Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label Dolomites 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dolomites 2014. Show all posts

Monday, 26 January 2015

Summer Holiday - 2014


I’ve recently spent a happy few hours indexing our summer holiday 2014 photos and uploading slideshows to Picasa. The set is now complete, so those wishing to dip in to our/their memories can now do so with ease from the existing index page .



Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Dolomites Slideshow and Index


Last night (22 October) we had the privilege of providing another ‘slide’ presentation to SWOG (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group). All went well once an extension lead had been borrowed from the Grapes, and despite the large number of ‘flower’ pictures we managed to complete the task in precisely one hour. The slideshow (138 images) is .

I have now also produced a series of mini annotated slideshows on a day to day basis, as well as the one hour show referred to above:
“Hut to Hut in the Dolomites by Alta Via 1
...a floral interlude...
Followed by a few Day Walks and Via Ferrata”

This is available should anyone like us to present it in person.

Here’s an INDEX to our ‘Summer Holiday’ trip, making navigation through the pages a bit easier for anyone wishing to read about any of it, now including links to the slideshows, which include a total of nearly 1100 images, so I suggest you don't try to look at them all in one sitting.

Friday 27 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 1 - Timperley to Wokingham
Saturday 28 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 2 - Wokingham to Montreuil

Sunday 29 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 3 - Montreuil to Verdun

Monday 30 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 4 - Verdun to Heidelberg

Tuesday 1 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 5 - Heidelberg

Wednesday 2 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 6 - Heidelberg to Scuol

Thursday 3 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 7 - Scuol to Lischana Hütte (Chamonna Lischana)

Friday 4 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 8 - Lais da Rims

Saturday 5 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 9 - Lischana Hütte to Lago di Braies

Sunday 6 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 10 - Lago di Braies to Rifugio Lavarella

Monday 7 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 11 - Rifugio Lavarella to Rifugio Dibona

Tuesday 8 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 12 - Rifugio Dibona to Rifugio Città di Fiume

Wednesday 9 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 13 - Rifugio Città di Fiume to Rifugio Coldai

Thursday 10 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 14 - Rifugio Coldai to Passo Duran

Friday 11 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 15 - Passo Duran to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

Sunday 13 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 17 - Pralongia Plateau

Monday 14 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 18 - Col di Lana

Tuesday 15 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 19 - Sassongher

Wednesday 16 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 20 - Via Ferratas Averau and Nuvalau, and an evening in the pub
Thursday 17 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 21 - Sass de Putia

Saturday 19 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 23 - Badia (Pedraces) to campsite at Lanzada in Val Malenco

Sunday 20 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 24 - Val Malenco

Monday 21 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 25 - Chiesa to Parc Regionale de Haut-Jura

Tuesday 22 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 26 - In Search of Cascades

Wednesday 23 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 27 - Lac de Vouglans and Longchaumois

Thursday 24 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 28 - St Claude to Louvemont

Friday 25 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 29 - Around Lac du Der

Saturday 26 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 30 - Louvemont to Montreuil (Full Circle)

Sunday 27 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 31 - Montreuil-sur-Mer to Timperley
No photo album - we just drove home...

Happy Days!


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday 27 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 31 - Montreuil-sur-Mer to Timperley

Another lovely day for the final stage of our journey home.

Yesterday our passage along tree lined roads was interspersed with periods during which we passed through forests of huge, silent white structures in fields of corn, looking like defeated relics from a War of the Worlds battle scene. Perhaps it's time to demolish these monstrosities that tower over the old water towers.

In this morning's soft light the static monsters appeared to morph into the fog, which vaporised as we approached Calais. 

Then the tunnel, and the rigours of the M25, before an easy last stage to Timperley. 

Last night we enjoyed a further exploration of Montreuil - Sue is pictured on our walk around the outside of the town walls. A portal led into the town, where every street seemed to house restaurants. Decisions! After a couple of laps around town we were no closer to finding somewhere that we felt would match yesterday's lunch experience. So the supermarket won the day, with some very tasty fare that was consumed in the last of the sunshine on the campsite, after which we showed Carl and Ootie, from near Stuttgart, the interesting route to town from the campsite. The path runs inside the walls for a short length. 

On return to Timperley we found the garden in fine fettle, and the house probably the cleanest it has been since Sue bought it. Thanks go to P&P for looking after it so well whilst we've been away.

And I was right that watching Lewis Hamilton was more interesting than reading this will be. 

