Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 14 July 2012

On Holiday in Bolzano (Day 2) - Runkelstein Fortress

You'll be pleased to hear that there will be no more 'Path of the Legends' stories - they are all pretty awful and the one we did relate had to be heavily edited.

Today's plan was to take the cable-car up to the Renon plateau, which is cooler than the Bolzano valley and offers great views towards the Dolomites. But with lots of cloud, and rain forecast, we decided instead to visit the nearby fortress of Runkelstein. Path 9 from near the hotel took us high above Gries to the belvedere Passeggiata del Guncina, with fine views down to the Murie-Gries monastery, virtually next to our hotel, and the Adige valley as a whole.

After a while, path 5 took over and we descended to cross a road via a precarious diagonal pedestrian crossing. Care was taken not to hamper the progress of the vintage cars taking part in the South Tyrol Rally, which I'm sure we've encountered in the past.

The Cascata e gola del rio fago (pictured) was passed, before we crossed the E5 route and took a riverside path up to the old fortress (also pictured) on the outskirts of Bolzano. But it feels well out of town and was a relaxing place to spend a few hours.

The fortress was started in the 13th century by Baron Wangan, and is built of and on an outcrop of porphyry rock that retains its heat better than most rock but is subject to degradation. So there have been many repairs and additions over the years, most notable after bourgeois brothers Franz and Niklaus Vintler bought it in 1385 and commissioned unique frescos for the whole structure. Many of the frescos survive, and they reveal aspects of courtly life in the fourteenth century that can't be found elsewhere.

The fortress, which became a castle fairly early in its life when it ceased to be an armed fortification and assumed a life as the home of noblemen, also has an exhibition about the Jews in the Bolzano area. It seems that they were allowed to play a greater part in the life of the town than were Jews in other parts of the South Tyrol area.

So, a fairly leisurely day, culminating in a pizzeria around the corner. We thought about trying the Hopfen & Co slow food restaurant in town, but the gathering clouds and rumbling thunder put us off.

Back to 'work' tomorrow!

Comments:

Markus - I may have misled you, next Friday is less than a 'short' day, it's a 'zero' day, perhaps the last of our trip!

Data:
14 July 2012
10km and 250 metres ascent around Bolzano
Flower of the Day - Orange Mullein, on the path to the fortress

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

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On Holiday in Bolzano (Day 1)

We awoke to rain, and it has been showery all day. We hope Josh managed ok on his big day to Levico Terme.

After managing until 11am without doing very much at all, we strolled at least ten yards from the hotel to a coffee shop, before braving the elements for a tour of some of the sights of this interesting city.

Eventually we gravitated to the shopper's paradise called 'Sportler', recommended by Gillian, where €30 was removed from my wallet in return for a rather basic replacement compass. I will try to take more care of this one!

Meanwhile, Sue was engaged in a long conversation with her bank, as her debit card was being rejected by ATMs. However, a duff debit card is better than no debit card at all, which is what she found in her wallet (or more accurately didn't find in her wallet) an hour later.

We soon forgave Sportler for the expensive compass when their concerned and courteous staff produced the missing card from one of their tills.

That left us free of worry to explore the excellent Natural History Museum (top picture) before returning through the busy but interesting streets (middle picture) and via a Spar shop for the ingredients for a luxurious supper in our room (more Tour de France - the Brits seem to be doing rather well!), reached via the road across the river (bottom picture) that leads to our current home in Gries - a town known mainly as a health resort, with many hotels, villas, gardens, parks and vineyards, that was incorporated into the city of Bolzano in 1925.

We certainly feel somewhat rested...

Comments:

Laura - hello, you seem to have sent us your storms!

Data:
13 July 2012
4km around Bolzano
Flower of the Day - Dwarf Soapwort (we've seen it quite a lot in the mountains but only identified it today via a picture in the Natural History Museum)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

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Friday, 13 July 2012

Titch the Giant

Once, there lived an emperor who kept a very strong giant at his court. He was sure that there was no stronger giant in the whole world. When his daughter reached the age to marry, the emperor called out to his empire that the bravest men should challenge his giant to a duel. The man who was able to defeat him would take his daughter as his wife.

Many courageous men accepted the challenge but nobody was able to defeat the giant and they went away in disgrace.

The emperor's daughter would have to wait a long time for her husband.

