Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 15 - Wild camp near Freiburger Hutte to Bludenz, and thence to Zurich and home


Saturday 26 July 1980 - diarist: Dave - Formarinsee to Bludenz 

Nick, as usual, was up very early and went outside the tent to prepare breakfast. I found that eating breakfast outside was far easier than in a sleeping bag. 

The other tent got up in their usual slow and leisurely way, and took down their tent even more slowly. [Due to lack of urgency on the part of the sun, in drying the tent, and us, as we favoured lingering at this final high level site - M] 

Because Ruaridh was going his own way to join his parents in Germany, we gave him some bread and cheese. Sometime after 9 am, we set off for Bludenz after a farewell picture from RM's P in which Martin and Colin displayed their disgusting handkerchiefs. 

Martin soon left the gang of four for a boy stop, the bran in our Home Mixed Super Muesli having got to him in record time. We then set off over the snow (the last of the holiday) and dropped below the 2000 metre mark for the last time. The sun became very hot. It was then revealed by the Hike Planning Sub-committee that we had a 600 metre climb to face, and that in our usual topsy-turvy fashion this would be when the sun was at its hottest. 

Dave and Colin raced down a snow slope (no deep holes this time). We crossed a stream and walked down into the valley, the sun getting hotter and hotter. Lots of photo stops.

The view north west towards Lagutz

We came to a village, which although it looked pleasant enough at present, is no doubt very tough living here in winter. There were lots of stacks of logs in evidence. Nick saw an old man with a very long pipe which impressed him. We then carried on down hill, getting hotter all the time.

Lagutz

We found some goats who didn't seem at all camera shy - many pictures for everyone. Colin managed to induce one to feed from his hand and poo at the same time.

We continued on down the hill. Dave decided that he was (as usual) hungry and concluded that we ought to have dinner before we left the shade of a forest. Amazingly, the others agreed to this very sensible suggestion. The only rational explanation of this is that they had all been zapped by the sun. We stopped for about an hour, having our bread and cheese and a brew. At this point a butterfly got attracted to Dave's silly yellow hat and landed on it. It was assumed that it mistook the hat for a flower and Dave was urged by Colin to do flower impressions whilst he got his camera prepared. However, Colin's blunderings as he tried to get into a good position frightened the butterfly away.

Waterfall near Garfulla

We set off again past a strange wooden construction which Nick investigated at length and found to be a triangulation station. We then reached the bottom of the valley and crossed the stream, which at this point resembled Cheddar Gorge. We then set off up the hill. Of course, at this point the sun was at its hottest, and Martin began muttering about how foolish we had been taking the low route when we could have done the high one. On the lower part of the climb the heat became unbearable. This didn't seem to affect Nick, who charged off as usual. Dave of course lagged behind. Fortunately a large slow-moving cloud now blotted out the sun, and the rest of the climb was done in a relatively cool atmosphere. 

We stopped for water near the top, and it soon became obvious that Colin was suffering from the heat. He had a towel draped around his neck and handkerchiefs on his head. Martin seemed to be almost absolutely knackered. And so we started a very slow, hot, sticky descent into Bludenz. On the way, Dave (charging on ahead) had a sort of conversation with some (Austrians?) in German, English and sign language. It appeared that they were making for the Freiburger Hutte. Considering it had taken us seven hours and it was now 4 pm, I would have expected them to look a little more concerned. Perhaps they knew a short cut? The high route?

A final view of the Lechtalalps from Tiefensee Sattel (1562m)

The path down was a long series of hairpin bends with the occasional very steep path cutting off the corners. It was a big effort to stop yourself going down too fast. We had a rest half way down but completed the last section very quickly. After a quick trog through a field we were in the town and soon found the campsite. The proprietor was very helpful and directed us in English to our site. 

The tents were quickly put up in the familiar L-shape by Dave and Martin. We then went for a wash. Most of the people in the washroom appeared to be English - they seemed a rather smooth looking lot. They even had towels and flannels. After much confusion involving the men's/women's washrooms and a rationing of shampoo, a much cleaner group set off to the town to find out where the railway station was, and to find somewhere to eat. Martin got worried about the restaurants closing and got ratty with Nick and Colin who tended to dawdle a bit, looking in shop windows, etc. 

