Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Adventure at Birchen Edge

Christmas festivities, the excitement of preparations and celebrations have kept us away from the Peak District. Louis was somewhat under the weather over the Christmas holiday and his normal level of activity was somewhat dampened.

Keisha and Louis were asked what they wanted to do and there was a resounding request to go scrambling over the rocks they both wanted to go to Birchen edge. It was great to see Keisha and Louis so energised. We sat down in some of the small caves to eat goodies and pretending that they were our house. Although I warned Louis to take care by not bumping his head on the hard rocky cave roof he seemed to be more concerned about the darkness. Keisha and me wriggled and squiggled a bit as we tried to explore a small cave room.

After scrambling over the rocks near trafalgar wall, we played hide and seek around the rocks at the top (these are known as the three ships). Louis is developing an excellent scrambling technique and Keisha an appreciation of the beauty of the area by claiming that she could see the “whole world” and enquiring about what hills we could observe. She kept on noting that it is much windier near the edge of the crag.

Being near the edge was not surprisingly hazardous and it has to be said that a fair amount of effort is required to take care of them both. Keisha dropped her guard slightly and moved too close to the edge for my liking of course Louis has no comprehension of the dangers. It was a relief that they both did as they were asked.

Our game of hide and seek involved another small group of children all running over and around the three ships. Naturally I’m keeping a close eye on both K and L in particular on Louis. We had a lot of fun and we were running around. It was rather strange that Louis did not notice one of the huge “three ships” in front of him and forgot to stop. He literally head butted the rock given his age this kind of accident was not surprising. After a quick cuddle this was resolved with the application of a Thomas plaster to the forehead giving Louis the appearance of Conan the barbarian or the Sylvester Stallone character “Rambo”!

Our excitement did not stop as we returned home jumping on-top of rocks with Louis bouncing in the fern and jumping in the occasional muddy puddle. They are both becoming very competent walkers and scramblers and best of all enjoying this was an excellent walk for all of us.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cresswell Crags

We are being drawn out of the Peak district to the delights of the Dukeries . Today the air was crisp and fine with a light mist adding to the chill in the air. This was perfect for our trip back through time to explore Cresswell crags. SK538754 Cresswell crags has a visitor centre providing lots of activities and a somewhere for a coffee. A lot of excellent work has been undertaken to explain the history that is evident from discoveries made in this area. The area is a small dale with a collection of limestone crags and some caves. It's quite a short walk through the mini dale but extremely interesting with a trip through time. At different locations they mark the locations of various discoveries. It was excellent for Keisha who read each one and started to gain an appreciation of larger numbers as she was reading 10000, 50000 and 150000 years at each station. I'm waiting for the question, but how do we know that flint implement is 45000 years old? Once again, I'm also inquisitive about the Carbon dating technique used? The centre offers guided cave visits the picture below is an example of a cave painting. Church cave has prehistoric cave paintings which is the only example to be found in the UK.

This area is excellent for young and old alike. The great benefit is that the area is well looked after so that many people may benefit. We had a sneak preview of one of the exhibitions, fortunately, Keisha and Louis were moving along somewhat energetically! Perhaps it's best to leave the exhibition until the end. We're keen to return, particularly to try one of the cave visits. Keisha and Louis both loved it here so we won't have a problem convincing them!

For further information:
Visitor centre web site
The megalithic portal

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Edale Skyline

The Edale skyline is a classic walk and also a well known annual fell race, organised by the dark peak fell runners this is known as the Don Morrison memorial Edale skyline.
The following link shows the Edale skyline route.
Edale Skyline Route

Today, the weather looked good and the forecast was good. I started from Hope Railway Station and I started this is a 21 mile circuit by ascending the slopes of Win Hill.
Following the course of the roman road to Hope Cross I headed on to the moor walking towards Crookstone barn and aiming for the top of Jaggers clough. Shepherds herding their sheep sounded quite bad tempered and quite crazily I decided to avoid the two walking in my direction! I guess they have to be heard and it must be quite challenging communicating instructions which are comprehensible for dogs! By this time I was considering seriously the idea of the full skyline, the views are marvellous and all the time the weather and the route are egging me on to complete the full circuit.

