Snowdonia May 2013

Sun May 26th

Started my day by achieving my 5km run which took me 35 minutes without stopping. It was hard but I’m pleased with this as I started from nothing run wise. I’m now going to keep it up and go for 10km. Today was only the 2nd time I’ve run that it was actually warm since I began 8 weeks ago.

A leisurely drive across to Idwal Cottage YH stopping at Tesco to buy some things I had forgotten like tea and coffee. I managed to forget quite a few things because I didn’t print out my list. Fatal. I’m in the same room as last year which is above the front door. Very compact but has wash basin.
Walked up to Llyn Idwal just as the sun was setting behind Y Garn. Cool wind as it disappeared but still shining on Tryfan.
Back for supper of pasta and veg in sauce that I made last night at home.
Chatted with Saskia the warden. Rampart beer.

West face of Tryfan
West face of Tryfan
Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen
Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen

Mon May 27th

Torrential downpour day. Angela turned up just after 9. We talked about Tryfan, about Bristly Ridge and about the Glyderau but decided that as we could barely see the bottom of any of these, that we would go shopping.
Managed to mooch around in Betws all day with 2 visits to the hotel with free wifi. One for coffee and bara brith, and back again for afternoon hot drinks.
Did buy a few things but either on sale or with big discounts thanks to BMC and MTA cards (20%).
To Tyn-y-Coed in Capel Curig for dinner. A had steak and I had chicken in leek and bacon cream sauce with mashed spud and frozen peas. Good.
Back to YH, chatted with Saskia.

In Idwal Cottage YH
In Idwal Cottage YH
Countryside code
Countryside code

Tues May 28th

A dry and almost fine day of weather in the morning. Angela arrived at Idwal Cottage just after 9. She said “how about Tryfan?” and I agreed. We parked a little way down the road and set off up the north face. The route is up. A gave me some scrambling tips. We worked our way keeping 3 points of contact very steadily and carefully round walls and buttresses and resting on plateaux. We managed to miss The Cannon completely. We veered around to the east a fair way and came across a party of roped up children. Probably we should have gone up more directly at this point but we stayed east above the Heather Terrace. We worked very well together each looking out for the other and each going ahead as needed. We had to make some considered decisions on which route to take which we did slowly and very carefully on a couple of more exposed sections. One was where we had to cross a sloping green wet slab but not of huge width which extended over the air. This was followed by a lofty section where A had to take a slightly different route from me to get her little legs over. Some of the things we kept saying were “That’s looks a bit interesting” and “Shall we try it and if it’s no good we can always come back”! This helped no end! Lastly we came out onto a path where we worked out a route up the grass but there was a gully which we reckoned was passable so we went up it over some big steps to the top. As I got to the top of it, people were walking over the rocks over our heads. We then had to turn and step up to move out of the gully. We got a nice man to spot and talk A up this bit. He had come up with 3 small kids who were behind us all the way up but who magically reached the summit before us. Then we were out and the top was in sight. Photos with Adam and Eve and lunch. The mist came and we descended the south side to Bwlch Tryfan, Llyn Bochlyd and Ogwen where a new visitor centre is being built. Used the old loos and back to the cars.

Stopped to drink beer at the Pen y Gwryd Hotel which I’ve wanted to go to for a long time and we looked at all the boots of those who climbed Everest in 1953, also the autographs of many famous climbers on the ceiling. It’s a nice old pub/hotel, smells of woodsmoke and has lots of wood panelling and you can stay there for £50 a night but they only serve dinner to residents.

We checked in at Bryn Gwynant YH, made the beds, showers. The showers and loos have all been done up and are quite bearable. I hated them the last time when Chris and I stayed here. They’ve also been doing a lot of work on the Victorian garden.
I had cheese, leek and mushroom pie and A had lasagne at the Tanronnen Inn in Beddgelert. Beer and wine to celebrate our achievement.

