Sunday, 17 November 2019
Friday, 13 July 2018
Our last day in the Dolomites, and a walk we always enjoy.
Sue and I took a half hour drive behind three coaches full of school children, to Passo Pordoi. The walk along the Porta Vescovo ridge is familiar to us. We soon left the main thoroughfare that was strewn with Globeflowers and headed over the knobbly ridge. Sue found some (fewer than usual) King of the Alps flowers on the summit; I later spotted a few lower down after I failed to reach the summit as, together with a Swedish family, I didn't fancy the scramble to the top.
Descending to the lower path, we joined the walkers and riders on our walk almost as far as the Gorza rifugio, where the schoolchildren had broken into song.
Lunch over, we headed back to Passo Pordoi along the easy lower path, past swathes of Marsh Orchids, calling in at Rifugio Viel dal Pan for some refreshing cokes along the way.
Cloud cleared from all the mountains, leaving us with panoramic mountain views including Marmolada and Piz Boë.
An easy drive back (by 4.15) left us with plenty of time to enjoy our last evening with a number of folk whose company we have enjoyed during the course of the week.
Today: 13km, 900 metres ascent.
Piz Boë from the start of our walk
Marmolada with Martin
The view from Rif Viel dal Pan to Lago di Fedoia
Globeflowers and the Sassolungo massif
Amazing, 'Postcards from Timperley' now number over 3000 postings!
Thursday, 12 July 2018
With more rain - and perhaps thunderstorms - forecast, we decided on a lower level walk today. The 460 bus to Pedraces was taken, whence the two chairlifts to Santa Croce. Sarah, Liz and Xena joined us on the bus and for the rest of the day.
After the terrifying ordeal of the chairlifts, Liz managed to calm her shaking legs and join us for a coffee in the rifugio. This is the starting point of several of the Collett's walks, including one known as the Azalea Terrace, which heads down path 15 to La Villa.
The Santa Croce rifugio is also used by Collett's in the burgeoning 'hut to hut' side of their business. More and more people are booking trips that combine a few days at one of their valley bases with a tailored, self guided, hut to hut tour. It certainly takes the hassle out of making hut bookings, as Emma from Collett's is fluent in Italian and there's no worry about deposit payments.
Anyway, suitably refreshed and calmed, off we went along the fairly busy woodland trail that descends slowly towards La Villa. There are frequent views through the trees to Sassongher, which today had an intermittent cap of cloud. Behind us, the Fanes summits were clear.
We took a longer way down as the weather was holding, leaving path 15 in favour of 15A, which brought us out on the edge of Armentarola, from where an easy walk past sculptures down the valley past San Cassiano to La Villa was followed by an amble past a pair of dippers up the Tort valley to Corvara, reached by 3.30. Lunch had been taken in a lovely flower meadow backed by the Conturines summits, on the way down to Armentarola.
S, L and X joined us in Chalet Roch, where our path emerged in Corvara, for tea/coffee and a perusal of our 2017 Austrian photobook, before returning to Chalet Angelo via a feeding station.
A fairly quick turnaround saw us first in the queue for pizzas at Pizzeria Fornella. Excellent. Unlike the football that saw England finally eliminated by Croatia in the semi finals of the football World Cup.
Today: 17km, 500 metres ascent.
Bus stop view of Sassongher, in Corvara
On a bench, ready to go
View from a picnic lunch spot
On the Badia sculpture trail - 'Figöra de ëra sentada'
Wednesday, 11 July 2018
More cloud this morning. Brian and Sue went off to Bolzano and we awaited a rendezvous with Sarah, Liz and Xena, who are staying at Chalet Angelo. I drove us to Pieve and along a narrow road to the Col Di Lana car park.
Initially in woods, in the presence of nutcrackers, we endured a short shower and passed through meadows rich in Vanilla Orchids and Round-headed Orchids. There was also Moonwort, a strange plant brought to our attention by flower man David. It is absent from our main reference book, but David assures us that it's a type of fern that dates back to the dinosaur period.
We slowly wound our way upwards, reaching a path junction in a meadow of Spotted Gentians and Wolfsbane.
Here we split, with Sue and Xena heading up to the main summit of Col di Lana at 2452 metres, and thence along the fractured ridge to the lower north western summit named Cima Sief (2424 metres). In a (successful) bid to relieve Liz of any vertigo worries, she and Sarah and I took a lower route, the Teriol Ladin path, through wonderful flower laden meadows, before taking a right fork and rising briskly to Cima Sief, arriving about a minute before Xena and Sue, who reports as follows:
"After leaving the others, Xena and I climbed to a chapel, the lunch hut we've used previously, and a summit cross. The path, strewn with Saxifrage, led downwards, beneath wooden structures, and into a series of tunnels. Torches were useful to explore a few metres of the once kilometre long tunnels that opened out at vantage points. More wires aided our descent to the crater made by a 45,000 kg Austrian bomb, now a jumble of rocks. A last ascent brought us to the final summit, where the others were waiting."