We eventually ate at the first place we had looked at. In the hot evening it was pleasant to eat outside with a couple of beers. We all had a soup - the fried pea soup was unusual, and a meat course which was supposed to be typical Austrian but appeared to be the English meat and two veg type. After the meal we went back to the campsite, where there was more toilet identity confusion and Dave discovered that ladies get proper toilets whilst he has to squat above a hole.

Anyway, I hope this long and boring diary entry makes up for the supposedly inadequate previous one!

Today's route - 20 km with 750 metres ascent

Sunday 27 July 1980 - diarist: Nick - Bludenz to Zurich

There were lots of thunderings and walkabouts in the night - for once this was not the exclusive privilege of this diarist. Dave's tent luckily did not leak this time during the resultant heavy rainstorm, despite the river which suddenly appeared from beneath his rucksack at about 3:45 am. (Was this Martin's water bottle leaking?) We wondered whether we might need to evacuate the tents in favour of the nearby rusting hulk of a lorry, but were discouraged by a sudden crash of thunder immediately overhead. At last, to sleep - very hot but cooling after the gewittering. 

We rose and shone to 'Rise and Shine' orange juice quite lately at about 8:15. A second wash in 24 hours was had by some, then off to the Bludenz bahnhof after calling in at the shop for essential supplies (beer and lots of locally manufactured 'Suchard' chocolate). 

We had been woken at about 7 o'clock by church bells ringing, accompanied by a local dog howling. These had continued every 15 minutes and were still going when we left. The Austrians appear to be very religious judging by the number of wayside shrines and crucifixes, and on Sunday mornings they all dress up in their best togs just like in the picture books. 

In spite of Colin's phrasebook, due to a misunderstanding I managed to buy return tickets at the first attempt. This mistake was soon corrected, but rather painstakingly as each ticket must be separately written out and stapled in its own little folder. The cost was 208 schillings (£7) each. A quick 'ss tut mis leid' sorted things out. It was established that we must change at Sargans.

Leaving Bludenz

The train was late and full. We were stuck in between carriages and blocked the toilet with our rucksacks. I was first accosted by Yugoslavians with interesting looking drinks, and then went to talk to two young Swedes who were interrailing. The others antisocially kept to themselves and 'read' the sports pages of my 'Der Bild'. 

After putting our watches back and changing at Sargans, we boarded an even more crowded train to Zurich. This train appeared to come from Italy. Italian is a language of which I have absolutely no knowledge except 'pizza' and 'spaghetti', so I had to resort to sign language when two middle-aged Italian signoras asked whether we had arrived at Zurich, just five minutes after we had left Sargans. 

Views were very similar to those on our way out. The weather, however, was a lot hotter and there were many sun worshippers on the shore of the Zurichsee. 

On arriving at the Zurich hauptbahnhof, Martin bought a Sunday Times, from which we immediately discovered the weather in the UK had been lousy. I then bought four 24-hour 'season' tickets for Zurich transport to save money (SF 3.50 each) and we proceeded to the campsite via number 11 tram to Burkliplatz, then a number 65 bus. 

I surrendered my passport in exchange for two numbered discs to be hung on the tents. These were to be collected in the morning after 7:30 am. 

A late lunch was eventually gratefully eaten - bread, tomato, and an unnamed cheese, very good, purchased respectively in Bludenz, Zurich and Pettneu. I had earlier bought some juniper berries in Bludenz (rare in England but used by Delia Smith) and now bought some salad herbs before catching a number 61 bus back to Burkliplatz with the others. 

It was oppressively hot - I wished I had a clean t-shirt and shorts instead of scruffy hiking shirt and breeches. A long walk around the list of restaurants from 'Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe' proved that most were either too expensive, closed on Sundays, or closed for the holidays - most disappointing.

Back in Zurich

The distinctive Grossminster was closed for renovation so we couldn't even look around that. The rest of the gang showed their disapproval by looking in the many sex shops and watching the Olympics in TV shop windows. The 'Oliver Twist' English type pub was soon unfortunately discovered - colour TV on which the 10000 metres was watched. Very interesting toilets here, the flushing was controlled by a photoelectric cell when the user left the area. 

