Walk from Ashbourne to Alstonefield via Ilam, Peak District, England

The weather wasn’t particularly kind while we were staying in the Peak District, but I did manage to get out for another, longish walk, starting in Ashbourne and finishing at our cottage in Alstonefield. Although “The Dales” is generally taken to mean the Yorkshire Dales, there are far more Dales in the Peak District. This walk alone took in Lin Dale, Dove Dale and Hall Dale.

As I approached Mapleton (pronounced as in M’apple’ton btw), I met up with 2 gentleman and a dog, who were also walking to Ilam. I forget their names now (and my apologies to them if they are now reading this), but we had a very nice chat as we strolled along.

After bidding them farewell, (as they went for a cuppa in the café at Ilam Hall), I turned east to take in a small hill, called Thorpe Cloud (@287m or 942ft). On a fine day, I’m sure the views are wonderful. From there, I descended into Lin Dale before heading north along Dove Dale and up Hall Dale to the Watts-Russell Arms (for a more interesting refreshment. 😊)

Mawddach Estuary, Barmouth, North Wales

It was not for nothing that (now Sir) Tom Jones sang about the Green, Green Grass of Home. Wales can be a very wet place (as you may have gathered from all the moss and lush looking fields in my previous post). So, as if to prove I’m not just a fair weather walker, here are few pictures, mainly of the Mawddach Trail (a former railway line) from Penmaenpool to Barmouth.

Walk to the Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

After posting pictures of my glacier adventure with Pete, I managed to get out for another glacier walk. This time it was along part of the Haut Glacier d’Arolla. My aim was to try and get a decent photograph of the Bouquetins refuge hut. I had seen this hut in the far distance during a walk up to the Plans de Bertol and I wondered how close I might be able get.

In the event, I didn’t see it at all, as I was too low down in the valley. Though, after zooming in on some of my photos, I have just spotted the top of it, peeking out on the hump to the left of picture 18. Nevertheless, it was a new and exciting walk for me.

As you will see, it’s a big glacier and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get onto it, but another hiker came along as I was taking some photos and I followed his tracks up to the central, medial moraine of the glacier. (You can just about see him, slightly to the left of centre, in picture 17).

Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Valais, Switzerland

The 15th August is normally the date when the Mid-summer Festival takes place in our village. But this year, for obvious reasons, it was cancelled. So we were not treated to the helicopter rescue of the dummy which had fallen (or was he pushed?) off the rockface, nor the stream of vintage cars. And the usual procession, of the villagers demonstrating the traditional arts and crafts, will have to wait until next year.

So, I decided to have a wander through the village and take some photos to show you what our village looks like during the summer. Normally the main street would be packed from one end to the other but, this year, there were just the usual weekend and holiday visitors. It was also nice to see the locals dressed in their traditional costumes, simply relaxing and enjoying some time with their families.

If you would like to see an example of what we all missed, here’s a post of the Mid-summer Festival from 2016.

Note that the last two images, courtesy of Wiki, position Evolène on the map of Switzerland and the canton of Valais and give some facts and figures about the Commune – just in case you wondered… 😊

Foret de Pfynges Walk and a Damsel/Dragonfly Quiz

Today my wife, Judith, and I went for a walk around the Foret de Pfynges Nature Reserve which runs alongside the river Rhone. We had hoped to spot a few birds but, with the trees being so tall and canopy thick with foliage, in the event, we spotted everything but birds. We saw fish, frogs (or toads), butterflies, crickets and a couple of Coots. (OK, they are birds. but they were not exactly what we were looking for).

HOWEVER, we did see an awful lot of damselflies and dragonflies. So many in fact, I haven’t the time to look them all up, (and I’d probably get them wrong anyway). So I thought I’d throw them out there as a sort of quiz… (See pics Q1 to Q11). I know at least 2 people who may know quite a few (if not all?) of the answers.
(Vivienne – I bet you’ve been dying to test out that new book of yours. I see Question 10 is on the front cover…)

Ferpècle Valley Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

On Monday, I decided to see how far I could walk up the Ferpècle valley from La Sage (where Jude dropped me off) before walking all the way back home again via Sepey and Les Haudères. I thought that I may have to turn around due to any residual snow, but I needn’t have worried, as there was hardly any at all. (I guess this just shows how warm it’s been recently).

I love the Spring, as it’s like starting all over again to discover ‘new’ flowers, bugs and butterflies every time you go out. And this walk was no exception. I should point out that I generally post photos of my ‘first sightings’ each time I see something new, (assuming I can get a picture of course – the Camberwell Beauty eluded me again on this walk). So, unless I get a particularly good photo, you shouldn’t see the same flower or butterfly again. But don’t worry, there are plenty of things out there for me to (re)-discover this season. 😊

Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, England, UK

Let me take you back to 1995, if not a little earlier than that, when my mate Colin and I had the ‘idea’ to do the English Coast to Coast walk, created and made famous by the great Alfred Wainwright, from St. Bee’s in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. Our plan was to run the 182 mile (293km) route in relay, over the space of 4 days, with one person on the route and the other driving a car to a prearranged changeover point. This way we could travel light, leaving the rest of our gear in the boot of the car, and we’d overnight in B&Bs or, preferably, Inns. 🍻👍😊

But we soon realised that there was a flaw in our grand idea – What if one of us got lost or was injured? (Remember, this was when mobile phones were still evolving even into those early ‘bricks’). Answer therefore: Recruit another two mates, called Pete and Tim, so that we’d have 2 on each leg, for a second opinion on any tricky route finding and someone to run for help, just in case. So it was that the 4 of us lined up in traditional fashion, with our toes dipped in the Irish Sea in April 1995. (See pic 1).

