Borgne Riverside Stroll in Winter (Walk 2), Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

After another morning of light snow yesterday, today was bright and sunny. So I set off to do a variation on my Walk 2, by taking the alternative, higher path on the far side of the river, all the way from Evolène to Les Haudères. The lower track is pisted for the cross country skiers, so signs are in place to direct you away from walking along there.

As you will see from the pictures below, I wasn’t the first person to walk along that route. And indeed, there seemed to be quite a few people out and about today, getting their daily exercise.

Also have a look for the Dipper (in pic 5). It’s standing on a stone to the left of the ‘steamy’ river – directly above the second f in the …outoffocus watermark. And I hope I’m not the only one to think that picture 22 looks like a stag. 🤔

Les Fournaises Loop in Winter (Walk no. 3)

Many, many blog posts ago, I mentioned that I’d created a list of about 30 walks in the area. Indeed some of my early posts had a walk number in the title (like this one). For each of these walks, I produced a laminated A4 sheet with a map on one side and a detailed Route Description on the other. This was primarily for the use of our guests when we rented out the chalet and had B&B guests. (We stopped doing that in March last year, not because of Covid, but so that we could travel more… Well, that was the theory…)

Anyway, I’ve been wondering what to do with all this ‘knowledge’ and I have thought about producing a book, but, for now, I’m investing some time in adding details of each walk onto my website. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the addition of “Walks in the Val d’Hérens” to my Home menu page. Now, before you go rushing off… It is still work in progress, but I have created the structure and completed the first 11 of the 33 walks which I eventually plan to put on the site.

I should also mention that I’ve renumbered many of the Medium and Challenging walks, partly to include some ‘new’ ones into the middle category, but also to make it more logical on the numbered maps. I could go back and re-number the blog posts, but I’ve included a gallery of photos in each of the new pages. So all you, (or anyone), will need to do, if you fancy a virtual walk, is to dip into the Walks page , select Easy, Medium or Challenging and then pick a number… 😊

Since today I did Walk no. 3, I figured it was a good time to introduce you to the change, which I hope to finish by the end of the month. In the meantime, please enjoy the images below, where I was the first human to walk the route, but in the footsteps of several deer.

Sion, Valais, Switzerland

Following on from my post yesterday… When I reached Sion, I had just missed the 14:10 bus back to Evolène (by about 20 minutes). This meant I had a good hour and a half to wait before the next one. So what was a person to do with all the bars and cafés closed? Answer: Take a wander around the town and, in particular, walk up to the Valere Basilica and Chateau de Tourbillon, which were also closed, but both give fabulous views of each other as well as up and down the Rhone valley.

You do see some weird and wonderful things though while wandering around. I forgot to mention yesterday that I saw a man not just taking his dog for a walk but his cat as well! (It looked like a Siamese to me, but I could be wrong and it wasn’t even on a lead). And then as I descended from taking picture 7 below, I saw a man walking backwards up a small slope, lifting his feet quite deliberately as he did so. I hadn’t realised until I looked closely at picture 8 that I’d caught him ‘in action’. As we say in Yorkshire (and Lancashire), “There’s nowt so queer as folk!”

Bisses de Mont d’Orge and Lentine Walk, Valais, Switzerland

In an attempt to get away from snow-covered paths (if not sub-zero temperatures), yesterday Jude dropped me off down in Sion to do another pair of the very many bisse* walks which snake around the sides of the Rhone valley. This walk is route 212 on the Swissmobile app, though I did it in reverse, starting at the Pont de la Morge and heading up towards the village of Drône. Since I planned to catch the bus back home, I extended the walk to descend into Sion, which also took me along a very short section of the (previously posted) Bisse de Clavau.

As you will see from the gallery below, the route gives excellent views both up and down the Rhone valley as it meanders through the vineyards. I was pleasantly surprised how many birds there were flitting around. Although they are not great photos, (my camera doesn’t do zoom very well), I did manage to capture a couple of Rock Buntings and a pair of European Nuthatches (though I’ve only included a picture of one of them). Both pictures, 14 and 16, are heavily cropped, so a little blurred.