By the time I had reached the top of Grindsbrook Clough I'd made the decision, I was going for the full skyline, yeeeh! Part of the motivation was that I didn't want to blog a semi edale skyline again!

There were lots of people and children out and about, its definitely half term. It felt more like a weekend than the middle of the week. Heading towards Crowden tower two gentleman suggested that the idea of the weather egging us on would just lead to srore legs. After going towards Swines back and the Jacobs ladder path, I started the walk up Brown Knoll, it was very squelchy here. The walk across the moor to Rushup edge is a long one, I eventually arrived. the sun was now low in the west and I enjoyed the sights of model areorplance, hang-gliders and parapenters all enjoying the updraft provided by Rushup edge.

This is a long circuit, I'm not completing much mileage these days so I felt the miles in my legs by the time I arrived at Mam Tor. I eventually arrived at Lose hill and made a fairly slow descent to Hope and the railway station. An excellent day and after reading about the Don Morrison memorial, I'm ignoring an old knee injury and contemplating a run of the complete circuit! I am tired after this walk but it certainly has not dampened my enthusiasm!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hide and Seek on Baslow Edge

Today was a beautiful day, so we decided to make the most of it and go out for a walk. With my stupid knee still playing up, we decided Baslow Edge would be an excellent choice. It was busy when we parked up at Curbar, so we decided to head up along the edge rather than straight down the path. I just love the views over the edge you can see for miles. Keisha and Louis ran excitedly along, pleased to be out on an adventure. We quickly came across lots of excellent rocks so we played some games of hide and seek which was great fun.

Louis is enjoying his new found freedom of being free from the carrier and enjoyed scrambling up the rocks and jumping across with Keisha, he was particularly delighted to find pools of water amongst the rocks and stirring the water like a cauldron. There were nice clear views of chatsworth and nice to see a side without scaffolding.
We headed back over to the big rock and learnt the legend that a boy needed to be able to climb it if he was to marry. Great to be out in the peaks

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Derwent Edge

I've had a few days holiday and in the hours between the school run I parked the car near the Ashopton viaduct SK195865.

I headed directly up to Whinstone Lee tor and onto the Derwent edge and enjoyed the fantastic rock features on the edge. The Hurkling Stones, Wheelstones, the salt cellar, Dovestones tor and finally Back tor.

I descended Back Tor via Lost Lad and Abbey bank I walked back along the road running alongside the Derwent and Ladybower reservoir. The reservoirs are low I like winters when the reservoirs are full it seems that we need rather a lot of rain to get to this situation.

I'm enjoying the spell of wonderful September weather and not wishing vast quantities of rain.... but it is needed!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Solar Physics Summer School and Conference in the Ukraine

Over the week of the 29th August to the 2nd September I attended a Solar Physics Conference and Summer School. At the summer school I presented a training session on developing numerical codes for solar physics, this proved to be very successful! However not to mention here the excellent conference and summer school sessions, the week was a week full of events.

The conference took place at the Dubna-spa Hotel, Alushta on the Crimean penisula.

A view of the Black Sea from the Dubna spa

I was warned by the conference organiser that I would be "shocked" by the accommodation! True it was quite dated the room was like something out of the 60's, but it was comfortable and not shocking. The shock occurred in the morning. The key to my hotel room snapped! I was locked in the room and there was no phone. I went on to the balcony and tested my skill at charades attempting to explain to the gardener about my predicament. The gardener shrugged his shoulders said "nhyet" and carried on sweeping! It was quiet in the hotel corridor the balcony looked climbable so I traversed until a reached a room where someone was in. Somewhat embarrassed I waved my broken key at a lady in her underware. Fortunately she immediately understood what was going on. I returned to my room via my series of traverses!

Alushta is a popular seaside resort the black sea was a wonderful place to swim

Food stalls on the coast road at Alushta

The conference organisers had laid on a day long excursion visiting places along the Crimean coast. We drove to Sevastopol and visited the ancient Greek city of Chersonessus. Some of the ruins are shown below, the ancient harbour can be seen. The Sebastopol skyline is in the background.