The event went so well, the following year we did the Offa’s Dyke Path (this time with Liam included) and in 1997, the West Highland Way (in 2 days). These were followed by The Wold’s Way (1998), where Dave was added to our happy band of runners, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (1999) and a trip to southern Ireland in 2000, to do parts of the Dingle Way and Beara Way, plus a hike up to the top of Carrantuohill (which scared the living daylights out of Pete. It was only then that we discovered he suffered from vertigo).

Wind forward a few more years and, after St Cuthbert’s Way (2005), Glyndwrs Way (2007) and the Dales Way (2009), in 2010 we decided to re-visit the best route of them all – the Coast to Coast (C2C). But this time in a more leisurely 5 days (well, we were 15 years older) and with all 6 of us present. (Pic 2).

Below, we have a small selection of my photos from that event. But, because we were doing it in relay format, even after doing the C2C twice I still haven’t done it all. Due to the way we rotate the groupings each day and the different stopover points, some of the legs I covered the second time around were the same or similar to the first and I still haven’t had the joy of bog-hopping near Nine Standards Rigg. (Or maybe, as one of the main organisers of these events, I deliberately avoided that leg? 😉)

Lac d’Arbey to Les Haudères Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

The snowline is gradually getting a little higher in the Val d’Hérens, so yesterday I decided to walk up to Lac d’Arbey. From there I took the cross path to Farquèses, before descending to Les Haudères and returning to Evolène along the riverside track.

There was very little snow on the ascent, (just one small patch in a shaded hollow) but, on the cross path, I had to pick my way carefully over the remains of an avalanche. (See pic 11). From then on though all the paths were clear and the views over the valley to the mountains were superb.

There were very few butterflies around, but I did manage to capture a couple, one of which, if my Northern Wall Brown identification is correct, is a first. 😊 I also managed to zoom in on a Spotted Nutcracker. (See pic 17). Given the distance between us, I didn’t think the photo would come out very well, (especially as it was towards the sun), but it seems to be OK.

Circular Walk to the Passarelle de la Grande Combe via Euseigne, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

I have posted pictures of this walk before, indeed, twice, so this time I thought I’d do it in reverse. 😊 It requires a short drive down the valley from Evolène to La Luette, but I knew that the paths would be clear of snow after all the warm and sunny weather we’ve had for the past month. It’s also always a good route for spotting butterflies and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The section shortly after the bridge in picture 10, proved to be particularly profitable. Several large ‘orange’ coloured butterflies also whizzed by without giving me a chance to identify or capture them for you to enjoy. Later, as I approached Ossona, I noticed 3 or 4 Swallowtails. I was just zooming in on one of them when another came along and an almighty aerial battle took place, which reminded me of the film, Top Gun. (See their rather blurry ‘fly by’ in pic 21). It went on for so long, I got bored waiting for them to land again and continued on my way.

I was also pleasantly surprised to actually spot a Small Blue (pic 35). It’s quite a common butterfly, but I believe it’s Switzerland’s smallest – possibly not much bigger than your small finger nail. (It’s on some Alpine Bird’s-foot trefoil, if that also helps to give it some scale).

My apologies for all the photos, but it was a rather nice walk, which I thought you might enjoy, especially if you have to “Stay home”, like many.

Walk to Béplan from Evolène, Val d’Hérens

The weather in the Val d’Hérens has been incredibly warm and sunny for the past week or more. So, on Thursday, I decided to head a little further up into the mountains, to see if I could reach a small lake (more like a pond) at an area called Béplan. When I plotted the route on the Swiss online mapping app*, I noticed that there was an alternative way via Lè Lachiores, which would allow me to do a more circular route.

As I climbed higher and higher, I soon realised that I might struggle to get there, especially when I saw the remnants of an avalanche. (See pics 10-12). There was also a distinct lack of butterflies, flowers and birds. So I was quite surprised to spot a Ring Ousel and, not one, but two marmots. And then at the highest point of around 2,500m (8,200ft) there were several Pasque flowers, (see pic 16), which are the first I’ve seen this year.

After picking my way carefully up the slopes between the snow, I finally came to halt around 400m short of where I wanted to be. So there was nothing else to do but take in the magnificent views and then descend, again zig-zagging my way through the various patches of snow.

(*Note that this SwitzerlandMobility application is available to anyone, to view official Hiking, Cycling and even Skating and Canoeing routes in Switzerland, though you need a subscription to plot routes and download them to GPS or print the maps. See Route example at the end of the gallery).