Kunsthaus Art Museum, Zurich

Regular readers and some people who I follow will know that I like a good painting.  So when Judith spotted that our hotel was just around the corner from the Kunsthaus and that entry was free every Wednesday, we just had to pop in for a browse around.  As you can see from my not so random sample of photos below, they have a wonderful selection of paintings and exhibits on display.

 

Place Fell Walk, English Lake District

For our second walk we chose to drive over the Kirkstone Pass to Patterdale in the north east of the Lake District.  Often smaller peaks give you a much better all round view of the distant hills and Place Fell at 657m or 2,156ft did not disappoint.

Our route started from the car park in the village and ascended to Boredale Hause, before turning left (north) to the summit.  From there we turned north-east and descended around High Dodd to the east side of Ullswater.  An undulating path then returned us alongside the lake to Patterdale.  In total the walk was 7 miles long with an overall ascent of 550m or 1,800ft.

Imagine our surprise when we (well, Jude) spotted 2 Alpine Club plaques on the side of a building next to the school – one of which was Swiss!  It seems the former school canteen, which subsequently became Parish Rooms, have been turned into a bunkhouse.  It was officially opened on 4th October 1975 and named the George Starkey Hut, after a former member who had recently passed away.  It has 20 beds and can be hired by recognised clubs and organisations.  For more information read here.

Windermere cruise, English Lake District

A visit to the Lake District wouldn’t be complete (for Jude anyway) without a trip on a boat.  And since the forecast for the day was a sort of cloudy grey, we opted to catch a ‘steamer’* from the aptly named village of Lakeside to Bowness-on-Windermere.

*Our outward journey would be on the MV (Merchant Vessel) Tern, which was built in 1891, but I’ve since learnt that it’s not driven by steam at all but is motor powered.

After a little retail therapy and a nice lunch, we returned on the MV Teal, which was built in 1936.  (See pic 8).

The boats link up with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway, which is only 3.2 miles/5k long but, during the season, (broadly April through to the end of October) mostly runs steam trains to take people back and forth, as you will see from the last few pictures.

A perhaps little known, but useful piece of information here, (for keen UK quizzers or maybe those who holiday in exotic locations by the sea) is that all British owned ships must fly a flag with the Union (Jack) flag in the top left corner.  The remainder of the flag is either red, indicating a merchant vessel (as with the Tern and Teal); white, together with a St George’s Cross, for the Royal Navy, or blue for other ships, which have a special warrant from the Admiralty.

For more information on Windermere Lake Cruises, check out this Visit Cumbria website.

The Old Man of Coniston, English Lake District

One of our main goals for our week in the Lake District was to walk up to the top of the Old Man of Coniston (@802m or 2,631ft).  We were staying in the village of Hawkshead, which is only a few miles away, so it just had to be done.

On our way there we stopped off at the northern end of Coniston Water to take a few pictures, as the scene was so calm and peaceful.  It’s easy to see why Sir Donald Campbell chose Coniston Water for his water speed record attempt on 4th January 1967.   Almost unbelievably, even today, he averaged 297.6 mph on his first run, before his ill-fated return pass.  Read more about Sir Donald Campbell here.

We continued through Coniston village and up to the parking area on the Walna Scar Road.  There were only a handful of cars and we weren’t to know that it would become probably one of the busiest days on the Old Man ever.  Thankfully we chose to ascend via one of the less well trodden routes alongside Goat’s Water.  However, at the summit there must have been at least 50 people and 100 or more either ascending or descending the main path below.  We therefore didn’t get a ‘selfie’ at the top, but I hope I’ve avoided a few of these ‘extras’ in the pictures below.
(Note to self: Never go to the English Lake District during Half Term again!)

On the way back to our cottage, we stopped off at Tarn Hows to take advantage of the late evening sunshine.