A meal was had at the Trattoria pizzeria Santa Lucia, where they again spoke Italian. A real wood fired oven provoked Dave and Colin to eat pizzas, whereas Martin and I ate pasta. All with side salads, followed by cappuccinos except for Dave who was awkward (and thirsty) and had Orangina which was not as good as the genuine French variety sampled in great quantity by me last year. An excellent meal costing about £5 per head. 

The hippie movement cum folkies come out on Sunday night in Zurich. An earlier hurdy-gurdy group had been replaced by a very competent band comprising pan pipes, drum, mandolin, guitar and more, playing in a nearby square. I watched these and then joined the others who were talent spotting outside a bar. (Censored paragraph apart from reference to 'Dave had very dirty nails.') 

Enjoyable Mediterranean climate type evening was a suitable end to a very enjoyable holiday. Full of variety, though I must admit to disappointment that we didn't have hailstones, as every other sort of weather was apparent at some time or other. 

Colin now wanted to sell a one-way ticket to Manchester to a Swiss girl and fumbled furiously for his phrase book. Now back to the campsite and tomorrow ... duty-free and finally ... w w work. 

Monday 28 July 1980 - diarist: Martin - Zurich to work 

No hassles or hiccups in our bus / tram / train / taxi journey - all stops Zurich to Crumpsall in Colin's case. Duty free maxima of wines and spirits duly purchased. BAC 111 again. Total zap time for me 4½ hours, and then to work after a most refreshing and enjoyable two weeks despite strange weather and 'schnee, schnee, schnee' (Wurtemburger). Even the hero badge held out. Debts were settled despite Dave's slow motion mini computer, and total cost of holiday worked out at around £250 each.

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Monday, 12 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 14 - Wild camp near Ravensburger Hutte to wild camp near Freiburger Hutte


                                   The view north from Stierlochjoch

Friday 25 July 1980 - diarist: Colin - Near Ravensburger Hutte to Formarinsee near Freiburger Hutte 

This morning began with little men hammering pitons into my brain. I was glad to find that I was not suffering alone, and that other expedition members were suffering from last night's excessive consumption - we must stick to one packet of 'Rise and Shine' in future. 

(An alternative explanation involving the red wine, beer, kirsch and schnapps, seems much less plausible.) 

Breakfast was prepared in the usual manner but was notable for the excellent new improved muesli (with bird seed) and the portion of Austrian camembert which went astray and needed to be retrieved with an ice axe. 

The usual chores completed, we set off over the Stierlochjoch (translation note: this literally means 'the bull's hole' pass). The journey was slowed by the rapid effect of the extra bran in today's breakfast, haemorrhaging of the nasal passages, and the photogenic nature of the local flora. The journey down to Zug was along a pleasantly wooded path, and judging by the number of touroids heading in the opposite direction - very popular.

The view down the Stierloch valley

In the Lech valley near Zug

Having no need of further provisions, we spurned a visit to the vast metropolis of Zug and headed off in a westerly direction along the Lech. A suitably shaded spot was found, and luncheon was served.

'Jingle Bells'

Nick ascends the valley

Martin's early attempts to photograph Alpine flowers
- things have moved on since then

Spring Gentian, Trumpet Gentian (Dave's favourite), Bird's-eye Primrose,
Alpine Moon Daisy, Long-spurred Pansy


Looking towards the Freiburger Hutte (1918m) from Formarin Alp

After lunch, we set off up the valley at our own pace, arriving at the Freiburger Hutte over a period of some 20 to 25 minutes. Bier, Schiewasser und Ein Orangen were gratefully consumed and we set off to our campsite beside Formarinsee, and in the rocks around us we can see the band of red rock which gives the Rote Wande its name.

Campsite at Formarinsee

As Nick wrings out his socks, the sweet and sour chicken soaks, and RMP clunks over the prostrate form of Dave, I shall close today's diary entry with my thanks to everyone for an extremely enjoyable two weeks. Personally my vote for the most memorable day goes to the Memminger - Ansbacher day, for its variety of scenery, some pioneering, and schnee, schnee, schnee! 

Nick adds: PS, Colin missed out Nick's admiration of an American girl's unfettered 'bits'; see earlier reference to her husband's underpants; she thought the snow was 'really scary' (read with an appropriate US accent).

Rote Wand (2704m) from our campsite

Today's route - 17 km with 500 metres ascent

Sunday, 11 April 2021

April comes to a South Manchester Weekend



Saturday morning, and Sue is caught on her early morning run in frosty conditions in De Quincey Park.