In addition, you know when you get that feeling that you are being watched? Well, I just happened to turn my head to the side during my descent from Drône and there in the field was a Roe deer. I edged forward to get a clearer view and clicked the camera straight away and I was glad I did, as it turned and ran off almost immediately. (The picture, 28, below is also cropped, otherwise you might not have seen it!)

Last but not least, I should highlight the rather rickety looking monorail, in pics 32 and 33. These are used to collect the grapes in the autumn. As you will see, some of the terracing is very steep and this saves them lugging huge quantities of grapes back to the lanes which run through the vineyards. It looks quite a precarious piece of kit and I’m not sure I’d want to be perched on that seat as it goes up and down!

*Regular readers will of course remember that ‘bisses’ are irrigation channels, built to bring water to the fields – in this case the many vineyards which blanket the south facing slopes.

Ferpècle Valley Walk, Take 2…

Following on from my slight ‘mishap’ yesterday, I returned to the same car park, at almost the same time and set off to do the same walk but, this time, with a memory card in my camera! The only real difference was that my car told me it was -13 degrees C (8.6 F) instead of -11 C (12 F). Though, rather strangely, it felt warmer.

Anyway here are the photos that you (and I) missed yesterday. And, since I mentioned taking a video, I’ve also included three videos. The second and third have 2 or 3 clips stitched together to save you opening several links. If you want to see how far I got this time, I suggest you view video 2 before 3… 😉
(There is a bit of wind noise on the last clip, but it wasn’t very windy at all).

Never let it be said that you don’t get value for money on this site!! 😊

Ferpècle Valley Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

Just over a week ago, I set off to do this walk, but the car park at La Forclaz was full. So I vowed to return another day when the holiday makers had returned home. Today the skies were completely blue and perfect for showing off those snow-capped mountains. My plan was to walk as far up the valley as I could, until I reached the point where no man or woman had stepped before.

The road from La Forclaz to Ferpècle is closed at this time of year and I was pleased to see that many people had already flattened what little snow there was and the going up to the small reservoir was very easy. From that point there was a small 30cm/1 foot deep trench where people had continued. I detoured to the wooden bridge over the river and took a panoramic photo of Mont Miné with the sun hidden behind, creating a sort of halo effect.

It wasn’t long before I reached the ‘end’ where the footprints stopped. I took a few more steps, took a photo to prove that I had gone the furthest and started to walk back. I’d hardly taken ten steps when I noticed a guy almost jogging towards me. He passed by and went at least 30 to 40 metres beyond where I’d been. He didn’t pause for very long, before returning and passing me again as I continued back to the small waterfall, where I sat down to eat my lunch. I considered going back and going further still, but figured that would be a bit childish.

Having polished off my lunch and taken a few more pictures, I started to make my way back. Throughout the walk, I had heard the crunch, crunch, crunch of my boots in the crisp snow. So I decided to take a video, so that you could hear the sound, while also seeing some of the marvellous views. And then it happened… The back of the camera said “No memory card. Cannot record video”!!! Oooops! Silly Mike had left the SD card in the Trail cam. Not one photo of my walk. Doh!

Well, there’s always tomorrow, I thought. (Thankfully the forecast is for equally blue skies). I was about 3/4s of the way back to the car when I remembered that I had my phone in my pocket. So here’s a ‘taster’ of what you can expect in my next post…

Riverside walk to Les Haudères, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

I’m an eternal optimist. So, when the forecast suggested that there might be a little sunshine today, I decided to take my camera for a walk along the River Borgne. However, as you will see from the photos below, the sky remained stubbornly grey (at least until I got back home = Sod’s Law!)

In an attempt to add some colour and maybe a bit of festive cheer into my photos, I wandered up to Les Haudères to find some Christmas decorations. I particularly liked the skiing snowman (who presumably lights up at night) together with the heart bearing teddy bear. (See pic 12).

Snowy Riverside Walk, Evolène, Valais, Switzerland

This morning I went for a stroll down through the village and along the riverside to the first footbridge and back. You cannot normally walk on the prepared cross-country ski piste which runs along the far side of the river, but it’s not yet ready for action. So I took the opportunity to go that way before it becomes off limits.

