Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Saturday 11 January 2014 - La Clusaz

La Clusaz is apparently one of the most popular ski resorts in the French Alps. It's more a bustling alpine village than a purpose built ski resort, situated in the heart of the Aravis in the Haute Savoie region, a dynamic yet laid back destination. Or so we are told. 

Chantal and Joël, and Pierre and Yolaine, are numbered amongst these dynamic yet laid back residents. They have welcomed us into their homes. 

We woke this morning in Geneva with rather fuzzy heads. Nothing to do with yesterday's EasyJet 1953 from Manchester that arrived 30 minutes early, though I suppose that did give us more time to down a few bottles with Alistair, Laurence and Lyra. Though Lyra didn't help much. She was too sensible, apart from being preoccupied with teasing us with a rubber pig.

The boulangerie soon sorted us out, and by lunchtime the five of us had made our way to join Chantal's team in a nice restaurant in La Clusaz. I think Lyra would have preferred to play in the snow with the other children, but she soon settled down to licking a few shoes.

Then the Geneva team then went to Annecy, where Lyra enjoys a swim in the lake. Thank you, team, for your hospitality and transport service.

Joël went back to work as La Clusaz's mountain rescue service manager, on what seemed to be a busy day. Yolaine had to deliver some babies in Annecy, and Pierre left to prepare his skis for a 42 kilometre loppet (ski race) that he's booked on tomorrow. 

We've hired some skis, collected some passes from La Trace - Chantal and Joël's HQ - and are now happily installed in Pierre and Yolaine's lovely studio apartment in the centre of the village.

All very sociable - let's now see how the rented waxless skis perform tomorrow. 

Sent from a lovely studio apartment in the Alps

Friday, 10 January 2014

First Trip of 2014


Despite our frailties, Sue and I are bravely embarking on our first trip of the year. It's the only way to prevent her from working! 

We know that the company will be good, and we hope the weather is likewise. 

Sue is currently shopping for a third pair of sunglasses. That's a bit optimistic perhaps as I would think the cost of reaching some sunshine should be rather higher than our outlay of £30 a head for this journey.

Still, even if injury prevents much exercise, we should get some nice views....

Sent from a random UK airport

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Wednesday 1 January 2014 – Around Silverdale

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Silverdale is a favourite place, and suitable for days that promise to be wet, like this one. We much prefer to halt in the Silverdale/Arnside area on days when the higher Lake District hills may be less than pleasant.

After an easy journey from our overnight accommodation in Adlington (thanks, Robert, Lyn and Louise, for seeing the New Year in with us), we demolished some coffee in the company of some cyclists and set off at 10.50 from Leighton Moss RSPB Visitor's Centre.

Rain didn't dampen our enthusiasm as we wandered through the reed beds pictured above. Visitors to the public hide were enjoying the sight of otters frolicking in the distance amidst the many varieties of duck.

We passed a muddy area near Grisedale Farm, where sediment is being removed from the pools and ditches of the reserve. The organically rich sediment will be dried then used as compost/fertiliser to be ploughed into the fields, and the pools and ditches will attract more wildlife than when they were clogged with sediment.

Our route nudged the private grounds of Leighton Hall before taking a footpath up the hill towards Yealand Conyers.

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It really was quite wet. These sheep near Yealand Conyers looked pretty miserable.

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It's limestone country. There are some 36 lime kilns, in various states of repair, in the Silverdale/Arnside area.  Perhaps I should organise a ‘Kilns of Silverdale’ walk to complement the ‘Wells of Silverdale’ excursion. We now came across the Peter Lane Lime Kiln, before heading directly west on a good path to Crag Foot, and sloshing across soggy ground on the Lancashire Coastal footpath to Jenny Brown's Point, and another kiln.

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It wasn’t the brightest of days, and given the continuing rain and our lack of provisions, the Wolfhouse Gallery proved an ideal spot for lunch.

From here, a pleasant woodland path leads to Wood Well, which used to be Silverdale's principal source of water, and on through leafy ginnels (even in winter) through the back streets of Silverdale village.

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Beyond Silverdale, a couple of fields saw us at the Cove, enjoying views across the Kent Channel to Grange-over-Sands.

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There's a small cave to explore, but we headed away from the beach, past some alpaca, across the caravan park to Far Arnside, and on up the gentle slopes of Arnside Knott.

The rain had stopped. The sun came out. We enjoyed our first summit of the year, albeit at only 159 metres above sea level..

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Then we descended by a direct and vaguely steep path towards Arnside Tower, which is just beyond a farm where the tenant certainly knows how to look after his vehicles.

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The farmyard is in a similar condition, so it’s a muddier walker that emerges to the delights of the crumbling remains of Arnside Tower, a five storey Pele tower built in the 15th century and used as a house until the 17th century.