Then at 9:30 we cycled along to Wythenshawe Park for a chat with a few other parkrunners. Only the brave (or foolhardy) made it through the blizzard of wet April snow. Jeanette turned back and wimped home; Rufus was looking decidedly miserable; Laura was still on a high after completing the purchase of her new home in Northenden; Paul was on Cloud Nine (one less woman in the house? - just joking!); Jenny and Owen had a pretty umbrella, and the Likely Lads had frozen knees.




The children's playground, a hive of activity last week, was deserted.


That was yesterday. We were glad to get home, turn the heating on, jump in a hot bath, and venture out only to feed the birds who seem to have come to rely on us - currently blackbirds, dunnocks, wood pigeons, feral pigeons, assorted tits, goldfinches and house sparrows. We'd planned to visit Andrew in Lower Withington, but he had to make do with a 'Zoom'.

Today we woke to fresh snow and blue skies, so before taking food supplies to Dot in Eccleshall, Sue and I enjoyed a stroll down the towpath towards Altrincham. Here's the view from the towpath alongside Timperley Brook.


We made up a 5 km route that qualified for (not)parkrun status, including a walk through De Quincey Park, which as so often provided fodder for the camera.


We are still getting straight at home after the new carpets / decorating, etc, a little progress having been made this weekend. 

Doesn't time fly, even under Lockdown!

PS First ducklings seen on the canal on 13 April.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Friday 9 April 2021 - Delamere Forest



We visited Delamere Forest a couple of times last August - reports are here and here. Today, the maximum allowed group of six, Sue and me, Graeme, Jenny, Paul and Jeanette, (and Rufus - very well behaved today), started again from Barnsbridge Gates, this time checking out route 23 in Jen Darling's 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral' book. Whilst last week's walk in the Wirral had changed very little since the 2007 edition of the book, folk have been busy in Delamere Forest, so a number of 'edits' are desirable.

After following the Sandstone Trail to just beyond a bridge over the Chester to Manchester railway line, we turned off towards the Visitor Centre at Linmere Lodge. It's a huge place, with a giant car park, replacing the old centre that now looks sadly dilapidated.


After admiring the new construction and taking advantage of the facilities, we walked on up the road to re-cross the railway, which Jen notes was the last line to be brought under British Rail control in 1947 - six months after the other railways. Due to an 'oversight'.

Go Ape is in the same place as it always has been, but the ropeways look to have been replaced since Sue and I went on the course a few years ago.


A little further on, the car park at Whitefield has been drastically enlarged. We just walked through, following 'Delamere Way' markers.


It was a mainly overcast day, thankfully dry, but there were still nice reflections in several small ponds that we passed.


A large picnic bench afforded us the luxury of a socially distanced elevenses break.


Continuing along the Delamere Way, we missed a turn at New Pool Cottage. Possibly because it has been replaced by 'The Firs'. But the 'web' indicates that 'The Firs' was constructed in 2013, and New Pool Cottage was sold for £2,837,000 in 2017. It's unclear to me, but the left turn to Harthill Bank is certainly by 'The Firs'. (More research needed.)

Soon after that, I missed another left turn, and on re-joining Jen's route, we went back to discover where I'd gone wrong. No matter, either of the paths to Post Office Lane are fine.

Continuing on towards Hatchmere, a medium sized mere surrounded by reeds, we arrived at the B5152 road very close to the Carriers Inn. Apparently it has a 300 year history, and judging by the vehicle parked outside, it hopes soon to be able to re-open when the next relaxation of Lockdown takes place.


Around the end of the mere, we soon reached a well constructed boardwalk in an area described as 'boggy' by Jen. Here (below) Jeanette points towards some log obstructions in the stream next to the boardwalk, obviously trying to control the flow of the stream.


Then we reached a substantial new fence and thought "Beavers?"


Jenny said she had heard something about this, and later in the day she sent me a cutting that announced that the cost of the beaver enclosure project, some £60,000, had soon been met from fundraising started in August 2020, with the work being completed in time for the release of a pair of beavers on 2 November 2020. They seem to be getting along well, in terrain similar to that shown below - a picture taken on our short walk back from the beaver enclosure to Barnsbridge Gates.


