Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 17 April 2021

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 60: 9 May 2015)

After a day in which we climbed six Munro summits and tops along the north Mullardoch ridge, we descended to an excellent campsite at 735 metres - at NH 172 351. The tumbling stream pictured provided a contrast with the previous night's complete silence, but we slept well again.

Note that my lightweight rucksacks had all perished by the time of this Challenge, when I reverted to the stalwart and rather ancient Karrimor Jaguar with broken pocket zips. It's still going strong.

Friday 16 April 2021

Friday 16 April 2021 - Around Burton (Wirral)

On a beautiful spring day in the Wirral, I was joined by Graeme, Keith and Carol, Judith, who lives locally, and Philip, who I last saw nearly twenty years ago and who has been threatening to come on one of these walks ever since he retired a couple of years ago. I'm glad he enjoyed the outing.

We started this route from Jen Darling's 'West Cheshire and Wirral' book (another route that I'm checking for an updated edition) from Station Road in Burton, where you can park beside the Dee estuary and admire the views over to Moel Famau, some twelve miles away in the Clwydian hills.

We strolled along the road to the picturesque village of Burton, passing the RSPB's Burton Point Farm, and pausing at the pretty and well maintained copse (pictured above - click on any image for a better version/slideshow) where an ancient spring was originally called 'Patrick's Well, but by the 19th century it had become known as Hampston's Well, after a family that had lived in Burton since the 16th century. 

The water here possibly served Iron Age settlements, then Anglo-Saxons around 900AD. More recently, records indicate that it was cleaned each year, and able-bodied men were required to help, or be fined sixpence!

There are some lovely cottages in Burton.

We turned left up The Rake to enter Burton Wood, above the village.

Two graves thought to be of Quakers were soon passed. A plaque provided more information. The graves date from a time when Quakers were thought to have 'an active spirit of evil' and were buried in unconsecrated ground. This is a memorial to the courageous attitude of brave men and women in difficult times.

A short diversion enabled us to visit St Nicholas' church, glimmering in the bright sunshine. The doors were locked, but we were able to admire the one-handed clock face, albeit showing the wrong time.

Returning to the path through the 24 acres of mature woodland of Burton Wood, we entered National Trust land through an old iron kissing gate.

Jen's instructions took us via a convoluted route through the wood, exiting eventually into Mill Lane. The property, 'Mill Wood' was soon reached, but we didn't find the remains of an old mill that Jen records as being present in the 1980s.

After this, a kilometre of pavement walking along the fairly busy Neston Road could perhaps be avoided by taking an alternative route through Haddon Wood. We'll have to try that sometime.

Anyway, we soon reached the Wheatsheaf, after a pleasant path across country to Ness, from where we continued down Well Lane to reach a footpath behind houses that soon led to a convenient spot for a coffee and cake break.

Then it was a case of simply meandering down to the Dee estuary and turning left along a busy path shared with other walkers and cyclists, many of whom had stopped at the tearoom of Denhall House Farm. It was busy. Lots of well spaced picnic tables. We were only a short way from the cars, so we decided against a drinks break here, and headed back for lunch at our starting point, with a superb view across the estuary into Wales.

A lizard with a damaged tail scampered through our picnic site.

Here's our route - we covered about 9 km in rather less than three hours.

Then, on this lovely relaxing day out, we moved on to another of Jen's walking routes. I'll describe that in the next posting.

Thursday 15 April 2021

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 59: 8 May 2015)

On this Challenge (my 9th) with Sue (her 4th), we set off in fine weather from Dornie, and enjoyed an eight hour walk, via Iron Lodge and over Carn na Breabaig, to Coire na Breabaig (NH 072 308) at about 500 metres.

As dusk fell, we enjoyed superb views towards tomorrow's objective, the North Mullardoch Ridge.

Next day dawned fine, and the sun dried any condensation well before we struck camp. This next picture looks back to Carn na Breabaig (679 metres) that we had climbed the previous day.

[Readers might have to endure a few of these wild camp postings, whilst I sort out another 'project'.]

Tuesday 13 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 15 - Wild camp near Freiburger Hutte to Bludenz, and thence to Zurich and home

Saturday 26 July 1980 - diarist: Dave - Formarinsee to Bludenz 

Nick, as usual, was up very early and went outside the tent to prepare breakfast. I found that eating breakfast outside was far easier than in a sleeping bag. 

The other tent got up in their usual slow and leisurely way, and took down their tent even more slowly. [Due to lack of urgency on the part of the sun, in drying the tent, and us, as we favoured lingering at this final high level site - M] 

Because Ruaridh was going his own way to join his parents in Germany, we gave him some bread and cheese. Sometime after 9 am, we set off for Bludenz after a farewell picture from RM's P in which Martin and Colin displayed their disgusting handkerchiefs. 

