So what do you do on a grey Monday when you’re retired? Well, apart from taking a break from decorating your kitchen (though I believe the modern phrase is upcycling), you take pictures of the birds on the feeder from the warmth of your lounge out of the window. And, yes, that is a little snow you can see falling on the photos. It’s going to be a long winter for our little feathered friends.
I’ve agonised over posting pictures of this walk (from last Thursday) because ‘silly Mike’ forgot to take his camera with him and these images were taken on his phone. After downloading them, it soon became clear that the zoom on a mobile phone does not take very good landscape images. You all probably knew that, but I don’t use my phone very often, (even for calls), so it sort of came as a surprise how blurred and grainy they were. However, I was very impressed by the close ups and, in particular, the quality of the first image…
I was also pleased to see one or two butterflies still around, though I suspect picture 7 will probably the last one for this year. The weather has turned decidedly cool in the Val d’Hérens over the past week and is currently barely over the freezing point.
While I was out walking the other day, I noticed that the snow had melted quite a bit on the south facing slopes. (See this pic). So I thought it might be possible to walk to the small lake or pond at Béplan without having to tramp through the snow. Well, I was almost right…
Perhaps not surprisingly, it had rained while we were away and, given the lower temperatures, it was inevitable that some snow would fall on the mountain tops. Although it happens every year, you are still taken aback by the huge contrast between the brilliant white and the blue skies.
I was keen to find out how low the snow had fallen and so I took the bus up to Arolla to find out and to walk back down the valley to our chalet. Although some of the snow has now melted, it’s clear that it fell to just under the 2,000m or 6,500ft mark.
I should add that we have an incredibly talented wood carver in our valley, by the name of Hugo Beytrison. He often works with just a chain saw, but he also carves the wonderful wooden masks for the annual Evolène Carnaval in January/February. The last 2 photos show two examples of his work, which were on display outside his workshop yesterday. Check out his website for more details. It’s only in French, but, as they say, a picture saves a thousand words. 😊
Our good friends, Ian, Martin and Jan came over to see us at the end of the week, also staying in Hawkshead for a few days. Jude and I had done this particular walk up Lingmoor three and a half years ago and enjoyed it very much, so it seemed a good route for me to take the three of them. It’s only a small hill at 470m or 1,542ft above sea level, but again it affords excellent views of the surrounded fells – on a clear day of course!
We hadn’t expected great weather and indeed it was very grey for the first hour or so. But, as we neared the summit, all the clouds above us seemed to part and disappear and we had fabulous views all around. Our walk was about 6 miles or 10km long, with an overall ascent of approximately 400m or 1,300ft.
Perhaps a little known fact (again for you quizzers or simply the curious out there) is that only one of the 16 ‘lakes’ in the Lake District is called a lake – i.e. Bassenthwaite Lake. All the others are either Waters or Meres, as in Ullswater or Windermere.
For more information on these ‘bodies of water’ check out this Visit Cumbria website.
For our second walk we chose to drive over the Kirkstone Pass to Patterdale in the north east of the Lake District. Often smaller peaks give you a much better all round view of the distant hills and Place Fell at 657m or 2,156ft did not disappoint.
Our route started from the car park in the village and ascended to Boredale Hause, before turning left (north) to the summit. From there we turned north-east and descended around High Dodd to the east side of Ullswater. An undulating path then returned us alongside the lake to Patterdale. In total the walk was 7 miles long with an overall ascent of 550m or 1,800ft.
Imagine our surprise when we (well, Jude) spotted 2 Alpine Club plaques on the side of a building next to the school – one of which was Swiss! It seems the former school canteen, which subsequently became Parish Rooms, have been turned into a bunkhouse. It was officially opened on 4th October 1975 and named the George Starkey Hut, after a former member who had recently passed away. It has 20 beds and can be hired by recognised clubs and organisations. For more information read here.
A visit to the Lake District wouldn’t be complete (for Jude anyway) without a trip on a boat. And since the forecast for the day was a sort of cloudy grey, we opted to catch a ‘steamer’* from the aptly named village of Lakeside to Bowness-on-Windermere.
*Our outward journey would be on the MV (Merchant Vessel) Tern, which was built in 1891, but I’ve since learnt that it’s not driven by steam at all but is motor powered.
After a little retail therapy and a nice lunch, we returned on the MV Teal, which was built in 1936. (See pic 8).
The boats link up with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway, which is only 3.2 miles/5k long but, during the season, (broadly April through to the end of October) mostly runs steam trains to take people back and forth, as you will see from the last few pictures.
A perhaps little known, but useful piece of information here, (for keen UK quizzers or maybe those who holiday in exotic locations by the sea) is that all British owned ships must fly a flag with the Union (Jack) flag in the top left corner. The remainder of the flag is either red, indicating a merchant vessel (as with the Tern and Teal); white, together with a St George’s Cross, for the Royal Navy, or blue for other ships, which have a special warrant from the Admiralty.
For more information on Windermere Lake Cruises, check out this Visit Cumbria website.
One of our main goals for our week in the Lake District was to walk up to the top of the Old Man of Coniston (@802m or 2,631ft). We were staying in the village of Hawkshead, which is only a few miles away, so it just had to be done.
On our way there we stopped off at the northern end of Coniston Water to take a few pictures, as the scene was so calm and peaceful. It’s easy to see why Sir Donald Campbell chose Coniston Water for his water speed record attempt on 4th January 1967. Almost unbelievably, even today, he averaged 297.6 mph on his first run, before his ill-fated return pass. Read more about Sir Donald Campbell here.
We continued through Coniston village and up to the parking area on the Walna Scar Road. There were only a handful of cars and we weren’t to know that it would become probably one of the busiest days on the Old Man ever. Thankfully we chose to ascend via one of the less well trodden routes alongside Goat’s Water. However, at the summit there must have been at least 50 people and 100 or more either ascending or descending the main path below. We therefore didn’t get a ‘selfie’ at the top, but I hope I’ve avoided a few of these ‘extras’ in the pictures below.
(Note to self: Never go to the English Lake District during Half Term again!)
On the way back to our cottage, we stopped off at Tarn Hows to take advantage of the late evening sunshine.
Jude and I have just returned from a 17 day trip back to the UK, which was partly for a holiday in the English Lake District (more to come on that in the following days) and partly to see Jude’s family. Our first port of call was to Jude’s parents in their lovely new home in Oswestry. While there, we took the opportunity to drive across the Welsh border to walk a short section of the Llangollen canal with Angela, Jude’s mum. As you can see from our pictures below, it was a beautiful Autumn day.