Our next stop was Vorontsov's palace near Yalta. Our coach journey down to the palace, was interesting on a road barely wide enough for two bicycles. The skill of the coach drivers is amazing or does this explain the dented cars which were parked at the steep side roadside. Below is a view of the Black sea from the palace gardens.

Winston Churchill had stayed at Vorontsov's palace for the Yalta conference it had been commented by Chuchill that the sleeping lion below resembled himself!

The limestone cliffs of the Crimean peninsula looked fantastic, speaking to colleague at the Conference I have identified a source for obtaining information about climbing possibilities.
Prices here are quite reasonable people are friendly, its a place I would want to visit again. However communication is very difficult and a knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian is a good idea.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Barefoot hike and a play in the sand

Today we woke up to glorious sunshine and as we made our way to Reutte to go up on the Hannekahm gondola, it was 26 degrees.

Keisha and Louis were given a sweet at the Cable Car station.

We arrived at the top and immediately next to the station, the barefoot hike commenced. We removed our hiking boots and socks and made a start. It felt odd walking on the mountain with nothing on your feet and some of the sensations underfoot were painful especially in you stepped on a prickle or stones. Luckily we all avoided the cowpats, well wet ones anyway. Keisha and Louis especially enjoyed the waterbath.

We ended up at a mountain hut and were provided with foot washing facilities. We had lunch here, which consisted of a cheese and meat platter with brot (bread) and we all had fresh milk taken from the cows we could see around us that day. It was delicious. The children played in the sand pit and there were baby calves that let Mike and I stroke them.

We watched the weather change before our eyes, the black clouds were coming over and the wind was getting up, we quickly made our way back up to the cable car station and the journey down was quite windy with the cable car moving with the wind. We just made it back to the car when the heavens opened with a very heavy rain and thunder and lightning. It was a reminder how quick the weather change in the mountains and very quickly we are unable to see any of the mountains surrounding us just low cloud.

Back at the hotel, we had a Jacuzzi and then went out to Route 66 for dinner, we had found this place both on this visit and our last visit to be very hospitable and serve great food and beer. We were sad in a way to be brought a free dessert of expresso icecream as were planning to share some kaiserschmaren but sadly had run out of room, there is always tomorrow


Spot the cricket!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Ridge Walk in the Tannerheimertal

On a cloudy Sunday morning I enjoyed a quick walk up a peak called Einstein, most appropriate for someone with an interest in the full spectrum of Einsteins work. It took 90 minutes to the summit from our apartment in Tannerheim.

By the time I’d reached the top the cloud cleared enough to reveal some marvellous views. Monday morning the weather looked fine so it was time to try something I’d tried a few years ago on that occasion, at the same time of year, there was a lot of snow and I’d backed off the route. The route was to walk from Nesselwangle to Gran taking in the peaks along ridge. These are the Gimpel, the rote fluh, Schartschroften, Hallenschrofen and Lauferspitze. The rhot fluh and the gimpel are the main attractions being quite distinctive peaks from Tannerheim.
I caught the free post bus (using our tourist card) to the village of Nesselwangle starting from the car park outside the village and near the Krinnen alp lift the route to the Gimpel hut is well signed.

The walk upto the Gimpel hut was a flog I stopped there for a glass of mineral water. My next objective was the Gimpel walking in the direction of the Judenscharte the path deviates from the main one to head to the impressive climbing routes on the south wall of the Gimpel. The start of the scramble is marked with a sign (and one displaying Nur fur Geubte), the actual scrambling route has splashes of red paint. The scramble on to the shoulder of the Gimpel was good fun sometimes requiring some quite careful moves, there was no via ferrata up here. From the shoulder the route heads up with straightforward scrambling along the east ridge to the summit cross.

I headed back down via the ascent route and acquired the path to the Judan Scharte and the summit of the rhote Fluh, by this time I was beginning to feel quite heat exhausted, de-hydrated and physically tired. I was making good time it was possible to make the final cable car from the Fussener Jochl.

After making the summit of the rhote fluh there is still a lot to do with the Friedens-steig klettersteig off the summit of the rhote fluh and the Friedberge Klettersteige to the summit of the Schartschrofen. The main part of the Friedens-steig is the descent of a chimney wall using a series of ladder rungs driven into the rock walls, via ferrata gear here is most appreciated. The ascent of the schartschrofen via the Friedberge klettersteige is quite long with a few tricky places here once again via ferrata gear is appreciated.