Finally, another giant from the edge of the empire, named Titch, (the giant, not the empire, and he kindly posed with Sue yesterday) got in touch with the emperor. He loved adventures and looked forward to fighting the emperor's undefeated giant. When the emperor started the duel, Titch took his opponent's right hand with lightning speed and squeezed it so hard that the blood squirted out of his finger nails. It was bright red. The emperor's giant writhed in pain and roared terribly, but Titch pressed even harder. So the emperor's giant shouted "Let me go, let me go; you're the winner!"

So Titch was able to win against the emperor's strong giant with weak fingers.

But Titch did not want to have anything to do with the marriage of the princess. "Give your daughter to whoever you want, she's already too old to bear children because of your stupid delays, and I already have a wife" he told the emperor.

So the emperor sent Titch back to Bolzano from where he organised a coup when the emperor died and his childless daughter became a nun. It had really bugged Titch that he had won the duel so quickly, after which he had whinged: "if only the emperor had a stronger giant, the fight was much too easy!"

So Titch installed his own giant son, who he had named Arnold, as emperor. Then he went back to Bolzano to live happily ever after in a beautiful woodland glade.

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E5 in reverse - Day 12 - Weißenstein (1527m) to Bolzano (262m)

Yesterday, after our late afternoon descent through woods laden with black squirrels, buzzards, nutcrackers, chaffinches and other bird species we couldn't identify, we wandered into the welcoming arms of the Weißenstein sanctuary. And how pleased we were to have decided to wing it instead of staying at Fontanefredde. We spent the evening in the company of Bruno, a dignified priest from Udine, and with Tony and Mariuccia, from Bergamo. For the second day running, we spent the evening with someone who had spent time in Chester. Tony had taught English to Italians there at a summer school. We enjoyed a long chat with him which we continued this morning. Hello Tony and Mariuccia, and for good measure you are pictured above with us in front of the immaculate Baroque-style church.

After the excitement of the photo shoot with T and M we had a look around the sanctuary, which apart from the church, with its huge collection of ex votos (offerings made in fulfilment of vows), has the hotel, with views east to major Dolomitic peaks and west to even higher snow-clad Alpine summits, a youth hostel, a cultural centre and a congress hall.

By 9.30 we were on our way again, on the short last lap of this stage of our walk. A pleasant stroll through fairly open woodland took us down the Forstweg Alte Säge, a pilgrims' route past the Twelve Stations of the Cross, unassuming shrines that lead up to the sanctuary.

Today we started for the first time on the second side of our now well worn Kompass 121 strip map. This second side will take us to beyond Solden, so whatever reservations we may have about the dated nature of the paths marked on the map, we certainly can't complain about the weight - and we have no maps to send home at this stage of the trip.

Easy paths through woodland steaming on the clear day with Dolomitic views then led past fifteen mountain bikers having a morning chat and around the head of a valley, to the sprawling village named after its seventh century Bavarian tribal settlers - Nova Ponente, or Deutschnofen (we are now in dual language territory). It was a lovely sunny day with temperatures in the low 20sC. Ideal for walking, and also for sitting outside a café with caffe macchiato and Mohnstrudel, a local delicacy - poppy seed pastry (pictured).

It's on these occasions that Gillian's guide book is at its most useful. Anyone can walk the E5 armed with the 1:50,000 scale strip maps and a compass, simply by following the waymarks, but the research into local history and culture carried out by Gillian and conveyed in her writing couldn't all be picked up by casual walkers of the route like us. Thanks again, Gillian, and we hope you don't mind a selection of the fruits of your labour being reiterated on these pages. So, thanks to our guide book we had been able today to plan an 11.00am elevenses at a place where we could sample a local delicacy.

Luckily, route finding for the rest of the day was simple in our south to north direction thanks to the copious waymarking, as I'd somehow contrived to lose the compass we use when waymarks are sparse or uncertain. [I think Josh said he got a little misplaced coming north to south, so it may not be quite so easy in that direction, but it may be that having started from Bolzano he just took a little while to get into his rhythm. It was good to hear from him today.]

After Nova Ponente we continued amiably past a children's camp ground, following The Path of the Legends, one of which we may recount later. The terrain was to a large extent more of the same, as pictured in the previous posting, but with frequent fine mountain views to treat us in between the welcome shade of the woodland sections.