Angela descending from Llyn Bochlwyd
Angela descending from Llyn Bochlwyd
Boots worn by the team that climbed Everest in 1953 but not the actual boots used on Everest
Boots worn by the team that climbed Everest in 1953 but not the actual boots used on Everest
Getting high on Tryfan's north face
Getting high on Tryfan’s north face
Quartz knobbly bits
Quartz knobbly bits
The gully we came up
The gully we came up
Eve and Adam or Angela and Jak
Eve and Adam or Angela and Jak
Llyn Bochlwyd, Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen
Llyn Bochlwyd, Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen
Angela scrambling down
Angela scrambling down
Big ball of quartz
Big ball of quartz
Llyn Bochlwyd behind
Llyn Bochlwyd behind
Angela and Tryfan's south face
Angela and Tryfan’s south face
Enormous lump of quartz
Enormous lump of quartz

Weds May 29th

We heard that there was an 3.6 earthquake in Snowdonia overnight but I thought it was just Angela turning in the bunk bed above! Actually we both slept through it.
Went to the Caffi Gwynant down the road and had granola and yoghurt for me, cooked breakfast for A. Very nice cafe indeed.
Eventually drove off and parked up in Beddgelert. Set off crossing the railway line to go up Moel Hebog. We climbed up with a few scrambly bits but none on the scale of Tryfan. Reached the top and had lunch. Set off for Moel yr Ogof by following the wall down. This crossed a river and then it was a shortish ascent through Owain Glyndwr’s cave (ogof) to the shoulder which gave us a vista in most directions.
As we started to descend so as to go up the next lump the weather came in so we elected to not do this next summit and instead follow the fence down. We did this and it was steep but doable. We were just moving over a fence when we met up with a woman and child who also wished to get through the forest that was facing us. We plunged into the trees which were not very high but extremely thick and eventually managed to meet Tarmac meaning we were on the right path. We followed the stream down with our companions who were Ann (45) and Tom (6). Tom told us this when he decided we should all be introduced!
We reached where we had started the walk by returning along the path by the railway although there was a moment of confusion as new paths had been built.
Stopped at the Saracen’s Head pub for chicken pasta for me and Thai green curry for A.
Back to YH for shower, beer, wine and gassing. Also chatted to Kay. Heard an owl hooting in the night.

Bluebells at the bottom of Moel Hebog
Bluebells at the bottom of Moel Hebog
More quartz knobs
More quartz knobs
Angela on summit of Moel Hebog
Angela on summit of Moel Hebog
Someone ate a chunk out of this trig point
Someone ate a chunk out of this trig point
Huge pillow of cloud
Huge pillow of cloud
I think this is flow banding
I think this is flow banding
Angela emerging from the forest with her eyes shut!
Angela emerging from the forest with her eyes shut!
Moel Hebog in the mist
Moel Hebog in the mist

Thurs May 30th

A packed up her things and we got to Caffi Gwynant shortly after 9. Same breakfasts. Off to start of Watkin path with the rope. We practised knots and belaying. A is good at this and I was fairly hopeless. First knot rope and tie to self by following route of rope then knot rope and lasso round anchor, having checked it is secure then knot rope and tie round person. The next bit I can neither describe nor do but we did manage to belay a bit and were able to brake and easily take the weight of the other.
A set off for home and once she had gone I set off again up the Watkin path. Upon reaching the ford where a new weir is being built which will hydro electrically power all the NT properties in Wales, I veered left and followed an old mining railway track. Left that behind to ascend to the bwlch where I ate my lunch of banana and pecan bread from the cafe. A shortish climb following the wall to reach Yr Aran. I only saw half a dozen people on that hill. It was pretty windy but ok, not as bad as when Chris and I did Grizedale Pike. Did a small bit of scrambling. So windy I didn’t linger and was down quite quickly. 3 hours up and 2 down but a Quality Mountain Day (QMD). I took a bearing so as to get the peak at the right point because no path on the map. There was one on the ground which was on my bearing. On the return I did some short cuts off piste.
Back to the YH. Cooked up rice and peas and chilli con carne with cheese. Walked around the grounds as the sun lowered over Yr Wyddfa.
Rampart beer.

