Moving back to the UK… 😮

In what will be perhaps a shock decision to some, maybe even many, of you, Jude and I have decided to move back to the UK. We have spent 15 happy years here in Switzerland, the past 10 of them in our chalet in Evolène, in the Val d’Hérens.

We have been thinking about moving back ‘at some point’ but the arrival of little Raymond (my new grandson) has accelerated our thinking, to be back nearer to our families. While we were back in June, staying in N. Wales, we were lucky enough to hear about a cottage that was coming up for rent. We had a look around and it seemed perfect for our needs and we were fortunate enough to get it. (I rather cheekily included a picture of the property in my post here – the cottage is just off to the left of pic no. 10 and is shown in pic 15).

So once back home we put our chalet up for sale and within a week of it being advertised we’d had an offer and the deposit has already been lodged with the notaire (solicitor) who draws up the sale documents. It’s all been a bit of a whilrwind as you can imagine and hence why I’ve not been posting much recently. (Though I have some pics waiting in the wings to post so do not worry, this is not the end… Indeed, my blog will continue, but with somewhat smaller mountains in N. Wales!)

I’ve posted pics of the chalet or the views before, but here are a few of the outside taken recently together with some old ones during the winter. We will certainly miss it. 😥

Thyon Ridge Walk, Valais, Switzerland

I mentioned in my last post that my walks and subsequent posts tend to concentrate on some combination of views, flowers and/or butterflies. Well, almost incredibly, given the warm weather we’ve been having, this walk has no butterflies at all! I did capture a very poor picture of a Tortoiseshell, but I didn’t think that worth posting and the Swallowtail at the top of Mont Carré flew off before I could catch my breath and switch on my camera. Others either flew off up or down the slope to the side, making it difficult to follow them.

As you will see in the gallery below, there was a bit of cloud around for a while, but this more or less cleared as I reached the turnaround point at Greppon Blanc.

Aiguilles Rouges Cabane from Arolla, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

The weather across Europe has taken a turn for the better this past week and on Sunday I decided to take advantage of the blue skies. I was rather hoping to find the Small Apollo butterfly, which I’ve seen on this route before, but I was to be disappointed.

That said, whenever I set off on my walks I wonder whether there will be more butterflies, flowers or scenic views – or some combination of all 3. This was certainly a good mixture., which I hope you enjoy. 😊

Mont d’Orge Bisse and Butterfly Walk, Valais, Switzerland

Last Friday, Jude had a hair appointment and some shopping to do down in Sion, so I took the opportunity to do a short walk along the bisse which runs along the side of Mont d’Orge. It was a warm and somewhat cloudy day, but I still hoped to find a few butterflies. And indeed I did – including a new one for me. 👍👍😊

I thought the Great Sooty Satyr was new untiI I spotted a note in my book saying I’d seen one last year on the path up to La Sage. It was the Eastern Bath White in picture 18. In flight the whites can look quite similar, but this one looked a little different – once landed. Thankfully I got just the one shot of it before it flew off. Result!

Sasseneire, (3,253m / 10,673m) Val d’Hérens, Switzerland – Part 1 of 2

On Sunday I went for a walk, intending to go up to the Col du Torrent (@2,926m or 9,567ft). As soon as I’d set off, I realised that the overnight rain had created a series of clouds hanging over the mountain peaks, so I didn’t think I’d get anywhere near. However, after taking my time taking numerous photos, (hence why this post is only part 1!), the clouds gradually dispersed and I arrived there to clear skies and feeling quite fresh. So I took the opportunity to go to the top of Sasseneire. Although this seemed like a good idea at the time, my legs were completely shot by the time that I arrived home (8 hours after setting off). Descents are often as hard as the ascents sometimes!

Now, whenever I’m taking photos of butterflies, I never really know until I study the images later whether they are the same butterfly as a photo taken earlier in the walk. The blues in particular all look pretty much the same to me in the field. Imagine my surprise then when almost all of the pictures turned out to be something different… (assuming my identifications are correct of course!)

Lleyn Peninsular, North Wales

For a day out, Jude and I took a drive around the Lleyn Peninsular. Jude had read about a place called Caeau Tan y Bwlch, where there were some of the last traditional fields left on the peninsular. We hoped, even expected, to see lots of wild flowers and butterflies. In the event, there were no butterflies at all (well, it was a windy day), but there were tens of Chimney Sweeper moths flitting between the orchids.

