Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Saturday 23 November 2019 - Alexandra parkrun number 2

 
Alexandra parkrun enjoyed its inaugural outing last week. 46 runners attended. A few of us from Wythenshawe decided to visit this new venue for its second run, which brought back memories for me of living just around the corner, in a bedsit in Manley Road, in the early 1970's when I was working as an articled clerk for a pittance, and studying on a correspondence course in the evenings.
 
The above picture was taken before the start. After that numerous more friendly faces tuned up, including a significant contingent from Wythenshawe's Winston Runners team. In fact, some 286 folk turned up for what turned out to be a fast run on a fast course. A time of 15.07 for the first finisher is unusually quick, considering this is not a race!
 
We gathered outside the café, which later puzzled us by remaining steadfastly closed until 10am, well after many potential customers had left the scene. Maybe they will learn!
 
 
Jan shot off like a bullet, and despite my efforts to catch him, he slowly pulled away from me. Never mind, I've not done much running recently.
 
Considering it was only their second event, with six times last week's number of participants, the organisers did very well. I waited at the finish for Sue, who wasn't far behind me.
 
 
The next image is simply a 'fame at last' screendump of Age Category Records for this parkrun. No doubt Michael Curley will soon be along to knock me of that particular pedestal. Sue was only a few seconds away from featuring on this list, being the second fastest in her age category.
 
 
All good fun, especially as it was comfortably warm, and the predicted deluge failed to transpire. Being such a fast and wide course, this venue will attract many visitors. Well done to those who have set it up. Full results are here.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 45

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 45 - Wednesday 8 September 2004 - Stage 36

Postcard Summary (on tomorrow's card)
English Hotel to Col du Puymorens
Good walk on good paths in sun, blighted by a nasty ski resort (El Pas de la Casa) – 7.25 hours, 20 km, 1000m ascent
A nice ascent from Soldeu, but then the eyesore of the ski resort.  We made it quite easily to Col du Puymorens, where the only hotel is ‘Hotel du Col’.  We renamed it ‘Fawlty Towers’.
 
Diary Entry (by Martin)

Replete from a comprehensive continental breakfast the two lean mean walking machines headed off up to Port Dret at 9 am on a bright clear day. Shorts from the start - a good move despite only 11°C. This rose steadily to a max of about 25°C during the morning. 

The speed of 9-10 metres a minute ascent was as fast as we have been, so the rest must have done us good, and the couple of days food taken on board hasn't had any noticeable effect on our weight.
 
We follow yellow dots on a well graded but steepish path through a nice pine forest, with a carpet of Yarrow and Lady's Bedstraw as the trees begin to thin out at 2100 metres, after starting at about 1820 metres. The open hillside is still nicely shaded from the sun, which occasionally is lifted over the horizon to blind us. The views are clear, mountains all around - we are going well. This is how an Alpine ascent should be, and we cover the 750 metre ascent to Port Dret by 10.55, in less than 2 hours. (See top picture for the view from here.) 

The view on ascent was blighted only by Soldeu town with its huge cranes as the ski resort is expanded. But this is hidden from the Port - a wide saddle area with a panorama of high mountains in every direction. And as we were fully fuelled from breakfast, no mountain mix was needed on the way up.
No wind, one of those perfect days you couldn't wish to be better. Views back to the day before yesterday's route and the 2505 metre peak. Good choice of rest day again - weather was much less good yesterday. Broad views, grassy now, not bouldery here.
 
 
We join the main HRP route from D'Incles at the col. This also seems to be the well marked GRP 1, which leaves us before we arrive at the summit of Pic Ortafa - 2600 metres, at 11.30. On the way we meet a backpacker with a large dog carrying panniers. He is the only person we pass on our route all day (other than a few day trippers near the end). There are cars near this summit. The terrain is a bit Howgill like, and we amble through the grasshopper laden grass without difficulty, chatting about skiing trips and resorts.
 
I wrestle again with my Altimax altimeter, but still can't work out how to use the log book. Soon we are on Pic Maia, 2614 metres, with some very friendly horses. One foal is especially friendly and has very soft hair. They are usually more shy. Brilliant views from this plateau summit.
 
Then we descend, and the dreadful sight of the ski resort of El Pas de la Casa comes into view (on the French border - we crossed into France here, for the last time, for the rest of our trip). We spend the next couple of hours descending via Port d'Envalira to this place, cutting off road zigzags and reaching the town at lunchtime when everything, including it would appear McDonald's, shuts for lunch.
 