Martin soon left the gang of four for a boy stop, the bran in our Home Mixed Super Muesli having got to him in record time. We then set off over the snow (the last of the holiday) and dropped below the 2000 metre mark for the last time. The sun became very hot. It was then revealed by the Hike Planning Sub-committee that we had a 600 metre climb to face, and that in our usual topsy-turvy fashion this would be when the sun was at its hottest. 

Dave and Colin raced down a snow slope (no deep holes this time). We crossed a stream and walked down into the valley, the sun getting hotter and hotter. Lots of photo stops.

The view north west towards Lagutz

We came to a village, which although it looked pleasant enough at present, is no doubt very tough living here in winter. There were lots of stacks of logs in evidence. Nick saw an old man with a very long pipe which impressed him. We then carried on down hill, getting hotter all the time.


We found some goats who didn't seem at all camera shy - many pictures for everyone. Colin managed to induce one to feed from his hand and poo at the same time.

We continued on down the hill. Dave decided that he was (as usual) hungry and concluded that we ought to have dinner before we left the shade of a forest. Amazingly, the others agreed to this very sensible suggestion. The only rational explanation of this is that they had all been zapped by the sun. We stopped for about an hour, having our bread and cheese and a brew. At this point a butterfly got attracted to Dave's silly yellow hat and landed on it. It was assumed that it mistook the hat for a flower and Dave was urged by Colin to do flower impressions whilst he got his camera prepared. However, Colin's blunderings as he tried to get into a good position frightened the butterfly away.

Waterfall near Garfulla

We set off again past a strange wooden construction which Nick investigated at length and found to be a triangulation station. We then reached the bottom of the valley and crossed the stream, which at this point resembled Cheddar Gorge. We then set off up the hill. Of course, at this point the sun was at its hottest, and Martin began muttering about how foolish we had been taking the low route when we could have done the high one. On the lower part of the climb the heat became unbearable. This didn't seem to affect Nick, who charged off as usual. Dave of course lagged behind. Fortunately a large slow-moving cloud now blotted out the sun, and the rest of the climb was done in a relatively cool atmosphere. 

We stopped for water near the top, and it soon became obvious that Colin was suffering from the heat. He had a towel draped around his neck and handkerchiefs on his head. Martin seemed to be almost absolutely knackered. And so we started a very slow, hot, sticky descent into Bludenz. On the way, Dave (charging on ahead) had a sort of conversation with some (Austrians?) in German, English and sign language. It appeared that they were making for the Freiburger Hutte. Considering it had taken us seven hours and it was now 4 pm, I would have expected them to look a little more concerned. Perhaps they knew a short cut? The high route?

A final view of the Lechtalalps from Tiefensee Sattel (1562m)

The path down was a long series of hairpin bends with the occasional very steep path cutting off the corners. It was a big effort to stop yourself going down too fast. We had a rest half way down but completed the last section very quickly. After a quick trog through a field we were in the town and soon found the campsite. The proprietor was very helpful and directed us in English to our site. 

The tents were quickly put up in the familiar L-shape by Dave and Martin. We then went for a wash. Most of the people in the washroom appeared to be English - they seemed a rather smooth looking lot. They even had towels and flannels. After much confusion involving the men's/women's washrooms and a rationing of shampoo, a much cleaner group set off to the town to find out where the railway station was, and to find somewhere to eat. Martin got worried about the restaurants closing and got ratty with Nick and Colin who tended to dawdle a bit, looking in shop windows, etc. 

We eventually ate at the first place we had looked at. In the hot evening it was pleasant to eat outside with a couple of beers. We all had a soup - the fried pea soup was unusual, and a meat course which was supposed to be typical Austrian but appeared to be the English meat and two veg type. After the meal we went back to the campsite, where there was more toilet identity confusion and Dave discovered that ladies get proper toilets whilst he has to squat above a hole.

Anyway, I hope this long and boring diary entry makes up for the supposedly inadequate previous one!

Today's route - 20 km with 750 metres ascent

Sunday 27 July 1980 - diarist: Nick - Bludenz to Zurich

There were lots of thunderings and walkabouts in the night - for once this was not the exclusive privilege of this diarist. Dave's tent luckily did not leak this time during the resultant heavy rainstorm, despite the river which suddenly appeared from beneath his rucksack at about 3:45 am. (Was this Martin's water bottle leaking?) We wondered whether we might need to evacuate the tents in favour of the nearby rusting hulk of a lorry, but were discouraged by a sudden crash of thunder immediately overhead. At last, to sleep - very hot but cooling after the gewittering. 

