Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 22 August 2020

Friday 21 August 2020 - Delamere Forest and the Sandstone Trail

After last week's sunshine, we arrived this week at the same car park, at Barnbridge Gates, in heavy rain. It eased a bit as we got ready for departure, and soon stopped, much to our relief.
Today's team included both Pauls and Graeme, Sue being absent at work. We saw virtually nobody else on the paths, just a few young cyclists pushing their bikes. 
We set off south this time, pictured above, following the well signposted Sandstone Trail as far as Primrosehill Wood.
We soon came to a major junction - the panorama (try clicking on the image) shows a wide selection of tracks. Nearby, Martins were franticly hoovering all the insects they could find, in preparation for heading off to their 'winter' quarters in Africa. The Swifts went some time ago.
A little further on, a row of dead trees provided evidence of a disease of some sort.
After crossing the busy A54, we continued towards King's Gate and dropped through a deep valley to gain the perimeter of Michael Owen's stud farm.
The modern plantations in Delamere Forest are the current manifestation of a long history. I mentioned The New Pale in last week's 'report'. That deer enclosure dates from around 400 years ago, but 600 years before that the Normans created the Delamere area for the purpose of providing exclusive hunting grounds for the crown, which were preserved for over 700 years under strict forest laws. These laws protected game animals and the vegetation that gave them cover. The agricultural needs of the local populace therefore took second place, and those desperate enough to disobey were severely punished. This must have created terrible hardship for the villages that lay within the forest boundaries.
Over more recent centuries, the twin forests of Mara and Mondrem, which formed the Delamere area, slowly released much of their land to villages skirting the forest, culminating in an Act of Parliament in 1812 that removed the forest laws and created two new parishes, Delamere and Oakmere. The land that remained was retained by the crown and planted with conifers to form the modern plantations.
Whilst the local history goes back to Roman times, the above references explain the proliferation of names like 'King's Gate', where we left the forest (via stiles and kissing gates) to arrive in the outskirts of Kelsall,  An elevenses break featured excellent home made flapjack from Paul S, before we headed on past a garden that instilled some amusement (click on the picture to see it properly).
Kelsall is a large village with good views down to the Cheshire plain. We found a way through, avoiding the centre and most of the roads.
Beyond Kelsall, we crossed the A54 again and progressed through fields that used to be a fruit growing area. Here, the tall trees that must have protected the fruit trees have been neatly trimmed up to a modest height.
We paused to admire good views over the Cheshire Plain.
The present crop appears to be … grass...(and trimmings?)
After continuing along the Eddisbury Way, a 16.5 mile walking route between Frodsham and Higher Burwardsley, for a while, a short stretch of tarmac in the vicinity of Brine's Brow led to a path under the Manchester to Chester railway. Here, we entered a sweetcorn growing area, with narrow paths between the tall crops.
Can you see Paul, just ahead, the crop towering over him.

Luckily, the foliage had dried out after the earlier rain, though we were pleased to be wearing long trousers this week, nettle stings having taken their toll in last week's 'shorts' conditions.
Eventually we emerged to a walled lane that led (this was a minor diversion) to the familiar sight of Stonehouse Farm B&B.
Bacon/sausage toasted sandwiches with coffee/tea provided us with an excellent value lunch before we headed back the way we'd come.
Then it was a case of following the Sandstone Trail for 3 km back to the car park along the same path as we'd enjoyed last week.
Here, I spotted Graeme studying the signpost and muttering under his breath - "I'm trying, honestly, I'm trying!"
I'm having mapping software problems and have 'lost' both the waypoint icons and the kilometre marker arrows (would anyone notice?), but this picture does accurately show the 14 km route which includes about 250 metres of ascent.
We agreed that we would meet again next week, on Thursday 27 August, at 10 am outside the Leather's Smithy, Langley, SJ952715, for a 12 km stroll over Shutlingsloe that will take about 3 hours. All are welcome.

Friday 21 August 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 28: 18 May 2010)

After nearly 13 hours on the hoof, I reached this lovely flat spot (NN344662) at around 7 pm on a sunny evening after a perfect day. I'd covered nearly 29 km (18 miles) and climbed over 1800 metres of ascent, gaining the Corbett summits of Glas Bheinn and Leum Uilleim, as well as the Graham called Beinn na Cloiche.
I was by the stream in Allt Coire a'Bhric, in a secluded spot about a kilometre from Corrour Station.
I'd pressed on as rain was forecast, and it arrived overnight, leaving the mountains draped in cloud as I looked back at my camping spot and Leum Uilleim the following morning.

