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…

More visitors in the night…

Firstly let me say a very Happy New Year to everyone and a big THANK YOU to all my followers and especially to those of you who have provided comments throughout 2020. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that 2021 is a much more joyful year.

At the risk of becoming boring and a bit one dimensional, (I promise to go out walking when the weather improves and the sun begins to shine), I have a few more Trail cam videos for you to enjoy…

After 2 blank nights where nothing was captured at all, last night, around 11:45pm, we had two small (Roe?) deer. Again the videos are extremely short for some reason, being only 1 to 2 seconds long instead of the 10 seconds I was expecting. I’ll check the settings and let’s hope things are OK next time.

On the 2nd video you can see one of the deer taking an interest in the bin full of bird food, but it didn’t dislodge the lid. There was a 3rd clip (not shown) showing the back end of one running away, so something must have spooked them.

About 3 hours later, at least one of the two stags seen in my previous posts made another appearance. And again, I’ve stitched together 5 very short clips to make the one below. He clearly enjoyed some of the bread and carrots that we’d left out. You will be pleased to know that the, now pieced together, bird feeder is safely out of harms way, attached to the railing of our 1st floor terrace (off camera, towards the top right of the video). 😊

Another Stag Night in Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

After a quiet night on Monday, when only a fox appeared on my Trail cam, last night it captured another case of wanton destruction of the bird feeder. Jude had deliberately removed all the bird food containers to see whether the stag(s) would still demolish the holder.

It snowed during the day yesterday, leaving about 3 inches of fresh snow covering the garden. The pictures below show the view this morning from our upstairs balcony. As you will see, there were lots of hoof prints, the main pole had been uprooted and bent, while the top part of the feeder was about 10 yards away, down in the field below.

This time I’d pointed the Trail camera towards the feeder to catch the culprit(s*) in action. Unfortunately, in the event, the first 10 second video was OK, but the remainder of the videos were only 1 to 2 seconds long. (I’m not sure if this is a fault in the camera, e.g. if there is constant movement when the ‘hybrid’ photo/video option is selected). Anyway to save me posting and you clicking through numerous 1 to 2 second videos, I’ve merged some of them together to show a) the stag’s arrival and b) the start of the demolition.

*One of the later videos captured, (not included here), shows the pole moving up and down without the stag in view touching it, so we suspect there is another one off camera pulling and/or pushing at the top of the feeder. Certainly we did catch 2 pairs of eyes on camera coming into the field the other night and someone in the village posted a picture of 2 stags during the daytime on facebook a few days ago. So we know there are 2 lurking in the vicinity.

Clearly they are simply looking for food and not vandals after all. But, to save dismantling the bird feeder every night, we are now going to move it up to the corner of our balcony, well out of the reach of those long antlers!

I’m afraid the following 2 videos are a bit jerky, but I hope you will get the idea.

Destruction in Evolène…

The day started brightly enough, though it was probably a sign of the imminent strong winds which have been forecast across central Europe.

Jude went outside and soon ran back in asking me to stop everything and come and look. Our bird feeder had been destroyed… again! (This happened last year too). Pieces were everywhere – the furthest being about 25 yards down the fields (to the left of the right hand bush in the first image).

It was at this point that I’d wished I’d left the Trail cam pointing in the same direction as yesterday to capture what happened. However, the culpritS have been identified…

Firstly the one I’m calling 3 pointer, because he has 3 prongs on the top of his antlers.

Immediately after the above, there was another video with sounds of bashing and crashing. Here’s his partner in crime – 2 pointer.

In the midst of this mayhem, a fox trotted across a few times, but this was the best video.

One of them obviously had something stuck on its antlers as it came back into view trying to get rid of whatever it was. There’s no tree or bush to the right where it’s standing.

Last, but not least 3 pointer returns to check on his handiwork…

First Time Lucky…

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day. One of the presents my lovely wife gave me was a Trail camera. It has “Dual image sensors optimized for highest quality images day and night.” So, like all boys with new toys, I was onto it straight away, inserting the batteries and setting it up. I had a choice between video and still images and one called hybrid. I wasn’t sure what the hybrid option did, as the instruction booklet didn’t seem to cover that. I was so keen to get it fixed to our tree that I didn’t have time to read ALL the instructions! (I’ve subsequently learnt, via the online instructions, that it can do both video and still photos at the same time! 😊)

So yesterday afternoon, I strapped it to the tree at the corner of our garden, between 3 and 4 feet up and crossed my fingers. (No time to do a test of course!)

There was a little more snow later yesterday evening and when I awoke this morning I noticed some tracks across the garden. Yippee, I thought, I can’t wait to see what happened. Well, upon inserting the SD card into my laptop I noticed not one, but 30 files! Six of these were taken this morning (which turned out to be me shovelling the snow away and approaching the camera to remove it). All 24 of the others were taken within about 10 minutes of each other. So I was hopeful that whatever it was, it had mooched about for a bit.

In the event, the very first file showed the video below, while all the others were just falling snow. (Maybe the creature was slightly off camera). I plan to adjust the settings and try again this evening (as there’s no snow forecast). I’ll also point it out towards our field as there seems to have been a lot more activity there. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

For the techies amongst you, the device is a Bushnell, Core DS, model no. 119977M.

Note: You’ll have to be quick at spotting what it was… (though it’s playing on a loop, so if you leave it, the animal will re-appear…) There is also a still image further below in case you missed it.