As the sun was out, despite the fact that we were encircled by grey cloud, we enjoyed lunch here before descending the ridge via a long series of reconstructed trenches. The flowers were spectacular - many Saxifrages, Rhaetian Poppies and Glacier Crowfoot. Stonechats and wheatears fussed as we passed.
Under a greyer sky, light rain fell as we traversed the Teriol Ladin path to the north east of the ridge, past pink Alpenrose and numerous Spotted Gentians. A snow patch yielded some Dwarf Snowbells, Spring Pasque Flower and Alpine Pasque Flowers.
Climbing to a ridge, Liz almost stood on an adder that hurriedly hid from us, leaving a stunned frog to attempt an escape. We then had to ascend to a minor outlying summit on a narrow path. This path wound down the hillside before contouring high above a couple of valleys. A slow worm was encountered.
On one corner was a Cobweb Houseleek in vibrant flower.
Back in the woods, the Teriol Ladin path continued to descend on a well constructed belvedere, where we encountered an English family with two dogs - the only people we met all day - before returning to the car at around 4.45pm.
We had just managed to avoid some heavy rain that lasted for the next few hours.
Back to Chalet Angelo for drinks, then showers at Chalet Roch. It was pouring with rain for our short walk to Gran Fanes for dinner, spent with Jack and Emma from Collett's.
Today: 12km, 1100 metres ascent. Sue and Xena did a bit more.
Setting off from the car park above Pieve
The view towards Marmalada
Roseroot and Spotted Gentian
Approaching Cima Sief's summit
The view to Setsas
With thanks to Sue for many of the words herein.
Monday, 9 July 2018
No drones today. I forgot to mention yesterday's drone incident. We thought we had come across a swarm of bees near the Notch, but it turned out to be two lads playing with a drone...(now we know why they are called drones!).
Today dawned bright and sunny again. One of the Collett's walks was destined for Sassongher (2665 metres), by an ascent route with which we are very familiar. So Sue and I chose instead to catch the 460 bus to Badia at 8.47 and ascend the mountain from there. Sue and Brian, from Minneapolis, elected to join us. I was always going to wait at the 2435 metre col (due to hernia op recuperation) whilst the others went to the summit.
Apart from a short section of tarmac, the ascent past the swans and goats of Lech da Sumpunt via trail 11 to the Gherdenacia hut was pleasant and uneventful, with ever widening views, especially towards the Fanes summits. Clustered Bellflowers punctuated the meadows. A steep section between rock walls brought us out at the hut.
We passed a chairlift station at around 1700 metres that could have saved us 400 metres of ascent. Most people were using it.
Schiewassers went down well at the hut, then we progressed amiably up path number 5, pausing for lunch under a wide overhang.
Shortly before reaching a junction with path 7, which leads directly to the valley, the Collett's group who had mostly been up Sassongher were spotted lunching below us. I pottered down to join them for a while, whilst Sue escorted Sue and Brian to the Forcella and thence to the summit. They were the last of the day to reach it, and had the superb viewpoint to themselves.
Meanwhile, I waved off the Collett's group and pottered up to the Forcella, where I communed for some time with visiting humans, choughs and bees.
It was a pleasant descent back to Chalet Roch, including passing the boldest of marmots and a black squirrel, before descending the delightful 4A path through the woods to Corvara. We again failed to spot the Fly Orchids that flower man David assured us were there.
Down at 5.20, we drove up to Chalet Angelo for said David's 5.45 flower talk, before reverting to the usual venue for our evening meal. There were 21 of us tonight including a very jolly American family from Utah. "Hello, we enjoyed your company."
Today: 14km, 1300 metres ascent. The others did an extra 1.5 km and 250 metres ascent.
Alpine For-get-me Not and Yellow Wood Violet
A view from Forcella di Sassongher
The three summiteers
Sassongher from Chalet Roch
Back in the early 2000s, on a walk along Alta Via 1 (AV1), one of our party became ecstatic about the notch in the route that lay ahead. That person has for ever thereafter been known as 'Notchy'. He will be joining us next week.
On a more recent visit we found the path through the notch to be closed, so today's visit was a pleasure to be relished.
