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.

 

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! 😊

The day after the day before…

The snow continued to fall until about 5pm yesterday, so it was inevitable I’d have a bit of shoveling to do this morning.  Luckily today has been quite warm and sunny, so after I’d shifted most of it to one side, our grassy driveway is green again and almost dry.  This prompted a European robin to hop down and take a look for something to eat.  (It’s the first robin we’ve seen this year).  And, with the snow about a foot deep across the rest of the valley, our bird feeder has again been quite popular.

4th Blogiversary

They say time flies when you’re enjoying yourself, but where does time go?  Quite incredibly, it’s 4 years to the day since I entered the blogosphere.  It’s been an amazing journey so far and it’s certainly kept me busy during my retirement, which was one of my goals when I first started this site.  (My long suffering wife, Jude, will tell you it’s kept me too busy at times, but I do like to put my heart and soul into things!)

I’m not really into the stats, but I’m very grateful for 439 followers (11 of them via email) and especially to those who have been, shall we say, more ‘active’ with comments to let me know that I’ve not been talking to myself (something my mates will tell I’m very good at) and to give me even more motivation and inspiration to continue.    I don’t really want to single out any one individual, but Jet Eliot has been with me for all but one month of this journey and I’d like to thank her for sticking with me all this time.  She deserves a medal for her fortitude.  I would certainly recommend her website to anyone interested in Travel and Wildlife – or anyone who might like reading or writing murder mystery thrillers.  Despite being retired, I still really don’t have enough time or, if truth be known, the inclination to read books, but her Golden Gate Graveyard is a humdinger.

So, to today’s pictures… The first two below I took on Monday, the first with Jude’s SLR camera and a zoom lens from about a metre away.  The next ‘set’ were during a walk up the track/path at the back of our chalet.  I’d seen a small deer casually walking up the road earlier in the day and I hoped to find it, but it had disappeared, as only wild animals can.  Then, at the risk of making you all feel a little cold, or glad that you are where you are, some pictures I took this morning after about a foot (30 cm) of snow fell overnight.  Enjoy!

Of course, I shall be celebrating this momentous occasion in the usual way this evening.  Cheers!  🍺🍺 😋

Walk from La Forclaz to the Mayens de Bréona

It was more in hope than expectation that I drove the few miles to La Forclaz yesterday.  The sun has been out for the past week and, although the snow has completely gone now from our garden (at 1,400m / 4,600ft), I wasn’t sure if even the south facing slopes at 1,700m to 2,100m (5,600ft to 6,900ft) would be clear.  As it turned out, after a short stretch of snow leaving La Forclaz, the footpaths were as good as clear up to the Mayens de Bréona.  However, the descent tracks, which were mainly through the woods, were still covered in about 30cm, or a foot, of the white stuff.