Circular walk from Byland Abbey, N. Yorkshire, England

I’ve recently returned from a trip to the UK, where I met up with some of my old friends to play golf and go for a couple of walks.  I’ll skip quickly passed the golf and show you a few photos of a walk I did with Ian, Martin and his wife Jan, who had recently bought a camera very similar to mine.  So we took it in turns to snap away at anything and everything and a few of the photos below are courtesy of Jan (as watermarked).

The day was noted for a rather cloudy start, which thankfully improved, and a Collie dog which adopted us in the car park and followed us, or rather, we followed it, for most of the way, around the walk.  We left it in the good care of 2 ladies who were doing the same walk and knew it lived near the Abbey.

For more information on Byland Abbey, please read here, but it was founded in 1135.

Mike’s Music Monday #17

This week contains Swiss National Day*, so I’ve decided to include a song by a Swiss group, called Double, though in reality it’s mainly a guy called Kurt Maloo.  I really like it for a number of reasons, like the haunting melody, the simple piano riff, the clarinet and, when the question was asked “Who sang The Captain of her Heart?” in a pub quiz in York quite a few years ago now, I actually remembered the answer.  I still have no idea how I got that.

*The 1st August is also Yorkshire Day.  Ey up, didn’t tha knows?  But I figured this song might go down a bit better than a rendition of Ilkley Moor Bah T’at (especially be me!)  Oh, go on then, yev twisted me arm – see darn below…  👍👍 It’s grand as ‘owt!

 

Walk to Pic d’Artsinol (2,998m/9,836ft)

Having recently done a walk around both ends of our valley, at Arolla and Ferpècle, and been up behind our chalet to the Col du Torrent twice (well, once nearly), yesterday it was the turn of the opposite side and an ascent of the Pic d’Artsinol.  Like most of Europe, we are having a bit of a heatwave at the moment, so it would have been foolish of me not to take advantage of the chairlift, which saved me around 700m or 2,300ft of climbing.  I still had over 800m or 2,600ft to go mind you, followed by a looong descent back to Evolène.

As you will see below, the skies were perfectly blue, the views from the top were simply amazing and the butterflies were out in force!

Arolla Butterfly Field Trip

As regular readers will know, I like to take and post pictures of butterflies, though, as there are so many different species here in the Val d’Hérens, I often have great difficulty in identifying them.  Well, yesterday, in an attempt to put that right, I went on a field trip with an expert, Vincent Baudraz, and 4 other keen, would-be lepidopterists.

The method was quite simple.  We essentially let Vincent catch a few butterflies, put them carefully into a plastic containers, then the 5 of us would try our best to identify them, using Vincent’s and his brother Michel’s book “Guide d’identification des papillons de jour de Suisse”.  Yes, it’s in french, which makes it a little more difficult for me, but I think it’s fair to say that, by using the step by step, question and answer approach at the beginning of the book, ‘the team’ got the vast majority of his challenges right.  And, I have to say, Vincent is an absolute genius, he actually identifies them on the wing, even the tiny ones (which certainly saves a lot of time catching and releasing the same species of butterfly multiple times).  He would spot a ‘new’ one then snaffle it up in his net with a swish and a flick of the wrist, so that the delicate little creature was completely unharmed and they were always released in the same area that we found them.

It would be remiss of me not to thank Vincent for his patience and outstanding knowledge, not to mention the rest of the gang for making it such a fabulous day.

Below my usual gallery but, for anyone who may be interested, I’ve shown a worked example using the guide book, pictorially of course, below that. 🙂

Below an example of a captured butterfly and the step by step approach through the book to get to the correct identification.  As you will see, once identified, there is also a reference to more detailed information, with drawings, of both the male and female upper and lower wing attributes.  I recommend viewing the series of pictures in gallery mode (i.e. double click on the first picture, then right arrow through) to best appreciate the logic and sequence. 

Ferpècle Glacier Walk

It’s almost a year since I went up to the head of the Ferpècle valley to check on the state of the glacier ‘hole’.  So, yesterday, I caught the bus up to Ferpècle and walked up to the Bricola Hut, to look down on the glacier, before walking back home again.

The images from the 2 posts are not directly comparable as the pictures below are taken from above, but it does look like the glacier has remained in about the same position.  There is, however, a lot of water gushing down the river.  Certainly I’ve never seen it flowing so freely, though that could be due to the late snow we had in April (and that which fell a few nights ago to around 2,000m).

It was a beautiful walk in bright sunshine and I was delighted to see lots of families, with some very young children, no older than 3, also exploring the valley.  You’re never too young, or old for that matter, to enjoy the countryside. 🙂

Note that the first picture was taken while waiting for the bus in Evolène, though it does also show the glacier, so I felt justified in including it!

 

Swiss National Route 6, Gruben to St Niklaus (Day 3 of 3)

Unusually, I was up at the crack of dawn for the last day of my walk.  Well, the hotel bar shut at 10pm, so what else was there to do but got to sleep and even I can manage on 8 hours!  So it was that I set off well before the ‘Brits’ (see previous post) and, if you don’t count cows or birds or butterflies, I never saw a soul until I got near to the Augstbordpass, where I espied someone on the horizon.  (I later caught them up on the descent – see pic 17).

