Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 17 August 2019

Saturday 17 August 2019 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 404

A break in the rainy weather enabled us to enjoy a 'routine' parkrun on the normal course, with 285 attendees from near and far (eg from the USA).
It's good to see the hall looking much better, some three and a half years after it was set on fire. Hopefully the big green fence through which the above picture was taken, may soon be removed.
By way of a reminder, the following three images are of boards attached to the green fence. I think I've posted them before, but if you want to read them properly you'll get a better image by clicking on each picture.
Meanwhile, it was a pretty uneventful run - my slowest since March after a week with very little exercise. I went back up the course to run in with Owen and Annie, who are pictured below on the finishing straight.
The usual socialising outside the Courtyard Tearoom took place, and several people expressed interest in joining me and Sue and Cary on a walking trip to Andalucia with Collett's from 2 to 9 November. I think there are still a couple of twin rooms available.
Full results from the run are here.

Friday 16 August 2019

A Wet Day in Timperley

It's rare that it rains all day in Timperley, but it did today - even for a while when the sun came out.
We've had the pleasure of a visit from Jessica for a couple of days (one of which I spent ferrying Great Grandma Dot between Eccleshall and Manchester for an eye hospital appointment - all is well thanks to monthly injections to stave off AMD).
Lots of baking has taken place - most of yesterday, in fact, and she helped me make brownies this morning.
A visit to the Glass House at Wythenshawe Park offered the opportunity of saying hello to the fairies of Wythenshawe, who are dwarfed by the giant carp, and by the lilies pictured above.
The workers' cottages are 'bijou'.
A climb to our loft was needed to provide ammunition for another assignment, before some colouring books became the focus of attention.
It was great to have you, Jess, and we hope you'll stay here again soon.
The slight delay in this posting is entirely due to Anthony Doerr's beautifully written tale - 'All the Light we Cannot See'.

Thursday 15 August 2019

On the South West Coast Path (1)

Another Project?

Over a period of several, if not 'many' years, Sue and I just about completed the South West Coast Path (SWCP) on numerous trips with a group whose common connection was Johannesburg Hiking Club (don't ask!).

Here's a picture taken on 7 October 2004 (so we did make it back from the Pyrenees) near the Devon/Cornwall border at Marsland Mouth.

It's the view from near the hut of a playwright, Ronald Duncan, 1914-82. The hut is high on a cliff, with this magnificent view, a fifteen minute walk from the car park at Marsland Mouth.

And the Project? That would be collating reports and photos from the various SWCP trips into one volume. Not a 'five minute' job. Unlike this 'fill-in' posting after a busy day when I have insufficient time to do much else.

The picture was taken with an early digital camera - 1600 x 1200 px, but other pictures in this project will be mainly from slide and print film.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 16

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 16 - Tuesday 10 August 2004 - Stage 14
Postcard Summary (on yesterday's card)
Camp by hut to wild camp near Refuge de Larribet
Difficult terrain, navigation error, snowfields, challenging – 10.5 hours, 17 km, 1800m ascent (including nav errors of 4 km and 300m ascent)
It dawned cold and cloudy.  We watched a shepherd milking sheep on our first descent.  The route was exciting, with a wired section.  A mistake in going to the wrong col lost us two hours, so it was a tired crossing of two more difficult cols before we set up camp at 6.30pm.  Scrambling with a big pack was hard!  The last low point of the day was burnt soup…..Still, all good fun!
Diary Entry (by Sue)
An exciting day due to the terrain but one with a few low points.
The sun was only glimpsed a couple of brief times - otherwise cloudy. It had rained on and off all night but was not raining when we got up, and didn't rain during the day.
Away from Pombie at 8, to descend from 2032 metres to 1350 metres. Part way down, we stopped to watch a shepherd, seated behind a small metal cage, allowing sheep to stop within it, so he could milk two teats into a stainless steel can. Not every sheep was stopped for milk.
The path led through woods before coming out at a busyish road. At today's low point, (in terms of altitude) we munched new 'mountain mix', made with a variety of nuts from El Bozo (toasted sweetcorn is good!), then started a 900 metre ascent, briefly through woods, then up a valley. A surprising number of people were going in the same direction - it was satisfying to pass several, and before the col, we passed the Frenchman who had left Pombie half an hour earlier than us.  