The final summit the Lauferspitze has a steep section which is chained at its south ridge however the north ridge is an excellent scramble and I thought that Keisha might enjoy this.

The scrambling on this route is excellent and I’m just about fit enough to do it in a reasonable time, there is one thought nagging me now. I would just like to do that bigger peak at the end called the Krinnen alp. I finished the walk with just enough time to make the last cable car down form the Fussner Jochl I wanted to spend the late afternoon/ evening with Amanda, Keisha and Louis. We played crazy golf at the Tirol Haus on the way to Visalpsee.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reaching high at the Zugspitze

After a lunch of schnitzel at the holiday cottage, we had decided to head for the cable car to go up the Tirolean side of the Zugspitze. The drive over was a pretty one although we were very perturbed by the queues on the other side of the road going on for approximately six miles. The only thing along the way was the rittlespiele which we had driven by and there appeared to be no reason for the holdups. This got us planning to return via another route.

We arrived at the Zugspitze to find that the top of the mountain was in cloud at 2,900 metres. We were in awe as we drove along in the shadow of the mountain as it loomed over us. We got our tickets (again we didn’t have to pay for the kinder under 6’s free which seems to be the norm over here). The children were very excited and keen to make progress up the mountain finding it difficult to understand why they have to get changed out of their summer clothes to head up the mountain. It was a reported 3 degrees at the top. We got onto the cable car and Louis kept saying going now he was very keen for the driver to board and for us to be heading on our way.

The first part of the journey above the tree line was smooth and clear, as we got higher there was a real roll of the cable car as we went over the pylons, we got higher and higher and reached the snow line at about 2,200 metres. We went high into the clouds and had very poor visibility. We stepped out and the cold air immediately hit us. Mike, Keisha and Louis quickly skipped out onto the snow. We walked over to Germany and viewed the highest point. It was quite eerie to be so high in the clouds and at the top of the mountain having been at the bottom such a short time before, and felt a feeling of vulnerability. It made me wonder about Mike and his adventures to the top of the mountains although this was probably even more poignant for him as there are no crowds sitting drinking beer and he must be totally in awe of his surroundings, and he gets to view them in their isolated splendour. Mike has expressed an interest in climbing the Zugspitze as he felt it was too easy getting the cable car and something he was doing our amusement.

We headed back down, Mike, Keisha and Louis stood in the front window, and I wasn’t brave enough to join them even though I sat happily at the front on the way up. We were in cloud for a lot longer on the way down. We finished our visit with a spot of trampolining, go cart racing, and play in the playground accompanied by a drink and some rather posh ice cream sundaes.

We came back via Garmish a beautiful town, and drove through a beautiful valley via Alpsee. It was a wonderful drive by the lake. Another long day .

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Living History Extravaganza and Memory Lane

We visited the Ehrenberg Reutte 2011 medieval festival which had a number of market stalls, games, a tournament and re-enactments of battles.

The event was similar in format to the battle of Tewkesbury but a larger scale and it has to be said much grander. Don't get me wrong I'm a great fan of the Tewkesbury event and have participated as a re-enactor and as part of the audience. We've also visited Le Puy de Fou but the Ehrenberg event was full of the vibrancy that is experienced at Tewkesbury.

The event was so enjoyable with a multitude of camps, excellent living history, people dressed in authentic costume and living as a historical encampment.

Before the medieval festival started there were jesters which were excellent doing a "Matrix movie" kind of slow motion acting amongst many other things. We enjoyed a band called Furunkulus. It was hilarious, Keisha was quite entranced by this musical mayhem of bagpipes, giant gongs, kettle drums and a really interesting assortment of percussion and wind instruments. It was very rocky, Keisha loved it and kept pulling me towards the stage.
Here is a clip from the day ( there is loads on you tube just search on furunkulus)

The band was lively and energised us in readiness for the tournament which started with a great procession of all the re-nactors.

As part of the procession the combatants formed a defensive wall

After the tournament we watched a battle renactment. Once again Keisha saying let's goto the front it was deafening with both canonfire and handgun fire.