That's it for this trip. The book will be out in September. (Haha!)

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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Saturday 26 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 30 - Louvemont to Montreuil (Full Circle)


A leisurely start on a warm morning saw us heading north again, away from the cheery wagtails of Louvemont, on country roads. Paris was avoided by some margin as we passed to its east, via St Dizier, Vitry, Châlons, Reims, St Quentin, Arras and St Pol.

It's another warm day, though we did pass through a short shower.

We arrived at Camping La Fontaine des Clercs before 4pm, after passing indications of 'Les Miserables' and a Son et Lumière concerttonight, expecting to be turned away. However, there was space for us to enjoy our tenth and final night of camping in this excellent spot that is well known to us. Just as long as we avoid the Worst Pizzeria in Europe, which we once made the mistake of giving the benefit of doubt, we should be fine. 

So that's it really. For the sake of completeness I will post an entry tomorrow, but you might find watching Lewis Hamilton more exciting! 

There were few photo opportunities today so the images were taken here at the campsite, which extends down to the river. A blackbird is carrying out a full inspection of our possessions. Soon we will be off to walk around the walls (again) and find a beer in town.

Next Day
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Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday 25 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 29 - Around Lac du Der


Last night Wassy was a dead loss for food. We couldn't find anything acceptable.

So off to the fleshpots of Saint Dizier we trundled, full of hope and expectation. A pleasant main square emerged from dowdy surroundings, with three restaurants, two of which we could sit outside in the sunshine. We made our choice. 

"Deux pression et le menu, s'il vous plait". The response was a polite "Sorry, we are not cooking tonight." So we went to L'Indus Italian Restaurant. The sun soon deserted us and my optimism took a dive when I saw someone else's pizzas coming out of the kitchen. We ordered what should have been a tasty meal but felt insulted by its poor quality. Bland food with burnt bits served on cold plates with no attempt to appeal to the taste buds. Dire! But at least we weren't poisoned like Andrew was in Badia when he went to watch the World Cup final.

Today we are concocting our traditional 'Cocktail of salads a la campsite' meal, with a selection of desserts,  the left over of which, if any, will be used for tomorrow's breakfast. 

Anyway, we slept well and the 9 o'clock bakery van provided nice croissants for breakfast. Then we headed off to Lac du Der, which has a visitor centre at Giffaumont-Champaubert that serves as a base for exploring the man-made lake and its surroundings. A bicycle would be helpful, but we managed without that luxury. 

The River Seine suffered devastating floods from the in 1910, 1924 and 1955, after which the lake was formed as part of a programme to regulate the flow of the river, and the Marne valley, much to the distress of the 300 inhabitants of three villages that were wiped off the map, but to the delight of those such as Parisiens further downstream. 

Each year the lake is allowed to fill up from December to June, by when it covers some 4800 hectares (it's 10km long). Then much of the water is gradually released, reducing the area of water to around 1000 hectares. 

Our visit to the Visitor Centre at Giffaumont-Champaubert, reached via massive fields of sunflowers, revealed leisure activities on an industrial scale. A 5km stroll hardly touched the surface. It was hot. Ice cream was most welcome. It was a bit like a giant Center Parcs complex, with extensive construction work going on, but once away from the crowds there was pleasant lakeside and woodland walking, with lots of interesting wildlife. As previously mentioned, those with bikes are at an advantage here.

Lunchtime beckoned and we drove into the pretty village of Giffaumont-Champaubert in search of bread and cheese, or similar. We found the Restaurant Le Cheval Blanc, cunningly disguised as a Logis hotel. We gave it a try. All last night's culinary disappointments were put to rest as we enjoyed a perfectly formed lunch in this lovely spot. The diners were largely French, a nationality that is pretty sparse on that country's campsites. Here the vast majority is Dutch, with Belgians a distant second. French and Brits tie for third place. That's it really, other nationalities must stay elsewhere. 

We returned from lunch by a devious route through picturesque villages with timbered buildings, such as Montier-en-Der, where there's a nice church - pictured. There's also a handy supermarket, the produce from which we'd better now scrape from its molten mass in the scorching hot footwell of the car. (It's not quite that bad, but tricky to keep cool on this roasting hot day that has proved to be exceedingly relaxing.)

Next Day
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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thursday 24 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 28 - St Claude to Louvemont


Strawberry tart for breakfast was followed by a chocolate croissant/pain au raisin when the bakery van arrived. They like their tarts here, as Susan discovered in Badia, where Ricky's were probably the best we've had.