Thursday 20 August 2020

18 July 1989 - Alta Via 2 - Day 4 - Camp near Rif Pissadu to Malga Ciapela campsite

Looking back to Pissadu - how did we find anywhere to camp?!
Tuesday 18 July (Diarist: Laurie)

Seven o'clock start for a long haul today, creeps up unexpectedly on Martin W and me - so it is agreed to meet up later at Passo Pordoi or Malga Ciapela.
[So this entry's photos are from the advance party, not the diarist.]

So we relax a little, take ages to unzip Martin W's gaiter, and leave half an hour after the others. The campsite had been spectacular, with the crags of the Piscadu peak towering above, and the deep Val de Mesdi separating us from other peaks of similar height.

Rock all around, and just a few tiny areas of green for tents; in fact mine was brown, a dried up pond which proved a bit messy.

So, back to Lago di Pissadu, a quick wash in the stream, and up across scree and snow patches under overhanging crags. A short rock and ironware section, then the snow is all around, hard in the morning shade, and our ice axes come out for the first time. The valley climbs into an open basin with an ice stream. Tracks skirt the basin to a pass opposite, but our red paint marks lead us up and round to the right.
By now, we are in bright sunlight and goggles are essential. 
We stop at a summit, where we meet a man with a pipe who asks us to take his picture. The man had given me 100 lire to make up the right money last night in the hut, and the pipe we had smelt on the way up. Other people from the hut (we saw them leave when we were on the scree) caught us up. Immense views of our previous day's route and distant snowy Alps behind, and a plain of bare rock and snow patches ahead.
The path undulates through this terrain, then contours a larger bump with an exposed cable section, then goes over a smaller bump to reveal the Rifugio Boe.
And surprise, surprise there are Dave and John, who had expended some of their early start on an unofficial deviation. Martin B was visible chugging up the snow towards the Piz Boe summit.
Self-timed picture on Piz Boe summit
After ten minutes Martin W came along to consume the tea I'd ordered, plus strudel, and we were joined again by the man with a pipe. Dave and John went off - amazingly we thought - on the route that by-passed the summit.
We thrutched up steep snow to a rock section which we supposed would have some ironware to justify the 'ferrata' crosses on the map. The measly 40 feet of cable gave a route with better views and that was all. It was avoided completely by the person in front. Then more thrutch up snow patches, (aware of the what 10000ft+ of altitude) to a summit (Piz Boe) with an enormous metal plate on legs (facing north so not a solar panel) and a wooden hut.

This hut was crowded with people whose attire did not seem to accord with our means of ascent. Gym-slipped schoolgirls in tennis shoes and old ladies in summer frocks. We wondered again about Dave and John not bothering to come up here. We stopped for ego-boost snapshots and soup and chocolate.

This was the highest point in the Sella Group at 3152 metres, and the views were outstanding. Only the Marmolada, which had come in to view, seemed higher. We met an English hiker doing AV2 the other way who said that the Forcella della Marmolada was impassable this year, he'd been told, and that the Farangole (some way ahead) had been difficult.
The clouds were looking rather threatening and it was snowing by the time we reached the hut at Forcella Pordoi (snow finches here).
We spurned the cable car that had brought up the hordes, and descended on excitingly fast scree, then paths, to Passo Pordoi.

Passo Pordoi is very well appointed in souvenir knick-knack shops, bars and restaurants. I could even stock up on film by Access. Fortunately we bumped into our friend with the pipe once more, and he told us that the others had set off into the next hills, and that the most reasonable restaurant was the self-service at the cablecar station. A meal was certainly needed to kindle any enthusiasm for what seemed a ridiculously long journey ahead. We easily got meat free food, and were told that the Italian for vegetarian was 'vegetariano'.