A false col with a stream running through would have been a good place to stop on a nice day, but we continued, as you soon cooled in shorts and t-shirt on stopping. Zigzags brought us to the Col d'Arrious (2259 metres), and a little further, at Lac d'Arrious, a stop to don fleeces and eat a few more nuts was made. Good time had been made.

The next section traversed a rock face with the aid of a cable (Passage d'Orteig). Martin sprinted on, so our crossing could be achieved without others ahead or behind. It wasn't difficult but the rock was wet from last night's rain, and my hands were cold, despite gloves.
Can you spot the Refuge just below the centre of the picture?

 Over boulders, with slight descent to Refuge d'Arrémoulit (2305 metres).

Inside, the shelter is small, with four tables and a sleeping platform for four above, but it is warmer than outside. The walls are white-washed and have black birds painted on them. The bowls of hot chocolate are extremely welcome and it seems acceptable to eat your own lunch at their tables. So, bread and tinned fish it is. Despite putting long trousers on under the table, I am still chilly when we go out to complete the last three hours of the day (or so we think).

Spot first trumpet gentians of the trip outside the hut. We climb around 200 metres to the Col du Palas, on boulders which make it challenging.
We continue as described in both guides, following tiny cairns, first across then steeply down rocks and grass, for perhaps 100 metres. When the cairns run out the other side of a steep scree slope (from near here the above view into Spain was gained), we decide to retrace as our destination is not clear (it should be a small col). Finally, arrive back at the col - but which col? With frustration, we realise we climbed to the wrong col from the refuge, wasting 2 hours, and climbing 300 metres in the process. So, it's back to the refuge to try to ascend to the correct col, meeting the Frenchman again on the way down.
Eventually, at 3.45 pm, we continue on the three hour route. The 'path' to the Col du Palas was boulders, then a snowfield, then more boulders. This was hard work. But, finally we arrive, with the view behind of Pic du Midi finally clear of its cloud.
The going continued to be tricky, first contouring on a narrow path on scree slopes, then scrambling up rock bands, then crossing three snowfields.
At the end of one of these, my foot went through the thin snow and into a hole went my leg. Very fortunately, just my knee and shin were knocked, and a muscle was pulled. Gingerly, we continued to reach the tiny Port du Lavédan (2615 metres - highest yet) at 5.15 pm. Scrambling is hard with a pack at this time of day.*
The descent (the two pictures above show the ascent and the descent views respectively) was long, with more boulders and scrambling. Our planned destination was Refuge de l'Arribet, but I was relieved when a small patch of grass near a stream was proposed, about a mile short of the hut, at about 6.30 pm. 

Marmots could be seen on nearby rocks. Installed ourselves in the tent, inspected injuries (me), and got cooking (Martin). Asparagus soup (nice but burnt black at the bottom of the pan), pasta with mushrooms and squid in ink, and hot chocolate - the last of the sachets from home.   

The sky was clear and the wind had dropped when we cleaned teeth etc at about 9.15. A very bright vapour trail cuts across the blue sky as I write this.

* More recently, in 2011, David Lintern (outdoor photographer and author) made a similar error. His party did not return to the refuge like we did, instead persevering along the ridge and eventually enduring a horrible night bivouacing amongst the boulders.

Stats and route (Viewranger):
18 km, 1800 metres ascent, 10.5 hours (click on the map for a better view)


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Tuesday 13 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 15