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The light was fading as we headed past Middlebarrow Quarry on the way to Hawes Water and then the RSPB Visitor's Centre, but at least we’d enjoyed a couple of hours’ respite from the rain and an excellent dose of fresh air to start the year.

Here’s our route: 21 km, 400 metres ascent, in about 5.5 hours.

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There’s a fuller slideshow, with 34 images, here.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Sunday 29 December 2013 – A Walk from Rivington

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This final entry relating to 2013 returns to familiar ground for me and Sue, but Phil and Sue hadn’t been here before. Andrew and Ruth live locally, so they certainly should be familiar…

From Rivington Hall Barn we took the direct path up to the Pigeon Tower. Built in 1910, and with Lady Leverhulme's sewing room on the top floor, it was renovated in 1974 and re-roofed in 2005.

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After a pause for breath, and a bystander’s photo (see top of this posting), we continued on along the busy path to Rivington Pike Tower, 363 metres, a hunting lodge built in 1733. Unfortunately, access to the lodge and its spacious cellar is not available to the unwashed.

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There are good views back to the Tower from the slightly damp path up to the mast laden summit of Winter Hill.

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The main mast is 315 metres high – quite difficult to squeeze into one picture!

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The summit trig point is nearby, beyond the site of a hideous murder in 1838.  Blackpool Tower gleamed in the distance.

The steep, direct descent to Hordern Stoops is always very boggy, so we took a gentler north western path that eventually led us into some winter sunshine for lunch on a grassy bank near a bumpy track where mountain bikers are glad of their suspension.

Beyond Hordern Stoops, our route headed briefly north before descending to the north of the River Yarrow, continuing along the route of the White Bear Way that we’d joined before the summit of Winter Hill.

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Beyond the ruins of Higher Hempshaws, we turned right onto a good track that wound its way slowly around to eventually descend to Lead Mines Clough. There were signs of re-wetting of the moorland to encourage wild life – sponsored by a wind farm whose turbines will no doubt decimate some of that wildlife!

There were excellent views back to the thin spike of the mast on Winter Hill that has been there since 1956, albeit the height of the mast was more than doubled in 1966.  Imagine the furore if such a mast was erected these days.

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Down at Lead Mines Clough Sue laboured at length to obtain an acceptable image of the waterfall.  It’s in the short slideshow.

By the time we reached Alance Bridge, the sun had left the track but not the trees.

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From here, we ambled back for a pot of tea at the barn, where despite the sun having gone down it was warm enough to enjoy our beverages outside – the weather seems unseasonably warm for the time of year, when we may normally expect to be slithering on ice. 

Here’s our route, a classic circuit – 15 km, 400 metres ascent, taking us about 4 hours.

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Click on this text for another link to the slideshow (23 images).

Sunday, 5 January 2014

'Stretford Reach', a sculpture by Paul Bearman and Stephen Hitchin

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I pass through Stretford frequently these days, as the good surface of the Bridgewater Way provides an ideal venue for an off-road bike ride in times when it can be quite muddy elsewhere.  I don’t mind the mud, but it does result in a lot of faffing cleaning both bike and clothes after each muddy ride.

I usually whizz past this sculpture with the following SW wind whooshing me along.  On the way back, my head is down – battling against that same wind.  But it’s a warm wind and doesn’t have the debilitating effect of early 2013’s unrelenting freezing easterlies. The weather between the wet periods can be lovely, as it was last Saturday when these pictures were taken.

The sculpture was installed in 2003, on a very solid base. I wonder how many residents notice it?

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More recently, the Bridgewater Way upgrade to the canal towpath has been accompanied by numerous information boards, like this one next to the sculpture.  It has recently been cleaned and looks new, thanks to the surface being easily purged of graffiti.

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A little to the south, Watch House Cruising Club generally has a few barges outside, taking advantage of the Club’s facilities. I try to slow down here, as even if the path is deserted the locals have a tendency to jump out and reprimand speeding mountain bikers!

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France Beckons

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Happy New Year, everyone, although the next two postings will revert back to last year’s unfinished business.

Sue and I are looking forward to being back in France by this time next week, though we won’t be taking the red rope that connected me to Donovan and Andy back on 9 August 2011.

Can anyone spot the deliberate error in this ‘France’ posting, as we head across the Plateau du Trient, skilfully dodging the crevasses?

PS Nobody entered my France Competition, but I’ve inserted the answers at the foot of the competition posting if anyone is interested in knowing the locations of the 17 pictures.

Postscript, courtesy of Conrad (aka ‘Sir Hugh’)

The comments include reference to ‘Rayner’s Glacier’ which is pictured below:

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