By 9.30 we'd paid our bill and had got Patricia to telephone ahead to book us into another 'Flower Campings' site for a couple of nights. We were there by 3.30 after 200 miles of French country roads, having decided to avoid motorways until back in the UK.

Sadly, we narrowly missed Besancon and its 2* Michelin restaurant recommended by Humphrey, but after stopping at Decathlon in Dole to replenish gas supplies we did enjoy an excellent coffee at Le Convivial Comtois restaurant in the pleasant village of Moissey. Menu du Jour looked a good bet at €12.50, but not at 11.30am.

Sweetcorn, Sunflowers and Silage seemed to feature highly on our journey through lush countryside interspersed with the small villages and walled towns of the Haut-Saône. We didn't have time to explore, but at least we didn't zoom past on the motorways. Farm vehicles featured strongly (pictured). Alan R would be in his element. 

Around Joinville, not far from our destination, we encountered a storm, during which the temperature dropped from 30C to 17C. Luckily, by the time we reached here the rain had passed - it didn't rain here - and the temperature was back up to a rather sweaty 29C.

Sue is pictured at our home for the next couple of nights. It's the Domaine du Buisson site near Lac du Der, which we will explore tomorrow. If you need electricity, the site is full; for the minority who don't have that requirement there is plenty of space. The next tent is some distance away and although we are pitched in the middle of a wood, there's a strong wifi signal so this message should 'send' without difficulty.

There's no shop here, so we'll enjoy our dinner in nearby Wassy.

Next Day
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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wednesday 23 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 27 - Lac de Vouglans and Longchaumois

Decisions! Stay put or move on? Inertia and a desire to finish my book (A Load of Old Bones - Suzette Hill) dictated the former. We also had a desire to explore the Jura in rather better weather than yesterday's.

Despite some cloud today, we did have to dig out the sun tan cream, and shorts and t-shirts were the only clothing needed.

After eventually getting away at about 10.30, curiously booking an extra night in a queue of people who should have been leaving but were all extending their stays, we drove a few miles to the large Lac de Vouglans. Our first view (top picture) of the lake was from Le Regardoir, a restaurant just beyond the interesting looking village of Moirans-en-Montagne. Coffees went down well, but we eschewed the nearby via ferrata route after seeing in the car park the minibuses that transport a group of French children who are staying on the campsite.

A little further on, we parked at the Mairie in the village of Maisod for a 6 km stroll around a headland. Sue is pictured on the beach that we reached via pleasant woodland paths from which we harvested some chanterelles for supper. There had been only a few places from which to look out over the lake, including a spot where a witch had been created out of sticks. 

The lake was formed in the Ain valley in 1965, creating the reservoir for the Vouglans hydro-electric scheme that controversially drowned numerous villages and antiquities.

After passing several picnic spots (we had no picnic, my cash reserves were left in the tent) we lunched frugally in a beachside café before returning from that 28C sunspot, slowly uphill, past what looked like a great campsite, on quiet roads back to Maisod. Our route passed numerous brightly coloured flower beds, with accompanying poems, and a piece of machinery (third picture) for forensic analysis by Alan R.

Next, a drive to Longchaumois via St Claude, where we stopped to pick up dinner, thanks to Sue's credit card. The road wound up around 500 metres to a plateau at about 900 metres. Here we found 'Maison de la Flore'. Three rooms had aspects of geology, local life, and cut and labelled flower specimens. Outside, trees were nicely labelled, including two giant sequoias, planted when the park was established in the 1860's. They have a long way to grow to reach full size - one of them is pictured, the lowest of four pictures I'm attempting to send today, given that there seems to be a strong wifi signal here in our tent in the middle of the campsite. 

A series of birds had been nailed to trees, each viewed through a fixed lensless 'telescope' mounted on a box that responded to anyone viewing the bird through the telescope by playing a sound track of the relevant birdsong. Excellent! 

A musk orchid (Herminium monorchis) was on display - there is an important site for these nearby - and numerous other orchids, many of which we've seen on this trip, were also on display.

Just as we were about to leave, it was suggested that we might like to see the exhibition of spectacles (lunettes). Having skilfully avoided St Claude's pipe museum yesterday, we succumbed today and spent the next hour plus with our guide, an enthusiast who spoke, naturally, only in French, and one other tourist. Between 1800 and 1940, local farmers made spectacles during the winter months when snow covers the landscape and farming tasks are minimal. We received a comprehensive education as to the art of spectacle making, including demonstrations of pince-nez etc, showing us how the tiny screws are made, how the arms are curved, and how the lenses are cut and ground and bevelled, etc. It really was most comprehensive and if I'd been able to communicate better I'm sure I'd have come away with some repaired sunglasses. 