Jenny pointed me to a short video about the beavers - click here to view it.

Our 11 km route, with very little ascent, is shown below. On return to the car park we learnt of the Duke of Edinburgh's death from old age.


Three more Friday walks are currently planned, but I'm afraid they are all now fully booked to the limit of six people.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 13 - Langen to wild camp near Ravensburger Hutte



[Note: the photos from this day (and others) are of inferior quality. The original slides were very dark, so I've tried to brighten the images a little. Perhaps I had the camera on the wrong settings for much of this entire trip!]

Thursday 24 July 1980 - diarist: Martin - Near Langen to near Ravensburger Hutte 

Nick woke at 5:30 and by 8 o'clock, having read the street map of Zurich, he had prepared breakfast in bed for the rest of us in the manner to which we had become accustomed. 

The flat site and fine, cool weather had enabled everyone to get a good kip. By 9 am we were striding down the path to the shops in Langen (bread required). But there were no shops so we continued down a path south of the river to Klosterle, where the necessaries (and unnecessaries - a 2 litre bottle of wine) were purchased after Dave was gullible enough to volunteer to carry the wine.

Visible from this pleasing path were the usual cornucopia of alpine flowers including some rather large specimens of what appeared to be early purple orchids, a strange construction on which large leaves appeared to be drying (attributed by Nick to the clever local mice) railways and roads disappearing into the mountainside, and a keep fit trail which we attempted to complete. Performing some of the exercises was hampered by our rucksacks; RMP was clicking furiously in an attempt to record items for the rogues gallery. Dave's legs prevented him from participating in most of the exercises, but he made up for this by transporting the newly purchased wine up the 800 metre climb to Spuller-See.


Thanks to Colin for this photo!

Nick and I went on ahead, preferring to consume both today's lunches simultaneously at the top of the climb. The bread and cheese and chocolate was most welcome, and a brew was commenced to greet the three dawdlers, who had preferred to lunch before the climb.

Nick and Martin enjoyed this view from their lunch stop

The day was fine again, with a light breeze, but unlike the previous two days an occasional cloud provided welcome respite from the torrential sun which has recently devastated my lips, nose, forehead, etc. By the time the second brew was ready the dawdlers had arrived and a further spell was enjoyed at this pleasant spot.

Spuller-See from near the Ravensburger Hutte

When 4 o'clock arrived we realised a large period of time had been spent here, so, despite whimsical suggestions about setting up camp, we trudged up to the Ravensburger Hutte (built 1912, 1980 m) for a welcome schiewasser (ribena). There were, due to the close vicinity of a road, a number of typical American tourists. Difficult to elect a star, but the gentleman with the unlit cigarette whose white knickers extended beyond his knee-length khaki shorts took the biscuit for me. 

The weather was hazier than of late, but there was a good view south west to Spuller-See and beyond, and a large white cross on top of the Roggal-Sp was prominent on that mountain, the grey rock of which stood out starkly against the deep blue sky. (Shame about the poor quality of the picture below.)

Approaching Ravensburger Hutte (1947 metres)

There are also two parties of Dutch people here, one previously encountered at Muttekopfhutte, the other at Ulmerhutte. After relating to these Dutch people the story (abbreviated) of our trip so far, we set off in search of a campsite. Today's exploratory activities were the antithesis of the previous day's exploits, and within five minutes Dave was sitting on a clump of grass in the middle of an idyllic site. 

The tents soon assumed their usual 'L' configuration - to enable Nick to serve breakfast in bed efficiently.

In the excitement of finding such a good site, my zip burst irreparably open, and the disintegration of my feet was found to have commenced not due to sunburn but due to blisters caused by excessive speed up today's hill. I dubbined my boots whilst the rest (apart from Dave) hastened to wash in the ice cold water. Ruaridh took longest and should by now be very clean. I hope it's not too dirty on tomorrow's route, for his sake. Dave was, as usual, too hungry to do anything except contemplate the saliva which dribbled from his parched lips.

Roggalspitze, 2673 metres, from our campsite

Enough of this drivel, today's entry ends with tonight's meal of sweet and sour chicken cooking merrily, having been diligently carried by Colin for nearly two weeks. Now, over to Colin, for whom the event of today seems to have in the drying of his Karrimat.

Today's route - 13 km with 1000 metres ascent

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