Åland Islands, Finland

Let me take you on a little journey from Stockholm to the Åland Islands, which are an autonomous region of Finland…

Travelling to new countries (and blogging about them) certainly teaches you a few things, like there is hardly any tidal movement in the Baltic sea (which is why the thousands of islands are always visible); the water is not as salty as the ‘normal’ sea and, despite belonging to Finland, the islanders all speak Swedish (and most also speak English thankfully).

We caught a Viking Line ferry, called Grace, which was more like a cruise ship, from Stockholm to Turku, on the Finnish mainland.  It’s a sailing which is highly recommended, if you ever get the opportunity, as the boat weaves its way through the almost impossibly narrow channels between the many islands.   After an overnight stop and hiring a car, we then hopped on and off 2 more ferries to get to the group of interconnected islands called Brändö. (See map pic B11).

A particular highlight of our time there was a day on the island of Jurmo.  We arrived too early for the ferry, but an extremely friendly local, called Ari, offered to give us a lift in his small boat.  There was a harvest festival type celebration on that weekend and we were treated to a tour of the island on a tractor trailer.

Like yesterday, I’ve divided my photos into 3 distinct galleries. (Click on any image to get a larger view).

The ferry journey:

Brändö:

Jurmo island:

Val de Rèchy Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

I’m quite often pleasantly surprised when I go out for a walk and last Thursday was no exception.   Although I didn’t manage to capture a picture of Cynthia’s fritillary, which is quite common in this remote valley, I did get some, albeit long range, photos of 3 different birds.  (I’ve made my best guess at each, though I’m sure there is at least one person out there who may be able to identify them for me…?)

One of the reasons I missed the Cynthia’s fritillary was because I was distracted by a herd of over 20 yaks, with no apparent shepherd looking after them.  As you can see from pictures 17 to 21, I managed to overtake them as they headed to the nearest watering hole.

Most of the butterflies were just by the roadside where I parked my car!

 

Tour du Wildhorn, Switzerland (Day 3 of 4)

I should mention at this point that my mate Pete suffers from vertigo.  He also currently has 2 bad knees (as you can possibly tell from his knee supports in the photos) and, as Monsieur Alfonse used to say on ‘Allo ‘Allo, a dicky ticker.  Plus, he will tell you that he only has one lung.  (Of course, if this were true, he would never have been able to run a half marathon in around 76 minutes, but we have to humour him…)

That said, our route for Day 2 looked simple enough on paper – a descent back down the path we had climbed the day before, a casual stroll along the valley floor, over the Col du Rawil and then up to the wonderfully (and as it turned out appropriately named) Col des Eaux Froides (Cold Waters), before dropping down again to the Cabane des Audannes.  It’s a distance of no more than 7 miles and around 750m (or 2,500ft) of ascent.  Simple.

However, the forecast was for rain by mid afternoon and what we didn’t know, was that there was a huge area of limestone to cross, which involved scrambling up and down over the sharp rocks.  Apart from the danger of falling down one of the many gullies, one slip and you could have been cut to ribbons.  This was not ideal with rain imminent.  So we pushed on, very carefully of course, foregoing our lunchtime picnic and we managed to reach the Col des Eaux Froides just as the clouds were gathering.  A flurry of white stuff started to descend, the wind got up and the air was increasingly cold.   Somewhat different to our previous 2 days.  (New readers to this series, please see the images from Day 1 and Day 2).

Even once inside the mountain hut, all was not as cozy as it might seem, as the toilets were in a small building outside.  This is just about visible to the right of the main building in some of the last photos.

As before, Pete’s photos are suitably watermarked.

 

Tour du Wildhorn, Switzerland (Day 1 of 4)

For the past 4 days my good mate Pete and I have been walking around the Wildhorn, staying in mountain huts.  After being dropped off by my wife, Jude, at Lac de Sénin, day 1 would take us to the Geltenhutte. As you can see from the images below, the views were classically Swiss, with green meadows, small lakes and waterfalls – all under perfectly blue skies. 😊

As you can see from pics 34 & 35, the inside of the mountain hut isn’t quite as rustic as you might think.  After a refreshing beer (or 2), Pete and I tucked into a delicious 3 course meal.  The perfect start to a fantastic trip.

As you can see from the watermark, some of these photos are Pete’s.

La Luette to Euseigne via the Passarelle de la Combe

So, while her husband, Malcolm, was conquering the Matterhorn, Helen and I took the Postbus just a few stops down the valley to La Luette, to walk along the path which crosses the Passarelle de la Combe.  We then dropped down to the naturally heated waters near Combioula, before climbing back up passed the Pyramids to Euseigne.

Helen was thanking me for taking her along this walk, but I was thanking her in the end as I managed to take pictures of three new butterflies, which I’d never seen before – and therefore never posted on this site before. 😊

The first (pic 4) was of an albeit tatty looking Dryad (minois dryas).

