Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

An Unexpected Reunion with John Clark


It was a pleasure last week to be contacted by a UMIST contemporary who I hadn't seen for many years. John Clark studied Chemical Engineering between 1968 and 1971, which perhaps overqualifies him for his current occupation.

Those who remember the shy young lad from days past may be surprised to learn that he now runs a massage parlour in Glasgow.

He was in Manchester for a reunion of Chem Eng students. A sort of 50th anniversary party. Time flies.

He called round to see me in Timperley and we enjoyed a good natter, recalling old times when, having left university in 1971, he and Roger Freeman and I arranged regular meet up activities that were the precursor to the programme that I produced every year before transferring it to a rolling programme on nearly twenty years ago.

That programme continues to this day. I'll shortly be organising some short mid week walks.

We agreed that we should make the effort to see Roger in Yorkshire, sooner rather than later.

I’ve dragged a few photos from the archives. The top picture shows John in the Lake District during a trip that he and I had to Wasdale in July 1972. Is that Kirk Fell in the background?

Below, he and Roger look out from a vantage point on the island of Mull, in May 1972.


As some readers may know, I walked the University Rag Walk – Bogle Stroll – a 55 mile saunter, on numerous occasions.

By 1973 I had joined Thornton Baker. I named our team the ‘TB&Co Mad Ones’ and enlisted various ultra fit colleagues who mostly dropped out. To make up the numbers, Anna and Jacqui, my flatmates, were coerced into joining up. In those days I finished around breakfast time (we started at midnight, in February) and went out to walk in with others and generally help out with the Tech Domski Hiking Club’s many participants. Here, my two flatmates, who finished in 18 hours 40 minutes (Anna, Jacqui was ten minutes behind) are pictured together with John, who doesn’t appear on the list of finishers. Perhaps he got arm strain from carrying that bag? A and J would never have lived it down had they failed to finish. They feature quite regularly on these pages, and it’s good that John has now joined them.


Finally, for the time being, here’s a photo that I’m having trouble dating – perhaps the mid 1970s. From L to R: Beryl, Roger, John, Roger’s friend who drove a Morris 1000 Traveller with a corrugated iron roof, Gary (who I’ll be seeing next week) and me. I still have that anorak! It did many Bogle Strolls and many Lyke Wake Walks.


Happy Days…

Saturday, 15 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 52 - Montreuil-sur-Mer to Timperley  (The End)

Saturday 15 September 2018

The Tannery was a good place to stay, if a little run down. It certainly provided good facilities for last night's al fresco meal. Not all B&B rooms sport a kitchen and a dining table, albeit this kitchen was hidden in a wardrobe! Like most rooms we've stayed in, it had a TV. Quite unnecessary, as we haven't switched any of them on since watching the 'Adrian Chiles - Alcoholic' programme with Jill and James three weeks ago. Only three weeks? It feels longer!

Breakfast was in an outhouse in the garden. Then we paid our tourist tax (€1 each), topped the car up with coolant (aka water), and headed off to refuel for the last time. €1.46 a litre - about £1.30 - prices at home are £1.34, so not much difference.

The toll free drive to Calais, during which the white cliffs of Dover shone in the distance, took about an hour and we were placed on the 11.20 train that we'd booked. It was running 20 minutes late so we had time for coffee and we bought some cooking wine - €30 for 12 bottles of J P Cheney plonk. We'll need that when we receive the speeding fines!

Incidentally, I don't mention costs very often here as we don't work to a budget and they aren't of any great interest to me, but I do keep a track of them and anyone wanting more information regarding such sordid details is welcome to ask.

Back in the UK on a sunny day, I have noted that I omitted to record yesterday's incident with some police. We thought we were being stopped so that they could check that we had all the paraphernalia required in France - high visibility jackets, breathalyser, warning triangle, GB sticker, etc, but we were quickly waved on before a huge peleton of cyclists whizzed past just behind us.

The police could usefully have been deployed on the ramparts of Montreuil, where sadly many of the viewing benches have been vandalised.

The drive TO Calais was rather easier than the drive FROM Folkestone. We planned to travel on Saturday rather than Friday because we thought the traffic would be easier. We failed to factor in the closure of the M20 motorway this weekend. That cost us an hour and a half.

Never mind, we got home before dark. Just!

