Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 24 June 2023

16/17 April 2005 - A Weekend at Coniston Coppermines Youth Hostel

Saturday16 April 2005 - The Old Man of Coniston

A mixed group assembled at Coniston Youth Hostel:

Sue and Phil, me and Sue, GI and Tove, Julie Brown, and 7 new to us - Ken and Anne (YHA), Bob and Judy (YHA NW regional manager and wife, Jon (YHA manager) and Edwina (left Sat am), and Pam and Paul (teachers about to retire).

We arrived at various times and got introduced. Phil and Sue arrived last. 

Saturday morning, and Sue and I found we were the only ones (nearly) cooking our own breakfast. The previous night we had a nice meal en route at the Farmers Arms at Spark Bridge, after good views of the Lakes from the M61.

It had rained and blown all night but was vaguely okay this morning. GI and Tove set off for some distant sub-Nuttall peak. At 9:30 the other 12 of us set off up the Old Man of Coniston. 

Soon waterproofs were needed as the cloud descended to envelope us in mist for the next few hours (until well after 4 pm).

And so, a very leisurely stroll through the mist:

OMC - 11:15

Lunch below Great Howe - 1:15

Swirl How - 2:15

Wetherlam - 3:15

Coniston Coppermines YHA - 5pm

Bob's decision to wait 30 minutes before starting (Sue and I were outside with our boots on) didn't work as the weather only got worse. He seemed quite confident with the route so we all left him to it. But when we turned right on Swirl How to get to Wetherlam the ground soon got very steep as we headed down over wet rocks above the snow line - there was snow above 500 meters today, from last night's storm. Our downward route was blocked by crags, so we had lunch in a cool spot. Some of those present awarded Bob 0/10 for the experience, but I didn't think it was too bad. Just wet and cold. Julie's GPS came in handy, establishing that we had come off the wrong ridge and were on Great How Crags above The Prison.

So we ascended back up 250 metres to Great How summit. It was easier going up. Surprisingly we met lots of people heading down to our 'dead end'. I'm not sure what happened to them - some knew a route down, others seemed less sure, and two followed us back up, bringing our number up to 13, Phil having gone down from OMC.

After the lengthy diversion we were pleased to get to Swirl How, by which time our two additional (apparently mapless) people had gone on ahead. (We were very slow today.) And so to Swirl Hawse, for fudge brownies before Anne and Ken and Bob's wife Judy headed down to the youth hostel.

The rest of us continued in the mist up the pleasant path to Wetherlam's summit, where the two Sues, Julie and I left the others (Bob, Jon, Paul and Pam) to descend directly to the youth hostel whilst we climbed steeply down Wetherlam Edge to about 400 metres,where we turned east and headed down towards Tilberthwaite, eventually coming out of the mist at about 350 metres.

It was nice to spend a leisurely hour and a half below the cloud (still mizzly). We passed interesting looking mine workings at the head of Tilberthwaite Gill, before crossing boggy ground and eventually gaining the good track up Hole Rake, taking us directly over to the Coppermines youth hostel, where a welcome pot of tea was followed by a good meal for £7, courtesy of Jonathan the dedicated warden. (Who must have been slightly in awe of the presence of a number of YHA management amongst our number).

A pleasant night was had in front of a roaring fire, by all except the two families who had not eaten with us at the hostel, and who could not fit into the small lounge.

Sunday 17 April 2005 - The Fairfield Horseshoe

We woke, in this old mine manager's home, to a surprisingly clear day. Something has gone wrong with the weather forecast this weekend. Yesterday was supposed to be good, today awful. So plans to visit Grizsedale Forest's sculptures are shelved in favour of the Fairfield Horseshoe. 

We found free parking at the back of Ambleside. All 14 of us set off, but we were soon down to 12 as Anne and Judy decided it would be too much for them.

Half way up 
Fairfield, Phil had had enough so he and Sue peeled off. 

