Note to self:
Don’t forget to take your snowshoes when you expect to walk in deep snow.
The snow has been falling on and off for the past week or so in the Val d’Hérens. And, now the kitchen has been decorated as far as we can go, (still no sign of the tiles being delivered!), it was time to get outside and go for a walk. But where to go….?
A lot of my usual walks are off limits due to the risk of avalanche, not to mention the depth of the snow, so I decided to repeat a walk I did waaay back in March 2016. My hope and aim was to find some pristine snow to photograph in the Ferpècle valley.
After parking my car in La Forclaz, I was pleased to see that the road up to the small reservoir had been cleared (though there was still a barrier blocking the way for vehicles). Once there though, it was tough going – wading through snow up to and sometimes above your knees! (It was only when I got back and looked up my previous post that I realised that last time I had taken my snowshoes! Doh!!)
While I was out walking the other day, I noticed that the snow had melted quite a bit on the south facing slopes. (See this pic). So I thought it might be possible to walk to the small lake or pond at Béplan without having to tramp through the snow. Well, I was almost right…
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.
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.
The forecast for the week was (indeed still is) bright, with sun followed by more sun, so I just had to do a new walk, which I’ve been promising myself for the past year or so. The route sets off from Arolla and climbs to the Pas de Chevres, with its infamous set of (now new) ladders, before dropping down slightly and turning right up to the Col des Ignes at 3,183m or 10,443 ft. From there the path descends quite steeply before returning to Arolla via the Remointse de Pra Gra.
During my drive up to Arolla, I noticed that the grass was all covered in frost and the car warned me that the temperature had dropped to 3 degrees, so I wondered if my fleece and light windproof top would be enough. But I needn’t have worried as within 20 minutes of setting off, the fleece was off and it never went back on all day. With hardly a breath of wind, it turned out to be THE most perfect day for walking in the Alps… 😊
My daughter, Sarah and her fiancé, Karl, are visiting this week. We’ve done some of the ‘usual’ walks (already posted recently), so, in trying to find something a little bit different, we headed over to Leukerbad yesterday to take the cable car lift up to the top of the Gemmipass. From there we set off to find the Lammerensee, which sits beneath the Swiss Alpine Club Lammerenhutte at the end of the valley. As you will see from the series of pictures below, it’s a pretty wild and remote area, but a relatively flat and easy walk. Anyone wanting to make it into a more challenging walk, could always walk up the impossible looking path to the Gemmipass from Leukerbad. 😓
Click or tap on any image to view the full screen, gallery display.
I am very fortunate to be able to do quite a number of walks, some quite challenging, from my front door. One of those is to the Pas de Lona at 2,787m or 9,144ft. It starts easy enough, along a track and then takes a path up to Volovron, before turning up through the woods to the alpage across to La Vieille. It’s still a good walk to get there (and back of course). But the real challenge starts when you set off to climb up to the col, where the path just seems to get steeper and steeper and your legs start to burn. Once there you can go even higher to the Cabane Becs de Bosson (which many do, to rest for the night, as part of the Tour of the Val d’Hérens) but, since I’d set off quite late and we had some visitors coming, I simply headed back home again.
Now, just imagine how the cyclists must feel having to do that climb pushing or carrying their bikes as part of the Grand Raid, which takes place on Saturday… There are 4 distances to choose from, either starting in Verbier, Nendaz, Hérémence or my village of Evolène, but they all have to do that climb before descending (and climbing again briefly) to the finish in Grimentz. I’ve put my name down to support the riders by handing out drinks and/or maybe giving directions, but I’m not sure where I’ll be stationed yet. It could be in the village or on the mountain side somewhere, but wherever it is, I hope to bring you some pictures next week. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this walk…
From Tideswell Colin and I followed the official route east to Eyam and then north across Eyam Moor. However, as we approached Stoke Ford we veered off east to Hathersage, instead of west to Castleton, to complete our circuit. It was possibly the shortest of the 4 days at around 11 miles or 17.5 km.
Throughout the 4 days we had been in just shorts and tee shirts all day, but the fine weather finally broke as we approached the penultimate pub. So there was only one thing to do – take shelter and wait for the shower to pass by… 😊 Cheers! 🍻
By contrast to all the ‘Edges’ of Day 1 and the many villages visited during Day 2, Day 3 included two very tranquil and secluded riverside walks – one along Lathkill Dale and the other by the side of the River Wye up Monsal/Millar’s Dale. Despite it being the longest day at 16 miles or 25.5 km, the less hilly terrain gave us plenty of time to have 2 very pleasant refreshment stops. The first was at the Cock and Pullet, in Sheldon and the second at the Monsal Head Hotel. From there it was a very easy stroll (or should that be stagger? 🤔) to our finish in Tideswell.
Just in case you are wondering about the last picture… (“Not another beer?” or maybe “That’s a different tee shirt!” I hear you say…) It was taken by Colin at the end of Day 2 and I should have posted it yesterday, but I forgot. I thought it deserved an airing as it captures the true spirit of the walk. 🙂
With another fine day forecast, Colin and I left Pilsley, heading south east and along the road, back onto the official Inn Way at Chatsworth House. The route then followed the course of the River Derwent south, through the very peaceful villages of Beeley and Rowsley before turning south west through Stanton in Peak to Birchover. From there we turned north west across Harthill Moor to Youlgrave.
Around early afternoon, we considered going slightly off the route and downhill to the pub in Stanton, but decided to press on to stop at one (or maybe both 😉) of the two pubs in Birchover, only to find that both of them were closed! (Mondays in the Peak District must be very quiet normally). So, like the day before, but for a different reason, it was a very ‘dry’ day.