Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 9 January 2021

The Walker's Haute Route (2)

Leaving Zermatt - click on any picture for a better version and access to a slideshow

Wednesday 6 July - Zermatt to Europa Hut

Wisely we started our backpack of the 'Walker's Haute Route' on the underground funicular to Sunnegga, thus effortlessly gaining 600 metres in a few minutes. And so, after getting the 9:15 funicular (they start early and run every 15 minutes) we set off walking at 9:30, following 'Europaweg' signposts which led us down a broad track to Tufteren (2215 m).

The 180 km route - we are doing it from a Zermatt start

The team: Gaynor, Sue, David, Betty and Dave


Lots of views to Zermatt, and the Matterhorn engulfed in mist. Lots of flowers, suntan cream applied, and Betty's new walking poles came out.

Helicopters zoomed about, fulfilling a number of differing (building, supplies, rescue?) tasks. Here we left the broad track to join the Europaweg proper  - a wide path rising gently, soon passing a junction of a path to Fluhalp. Betty wrestled with her new walking poles as the rest of us enjoyed the sunny day.

A large black ferret like animal shot across the path in front of me. We continued on a pleasant belvedere through woods, rising eventually to Taschalp (11:50 - 12:20) where we went indoors (cool outside) at 2170 m for hot chocolates, etc. 

The weather looked threatening so soon after Taschalp we stopped beside the belvedere bath at 2200 m for a quick lunch (12:30 - 12:50).


Looking back to Taschalp

Dark Mullein

Lovely flowers, increasing cloud, and final views of a Matterhorn shrouded in cloud. The path took us on an undulating route across the mountain, encountering a small suspension bridge and tunnels to avoid landslips - corrugated wormholes in which one could easily stand.

The guide book recommended torches, but we found a switch and operated the electric lights.

Chicken of the Woods

A wooded glade was found for the first brew stop of the trip, mid afternoon, before we continued in damp cloud to the Europa Hut. My paclite overtrousers ripped on a rock at the brew stop, and the smock was also ripped shortly before the end of the day. 

We were quite tired when the hut appeared out of the mist all of a sudden at 4:45 pm.

At the hut, Dave E and others lost their hats - hidden by a small boy. Uno was introduced and we had a pleasant evening, with wine, an average meal, and good dormitory accommodation - as the hut wasn't full we had a room for 6 for David and Sue, and a room for 8 for the rest of us.

Today we discovered that London had beaten Paris in the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics.

Next Day

Saturday 9 January 2021 - Social Distancing in Sale (or not)

On today's sunny afternoon, I ventured out, fully masked throughout. I must be paranoid; there is no pandemic crisis; the people of Sale are quite happy to walk in crowds along the canal towpath. No worries in Trafford, then...

Unbelievable. Now you know why I refuse to go anywhere near the crowded towpath

Friday 8 January 2021

The Walker's Haute Route (1)

With Lockdown restricting activities more and more (I'm only really allowed out for exercise and shopping for essentials, and given the serious risks re transmission of virus I'm not inclined to stray far from home), I'm revisiting some trips from the early 2000's that just have jotted diary entries and downloaded photos.

I'm starting with the Walker's Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt, which on this occasion (I wonder whether my previous visits will ever be recorded here!?) was with a few friends whose point of connection is the Johannesburg Hiking Club, with whom I'm connected through Jacqui, a University contemporary and former flatmate. 

I'm reporting verbatim, so feel free to skip the tedious bits...

Walker's Haute Route - Phase 1 - 4 to 11 July 2005

Monday 4 July - Travel to Zermatt

Hasty web updating before Mike calls at 9:30 to take me to Liverpool John Lennon Airport (10:15) to catch easyJet's Airbus A319, 12:00 to Geneva.

Efficient trip above the clouds. Geneva as rainy as Liverpool. 14:50 after losing an hour. Queues at passport control and a wait for baggage didn't stop me from finding a ticket machine (long queues at ticket office) and getting a ticket to Zermatt by 15:25, for a train leaving at 15:30. I got on it - then it left - I could have been going anywhere but I knew all trains go to Geneva Central so I could change there if necessary. In the event it was the right train and by 17:55 I was in Visp, still in a t-shirt, after a wet journey past the lake and gradually improving weather after that. I don't fancy wearing shorts today though.

Distant mountains shrouded in cloud, with large snowfields high on the slopes. As we had passed through Martigny, happy memories of the Tour of Mont Blanc flooded back. It's a shame Sue can't join me on this trip due to having to go to work!

Thick rain in Zermatt (19:25) made my quest find my hotel - Tannenhof Garni - a wet one. Eventually I donned my fleece - waterproofs buried deep in rucksack - asked directions, and found it. I have a more than adequate small quiet room near the centre of town with a toilet next door and a shower nearby.