The rest of us continued uneventfully along the route I recorded on 19 February 2005. (See blog entry.) It shows a walk of 18 km with 1096 metres ascent - 5½ hours per Naismith. 

We left at 9:30 and were back in Ambleside at 3:30, so after taking account of stops we were going pretty much at Naismith pace. That after having lengthy waits for Phil before he gave up.

Lunch was at 12:30 on Fairfield summit in surprisingly calm and reasonably clear weather. 

Later - afternoon tea

Gentle rain started about half an hour before the end, but that was no real inconvenience as we had been expecting diabolical weather to arrive earlier.

The journey home was wet. That was after a good pot of tea in one of Ambleside's many cafes.

Here's the approximate route.

NB - This entry arises from the indexing of digital images from the early days of digital photography, and the digitising of the contemporary hand written diary entries.

Thursday 22 June 2023

12 to 19 May 2001 - Andalucia

This posting derives from the destruction of one of my many photo albums that are cluttering the house. So this represents digitising what appears to be one 36 print film. I've also found a set of slides - just one 36 slide film, which I've digitised and mostly destroyed.

Clicking on any of the images should give access to a slideshow, or you can plough through the text of the hand written diary that I've converted into a word document. All this just to save a bit of space and create a digital record that isn't really very interesting. Here's the transcript, with additional memories in blue.

12 to 19 May 2001 - Andalucia Time Share Trip

Saturday 12 May (Martin)

Spain again. (I had been on a work conference in Malaga a few days earlier.) This time on the ordinary Monarch Boeing 757 service to Malaga with Sue. Collected the tickets at 4am at Manchester Airport for 6am flight. Last week we had used the Monarch 'Crown Service'. The difference seems to be free drinks and chocolate croissants. Anyway, after a 3:30 reveille, an Olympic taxi got us effectively to the airport. We wondered how many people had gone to my daughter Kate's surprise party last night. She has a first aid course today and leaves for 10 weeks in Canada next week whilst we are away.

Said hello to Gwyneth (secretary at work) (who had got up at 2am) and Cleave, who were waiting for a 6:10 flight to Amsterdam to start one of their regular trips to the Caribbean.

The flight was cramped but efficient, on a lovely day. Passed over the Picos de Europa, and passed the snowy summits of the Sierra Nevada.

We descended over foothills which have the texture of ripples in the sand on a giant beach. The countryside inland looks good - we couldn't see it at all in last Thursday's storm.

Efficient landing and exit and collection of a white Fiat Punto from Europcar with 14,000 km on the clock.

We decided to head for Mijas, as it won't be difficult to get from there to our accommodation later. Mijas is a typical Andalucian village a few kilometres inland on the hillside above Fuengirola. All houses are painted white. We wonder how often.

We wander around for a while (landed 10am, now 11:30) and buy batteries for my SLR camera - the Canon EOS 300 soldiers on - which Sue says are needed. They aren't, but the price is okay. Will have to start taking lots of photos in an effort to reduce my camera battery mountain. (No evidence of this - only 30 odd pictures taken all trip, so far as I can see.) Decide to go for a walk, and buy cheese, tomatoes, chocolate and yoghurt, which we hope to be able to eat by finger as we have no readily available knife. Utensils are all in luggage locked in the car on the outskirts of Mijas.

The Sunflower Landscapes book on Andalucia comes in handy with a suggested three hour walk (Walk 15 - Woodland Slopes) which we follow. Very few people out walking. Nice paths, sandals fine to walk in. We head up Camino del Calvario from Casa Consistorial (town hall) past the numerous burros (donkey taxis), the start of a pilgrimage past the 14 Stations of the Cross, each depicting a stage in Christ's journey to Calgary - only the last few remain as the village has expanded, and these are passed on a steep path through pine trees, culminating in the Ermita del Calvario, a small chapel which is locked but which can be viewed through a barred window.