The second (pic 16) is of a rather shy Tree Grayling (hipparchia statilinus), which decided to hide, as it’s name suggests, under a felled tree trunk.  It’s not widely seen across Switzerland, so I’ve included a distribution map (pic 16a) with an arrow indicating (very approximately) where we were.

The third (pic 17) was of a Lesser Purple Emperor (apatura ilia).  In French it’s called a ‘Petit Mars changeant’ and it certainly seems to take many forms, being blue/violet or red/orange or, as my luck would have it, dark brown/black!  This one flew up to the top of a bush, so I didn’t get a great picture of it.  So, for some better pictures of this colourful butterfly please click here.   Although more widespread across Switzerland, it’s classed as vulnerable on the Red List and is not that common in our area (pic 17a) .  So I was a very happy bunny once I’d identified them all from my book.  😁  Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the flowers, which I couldn’t find at all.  It seems every silver lining has a cloud…!

Footnote:  The link above and distribution maps were take from Michel and Vincent Baudraz’s excellent website:  https://www.lepido.ch/cartes-de-distribution
If you click on a particular group, the individual species are listed with distribution maps.  Further photographs of each are also available by clicking on the name of the butterfly).

Bisse de Savièse – Torrent Neuf, Valais, Switzerland

I promised USAthroughoureyes that I would try to find a new dimension to my walks and so today we have something unusual – a flat(ish) walk in Switzerland.  I have mentioned and posted pictures of ‘Bisses’ before.  They are irrigation channels and there are quite a number dotted about the canton of Valais.  But I think this one must be the most famous, due to the precipitous nature of the path, or at least the original path.  Today, four suspension bridges help the inquisitive walker along the route, but you can still see how the bisse and path were originally built.

All of the images below were taken with my mobile phone (as I went off without my camera) and I just managed to catch the ‘thing’ in the last picture (which was a first sighting for me), before my battery ran out.  I spotted it while looking to take a photo of some butterflies, but it makes a change… 😊  I also saw what may have been 3 Jersey Tiger moths (another first) but, by then, I had no battery left… 😌

Walk to La Gouille via Alpage de l’Etoile, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

You may have noticed that there was something missing from the pictures of my last walk – butterflies.  That wasn’t because there were none around, I just didn’t have the time to stop (or wait for them to stop) and capture them on camera.  Anyway, on Sunday I made up for that, and some, when I decided to walk to La Gouille, via the Alpage de l’Etoile.  There was one very small area, at the Mayen de la Cretta, which must have had at least a dozen different species fluttering around just a few thistle plants.

So my apologies if there now too many in this gallery, but even now I’ve left out the Marbled White, the Tortoiseshell and the Peacock.  At last though, I’ve finally captured an Apollo (which was rooted to the spot and I must have taken 20 or more photos of that one alone – see pic 16).

I also just happened to have my camera in my hand when the Hummingbird Hawkmoth came hovering by while I was having a little refreshment at the Hotel Dents de Veisivi.  🍺😊

 

 

Sunday afternoon in Evolène, Switzerland

This weekend and until the 15th August, sees the biennial CIME (Célébrations Interculturelles de la Montagne à Evolène) festival, which features dancers and singers from different mountain areas around the world.  We haven’t bought tickets to see any of the evening shows, but there are impromptu events happening in and around the villages of the Val d’Hérens.

So, with nothing better to do and the sun shining, I wandered down to the village, taking some photos as I went, and stumbled across a procession of the Russian, Italian and Ecuadorian participants.  I presumed this was a sort of preamble or practice for the main ‘mid-summer’ procession on the 15th.  I hope to bring you some pictures of that later next week, but in the meantime, here are a few images from today.

 

Grand Chavalard Hike

Earlier this year, I promised you something ‘new’ in the way of walks and, with blue skies forecast, yesterday I set off to walk to the top of the Grand Chavalard (@2,900m or 9,500ft) from the small village of Chiboz.   In March I posted this picture of it, then snow covered, in the background.

What I hadn’t factored into my plan was that it had rained quite heavily the day before and there was an awful lot of early morning cloud circling around the mountain tops.  But I trusted that the forecast would eventually come good and, although the valley to the east was completely obliterated by the mist during my ascent (unlike the west side, thankfully), the clouds finally lifted… 😊

 

 

Circular Walk from Crayke, N. Yorkshire, England

After our successful walk from Byland Abbey the day before, Ian and I were keen to get out again, despite the inclement weather.  A local landowner has created a Permissive path around the village of Crayke, which we extended a little further north (after a short stop for a coffee and a piece of cake at the excellent Dutch House – Café/Garden/Gallery) before returning to complete the route.