Before setting off, Jude heard the sound of some ‘unusual’ birds twittering outside. We went to investigate and discovered two Alpine Accentors having a right old beak wag on our bedroom balcony. Goodness knows what they were saying to each other. They are the most placid of birds and were not bothered at all when we both pointed cameras in their direction. I even had the time to take a short video, which I’ve added below the gallery. I hope you enjoy! 😊

Pic d’Artsinol Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

Very occasionally, when I’m out walking I see the odd ‘lost’ piece of clothing, maybe a hat or a glove perhaps. But nothing could quite prepare my for the lost garment in picture 2. I’m sure there must be an intriguing story behind it, but the mind boggles!

As you will see from the gallery of photos, it was a rather a cold morning and many of the streams were completely frozen. As I approached the Pas d’Arpilles, two young guys appeared behind me and went passed in the blink of an eye. After exchanging pleasantries (in French) I caught up with them again just below the Col de la Meina. (They’d stopped to make a phone call). After another brief discussion in (my very poor) French, I heard one of them speak to the other in English. It turned out that they were British! (Both lawyers working in Geneva). You can see Sam and Alistair (my apologies if that’s Alastair) in pictures 16 and 23-25 below.

We walked together to the col, just below the Pic d’Artsinol, where we encountered another two walkers, who must have come up from the Hérémence valley. They were the only other people I saw all day. Both Sam and Alistair and I had to get back, so none of us actually went to the top and they left me having my lunch at the col, while they ran back down.

Pas de Lona Walk, Val d’Hérens, Valais, Switzerland

My last few walks have involved a drive down into the Rhone valley, so yesterday I decided to do a walk from home. But, to make this post a little more interesting (I hope), I’ve split it into 3 sections, describing each section of the walk as I go. Please let me know if you like, or indeed prefer, this type of format.

Part 1: After crossing the field to the side of our chalet, I picked up a recognised path which soon joins a wide track. This track has restricted vehicle access and ends after around 2.5kms (1.5 miles) at the small hamlet of Volovron, though there are some steep and narrow footpaths which allow you to cut off the corners.

From Volovron, the path ascends steeply into a wood where it continues to climb, though more gradually, until it exits at a cross path to a small group of chalets (and normally, in the summer, an open buvette/café) at La Vielle. This cross path is pretty much in the shade most of the day and there was a little snow and ice on the path, (pics 11 & 14), but this was safely negotiated. 😊

Part 2: Leaving La Vielle, the path is quite open, across the alpage (alpine meadow), before it turns left up to the Pas de Lona. The path becomes very steep just before the col and getting a good grip underfoot can be quite tricky. I wasn’t sure how much snow I would encounter and, before I’d turned the corner, I’d seen another walker about 300m (yds) ahead of me. I followed the recognised route, but as I crested the brow of a small hill, I saw that he had gone left and was walking up the grass and rocks, thereby avoiding much of the snow. (You can see him, in blue, towards the left of picture 20).

However, by now, I was committed to ‘my’ route, which initially involved hopping from one clear patch to another, before ultimately having to kick good foot holds into the snow to stop me sliding down the hill. It was slow, but safe, progress.

I eventually reached the col and was rewarded with a magnificent view over the Grimentz valley (pic 24). The other hiker was already there and he’s again visible in pic 22. I walked a little further across, through varying depths of snow (maybe 15cm to 40cm or 6″ to 16″) due to the drifts and was pleased to take a few pictures of the cross at the top with just my footsteps. (See pic 23). It was rather strange to see the ground completely covered in snow in one direction, but almost free of snow in another.

I had designs on walking up to the Becs de Bosson mountain hut and taking the path over the Pte de Tsevalire from there, but there was too much snow, so I took the ‘easy’ option and descended the way the other hiker had gone up.

Part 3: I stopped for lunch at Vielle, (a ham and tomato sandwich made with Jude’s wonderful sourdough bread. 😋), where I pondered my next move. I generally don’t like doing out and back routes, so, to make it into a sort of circular walk, I took the path down towards the village of Eison. I was surprised how much I had to descend before I turned left along a different path, again through the woods, to Volovron and then, from there, it was the same path back to Evolène.