Grande Bisse de Lens Walk, Valais, Switzerland

I enjoyed my bisses walk last week so much, I decided to try another.   This time I chose a section of the Grande Bisse de Lens, starting (and finishing) in the village of Icogne.

My plan was to do a 5km (3 mile) section heading north, then return the same way.  But at the start of the bisse, there was a sign saying it was closed in 3 km (2 miles).  I still thought it would be worth doing, so I set off.  Sure enough, at a junction with another path, there was a sign saying ‘Stop’ (pic 18).

However, I was curious to see why it was closed, so I continued for maybe another half a mile or kilometre and found the offending blockage.  (See pic 21).  I therefore returned to the junction and took the higher path back to Icogne.

During my walk I spotted not 1, but 5 lemony yellow butterflies, which I took to be Brimstones. (Sorry, no pics).  My book suggests hibernated species emerge quite early in the year and it has been unseasonably warm in the Valais for the past week or so.

Evolène Carnival 2020

You could never accuse the Swiss of not knowing how to throw a good party.  Today was the last Sunday of the annual winter Carnival in the village, which starts every year on 6th January.  (So that’s at least 7 weeks of celebration!)  Today, the programme promised music and a procession of the main characters, namely the Peluches (who wear masks and sheepskins) and the Empaillés (who also wear masks and a rather large sacking ‘suit’ stuffed with straw).  In addition several people attend wearing fancy dress and there’s a huge amount of confetti, either thrown, usually by the children, or cannoned out from the top of a bus… (See pic 18).

Clavau and Sillonin Bisse Walk, Valais, Switzerland

Firstly, my sincere apologies for not posting more often recently, but the snow does hamper walking at this time of year in the Val d’Hérens.  With that in mind I decided to head down to the Rhone valley to find a suitable, snow-free, route.

I’ve posted about Bisses before but, to remind you, they are essentially watercourses or irrigation channels which were built (often in daring places) to carry water from the mountain streams to the dry fields, orchards and, as in this case, vineyards.  I selected the Bisse de Clavau, as it begins in  Sion, which I could easily reach by bus, and I could connect it up with the Bisse de Sillonin, which allowed me to drop down to the village of St Leonard to catch a train and then bus back home to Evolène.

Both bisses were built around 1450 and one has to admire the effort that must have gone in to making them.  The vineyard terracing is also a marvellous piece of human engineering.  While planning my route, I also read that there might be a stretch of the path which might not suit anyone with vertigo… (So I’m glad my mate Pete wasn’t with me!)  And I also had a surprise encounter with a tunnel, which started wide enough but it narrowed to an exit no more than 3 feet high.

As you will see from some of the pictures below, it was nice to see Spring emerging, with the flowers, a few butterflies and a couple of lizards already out warming themselves against the rocks.  I also spotted at least one Brambling, but never got a decent shot of it to post here.  My apologies also for the number of photos, but it was quite an interesting and varied route.

For more information on the 50+ bisses of the Valais, please click here.

Mike’s Music Monday #46

When I started this series I had thought about mentioning my favourite line or piece of music in each, but I decided against it, as I thought it might prove too difficult for some songs.  With this one, however, it was a no brainer… The words “She dashed by me in painted on jeans” just conjures up an image which makes me smile every time. 😊  The saxophone solo is also a classic.   What’s not to like?

Snowman Update IV

Elton, the snowman that my brother and his 2 sons built on 28th December, is still ‘standing’.  As you can see in the photos below, he’s a shadow of his former 6ft self (being only about 2 ft ‘tall’ now) and remains, defying gravity, bending over, almost impossibly, backwards.

Also, you may recall from my post on 27th January, that his head had melted away, but, remarkably, a new one seems to have appeared.  It’s held on by the slenderest of threads to the body but is supported by a short column of ice.  He’s now 47 days old, so if he’s still there on Saturday, I think we should celebrate.  😊