The weather was dry, but rather dull, with high cloud, so not great for photography,  The highlights on the ascent were spotting and capturing (on camera, that is) 3 birds – one I knew, one I thought I knew, but didn’t, and the other I have no idea… (Help!?)

The descent was ‘interesting’ shall we say, as there was still a lot of snow around and I’m not happy walking across, especially sloping, snow in what are effectively trainers – oh yes, and without walking poles.  (Although they are useful in some circumstances, like 1% of the time, I’m not a fan of poles as, to my mind, they are extra baggage and they get in the way when things get a bit bouldery and some scrambling is required – which it was on this trip).  Anyway I survived about 5 or 6 short(ish) sections and my leg only disappeared once up to the knee.  I should have taken a picture – there was already a big hole and now there are two… 🙂

Later, the sun started to come out and the last section down from Jungen was a joy to behold, with butterflies everywhere.  I was being teased by Apollos and even a Swallowtail fluttering around my head but, when they landed, they were out of reach and I would have needed to hang off the cliff face to get a picture.  I saw more Marbled Whites than I’ve ever seen in my entire life (and that’s a few – well, maybe 12) and a host of others, not shown below, simply because they either didn’t land or I have no way of identifying them and there’s enough in this gallery anyway.

I couldn’t leave this post without highlighting two flowers…

Pic 12: I’m 99% sure are called King-of-the-Alps.  They look like Alpine Forget-me-nots, but they only grow to a height of between 1 and 6 cm (unlike their look-a-like, which grows to 5 to 15cm).  My book describes them as “Rather rare” and I think it’s the first time I’ve seen them, certainly posted a picture of them.

Pic 27: Has the delightful name of Swiss Treacle Mustard and if that’s not a name to conjure with nothing is.  🙂

Swiss National Route 6, Zinal to Gruben (Day 2 of 3)

After a steep descent into Zinal on day 1, it didn’t take me long (maybe about 5 minutes) to realise that almost all paths around Zinal are steep.  My GPS was telling me that the 50m contours were coming every 120m, which makes it a gradient of over 40%.  However after about an hour the path levelled off and then it just meandered and undulated all the way to the Weisshorn Hotel, where I stopped for some refreshments. 🍺😊

From there I thought it would be a simple 450m/1,500ft climb to the Meidpass but, just to make life interesting, the path dropped about 200m before it started to climb again.  But what a wonderful walk it was.  I was completely blown away by Le Touno (see pic 19) which stood majestically above everything, even though it’s only 3,018m (9,902ft) high.  After that, both sides of the Meidpass felt extremely remote and I only saw 5 other walkers before reaching the Schwarzhorn Hotel in Gruben,

It was there that I met up with the dozen or so people I mentioned yesterday, who were indeed British.  They were all walking from Chamonix to Zermatt on a 2 week holiday – not that everyone considered it a holiday!  I’ve mentioned coincidences recently but, one of the party leaders hailed from my old neck of the woods, near Hull.  Also, I offered to take a picture of a couple near the Weisshorn Hotel and, although they lived in Germany, the lady also came from near Hull.  What are the chances of that happening on the same day in the Alps?

As usual, I’ve done my best to identify the butterflies below, but one eluded me.  Despite it having some very distinct lines on the under wing, I couldn’t find it in my book.

Swiss National Route 6, Villa to Zinal (Day 1 of 3)

Since returning from my walk with the boys on the Inn Way to Northumberland, I’ve had itchy feet.  Jude has also been encouraging me to take advantage of our time here in Switzerland (not to mention while I’m still physically able to do these walks).  So, after checking that the forecast was going to be ‘fine’ for the next 3 days, I set off to do 3 sections of the Swiss National Route 6, which runs from St Gingolph, on Lac Léman, to Chur in the east.  The route would take me from Villa to Zinal, then to Gruben in the Turtmanntal valley on Day 2 and then from there to St Niklaus in the Mattertal valley on Day 3, before catching the train and bus home.

I’ll admit that I cheated a bit and got Jude to drop me off at Villa.  Well, otherwise I would have had over 2,000m (6,500ft) to climb and strictly, Evolène is not on the route.  When I got out of the car, I noticed about a dozen other walkers, who all seemed to be preparing to set off up the same path.  I wondered who they might be (I thought I heard English voices) and I was to find out the following day…

Zinal is clearly more geared up for the winter ski season.  It’s quite a large village, but only 4 of the restaurants were open.  The rest were closed, including the one in the hotel where I was staying.  Upon arrival, after finding the front door to the restaurant and bar locked, I finally located the entrance door to the hotel and there to greet me was just a note and a key. (See pic 41).  I didn’t see anyone from the hotel until breakfast the next morning.  This may sound like poor customer service, but I think that you would probably only get this ‘trust’ in Switzerland.