So, on to the Vial del Pan, a smuggling route that contoured easily along the next ridge. Wherever it went to the top of the ridge - or rather the top descended to the path - we could see how very much lower was the next valley than the last.
Ascending from Passo Pordoi, with Sassolungo
Looking back to Passo Pordoi and the Sella Group from which we descended earlier
The terrain was now all grassy and green, contrasting with the rocks and glaciers of the Marmolada across the valley. There were occasional flocks of sheep, and a few marmots.

Some way along the path we met our friend with the pipe again. This time he was accompanied by two women and a large dog, and travelling in the opposite direction! It seemed miles before the path turned and descended, and we felt extremely tired, and frightened of stumbling on the exposed parts of the descent. We saw at least six Ring Ouzels as we neared the valley.
Lago di Fedaia, with Marmolada on the right
Marmolada from Rifugio Vial del Pan
Arriving at the road, we crossed to the first Rifugio to get some more sustenance - a full meal. Considerable difficulty in getting the concept of no meat across. We were most sorely tempted to stay, being completely exhausted, but struggled back out to face the road section of the route which avoids the Forcella della Marmolada. We were prepared for it to be unpleasant, and coming at the end of an already long day, it was extremely uncomfortable. We took a disused road to the south of the Lago di Fedaia, then managed to find rough paths to avoid the multiple zigzags of the main road; after this it was a road walk. It got dark and I got blisters. Only the downhill gradient provided the impetus for one plod to follow another.

At last the settlement of Malga Ciapela appeared, but it was all plush hotels and no sign of campsites or rifugios. Further on, I asked someone and got directions to the campsite, a good mile on from the start of the village.

Arriving there, it was huge, so how to find the others? Asking after three Englishmen, each in a small tent, was not fruitful. Then we saw Dave waving, and the unlikely reunion was made, at 10:45 pm.

Alternative version: (Diarist: Martin B)

This is not really necessary, as Laurie's entry is comprehensive.

A superb, scenic day, not excessively energetic. Just a bit (5 hours) quicker for Dave, Martin B and John, who reassembled at Forcella Pordoi after  Martin B's stroll up and down Piz Boe. Some interesting single file contouring paths through snow, overlooking a dramatic mini Grand Canyon. Later, lots of superb views of Marmolada, helped by binoculars, with many people on the glacier. Superb contouring path before a long descent, which was still shorter than many we have encountered, and Dave was left with lots of energy to seek a good menu (ham, eggs and chips*), whilst Martin B and John continued rucksack weight reduction exercise (by eating the contents).

  Here's our route - 23 km, with 1100 metres of ascent. 
NB I think we went along the southern shore of Lago di Fedaia
* Dave recalls:
I remember the Ham, egg and chips.
I went some distance to find the restaurant which was full of happy families with plenty of young kids who knew how to behave and amuse themselves while the adults talked amongst themselves.
There was a large menu which I could not make head not tail of – the phrase books often don’t help with menus – so I selected something at random.
I suspect they gave me what they thought  I wanted rather than what I had actually ordered. It was very good and filling and I had a pleasant stay.
I seem to recall that Laurie ran out of money at this point and was annoyed there was no Bank. He had this foible about not carrying much money with him – it got us into trouble in a later holiday he and I had in the Dolomites around 2000 when we ran short of money because I had to start funding the back end of the trip.

Next Day (tba)

Wednesday 19 August 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 27: 17 May 2010)

This was perhaps my best ever wild camp. I arrived at Mam na Gualainn fairly early after a relatively easy day that incorporated a short stretch of the busy West Highland Way corridor.

About 600 metres to the east of the 796 metre summit, I stopped at this irresistible spot, albeit a bit of a descent to the north to find a spring. Approximately NN120626, with views to the Glencoe summits, and down Loch Leven.
It was a perfect warm night. There was no wind, as can be seen from the contents of my rucksack being just spread out on the grass while I took the tent down. I had a long day in store so was up fairly early, but as you can see from the next two pictures, the sun was shining.
Here's a last look back to Mam na Gualainn, before I packed up and headed on over Beinn na Caillich to join the path to Corrour. Brilliant, and not an insect in sight. [I'm currently reading reports from people brave enough to wild camp in Scotland in August 2020. Midges rule ok, I'm not envious.]

