Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Friday 18 October 2019 - A Circuit from Bollington (15 km)

 
A break in the showery weather provided an ideal morning for this stroll, starting from a car park near the centre of Bollington (see map below). The car park is currently occupied by travellers, but we found a space and set off, Sue, Graeme and I, up the familiar and very steep path to the south of the town.
 
We soon found ourselves looking down on the town (see above), and after a while we reached the whitewashed hulk of White Nancy, where a couple were picnicking, despite it only being 10.30 am.
 
White Nancy was built in 1817 to commemorate victory at the Battle of Waterloo. I've written about it before - here. Today it shimmered in the bright sunshine. Freshly whitewashed?
 
 
The three of us continued over Kerridge Hill, where there's a trig point with an extensive view over Greater Manchester and the plains of Cheshire.
 
 
We saw no other walkers today, apart from the afore-mentioned picnickers and a handful of dog walkers. But our progress was monitored by the local buzzard population.
 
After descending Tower Hill and skirting Rainow, we found ourselves on a familiar road that leads past a Very Helpful Signpost to the waterworks below Lamaload Reservoir.
 
 
Rising again, we passed isolated buildings on our way to the hamlet of Ginclough, seen below our picnic spot in the next picture. I claimed this to be the half way point of the walk, but Sue sussed that it might be a bit further than that, given the obvious proximity of White Nancy (just to the left of the picture).
 
 
My route did however head north to Rainowlow and around the back of Billinge Hill, rather than head straight back to Bollington.
 
We passed this concrete structure. There's a Tumulus marked near here on the map, but I wonder what this is?
 
 
Some delightful paths through a variety of countryside drew us slowly back to our starting point, before which we happened upon Bridgend Centre, a community centre that encompasses a small and very friendly café. We took advantage of this and enjoyed a round of coffee and biscuits for all three of us, for the princely sum of £1.50! An excellent spot.
 
 
It's across the road from this church, so just head for the spire and you can't miss the café.
 
 
Having started at 10 am, we had finished the walk around 2 pm - about 15 km, with less than 500 metres of ascent. A lovely outing in fine weather, but we drove through a heavy rain shower on the way home.
 
Here's the (highly recommended by Sue and Graeme) route. If you do try to follow it, you need to be fairly attentive to the map. The image below, and the others in this (and any other) posting can be clicked on to see a larger image with good resolution.
 

Friday, 18 October 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 38

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 38 - Wednesday 1 September 2004 - Stage 31

Postcard Summary
Bilberry camp to (nobody seen for 24 hours) Masia-Noarre campsite
Long leisurely day in varied scenery with frogs – 8.25 hours, 14 km, 650m ascent
After yesterday’s huge boulders and very slow going, today was a delight.  Only 400 metres of ascent to the first col, then an undulating route to have lunch at an unmanned refuge – Rif Pujol – it houses nine people and is very smart and clean.  Looks like a large metal trunk from the outside.  Then a nice gentle descent during which we had to make a route decision.  We came to Camping Masia because it sounded nice in the guide book, and the clouds were building up….and as I write, from the comfort of the bar at Camping Masia, it is raining.  Correct decision.  The alternative would have been another high wild camp, probably with lots of frogs, which have dominated the day.  Now looking forward to a nice meal at the restaurant here.

 
 
Diary Entry (by Sue)
Tonight I write from the comfort of a chair with a beer in front of me. We have dropped to a highly recommended campsite, Bordes de Graus, at 1360 metres, where the 'excellent sanitary facilities' have proved just that - showers had and washing done.
 
Our quiet campsite last night had cloud below it this morning. When cleaning teeth last night we heard barking -  fox? wolf? deer? The muesli was nice with added bilberries, and we got off at 8.30, wearing gaiters due to wet grass. The climb was steep on the narrow, cairned path, crossing rocks in parts and passing two false cols.
 
 
The last section was steep scree, but the Col de la Cornella (2485 metres) was a superb notch in the sunshine and a just reward for the climbing. Mountain mix went down well. Descent over steep ground to two lakes and a contouring path to the next col.
 
Another short climb to the Estany de Calberante. In this lake were hundreds of tadpoles and on the grass surrounding it, lots of tiny frogs. The tadpoles were concentrated around the silty edges, until disturbed, when the water heaves as a tidal wave of tadpoles heads for deeper water.
 
 
 
This nicely put off the climb (steeply) to the next col at 2610 metres, where there was a good view of Mont Roig, and of the three Gallina lakes and refuge.
 

The view from Col de Calberante

 
The descent past these lakes was lovely -  large polished rocks, waterfalls and streams - the sheep were surprised to see us! The obstacle of the water filled gully before the refuge, mentioned in Joosten's guide book, was easily passed and refuge proved an excellent place for lunch.
 