On summit of Yr Aran with Yr Wyddfa behind
On summit of Yr Aran with Yr Wyddfa behind
Angela belaying, I don't know what she be laying!
Angela belaying, I don’t know what she be laying!
Anchored to the anchor
Anchored to the anchor
Yr Aran
Yr Aran
Small scramble on Yr Aran
Small scramble on Yr Aran
Path was once a mine railway track, wooden sleepers slowly rotting
Path was once a mine railway track, wooden sleepers slowly rotting
Route of old railway track
Route of old railway track
Upright slates in Wales as well as Wycoller
Upright slates in Wales as well as Wycoller
Simply red
Simply red
Over the castell
Over the castell
Llyn Gwynant in the evening sun
Llyn Gwynant in the evening sun
Snowdon in the evening sun
Snowdon in the evening sun
Llyn Gwynant
Llyn Gwynant

Fri May 31st

I was woken at 11.40 by loud music so got up to investigate. The warden with the very large ears said he’d just turned it off (when he heard me coming). I was quite grumpy with him as there is a 10.30 curfew and I’ve made it clear I’m not happy on my feedback form.
A and I had heard what can only be described as repetitive flushing and concluded that someone had been troubled in the loo. The symptom continues so it must be something else.

I was still feeling quite grumpy after waking up this morning so I got packed up and was in Caffi Gwynant nice and early for my last breakfast which I ate outside in the sun. I drove across the river and up a little lane and parked the car up.

I’d picked a peak and a route that I fancied, some of which I’d done on ML training after the night navigation trip. The terrain is very bumpy and the contour interpretation is quite tricky so I knew it would be good practice for me. It was quite slow going and I wanted to get home not too late so I decided not to go up Moel Meirch after all but just to get to a wall on the map. I did this by taking a high route weaving my way up. This all went well. Heard a cuckoo very near to me. I could see the river below and decided to return along it knowing I would have to cross it at least twice. I slipped on a rock and dented my pride but not my camera which stayed bone dry in the Aquapac bag. My foot also stayed dry in Goretex. I did all my other crossings without incident but still managed to put the same foot into a bog over ankle height but the Goretex really works well. Got back to the car without any further wettings after 2 and half hours out with the map and not a soul in sight.

Into Beddgelert to buy fudge for Carol and stopped in a layby to eat my sandwich and then drove home, finally getting a mobile signal somewhere after Betws-y-Coed. Vodafone really crap in Snowdonia. Home before 6.

Afon Llynedno
Afon Llynedno
Towards Llyn Dinas
Towards Llyn Dinas
Expensive train setting off
Expensive train setting off

 

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Contours only navigation course May 25th 2013

This was an excellent day’s training. Such a contrast from the very poor training I was on for work this week.

I arrived at Barber Booth in good time. I can now get to the Peak District in under an hour and a half by using the M67, so much easier and quicker than the crow’s route.

There were 8 of us and Pete Hawkins, from the Silva Navigation School. There were 2 Marks, 2 Johns, Dom, Ken, and I think Steve, and me. We set off straight away to walk up to the access land using the OS 1:25,000 map. Once we were on the maps which only showed contours the oddest thing was not knowing the names of the places. Pete did tell us from time to time, but it was hard to remember and I don’t know that area very well.

The pattern for the day was in pairs to locate spots that Pete gave us, these were spot heights, ring contours, little nicks in the contour line. We went up Broadlee Bank Tor via the spur, across below Grindslow Knoll, then into a maze of groughs above Crowden Tower where we stopped for lunch. We stayed mostly off the beaten tracks so this was a lovely sheltered and sunny spot. Then off again into the warren of groughs and hags. The hags are the bits that stick up and the groughs are the chasms. This section was hard going across the black wet peaty bits. We made our way to Pym Chair and then across and down a steep but springy heather section to Crowden Brook, back to the farm where there is camping and also tea and cake.

I’ve had to look at the OS map to get all the names right and it seems so cluttered and actually makes it harder. I’m going to get some more Harvey maps as although they have a lot of information on them, they are not so messy.

