Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland

It’s hard to believe that I’ve now been blogging for over 4 years and this is the first time I’ve posted pictures, well, close up pictures, of one of the world’s most iconic mountains – the Matterhorn.  My excuse, if I needed one, is that Jude and I have been to Zermatt so many times before, with almost every one of our friends and family who came to stay when we first moved over to Switzerland.

Anyway, my sister, Karen, has been visiting this week with her partner, Paul, and they were keen to go there.  So, we drove around to Tasch, parked up and took the shuttle train to (the car free) Zermatt.  Now although the Matterhorn looks impressive from almost any angle, it’s far best viewed from the Gornergrat at 3,100m (or 10,170ft).  But do not worry if you are averse to hiking, as there is a train which will whisk you up to the top.  😊

To give you some idea of the scale of what you are looking at, I’ve posted a picture (no. 4) of the ultra modern, ‘space age’ looking, Monte Rosa Hut, which is 5 storeys high and sleeps 120 people.  Picture 5 zooms out a little (and you can, I hope, spot the hut in the centre of the lower part of the image) and then picture 6 shows the full extent of Monte Rose (also called the Dufourspitze and is Switzerland’s highest mountain at 4,634m or 15,200ft), with the hut towards the lower right.

Walk from Les Haudères to the Ferpècle valley

Yesterday, my car had to go to the garage in Les Haudères for it’s regular service, so I had some time to kill before picking it up later in the day.  Rather than walk back home, I decided to check out the Ferpècle valley, to see how the snow was getting on.  And, although there was quite a bit, knee deep even, from the small reservoir to the valley itself, a lot had disappeared.  But it will be a while yet, before I can venture too far above 2,000m (6,500 ft).

There are clear signs though that more flowers and creatures are emerging from their winter hibernation.  I couldn’t identify picture 22 though, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

 

Northumberland Coast

In an attempt to catch up and get up to date, I’ve decided to group all my other holiday photos together.  (I say my, but I’ve included 2 of Jude’s as well – suitably credited to her).  As you will see we had some nice weather (unlike the rest of the UK at the time I understand) and we had yet another fabulous boat ride to the Farne Islands, where thousands of seabirds were nesting.

My apologies for all the bird pictures, but I know there are some keen birders out there following my posts.  If any of them/you can identify the little brown birds in pics 2 and 28 then I’d be very grateful.  I have my suspicions about the first but no idea about the second.

Walk from Alnmouth to Boulmer, Northumberland

Judith and I spent the last week of our UK holiday in Northumberland.  On our way down from Scotland, we dropped off Jo & Aaron at Edinburgh airport to continue their European holiday (in Berlin and Nice and then who knows where…)

We were quite fortunate with the weather and our first day out was to take a shortish walk along the coast from our base in Alnmouth to the next village north, called Boulmer (pronounced Boomer for some reason.  How people ever learn English I’ll never know.  It’s hard enough coping with the various accents without pronouncing things differently to how they look.  Or maybe people just couldn’t spell properly in the old days!)

Anyway, it was a beautiful walk, with plenty of things to photograph along the way. 😊

 

Plockton, NW Scotland

For our last full day in the NW of Scotland, we drove around Loch Carron to Plockton and treated Jo, Aaron and Jude’s friend, Kate, to a boat ride on one of Calum’s famous* Seal Trips (where you are guaranteed to see seals, or your money back!)  I have covered this village before, but I see that it was almost 3 years ago now, so I think it’s worth another post.  Especially as, this time, Aaron and I went for a short walk to the viewpoint at An Fhrith Aird, where there is an exceptional view of where Loch Carron meets the Inner Sound between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. (See map at the end of the picture gallery).

*As featured on the BBC TV series “Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs”.

Around Lochcarron, NW Scotland

While Jude caught up with old friends at Kate and Geoff’s Waterside Café, Jo, Aaron and I drove just a few miles up the road to the Lochcarron Weavers to find some MaCrae memorabilia.  We’d also been tipped off that just across the way there was a very interesting 10 minute walk up to the abandoned village of Stromemeanach, which was left to fall into ruin in the 19th century in favour of Lochcarron itself.