We extricated ourselves after 5pm and enjoyed a further chat with the flower enthusiasts before returning to the busy but quiet (our neighbours are bikers - always quiet as soon as the engines are turned off) campsite to enjoy our salads, chanterelles and chocolate slices before an early night and a scenic drive tomorrow.

Next Day
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tuesday 22 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 26 - In Search of Cascades


It rained. Sue didn't bother with waterproofs but I wore mine all day. We were equally damp at the end. It was that sort of mizzle from a cloud base just above us.

We walked from the campsite for a total of about 24km with 850 metres ascent. 

First stop, on the way to which the upper river picture was taken, was St Claude, a place perhaps similar in size to Luchon in the Pyrenees. After coffee there, we set off towards a cascade but missed the path. So we tolerated a section of the GR route that traverses the Jura. Mostly uphill on tarmac in trees.

Eventually, after an al fresco lunch courtesy of Spar, we found a way round to a small cascade by a hydro plant - the Combes cascade. It wasn't a huge waterfall. Most paths were blocked off for repairs from July 2014 to April 2015. It didn't seem to have occurred to them that anyone might approach from our direction. 

The lack of a map was a minor hindrance that we overcame by devious means to locate the Cascade de la Vouivre. This wasn't very big either. It's pictured, with Sue dodging the torrent.

Nearby were giant mushrooms/toadstools and different types of Red Helleborine, Bellflowers and Melilots, to name but a few of the plants, which are 'woodland' rather than 'alpine' here in the Jura.

This is an area of waterfalls. We noticed on our return to St Claude that there was a plethora of 'Cascade' postcards, none of which featured those we visited today. 

Dinner was acquired from shops as we returned through the ancient cathedral town of St Claude, and eaten in the room above the campsite restaurant - a large games/TV/dining sort of area - very convenient. 

I think we made the best of a dull, rainy day. We met two other walkers all day. The area is pleasantly wooded and hardly overcrowded. Dutch and French dominate the campsite.

Next Day
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Monday, 21 July 2014

Monday 21 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 25 - Chiesa to Parc Regionale de Haut-Jura

Rain in France.

Luckily we arrived here during a break in the rain, allowing us to pitch the tent and enjoy a cuppa outside in the sunshine before another sheet of wet stuff blanketed the Jura mountains. 

'Here' is Camping Le Martinet just outside Saint Claude in the Jura, the delights of which town we have yet to savour.

After 350 miles of driving it was lovely to receive a welcome from Stephanie that matched our recent hospitality in Italy. We arrived after 6pm, just in time to order croissants for breakfast, but too late to get a table inside the restaurant, where we are relegated to an outside spot under a huge canopy onto which the rain is thundering. 

It was overcast in Valmalenco when we paid our farewells to Diana and her other guests after a fine Italian breakfast, and it remained dry all the way past Milan and Turin to Courmayeur. We caught glimpses of the Monte Rosa massif, its huge tracts of snow poking out from giant banks of cloud. 

We couldn't pass Courmayeur without visiting our old friend Alessandro at his hotel in Entreves. He welcomed us with open arms, not to mention tea and cappuccino. is a great place, slightly off the beaten track, but commended for both summer and winter visits. It was discovered by Nick in 2008 when he was helping us with some Italian Border Route bookings. You must visit Alessandro sometime, Nick.

We are pictured above with Alessandro, who like me has become a grandad since we last met. The other picture was taken from the hotel towards Mont Blanc, well in the cloud today, but with the Italian (I forget its correct name) glacier tumbling into view below its umbrella of cloud. 

It was a shame to have to pass La Clusaz and Annecy without calling in on Chantal and Joël, and Pierre and Yolaine, who are all away on holiday. And to pass by Geneva without any contact from Alistair and Laurence. Never mind, there will be other opportunities. 

Laugh of the day: Sondrio has some very 'loud' blue and white striped pedestrian crossings. We were delayed briefly as a ginger cat sauntered casually across. ..

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sunday 20 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 24 - Val Malenco

The sound of rain finally dulled the hum from the power station at around 6am.

