Swiss National Route 6, Gruben to St Niklaus (Day 3 of 3)

Unusually, I was up at the crack of dawn for the last day of my walk.  Well, the hotel bar shut at 10pm, so what else was there to do but got to sleep and even I can manage on 8 hours!  So it was that I set off well before the ‘Brits’ (see previous post) and, if you don’t count cows or birds or butterflies, I never saw a soul until I got near to the Augstbordpass, where I espied someone on the horizon.  (I later caught them up on the descent – see pic 17).

The weather was dry, but rather dull, with high cloud, so not great for photography,  The highlights on the ascent were spotting and capturing (on camera, that is) 3 birds – one I knew, one I thought I knew, but didn’t, and the other I have no idea… (Help!?)

The descent was ‘interesting’ shall we say, as there was still a lot of snow around and I’m not happy walking across, especially sloping, snow in what are effectively trainers – oh yes, and without walking poles.  (Although they are useful in some circumstances, like 1% of the time, I’m not a fan of poles as, to my mind, they are extra baggage and they get in the way when things get a bit bouldery and some scrambling is required – which it was on this trip).  Anyway I survived about 5 or 6 short(ish) sections and my leg only disappeared once up to the knee.  I should have taken a picture – there was already a big hole and now there are two… 🙂

Later, the sun started to come out and the last section down from Jungen was a joy to behold, with butterflies everywhere.  I was being teased by Apollos and even a Swallowtail fluttering around my head but, when they landed, they were out of reach and I would have needed to hang off the cliff face to get a picture.  I saw more Marbled Whites than I’ve ever seen in my entire life (and that’s a few – well, maybe 12) and a host of others, not shown below, simply because they either didn’t land or I have no way of identifying them and there’s enough in this gallery anyway.

I couldn’t leave this post without highlighting two flowers…

Pic 12: I’m 99% sure are called King-of-the-Alps.  They look like Alpine Forget-me-nots, but they only grow to a height of between 1 and 6 cm (unlike their look-a-like, which grows to 5 to 15cm).  My book describes them as “Rather rare” and I think it’s the first time I’ve seen them, certainly posted a picture of them.

Pic 27: Has the delightful name of Swiss Treacle Mustard and if that’s not a name to conjure with nothing is.  🙂

Camino de Santiago, Triacastela to Sarria (via Molino de Marzan Albergue)

I couldn’t spend a week staying on “the Camino” without walking some of it.  So, last week, I set off to walk from Arthur’s gallery, which is just beyond Triacastela (if you turn right there, rather than left to Samos) and about 130km from the finish in Santiago de Compostela.  My goal was to get to Sarria, where I would be picked up late in the afternoon, but I reached there at 11:30am.  So I carried on…

One of the big attractions of the Camino is that there are signposts at least every 500m (I’m told) and usually at any junction, so you don’t need to carry a map or be very good at navigation.  Also, I realised afterwards, there are no gates to open, or stiles to climb over, (on my section anyway), which makes for a slightly smoother journey.  Many people don’t even book their accommodation ahead, so that they are free to stop, or carry on, as the fancy takes them.  Though this does mean that there is a tendency for quite a few people to set off at the crack of dawn (which must be delightful for other guests or walkers staying in the same albergue or hostel – not to mention people trying to sleep below a gallery on the Camino).

Clearly there are other advantages too, like it’s a good walk with some nice scenery and you will get to meet, or pass, looooaaaads of people.  But that, for me, even though I consider myself a very sociable person, puts me off doing the whole thing.  (I also get quite competitive, as nobody walks passed me!)   There’s quite a lot of road, or next to road, sections too, though they are often fairly quiet back roads.

For info also, I noticed quite a lot of cyclists taking on the route and I saw some specific signs in the road, so there must be a cyclist’s variation.  This must get you from A to B somewhat quicker but, then, you may miss a lot (of the point) of the journey.   In addition there are a few alternative routes to Santiago de Compostela, like one along the north coast of Spain and another up through Portugal, which you might like to consider to be a little ‘different’.

Anyway, I managed another 8km (5 miles) beyond Sarria before I turned back, covering the same ground, which made my walk about 30km (18 miles) in total.  Though I have to say, just in case you have a mind to do it in reverse, it’s not as easy to navigate as you might think – given that the signs are geared towards pilgrims on the normal route.  (And I think you will be fed up of saying “Ola” or “Buen Camino” to thousands of people).