Today's pictures:
The Tannery B&B - our quarters are the first floor rooms with the four shuttered windows
Inside the B&B
View from the ramparts
Evening by the ramparts
The Tannery from our breakfast room in the garden

So that's it. 'Summer in the Alps' is at an end. Almost time to move on, but there are a few photos to process, etc.

Thanks to Mike for looking after the house, and thanks for the comments, those of you, my dear readers, who had not only the stamina to follow our journey, but also had the tenacity to interact... And to the silent majority:
"Hello, I hope you enjoyed it."

Friday, 14 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 51 - Barbizon to Montreuil-sur-Mer

Friday 14 September 2018

Presented with yet another sunny day we tucked in to the lavish breakfast provided by Chambre d'Hôte Petit Angelus. No more food was needed until supper time.

On our host's recommendation we drove a little way back down the road and parked near a visitor centre, from where a 5 km walk called the Promenade des Gorges de Franchard provided a typical example of walks in the Fontainebleau Forest. We followed some blue waymarks through the silent forest to a viewpoint. Sadly the Alps were just a little beyond the horizon.

Occasionally we misplaced the waymarks and had to backtrack. This was perhaps due to the distraction of other marks on some of the rocks. Fontainebleau Forest ranks highly on European climbing maps, being a first rate venue for bouldering. It has its own grading system. Sue whizzed up an 'orange' whilst I completely flunked a 'yellow'.
The place was deserted, or so we thought until we got mixed up briefly with a coach load of French pensioners.

After a while we found ourselves back on the sun scorched earth by a ruined hermitage near the visitor centre. Here there is a large plaque on the ground commemorating 'UICN 1948 to 1998', being 'Union International for the Conservation of Nature'.

Returning to Barbizon, we took a stroll down the high street before enjoying a coffee at one of the village's many hostelries. Barbizon seemed to us to be France's version of Broadway, for those familiar with that Cotswold village. There's a fête here on Sunday - the place will be bursting.

The afternoon was spent travelling about 200 miles to Montreuil-sur-Mer.  We've managed to get through France from Geneva without using any toll roads. That's made for a pleasantly scenic journey and in theory has saved us a few euros. But that doesn't take account of the speed cameras that have flashed us when doing 31 kph in a 30 kph speed limit zone. The penalty is €135. We might have a few of those! Luckily, I'm not having to pay for any root canal treatment this month.

Our 'road trips' to Europe often use Montreuil-sur-Mer as a springboard to the Channel Tunnel, less than 50 miles away. So it's easy to get home in a day from here. We passed through on days 30/31 of this very trip. Tonight we are staying in the old Tannery (La Tannerie de Montreuil). This is outside the city wall that was built in 1567, but is actually part of the earlier city wall built in the 13th century to protect the seaport, as it was then. The town has a colourful history, and we always enjoy the 3 km 'Promenade of the Ramparts' walk. Today that took place after dinner, which comprised a number of tasty, locally sourced, items. Except the smoked salmon - that was Scottish. Luckily our room comes fully equipped with kitchen (hidden in a wardrobe!) and dining facilities.

We walked about 5 km in Fontainebleau Forest, and a further 5 km around Barbizon and Montreuil-sur-Mer

Today's pictures:
In Fontainebleau Forest
Viewpoint in Fontainebleau Forest
The UICN plaque in Fontainebleau Forest
House in Barbizon
The Town Hall in Montreuil-sur-Mer 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 50 - Troyes to Barbizon via Fontainebleau

Thursday 13 September 2018

Overcast and 18°C! We can't remember the last time we had the temperature inside the car higher than it was outside.

We were breakfasted and away from the apartment by 9 am, bumping into Edwice on the way out.

An easy two hour journey saw us enjoying café au lait outside a bar in Fontainebleau, where we had found easy parking on the edge of town by the chateau. A few postcards were written and sent, then we wandered along to the chateau. There's renovation work going on, and the dull overcast day did nothing for the external attractiveness of the place. But once inside, the Napoleon Museum and a tour of the Great Apartments took about three hours to get round. Helpfully, the information boards were in English as well as French.

All good stuff. When I get home I'll have to get out the timeline of French history. The decorations and contents of the rooms, including many remarkable ceilings, was astounding. Frescoes and stucco work, huge tapestries, and lavish furnishings....