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 15 - Monday 9 August 2004 - Stage 13
Postcard Summary
Hotel with hot bath to Refuge de Pombie
Fresh breeze for good walking, with lakes and marmots – 7.2 hours, 14 km, 1300m ascent
A decent hotel breakfast set us up for a long climb, but cloud means it is a cool one.  Crossed back into France and saw marmots, including babies, at a lake beneath Pic du Midi d’Ossau.  At our camp at Refuge de Pombie at over 2000 metres we saw isards, small deer, again with young.
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Woke to sullen skies and rain in the air. Stuffed ourselves with breakfast at 8 am, after the rush of the coach party, who have to be away early on their full day. Leave Candanchu at 8.50. Now the coach party has gone, the place is dead.
But by the time we reach Col de Somport the information kiosk there is open. We ignore it and head up to Astun, another small ski resort with a couple of chairlifts working. Just past here, at 9.40, we stop to eat two delicious peaches sold to us by the nice El Bozo man. (Picture above.)
Then we move steadily up to another beautiful Lake, Ibon del Escalar. By now I have recovered from my breakfast nosebleed and am enjoying the cool day - at 17°C excellent for shorts and t-shirt. The ascent to this lake was at 9 to10 metres per minute whereas earlier in the trip we were only managing 7 to 8 metres per minute. (Suunto Altimax watch provided this data.)
Sue changes into boots - Kate's discarded but trusty Reeboks are wearing out! There would be excellent networking at this lake.
So, on up to Col des Moines, and border stone 309 signals another return to France. We get a day walker to take photos of us with Pic du Midi d'Ossau in the background. Unfortunately it's cloudy and the peak has its hat on.
It did eventually clear, at 11.00. I ponder where all the organised HRP trips are, whereupon we meet a group of eleven French with packs who look as if they are exactly that.
Pass Lac Castérau, 11.50, and the Pic clears briefly. We have a long (12.30 to 1.30) lunch break with excellent cheese, tomatoes and baguette from (guess who?) just above Cabane Cap de Pount, with good views down the valley to the north east.
It was briefly warm and sunny. Just as well, as I spent 30 minutes on the phone, which had reception for the first time since before Arlet. So 3 days texts were sent to Kate, who claims to have the website up to 5/8 done, and a message to Jacqui in reply to hers. We are so still that family of marmots comes out to play noisily, without noticing us.  

And so to a 650 metre ascent to Col de Peyreget ~ 2300 metres, which we fairly stormed up, passing a Frenchman with a white hat - he really did look English, perhaps he was pretending to be French. Stopping at Lac de Peyreget, we saw lots of marmots including some babies - I'd never seen them before. And again today, eagles soared gracefully in the cloudy skies. The route up was through meadows of spotted gentians, the first time we had seen them. We reached the col at 3.30 and descended to Pombie Hut, 1,000 feet below, by 4 pm. 

By Lac de Peyreget
Didn't notice the sign "Aire de bivouac - 150 m" and camped illegally by the lake. We are just about hidden from the hut by a mound and hope we don't get moved on. (Been here 2 hours now.) It's been spitting with rain, but occasional sun means it's 27 degrees in here. Very cosy. But Sue keeps farting and is hot in her fleece.
Best couscous meal yet, (a tent meal, I think) which has lots of choritzo sausage, and mushrooms and pepper sauce with it, following a nice soup. Then we bottled out of getting beers at the busy hut and adopted for a chat with our French friend, also illegally camped, and a view of an isard family.
Stats and route (Viewranger):
15 km, 1400 metres ascent, 7.2 hours


Monday 12 August 2019

Sunday 11 August 2019 - Another Visit to Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb

After an overnight visit to Dot, Sue and I met Sue's mum and dad at Shelsley Walsh, where there were some pretty quick vehicles.
We were last here in June, when I took a few pictures with a proper camera. Today, I had that camera - but I'd forgotten to charge its battery, so this posting just relies on pictures taken with my S9 phone.
The announcers seemed a bit confused by the green and white van pictured above in the background. It was the only van racing, and competing alongside Aston Martins and Porsches it performed quite well!.
The start doesn't look all that steep, but it is quite a slope, with a sharp bend that kicks in just as the cars have reached a good speed.
Drivers await in the paddock to be called.
Marshalls seem to be everywhere, here at a fast corner.
The next two pictures were taken from about the same place as the last one, getting on for half way up the course, looking back down the hill.
After our picnic lunch, Sue and I went to the top of the course, where there's a holding paddock out of sight of spectators. After each batch of climbers the vehicles are released back down the hill, ready for the next batch - usually in a different class.
Before we left, after a picnic tea, I couldn't resist a snap of this old Buick. I think it's a Buick Special dating from around 1938.