The 465 bus that took us on a half hour journey to the start of the walk - Capanna Alpina - was unpleasantly crowded. But what do you expect for €1.50 on a busy Sunday?
Twelve of us set off in good spirits, up the gently rising well graded path to a fine viewpoint, Col de Locia. Stunning views across to the Marmalada glacier. After a considerable wait for a member of the party who should have chosen an easier walk, we progressed through meadows of Rhaetian poppies to a point where we doubled back towards the notch.
After another wait we set off at a modest pace, pausing after a while to admire a well fed marmot and a concerned Black Redstart. A long break in a sheltered spot helped pass the time for eight of the twelve of us, whilst three more helped to coax the backmarker onwards.
By 1pm we had reached the notch, aka Forcello di Lech, and lunch was enjoyed by all of those who hadn't got cold waiting. Luckily it was a warm, calm day, if a little draughty at the notch. We chatted to a German lad walking AV1. His plans had required adjustment due to the Lagazuoi hut being fully booked tonight.
Leaving the laggard and her three minders, the rest of us enjoyed the superbly engineered descent to Lech de Lagacio, where we savoured a further break.
The next stationary interlude was at Rifugio Scotoni, after another brief descent. They were very busy on the sunny Sunday afternoon. As was the 4.35 pm bus when we had ambled from the Rifugio back down past Alpine Butterwort and Bladder Gentians to Capanna Alpina.
Welcome tea back at base, then another good meal at Hotel Gran Fanes.
Today: 10km, 1000 metres ascent
First view of the Notch
Looking across to the Lavarela summits
Lech de Lagacio looking up to Forcello Di Lech
Outside the Scotoni hut
Sunday, 8 July 2018
We assembled at the bus stop in town. Not sure why, as we weren't catching a bus. It was a popular event. 32 clients of Collett's assembled with a view to accompanying Jess on a circular walk from Corvara to the Gardena Pass and back. Luckily she'd had the foresight to engage Sandy as her assistant.
We were soon on our way up a pleasant track up to the pass, the constant noise from the road providing only a minor distraction - most of the noise was coming from pensioners on modern motor bikes and a miscellany of folk in vintage sports cars.
We enjoyed good views of a string of folk climbing up the Tridentina via ferrata, before curving away past meadows of fragrant orchids, false white helleborine, wintergreens and alpine clematis, and up to the fleshpots of the pass. Caffè macchiata all round (nearly).
Sue and I then left the other 30 (less anyone who had already inadvertently gone missing) to amble back down to Corvara. We headed up to Jimmy's hut and then up the Alta Via 2 route through an area of limestone pinnacles and over a couple of high cols. Some rather ominous clouds evaporated as we progressed across the plateau.
After the Ciampei pass we left AV2 and descended briskly in bright sunshine towards Colfosco before taking the excellent path 4a directly to Corvara. After seeing a good number of people up to this point, the only person we met on 4a was our host, Petra, out for an hour of good exercise.
Football, food and drink filled the evening, with, for the second evening running, nearly twenty people in our dining area at Hotel Gran Fans.
Yesterday: 9km, 200 metres ascent
Today: 18km, 1300 metres ascent, 7.5 hours
On the path to the Gardena Pass
False White Helleborine
Looking down to Gardena from above Jimmy's hut
On the plateau
The view back towards Corvara, with Sassongher on the left
Friday, 6 July 2018
Today we chose to accompany David, Collett's resident flower expert for this week and next, on a leisurely flower spotting stroll. We were joined by Anita, Nigel and Chris, who are staying at Chalet Angelo, on the other side of town.
Overcast, with light rain, was not auspicious weather for our gondola and chairlift journey from 1500 to 2500 metres. The third picture shows one of our views from the top. Atmospheric.
It wasn't the best day for flowers, but as I write, Sue's list is approaching 60 different varieties. Cool at 2500 metres, it was with great pleasure that we were able to enjoy the warmth and hot chocolates of the Franz Kostner hut.
After that it was all downhill. Back in continuing light rain to Lago Boè for an al fresco lunch, then to the Lago Boè hut from where the others all took the gondola back to Corvara. Before that we'd seen a black salamander, snowbells, and bear's ear primroses in flower (all uncommon).
The easy walk down the gravel track that forms path number 639 past the Crep de Munt hut saw us back in Corvara by around 3.30, with plenty of time to identify some of the more problematic flowers we'd photographed earlier.
