Mont de l’Etoile (Walk 27)

Another sunny day and another adventure ! 🙂  Like my previous post, this was a walk that I’d never done before.  I’d seen that it was possible, via videos on Youtube, but the route on the map was indistinct.  I needn’t have worried, as the path on the ground was very clear, thanks to some well placed signs and some small cairns.

Col de Tsarmine (Walk 26)

The end of the Evolène valley is dominated by the “twin peaks” of the Grande and Petite Dents de Veisivi.  I was advised that you needed climbing equipment (and a climbing partner of course) to get to the top of them, but that it was possible to get to the Col de Tsarmine, which sits at the base of the V between them.  So, it had to be done.  The route starts in the Arolla valley and rises over 1200 metres (4,000 ft) to the col at 3,050 metres (10,000 ft).  As you can see from the pictures, the views were fantastic.

Dixence Dam to Arolla (Walk 30)

Of all the walks on my list, this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most.  I’ve only done it once before and that was back in 2008 with my mate Dave. (How time flies !)  It starts at the Dixence dam, goes along the full (7km/4 mile) length of the reservoir and then climbs to the Pas de Chèvres, before descending into Arolla. (Just in case Dave is reading this… I confess, this time I caught the bus back to Evolène !)

If you are wondering why an elephant features in the photos… It’s part of an exposition by Christian Schneiter (normally a taxidermist, but the animals are all made of polyester you’ll be glad to hear !)  There are 12 animals, all from Africa, strategically placed around the Val d’Hérens.   I guess they thought the largest or heaviest land mammal fitted very well with the largest gravity dam in the world.  There’s a giraffe near the Pyramides d’Euseigne and a Hippopotamus in Vex.  I’ll have to seek out the rest !

Alpage d’Etoile (Walk 17)

It’s amazing what you can see and photograph on a walk, or even when not walking.  Like the Hummingbird moth which appeared while I was relaxing with a beer.  I also noticed 5 or 6 kittens playing around the side of an old building nearby.  I think they must have been strays, as I didn’t see anyone taking any interest in their activities.  The local football pitch is looking superb, so Denis has obviously been hard at work.

The Grand Raid plus a walk

The Grand Raid is a mountain bike marathon, of 125 km and over 5,000 metres of ascent, which starts in Verbier and finishes in Grimentz.  For lesser mortals there are 3 shorter routes, though even the shortest, which starts in Evolène, is 37 km long and has 1,845 metres of ascent.  Quite frankly, it doesn’t bear thinking about, as it must be torture !

My friend Kevin decided to come over and tackle the short route, while his wife Cristina and I, after seeing him off, set out on a more sedate walk. The walk took us up the Grand Raid route into Evolène before we headed further up to Lac d’Arbey and then along the valley to Les Haudères.  As you can see from the photos, the weather was beautiful and, if you are interested, Kevin finished in 3h 51 minutes and was 86th out of the 251 male starters. Congratulations Kevin !  Next year the Hérémence start ?

CIME gala evening

I mentioned in a previous post that this week Evolène hosts the bi-annual CIME (Célébrations Interculturelles de la Montagne à Evolène) festival. As well as ad hoc shows in the neighbouring villages during the day, there are 2 gala evenings with music, song and dance performances by the countries represented.  We were lucky enough to get tickets for Thursday evening, where Turkey, Ireland and Uzbekistan were represented alongside a local troupe.

My apologies for the quality of the pictures below, but they were taken without a flash from near the back of the hall.  So probably alotoutoffocus ! 🙂

Fête Cantonale des Costumes

Today Evolène played host to a celebration of all the traditional costumes worn in the Swiss canton of the Valais. Although there are lots of other events going on throughout the day, the highlight is the procession through the village, with music and dancing to show off the wide variety of styles.  (See picture gallery). It’s a precursor to the Célébrations Interculturelles de la Montagne à Evolène (CIME) festival, which takes place every 2 years and this year, runs from the 10th to 15th August.  It’s also a magnificent celebration of the different traditions and cultures of mountain people from all around the world. This video link explains everything. It’s introduced in French, but the beautiful images and sounds say it all. 🙂

UK Trip 3 (of 3) – Chatsworth House to Bakewell walk

The seat of the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is reputed to be the most visited stately home in England, with over 300,000 people visiting the gardens alone. Certainly when we were there (on Monday) the cars just kept coming and coming.  However most of those people probably don’t realise that, between 1838 and 1842, the village that stood between it and the river Derwent below was moved out of site to the other side of the river. Apparently this was because it spoilt the view for the then Duke. This is the current village of Edensor (pronounced Ensor).

The current residents of Edensor are probably quite happy.  Not only do they escape the hoards, but the village sits quietly behind what appears to be a private entrance gate and the layout of the village and the buildings were individually designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and John Robertson.  Most are now listed buildings.

The church of St Peter’s is also worth a mention for at least two reasons.  Firstly, it was extended in the 1860’s by the renowned Sir George Gilbert Scott and, secondly, in the churchyard are buried Sir Joseph Paxton himself and Kathleen Kennedy, (sister of US President, John F Kennedy), who was married to the eldest son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire.

From there my daughter Sarah, her boyfriend Karl and I walked to the equally busy town of Bakewell (well, it was Market Day).  Here a debate rages as to whether their famous and original Bakewell Pudding is better or tastier than the more recently evolved Bakewell Tart.  Based on a random sample of 3, and our first experience of the Pudding, we all prefer the Tart. (Sorry Bakewell !)