Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Saturday 29 August 2009 - Path Bagging in Kandersteg

The summertime visitor to Kandersteg with his/her eyes on a good hike or 60 could do worse than head straight for the Tourist Information Office and splash out CHF 18.50 on a customised 1:25000 scale map 'Kandersteg Wanderkarte'. This extracts the relevant sections from four standard 1:25000 maps to centre the map just south of Kandersteg, leaving the visitor fully equipped with just this one excellent sheet.

Imposed on the face of the map are numbers 1 to 60, representing 60 routes varying from short walks in Kandersteg village to multi-day Alpine excursions requiring ropes and ice axes. The back of the map is crammed with information, including descriptions for all 60 of the routes. Tourist Information kindly provide an English translation, so it seems reasonable to start 'bagging' these routes. We are (ie I am) aiming for 20 during our short stay here. And if we return one day to find some of them deleted and new ones in their place, I for one - in true Munroist spirit - will not be at all upset!

We also have Kev Reynolds' excellent walker's guide to the Bernese Alps (Cicerone), but for a holiday based in Kandersteg the above map and translated route guide is all that most people would need.

Yesterday's circuit gained two ticks on the list, and this morning's short stroll to Höh, less than 200 metres above the village, gained another.

The low cloud lifted as we lunched in the sunshine outside the apartment, so this afternoon we took the Allmenalp cablecar (a small DIY affair) up to 1700 metres, to 'bag' two more routes as we rose a further 100 metres, with fine views across the valley to Öeschinensee, before a gentle 700 metre descent back home.

The cablecar trip afforded us a good view of route 56. We won't be doing that on this visit. We had a bird's eye view of both its Tyrolean Traverses (which on closer inspection appear to be optional) - it's a Via Ferrata (Klettersteig) of the harder variety, and we have left our zypers at home.

Allmenalp is a mecca for paragliders - yesterday we could see masses of them from across the valley. But today we were alone in the small cablecar; very few 'fliers' were out due we presume to unfavourable weather conditions, though the ones we did see looked fine.

Despite the promise of a sunny afternoon, it never really materialised; the cloud lifted but it remained dull. So today's image is a rather boring snapshot taken in Kandersteg village during our short spell of sunshine.

The journey here did Sue's muscle problem no good at all, but after two days in situ she reports that it is benefiting from some good books (thank you Susan and Hazel), light exercise, mountain air and sunshine.

Next day

Friday, 28 August 2009

Friday 28 August 2009 - Öeschinensee

Last time I visited Öeschinensee we enjoyed a beer outside a restaurant whilst being entertained by the antics of a group of scuba divers on the lake. By all accounts it was pretty cool beneath the ice!

Today we enjoyed a beer outside the same restaurant, then we lunched beside the lake, entertained this time by the antics of overloaded rowing boats full of predominantly English scouts. This must be where the scout masters bring their charges in an effort to drown or otherwise calm them before setting them loose to practice their smoking, drinking and petting skills in front of the residents of the small town far below.

We had a lovely walk, just 8 km with 600 metres of ascent, on a lovely summery day. The flowers are not quite the spectacle that we enjoyed on our last visit to the Alps, but are still in good form, with the same Autumn Crocuses that we will soon see adorning the banks of the River Mersey, doing very well indeed.

The other picture, by the way, is what it looks like here in summer. I had wondered. Our 'Home from Home' is the ground floor apartment.

Finally, a few messages, as I find 'commenting' difficult using the small 'phone:

Louise - I have to get to Montrose as well, of course, but YOU WILL GET A PRIZE, even if I have to co-opt the Old Hobo Pie Man to convey it to you - he certainly will be there - it's his 10th TGOC so he gets automatic entry.

Old Hobo - masquerading as a Bridesmaid? Not so unlikely as it sounds, I fear!

Judith - hello - as a recent arrival to these pages you may find the above comments bizarre! I hope you like the image of 'Home from Home' in summer. It's in a wonderful location (more on that in future postings) and is available to rent! And today's walk didn't worsen Sue's condition in the way that our planned backpack may have done...

Hendrik - yes, it is a brilliant sign, by the café half way up the Wrekin.

Next day

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Thursday 27 August 2009 - A Home from Home


Today Sue and I were due to arrive in Saas Grund with a view to continuing our 'Italian Border Route' (IBR) backpack, roughly in the direction of Trieste.

Sadly, Sue's muscle problems mean that at best she can only manage short days carrying no more than a bum bag.

Whilst we do know of someone who backpacks in that style, it's not for us, so our IBR has been abandoned for the time being. Quite upsetting really.

Anyway, we had tickets to Geneva that we didn't want to waste, and a couple of emails opened up the opportunity to enjoy a Home from Home (or two) in the Alps.

So we packed the kitchen sink, loaded it into a strangely 'unmarked' C3 hire car at Geneva, and were here at our first Home from Home soon after lunchtime.

Much as we like Timperley, the view from our living room window there is not one that I can recall having used in a blog posting. However, today's postcard from our Home from Home is just that - you can even see the window frame at the top, but the wine glasses are just out of shot.

Hidden in the middle of the image is a huge, mesmerising, waterfall - 50 to 100 metres high and prominent in our view despite being a good 2 km away. Beyond Öschiback a backdrop of retreating glaciers acts as the foreground for the bulky peaks of the Blüemlisalp massif, some 2500 metres above us and 9 km distant.