Chalet Roch (pronounced Rock)
Two views from the top of the chairlift at 2500 metres
Sassongher and Corvara from path number 639
Thursday, 5 July 2018
The day started well. Alexander is rightfully proud of his breakfast buffet spread, if disappointed that we didn't want scrambled eggs, which would have supplemented the hard (brown) and soft (white) eggs he'd already provided. He was at pains to point out the roll (and the role) of sandwich bags that he encouraged us to use to insert our lunch, which we were free to prepare from the many items of breads, meats, cheeses and salad ingredients provided. We were spoilt.
First stop was a petrol station. More to buy the Austrian motorway vignette than to top up with fuel. The fine for failing to display a vignette is €240.
Then, on a cloudy morning, we drove a very short distance to Schwangau. The Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles dominate the scene here. We enjoyed a 6.5km stroll to both these edifices. Together with throngs of a multitude of nationalities, notably oriental. They are remarkable buildings.
On return to the car, a few drops of rain signaled a showery afternoon. We are in the mountains, so mountain weather is to be expected. It's much cooler than if late.
An easy drive to Corvara was punctuated by a coffee stop at San Marco restaurant in Bichlbach, then a pause at P103 (I thought it was 103 metres to the lay-by, but apparently that was the number of the lay-by) to enjoy those carefully crafted butties.
Mountain views were somewhat blighted by cloud, but we arrived at Chalet Roch in good time, to be greeted by Ben from Collett's. The chalet is owned by Petra, and rented by Collett's, whose local team comprises Jack and Janet, plus Angus, Sandy and Ben.
With luggage for a varied trip, it took a while to sort out our possessions. We are here for eight nights. Another message will be sent to Mike re some books I left at home - he will be asked to bring them when he and Sarah join us next week.
Office hour arrived all too soon. Sandwiches were ordered and we decided on what to do tomorrow. Nine of us then trooped along a damp street to the Hotel Gran Fanes. Here we enjoyed an excellent repast in good company.
Friday, 1 June 2018
Deadline met for the Valmalenco Photobox book, with just a few hours to spare. Over 350 images in a 100 page book, plus text from my contemporaneous blog. It’ll form a great record of that trip. There are numerous similar exercises on my ToDo list!
So this is the last of these Valmalenco entries (apart from an index), today’s recalling the descent from 2615 metre Passo di Campagneda to 2233 metre Rifugio Cristina.
Here’s Rifugio Cristina, with 3323 metre Pizzo Scalino towering above.
If you like hut to hut routes, and haven’t walked this one, we wholeheartedly commend the Alta Via di Valmalenco.
Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Whilst I was travelling up to Montrose last week, Sue bought a 100 page credit from Photobox for a photo album at a very good price (less than £25). The trouble is that it needed to be used within 14 days. So I now have two more days in which to create a book, which will recount our trip to the Valmalenco area of Italy in 2015.
I could have posted a picture of today’s walk to Dunham Massey with JJ, but I think I prefer this reminder of our Valmalenco trip, taken at Alpe Mastabbia on the second stage of the walk.
Sunday, 11 September 2016
Hotel Mary provided an excellent breakfast, after which we took a short train ride to Riomaggiore, from where a steep path took us up to the small village of Groppo, then to Volastra for some expensive drinks and an opportunity for Cary to test the honesty of the locals by leaving his walking poles behind. The regular coastal toll path between Riomaggiore and Corniglia is currently closed due to a landslip, hence our much longer and more undulating route. The morning walk took a few hours but covered just about 8 km. Much of it was on narrow terraces between vineyards positioned on the steep slopes. A bit like Madeira's levada walking but without the water. A scenic route, but the coastal villages we could see below us would be shown in a better light in the early morning or evening.
Corniglia was crowded. We found space to eat in a busy square, before heading off on the toll (€7.50) trail towards Monterosso al Mare. This was slow going, especially when Cary had to return to the start to reclaim his walking poles again.
It was hot and crowded, if pleasantly scenic. After a while, at one of many pauses to admire the view, Cary dropped a walking pole onto a piece of land below us. Luckily he was able to find a way down through some undergrowth to recover it. He returned covered in burrs.
By the time we reached the pretty town of Vernazza it was 4 pm and most of us had had enough - we had walked 12 km in 7 hours with around 1200 metres of ascent. Quite enough for a wind-down day.
After celebratory ice creams, Sue and Cary went for a swim, whilst Graham and I popped up the tower shown in today's top picture, taken from the descent into Vernazza.
It was still hot.
The train service soon got us back to La Spezia and the comfort of our air conditioned rooms.
Tonight's outside table at a pizzeria was in a fine position and last night's salads were replaced by pasta and pizza. Cary, as can be seen from the lower picture, made room for a plate full of cake to round of the trip's culinary adventures.