We'd had our fill by mid afternoon so we enjoyed a walk in the gardens and the ornamental woodland, returning to the car beside the ornamental canal that was well stocked with water lilies and coots.

A very short drive to the smart artisan village of Barbizon was punctuated by a stop in a lay-by where Sue spotted a man in need of help. He had Parkinson's disease and had entered an 'off' state whilst returning to his car. Sue helped him shuffle very slowly back to the car, and he managed to drive away.

We still had plenty of time after the short journey to settle in at Chambres d'Hôte Le Petit Angelus, before strolling to the centre of the village for a really excellent meal at l'Ermitage St Antoine.

We walked about 7 km around Fontainebleau.

Today's pictures were all taken at the chateau in Fontainebleau.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 49 - Around Troyes

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Seemingly perfect weather again, but today's walk in temperatures of 30 to 35°C had us reflecting on how grateful we are to have spent much of the summer above 1500 metres, where it's a bit cooler. Today's walk, despite being on flat surfaces, was hard work under the burning sun. We were pleased to have some respite provided by woodland sections.

Since Edwice had paid for our parking* outside the apartment until 11 am, we could afford a slow start (thanks, Sue for popping out yet again to source some croissants) and a short wander before heading out to the Petit Orient.

The focus of this morning's wander was the Cathedral. Yes, Troyes is a city, not a town as I suggested yesterday. St-Pierre St-Paul Cathedral was constructed between the 13th and the 17th centuries. It's a magnificent building some 114 metres in length, 50 metres wide, and nearly 30 metres high. It contains a remarkable 1500 square metres of stained glass, and many treasures and artifacts. Well worth a visit.

Returning via the disused canal where artworks and sculptures are on display, we then set off into the nearby countryside. A walking guide in the apartment attracted us to a 15 km meander in the Parc naturel régional de la Forêt d'Orient, a half hour drive away.

Parking at Géraudot, we set off down a hot and dusty track that thankfully led into some cooler woodland. The paths were deserted apart from a lone mountain biker. Mud skippers dived into some puddles as we passed by. There must have been some rain here to have created those puddles, and the track may be a quagmire in winter.

Eventually we left the wood and joined a farm track where some pear trees were shedding their fruit. Nearby, some bright green frogs played hide and seek with us in a wet trench outside some farm buildings. Further on, a pile of windfall apples puzzled us. There was no apple tree on the vicinity.

We reached a tarmac track that ran beside Lac du Temple, a reservoir and bird reserve. Lunch was taken on dried up mud flats under one of many white willow trees that litter the shoreline beyond the stretch of dried mud that's proof of a hot summer.
There were lots of birds on view, including Great and Little Egrets, Swans, Lapwings, Gadwall, mewing Buzzards overhead, Cormorants, ordinary Herons, etc. Mating dragonflies surrounded us and it was
very peaceful with no discernable noise (except my tinitus!).
After lunch we returned to a stretch of tarmac beside the reservoir, picking our way past puddles of melted tar, and dodging the occasional cyclist that was speeding along in a bid to avoid getting bogged down.

Sue was navigating. She was distracted by a strange concrete artifact about 200 metres long, from which a mechanical sweeper was scattering stones onto the otherwise pristine cycle/walking track. Very puzzling, and not on the planned route. A compass bearing helped to re-locate the correct route, thankfully through more woodland with yummy looking mushrooms on a beech tree, and active red squirrels.

After the four hour walk, we drove a few metres down the road to a convenient hostelry to re-hydrate, having exhausted our flask of tea. Here we met Martin and Ken, road cyclists from Leeds. They were on an interesting trip and we enjoyed a banter with them for an hour or so. Curiously, there was a link between Martin and our 'Project 1949' in Zermatt. (He knows the individual who was the cause of the problem in relation to which the favour I gave was repaid by way of the Zermatt photo album.)

They headed off to their five star hotel for a jacuzzi, and Sue and I continued our exploration (or 're-exploration', we've been near here before) of the area by visiting the village of Montieramey. Pretty enough, but no stunningly distinguishing features.

Back via a supermarket for the ingredients of an excellent salad supper on our patio, then a stroll down to the canal to see 'The Heart of Troyes' beating at night.

We walked about 15 km, with 50 metres of ascent on the Petit Orient walk, plus sundry bimbles of about 4 km.

