Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 6 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 5 - Flowers of the Dolomites

Thursday 6 July

Today we chose to accompany David, Collett's resident flower expert for this week and next, on a leisurely flower spotting stroll. We were joined by Anita, Nigel and Chris, who are staying at Chalet Angelo, on the other side of town.

Overcast, with light rain, was not auspicious weather for our gondola and chairlift journey from 1500 to 2500 metres. The third picture shows one of our views from the top. Atmospheric.

It wasn't the best day for flowers, but as I write, Sue's list is approaching 60 different varieties. Cool at 2500 metres, it was with great pleasure that we were able to enjoy the warmth and hot chocolates of the Franz Kostner hut.

After that it was all downhill. Back in continuing light rain to Lago Boè for an al fresco lunch, then to the Lago Boè hut from where the others all took the gondola back to Corvara. Before that we'd seen a black salamander, snowbells, and bear's ear primroses in flower (all uncommon).

The easy walk down the gravel track that forms path number 639 past the Crep de Munt hut saw us back in Corvara by around 3.30, with plenty of time to identify some of the more problematic flowers we'd photographed earlier.

Today's pictures:
Chalet Roch (pronounced Rock)
Two views from the top of the chairlift at 2500 metres
Moss Campion
Sassongher and Corvara from path number 639

Thursday, 5 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 4 - to Chalet Roch, Corvara

Thursday 5 July

The day started well. Alexander is rightfully proud of his breakfast buffet spread, if disappointed that we didn't want scrambled eggs, which would have supplemented the hard (brown) and soft (white) eggs he'd already provided. He was at pains to point out the roll (and the role) of sandwich bags that he encouraged us to use to insert our lunch, which we were free to prepare from the many items of breads, meats, cheeses and salad ingredients provided. We were spoilt.

First stop was a petrol station. More to buy the Austrian motorway vignette than to top up with fuel. The fine for failing to display a vignette is €240.

Then, on a cloudy morning, we drove a very short distance to Schwangau. The Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles dominate the scene here. We enjoyed a 6.5km stroll to both these edifices. Together with throngs of a multitude of nationalities, notably oriental. They are remarkable buildings.

On return to the car, a few drops of rain signaled a showery afternoon. We are in the mountains, so mountain weather is to be expected. It's much cooler than if late.

An easy drive to Corvara was punctuated by a coffee stop at San Marco restaurant in Bichlbach, then a pause at P103 (I thought it was 103 metres to the lay-by, but apparently that was the number of the lay-by) to enjoy those carefully crafted butties.

Mountain views were somewhat blighted by cloud, but we arrived at Chalet Roch in good time, to be greeted by Ben from Collett's. The chalet is owned by Petra, and rented by Collett's, whose local team comprises Jack and Janet,  plus Angus, Sandy and Ben.

With luggage for a varied trip, it took a while to sort out our possessions. We are here for eight nights. Another message will be sent to Mike re some books I left at home - he will be asked to bring them when he and Sarah join us next week.

Office hour arrived all too soon. Sandwiches were ordered and we decided on what to do tomorrow. Nine of us then trooped along a damp street to the Hotel Gran Fanes. Here we enjoyed an excellent repast in good company.

Today's pictures:
Hohenschwangau from above
Neuschwanstein 
Hohenschwangau from below
Swans near Alpsee
Dinner awaits at Hotel Gran Fanes

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 3 - to Füssen

Wednesday 4 July

My apologies. Yesterday was not Monday, and June doesn't have 39 days! The pressure of blogging on the hoof must be getting to me. But perhaps nobody noticed these and other faux pas ...

Today we reached the Alps. The last hour or more of our afternoon journey revealed an ever closer arc of high mountains. These are the mountains on the German/Austrian border that leer over the flatlands of Germany. We enjoyed those views a view years ago on the E5 walk from Verona to Lake Constance. The mountains include Zugspitze, 2962 metres, the highest mountain in Germany.

Before all this, we eschewed the lavish and expensive hotel breakfast in favour of coffee and croissants at a nearby salon de té, which trebles as a bakery and post office.

Then we enjoyed an 11km stroll in the woods, on marked paths from the village. A 400 year old oak tree, Gros Chene, with a 6 metre girth and surrounded by foxgloves, was encountered before we rose slowly up winding trails to a sandstone pillar, Rocher de la Guerite.

A little higher, and the Chateau de Hunebourg was encountered. This deserved more than foxgloves... it was surrounded by Mullein. A very private place from where we ambled back to Neuwiller via a hamlet with a barking dog, and a rather interesting spring.

We saw three cyclists and two walkers during the course of this delightful meander along the ● route to the chateau, then the X route back to the start.

We elected for a toll free journey to Füssen, taking a while over the 243 mile journey. But German motorways are toll free, unlike the French ones. So perhaps we shouldn't begrudge having to spend 70 cents to have a wee in Germany whereas in France that facility is free in most places.

Mommenheim provided an excellent purveyor of lunch, in the form of an emporium that doubled as a chocolatier and a salon de té. When we left it was raining. The first rain that Sue and I had seen for several weeks.

The skies soon cleared, and we ate our evening meal outside for the third day running, at the Olivenbauer restaurant; a good salmon pizza and a seafood salad.

We are staying at the Maurushaus, a 300 year old building owned by the same family until 2001, after when it was allowed to rot until Marieta and her husband bought it in 2012. They have made a fine job of restoring the building. Our 'small double' is a lovely large room.

