On Tuesday, Jude and I took a trip down to Switzerland’s largest lake, Lac Léman or Lake Geneva. We parked up in Villeneuve, which lies at the eastern end and walked along the lakeside towards Montreux. Along the way is one of Switzerland’s “Top 10” tourist sites, the Château de Chillon.
The site began as a Roman outpost, to guard the route through the alpine passes, but construction started in the 10th century. As you can imagine it has an interesting history and you can read all about it here.
Equally interesting are the legends which surround the small island seen in picture 4. Surprisingly (to me anyway) it’s the only natural island in the lake, Technically it’s called the Île de Peilz but, being British, I like the story about it being given as a gift to Queen Victoria when she visited the region. A tree was planted on the island and it’s known as Queen Victoria’s tree. For more legends and even a video of the tree please click here.
Note that the first two images below were taken near Ollon, on our way to the lake.
For our last ‘day out’ in North Wales, Jude and I took a drive around to the Llŷn Peninsula. After parking up further down the coast, we walked around the coastal path to Porthor, or Whistling Sands as it’s often known. From there we called in at tiny Porth Colmon which, as you will see from my series of photos, is still used as place for launching or, as in this case, landing fishing boats. And then finally we drove to the small coastal resort of Aberdaron, where I somehow managed to get a shot of an apparently deserted beach, despite there being quite a few people around.
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.
For our first full day in the Engadin, we decided to walk from Maloja along the path which runs by the side of Lej da Segl or the Silsersee to the village of Sils Maria. Jude was keen to see what it looked like as Colletts Mountain Holidays have (or at least would have, had it not been for COVID-19) started running holidays there.
Quick aside here: I first met Jude while on a Colletts Mountain Holiday in the Italian Dolomites in 2004. Jude was the chalet host. The rest is history as they say… 💕😊
Anyway, even before we’d left our apartment, we’d noticed some people, running in pairs towards the lake. Only the day before, Jude had read about an event called the ötillö, which required a team of 2 people to run, swim, run, swim, run, swim, etc. for a total of 45km. (39km of this is running and 6km swimming across the 2 lakes in the Engadin). One of the rules is that the 2 competitors should never be more than 10 metres apart, so they are tied together with a piece of rope. (The madness of the human race never ceases to amaze me!) On the plus side, if there is a plus side, they are allowed to use paddles on their hands and floats between and on their legs. (In the second picture below you can see the 2 competitors had them on their shins, but not everyone had them). Of course, these had to be carried during the run sections. All I can say is, it’s not an event you’ll catch me doing!
We stopped at the rather quaint village of Isola on the way for a coffee, where there’s a huge cascading waterfall. Sils Maria itself was quite charming, with restricted motorised transport from what we could see. It’s clearly a great base to explore some of the excellent walking routes and attractions in that area. (But it’ll never beat the Val d’Hérens of course! 😉)
We returned to Maloja via a small ferry boat, which criss-crosses the lake to pick up passengers. Apparently it’s the highest operating ferry in Europe, at an altitude of 1,797m or 5,896ft. Swiss facts – Jude has them all! (It’s no wonder I married her! 😍)
As you may recall we chose to go to Schaffhausen as it’s very close to the Rhine Falls, which is the largest waterfall in Europe. OK, it’s not as high as the Angel Falls, nor as wide as either the Niagara or Victoria Falls, but it’s impressive nonetheless. As with the Tinguely fountain, a static image doesn’t really do it justice, so today you have not one but TWO videos. I spoil you.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, since you are possibly wondering where all the big mountains have gone, I’ve included some photos of our journey home. From Schaffhausen we headed east to the small town of Arbon, which sits on the shores of Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, just a few miles from the Austrian border. After lunch we headed south, through Glarus and over the Klausen and Furka passes back to our beloved Rhone valley. During our trip, we travelled through 16 of the 26 Swiss cantons.
It also seems someone has found a new and potentially much more useful role for “Mr President”. (See pic 15 in the second gallery).
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s nothing my wife enjoys more than being on a boat. So when she discovered that you could take a boat up the river to one of, if not, THE best preserved medieval towns in Switzerland, it had to be done, even if it did involve wearing a mask en route.
Above the town sits Hohenklingen Castle. We hadn’t planned to visit it, but when we discovered there wasn’t a return boat at 15:30 and the next one was at 5pm, well… It’s only a 200m/650ft climb and there is a café/restaurant at the top so, it just had to be done. It was worth every step of the way though for the views from the top of the tower – and the refreshing beer of course! 🥵+🍺=😋
On day 5, Pete and I had the pleasure of walking without our rucksacks as we did a circular route around the Isle of Portland. As you can see from the map (pic 22), the ‘Isle’ is not really an island, because it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway, created by a rather incredible coastal formation called Chesil Beach. The beach is 18 miles (or 29 km) long and is up to 50 ft (15m) high and 220 yards (200m) wide in places. It’s made up of shingle or pebbles, which increase in size from north west to south east. Behind the beach is a shallow tidal lagoon, called the Fleet.
I’ve just returned from a week in the UK, walking the first (or last) part of the South West Coast Path with my very good mate, Pete. The full route is around 640 miles (1,030 km) long and goes from Poole in Dorset to Minehead in Somerset (or vice versa). Long time followers may recall that the 2 of us and 4 other friends did the other end of this long distance path in 2015. (Though I now see that nobody ‘Liked’ that post, so maybe I should call a halt here… 🤔 … Er, no way…!)
With 6 days available, our ultimate destination would be Abbotsbury, though I had an extra day before flying home, so I also walked ‘back’, away from the SW Coast Path, to Dorchester.
Pete had selected this particular section of the path for 2 reasons*, the first being that he had spent 4 of his summer holidays as a child in Swanage and he was keen to re-live those happy memories from the past. So it was with great excitement that we set off on the short ferry crossing from the Sandbanks area of Poole to Shell Bay, around 1pm, to walk the 6 or 7 miles (10 or 11 km) to Swanage.
*I will divulge Pete’s 2nd reason later in this series. (Oh, the suspense…)
Logistical footnote: Pete had travelled down that morning from York , by train, London Underground and train to arrive in Bournemouth (rather miraculously, on time) around 12 noon. By contrast my journey had been by Postbus, train and plane (by the wonder that is Easyjet to Bournemouth airport), again arriving around 12 noon. I then caught a taxi to Sandbanks, picking up Pete on the way. As George Peppard, or ‘Hannibal’ Smith, if you prefer, often said in the A Team “I love it when a plan comes together.” 😊
Below some more photos taken during my recent trip to Malta, which didn’t quite fit into the other 3 categories already posted. This includes a trip to the north east coast and the National Aquarium at Bugibba, which also had a few reptiles. (At least they kept still while being photographed!)
Last but by no means least, as mentioned in my first post, there’s a picture of me presenting a copy of my dad’s book “Bobbing Along”, to the FWA (Fondazzioni Wirt Artna) at their offices in Notre Dame Gate. It contains a whole chapter on his time in Malta and will be added to their archives.