough track that signalled the end of today's arduous going. But the first 7 km had taken nearly three hours.

When it wasn't raining the light was wonderful, and we enjoyed the scenery all the way along the gravel track to Corrour Station. On the way, we paused for lunch near Corrour Shooting Lodge, and admired the plethora of different mushrooms and toadstools in the neighbouring woods.

We admired the mushrooms yesterday as well, and wished the expertise of Heather T-S was with us. There are also lots of little frogs in the heather, and we've seen dragonflies and lots of birds. I can identify the chaffinches, the stonechats, the redstarts, the meadow pipits and the buzzards, but most of the others are too quick for me.

Unlike the flowers. Many are still in bloom, including eyebright, tormentil, butterwort, foxglove, ragwort, harebells, scabious, ling, bell heather, buttercups, a yellow vetch, various thistles, yarrow, various daisies and dandelions, bistort, and more.

Grasses and lichens abound. Enthusiasts could be overwhelmed.

A big surprise - no midges!

As we approached Corrour Station there were good views back to Loch Ossian (second picture). Markus's plan was to visit the restaurant at the station and then head over Leum Uilleim to get to this camping spot by a ruin. We paid lip service to that idea by enjoying coffee and cake at the restaurant. Then we headed back the way we had come and turned right near the hostel, along a good path towards Rannoch.

Approaching Lubnaclach we met an off road vehicle laden with dead deer. Then we set up camp in a strong wind. Markus struggled with his flimsy tarptent and had to move it. I realised I had camped in the buggy's wheel tracks. I hope we've left by the time any deer stalkers come past tomorrow!

We had pitched our tents by about 5 pm, so we are both enjoying a long evening in our respective shelters at what will probably be the last wild camp for both of us for many months.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Backpacking with Markus - Dalwhinnie to Lubven (NN 445 790) 




Tuesday 10 September 2019

A lovely day's walk to this spot south of Lochan na H-Earba - 32 km, taking us 9 hours.

A fine morning in Dalwhinnie.and a huge and rather indigestible breakfast. We both picked at it and soon gave up.

A 9 am start in sunny conditions found us on tarmac for a couple of kilometres before a left turn took us up the rough route through a narrow rocky gap to a lochan bordered with fossilised trees. Time for a brew.

Heading on, we lunched in a spot sheltered from the rising wind on the now overcast day. Some DofE Award children were soon caught up with as we made our way to the Earba lochans, where more DofE students had already set up camp at 3.30 pm. To be fair, it's a wonderful spot, and the weather was looking ominous.

Yet more DofE students were setting up camp at the southern end of Earba, amongst a film set where a large group of people were filming something called 'The Crown'? We'd never heard of it. As we made our way onwards we encountered a fleet of vehicles presumably arriving to collect the actors and crew and return them to their digs.

At this point light rain commenced.

Only 4 km further to our planned destination at an old shieling. Markus was flagging but we made it by 6 pm, before the rain got too heavy. Next to the camping spot was a Land Rover with a dead deer stretched across its front bumpers. A horse box was in tow. After a while, two white horses arrived, maybe with more dead deer. Duly installed, the entourage set off and left us in peace.

Now, at 8 pm, it's almost dark and is stormy outside. Dinner was good, then I started this posting without the aid of the map, which is buried in the chaos of the tent. I'll tidy it up in the morning, but I've no idea when I'll next get a phone signal. Meanwhile, despite hurriedly flinging the tent up, I have a perfect sleeping position, so I may wake late...

Monday, 9 September 2019

Backpacking with Markus - Getting There




Monday 9 September 2019

A cool, rainy morning in Timperley.
9.30 tram to Piccadilly (top picture).
10.26 Trans Pennine Express to Haymarket (Edinburgh). (13.20)
13.40 to Dalwhinnie. (16.00) (Second picture)
Standing room only.
Short walk to Loch Ericht Hotel.
In pouring rain.
Greeted by Markus, looking remarkably fresh after a wet walk.
Welcome refreshments after the train with no drinks trolley.
Basic but friendly hotel. Good to see that it's open for trade - it used to serve as an essential stopping off point in my days of Munro bagging and always had the aura of a Transport Café.
3rd picture - the view from my room.
4th picture - outside the hotel.
Battered brie and fish 'n chips with a beer to conclude the day.
Then... Whiteout - Ken Follett 

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Friday 6 September 2019 - A Walk from Stockport to Audenshaw

A Friday walk slotted into my 'programme' at short notice on a rainy day wasn't expected to gather any takers, and that expectation was duly met.
The ten o'clock train from Navigation Road got me to Stockport in time for me to collect some tickets (see next posting) and gather next to a convenient rendezvous point for a 'non rendezvous'.
 Manchester has its bees, and Stockport is now littered with frogs, in various states of decoration.
A stroll through the town centre got me to the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT), that I soon abandoned in favour of the Tameside Trail, in order to avoid the A626 main road.
The River Tame was crossed by way of this footbridge, to join a path that leads back to the TPT.
This route passes Harrison's Weir, the subject of the next three images. This is the advantage of taking footpaths rather than the usual bike trails. I don't recall having been here before.
The old railway line was then followed to Reddish Vale Visitors Centre and ponds. Here, there's one of many ornate TPT signposts.
A little further on, I deserted the bridleway again, in favour of the footpath along the Tameside Trail, signposted to Stockport Road.
This path sent me round in circles for a while, during which I returned to the Reddish Vale ponds, and this excellent view of the railway viaduct.
After several 'on/off' episodes with the waterproofs, the showers slowly moved on, leaving a sunny morning as I continued to follow the riverside Tameside Trail path, a little to the west of my usual bike route along the TPT and the Peak Forest Canal towpath. Eventually, this path goes under the M67 motorway and heads up a delightful set of walled cobblestones to reach the canal.
The Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne is a few minutes along the Peak Forest Canal. Here, there's a T-junction, with the Ashton Canal heading off to the left, towards the tall chimney pictured below. To the right in the picture is the back door of the 'Bridge View Café', where I enjoyed a coffee and some very tasty carrot cake. This was a special treat as this café is shut when we pass it on our Monday bike rides.
In the other direction, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal sets off on its arduous course through the Pennines via the Standedge Tunnels..
In the direction of Manchester, the Ashton Canal towpath took me about 3 km to Audenshaw, for a few hundred metres of road walking to the Metrolink station - the first road walking since leaving Stockport.
On the way, and whilst 'Audenshaw' doesn't really capture the imagination as a place to live, some interesting, even opulent, housing is passed.
My route amounted to 21 km. It would have been rather less if I'd found the correct path out of Reddish Vale at the first attempt (take the signed footpath and take a left turn where the path divides). Ascent is minimal - just a couple of hundred metres - and despite the urban surroundings, this route is entirely off road apart from a little tarmac at the start and the finish.
A very pleasant little jaunt, taking me about three and a half hours at a brisk pace.
Next, a trip to Scotland, and I'm afraid there will be no separate entry covering Saturday's parkrun number 407 at Wythenshawe, nor today's 'Great Run Local' at Wythenshawe, both of which passed without incident.