Today's pictures:
A detail from the Cathedral
Resting in our apartment
Woodland in Le Petit Orient
Lunch by Lac du Temple
The Heart of Troyes

* Parking in Troyes is a thorny issue. It used to be FOC, and that's how it's advertised for this apartment. But in an effort to reduce the chaos, the city has introduced charges. It didn't look too chaotic to me, so perhaps the new system is working. Edwice said it shouldn't be a problem for us anyway due to 'Brexit sympathy' towards friendly visitors, whereby the wardens wouldn't dream of ticketing a car with a GB plate!

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 48 - Saint-Claude to Troyes (pronounced 'Twa')

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Another lovely day with wall to wall sunshine. We made the best of it despite a 190 mile drive.

Yet again we started slowly, leaving it until around 9.30 to leave Hotel Jura and wander down the road to the convenient Café des Touristes, into which we were encouraged to bring our croissants, sourced from a nearby boulangerie. It's great in France!

After a while we sprung into action and walked up to the 'Belvédère de l'Hermitage' and the belvedere 'Chaumont' to reach the Sainte-Anne Cave, about 2 km from the café.  It was a bit like Thor's Cave in the Peak District, but easier to access. A rope dangled enticingly and clearly had we been able to get over the choke near the cave entrance there would have been more to explore.

On the way up, we noticed that the vegetation was covered with moths. They also covered the roof of the cave. That might have been the attraction for what appeared to be a lone bat with a taste for 'moth'.

Far below, a massive cemetery and the cathedral, with modern housing in the middle distance and the sounds of children playing mingling with the sound of motors. Quite a contrast to the relative silence, apart from the sound of bells, above Zermatt.

Just beside the cave is a receptacle carved into the stone, with water that is considered miraculous. Louis the 11th apparently drank some. We didn't have that level of bravery.

After walking back down and topping up with coffee we recommenced our road trip by travelling over the splendid Jura countryside. Lovely quiet roads through wonderful scenery with lakes and woodland.

I haven't mentioned temperatures for a while, but again today - as often on this trip - they were showing at over 30°C.

We scooted down a side road in search of a quiet spot for lunch and found ourselves passing twelve stations of the cross and arriving at the Mont Roland retreat. An ideal spot, with picnic tables and wide views over the rolling countryside.

Beyond Mont Roland the countryside looked pretty flat but it was actually quite crinkly, at least as far as the source of the River Seine, which we then followed most of the way to Troyes.

Our host, Ed, turned out to be a lady. She soon installed us in her town centre apartment, and by 6.30 we were strolling around the ancient pedestrianised streets of the old town.

Dinner at Felix's had been recommended by Ed, and it went down well. Booking was necessary. We sat next to a French family whose grandma seemed to prefer talking to us than to her own family.

Then it was a wander around the still vibrant streets before a not so early turning in.

We walked about 7 km, with 250 metres of ascent.

Today's pictures:
Sainte-Anne Cave entrance
View from Sainte-Anne Cave
Lunchtime view from Mont Roland
Old buildings in Troyes (2)

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 47 - Zermatt to Saint-Claude

Monday 10 September 2018

Clear skies with wisps of cloud greeted us this morning. Another beautiful morning in the Swiss Alps. Leisurely packing, disposal of rubbish, tidying apartment, etc, so it took us until 9.30 to catch the shuttle train back to the huge covered car park in Täsch. We will miss the quiet ambience of motorised traffic free Zermatt.

There followed a leisurely 170 mile drive, studiously avoiding the Swiss motorways for which we had no vignette. The journey was broken by an idyllic coffee stop at Riddes, and lunch beside Lake Geneva. We travelled along the south side of the huge lake for a change, enjoying some of our last views back to the high Alps.

We also had to stop to top up the car with water. Last time it was an oil leak, now it has a water leak, and those are the least of its problems. Based on our experiences with this car, don't buy a Skoda.

We went through Geneva beside the lake, then past Cessy, where my cousin and his wife live. Sadly they weren't able to see us on this occasion.

It's a steep climb from Geneva into the Jura mountains. We stopped to admire the views and could just pick out the summit of Mont Blanc in the distance.