 

Via Ferrata, Evolène

For those of you unfamiliar with the term Via ferrata, let me briefly explain…

It literally means ‘Iron way’ and it provides a means of climbing up a rockface with ‘protection’.  By that I mean there is a fixed cable to which you can attach yourself, so that you don’t completely fall to the ground.  You wear a climbing harness attached to two short ropes which you then clip onto the cable.  In Switzerland, there are often metal rungs or plates or even sometimes ladders to help you climb.   In the Dolomites, (where many via ferrata were built during the First World War to aid the movement of the troops to protect the frontier), the climbing is more often on the rock, but the cable is always there as a safety mechanism.  At various points along the cable, it’s firmly fixed to the rock, so you have to unclip from one section to move onto the next.  Having climbed to the top, you simply walk back down a path to the start, as there is no need to climb back down again. (Indeed you shouldn’t, otherwise you might block the way up for anyone climbing up behind you).

We are lucky enough to have a Via ferrata route here in Evolène and Malcolm, one of our guests this week, was keen to do it.  Both he and I haven’t done it for over 4 years, so I know that I’ve never posted anything about this before… 🙂  I hope you’re not scared of heights!

 

Transhumance

As you may know, I like to educate as well as entertain, so…

Transhumance – what is it?  It’s a word that I’d certainly never come across in all my long years until my very learned friend, Pete, told me about it.  Dictionary.com defines it as:

“the seasonal migration of livestock, and the people who tend them, between lowlands and adjacent mountains.”

Although a noun, it’s derived from the French verb transhumer – to shift ground, which itself is modelled on the Spanish, trashumar.

This activity takes place in our local villages twice a year, but I’ve never got involved until yesterday, when I accepted an open invitation from Marius of the Ferme de Clos Lombard to accompany his cows up to the meadows near Lac d’Arbey.

The cows spend most of the winter down in the valley inside their sheds, only coming out if and when the weather allows.  So you can imagine their joy at spending the summer on the open fields high on the alpage (that’s the verdant area of open land between the valley and the high, rocky mountain peaks).

After setting off through the village and briefly along the road to Lannaz, the procession of cows and people took to the path up to the far side of Lac d’Arbey.  About half way, there was a short pause for the cows, and some of the people I might add, to catch their breath. (I know how they feel after a winter of inactivity!)  Two or three (cows that is) made bids for early freedom, but they were soon brought back into line by the helpful followers.  And then finally, after a few more short breaks, we all arrived at the lake where not only the cows took to wading in…

 

Nonza, Corsica

After the blues skies and white beach of Saleccia, the following day couldn’t have been a bigger contrast, with dark brooding clouds and an unusual, black beach.

During our tour of Cap Corse, we had driven through Nonza late at night and didn’t have the time to stop.  So we decided to take a trip back there to check out this interesting village, which is perched 100 metres above the sea.

 

D’Arone beach and Les Calanches, Corsica

While walking to the Cap Rossu, we spotted a wonderfully white, sandy beach in the distance, so the following day we headed for there.  In my post yesterday I mentioned that it was a scenic drive and that’s partly due to the sea views but mostly because the road passes through a UNESCO World Heritage site of rugged, red rocks, called Les Calanques de Piana (or Calanche di Piana in Corsican).

Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Judith and I have just returned from a 2 week holiday in Corsica.  We decided to drive there from our home here in Evolène, taking a daytime ferry from Livorno to Bastia.  It’s quite a long drive, so we stopped over in Lucca for a couple of nights* in order to explore just a little bit of Tuscany.  Apart from a long and interesting history, Lucca has the most amazing Walls.  They are several metres high and very, very wide (see pic 6) allowing cyclists, dog walkers, joggers and tourists alike to do all, or just part, of the 4.9km/3 mile circumnavigation.

*We stayed at the wonderful Agriturismo Ai Linchi, which is just a few kilometres out of the town.  So the first few photos below are of our evening walk to the local church when we arrived.  We certainly needed to work up an appetite, as the evening meal served up by Andrea was simply amazing. 😋