All too soon, at 2.30pm, we reached the Colle/Kohlern cable-car station at 1135 metres. The brainchild of a local hotelier, this cable-car dates back to 1908 and was the first such system in the whole of the Alps, though nowadays the original double-tiered bench system has been superseded by a conventional cabin. As such, we felt bound to use this ancient form of transport to perform our 'landing' in Bolzano, especially as the E5 route takes this 'path'!

But not before cold drinks at the café and a visit to the nearby huge wooden watchtower, which sadly was locked, preventing access to its expansive views over the Bozen basin and its surrounding attractions and peaks.

At 30C, the 3km walk across Bolzano to our comfortable hotel was a slow affair. I'll be pleased to give the 15kg load a little rest in a wardrobe and enjoy the pleasures of Bolzano without the encumbrance of its company for a couple of days. Not that I mind carrying it. After this short break I'll be raring to go again on Sunday morning, when the initial straight line of the E5 route looks very appealing!

After enjoying a rare visit to the Tour de France on TV, we popped round the corner for an excellent pizza.

Then we 'crashed out'.

Comments:

Patrick - thanks for the path advice, but we decided to avoid the heat of path 4 and take the cable-car, which after all is the route taken by E5!

Josh - it was great to hear from you. We were delighted to see that you made better use of Fabrizio's hospitality than we were able to...

Nick - thanks for the Constance info, and good luck with the move (keep cool, Daniella!).

Ethan - good to hear from you. Good luck with any exams you may have, and I hope you have an interesting summer planned.

Data:
12 July 2012
17km in 5 hours with 400m ascent, plus 10 minute cable-car to Bolzano from Colle (1100m), and then 3km+ walking around in Bolzano
Cumulative on E5: 223km with 11,200m ascent
Other E5 walkers - none in evidence
Flower of the Day - Grass of Parnassus

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

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Thursday, 12 July 2012

E5 in reverse - The End of Phase Two

Greetings from Hotel Post Gries in Bolzano, where Sue is on laundry duty and I'm watching the Tour de France. Today's entry will follow, probably tomorrow, but in the meantime here's a woodland scene fairly typical of the paths we have been taking in recent days - and very pleasant they were too.

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E5 in reverse - Day 11 - Gfrill (1382m) to Weißenstein (1527m)

The day started normally enough. The German lady in the adjoining room crept through our bedroom before 7am and we didn't see her or her group again. Apparently they left early, in the Trento direction.

Breakfast was comprehensive, following on as it did in the same vein as last night's offering, which comprised a starter of spaghetti with pesto, melon risotto and a violet coloured flower, followed by a pork escalope rolled up with prosciutto and herbs, with sautéed potatoes (hooray - no polenta!), with a raspberry and cream roulade to finish.

After scoffing as much as we could in polite company, Sue sat down with Mirko the motorcyclist (pictured), who had spent over five years in the UK, redesigning her German phrase book. I probably have Mirko to thank for the first entry:

"Zwei kalte bier bitter."

It was to be a short day, so we didn't feel a need to rush off, eventually leaving at 9.30am. A sunken pathway led steeply up to forestry tracks with occasional views of hazy mountainsides through the trees. Up on the plateau we passed areas of bog and other tempting diversionary attractions that tried to lure us away from the E5 path.

Sue remained loyal to E5, claiming that someone important had organised an overnight shower specifically for the purpose of lining the E5 path with fresh strawberries.

After an hour and a half, and quite a bit of climbing, the well positioned Malga Corno was reached. Coffees were welcome although it had been a hot ascent to this fine viewpoint.

Our next target was the pretty village of Truden, mainly downhill on the forest tracks and paths that have been a feature of the last couple of days. A pleasant village with a church roof that glowed with multi-coloured tiles. We plonked ourselves outside Albergo Zum Löuer and tucked into some ice cold drinks and a copious and tasty plate of spaghetti carbonara.

It was 1.30 by the time we had finished our leisurely lunch, and it only took another 30 minutes to reach Fontanefredde, just over the hill, where we'd booked our night's accommodation at the Albergo.

The staff at Fichtenhof had told us to stay in Truden rather than here, and we could understand why. The faded Albergo was next to a busy road in a viewless position. It was only 2pm, so we decided to 'wing it' by continuing along the trail.