Sunday 11 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 14

Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 14 - Sunday 8 August 2004 - Stage 12 
Postcard Summary
Lakeside camp to Candanchu
Another great day with eagles soaring above.  First bath for 2 weeks! – 7.5 hours, 17.5 km, 550m ascent
Another beautiful day – this time with no threatening weather!  On a gentle descent after leaving camp, we passed farms high up, with their sheep in enclosures.  Had a nice brew near a stream that was too cold even for Sue’s feet!  Today’s climb brought us up to Ibon de Estanes (lake), where families had taken picnics and there were lots of horses.  Then we took a contouring route through the French/Spanish border, with soaring eagles and colourful alpine flowers, to the Spanish ski resort of Candanchu.  After quenching our thirst at a bar we found a hotel and had our first bath for two weeks!  Then we found an excellent corner shop and stocked up with four days food, to get us to Cauterets.
Diary Entry (by Sue)
Today I have the luxury of sitting on a bed in a room for four in the Hotel Candanchu (Spain), albeit surrounded by airing sleeping bags and wet washing spread over the room and balcony. Martin shaves off a 3-day old beard and I look forward to a bath.

Today's stage was from the new book (Ton Joosten's Cicerone guide) - six and a half hours from the refuge to here. The alarm went off at 6.30, but was not heeded immediately. Fine to pack rucksacks outside - a cool 14°C and breezy, but the sun appeared as we packed. 
Away at 8 am on a lovely path that descended gently through the Cirque de Banasse.

Several shepherds' huts were passed - today the sheep seem to be in pens next to the huts, rather than roaming the hillsides.  
After a little while, legs and fleece were exchanged for shorts and t-shirt. Gradually, the path wended its way downwards, entering the Espélunguère forest for a short time before emerging at the Pla d' Espélunguère, at 1400 metres the lowest point of the day. Luckily about three days of rubbish could be disposed of near here - everything must be carried out, and in general, the hills are pretty clean.  
Next to the freezing stream (feet were dipped), we brewed in the shade and snacked on chocolate, and the remains of the mountain mix. The Spanish lads from the refuge last night also turned up and enjoyed a break by the stream. A 375 metre ascent might have been harder but for the shade of the beech forest, as it was steep at times. As the trees thinned, a fragrant orchid was spotted in the grass next to the path. A metal ladder was required to bypass a cave and large water pipe.


The trees were left and over a lip was the Lac d'Estaëns (or Ibon de Astanes), looking rather deplete of water with a big red beach - it must be used as a reservoir.

Here, there were a lot of horses, and lots of groups of people on the green slopes around the lake. We too, stopped here for a pleasant but short lunch - Martin's hummock turned out to be an ants nest, necessitating moving. Remains of bread and tins of fish.

Here, the GR11 was joined and we descended gradually again. We lost the crowds heading to the lake, baguettes sticking out of their rucksacks. By now, it had got pretty hot (31°C) and we both wore trainers. 

But, again into forest on a leaf litter path that undulated and twisted around rocks and tree trunks. Emerging from the trees, we could see a large group of people snaking along a narrow path across steep scree - our next objective. Luckily they were across and grouped by the Aspe river, so we didn't have to pass anyone. It was fine, except for one very narrow part, with a big steep drop. 

After another undulating rough path, the ski lifts of Candanchu came into view and after Col de Causiat it was downhill. 

We passed closed lifts to the village centre, and a cold coke at a bar (3.30 pm).

The village is not pretty, but much more attractive than La-Pierre St-Martin. The woman in the bar indicated two hotels, and we booked into the last room here at Hotel Candanchu.

[Note: when Martin passed through Candanchu in 2015, he found virtually everything shut.]

Washing first, then a visit to the Supermercado El Bozo to restock. We managed to obtain everything except dried milk and hot chocolate sachets. The helpful man was ready to pack cheese, tomatoes and peaches for us, and even to supply two loaves of bread (without a reservation!).

A long soak in a hot bath was great, after snacking on a tin of mussels in dressing. Martin spread maps around and I relaxed, before we had a beer in the lounge, preceding dinner.

Nice meal, and a bottle of rosé, in the part of the restaurant not occupied by a coach party - they get the window tables.
Sleeping in cotton sheets is lovely!
Stats and route (Viewranger):
19 km, 700 metres ascent, 7.5 hours