The campsite wasn't all bad though. Apart from the stony pitch and the noisy power station neighbour, the staff were happy and friendly, the showers were very good, there were good covered picnic tables and easy chairs, the bar was good, and the cost for two people with a car and a tent - €8. My advice to anyone using this facility - take earplugs if (unlike me) you can cope with them, and place your tent directly behind the climbing wall where you are sheltered from the sound of the power station. 

We packed up after the rain stopped, and headed to the tourist information office. Soon we were in B&B Ca' Erminia where our host, Diana, realised that our breakfast of yoghurt and tea had been a little deficient. So we are actually staying in a B&2B establishment. It's a top of the range place with a lovely bed cum living room and all mod cons. 

We were in no hurry, having abandoned a possible plan to walk part of the Alta Via delle Valmalenco on a hut to hut basis. The weather isn't brilliant and we are a bit tired from sixteen days' walking without a break. So today was just a recce.

We caught the 11.30 cablecar - Funivia Snow Eagle - lifting us in just a few minutes from 1000 to 2000 metres. There was lots of ugly ski paraphernalia at the top, but I think the skiing in Valmalenco is concentrated here, so most of the Alta Via should be free of such eyesores. 

The rain started again soon after noon, and it remained showery thereafter. 

Our route around Lago Palù took us to Rifugio Palù. Sadly we were unable to locate the mushrooms that Diana had alerted us to, but the lattes in the Rifugio were the best of the entire trip, served by happy smiling people relishing a busy Sunday at the Rifugio. What a contrast to the grumpy folk at Rifugios Averau and Nuvolau last week. 

Our recce continued with a walk to nearby Alpe Roggione, where an elderly lady spends the summers living in a very basic shelter, pictured behind the folk in the above photo. She chatted to us whilst her grandchildren played in the Lilliputian houses nearby and her chickens ranged freely without even realising that they were chickens. 

Three men appeared. After enjoying the delights of the Alta Via delle Valmalenco for three days they were descending in the day's indifferent weather before returning to work in nearby Milan. Jacobo, Paulo and Max are pictured in front of the old lady's house, together with Sue and Isabel. It was great to meet you three and we hope you get in touch with us and even visit the UK.

We soon stopped for an al fresco lunch during a pause in the drizzle. Then we completed an 8km circuit with 300 metres ascent, via Bocchel del Torno and Alpe Campolungo. There was the usual plethora of flowers in the view punctuated woodland, with masses of bellflowers, orchids, saxifrages and houseleeks, to name but a few. 

By the time we'd returned to the B&2B via the cable car and Chiesa village, we'd decided to substitute Alta Via delle Valmalenco for next year's suggested trip to walk Alta Via 2 in September. 

It was strange to look at our car and to puzzle how it looked as if it had spent the day in the Sahara desert and not in a Chiesa car park!

Later, in Ristorante Malenco, over a traditional local meal of Bresaola (air cured beef), Pizzocheri (pasta made with black flour, cheese, cabbage and potato), Sciatt (deep fried cheese balls with salad) and tiramisu/crema Catalane for dessert, our waitress explained the difference between the unerringly friendly people here and the grumps we had encountered at Rifs Averau and Nuvolau. "We are all Italians here" she claimed, indicating that many of those met in the South Tyrol area had different, non Italian, character traits.

Whatever - the friendly welcome that we have enjoyed in this valley over the past 24 hours has resulted in their local hutting route being promoted above AV2 on our long distance calendar.

Next Day
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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Saturday 19 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 23 - Badia (Pedraces) to campsite at Lanzada in Val Malenco

Most of our group left early, so last night was full of goodbyes after an excellent week at Collett's Haus Valentin chalet. Today we bid farewell to the remainder, and to Collett's helpful staff - Cam, Claire, Ed, Henry, Poppy and Will. Plus one. Thanks to them all for helping to make the week a success.

By 10.00 Sue and I were on the road again, this time heading to new ground for us, Val Malenco.

Passo Gardena to Bolzano was slow going, then we picked up supplies in Silandro, soon after which a quiet apple orchard provided a good lunch stop, the only difficulty being that both Sue's supermarket apples were rotten, as were many of those in the orchard. 

Then a classic journey over the Stelvio Pass, where it was Sue's turn to drive - she remembered that it was me who had the honour last time. There was much jostling for position with motorists and cyclists, with motorbikes whizzing everywhere. Luckily I was driving by the time we needed to reverse up a tunnel on the descent. Today's pictures were taken at the pass.