On the way back, we stopped off to view the ruined Strome Castle, where Jo actually broke into a run (possibly for the first time in 10 to 15 years) after taking some photos of the Highland cow and calf (in pic 11).  I only took one picture of her running, but it turned out pretty well, so I had to post it.

Later that day I strolled down to Slumbay Island (though it’s inappropriately named as it’s still connected to the mainland even at high tide), where I captured a couple of shore birds and, as usual when I find myself on a beach, I found a few stones to stack. 😊

 

Applecross Peninsular tour

For our first full day in the NW of Scotland, Judith and I took Aaron and Jo on a tour of the Applecross peninsular – taking in the famous Bealach Na Ba (one of Britain’s steepest roads), the beautiful village of Shieldaig, a sandy beach at a place actually called Sand, a short walk to the ‘remote’ Coillieghillie beach and, finally, the multi-award winning Applecross Inn to watch the sun go down.  Quite simply, a fabulous day out! 😊

Journey north (to Lochcarron)

After 10 days just outside Sheffield, in Hathersage, our next port of call would be the west coast of Scotland.  My elder daughter, Jo(anne), now lives in Melboune with her Australian partner, Aaron, and he had mentioned that his ancestors (named MacRae) probably came from somewhere near Applecross.  So we set off in the hope of making some family connections.

On our journey we stopped to take photos of Glen Coe and (possibly the most photographed building in Scotland) Eilean Donan Castle, which was founded in the 13th century and was the stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies, the Clan MacRae.  (Sadly that was about as close as we got to any connection, as there are so many strands to the MacRaes in that part of Scotland and we had very little information to start with).

 

Circular Walk from Castleton, Derbyshire

By the time most of you read this I will probably be at my daughter’s wedding.  Eventually I will post pictures of said event, if I’m allowed, but for the time being, I’m trying to keep up to date with recent events, otherwise you will all be bombarded with an even longer series of posts when I get back home…

So, on Thursday, while my wife was enjoying herself baking cakes and finishing off her dress for the wedding, I set out to do a loop from Castleton.  It started by walking south west up Cave Dale, before striking north west and over Mam Tor (at the dizzy height of 517m / 1,696 ft), to follow the ridge or crest north east over Hollins Hill and Back Tor to Lose Hill, (which is also called Ward’s Piece for some reason) and then returning to Castleton for a well earned refreshment. 🍺

The forecast was for ‘good’ weather, but the sun seemed to take an age to burn off the early morning mist, so the pictures below are a little murky.  Being pretty much in the middle of England, the Peak District is easily accessible to many and, as such, the paths can get very eroded.  So the powers that be have placed massive paving stones to help alleviate the problem.

P.S. Re pic 10: Don’t worry, I do plan to have a shave and smarten myself up for the wedding.  You may not even recognise me! 😊

Derwent Riverside walk from Hathersage, Derbyshire

It’s funny how certain places crop up again in your life.  It was only last year that Colin and I started and finished our Inn Way to the Peak District walk in Hathersage and, this week, Jude and I just happen to be staying in a small cottage on the outskirts of the village.

On Tuesday, I had a little time to spare and so decided to do a walk, which didn’t cover the same ground as Colin and I along all the ‘Edges’.  My route would take me south along the River Derwent as far as Calver, where I turned west to the ‘plague village’* of Eyam, before heading back across the moor to Hathersage.

Along the way I saw many birds, including 3 nuthatches (not captured on camera unfortunately).  But just to forewarn any slightly squeamish readers, I’ve included a series of 3 pictures below of a European Robin taking care, as it were, of a huge worm.

*In 1665 the plague hit the small town of Eyam and, led by the Reverend William Monpesson, the locals agreed to a self-imposed quarantine to stop it spreading.  At the top of the hill, I passed a well, where food and medicines were left in exchange for the villager’s money.  The coins were subsequently disinfected with vinegar.  Figures vary but around 270 villagers died, with anywhere between 83 and 430 surviving.