Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 22


Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 22 - Monday 16 August 2004 - Rest Day in Gavarnie

Postcard Summary 
Campsite with view all day. Classic rest day. Julie arrives with lots of luggage
Our well earned second rest day was really that!  Washing was done by 9.30 – the walking pole washing line worked well for a change.  It was a lovely sunny day so we enjoyed a nice picnic with fresh French bread and, later, beers in the shade when it became unbearably hot by the tent.  Julie and a huge amount of luggage disgorged from a bus around 6pm, and we had another nice meal out.
 
 
Diary Entry (by Sue)
Second rest day in 3 weeks - hoorah! During the night, some rain, lightning and thunder, but a dry, clear morning.
 
By 9.30 all washing was done, made difficult due to the availability of cold water only. A successful washing line was constructed, then improved by adjusting its direction, so the washing was at 90 degrees to the sun.
 
The morning soon passed in the vicinity of the tent. The supermarket provided a filling lunch of baguette, goats cheese, pâté de foie and tomatoes, then a repeat visit restocked the larder for the next couple of days.
 
Julie is due after 6, so this gives time for postcards, reading etc. This is a great place to spend a day - from our camping 'terrace', we look down on Gavarnie in one direction, and have the Cirque in the other direction.
 
Through the binoculars, occasional glimpses of people on the ridge before Le Taillon can be seen. A yellowhammer visits to eat bread crumbs during lunch. Below, a continual trail of people and mules proceeds up and down to view the Cirque from closer quarters.
 
Over a beer, I finish 'The Life and Times of Michael K', that I've had to ration before sleep each night, as it could be read in a single sitting. Good recommendation, thanks Helen! It has now been posted back in the hope that Julie is bringing another book.
 
We doze/write postcards by the tent, which is still almost too hot compared with the shade under the trees by the café. Soon, time to walk to meet Julie's bus, which arrives on time at 6.10 pm. We get her settled at the campsite and return to eat at the same restaurant as last night. Another very nice meal. As we find out way back to the tents in the dark at 10 ish, flashes of lightning can be seen. This is the precursor for a long storm overnight.
 
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Friday, 30 August 2019

Lud's Church


 
Anna and Dale, on a month's trip from Canada, are staying for a few days. I've insufficient time to create a 'proper' posting, so that will have to follow next week.

Today we took a stroll from Danebridge, over Hanging Stone and through Lud's Church, which is pictured above.

A lovely walk.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 21

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 21 - Sunday 15 August 2004 - Classic Ascent of Le Taillon, 3144 metres

Postcard Summary 

A walk from the campsite at Gavarnie
Classic ascent of Le Taillon (3144m) via Cirque de Gavarnie, Échelle des Sarradets and Brèche de Roland, returning via Plateau de Bellevue – 10.25 hours, 18 km, 1800m ascent
Today we took a single ‘day sac’ on this classic ‘amble’.  This involved an early start – 7.30 – and quite a steep scramble early in the day.  By midday we had reached the Brèche, arguably one of the natural wonders of Europe.  Then we went to Le Taillon, 3144 metres, meaning we climbed up nearly 1800 metres from the campsite.  ….And down again, with superb views of the Cirque.  The weather was absolutely brilliant and this walk is a class act.  It was great to have a day without a big pack, and whilst Martin was concentrating hard on the scrambling, Sue was leaping over the rocks, admiring the edelweiss.  From our summit lunch perch we could see to Vignemale and well into Spain, including towards the Ordesa Canyon, the largest canyon in Europe.  The day was made complete by a superb hot shower (the first for three days) and a nice meal in view of the Cirque.
 
 
Diary Entry (by Martin)
After a quiet night by the Frenchman who doesn't snore, we were into action early, and left the site for the Cirque at 7.25 on another beautifully clear day. Soon Sue spotted a tree creeper, and the path through the woods to the Cirque was lined with agrimony, mullein, monkshood, etc, and paved with pony poo on which colourful dung beetles were on display.
 
After The Hôtel du Cirque, which looked completely shut pending arrival of the first day trippers, the path went up to the distinctive groove known as Échelle des Sarradets.
 