First, courtesy dictated that we tell the Albergo we would not be staying. Sue explained to the owner that we were very early and wanted to continue walking. Would he confuse us by telling us about his fine hotel and pointing to the sky to warn us of a storm, I wondered? No, all he said was "ok", before turning to continue pruning his plants.

No sooner had we left the security of Fontanefredde, a distant rumble of thunder asked 'was that really a wise decision?'

Gillian's book suggests spending the night at Wastlhof, near the village of Redagno, a 500 metre hike up pleasant sunken lanes from Fontanefredde, but we'd already established that they no longer provide beds for E5 walkers, having converted their accommodation to apartments rented on a weekly basis. Up the hill from there, the Zirmahof establishment, a country house hotel, would have been happy to put us up for €140 each. They were friendly there, and Sue got a brief guided tour of the posh surroundings as she was taken from reception to the kitchen to re-charge our water bottles.

There may be more accommodation available in Redagno village, but we had a target in mind and an excursion to research possibilities would have taken up valuable time, so after initially heading off in the wrong direction, we pressed on along E5 across meadows. It was nearly 4pm.

A gentle ascent of 200 metres finally freed us from encounters with sundry 'gentry' types who were obviously rambling around within close range of their Zirmahof luxuries, and we descended gently down to the head of the Butterloch canyon (pictured), a site of geological interest where over the past 15,000 years a stream has excavated the ground to a depth of 400 metres, exposing geological strata from millions of years ago. I explored the top of the canyon whilst Sue encountered an 'orchid delay'. Then we stumbled around in the canyon for a while before finding each other. Some of the path has been re-routed due to further erosion, and we didn't find the 'airy ladders' mentioned by Gillian. Perhaps they have now also gone.

It was an interesting place.

Another 200 metre ascent through open woodland took us to a lovely belvedere with stunning views east across to major Dolomitic massifs such as the dominant Latemar group. Fantastic!

From there it was an easy track down to the religious sanctuary of Weißenstein, which we reached at 6pm after what had been an unexpected and unplanned, but very enjoyable, long day. One of Weißenstein's main features is a hotel, and yes, they had a room available at a reasonable price. The efficient chap on reception also took our order for food, which would be provided at 7.30, giving us plenty of time to chill out before dinner.

The storm duly arrived at 6.15 - it was impressive. Was someone looking after us today?

I'll write a bit more about our time at Weißenstein tomorrow, as I'm running out of steam just now - the retreat doesn't get many E5 walkers, and English people only pop up here every few years, so everyone wants to shake our hands!

Anyway, tomorrow's hard 9 hour day (plus stops) to Bolzano has now officially been regraded as an easy 5 hour day - perhaps more if we don't use the cablecar.

Comments:

Nick and Alan R - Sue is still smarting from the incisive accuracy of Alan's comment, but I did manage to catch her unawares this morning when she commandeered Mirko to reconstruct her German phrase book.

Data:
11 July 2012
29km in 8.5 hours with 1500m ascent
Other E5 walkers - none in evidence, we saw very few people out today
Flower of the Day - Common Twayblade

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

You'll notice that the itineraries for today and tomorrow need editing.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 10 - Cembra (673m) to Gfrill (1382m)

Hotel al Caminetto provided a comfortable if rather hot night, and a good breakfast. We are always happy when our bill for B&B and food and a few beers/wine comes to less than €100, though we know it will be more for tonight.

After about an hour of climbing steeply through the woods above Cembra, the increasing darkness turned to rain, light at first but gradually increasing in solidity. Waterproofs were donned for just the second time in ten days. Five other E5 walkers were met, descending from Albergo Lago Santo. As has become customary, they don't recognise us as E5 walkers as we are going the 'wrong' way and Sue has no rucksack. There's just a "buongiorno" exchange - probably for one of the last times, as today we move into the more linguistically challenging German speaking area for the rest of the trip.

After the long 550 metre climb through the woods, we came upon the small but picturesque Lago Santo, and a delightful coffee stop at the Albergo at the far end of the lake.

Here our plans went a little awry when Sue discovered that she had left her engagement ring in Cembra. The ring was rapidly located and some other customers were requisitioned to reunite Sue with her valuables. She was driven back down to Cembra and then managed to hitch a lift back with Flora, who happens to work at the rifugio. She's an angel. Meanwhile I was recruited by Veronica (hello Veronica), a schoolgirl from Trento on holiday for a few days with her grandparents, to help her practice her English. She had been to Manchester and Liverpool and had an impressive command of English for her age.