We rose and shone to 'Rise and Shine' orange juice quite lately at about 8:15. A second wash in 24 hours was had by some, then off to the Bludenz bahnhof after calling in at the shop for essential supplies (beer and lots of locally manufactured 'Suchard' chocolate). 

We had been woken at about 7 o'clock by church bells ringing, accompanied by a local dog howling. These had continued every 15 minutes and were still going when we left. The Austrians appear to be very religious judging by the number of wayside shrines and crucifixes, and on Sunday mornings they all dress up in their best togs just like in the picture books. 

In spite of Colin's phrasebook, due to a misunderstanding I managed to buy return tickets at the first attempt. This mistake was soon corrected, but rather painstakingly as each ticket must be separately written out and stapled in its own little folder. The cost was 208 schillings (£7) each. A quick 'ss tut mis leid' sorted things out. It was established that we must change at Sargans.

Leaving Bludenz

The train was late and full. We were stuck in between carriages and blocked the toilet with our rucksacks. I was first accosted by Yugoslavians with interesting looking drinks, and then went to talk to two young Swedes who were interrailing. The others antisocially kept to themselves and 'read' the sports pages of my 'Der Bild'. 

After putting our watches back and changing at Sargans, we boarded an even more crowded train to Zurich. This train appeared to come from Italy. Italian is a language of which I have absolutely no knowledge except 'pizza' and 'spaghetti', so I had to resort to sign language when two middle-aged Italian signoras asked whether we had arrived at Zurich, just five minutes after we had left Sargans. 

Views were very similar to those on our way out. The weather, however, was a lot hotter and there were many sun worshippers on the shore of the Zurichsee. 

On arriving at the Zurich hauptbahnhof, Martin bought a Sunday Times, from which we immediately discovered the weather in the UK had been lousy. I then bought four 24-hour 'season' tickets for Zurich transport to save money (SF 3.50 each) and we proceeded to the campsite via number 11 tram to Burkliplatz, then a number 65 bus. 

I surrendered my passport in exchange for two numbered discs to be hung on the tents. These were to be collected in the morning after 7:30 am. 

A late lunch was eventually gratefully eaten - bread, tomato, and an unnamed cheese, very good, purchased respectively in Bludenz, Zurich and Pettneu. I had earlier bought some juniper berries in Bludenz (rare in England but used by Delia Smith) and now bought some salad herbs before catching a number 61 bus back to Burkliplatz with the others. 

It was oppressively hot - I wished I had a clean t-shirt and shorts instead of scruffy hiking shirt and breeches. A long walk around the list of restaurants from 'Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe' proved that most were either too expensive, closed on Sundays, or closed for the holidays - most disappointing.

Back in Zurich outside the Grossmuenster

The distinctive Grossminster was closed for renovation so we couldn't even look around that. The rest of the gang showed their disapproval by looking in the many sex shops and watching the Olympics in TV shop windows. The 'Oliver Twist' English type pub was soon unfortunately discovered - colour TV on which the 10000 metres was watched. Very interesting toilets here, the flushing was controlled by a photoelectric cell when the user left the area. 

A meal was had at the Trattoria pizzeria Santa Lucia, where they again spoke Italian. A real wood fired oven provoked Dave and Colin to eat pizzas, whereas Martin and I ate pasta. All with side salads, followed by cappuccinos except for Dave who was awkward (and thirsty) and had Orangina which was not as good as the genuine French variety sampled in great quantity by me last year. An excellent meal costing about £5 per head. 

The hippie movement cum folkies come out on Sunday night in Zurich. An earlier hurdy-gurdy group had been replaced by a very competent band comprising pan pipes, drum, mandolin, guitar and more, playing in a nearby square. I watched these and then joined the others who were talent spotting outside a bar. (Censored paragraph apart from reference to 'Dave had very dirty nails.') 

Enjoyable Mediterranean climate type evening was a suitable end to a very enjoyable holiday. Full of variety, though I must admit to disappointment that we didn't have hailstones, as every other sort of weather was apparent at some time or other. 

Colin now wanted to sell a one-way ticket to Manchester to a Swiss girl and fumbled furiously for his phrase book. Now back to the campsite and tomorrow ... duty-free and finally ... w w work. 