It is unstaffed and has beds for nine. Martin brewed inside whilst I made a pâté baguette outside, despite the lack of sunshine. The refugi was opened in 1984 and is named after Enric Pujol, a mountaineer killed on Broad Peak in 1981 aged only 28. It would be a cosy place to stay, with its candle chandelier.
 
 
 
The path down from here was also a good one - steep in parts and over smooth rocks in other parts. It followed a stream, meaning that frogs were ever present - both adults and tiny ones.
 
 
At least this afternoon was cooler than yesterday - some cloud cover and a cool breeze. Saw our second snake of the trip, about 9 inches long and bronze coloured. Despite being provoked, it wasn't in a hurry to escape.

Through silver birch trees before reaching and crossing a stream. Another brief but pleasant section of path brought us to a dirt road. This zigzagged down and joined a tarmac road, that passed by the nearby uninhabited hamlet of Quanca. After passing the reservoir and dam, the hamlet of Graus was reached, where our campsite is located.

There had been an option of going higher and traversing across to tomorrow's route, but this option wasn't mentioned in either guide book, and in view of the black clouds above, the descent to this site was chosen. No storm, but plenty of rumbles of thunder, and some black clouds. Of note, we hadn't seen anyone for over 24 hours when we met two Spaniards on their way to the refugi - an indication of the remoteness of this section.

Arriving at 4.45 pm, a beer was welcome before the tent went up. After showers etc, we retreat to the bar, for diary writing and postcards. The restaurant here conserves one of our evening meals in case Refugi de Certascan cannot oblige tomorrow. We eat green beans for starters, chops, ratatouille and salad for main, and yoghurt / creme caramel for pudding. The 'english speaking lady' misinterprets a couple of orders to achieve this! The rain patters on the skylights above.

Addendum:
The Enric Pujol refuge provided a couple of peach drinks that somebody had left behind there - very welcome on our way down to Graus. Also there was a plaque:

"ENRIC PUJOL 10/2/53 - BROAD PEAK (KARAKORUM) 5/8/81" and a quotation from Frederich Nietzsche.*

Stats and route (Viewranger):
14 km, 650 metres ascent, 8.25 hours 


 
* “Let us face ourselves. We are Hyperboreans; we know very well how far off we live. 'Neither by land nor by sea will you find the way to the Hyperboreans'—Pindar already knew this about us. Beyond the north, ice, and death—our life, our happiness. We have discovered happiness, we know the way, we have found the exit out of the labyrinth of thousands of years. Who else has found it? Modern man perhaps? 'I have got lost; I am everything that has got lost,' sighs modern man. This modernity was our sickness: lazy peace, cowardly compromise, the whole virtuous uncleanliness of the modern Yes and No. … Rather live in the ice than among modern virtues and other south winds! We were intrepid enough, we spared neither ourselves nor others; but for a long time we did not know where to turn with our intrepidity. We became gloomy, we were called fatalists. Our fatum—abundance, tension, the damming of strength. We thirsted for lightning and deeds and were most remote from the happiness of the weakling, 'resignation.' In our atmosphere was a thunderstorm; the nature we are became dark—for we saw no way. Formula for our happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal.”
 
 

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Wednesday 16 October 2019 - 'What I Learnt Cycling Around the World'

https://wowcharitycycle.wordpress.com/

I don't often report back on SWOG's Wednesday evening presentations, but this one was exceptional.

Russell Selby graduated then got a Master's degree in Civil Engineering. Then he cycled around the world. It took him five years. He's now back in the North West, working for Ecospheric, an environment friendly company.

He delivered an enthralling talk with passion - basically an overview of his five years of cycling and working his way around the world, the first three of which were with friends, and the last two, from Patagonia to New York, were on his own. Remarkably, he only had to pay for accommodation on 12 of the nights he spent in the last two years; he wild camped or was offered free lodgings for the rest!

Russell's website is here.

Now, can I remember what Russell said he had learnt?...
  • people are amazing
  • character is limitless
  • enthusiasm and empathy win the day
  • money isn't everything
  • being positive is a great asset
I'm not sure whether those are right, and I know there was more! Perhaps Russell will either comment or give me the information to enable me to edit the above.*

Anyway his engaging talk could be inspirational to certain youngsters. It's a shame that 'the day job' doesn't give Russell much opportunity to reach the young adults who may benefit most.

* Russell has now commented:
5 things I learnt.

People are awesome
I am very fortunate
The planet is incredible
The future is now
Character is limitless

But what I think most people should take from it...

Money isn't everything
Appreciate and empathise
Be positive and proactive

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Polly For Sale

 
I bought Polly in April 2010, so that's nearly ten years of trouble free motoring from this excellent little car, with this year's mileage being the highest out of all those years - probably because we've had no long trips away this year.
 