 
We swapped the sac over for the second time (200 metre - of ascent - stints with a 'day' sac) and I carried it up this exposed 'natural staircase' whilst Sue ambled up, observing edelweiss and ramonda on the way.
 
Near the top we met a huge group of people clumsily descending. We were grateful to our early start for avoiding them on the tricky section. All the time the sun was gradually peeping over the Cirque, but we knew it wouldn't illuminate the highest waterfall in Europe (423 metres) until much later.
 
 
A welcome trail mix and chocolate stop at the top of the scramble prepared us for the delightful, solitary, walk up to Refuge de la Brèche, where we joined hordes of people who had started from a nearby car park, for the snow and scree ascent up to the Brèche de Roland - it must be one of the 'Natural Wonders of Europe'.
 
 
Once at the top of this remarkable geological 'gap' we looked in awe at the towering rocks - our cameras didn't have wide enough lenses - and continued westwards towards Le Taillon. It was much cooler higher up, but t-shirts and shorts sufficed until the 3144 metre summit was reached, whereupon an extra layer was used. Fantastic views - one man had his map completely out, blowing in the wind, so that he could identify some of the many landmarks in view.
 
 
 
The Ordesa Canyon looked tremendous. We saw campers high up on the Spanish side of the mountain.
 
 
We found a sheltered spot by an eccentric Frenchman (hood/mobile phone/sumptuous meal/full kit) to enjoy the rest of a three day old baguette and our last tins of sardines and tuna.
 
A pleasant half hour with huge views all around on a wonderful day. Then easily down - met an English family below the Brèche, and soon left the hordes, to descend slowly and pleasantly to the Plateau de Bellevue (wonderful flowers, and views of the Cirque) and on to Gavarnie by 5.40.
 
 
 
Carline Thistle
 
 
 
 
That's 10 hours and 25 minutes for the leisurely circuit. Plenty of time to shower, change, pass the time of day with English car campers and adjourn to Les Cascades for an excellent meal accompanied by views of the Cirque and the sound of Tubular Bells. Salads, turkey (S), rabbit (M), and the last two pieces of Gateau du Myrtilles!
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
20 km, 2000 metres ascent, 10.25 hours
 
 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

August 23 to 26, 2019 - A Visit to Whinfell Forest - Center Parcs near Penrith

 
Just a few more pictures to amplify Sunday's posting. Click on any image to get a better version/slideshow.
 
The picture above shows the swimming and aqua centre, where no photos were taken due to the risk of moisture damage. Not to say that no damage was incurred, as one of my ears is still inundated....
 
We arrived in our chalet for eight plus Oscar the dog on Friday, and Sue, Jacob and I enjoyed a brief excursion to Penrith parkrun on Saturday morning - reported here.
 
At some point during the weekend, some kind person took the following group picture.
 
 
The sports hall is pretty vast. At the back of the left side of the following shot are some squash courts, one of which has been adapted to host some family games that were great fun.
 
 
Outside, Jess enjoyed an 'off road' experience. She seems to like driving.
 
 
Football Pool, which Sue and I enjoyed at Sherwood Forest, was a winner here.
 
 
Mike and Sarah enjoyed frequent visits to the Pancake House, from which there's a good view over the lake. A close up lens may have spotted some of the red squirrels that live in this forest.
 
 
Short tennis tested Jacob's ball skills.
 
 
There was some more driving for Jess, this time without the aid of an electric motor.
 
 
"Look no hands" - Kate was busy teaching advanced driving skills to the five year old.
 
 
Jacob went high.
 
 
As did Sue.
 
 
The go-karts were a popular choice.
 
 
Golfing took place. The winner is holding the trophy!
 
 
More ball skills, with Mike demonstrating his expertise with the small bat.
 
 
By now, and after numerous activities not captured on film - aqua sports, owls, massages, gym, etc etc, it was Monday afternoon - time for a final visit to the flumes, rapids and canyon of the pool before joining the homeward bound queues on the M6 motorway.
 
Thanks, everyone, for a most enjoyable weekend.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Pies, Crumbles and Lots of Jam!


