Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 27

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 27 - Saturday 21 August 2004 - Stage 22

Postcard Summary
Barking dog camp to Lac des Isclots
Back to a typical day in beautiful but cool weather – 9.5 hours, 18 km, 1500m ascent
An early start from camp, where our alarms were pre-empted by the barking dogs, then a long, cool haul up to a high pass, down for a nice lunch, then around a high and exposed (but wide) contouring path.  Eventually arrived at Lac de Caillaoues, before the final ascent to a beautiful spot by the lower Lac Des Isclots to camp. A lovely evening.
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Luxuriating in the tent at Lac Des Isclots - 2398 metres - in late sunshine with wisps of cloud blowing across the lake, a full stomach and plenty to drink. What could be better!
Today was a typical HRP day - woke soon after 6 am to the sound of barking dogs (not typical) and dozed until the second alarm at 7 am. A poor breakfast - an error not to buy muesli - fruit and fibre cereal is a poor substitute, especially with only water to wash it down.
Still, it was a nice day, if cold, and we set off in fleeces and long trousers (except Julie) at 8.10. 8°C. Lots of geological interest ahead to the east, with crumpled rock strata in evidence (the Posets?). We soon passed the Viados hut (8.30), and I stopped to change into shorts and t-shirt at 9 am, at 1800 metres, to avoid overheating, then felt cool - it was only 7°C.
Eventually by 10 am, we had reached the junction of three streams, where GR11 heads off east to Estos, and we head north. We moved back into the sun here, after being in the shade - 2010 metres, 11°C. Very pleasant. So we headed up, as directed by our two guidebooks, to Port d'Aygues-Tortes (2669 metres).
View from Port d'Aygues-Tortes
Despite it being a Saturday, we saw very few people today, especially on the Spanish side (before the Port). Two people dashed past us descending into Spain, and a couple were lunching at the high tarn. Big views from the col - 12.10. Then we descended directly and easily, following cairns, to the Aygues Tortes valley, for a pleasant lunch from 1.00 to 1.50, amongst a carpet of bright yellow Dwarf Eyebright flowers.
Lunch below Port d'Aygues-Tortes
We ate well today - the usual two tins of various fish (roe, and mackerel in mustard sauce today) on a baguette, skilfully carried by Sue, with copious 'mountain mix' and chocolate.
After lunch we descended to about 2050 metres, then headed up a well marked path to Pouchergues before in an easy track around Pic de Quartau, high above the Clarabide valley and the huge power station at La Soula.
It suddenly warmed up along this path, after being a really cold day until then. Cloud invaded our views from the French side, and the mountains were shrouded in it for a few hours, before, by now (8.15 pm) clearing completely, leaving a wide open view with a little high cloud and a crescent moon visible from our tent door.
We progressed around the track, exposed at times, with the occasional bit of railway line, and some metal walkways. At one point we even seemed to pass through a house. Eventually we reached the main path from La Soula and followed it up to Lac Caillauas, a large reservoir, eerie in the mist. Julie caught up by going across the dam (Sue and I missed the path). An interesting rocky route in the mist then took us up to the lower Lac Des Isclots ('lake of little islands') by 5.35 (Julie a bit later). 2398 metres, 18°C, 768mb.

Others were camping, but we found a good spot and had a relaxing few hours and a good meal before ordering hot chocolate from Julie (now 8.30) once our diaries had been updated.
Camp at Lac des Isclots (2400 metres)
Julie's feet are feeling a bit (very sore earlier) better - it was a hard day for her but she did (just about) keep up! (After a reassessment of her luggage in Bielsa.)*
* I was wondering whether there would be reference to this. Upset at finding my Phreerunner tent relegated to the outside of Julie's rucksack, I had insisted that she dispose of sufficient items to enable the tent to travel inside her rucksack. Thus several pots and pans and other unnecessary equipment had been binned in Bielsa... - Ed
Stats and route (Viewranger):
18 km, 1500 metres ascent, 9.5 hours

Monday, 16 September 2019

Please Pass the Salmon....