The path continues to climb and reaches a small 'Fat Betty' like whitewashed dome from which electricity cables protrude.

This is Cruz de la Mision, which used to house a shrine. This can be seen from all around, and has good views down to Mijas and the coastal resorts below it. The bullring and amphitheatre stand out, together with little spots of bright blue - swimming pools.

On through a disused marble quarry, to more nice paths through pine and eucalyptus trees We had lunch under some shady trees. The chocolate hadn't melted, and the yoghurt was just about drinkable. Nice big tomato.

After this the path largely contoured around the mountainside with occasional views both down and up. We crossed some gullies and eventually came upon some other people. One or two hikers, cyclists, and the sound of trail bikes. The guidebook says the path becomes damp and prickly. The only significant change we noted was the increased numbers of fern-like tropical plants and the predicted large spiky aloes.

We finished up at a small cylindrical water tank on a grassy plateau with horse flies. An almond grove and fig trees were apparently up ahead but were not visited.
Retraced for about 15 minutes passing mountain bikers who looked as if they had enjoyed a good descent from the Sierra de Mijas ridge high above us. (Mijas is at 400 metres, our ascent was 200 metres, and the radar station on the ridge is 1150 meters.)

We then zigzagged down to the road and strolled back into Mijas, taking the low road to the picturesque old town. All houses painted white. Front doors lead into living rooms. Long terraces of small houses in narrow streets. So to a pretty square down from the bullring for a welcome beer before returning to the Punto on a sunny afternoon. 

I remember being impressed by the Aguila Aqueduct near Nerja. It dates from 1880. The picture below is a scanned Fujichrome slide, whereas the header picture is probably Konica or Kodak print film - I have photographed the prints - one reason for the poor quality.

We fairly quickly found Benalmadena Costa and the distinctive 'windmill' roundabout that leads to the Royal Oasis Club - La Quinta. We checked in and were directed to Benal Beach, apartment 423 in building number three.

It took a while to orientate ourselves but we finally succeeded. This is a massive fenced compound across the road from the beach. We found outside gardens but not pools, before adjourning to Benalmadena and finding a pleasant restaurant.

Lots of English bars both here and in Mijas. Very English all round, even an English local newspaper. Obviously people want to be in an English environment, except that they require sunny weather. Sue went to bed early whilst I watched Estonia win the Eurovision Song Contest. UK came about 15th.

Today's walk was about six miles, with 200 meters of ascent and descent, done in sandals (mine brand new Merrell 'combinations' that are still in use in 2023.) 

Sunday 13 May (Sue) [No pictures today]

It was a lazy start with tea in bed and breakfast of muesli and yoghurt on the balcony overlooking the hills. The balcony also overlooks a roof and a lot of other buildings, but they are best ignored.

Before breakfast, I'd continued the quest to find the swimming pool. For a time, more blind alleys on various floors. An English couple finally resolved the problem and soon I was swimming alone in a pool that hadn't yet fully warmed. It was the highest of four pools. A short slide led to a shallow pool, and a long slide to a lower deeper pool. Finally, there was a shallow 'kiddies' pool.

After 12 lengths I got out, the goggles from Christmas finally christened. Prior to the 'Welcome meeting' we'd been advised to attend, we sat on a grassy slope in the sun by the pools.

The detail of the meeting is best forgotten. It was held in the clubhouse at La Quinta, where the loudspeakers worked inside but not outside. There were lots more reps than usual for the nasty job of selling, not just helping. Two invitations came our way - one for free sangria that evening, and the other for a presentation at 10am on Tuesday. Of that, more later.

After an early escape, we strolled in the beautiful park opposite the apartment blocks. Families were strolling around, with children in their Sunday best. Animals and birds were everywhere - caged rabbits with several babies, budgies, parrots, white doves, finches. In larger pens - goats, deer, and ibex like mammals. All were very tame. The lake, with its huge central fountain, was home to several pelicans and terrapins, whose heads were just visible when they were floating in the water.