Sue arrived back after an hour or so, and we enjoyed another coffee with the friendly staff at Albergo Lago Santa. I'd spent two hours there, but the time had passed very quickly and as we finished our second coffee the rain stopped and the sun came out.

Although it was still very hazy, the humidity had decreased and we enjoyed excellent walking weather for the rest of the day.

Our route took us through undulating mixed woodland with plenty of gaps to admire the views. Unusually there was no hostelry to provide lunch, so we had stocked up with tuna salad in Cembra, having eaten the last of the cans brought all the way from Verona on the summit of Monte Gronlait a couple of days ago.

Before that, shortly after leaving Lago Santo we came across a clearing full of newly sculpted tree trunks. "Where do you come from?" queried a voice from the other side of the clearing. It was Josh (hello Josh), from Sheffield, the first English person we had spoken to for ten days. I'm pictured with him and a stray nude. He was walking E5 from Bolzano to Verona.

Since Gillian wrote her guide book a new rifugio has been built - Rif Potzmauer, just below Passo del Potz Mauer. We stopped there for some expensive cokes. It's an ecologically sound establishment using solar and other such means of providing power - in a lovely glade - €40 for half board. Beyond that an easy path lined with orchids, lupins and cow wheat led through more beech woods with occasional views (pictured) across the Adige valley to the mountains beyond. A group of about eight German transalp cyclists passed the other way. An excellent choice of route, it seemed to me.

By and by we came upon the hamlet of Gfrill, or Cauria as it also seems to be known. Just behind the church our chosen accommodation for the night glimmered in the afternoon sun. A small party of walkers was enjoying a beer in the shade outside.

We went to check in. "V haf a problim" articulated Pension Fichtenhof's flustered owner. Despite our emailed confirmation, there appeared to be no space for us, so we would need to be shipped out to overflow accommodation. We frowned. Some negotiating took place with a lady in a walking group. We now have a double room, with the lady in a further room beyond ours. No problem.

So we adjourned to the terrace for beer and tea. Mirke, from Kressbronn by Lake Constance, joined us. He has biked over 400km over the Alps today and is visiting Pension Fichtenhof as a sort of ritual. People who come here always want to return, so it seems.

Pension Fichtenhof is renowned for its 'Slow Food' - home cooked fare from its own produce and other locally produced organic ingredients. We enjoyed a fine meal - the best of our trip to date - from a table overlooking the Adige valley far below, with alpine ranges stretching into the distance slowly being revealed as the cloud and haze cleared.

Comments:

Patrick - the café at Lago Santo was indeed an excellent place to enjoy our morning coffee after the long ascent. We do really miss the wild camping, but on the other hand we've enjoyed the B&B hospitality.

Alan R - I thought I'd escaped from the flooding in Tod. They must be quite fed up with it! After your comment, Sue refused to pose with Josh, so you'll have to put up with my ugly visage today!

Data:
10 July 2012
17km in 7.5 hours with 1000m ascent
Other E5 walkers - Josh, from Sheffield, and 5 walkers descending to Cembra from Lago Santo
Flower of the Day - Spreading Bellflower (one of many types of bellflower that lined today's tracks)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

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Monday, 9 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 9 - Frotten (1570m) to Cembra (673m)

With the shutters sealed, even our 7.45am alarm failed to wake us this morning! But we were tucking into more cuccalar by soon after 8. Andrea (pictured with Sue) and his family - Rita, Rina, Roberto and Stefano, to name but a few, are proud of their 3* agritur rating (www.agriturscalzerhof.it) and welcome E5 guests. They are also well situated for a longer stay for those with a desire to explore this lovely area.

We spent a couple of hours socialising before dragging ourselves away at around 10am, as it was a fair walk down to Cembra.

Andrea encouraged us to follow path number 22, which would have brought us out at Passo del Redebus had we not failed to accept the ascent to Stiall. For anyone following in our footsteps - accept Andrea's offer of a free map showing the local footpaths, and follow path 22 until you reach the road at the pass. Nevertheless, despite our 2km road walk up to Passo del Redebus, we did enjoy our little adventure away from the main E5 path. Virtually none of the paths we used were on our E5 strip map.