Tuesday 18 August 2020

17 July 1989 - Alta Via 2 - Day 3 - Camp near Rif Puez to Camp near Rif Pissadu

Monday 17 July (Diarist: Martin W)

Quite a chilly night, but everyone slept well. Dave's alarm went off at 6:30. Cloudy and cool. We leave together around 8:15. Dave, Martin B and John storm off into the distance (and these pictures were taken by that 'advance party'). Laurie and I follow at a more leisurely pace, admiring the fine scenery. Brief stop at Puez Hutte, after only half a mile, for an orange juice.
I feel rather slow and tired today, and feel like stopping a lot. The path has a Yorkshire Dales look to it as long as you ignore the scale of the surrounding scenery. In a mist, probably indistinguishable. We get to the pass - Forcella Campaccio - without really trying, since we come down to it. There follows a descent to Lago di Crespeina, quite a large lake.
The dynamic trio are having a brew on the pass above the lake - about 10:30. Laurie and I stop for a while to eat before the climb to 2528 metre Crespeina Joch. Not as bad as it looked.
More fabulous views open out down Val Chedul, with Rotspitzen rising at the end looking like The Lost World.
A short descent and short climb take us to Col Turond (2466 metres).
Our view of the road is blocked by magnificent limestone turrets and huge walls of rock amongst which we soon descend, picking our way down over loose paths.
The many tourists are evidence of a nearby road. One has to guess whether someone is Italian or German before saying 'buongiorno' or 'gruss gott'. Do Germans really look put out if you get it wrong?
Rifugio Clark (now called Jimmy's Hutte) is quite a pleasant wooden hut doing a roaring trade. I wish we had stayed here for lunch, but after an apple juice we dropped down to Passo Gardena, where we met Dave, John and Martin B at Rifugio Gardena.

(The end of Stage 1 of AV2.)
Here, despite asking the apparently English speaking waitress for something without meat in it, I ended up with a macaroni with bolognese sauce. I ate much of the macaroni before leaving the rest to the human dustbin (Dave). I also had to reorder the minestrone that I thought I had ordered the first time -  thankfully relatively devoid of flesh. Meanwhile, Laurie tucked into a large spherical dumpling that rolled around in a plate of soup. Apparently a house speciality.
The sun is out when we finally leave at about 1:30, and make our way up towards Val Setus, which is a steep scree covered gully (a bit bigger than what I usually think of as a gully).
Laurie is really keen to have a look at the via ferrata around the corner (Tridentina - with which I have subsequently become familiar, but I doubt whether the others have done it - Ed) and so we head off along the path towards it. We lose a bit of height and eventually I am not keen to carry on to something we may finally not want to do. Laurie goes a bit further and then comes to a similar conclusion.

So it's back to the foot of Val Setus, and we start the grind up. There are bits of snow here and there, and many people on the way down. About half way there is a serious rumbling sound and looking up we see snow flying and a couple of large rocks making their way down. Laurie becomes quite anxious and we do our best to get as far as we can from their possible landing places. Much noise. Dramatic. When we reach the narrow part of the gully from where the rocks came, we see warning signs - 'Attenzione'. Evidently rock falls are quite common here. We get through the danger area as quickly as possible.

Then it's up a very steep, rather wet, rather screey, slope to a point where aided ascent (fixed steel rope) begins up craggy limestone.
Quite fun, with dramatic views. The rope makes life easy, giving much improved security and showing the way. None of it, I think, would have been too difficult without the rope however. Some very young children coming down, tied carefully to the rope by carabiners, were doing very well. Some others looked not too happy. One man holding a rope tied to his rather large wife was perhaps lulling her into a false sense of security.
Finally, the summit. Stupendous views; a great spot. Especially knowing that the Pissadu Hutte is only 3 minutes away. Many ego-boosting photos taken before going on to the hut for tea. We discover, from a German/Nordic? couple who have seen them, that the others are camped about half a mile away.
We soon spot Dave in his stripy shirt (very distinctive) on his way for a very cold foot wash. We are camped by about 6:30 in an excellent sheltered spot surrounded by huge rock towers and magnificent distant views of similar structures. Mild enough to cook outside. Beer and coffee in the hut later.
The cruel and sadistic Martin B has planned a long day for tomorrow, with an unexpected early start of 7 am!! Sleep deprivation into the bargain. Dave will give us an early morning call (I dread to think what that might consist of) at 5:45 am.
 Here's our route - 11 km, with 850 metres of ascent.