At Sondrio, one of a number of nondescript towns in a nondescript valley - the Adda - we turned right up Val Malenco, reaching the campsite at Lanzada at the second attempt, around 6pm. A long journey, especially considering it was well under 200 miles in distance.  The campsite is not a great place but as far as we can tell it's the only site in this long valley.  The power station next door provides a hum that drowns the sound of the river that is full of melt water - today's temperatures were in the mid thirties. There's also the music from the climbing wall behind which there is space on the campsite for half a dozen tents. I don't think ours will be here tomorrow night. 

Actually, as I write, the sounds of the insects and the children playing is nicely overlaying the power station's humming noise.

We've enjoyed an al fresco meal from salad ingredients purchased en route, and beers from the campsite's bar, in the shadow of the Bernina Alps that tower above us. It has been hot and hazy today, with cloud building, but it's a very pleasant evening here in northern Italy.

Next Day
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Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday 18 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 22 - A Walk from Haus Valentin

For our last day with Collett's at Haus Valentin we hid the car and Sue left with Susan and Roy to do the classic Tridentina Via Ferrata.

They had a great day out. 

Meanwhile, I took the chairlift to La Crusc together with Mike, Gary and Jenny, and Mick and Gayle. .
It was a lovely ride, and great to arrive at the top café just as the sun appeared from behind the Fanes to warm the outside seating.

Andrew, Mike, Karen and Alan appeared from differing directions and set off towards the north. 

A couple of cappuccinos later the rest of us set off down path 15 on the start of our journey to San Cassiano. It was a lovely day with fabulous views and just a few fluffy clouds. 

Sass de Putia, yesterday's summit, was shining in the near distance (pictured - top), and there were fine views to the Marmolada and Piz Boe summits, the former of which was reached by Ken today.

Satiated with the views, we (I) missed path 12A, so we headed instead up path 12 to do a loop that took in the missed path. Albeit that involved an unexpected 300 metre ascent. 

After elevenses then lunch, both with fine panoramic views, we continued down paths 15 and 15A, to reach the valley to the east of San Cassiano, from where we strolled down to La Villa on the route taken last Sunday. 

The sun continued to beat down as we passed some lurid sculptures and interrupted a slow worm's sunbathing schedule. 

Our 21 km stroll with 500 metres ascent concluded with the riverside walk from La Villa to Badia (aka Pedraces), where the Tridentina team plus Bob and Margaret joined Mike and me at Ricky's excellent shop for celebratory cake and ice cream at 4.30. Meanwhile Jenny was admiring her pedometer's total of 36000 steps for the day - her best tally all week. 

Then it was back to Haus Valentin for a lovely evening with our entire team of nineteen, and miscellaneous other folk.

The two lower photos were taken during the course of the evening, which concluded with some reluctant goodbyes as many of the team need to leave early for home in the morning.

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thursday 17 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 21 - Sass de Putia

Another 18km day, this time with about 1200 metres ascent. Yesterday was a similar distance, with only 800 metres ascent.

A forty minute drive saw the AV1 six plus Mike and Jenny at Passo del Erbe, the jumping off point for this easy ascent. 

It was a first visit to this location and the 'high season' feel didn't really endear it to us. But we managed to negotiate the crowds with some success. That was until after lunch on the 2875 metre summit with fine views across the Dolomites and towards the Alps. Then the descent along steep wires found us trapped in a Hillary Step scenario whilst a coach load of German tourists passed us on the way up. Sue, Susan and Roy muscled their way past; Mike and Karen had fainted at the sight of the wires; Mike B, Jenny and I sat it out until the crowd had moved on.

Today's picture shows what we thought of the crowds.

We made our way round the clockwise circuit via refreshments at a handy café,  then drove back for cake or ice cream from Ricky's in Pedraces.

A lovely evening followed the busy day.

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Wednesday 16 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 20 - Via Ferratas Averau and Nuvalau, and an evening in the pub

Again, due to time constraints I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Eleven of us - me, Sue, Susan, Roy, Ken, Alan, Chris, Mick, Gayle, Jacqui and Jenny - headed up to Rifugio Averau on a lovely day. After refreshments at the 'hut', we managed to conjure up nine Via Ferrata kits for an ascent of Mount Averau. Gayle and I were content to miss out and head up to Nuvolau instead. We watched from there, outside the oldest mountain hut in the Dolomites, as the others summited Averau, before descending and ascending to the start/finish of the Via Ferrata after a leisurely lunch. 