Thanks to Millie, Mike and Sarah for hosting an excellent 'salmon' meal last night...

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 26

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 26 - Friday 20 August 2004 - Stage 21

Postcard Summary (on tomorrow's card)

Nice hostel to Camping Forcallo
Lovely weather for a walk in Spain south of GR11 – 9.5 hours, 18 km, 1500m ascent
A pleasant stay in the hostel at Bielsa, but the mountains called, and it was a sunny day.  Ate raspberries and strawberries during an extremely steep climb, but eventually reached a level path with excellent views of Monte Perdido.  Glad to see the campsite, which provided a welcome cheap beer when we arrived at 7 ish.
Diary Entry (by Sue)

Out of our real beds at 7.40. Breakfast in the '70's dining room of the hostel, where one wall was a display of stuffed birds and animals, was toast and cakes, plus some very nice 'café con leche' - a second cup was requested.
Away at 9.25 am under clear, sunny skies once more. The first path was lovely - Camino del Cao - well built and with a nice gradient. Not well used, so somewhat overgrown, and we soon got wet legs and feet. It led through poplars and oaks, being quite low.
After leaving this path and crossing the river, the new path climbed more steeply. It was coined 'Raspberry Rise' because wild raspberries grew in profusion and could be picked and eaten by the handful, which we did. Also, tiny strawberries were ripe, and bilberries higher up.
In the damp conditions, many different varieties of mushroom grew. Ants had piled pine needles against tree trunks to form giant nests.
After about 300 metres ascent, the path deteriorated, and we lost the small cairns. The steep hillside became littered with fallen dead, lichen covered trees, and in between were areas of fir tree, orchids and raspberries!
At one point we backtracked and tried again. After a while, we emerged from the trees, in the river valley, to scramble and climb steeply up grass beside it, crossing over once or twice for ease. We'd only had one short break, before a lunch stop at 2 pm.  

Not the best location, but at least we were now at the top of the steep section. There were casualties. I lost a sock that had been drying behind a rucksack strap, Julie a pair of gloves also strapped to the outside, and the ignition for the stove in Martin's side pocket was broken, maybe knocked against a tree. Also, very scratched legs for Sue and Julie.
 Lunchtime outside a shepherd's hut
After a lunch of bread, blue cheese and tomato, the path contoured round the now treeless hillside, views over Spain beautifully clear.

With the valley now below, it became clear we had ascended the wrong river valley and should have been further east. Anyway, the path became obvious now, and gave a good view of Monte Perdido. 

After 1000 metres of ascent during the morning, one more col had to be crossed, after a grassy climb. We reached Colla de Pardinas around 4 pm, and still had a good distance to go! 

For the next two hours, we descended grassy slopes, grazed by cattle, to join a jeep track that zigzagged widely, amongst several small dwellings / shepherd's huts. 
The late afternoon sunshine on this verdant valley was lovely. Eventually, the track joined another, and the GR11 path came in from our left.
Finally, at 7 pm, Camping Forcallo came into very welcome sight. Until the final kilometre, we had seen no one walking all day. Paid up and bought tins of beer, which went down very well before we put the tents up. Dinner was prepared rapidly - cup-a-soup, three cheese pasta with tuna and frankfurters, and hot chocolate. It soon went dark, so bed was around 9.15 pm.
Weather today was sunny but cool.
Stats and route (Viewranger):
21 km, 1700 metres ascent, 9.5 hours
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Saturday, 14 September 2019

Saturday 14 September 2019 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 408, and the Tour of Britain bike race