From there we went to Porth Iago and had a walk along the coastal path, (where I did at least capture my first Painted Lady of the year) before stopping at Llanbedrog beach on our way back to Ynys, near Harlech.

Ynys, North Wales

My apologies for neglecting my blogging duties for the past week or so but, as mentioned in my previous post, Jude and I have been in quarantine in the UK. This severely hampers one’s ability to take and post interesting photographs.

However, I did take the opportunity to go the ‘scenic route’ to post our COVID tests in the nearby village and I did manage to get a few evening sunset pictures only a few yards up the road from where we were staying.

Our cottage (see pic 1) was in the small village of Ynys and looked out over the Glaslyn/Dwyryd estuary to the hills and mountains of Snowdonia. On the far side of the estuary, was the small village of Portmeirion, (pic 3), which is built in an Italianate style (more info and pics here) and famous for being the setting for the 1960’s cult TV series, The Prisoner, (more info here). This seemed quite appropriate given our situation. I fully envisaged a great white balloon coming to capture us if we strayed from our cottage! As it was, Jude had 6 phone calls in the 10 days and I had none!

In case you are wondering, all of our tests (i.e. the one before we left Switzerland and those on Day 2 and Day 8 of our isolation) came back negative. 👍👍😊 So we were then free to explore… See next post(s).

Riddes to Isérables and along the Grand Bisse de Saxon, Valais, Switzerland

Following my post at the beginning of May, regarding my entry into the Sierre-Zinal Race, I received a comment from a friend and ex-work colleague, Selin, who had done the race twice previously. She asked if she could join me in a training run. Naturally I jumped at the chance of having a training partner (chatting away to someone, if you have any breath left, is a great distraction from the pain!) And we duly hatched a plan to do a route today, which climbed around 900m or 3,000ft from Riddes to above Isérables, then undulated along for 3km or 2 miles, before climbing another 300m or 1,000ft to the Grand Bisse de Saxon. It was then a flat 3km or 2 miles alongside the bisse before dropping all the way back down to Riddes. This ‘profile’ closely follows the actual race, though with around 2/3rds of the height gain and distance.

I deliberately left my camera at home, otherwise we’d still be there now (as there were many butterflies fluttering around in the bright, warm sunshine). But, thankfully, Selin brought along her phone and she stopped occasionally to capture some of the views and yours truly plodding along. 😊

The route also went across one of the Nendaz ski pistes, which still had quite a lot of snow in places. So one of the stranger sights we saw was a man skiing down a section of that! I mean, it’s nearly June for goodness sake!

Lac d’Arbey to Les Haudères Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

Although we had a little more snow overnight down to 1800m, (5,900ft), I finally decided to do a walk from home in our valley. Unusually, I didn’t check the forecast before setting off and it was a little chilly with clouds covering many of the mountain tops. But I needn’t have worried as the sun eventually burnt them away, to leave perfectly blue skies all around. 😊

Fully to Sé Carro Walk, Valais, Switzerland

It’s hard to believe, but the snow-line is now lower than it was a month ago. Yesterday it was down to the 1600m (5,250ft) mark in our valley compared to around 1,900m (6,235ft) in mid-April, when I did this walk.

It was with this in mind that I drove down to Fully (pronounced to rhyme with Huey, Dewey or Louie) in the Rhone valley yesterday to do another steep walk, or training hike if you like. My aim was to reach a point called Sé Carro* at 2,092m (or 6,864ft), though I expected to hit snow as some point. And so I did – I turned around about 100m (330ft) below the summit, when the snow got a bit deeper and the going was still very steep. (See pic 20).

I again tried my best not to be distracted by the views and various butterflies fluttering around, but when several Cardinals are about you just have to stop. Like any photographer, I’m always looking for that ‘perfect shot’ and so I stopped quite a few times – mainly for the Cardinals. And it was while reaching up to capture one, that another landed right next to it! (See pic 13). In the end, I was glad I did stop so often, as the weather turned decidedly grey and cool and there were not many butterflies around on my return (along the section of the Chemin du Vignoble which I failed to finish a few weeks ago).

I’m often surprised by some of the things I see in Swiss villages, but the trompe l’oeil in picture 28 is just amazing.

*Note that Sé Carro is spelt a number of different ways… The Sé can be seen written as Sex or Scex (all three pronounced like ‘say’ btw). I even saw it as ‘Six Carro’ on one, albeit handwritten, signpost. But I decided not to use the most common, Sex, version in the title of this post, just in case it offended the internet police or attracted the wrong type of reader!