 
Right in the centre, one café was open and was heaving, as there were many tourists about. A signpost to Perpignan indicates we are nearing the end of our journey. We got a couple of cold cokes and adjourned a short way down the path to Puymorens for lunch between 1.35 and 2.10. It was nice to be back on baguettes, tinned fish and pâté. 25°C. An unscenic stop but pleasant weather and some good views if the horrible town was ignored. On then around a rough, pathless area as far as the disused Mines de Pimorens. (Our dose of rough country for the day.)
 
 
Then along a grassy track, past a memorial for two people lost in an avalanche on 4 March 1954.
 
 
Traffic below queuing at a Custom's point - lorries being turned back into France. Cows and horses enjoying the afternoon sun, as we reach Col de Puymorens (1920 metres) at 4.15 and book into the basic but friendly hotel (but back to French prices!). Cheese fondue for supper.
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
20 km, 1000 metres ascent, 7.25 hours
 
 

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 44

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 44 - Tuesday 7 September 2004 - Rest Day in Soldeu

Postcard Summary
Stream Camp to Soldeu
Short walk to town for a well-earned rest – 0.4 hours, 2.5 km, 100m ascent
Had a really good lie in then two breakfasts in bed with reading in between.  Once the tent had dried, we packed up and walked into Soldeu, checking into the second hotel we tried.  The first, a 4*, rejected us on the feeble excuse of not having a room cleaned until the evening.  It did provide an excellent sauna and Jacuzzi at their Spa this afternoon, in an attempt to restore zest into my [Sue’s] legs for the last 10 days’ walking.  Not too heavily laden for the next few days as we should pass through some villages.

 
 
Diary Entry (by Sue)
Our first whole rest day since Luchon, over two weeks ago. Rain in the night made for an unsettled one, but both alarms were turned off and we didn't brew until 8.30. First breakfast of bread and 'happy cow' cheese, then an hour's reading before the second - yoghurt and a peach. This also allowed the sun to enter the valley and start to dry the tent.
 
Packed up, and walked into Soldeu - due to the distance to the campsite (half hour walk, partly on a busy main road) we'd stay in a hotel. As I fancied a sauna etc, we tried our luck at the 4-star Spa Hotel. There was surprise that we only wanted one night, then it was quite obvious they didn't want custom from two backpackers (we don't even smell today after showers last night), as a room wouldn't be ready until the evening due to cleaning.
 
 
A friendlier welcome was given by the Hotel Soldeu Maistre, a 3-star just off the main street, and a room was immediately available. We did some washing and had lunch (pâté - pheasant, and goats cheese), and I dozed off afterwards. Whilst Martin looked at the last ten days' route, I had a couple of hours at the spa using the sauna, Turkish steam room and jacuzzi. I am hoping my tired legs will benefit. Then, a bit of shopping to re-stock - we don't need too much as there are villages in the final section and more refuges than wild camps. A bit of sewing before dinner. A more civilised affair, despite buffet style, in a sparsely filled restaurant of mostly English.
 
In bed by 9.30, watching the US Open tennis, commentated in German, on Eurosport.
 
Weather today - quite cloudy but mostly above the mountains. Still breezy.
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
2.5 km, 70 metres ascent, 0.4 hours
 
 

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Tuesday 19 November 2019 - Frost at Dunham Massey

 
Sunrise in Timperley, from the warmth of our kitchen, was a wintry vision.
 
Sue went to work, but Julia and I ventured out into the cool air, choosing the short drive to Dunham Massey, where a thin mist drifted over the lake.
 
 
Bridget and a colleague strolled past, in search of 'takings'.
 
There was much activity around the hall, and in the winter garden, as hordes of folk endeavoured to set up the light show that will open later this week and last until the end of December. Something to look forward to...
 
 
Gunshots confirmed that we should limit our range today to the prescribed paths.
 
 
These deer would have been wiser to stay our side of the signs.
 
 
They had left their purpose built shelter in favour of the dangers of the park.
 
 
Autumn seems to be turning to winter.
 
 
 
 
The Smithy Drive, above, has lost its leaves since 11 October, below.
 
 
Bridget and colleague zoomed past in an electric buggy.
 
Finally, a panoramic view as we returned to the house and car park after our 45 minute stroll.
 
 
Click on any image and you should get a better resolution image and access to a slideshow.
 
We met Bridget for a third time by the Visitor Centre. Usually elusive, she seemed to be everywhere this morning!

Monday, 18 November 2019

The Harmony Hounds at Eagley Jazz Club, in Autumn...

 
 
 
Happy Days are here again. 

Julia came to stay on this 'blue sky' day, for a stroll along the Bridgewater Canal towpath, then Trad Jazz in Bolton.