Walk from La Luette to Nax

After several days, if not weeks, of misty, wet, dank weather, the sun finally came out in the Val d’Hérens yesterday.  As you will see from some of the pictures below, the peaks are still covered in snow, so I chose to do a slightly different ‘medium level’ walk from La Luette to Nax via St Martin.

As soon as I set off I knew I was in for a good day with the camera.  There were a lot more wild flowers in bloom and many more species of butterfly on the wing, including, I’m pretty sure, a Camberwell Beauty, which unfortunately escaped my lens.

My apologies for not naming all of the pictures below, but as you will see there are quite a few.  But this only goes to show what a wide variety there is in nature. 😊

 

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.

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.

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.

Circular Walk from Millington via Huggate, East Yorkshire, England

Last weekend I went back to the UK for a few days to see some of my old friends in York.  Waaay back in October 1977, I began working in the offices of what was then the Rowntree’s Chocolate factory until October 2005, by which time it had been taken over by Nestlé and I eventually moved over to Switzerland to finish my career.  In those 28 years I made a lot of good friends and it’s always great to go back and catch up with a few of them.  On Friday, I played a round of golf with Martin and Ian and his wife, Janice.  (Sorry, and perhaps thankfully, I have no pictures of me hacking my ball out of the undergrowth at York Golf Club, Strensall).

On Saturday, Pete organised a walk from Millington, which is about 30 minutes drive to the east of York.  Our route would take us partly along the Wold’s Way and partly along the Chalkland Way.  But, most importantly, there would be a refreshment stop at the Wolds Inn, at Huggate.  😋

During our walk we spotted quite a few spring flowers, (and many thanks to Martin’s wife, Jan, for helping me to identify them), a red kite, some white pheasants (though I only got a very bad picture of one hiding in the undergrowth – see pic 12), ‘one of the finest views in England’, according to Pete, and it’s hard to disagree (see pic 25)  and yet another use for one of those old telephone boxes.  Previously I’ve seen them turned into tiny ‘swap a book’ type libraries and a defibrillator point, but this time it was a bike service station, complete with pump and repair kit (see pic 32).  Now that is what you call ‘recycling’! 😊

The final image, courtesy of Google maps, shows the position of Millington relative to York, within my home sub-county of East Yorkshire.

Sion to Sierre bike ride

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I might have to get out my bike if I was going to get any exercise and, today, I did just that.  My road bike may need a little tlc before it’s roadworthy, so I opted for my mountain bike, even though I would be cycling on flat, smooth tarmac (at least for most of the way) alongside the river Rhone.

When I was planning the route, I noticed that there was a small lake, a monastery and a ruined chateau near Sierre, so that became my target – about 16 km (10 miles) away from where I started, after unloading my bike from the car in Sion.  Along the way I took a few short detours to capture some of the other small lakes nearby, as well as a few pictures of the Sierre golf course.   I hope you enjoy the ride… 🙂

Krakow – Art Galleries

As I mentioned yesterday, I was looking to visit some Art Galleries while in Krakow.  However, there are many ‘Museums’ in the city and it wasn’t clear which would have what I was looking for.  So I popped into the Tourist Information Centre, where a young lady swiftly put 5 crosses on one of her free maps. (The map was upside down so I was very impressed with her knowledge of the city – especially when I subsequently discovered that each one was precisely marked!)

My plan was to visit 2, maybe 3, so I set off for the furthest away, which was the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (or MOCAK for short).  There I discovered a particular exhibition of sculptures by Krzysztof M. Bednarski entitled Karl Marx vs Moby Dick.  (Now there’s a match you don’t see every day).  I’ve shown only a few of his items below, but what that man cannot do with heads of Marx and metal shapes representing a whale is not worth knowing about.

Note that I’ve split this post into the different galleries that I visited, so don’t forget to page further down…  🙂

Next up was the National Museum.  Here there were a number of different themes, including some Henry Moore sculptures, various arts and crafts and an extensive collection of works by the prolific Stanislaw Wyspianski.

I still had some time to spare so I wandered along to the Jozef Czapski Pavilion.  Here I was a little disappointed.  There are one or two paintings on display, but the building is a sort of annexe to the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum.  It houses an important collection of Polish coins and medals, which is OK if you like that sort of thing…

Just around the corner was, perhaps my favourite of them all, the EUROPEUM or Centre for European Culture.  This was to be the last I visited.  (The 5th is above the Cloth Market or Sukiennice in the Main Square in case you ever decide to visit).  And, I think it’s perhaps fitting, given the reason I went to Krakow, that the last image is of the inside of a Tavern!  🍻 Cheers!