Fabulous.

I think we'll tarry a while!

Next day

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Place in the Sun, and some Competition Winners

2601apartment

I wonder what it looks like in summer?

I’ve been very lax in awarding prizes for a couple of Caption Competitions:

Firstly, on 17 April:

1701captioncontest

The winner is Louise, not surprisingly I suppose, as she claims to specialise in ‘Vegetation’ in the Highlands, with:

"After a few days camping wild, Dave realised his facial hair was beginning to interfere with his navigation..."

Louise wins either a drink of her choice in the bar of the Park Hotel, Montrose, on 27 May 2010, or a chocolate delight if she wishes to send her address to me by way of the ‘Contact us’ button here.

Thank you, Old Tom, Dot and Mike the Pie Man, for entering – you didn’t win this time but if you remind me when I see you, you’ll each receive a ‘runner’s up goodie’.

Secondly, on 13 July:

1301andrew

This contest attracted excellent entries, with an outstanding winner  from ‘Nightbird’, whose:

“In a frantic attempt to reduce the weight of his back-pack, Andrew decides to eat his ciabattas - starting with the left foot.”

captured the essence of the trip, with a fine blend of Italian culture (humour) and language (‘ciabatta apparently means ‘slipper’).

Nightbird (aka Jenny) therefore wins a double gin and tonic at a nearby hostelry sometime in September.

The runners up, Alan, Mike and George, all receive a pint of best bitter next time I see them – if they remind me….

Well done everyone, the next contest will be in October, if I can get our subject to assume an appropriate posture whilst on the Devon coastal path.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Lymm Centre

By the Bridgewater Canal today, in the height of summer.

2501lymm1

Friday 21 to Sunday 23 August 2009 – A Weekend around Much Wenlock

On Friday Sue and I were joined in the sunshine by Al, Hazel, Kate, Andrew, Helen and Jacob on this most pleasant excursion to Shropshire.

Much Wenlock is a land of giant pussies…

2102cat2 

…where the residents worship in a giant building, parts of which are over 1000 years old…

2103church1

…and the streets have anciently strange names…

2104sign

We found respite in the shade at the excellent camp site at Sytche – only a short stroll from the centre of town….

2105camp

…and enjoyed a fine sunset…

2106sunset

…before star gazing and a night time adventure in the nearby wood.

Saturday dawned earlier for some than for others.

We crawled out of the VE25 (a tent) to witness the following scene:

2201breakfast1

…it was a fine effort, appreciated by the entire team…

2202breakfast2

…then, whilst the grain was harvested from the adjacent fields, we set off up The Wrekin (a local Hill), followed every step of the way by the Paparazzi in Pink…

2203lola

…the signposts were eccentrically informative – we chose ‘THE OTHER WAY’….

2204sign

…and reached a fine viewpoint that even Andrew and Jacob may have appreciated…

2205view

….whilst the Paparazzi spotted this Red Admiral…

2206redadmiral

…and took a giant leap onto the unknown…

2207summit

…before lazing with 40+ mile vistas and views into 17 counties…

2208clouds

…before leaving this fine spot; the Paparazzi making it down first…

2209car

…due to hunger – assuaged by the Talbot Inn’s fine fare – we wondered how much it had changed since they started serving food in the 14th Century, around 700 years ago…

2210lunch

…Sue experimented with hat making as an alternative form of pain relief…

2211sue

…then we ambled around an Olympic Trail (I won’t bore you with its history here), admiring Raynalds Mansion – the frontage of a medieval hall added by John Raynalds in 1682…

2212raynalds

…and passing more contemporary hostelries…

2213fox

…before a spell at the playground, which was entertainingly close to the village cricket pitch (225 for 3 and still going strong seemed quite a good showing by the yokels)…finally completing the Olympic Trail, exhausted, at this commemorative bench…

2214bench

…before adjourning for sausages and burgers, etc, back at the still sunny campsite, with crows coming in to roost and buzzards soaring overhead.

Sunday found us enjoying the fruits of nature on Wenlock Edge

2301bramble

…with cloudy views of The Wrekin…

2302wrekin

…and

“Here’s a Tree in Summer,
Here’s a Tree in Winter,
Here’s a Bunch of Flowers,
….April Showers.”

2303kate

The pleasant 7 km stroll took us past Major’s Leap and above a quarry; large dragonflies zoomed around – certainly too fast for our cameras, so I made do with a few flowery snapshots…

2304flowers

I’m not an expert, but I reckon, clockwise from top left, that these may be:

Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris)
Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) – a pretty little gentian
Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)
Bramble (Rubus fruticosus)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)
St John’s Wort – not sure which one
Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
Lords and Ladies (fruit only) (Arum maculatum)
(Edible) Hygrophorus leucophaeus, or is it the deadly ‘Death Cap’??!
Yellow Pimpernel (Lysimachia nemorum)
Broad-leaved Willowherb (Epilobium montanum)
Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
and Common Eyebright (Euphrasia nemorosa).

There was also lots of Yarrow, Hawkbit, Knapweed, Ling, Chervil and Self-heal, as well as much more that no doubt went unnoticed as we rushed back to Much Wenlock for a late lunch and an easy drive home under a darkening sky whilst England gave the Aussies a good spanking at The Oval, to win back The Ashes.

A lovely weekend, in a very pretty part of the world, despite its proximity to the ‘Black Country’.