Back for lunch on the balcony, followed by a lazy afternoon on the grassy slope by the pools for me, and for Martin, the excitement of the Grand Prix from Austria. This was won by David Coultard. I managed to summon the energy for a swim, but was happy to lie back in the sun again.

We both read in the apartment until 7 ish, then walked along the road to the marina in Benalmadina. It was a pleasant stroll around the edge of the water, surrounded by expensive boats. The apartments were fairly monstrous, with one having towers resembling Mr Whippy ice cream.

'Too Much' pizzeria had a good location by the water, but their service was too slow and we moved on before ordering even a drink. The Pizzeria La Parolaccia offered a table overlooking the marina. Their salads were excellent, followed by pizza / seafood pasta.

On the return we made a good discovery - a promenade beneath the road and behind the beach, which made for a much more romantic stroll home.

Monday 14 May (Martin)

After a lazy Sunday, Monday was to prove altogether more active. Away around 9am, we drove past Marbella to Nerja, and on to the Cueva de Nerja - huge caverns, 32 metres long, one with a pillar with a base which measures 13 x 7 metres. The ancient cave paintings are fading so have been withdrawn from view. Regardless, the caves, which were rediscovered by children in 1959, are magnificent.

After a welcome coffee, we set off at 12 noon on walk number 10 in the Sunflower landscapes guide. It took nearly six hours to cover the 10.5 miles, including breaks. A lovely day and a good walk. After first negotiating a new road, the walk up the wooded Barranco de la Coladilla was beautiful. I won't repeat the book's excellent description, but I can note the following:

  • we did see Hoopoes and Eagles
  • there is a new dwelling going up at Cortijos de la Civilia, which area is certainly used for farming almonds and other produce
  • the thin descent path descending from 15 minutes beyond Cortijo Almachares would certainly be easier in long trousers
  • lots of deer seen today 

On return to the car we decided to return home by a scenic route. We drove up to Frigiliana, where we strolled around the old town. It seemed still out of season. Some restaurants were shut. Drinks on a terrace, but we didn't eat there as it was expensive and full of noisy children. Eventually we dined on a terrace at Jaime restaurant. Not really very friendly. Food mediocre. Good views over the new town and down to Nerja. Lots and lots of crops growing under plastic sheets in this area - possibly tomatoes. Acres and acres of them.

We continued by an interesting belvedere road with views of a uniformly red sunset, before dropping back to the main road to Malaga at Torrox. This is a fertile and well inhabited area. It's a bit of a puzzle how everyone gets home - there must be lots of narrow tracks and four-wheel drive vehicles.

We drove 190 km today. Later, earplugs essential to drown the beat from the bar.

Tuesday 15 May (Martin) [200km today]

The day was dominated by the shock and trauma of arriving back tonight to a bill for 100,000 ptas (£400) pushed through the door. We missed a presentation today, which we had no idea that a penalty attached for non-attendance. All the staff had gone, as had our 6pm deadline for payment - by the time we got to La Quinta reception at 6:30pm. So this unfortunate matter is left as a festering sore in our minds until tomorrow.

Up to then we had enjoyed a good if somewhat cloudy day in Ronda. We took the motorway to San Pedro, then the windy road up the mountain and through the cloud to Ronda. Sue will describe what we saw there, but the lunch in the main square outside Bar Banana was not the greatest gastronomic delight of the holiday, though the bananas were fairly fresh. It was the food highlight of the day, as the incident back at Benal Beach has put us off our food. Sue had a swim and we walked down the 'prom' on a lovely evening. Are we gullible mugs, naive or what? At least it's not so noisy tonight (yet).

(Sue's entry)

I'm recalling Tuesday's visit to Ronda on Saturday morning.

