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

In case you missed Part 1, please feel free to catch up here. We left ‘our’ walk, just before the pond at Béplan. There I cursed myself for not being quick enough to capture a marmot disappearing over a rock. But only a few strides later I spotted another just around the corner. Normally they are gone in a flash but this one didn’t seem too bothered and carried on nibbling away at the grass just a few metres away. (See pic 2).

From Béplan the greenery of the alpage gradually fades away into the slate grey of the upper mountains, but even there, incredibly, flowers still grow. (See pics 14 & 15 – the Two flowered saxifrage, my book tells me, is quite rare). The ascent to the top of Sasseneire is quite steep and looks pretty hairy in the pics below, but it is quite safe. There are 2 false summits, so just when you think you are there, there is another one. As you will see there is still quite a lot of snow on the north facing side of the mountain range.

And, of course, on the descent, there were yet more butterflies… 😊

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!)

More Bugs, Skippers and Butterflies

I’ve had such a wonderful response to my previous post, I thought I’d share a few more pictures taken last week. I’m not very good on Skippers, so I’ve made my best guess at the two below. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

As you will see there are only a few photos, but I think I may well make up for that in my next post(s)… 😊

Flowers, Grasshoppers and Butterflies…

Jude and I are now back home in Switzerland. We were only away for a month, but to look at the garden you would think it was for 3 months! Had it not been for the local farmer cutting a swathe down our drive and through our field, (pic A1), I’m sure we would have had difficulty finding the chalet! Various things had popped up in the lawn around the chalet. Well, I say lawn, but it’s just a mixture of grass and weeds really. And it was doing its best to encroach onto our pebbled ‘beaches’.

This of course meant that the local wildlife were in abundance. Not for nothing is our chalet called Les Criquets, though the crickets are way outnumbered by the grasshoppers!

And, where there are flowers, there are inevitably butterflies… 😊

Cnicht Walk, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, our cottage looked across to the hills and mountains of Snowdonia. One of them, called Cnicht, is known as the Matterhorn of Wales, due to it’s shape when viewed from a certain position. Well, it just had to be done.

My route would start in the small village of Croesor and head up the south-west flank. I was a little worried about finding my way as the map never had a path marked. But as you will see from the pictures below, the route was well signposted, even from the car park, and the summit was always clear and visible straight ahead.

From there I descended to 2 or 3 of the many small lakes, or Llyns, which pepper the landscape, before returning via a disused slate quarry down the Cwm Croesor valley.

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, Part 2

Once out of quarantine, Jude and I were free to wander and below are some pictures of the local places we explored.

Not more than a kilometre away from where we were staying was Llanfihangel-y-traethau church. It’s quite famous for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there is a unique memorial stone in the churchyard with an inscription (in latin) which indicates that it was built in the reign of King Owen Gwynedd, who reigned from 1137 to 1170. Another reason is that the writer Richard AW Hughes is buried there. (See pic 7).

But perhaps most interestingly, especially to American readers, is that David Ormsby-Gore is also buried there. Who’s he?, you may well ask, but he was the 5th Baron Harlech or more generally known simply as Lord Harlech. He was the British Ambassador to the United States from 1961 to 1965 (and, to add a bit of UK interest, MP for Oswestry from 1950 to 1961). He became good friends with President John F. Kennedy and (Wiki tells me that) “after his assassination there were rumours of a romance between Ormsby-Gore and Jacqueline Kennedy. In 1968 he proposed marriage to her, but, she did not accept. Ormsby-Gore was one of the pallbearers at Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral.”

He subsequently married American socialite Pamela Colin in 1969 but, sadly, Lord Harlech was seriously injured in a car crash on 25 January 1985 and died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital the following morning, aged 66. Senator Edward Kennedy, Jacqueline (by then) Onassis and other Kennedy family members attended his funeral in the Llanfihagel-y-traethau church. He was buried there as the church is situated on one of the two Lord Harlech estates.

The reason we were keen to we visit the church (and we were lucky enough to get the keys to be able to go inside), was that Jude grew up in the old school, in Pant Glas, which had provided education for the children of the workers on Lord Harlech’s other estate, Brogyntyn, near Oswestry.

As you will also see below, at low tide it is possible to walk across the Glaslyn/Dwyryd estuary and Jude and I took the opportunity to go swimming in one of the pools left behind by the side of Ynys Gifftan island, which sits in the middle of the estuary.

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).

Auberive, Haute-Marne, France

Like many of you no doubt, Jude and I thought the COVID vaccination programme might be the beginning of the end of the COVID pandemic. Things seemed to be going well in the UK and, in April, we were called for both of our jabs within the space of 4 weeks. Great, we thought and, despite Switzerland being on the UK’s Amber list*, we decided to take a trip back to the UK – again for reasons which will become clear… (I’m such a tease!)

*Note for non-UK citizens: Being on the UK’s Amber list meant that not only would we need a negative COVID test 72 hours before arrival, but we’d also be required to quarantine for 10 days and send off 2 more self-tests on days 2 and 8 of our self-isolation. We (begrudgingly) accepted this situation and booked a place to stay for 2 weeks, simply to quarantine for most of it!

This is how we came to be in the quaint little village of Auberive, in France. It’s a 9 hour drive from our home in Evolène to the ferry port of Dunkirk, so we decided to stop off more or less half way. As with many of these things, the reason we chose that particular location was because we liked the look of the accommodation, which was an old auberge, built sometime around the 12 to 13th century. And we were not disappointed with our choice. 😊