A five minute turn around saw me jogging back to the station to rendezvous with Dave Lonsdale (text messages had been flying around) and head to the north a little way to the apartment occupied by Dave, Sue, Dave, Betty, Rod (Dave's brother) and Doreen (Dave's mum, 83). From here we adjourned to the nearby Holiday Hotel for a good meal before I returned for an early night by 11:30 pm, 10:30 UK time.

Tuesday 5 July - Around Zermatt

An easy day before our backpack was in order, so the six of us (me, David, Sue, Dave, Betty and Gaynor) rendezvoused at 'Mont Blanc', the Emmetts' rented apartment, and left soon before 10 am in cloudy weather to get the underground funicular to Sunnegga - 1600 to 2288 metres in about five minutes. We were doing a variant of Route 5 on page 168 of Kev Reynolds' Chamonix to Zermatt guide (2001 edition). Some of us donned waterproofs in the tunnel, as the camera at Sunnegga showed all to be very damp and miserable, and nobody else was going up.

Sculpture near Sunnegga

However, the waterproofs came off immediately and shorts and t-shirt were soon in order, though the breeze was cool at times. We disobeyed Kev and headed up (my error) rather than down, but the path was signposted to the Stellisee and it ran at a comfortable gradient close to the cable car above Sunnegga. 

Eventually Stellisee was reached (above) - a nice spot with lots of sprats (tadpoles, I think), a few minutes walk from the Fluhalp Hut (2607 m) (above, in the distance) where it was draughty outside so we had hot chocolates, etc indoors. On leaving, we noticed many people lunching on the cool but sunny terrace.

We headed down and on, scenically, to another small lake - Gruensee, with superb views towards the now virtually clear Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn from near Grindjisee

We then, four of us as Sue and David had headed down before Gruensee to do preparations for the backpack, strolled on past another mountain hut before descending the left bank of the Findelbach stream, very scenically


Typical houses on stilts in Old Zermatt

The path eventually crossed the cog railway and brought us into Zermatt from the south, where Betty's scenic route took us past some religious grottos.

I wandered around Zermatt before rejoining the others at the Mont Blanc apartment for a meal - a bit cheaper than last night's, before adjourning back to the Tannenhof.

Thursday 7 January 2021

Happy Days in the Dolomites (31 August 2005)

There's nothing much local to cheer us up today - just some nice colours in the park, and a fresh dusting of snow, and I'm afraid I took the last three packs of mealworms from Tesco, in a bid to cheer up our local blackbirds and sparrows.

So, we woke on 31 August 2005 to the view above, from the Lagazuoi Hut, pictured below a few minutes later. Richard, Jenny and Andrew should remember this...

Happy Days indeed.

Wednesday 6 January 2021

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 50: 9 May 2014)

For my eighth Challenge, again on my own with the Terra Nova Solar Competition 2 tent, I started from Morar and headed east to camp at NM 867 930, after encountering the gruesome foursome of Jayme Morgan, Peter Molenaar, Heather T-S and David Albon. And others.

It was somewhat cloudy here on Sgurr nam Meirleach at 680 metres, but I found an excellent spot (one of many) and enjoyed a quiet night.

The following morning revealed just a little more of the surroundings, though my ongoing route along the long ridge to Meall na Sroine was largely in the cloud, with challenging navigation at times. The others all took the coward's route down Coire Dubh to Finiskaig.

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Cornwall Again

Well, browsing through my hard disc's 'Pictures' I found this nice Cornish snap from 2004 and decided to upload it as an antidote to today's pandemic worries. Nice, isn't it? Then I discovered that my brain must have been running in parallel with what it was doing on 15 August 2019!

An unfinished (hardly started) project...

Monday 4 January 2021

Happy Days in the Dolomites (15 July 2006)

(From memory) Sue and I took Julia up Gran Cir, a via ferrata route that's so easy you don't need equipment. So Sue didn't bother with hers, but I kitted up in order to demonstrate to Julia. I failed - she wasn't cut out for via ferrata routes, so it was just as well that we chose a very easy one.

The views from Gran Cir, above Passo Gardena, are wonderful; I think the backdrop in the picture above is the magnificent Sella Group. I have to hope that one day we'll be able to return there, but it won't be any time soon as another complete pandemic lockdown, with draconian restrictions on movement, starts tonight.

Stay safe.

Sunday 3 January 2021

Sunday 3 January 2021 - A Walk in West Sale

On a sunny winter's day, Sue left the house at 6 am to spend the morning supervising Covid vaccinations. When she returned, we enjoyed a 9 km stroll from home, passing through Carrington Moss and West Sale, where Sue is pictured above in the meadows next to the Racecourse Estate.

There are lots of similar outings available from home, which is just as well given the current 'Stay at Home' mantra. We are trying to avoid crowded areas such as the canal towpaths and our local National Trust hotspots (Dunham, Tatton and Styal).

Take care and stay safe, everyone.