We parked in an underground car park and emerged into a square near the bullring. Had coffee before looking around. Ronda is perched on the top of a hill, with a gorge running through the centre. There are three bridges spanning it, and great views from the town's edges. It was here that we started our wanderings, admiring the neatly farmed rolling hills around. We got views over to the old town, which we accessed via the tallest bridge. The palace housing the museum was a delight. Courtyards from various eras, a superb display of cave dwelling, and a mock ancient hut dwelling. The garden, right on the cliff edge, was tranquil and provided lots of interest in sculptures.

Further wandering led us past churches, towers, and through narrow streets to the gateway on the edge of the old town.

A path next to the old walls took us down to the upper end of the gorge, to find the smallest and oldest of the three bridges.

We crossed the river on the middle bridge, and climbed up on one side of the river as it descended. Good views up and down the deep gorge, but a bit smelly.

Martin mentioned lunch, which started well but the standard declined markedly with each course. The location was good though!

It was unfortunate that the day was not hotter, although by now the sun was breaking through occasionally, because we walked down and back up a steep path for views of the bridge. The path was ablaze with red poppies and yellow shrubs. Our attempts to get even lower than the viewing spot were thwarted by overgrowth.

Icecreams were welcome, then it was time to view the oldest bullring in Spain. The display of history of bullfighting was interesting - it started as a sport on horseback. Ronda, it appears, breeds a particular style of horse, different from bullfighting elsewhere. It was attractive, with circular benches and red gates where the bulls enter. There was a system involving pulleys to release bulls from the holding pens. Unfortunately, the peace was shattered by workmen reconstructing the benches.

We headed off back to Benalmadina over hills no longer covered in cloud, even stopping to view the metal monument at the highest point.

Our return was greeted by the bill that has been described.

On return home, one of my bosses informed me that the Puerto Banus to Ronda road has featured in a '10 best drives in the world' article - M. 

Wednesday 16 May (Sue)

Tea was on the early side as neither of us had slept very much, with the knowledge that we had to extricate ourselves from a £400 bill. All the arguments had gone round in our heads since 6:30pm yesterday.

Breakfast was forced down, and then we strolled around the park until 9 o'clock. At La Quinta reception we were told that the GVC rep wouldn't arrive until 9:30. The suspense continued as we waited

They did, however, arrive at 9:30 and to our surprise were apologetic about the letter and were not confrontational. It appeared that the rep was new and shouldn't have delivered the letter at all. All our arguments lined up were not even needed. An appointment was arranged for 3pm that afternoon, which conveniently left Thursday and Friday for a trip to Granada.

We left in a now very relieved state, with a relaxing day ahead.

A visit to the Sea Life Centre certainly took our minds off a very traumatic few hours. The fish were excellent. There were rays, sharks, turtles, clownfish, tangs, and a superb section housed six or so tanks of seahorses of different varieties.

Afterwards, we sat at a marina-side table to watch the world go by.

Back for lunch on the balcony, which was cool and shady on a very hot day.

The presentation was an informal chat from Don, the oldest rep for GVC. He acknowledged we weren't going to buy anything, so didn't try to sell. We got away at 4pm and spent the rest of the afternoon lying in the warm sun by the pool. A swim completed the relaxation. Dinner was excellent, at one of the fish restaurants behind the beach. Mussels and sardines to start, and a superb seafood paella, which included langoustines, lots of cockles, crab and prawns.

An early night after a stroll along the front and back.

Benalmadina Harbour

Thursday 17 May (Martin)

By 8:15, and after a much better night's sleep, we were on the road to Granada on a fine and sunny day. This was a lovely drive on motorway roads with significant hills. Lots of olive groves and distant views of snow-capped mountains - the Sierra Nevada.

After 2½ hours and 165 kilometers we were parked in the Alhambra car park - an extortionate 200Ptas (£1) per hour. We decided to leave our visit till tomorrow, having established that tickets are available from 8am.

