Moving back to the UK… 😮

In what will be perhaps a shock decision to some, maybe even many, of you, Jude and I have decided to move back to the UK. We have spent 15 happy years here in Switzerland, the past 10 of them in our chalet in Evolène, in the Val d’Hérens.

We have been thinking about moving back ‘at some point’ but the arrival of little Raymond (my new grandson) has accelerated our thinking, to be back nearer to our families. While we were back in June, staying in N. Wales, we were lucky enough to hear about a cottage that was coming up for rent. We had a look around and it seemed perfect for our needs and we were fortunate enough to get it. (I rather cheekily included a picture of the property in my post here – the cottage is just off to the left of pic no. 10 and is shown in pic 15).

So once back home we put our chalet up for sale and within a week of it being advertised we’d had an offer and the deposit has already been lodged with the notaire (solicitor) who draws up the sale documents. It’s all been a bit of a whilrwind as you can imagine and hence why I’ve not been posting much recently. (Though I have some pics waiting in the wings to post so do not worry, this is not the end… Indeed, my blog will continue, but with somewhat smaller mountains in N. Wales!)

I’ve posted pics of the chalet or the views before, but here are a few of the outside taken recently together with some old ones during the winter. We will certainly miss it. 😥

Thyon Ridge Walk, Valais, Switzerland

I mentioned in my last post that my walks and subsequent posts tend to concentrate on some combination of views, flowers and/or butterflies. Well, almost incredibly, given the warm weather we’ve been having, this walk has no butterflies at all! I did capture a very poor picture of a Tortoiseshell, but I didn’t think that worth posting and the Swallowtail at the top of Mont Carré flew off before I could catch my breath and switch on my camera. Others either flew off up or down the slope to the side, making it difficult to follow them.

As you will see in the gallery below, there was a bit of cloud around for a while, but this more or less cleared as I reached the turnaround point at Greppon Blanc.

Aiguilles Rouges Cabane from Arolla, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

The weather across Europe has taken a turn for the better this past week and on Sunday I decided to take advantage of the blue skies. I was rather hoping to find the Small Apollo butterfly, which I’ve seen on this route before, but I was to be disappointed.

That said, whenever I set off on my walks I wonder whether there will be more butterflies, flowers or scenic views – or some combination of all 3. This was certainly a good mixture., which I hope you enjoy. 😊

Mont d’Orge Bisse and Butterfly Walk, Valais, Switzerland

Last Friday, Jude had a hair appointment and some shopping to do down in Sion, so I took the opportunity to do a short walk along the bisse which runs along the side of Mont d’Orge. It was a warm and somewhat cloudy day, but I still hoped to find a few butterflies. And indeed I did – including a new one for me. 👍👍😊

I thought the Great Sooty Satyr was new untiI I spotted a note in my book saying I’d seen one last year on the path up to La Sage. It was the Eastern Bath White in picture 18. In flight the whites can look quite similar, but this one looked a little different – once landed. Thankfully I got just the one shot of it before it flew off. Result!

Sasseneire, (3,253m / 10,673m) Val d’Hérens, Switzerland – Part 2 of 2

In case you missed Part 1, please feel free to catch up here. We left ‘our’ walk, just before the pond at Béplan. There I cursed myself for not being quick enough to capture a marmot disappearing over a rock. But only a few strides later I spotted another just around the corner. Normally they are gone in a flash but this one didn’t seem too bothered and carried on nibbling away at the grass just a few metres away. (See pic 2).

From Béplan the greenery of the alpage gradually fades away into the slate grey of the upper mountains, but even there, incredibly, flowers still grow. (See pics 14 & 15 – the Two flowered saxifrage, my book tells me, is quite rare). The ascent to the top of Sasseneire is quite steep and looks pretty hairy in the pics below, but it is quite safe. There are 2 false summits, so just when you think you are there, there is another one. As you will see there is still quite a lot of snow on the north facing side of the mountain range.

And, of course, on the descent, there were yet more butterflies… 😊

Sasseneire, (3,253m / 10,673m) Val d’Hérens, Switzerland – Part 1 of 2

On Sunday I went for a walk, intending to go up to the Col du Torrent (@2,926m or 9,567ft). As soon as I’d set off, I realised that the overnight rain had created a series of clouds hanging over the mountain peaks, so I didn’t think I’d get anywhere near. However, after taking my time taking numerous photos, (hence why this post is only part 1!), the clouds gradually dispersed and I arrived there to clear skies and feeling quite fresh. So I took the opportunity to go to the top of Sasseneire. Although this seemed like a good idea at the time, my legs were completely shot by the time that I arrived home (8 hours after setting off). Descents are often as hard as the ascents sometimes!