By now we were in the Val di Fersina, where we came across signs in a peculiar Germanic language. Apparently around 1000 inhabitants continue to speak the language, which arises from a time in the Middle Ages (1300-1500s) when expert miners migrated here from Bohemia and Bavaria. I suppose it's a bit like coming across a corner of England where Cornish is spoken.

Just down the road from the pass, Acqua Fredda comprises a small archaeological site dating back to C13 to C11 BC (late Bronze Age) where ancient smelting furnaces were discovered when the road was widened in 1979. Fascinating stuff - but time does not allow more detail just now.

The road leading to Bedollo gradually improves for the walker, as it takes ancient byways (Sue is pictured on one of them) into Regnana, where the beautiful church was well worth a visit - simple but stunning - and then down to Centrale di Bedollo, where we enjoyed a lunch of coke and panini in the cool and shade of the Bar Centrale.

I forgot to mention - it was warm again today, 32C when we exited that bar. Luckily the lovely wooded path down to Quaras was gentle and well shaded, so we didn't work up too much of a sweat.

Beyond the well tended gardens of Quaras, where the lady gardeners gracefully accepted our compliments, the Pirimidi di Segonzano lurked. Knobbly spires that are relics from the erosion of glacial moraine deposited around 50 million years ago. We took a path that appeared to be to the ticket office, but after descending 200 metres, past various viewing platforms where the 'pyramids' were just visible through the trees, we found not a ticket office but a path heading up towards more pyramids. These '1st Group' pyramids were a little easier to photograph. We ascended a good 100 metres through these capped towers, before reaching a track that led gently into the village of Segonzano.

Our navigationally challenging day continued with a dodge the horse fly session and a search for Hotel alle Piramidi. We mislaid the E5 waymarks for a while and had to retrace our steps in an area where following the guide book instructions in reverse proved more challenging than usual. Basically, the hotel was much further down the hill than expected. We arrived in a bit of a lather, so were pleased to be cooled by drinks supplied by Fabrizio's ladies whilst they recalled their boss from important business. Gillian had suggested that we pay Fabrizio a visit, as he had helped her greatly with information about this area when she was preparing her E5 guide book a few years ago.

By the time the great man arrived we had cooled down and were able to spend a most pleasurable half hour with him. He's a gem, and we commend E5 walkers to stay at his hotel (www.piramidihotel.it). He will enhance your enjoyment of a visit to the area.

Sadly, we were unaware of this when we booked our accommodation, in addition to which a stop at Segonzano didn't really fit with our logistics.

When we paid our farewells to Fabrizio, who refused to accept any payment for his therapeutic drinks, the sky had darkened and he offered to drive us to Cembra. I think he agreed with our declining his offer, for no other reason that we would miss walking the path taken by Albrecht Dürer on a journey to Venice, after flooding required him to detour through this area, during which passage he made a number of inspired watercolours depicting the castle that we passed on the way down to the Torrent Avisio. (I've deliberately missed out the dates given in your book, Gillian, for a reason which I'm sure will make you laugh!)

A new bridge across the torrent enabled us to ascend ancient sunken paths that we could imagine being in use centuries ago in the time of Dürer. Fine views led back over the day's route, much of which was now shadowed by storm clouds. Our final 200 metre ascent led us up past vines and apricot and apple orchards to a grape processing plant in the faded village of Faver, and on to the more affluent Cembra, where Hotel al Caminetto provided an excellent room but would only offer half board if we stayed three nights. This actually saved us a few euros as the half board bit of our bill would have been more than the cost of the huge pizzas we enjoyed, with a few beers, before writing up the day's exploits.

After our meal, taken in the company of Mr and Mrs Fat and their son, Waddle, we were joined for a while by Lorena (hello Lorena), a language student who is in a dilemma as to where to choose for a six month overseas college placement. Her family lives locally and her dad knows Fabrizio. Sue wishes her Italian was as good as Lorena's English, or Fabrizio's for that matter. Having said that, they do all compliment her on her Italian.

It was raining as we went to bed. We won't complain if it's a bit cooler tomorrow....

Comments:

Alan R - thanks again. Are you sure you weren't in Florida. Some good news for you is our planned sojourn in the UK in the autumn, which will actually include an Indian Summer.