The Jura Hotel in Saint-Claude was today's destination. We have a nice room here and enjoyed a more than adequate 'Menu du Jour' in their restaurant with the same panoramic view as are enjoyed by our room.

Before dinner we enjoyed a stroll around this interesting town that used to be a centre of pipe manufacture. It probably still is, but on a smaller scale. We've been here before, in 2014. Then we were camping, now we are more central. There is a huge cathedral, interesting bridges, large wall paintings/graffiti, and some nice local walks. But that's for tomorrow.

We walked about 4 km, with 100 metres of ascent.

Today's pictures:
Idyllic coffee stop at Riddes
Lunch by Lake Geneva
A view from our hotel room
World's largest pipe and diamond
Graffiti in Saint-Claude

Sunday, 9 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 46 - Zermatt - A Visit to Trift and Höhbalmen

Sunday 9 September 2018

Another fabulous mountain day. We awoke to blue skies once again, and they stayed that way all day.

The plan for a relatively easy day offered a good excuse for a lie in. So it was 9.30 by the time we set off from the apartment, heading for the main street and a footpath leading up the Trift Gorge.

After yesterday's exertions, and with our first destination hovering seemingly directly above us, a very leisurely pace was in order, with frequent pauses to read interesting information boards. Did you know that Bearded Bellflowers (the hairy ones) are warmer inside the bells and provide a warm home for overnighting insects?

After a while we had somehow gained the 350 metres necessary to reach the Edelweiss Tea House. Coffee and cake went down well, and some Project 1949 photos were taken. The Tea House (aka Edelweiss Alterhaupt) has been there since 1898. The route ahead was debated and after a long break we headed on directly to Hotel du Trift, a further 400 metres above us at the head of the gorge. More drinks, but as we were carrying our lunches the owner was foiled in his bid to sell us any food. He did show us some nice pictures from 1909 though.

There were some mountain bikers here, and a Swiss chap from Thun who had bivouaced overnight somewhere high up between here and the Matterhorn. Bravo!

A plan to return the way we had come was foiled by the brilliant weather. We decided to continue by way of the well graded path up to Höhbalmen, some 300 metres higher at around 2700 metres.

We reached a high corner at around 1.30 and stopped for lunch. The mountain vista was virtually matchless, a wide horizon of snowy peaks under a deep blue cloudless sky. From Dom, right across the horizon to Kleine Matterhorn, we could feast our eyes on at least eleven 4000 metre summits. Our entire visit was put into perspective as we could see virtually all of the routes we had walked. Only the Matterhorn was hidden from view, and that revealed itself (as if we haven't seen enough of it) immediately after we started walking again. In the distance we could see people on some of the peaks, and also descending the glacier from Monte Rosa.

After almost an hour we dragged ourselves away and continued to Höhbalmen, passing the time with a lady who was the only person we saw on this path. The air was crystal clear. What a contrast to our visit last year to the Rockies, with their crowded paths, smoky air, and long drives to some of the walks. And Zermatt is one of the busiest resorts in the Alps.

The well graded path got us quite quickly back to the Edelweiss Tea House, from where we returned to the admittedly busy high street. We then diverted up towards Zum See to secure the last of our 'Project 1949' photos of the trip. It has been a fun project, the success of which will be judged later. We failed to reach quite a number of the viewpoints so may well return. We would certainly use this Dolomit apartment again. It lacks a view of the Matterhorn, but it's very comfortable and everything works. But we will bring a chopping board next time!

We took some time to find the view to 'Old Zermatt' pictured in the 1949 album. It has changed, but we think our last image was taken in roughly the same place.

We were back at base soon after 5 pm, and soon after that we were enjoying a sumptuous feast in a bid to lighten the load that we take back to Täsch.

We walked about 15 km, with 1100 metres of ascent and descent.

Today's pictures:
Edelweiss Tea House
Hotel du Trift
Sue with Trifthorn backdrop
Sue at lunchtime
The lunchtime panorama

Saturday, 8 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 45 - Zermatt - A Visit to Täschhütte and Weingartensee

Saturday 8 September 2018

The sun returned today. All day. There were just a few wisps of afternoon cloud skirmishing with some of the higher peaks.

We took the Sunnegga train/lift at about 9 am. It was frosty in the shade up at 2200 metres. Sue tried to get some artistic images.