A walk down the hill actually led us into the Alhambra, but we saved the delights for later and headed down through the walled gates. The first hostel we came to - Hostel Landazuri** - had a room for 3800Ptas (£15) and parking for 1500Ptas (£6), which seemed reasonable. so we got the car - venturing down the road reserved for taxis and buses - and were installed in this overnight abode by 12:45.

We headed into a square just below the hostel area, then upstream into the Sacramento district, which is an old gypsy neighbourhood with homes built into the rocky hillside. We stopped for lunch on a bench in blazing sun looking across the gorge to the Alhambra and the mountains beyond, and forward over the expanse of urban Granada.

We then toured the old district of Granada before gravitating to the Archaeological Museum (free entry), whose two stars were somewhat generous. We were knackered but at least it was cooler in here. The artefacts comprised mainly human bones recovered from burial sites - these vary from elaborate chambers to small urns full of bones. There were lots of sharpened stones worked into axe / arrowheads, saws and all manner of other instruments. Unfortunately the only benches in the place were occupied, so we had to make do with sitting on the stairs.

We adjourned for a welcome large beer in the main square near the hostels. (Lack of names due to us having lent our guide book before this diary entry was attempted.)

Then we strolled in heat to the magnificent cathedral. An immense interior, and cool. Followed by the Chapel Royal which was more highly rated than the Cathedral but did not impress us as much. We then went to some gardens next to the Alhambra. These were very pleasant. We found a little canal then a tower from which views were enjoyed. Then back to Landazuri before going back to the old district, just over the hill, to El Ladrillo 11 restaurant where we enjoyed a good meal inside, so pleasantly cool despite a little rain. A very relaxed part of town, this. Then views and photos of the Alhambra before returning and adjourning.

Friday 18 May (Martin)

Today we were to visit the Alhambra and return to base via the Sierra Nevada. After a standard breakfast we nipped up the hill to get our tickets, only to find we couldn't go into the Alhambra until the afternoon.

So. [We got there eventually, in 2019!]

Off we went to the Sierra Nevada, not a little disappointed to have been denied entry to Granada's main attraction!

We stopped for a while at Pampeneira - drinks/museum, then headed up to the road head at Capileira. Walk number 3 in the Sunflower Guide - the shorter walk: La Cebadilla, took up the next three to four hours, quite a bit of it subject to somewhat cloudy weather. It was an excellent stroll, and before reaching the cloud zone we had a most enjoyable lunch with bits from the local supermarket, and enjoyed watching some ants very efficiently transport our crumbs to a location quite some way off.

The stroll through the cloud zone wasn't bad either - a nice rising path. Only a couple of other people were met, before crossing over a bridge to La Cebadilla. Past the hydroelectric plant and various dilapidated buildings (which would make excellent bunkhouse / holiday cottage accommodation if renovated) before drifting downhill towards Capileira, following the precise instructions in the guidebook. For a lot of the way we followed a largely enclosed (underground) water course, presumably used lower down for irrigation.

Lots of 'eras' on this route - stone circles - not sure what they are for.

Eventually the valley reappeared below and to our right, and round a corner the town came into view. The atmospheric cloud conditions led to excellent photos of the buildings shrouded in mist.

Here's the comparison between film (above) and slide (below).

So by mid afternoon we were back in the Fiat Punto and on our way back to Benalmadena, via Orgiva and Velez de Benaudalla, reaching the coast at Mitril and driving pleasantly along the coast road to Nerja, and back via the new motorway.
(270 km for the day.)

For our last evening we revisited the same pleasant (English) restaurant in Benalmadina as we had visited the previous Saturday, for an averagely uneventful meal. 

Saturday 19 May (Martin)

A reasonably early start took us back to Malaga Airport for a fairly prompt return flight to Manchester. A quick shower, then a dash up the M6 got us to Coniston by 5pm, in plenty of time to book into an excellent B&B and adjourn to the car park to wait for a coach that would take us to Brandwood to Jo and Richard's wedding reception before they headed off to Andalucia with a selection of our guidebooks.