Now, whenever I’m taking photos of butterflies, I never really know until I study the images later whether they are the same butterfly as a photo taken earlier in the walk. The blues in particular all look pretty much the same to me in the field. Imagine my surprise then when almost all of the pictures turned out to be something different… (assuming my identifications are correct of course!)

Cnicht Walk, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, our cottage looked across to the hills and mountains of Snowdonia. One of them, called Cnicht, is known as the Matterhorn of Wales, due to it’s shape when viewed from a certain position. Well, it just had to be done.

My route would start in the small village of Croesor and head up the south-west flank. I was a little worried about finding my way as the map never had a path marked. But as you will see from the pictures below, the route was well signposted, even from the car park, and the summit was always clear and visible straight ahead.

From there I descended to 2 or 3 of the many small lakes, or Llyns, which pepper the landscape, before returning via a disused slate quarry down the Cwm Croesor valley.

Lleyn Peninsular, North Wales

For a day out, Jude and I took a drive around the Lleyn Peninsular. Jude had read about a place called Caeau Tan y Bwlch, where there were some of the last traditional fields left on the peninsular. We hoped, even expected, to see lots of wild flowers and butterflies. In the event, there were no butterflies at all (well, it was a windy day), but there were tens of Chimney Sweeper moths flitting between the orchids.

From there we went to Porth Iago and had a walk along the coastal path, (where I did at least capture my first Painted Lady of the year) before stopping at Llanbedrog beach on our way back to Ynys, near Harlech.

Ynys, North Wales, Part 2

Once out of quarantine, Jude and I were free to wander and below are some pictures of the local places we explored.

Not more than a kilometre away from where we were staying was Llanfihangel-y-traethau church. It’s quite famous for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there is a unique memorial stone in the churchyard with an inscription (in latin) which indicates that it was built in the reign of King Owen Gwynedd, who reigned from 1137 to 1170. Another reason is that the writer Richard AW Hughes is buried there. (See pic 7).

But perhaps most interestingly, especially to American readers, is that David Ormsby-Gore is also buried there. Who’s he?, you may well ask, but he was the 5th Baron Harlech or more generally known simply as Lord Harlech. He was the British Ambassador to the United States from 1961 to 1965 (and, to add a bit of UK interest, MP for Oswestry from 1950 to 1961). He became good friends with President John F. Kennedy and (Wiki tells me that) “after his assassination there were rumours of a romance between Ormsby-Gore and Jacqueline Kennedy. In 1968 he proposed marriage to her, but, she did not accept. Ormsby-Gore was one of the pallbearers at Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral.”

He subsequently married American socialite Pamela Colin in 1969 but, sadly, Lord Harlech was seriously injured in a car crash on 25 January 1985 and died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital the following morning, aged 66. Senator Edward Kennedy, Jacqueline (by then) Onassis and other Kennedy family members attended his funeral in the Llanfihagel-y-traethau church. He was buried there as the church is situated on one of the two Lord Harlech estates.

The reason we were keen to we visit the church (and we were lucky enough to get the keys to be able to go inside), was that Jude grew up in the old school, in Pant Glas, which had provided education for the children of the workers on Lord Harlech’s other estate, Brogyntyn, near Oswestry.

As you will also see below, at low tide it is possible to walk across the Glaslyn/Dwyryd estuary and Jude and I took the opportunity to go swimming in one of the pools left behind by the side of Ynys Gifftan island, which sits in the middle of the estuary.

Ynys, North Wales

My apologies for neglecting my blogging duties for the past week or so but, as mentioned in my previous post, Jude and I have been in quarantine in the UK. This severely hampers one’s ability to take and post interesting photographs.

However, I did take the opportunity to go the ‘scenic route’ to post our COVID tests in the nearby village and I did manage to get a few evening sunset pictures only a few yards up the road from where we were staying.

Our cottage (see pic 1) was in the small village of Ynys and looked out over the Glaslyn/Dwyryd estuary to the hills and mountains of Snowdonia. On the far side of the estuary, was the small village of Portmeirion, (pic 3), which is built in an Italianate style (more info and pics here) and famous for being the setting for the 1960’s cult TV series, The Prisoner, (more info here). This seemed quite appropriate given our situation. I fully envisaged a great white balloon coming to capture us if we strayed from our cottage! As it was, Jude had 6 phone calls in the 10 days and I had none!

In case you are wondering, all of our tests (i.e. the one before we left Switzerland and those on Day 2 and Day 8 of our isolation) came back negative. 👍👍😊 So we were then free to explore… See next post(s).