As usual we left the crowds to huddle around the vicinity of an easy journey back to Zermatt. There was hardly anybody on the lovely belvedere path that hugs the 2200 to 2350 metre contours all the way to Täschalp, some 8 km from Sunnegga. Just a couple of walkers, a mountain biker and a runner. 

We eschewed the attractions of Tufteren soon after starting out, but after those 8 km of superb paths we couldn't resist pausing for coffees (in mugs!) and apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce at the Europaweg Hütte in Täschalp. En route we enjoyed magnificent views back to the Matterhorn, and we passed an area where rockfall is clearly a problem. There were lots of warning signs, and three small bunkers in which to hide. I wonder whether the protection on the path (which is the 'Walker's Haute Route' trail) further north has improved since I was last there in about 2006.

A few other people were enjoying a break at the Europaweg Hütte. I have a feeling it's on the Tour of Monte Rosa route as well as the Haute Route.

We left them to luxuriate in the sunshine and headed on up to Täschhütte, a 500 metre climb past edelweiss and grasshoppers. Lunch was on a bench near the hut, after we'd taken some 'Project 1949' photos. The hut has been extended since then.

The weather was so good that we decided to continue by way of Weingartensee, a lake at 3058 metres. The signpost for this pointed directly up an apparently pathless hill, but before heading off at 90° to the sign we thought we'd better check with the guardian.

"Oh, there was a big party here last night and they licked all the salt of the signpost and it's now pointing in the wrong direction. I must see to that" she said. 

A partying herd of Valais blackneck two tone goats was responsible. The punishment, if the culprits are ever found, will be severe. Also in this area are herds of Valais black nose sheep. They are rather cute and very tame. Apparently they are a delicacy. Whilst we were out today, a big celebration was taking place in Zermatt, where one such juicy specimen has been crowned 'Miss Zermatt 2018'. We were sorry to miss the party.

The path beyond Täschhütte was great, after an initial section that was uncomfortably vertiginous. We climbed a further 500 metres past the yellow flowers of Grey Alpine Groundsel to around 3200 metres. Here the path signs changed from yellow to blue. We soon decided that 'blue' means more difficult. Our pace slowed dramatically as we slowly made our way across a field of huge boulders. After some time the route - marked by small cairns and by painted waymarks, there was no path in the normal sense of the word - avoided an obvious but very bouldery descent route and headed up to another minor col. From here we could see the attractively named Weingartensee lake. It was nearly empty and looked more like a giant farmyard full of slurry. Sue thought it looked as if someone had stolen the plug. There would be no magical reflections of the Matterhorn or any other mountain in that today.

By way of compensation, our views to the nearby mountains were stunning, with the snow draped summits sitting below a deep vermillion backdrop. Täschhorn (4491 metres) was dominant. It looked very inaccessible.

Täschalp could be seen far below. It was a steep 900 metre descent to get there. We lost the marked route (path it was not) at one point and had to backtrack. Soon after that the route evolved into a discernable path that descended steeply via the top of a glacial moraine wall.

We made it back down to Täschalp by 5.15 and then, after a final tea and biscuits break, took a lovely scenic path directly to Täsch. A train at 6.30 returned us to base in a carriage full of stony faced tourists who were wrapped in winter coats and looked as if they would rather be anywhere but here. We must have looked out of place in our t-shirts and shorts and wide grins after a classic day out in perfect weather.

We walked just over 22 km, with 1200 metres ascent and 1800 metres descent.

Today's pictures:
The Matterhorn from Sunnegga
Looking back on the path to Täschalp
Approaching Täschalp

Friday, 7 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 44 - Zermatt - Lunch at Zum See

Friday 7 September 2018

The day started badly with the news of the sudden death yesterday of Mike Collier, a UMIST contemporary of mine with whom many happy times were enjoyed. Very sad news indeed, and we send our condolences to Linda and the rest of the family. This has played on our minds all day.

A rainy morning encouraged us to rest indoors. My current book, Raymond Chandler's 'The Long Good-bye' continues to enthrall with its wonderful prose and gripping plot.

By 12.30 the sun had returned, so we strolled up to Zum See for lunch, as prescribed by Richard, who knows Zermatt quite well. John had also eaten there the other day and had extolled its virtues.