I've had this car far longer than any other. It's lovely to drive and really hasn't given me any reason to want to replace it, but good things don't last for ever, and I judge this to be an appropriate time to sell. With minimal service bills, cheap insurance, and depreciation of £400 pa, I think it has served me well.
 
It may not sell, but if it does, I hope the new owner will be very happy. Here's the overview.
 
 

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 37

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 37 - Tuesday 31 August 2004 - Stage 30

Postcard Summary (on yesterday's card)
Silent froggy camp to lakelet at 2070 metres, 4 hours before Rif Pujol
Tough day with huge boulders, steep grass, no paths, very hot – 9.0 hours, 13 km, 1000m ascent
Another tough day – a steep descent then large boulders (not good for knees) for over an hour to reach another col.  The ‘path’ into Alos was steep and hot.  Restaurant only open in evening, so usual bread and pâté lunch on bench in shade.  A really hot afternoon for another 800m ascent – but nice silver birch woodland and plenty of raspberries to eat!  Autumn colours start to show – red and yellow shades.
 
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Woke at 7 am after 10 hours' sleep in this silent spot. Light fog outside. 12°C. Lots of condensation. We are sitting at the top edge of a cloud inversion. The only sound is that of sweetly singing birds.
 
After ablutions we get away at 8.20, the original intention being to contour at 2400 metres, the height of our camp, a la Véron. But cairns led us down the route suggested by Ton Joosten. I do not have happy recollections of the Véron route over loose boulders and scree, so I'm happy to opt for the alternative. Fine at first, but then we entered a field of huge boulders. (See top picture.) Slow going. Very hard on Sue's knees, which are suffering today along with her neck and her feet.
 
Eventually we join a cairned route (hard to describe anything this morning as a 'path') for the last 100 metres up to a col at 2430 metres. It has taken nearly two hours. Véron estimates 50 minutes from Col d'Airoto. [Use his route next time!]
 
There's a lot of cloud around again today, but it doesn't look threatening. After the horrible traverse we descend slightly more easily through fields of grasshoppers and lady's bedstraw and mountain houseleek, not forgetting the egg shells, banana skins and orange peel left by the invisible (today) Spanish contingent.

 
 Stocking up with spring water
We reach a track and some friendly horses and 11.30 to 12.00 sees us enjoying a most welcome brew stop and relishing handfuls of the excellent mountain mix derived from yesterday's purchases.
 
 The view towards Alos d'Isil
 Friendly horses
The descent to Alos d'Isil was unpleasant except for some nice smells, including mint. We short cut the dirt road (very long loops) and headed down a 'trace' of a path. Steep grass, very rough, all the way into Alos (1.20).
 
 
We attempted to find the restaurant, were told it was shut for lunchtimes anyway, and finished up having pâté baguettes on a bench by a car park.
 
 
The bench was nice. The view would have been if not dominated by a huge green crane that completely dominates Alos - obviously being developed. The dirt road through the village even has a new by-pass! The 'fountain' outside the church had two glasses placed in readiness for anybody wanting a drink, and there were some nice old houses in the village, as well as new ones with cladding over the bricks to make them look old.
 
Sue found a rubbish bin - very useful, and a pretty packhorse bridge - very ancient, like the old disused paths we had descended on. There were very few people around. On leaving Alos at 2.15 up a dirt road to the north, we were passed by a lone mountain biker, the only person we saw exercising all day. Nobody was out walking - not really a surprise given the paucity of paths.
 
Whilst after lunch we had some paths (the initial dirt track was absolutely full of butterflies) on our ascent from 1280 metres to 2070 metres - to a small tarn above a waterfall where Dave and I camped on 20 August 1994 (our last two days have been the same as on that trip). It was a humid 28°C, my back felt very heavy (it was) and the path was steep, so very hard work indeed. But it was through lovely birch woods, with autumnal colours and red bilberry bushes. Also lots of raspberries. Contrast with the bouldery scenery of the morning.
 
Sue wasn't enjoying it (knees, neck, feet, etc) - especially the big boulders of the morning. We passed an 8-inch lizard - black with small green spots. There were lots of ants on the path, which is the first three and a half hours of Ton Joosten's stage 26. We had a short break with 300 metres to go (up) and then inadvertently walked past the target lakelet! 5.15 - we'd done it in three hours - quicker even than Véron's 3 hours 15 minute estimate.
 
 
Another quiet campsite. (Note tent in above picture.) Spring water above. Quite a few flies, but luckily none of the ants encountered on the way up. Lots of grasshoppers. Sue had a full wash in the lake whilst I got water and we soon embarked on a good meal - mushroom soup / spaghetti carbonara and tuna / mint tea and chocolate. Sue collected bilberries to supplement tomorrow's muesli. It began to darken soon after 8.30 - time to finish this.
 
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
13 km, 1000 metres ascent, 9 hours