We regrouped at the end of the Averau VF before heading back to Rifugio Averau for a third time for Gayle and me. Nuvolau was then chosen as the next objective. I was more than happy to revisit the summit, and content to assure Gayle that she could mark the occasion as a second ascent. 

More refreshments served by a grumpy waitress (they all seemed grumpy today, perhaps suffering from an excess of school children), were followed by the Nuvolau Via Ferrata, for which some of us used our VF kits. It was Gayle's first go at this activity, and she quickly followed Mick's lead by asserting it was "Quite Good Fun".

Some found the walk back to Rifugio Averau rather less fun, but Sue found a Frog Orchid, and a few gulps of beer later we were sufficiently revived to be able to head briskly back to Falzarego, and all but Mick and Gayle (staying in Colin), and Jacqui (tired) made it down to the Badia Pub by 7.30 to celebrate my official birthday.

Today's statistics - 18 km, 1200 metres ascent, taking 8.5 hours.

The sixteen of us had a great evening, but I now find myself unaccountably tired.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tuesday 15 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 19 - Sassongher

The elite group for Sassongher was down to eight - me, Sue, Susan, Roy, Mick, Gayle and two Mikes. Six heroes - Alan, Chris, Jacqui, Ken, Gary and Jenny - went up the Piz da Lech via ferrata and arrived back before us. Andrew, Helen, Karen, Bob and Margaret preserved their energy on less sapping activities.

It was a lovely day as you can see from the pictures. Sue failed to extend her orchid spotting, but added Starry Saxifrage to yesterday's Birdsnest and Coralroot Orchids. 

The wires near the summit were easily dealt with after our ascent through the woods from Corvara, and after 15km and 1200 metres ascent we were happily back in Pedraces (now known as Badia).

I could invent lots of incidents, or even recall them if my memory was better,  but it isn't. Perhaps in due course more photos will tell the story of this classic day in the Dolomites. (They now do - see link below - Martin, 28/12/14.)

But for now.

Sleep tight!

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Monday 14 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 18 - Col di Lana

Today  ten of our squad of 19 enjoyed the 12km with 1000 metres ascent walk up and over Col di Lana, a 2452 metre double summit, from the south.

The AV1 six were joined by Mike, Gary, Mick and Gayle for this pleasurable day despite a bit of cloud and a few light showers.

Sue was ecstatic when she discovered some 'new' orchids - the names of which I'll supply tomorrow. 

The summits are laced with trenches and tunnels, and the whole shape of the mountain was changed by huge amounts of explosives detonated by both the Austrians and the Italians in WW1.

The pictures hopefully provide a flavour of our day, during which we gained intermittent views between the showers.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sunday 13 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 17 - Pralongia Plateau

With rain forecast, seven of our party - Ken, Helen, Andrew, Roy, Mike, Karen and Jacqui - headed off to Bolzano to see the ice man.

That left twelve of us - me, Sue, Susan, Alan, Chris, Mike, Bob, Margaret, Gary, Jenny, Gayle and Mick - to meet in La Villa for the gondola up to Piz La Ila. After leaving my map case on the lift (it was recovered later).

The weather was surprisingly good, given the dire forecast, as we completed a leisurely 17 km circuit with about 285 metres ascent (or less). Lots of Rifugios were passed, with just one, Ulla Pralongia, visited for coffee etc. Lunch was taken on the way down to Armentarola and San Cassiano. Today's picture of the Conturines was taken on the way.

We were back at the gondola station by 2.15, so had plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon and evening at Haus Valentin, Collett's base in Pedraces where those of us without a camper van (ie all except Mick and Gayle) are spending the week in luxury - not that the camper van is anything other than luxurious, with its constant supply of tea and cake (just like Collett's!).

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Saturday 12 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 16 - Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Pissa, then Pedraces

Alta Via 1 - Day 7 - 11 km, 300 metres ascent, 4.5 hours.

AV1 Cumulative Total: 122.5 km, 7400 metres ascent. (Approximately)

A blue sky morning for our final section and the refuge was bathed in sunshine. Antonio refilled the bread basket as soon as it was empty, and the coffee pot too!

We got going at 7.45, soon looking back to the scene pictured above, before descending 300 metres through beech woods, then re-ascending a similar amount over crisp beech leaves through sun dappled woods to Forcella la Varetta. The path from there was a mule track, high above the narrow valley, and against the limestone we found the first Edelweiss of the trip as well as a proliferation of saxifrages amongst a fabulous selection of alpine plants. The umbellifers lining the path were huge. Orange lilies lay amongst them, somewhat dwarfed! 