It's that time of year. A five minute walk from home to the Bridgewater Canal towpath leads to a rich crop of blackberries, and other berries should they be preferred, and it takes about half an hour to collect a kilo or two of fruit.

I know we aren't the only people taking advantage of this plentiful free food, but every day there's a newly ripened crop, so for a few weeks there's enough for everyone - and more than enough for anyone with long arms...

Monday, 26 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 20

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 20 - Saturday 14 August 2004 - Stage 17

Postcard Summary 
Lake with long name at top of Lutour Valley to Gavarnie – 1 day early
Great views of Vignemale, some scrambling – 10 hours, 20 km, 600m ascent
We have returned all too quickly to civilisation, in the form of the village of Gavarnie.  We are camped next to some French youths who are producing illicit smells.  After a cold night at our isolated camp at 2360 metres, we scrambled up to a high pass with Gentians and fine views of the highest mountain in the area. People were ascending the glacier leading to the summit, like ants in the distance.  Then we had a long descent down another beautiful valley with views of the Brêche de Roland in the distance, and crossing a couple of small snowfields.  Now psyching ourselves up for a big day out tomorrow, by imbibing beers.
 
 
Diary Entry (by Sue)
It was a cool, but clear morning at our lake camp and as we packed up, two fishermen arrived! Got off at 8.30 to continue climbing, and the sun was soon on us. A twisty route, but well marked up via a series of clear lakes. In parts, quite scrambly, including a short traverse of a narrow ledge.
 
A few sheep seemed surprised to see us. The flowers were good, particularly near the col, where Martin spotted our first spring gentians. Lots of thrift amongst the rocks.
 
Apart from the two fishermen, the first people we saw were at the Col des Gentianes at 2660 metres. This was a wide col, giving excellent views (see top picture) of Vignemale (3289 metres) and its glacier, up which quite a lot of people were walking, on an obvious path. Through binoculars, people could be seen on top, and also on the lower Petit Vignemale*.   

A brew and some chocolate here was intended to generate some energy that both of us lacked this morning, despite the brilliant weather. There were gentians.
 


On the descent, the reflection of Vignemale in the Lac des Gentianes was worth a slight detour off the steep, cairned route.
 
 
 
Collected water from a spring by means of a tent peg as a funnel. Soon, our small path joined the motorway path that leads up to the Bayssellance Refuge, the one used by the Vignemale climbers, which is on the HRP, but which we'd bypassed due to our diversion through Cauterets.
 
More descent, including over a couple of patches of snow, and lots of people climbing up. By now, it was beginning to warm up - despite the cloudless sky the air had been cool. By the path, clumps of irises, banks of thistles, and carpets of moss campion.
 
 Moss Campion
In the distance, our first view of the Brèche de Roland, a notch in the horizon.
 
 
As I stop to photograph the irises, Martin watches a marmot crossing a patch of snow, just as we'd seen a sheep doing on our earlier ascent. Managed to find some shade under a rock for lunch, next to the roaring river. Bread and fish.
 
English Iris
As we continued down the valley, a yellow helicopter made two journeys up and down. Picked a small handful of raspberries, as they were plentiful lower down - small but very tasty.
 
The view towards Gavarnie
Decision time came and it was to descend into Gavarnie on GR10 rather than climb on the HRP onto a potentially difficult ridge.
 
Looking back to Vignemale
So, down we went, to find a pitch on the southern campsite in the village, next to a small tent, which we correctly assume belongs to the Frenchman we met at Refuge Pombie.
 
Dinner on the campsite - soup and garlic croutons, pasta with tuna and tomato and green pepper sauce, supplemented tonight with a couple of chocolate mousses. Chatted with an English couple camping adjacent, also with a Hilleberg tent. They had tested theirs in Snowdonia at New Year, and it withstood wind well!
 
Walked down the road a bit for a couple of beers before bed, part of the psyching up for a big day tomorrow on the Cirque de Gavarnie and a classic ascent of Le Taillon. Bed around 10 ish. Owls to be heard in trees near campsite. 
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
20 km, 950 metres ascent, 10 hours
 
 
* Martin climbed this in 1995 with Dave Scruby and Martin Whittle, perhaps also with Kate and Helen.