Today's pictures:
1 Hotel du Herrenstein - spot the storks
2 Footpath sign in the Vosges
3 A view from a clearing during our woodland walk
4 Maurushaus - our room is to the left of the ancient front door
5 Proof from the centre of Füssen that we have reached the Alps

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 2 - to Neuwiller-les-Saverne

Monday 3 July

Well, we are now 250 miles closer to the Alps, in a lovely little village in the Saverne area near Strasbourg.

We spent the morning in Laon, walking about 7km around some ramparts we didn't visit yesterday, before enjoying a coffee in the Cathedral square. A visit inside the cathedral brought huge admiration for those who, hundreds of years ago, built this magnificent structure.

The afternoon's journey was uneventful, partly on toll motorways but also through some increasingly quaint small villages.

We are at Hotel du Herrenstein, a Logis establishment providing a luxurious room and fine food served in the garden in the shade of a huge magnolia tree in the 'what has become usual this summer' high temperature of a Europe wide heatwave.

Tonight the shrieking swifts were outshouted by the beak clacking stork population whose hungry young look as if they are about to fledge from nearly every chimney pot in the village.

And not an England supporter in sight to join us in a rather bizarre form of entertainment. (For the long term record we were here when England's Henderson missed a penalty but the side still managed to beat Colombia in a penalty shoot out.)

Today's pictures feature our walk around Laon, plus a snap from our hotel window tonight.

Monday, 2 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 1 - to Laon

Saturday 39 June

Emails from Chris (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group - SWOG) elicited the promise of a slideshow for SWOG on 3 October. I gave two options:
'The Anglesey Coast Path', which we did in April, or 'Summer in the Alps'.
Chris chose the latter.

So we thought we'd better get on with finding some material for the presentation!

Sunday 1 July

Technically our 'Summer in the Alps' didn't begin, but we did drive down to Reading in the afternoon and spent a very pleasant evening with Ian and Julia, including a 5.5km stroll around Dunsden Green. They are pictured with Sue, on that walk.

Sadly I left my fitbit and Garmin chargers at Ian's house, so I'll be watchless and GPSless, apart from the old S5 phone, for a while. We did used to manage without these gadgets, didn't we?

Monday 2 July

After driving 173 miles yesterday, we drove another 273 miles today, taking a 'Toll Free' (apart from Eurotunnel) route on some pleasant country roads to a town on a hill - Laon.

The toughest part of the journey was the first 4 miles. That took an hour! No wonder Ian sets off much earlier to go to work in Staines.

Anyway, we arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal just in time to catch our pre booked train, and the rest of the journey was uneventful.

Our route through a countryside of tree lined golden fields under a blue sky didn't make it to the Alps today, but Hotel les Chevaliers is friendly and helpful, and we enjoyed an excellent meal at Restaurant Le Parvis, in the square dominated by the sunlit cathedral.

This is a place rich in history. Our hotel room is up a spiral staircase reminiscent of a castle, with a long view to the north. Umbrellas deck a nearby street.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral dates from the 12th century, as do the town gates and much of the ramparts. After dinner we took a 2km stroll around part of the ramparts, passing a designated lay by for six motorhomes, unless you straddle two bays like the one pictured - the only motorhome using this unserviced facility tonight.

We returned to our room, from where we enjoyed a lovely pink sunset to the familiar sound of happily whistling swifts, who were of course oblivious to the disappointment of the Japanese footballers who at that very moment were succumbing to the superior skill of a few Belgians. 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Interlude… More Cake Please

My apologies to those who yearn for ‘Tales from Timperley’ rather than historic reports from the Vanoise.

So to keep certain people happy this is a compilation of snaps taken over the past week or so.

Post op recuperation has continued. No heavy lifting; lots of cake.

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Root canal treatment at 8am meant that I couldn’t take part in the local parkrun on 23 June, but I did arrive in time to cheer Diana and Sue as they approached the finish.

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There are no parkrun pictures from yesterday, as I didn’t think to take any. Post op recuperation does not exclude running, so I was happy with a sub 24 minutes time for 5km, after which a third lap saw me walking in with Diana much as Sue did last week.

23 June was also the day of Eccleshall festival. A visit to see Dot was most enjoyable, but failed to trouble the camera apart from the attraction of this old Riley.

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Sunday 24 June saw Kate, Jacob and Jess (aka Jessica, she is proud to have two names!) join us in the grounds of Dunham Massey, where we managed to source some ice creams before they ran out.

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On Thursday 28 June, JJ instigated another walk to Dunham, during which we were joined by Rick.

The ‘Linotype Project’ is proceeding apace.

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We met Rick at the bridge by the Bay Malton pub (sadly closed). The bridge is also closed thanks to an HGV bashing the parapet – moving it by five inches.

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The parapet will need to be dismantled and rebuilt. The workmen estimated a couple of weeks, depending on the tendering position, and they hoped that a particular efficient contractor would get the job. I wonder what it will look like when I next visit in August.

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Our walk continued under the cloudless sky that seems to have persisted for weeks.

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The canal has a healthy population of both herons and pike, with the generous duck population providing plenty of tasty provisions for them.

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We passed the sawmill at Dunham Massey, then headed through the grounds to the Lavender Tea Room.

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The cakes, especially my carrot cake, were larger than ever. No lunch was needed.

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And so, replete, we strolled on under the hot sun, to Altrincham.

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Back in Timperley, on Friday 29 June, the 100 page results of my ‘post op recuperation without exercise’ arrived, perhaps by way of a taster for some similar views in coming weeks.

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