On the way we passed the Old Presbytery, which apparently dates from 1742. It's part of 'Project 1949' and today's top two pictures illustrate the 'Then and Now' nature of the project. This is one location that (with Josef's help) we got right. Others have been more difficult.

Whilst the mountains held onto their clouds all day, it was a warm and sunny day in the valley once the rain had stopped. A pleasant 3 km stroll up to the restaurant at Zum See. We enjoyed an excellent lunch that obviated the need for a large evening meal. Sadly the house Petit Arvene wine recommended by Richard wasn't on the list and a brief scrutiny of that list resulted in an order for a thirst quenching beer.

The other customers included ancient and well heeled visitors who arrived on foot, and three workmen who arrived by helicopter.

Richard had suggested that we book the restaurant, but there was no need. Whilst it was busy, there was no question of anyone being turned away. Richard's visits have been in winter, when we are told that the takings in the town for a day are equivalent to a month's taking in the summer.

After our meal we continued up the south side of the valley to around 2100 metres, before descending and crossing the torrent to reach the pretty hamlet of Zmutt, with its Walliser style buildings. Beyond that we took a lovely 'middle path' back to Zermatt. There were hardly any people around. So few in fact that I nearly trod on a 70 cm adder that was sunning itself in the middle of the path. Then I nearly trod on a red squirrel as it ambled across the path just where I happened to be passing at the time. There were lots of birds about, from warblers to finches, nuthatches and thrushes, not to mention the ubiquitous nutcrackers.

Back at the apartment, we had time for a game of Boggle before settling down with a beer and a snack and a good book.

We strolled about 10 km with 500 metres ascent.

Today's pictures:
The Old Presbytery (2)
Lunch at Zum See
A helicopter drops in for lunch
Old buildings in the Walliser style in Zmutt

Thursday, 6 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 43 - Zermatt - A Visit to Fluhalp, 2620 metres

Thursday 6 September 2018

Yesterday we walked about 18 km, with 800 metres ascent.
Today we covered around 16 km, with 500 metres ascent.

Another sunny start, but it soon clouded over and the views lacked the contrast and clarity of the previous two days. Today we got back to the apartment at 4.15, a few minutes after which it was pouring with rain.

The Sunnegga train provided our means of ascent today, whisking us up from 1620 metres after a five minute walk from our apartment, to 2288 metres at Sunnegga. The journey took place entirely in a tunnel, and lasted five minutes. More a sort of 600 metre goods lift than a train journey.

We were soon alone on the hillside, with the vast majority of customers taking the onward gondola to Blauherd (2571 metres).

Some black and white goats shunned Sue's attempt to befriend them, en route to Stellisee, a small lake surrounded by persons of an oriental nature. (Not a problem as whilst there are many such folk at the flesh pots,  they are a rare sight more than a few metres from a point of transport.)

We tried our best to get a good 'reflection of the Matterhorn' picture, but the conditions weren't so good today. Fish were continuously breaking the reflective surface of Stellisee, despite the efforts of a fly fisherman to reduce the population.

Not many folk were continuing to Fluhalp, where Project 1949 had an assignment. Coffees and apfelstrudel were duly consumed, and every effort was made, with limited success, to replicate the old photos.

We continued up the Tallinen valley for a while, but failed to locate the exact place where one of the 1949 photos had been taken. Marmots shrieked in derision.

After walking along the crest of the moraine for a while, we descended to Grindjisee, where the views were not really worth recording. Then it was on to Grünsee, where we spent ages trying to find the exact location for a project picture. It's a shame that clouds obscured much of the mountain view.

A long woodland descent down virtually deserted paths crossed the Gornergrat railway above Findelbach Station. Our waves generated a generous response from the passengers on a long train, though the squirrels didn't sound too pleased with our presence.

Housing in the pretty suberb of Winkelmatten seemed to be competing for the best floral display, mostly in a deep shade of purple.

An excellent walk, and as noted earlier, we got home before it started to rain. Another roast chicken dinner was concocted, preceded by avocado salad, with baked peaches and ice cream for dessert. The Swiss 'Dôle du Valais' Grand Pierraz wine provided by our guest for the evening, John Burt, went down very well.

Today's pictures:
Apartment Dolomit, our home for the week
Reflections in Stellisee
The mountain hut at Fluhalp
On the moraine near Fluhalp
John and Sue before dinner