Refreshed from a night's sleep after my ten hour journey home from Kinloch Rannoch, I cycled to Wythenshawe park for a bit of exercise on a lovely late summer's morning. There was a gentle bite to the air.
Whilst 355 participants chatted and lurked near the start, a few were warming up on some newly laid tarmac on the path we use.
With tired legs from carrying a 12 kilo weight on my back for sixty miles, I was pleased to find an excuse for a slower than usual pace. Sue joined me, and we ran with Owen and Annie, celebrating Owen's 100th parkrun. Well done Owen.
"Done it!"
After a quick coffee, many of the parkrunners decamped by various means to Altrincham town centre, where the last stage of the Tour of Britain bike race was due to set off at 11 o'clock.
I got there just in time. It was crowded. I've never seen Altrincham so busy.
It was a short wait by the market, for the competitors to pass on their way to the official starting point. They were led out by members of the local Seamons club of which Paul and Jeanette are members.
After the peleton had passed through, Sue and I made our way up the street, only to meet the Seamons team coming the other way, led by none other than Jeanette (Paul being away in the Alps).
Nearby, in Goose Green, a huge TV screen was covering the race, viewed by lots of folk on what turned out to be a beautiful, warm summer's day.
A good day for Altrincham, that's for sure.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Backpacking with Markus - Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse to Kinloch Rannoch, then bus and trains to Timperley




Friday 13 September 2019

A 19 km walk, taking us 4 hours.

Eddie's fine breakfast fuelled us for a gentle stroll along the south side of Loch Rannoch. There was very little traffic as the road was closed due to it's being widened to cater for timber wagons. Apparently the felling of the forest will take many years.

The sun shone intermittently as we strolled along beside more banks of tasty looking mushrooms, and rowan trees heavily laden with berries. There were fine views across the loch.

Entering Kinloch Rannoch, we befriended a stalker called Richard. We enjoyed lunch with him in the café, but regretted that the chanterelle season is apparently over - we had to put up with 'ordinary' mushroom soup. Very tasty nonetheless.

An efficient bus took us to Pitlochry, where we spent an hour in Café Biba.

Then it was goodbye to Markus, with thanks to him for organising this trip.

The train to Glasgow was late, and got steadily later as the journey progressed. I was glad I'd given myself an extra hour in Glasgow. I'd have missed the obvious connection.

The Trans Pennine train on which I was booked was cancelled. 'Seek advice from Trans Pennine staff' the board announced. After much searching, Virgin staff were helpful... 'There are no Trans Pennine staff here, but you can travel on a later Virgin train and change at Lancaster'. There goes another hour!

So I'll be home, hopefully, rather after midnight.

At least it's a comfy train and I have a seat!

I'll post some route maps and some more photos in due course, but in the meantime CJ Sansom's 'Sovereign' will keep me occupied. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Backpacking with Markus - Lubnaclach to Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse




Thursday 12 September 2019

A 21 km walk, taking us 6 hours.

After a showery, drizzly night in diminishing wind, we both woke, after very good sleeps, to see thick cloud draped over Carn Dearg, the Munro in whose direction our tents were pointed, and which was on Markus's itinerary for today. He looked out, and crossed it off.

We exited our camping spot (luckily no vehicles had come to run me over, and we didn't see a soul all morning) in light rain at 8.45. A boggy path, up to the bulldozed track linking Rannoch with Corrour, annoyed Markus, whose leaky Meindl boot had him cursing about his wet foot. Astonishingly, my old Scarpa Delta boots, with about 2500 km on the clock, have kept my feet perfectly dry despite the wet terrain we've been walking through.

After the uphill grind to that main track, with views back to the misty environs of Lubnaclach, the track towards Rannoch was easy going. We stopped for a brew in the drizzle at the derelict site of the sanitarium at Corrour Old Lodge. Hard to picture what it must have been like in its heyday. Far from what you see in today's top picture.

Then an uneventful stroll (second picture) to an early, drizzly, lunch stop in the shelter of some power company sheds shortly before a bridge over the Allt Eigheach river. Not much by way of views, but the weather was improving and the mist was slowly clearing from Sron Smeur, a small hill with a good viewpoint.

My suggestion that we go up Sron Smeur was vetoed on 'wet foot' grounds and we continued our gentle stroll to join the quiet road between Rannoch and Bridge of Gaur.

The weir at Dunan Power Station was most impressive, with the River Gaur in spate. We had another break, now in welcome sunshine, here.

Continuing our stroll, we reached my favourite guesthouse before 2.45 pm. Soon we were ensconced in the living room with tea and coffee and the imminent prospect of a hot bath.