Monday 28 July 1980 - diarist: Martin - Zurich to work 

No hassles or hiccups in our bus / tram / train / taxi journey - all stops Zurich to Crumpsall in Colin's case. Duty free maxima of wines and spirits duly purchased. BAC 111 again. Total zap time for me 4½ hours, and then to work after a most refreshing and enjoyable two weeks despite strange weather and 'schnee, schnee, schnee' (Wurtemburger). Even the hero badge held out. Debts were settled despite Dave's slow motion mini computer, and total cost of holiday worked out at around £250 each.

Back to Index 

Monday 12 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 14 - Wild camp near Ravensburger Hutte to wild camp near Freiburger Hutte

                                   The view north from Stierlochjoch

Friday 25 July 1980 - diarist: Colin - Near Ravensburger Hutte to Formarinsee near Freiburger Hutte 

This morning began with little men hammering pitons into my brain. I was glad to find that I was not suffering alone, and that other expedition members were suffering from last night's excessive consumption - we must stick to one packet of 'Rise and Shine' in future. 

(An alternative explanation involving the red wine, beer, kirsch and schnapps, seems much less plausible.) 

Breakfast was prepared in the usual manner but was notable for the excellent new improved muesli (with bird seed) and the portion of Austrian camembert which went astray and needed to be retrieved with an ice axe. 

The usual chores completed, we set off over the Stierlochjoch (translation note: this literally means 'the bull's hole' pass). The journey was slowed by the rapid effect of the extra bran in today's breakfast, haemorrhaging of the nasal passages, and the photogenic nature of the local flora. The journey down to Zug was along a pleasantly wooded path, and judging by the number of touroids heading in the opposite direction - very popular.

The view down the Stierloch valley

In the Lech valley near Zug

Having no need of further provisions, we spurned a visit to the vast metropolis of Zug and headed off in a westerly direction along the Lech. A suitably shaded spot was found, and luncheon was served.

'Jingle Bells'

Nick ascends the valley

Martin's early attempts to photograph Alpine flowers
- things have moved on since then

Spring Gentian, Trumpet Gentian (Dave's favourite), Bird's-eye Primrose,
Alpine Moon Daisy, Long-spurred Pansy

Looking towards the Freiburger Hutte (1918m) from Formarin Alp

After lunch, we set off up the valley at our own pace, arriving at the Freiburger Hutte over a period of some 20 to 25 minutes. Bier, Schiewasser und Ein Orangen were gratefully consumed and we set off to our campsite beside Formarinsee, and in the rocks around us we can see the band of red rock which gives the Rote Wande its name.

Campsite at Formarinsee

As Nick wrings out his socks, the sweet and sour chicken soaks, and RMP clunks over the prostrate form of Dave, I shall close today's diary entry with my thanks to everyone for an extremely enjoyable two weeks. Personally my vote for the most memorable day goes to the Memminger - Ansbacher day, for its variety of scenery, some pioneering, and schnee, schnee, schnee! 

Nick adds: PS, Colin missed out Nick's admiration of an American girl's unfettered 'bits'; see earlier reference to her husband's underpants; she thought the snow was 'really scary' (read with an appropriate US accent).

Rote Wand (2704m) from our campsite

Today's route - 17 km with 500 metres ascent

Sunday 11 April 2021

April comes to a South Manchester Weekend

Saturday morning, and Sue is caught on her early morning run in frosty conditions in De Quincey Park.

Then at 9:30 we cycled along to Wythenshawe Park for a chat with a few other parkrunners. Only the brave (or foolhardy) made it through the blizzard of wet April snow. Jeanette turned back and wimped home; Rufus was looking decidedly miserable; Laura was still on a high after completing the purchase of her new home in Northenden; Paul was on Cloud Nine (one less woman in the house? - just joking!); Jenny and Owen had a pretty umbrella, and the Likely Lads had frozen knees.

The children's playground, a hive of activity last week, was deserted.

That was yesterday. We were glad to get home, turn the heating on, jump in a hot bath, and venture out only to feed the birds who seem to have come to rely on us - currently blackbirds, dunnocks, wood pigeons, feral pigeons, assorted tits, robins, goldfinches and house sparrows. We'd planned to visit Andrew in Lower Withington, but he had to make do with a 'Zoom'.

Today we woke to fresh snow and blue skies, so before taking food supplies to Dot in Eccleshall, Sue and I enjoyed a stroll down the towpath towards Altrincham. Here's the view from the towpath alongside Timperley Brook.

We made up a 5 km route that qualified for (not)parkrun status, including a walk through De Quincey Park, which as so often provided fodder for the camera.

We are still getting straight at home after the new carpets / decorating, etc, a little progress having been made this weekend. 

Doesn't time fly, even under Lockdown!

PS First ducklings seen on the canal on 13 April.