Sue and Dave - thanks for the message. We hope the weather holds for your GR5 adventure.

Data:
9 July 2012
23km in 8 hours with 750m ascent
Other E5 walkers - perhaps two separate couples, coming the other way, but we failed to 'engage'
Flower of the Day - Three-veined Pink

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

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Un Messaggio da Fabrizio

Buongiorno Gillian!

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E5 in reverse - Day 8 -Levico Terme (505m) to Frotten (1570m)

A fierce debate raged on into the night. At first Hotel Ideal's manager, Fernando, asserted that it was just a 40 minute walk up to Vetriolo! With 15kg and an ascent of 1000 metres? I questioned his reckoning. We showed him our day's route. "That's quite long" he agreed, and explained how we could get a bus to Palu, beyond the end of our planned day. "That's not the point" we asserted, and eventually compromised by booking a taxi up to Chalet Panarotta, a little beyond Vetriolo, and slightly off the E5 route, but a comfortable 1250 metres above Levico, bringing our ascent for the day to a more acceptable 1000 or so metres.

The day was warm and sunny, with any sign of a storm on a distant horizon. Still quite hazy in the heat, but we weren't complaining.

The taxi duly arrived at 9.45 and took us fairly smoothly (it only broke down once) up to Chalet Panarotta at 1770 metres. So we completed this 1250 metre ascent part of the journey in a taxi for €35.

It was worth every cent, as it positioned us ideally for the day's high level walk over two alpine summits, Cima Fravort (2347m) and Monte Gronlait (2383m).

Being Sunday there were lots of people about today in this popular area where summits can be reached without difficulty. The terrain was quite like a version on a grander scale of that in the English Lake District, but the views down the valleys were another matter - they stretched to distant towns a good 2000 metres below us.

There's still a considerable haze, so distant views were just a little difficult to bring into focus, but fine views from both summits (the one from near Cima Fravort is pictured) drew our eyes back to the route we had travelled so far, and on towards the higher Dolomite massifs, with Bolzano hiding somewhere to the north.

We spent several hours traversing mountain ridges, culminating in an interesting section between Passo Portella and Passo del Lago where care was needed and a few wires and boards had been strategically placed to aid our passage.

After this* it was a simple descent to join the Sunday crowds at Lago Erdemolo (pictured from above), where the rifugio sadly remains closed. It would have done a roaring trade today; perhaps its former 'cantankerous' owners were better than none at all! The path was quite crowded, with people returning home from their sunny weekends, to the extent that one little boy grabbed Sue's hand, thinking she was his mum. "So you have an Inglese mother" his siblings later teased him.

Down at Frotten, the best part of an hour's walk from Erdemolo, the nice people at Agritur Scalzerhof were anything but cantankerous. But they did have a problem when we arrived at 4.30. A coach load of walkers had just descended on them, the 'boss' of which group - a short, officious gentleman wearing a t-shirt from Nepal - was very concerned as to their welfare. So we waited patiently for 30 minutes for our beer and tea. Andrea, whose family run this excellent place, was very apologetic, and we were very understanding.

We've enjoyed an excellent dinner, featuring a local speciality, cuccalar, a chapatti like bread made from special flours that is served as an antipasta together with a selection of meats and cheeses. It seemed more like a main course than a 'pre-starter'!

It's a lovely clear evening: the storms are currently elsewhere.

Comments:

Anonymous - as the bike was parked outside Gino's house, we assume it is his. We didn't see him again after receiving your comment. He is very sprightly for an 86 year old and uses a push bike for local trips. The 'Benetti Mystery' continues!

Alan R - transport here is much as in the UK actually, probably a bit easier. I should have checked the bus times in advance, but it was clear from the timetable at the bus stops that the bus to Vetriolo only runs on weekdays. Did you take a day trip to Florida?

Data:
8 July 2012
30 mins in taxi to Chalet Panarotta, then 17km in 6 hours with 1000m ascent
Other E5 walkers - none in evidence
Flower of the Day - Spotted Gentian (we are moving into 'Gentian country')

* There's an option here to carry on along an 'E5 Alp' route over various further summits to Rif Sette Selle, rejoining the main route the following day at Regnana. It's clearly marked on the Kompass 121 strip map. It looks excellent. I'm slightly annoyed at not spotting it at the planning stage, not that there's anything wrong with our standard route.

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

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