Then, a steep descent and a cyclamen littered woodland section where, in the clearings, butterflies were enjoying the warm sunshine. 

A refuge at 1250 metres (Rifugio Furio Bianchet) provided cappuccino and chocolate-orange cake in the sunshine, before our final 800 metre descent. Mostly on an unsurfaced track, it wound gradually down to the valley floor. Some dark red helleborines were found, and there were lots of insects with black spotted wings. Four jovial Italian ladies on their way up to Bianchet stopped for a chat.

The last section was a steep path that crossed a bridge over a deep gorge, La Pissa, dropping us neatly onto a road at 12.15. We had time for a quick lunch of two-day old sandwiches, before our taxi arrived at 12.40. 

Dark clouds built as we journeyed back to Lago di Braies, through Agordo and Arabba, Corvara and Brunico, until 3.10 pm. Tea, then it was an hour's drive back to Haus Valentin in Pedraces, which we had passed earlier, and a rendezvous with numerous folk who will feature in the next phase of this Summer Holiday.

NB Delay due to my attempting to post as Nallo Lady, as today's entry is largely copied from Sue's diary.

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Friday, 11 July 2014

Friday 11 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 15 - Passo Duran to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

Alta Via 1 - Day 6 - 18km, 1200 metres ascent, 8.4 hours.

A classic day on AV1. 

Sunlight of Delight and Views of Desire.

For the first time on this trip, several of our waterproof clothes remained stashed today. Others came out briefly towards the end of the day when we skirmished with a cloud as we descended through a zone of marmots and the occasional Burnt Orchid - amongst a vast selection of flowers. 

Beniamino and his staff saw us off before 8am after a good breakfast. (Pictured) After a short descent along the road, we headed along path 543 all the way to the Pramperet Rifugio. It's a wonderful belvedere path for most of the way. Fabulous views and splendiferous flora. Forest, scree slopes, and lazy rises through rock bands.

A good lunch at the friendly hut saw us winding our way up to Forcella de Zità Sud with a couple of Germans who were grateful for our guidance across some snowfields and up a rocky crest to the col, the last few metres being up a steep snow slope. 

Sue, Susan and Roy nipped up to a summit whilst Karen and Mike and I admired the view (also pictured).

It was a 700 metre descent to this fairly basic but friendly Rifugio that hadn't been built when I first visited AV1 in 1991. Its derelict predecessor building is pictured on the wall in 1983.

The descent was perhaps the toughest part of the trip to date, as it was unrelentingly steep and slippery on the limestone that was being lubricated by the passing cloud.

We are enjoying our last evening of 'hutting' before descending to the fleshpots of Pedraces. The food tonight is as good as ever - pasta, pork, polenta, nut cake etc.

The alpenglow on the Schiara is wonderful.

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Thursday 10 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 14 - Rifugio Coldai to Passo Duran

Alta Via 1 - Day 5 - 22km, 1000 metres ascent, 9.2 hours.

Mudpits of Despair and Cow Pats of Doom.

After an ordinary breakfast we set off at 7.45am in an effort to cover some ground before the predicted rain. After a couple of minutes there was rain in the air. That was the on and off story of the day. Waterproofs, that is. Actually we could have got away with leaving them in our bags. But we didn't. 

Sue is pictured shortly after the start, posing in front of Lago Coldai and the Civetta.

During the course of our traverse alongside the western cliffs of the Civetta, we encountered everything from steep snowbound scree slopes to meadows with wild flowers and newly born calves, then forest paths with cesspits of cowpat laden mud.

The twelve Germans from Lago di Braies made a brief appearance before heading off to the Tissi Rifugio for coffee, whilst we continued in the cool weather as far as Rifugio Vazzoler for our own refreshments. 

Lunch soon followed, then a magnificent belvedere path concluding with beers at Rifugio B. Carestiato amongst a dog loving family from Padova.

Down at Passo Duran, Beniamino and his staff at Rifugio S. Sebastiano have provided excellent accommodation and have fed and watered us brilliantly. But there is no wifi and a minimal phone signal with the usual network problem, so transmission may be delayed. 

As to the heading, Mike decided to tramp into a cowpat laden mud pit, hence triggering the comment from Susan. It did rain a lot last night and the ground is unseasonably soggy just now.

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