A thoroughly good day which has increased my confidence no end.

Pete in green with legs!
Pete in green with legs!
Pym Chair
Pym Chair

P1010881 P1010882Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Wycoller mists 18th May 2013

Cath and I both used our sat navs to get to Wycoller and had managed to end up in different car parks! My route went through Hebden across Keighley Moor to Oxenhope and then across to Wycoller past a couple of big reservoirs but most of the journey was in such low cloud that I didn’t see anything. I strolled down to the Visitor Centre and we decided to set off after a hot drink. We went to the cafe where I thought I’d seen Celia Imrie several years ago. We both had huge pieces of freshly baked and very good Bakewell tart. Yes it was. Our plan was to spec out one of Cath’s advanced walks for the book she is writing and to agree an outline for how we would teach navigation skills on a day walk.

We set off from Wycoller, passing the ruined hall, my last trip there had been to see the Midsommer Actors doing The Hound of the Baskervilles as a walkabout, very atmospheric location for the play. Wycoller is also where Chris saw a ghost on the bridge, not sure which one, I don’t think the ghost was any of those listed here.

The first part of our walk was very pleasant along leafy lanes, past fields with lambs and calves. Once we crossed the road onto the access land the cloud was on top of us and we could not see far at all. The idea with this walk was that people would have some handrails to use but would then go off piste for the advanced skills part. We came across the first hiccup when we had to climb a wooden fence. Whilst we felt ok about doing this as we were on access land, we didn’t think it would be ok to encourage walkers to do this in a book and we weren’t sure of the legalities of it or how one would get permission. We carried on over the clumps and bumps and bog, it didn’t rain much but everything felt damp because of being in the cloud. We practised a bit of timing, a bit of pacing, did a bit of walking on a bearing. We remembered to trust our tools and worked out that we had not gone far enough to reach our objective which was a footpath crossing the bog. Sadly this was a path that existed only in the cartographer’s mind and not in reality. Cath went off to see if she could find it and started to disappear so I went after her. We actually ended up where the path should be according to my GPS. So this was a mixture of using our maps and compasses plus the GPS for backup. I put the backup away as it had confirmed that we were where we thought we ought to be. As the terrain was hard going, we decided to head back to the road, stopping for a quick bite to eat in the bog as it was late for lunch by then.

We saw a couple of geese and a couple of grouse, well they were minding their own business and probably thought we were quite mad to be tramping about in the mist.

We got back to the road by walking on a bearing, again good practice as we both had the feeling that the direction was other than that indicated by our compasses, but because we trusted our tools we got to where we wanted to be. It really would have been very easy to walk round and round in circles without a compass in those conditions.

Cath had already decided that the moor we’d been on wasn’t a suitable addition for her book by this point as it had been a bit of a bog slog.

We thought we would take a footpath back to my car park and get off the road which was misty, narrow and a bit busy so we took a sign leading out of a disused pub’s car park and across a field with sheep in it. The path clearly went across a field boundary on the map but in reality this was a tall stone wall with a lot of barbed wire, we tried to get over but it was a bit too hard so we went back to the road and climbed over a fence with barbed wire to get out of the field, managing to make some holes in Cath’s map in the process.

Back along the road to the car and then down to the cafe for making notes and plans. This time we skipped the cakes!

I’m just glad that I was with Cath for all these adventures. I will be writing to Lancashire Council about the blocked footpath.

Fab single stone clapper bridge at Wycoller
Fab single stone clapper bridge at Wycoller
Distinctive lichen
Distinctive lichen
Footbridge at Wycoller
Footbridge at Wycoller
Wycoller clapper bridge
Wycoller clapper bridge
Fireplace Wycoller Hall
Fireplace Wycoller Hall

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Thieveley Pike 12th May 2013

This walk is in my new book Great Mountain Days in the Pennines. I like the title as I don’t really think of our local hills as mountains. More rain was forecast so I cut it back a bit before starting from the layby near Holme Chapel. I walked along the road a bit and passed an old ruined house called The Holme and then decided to do a short cut along a right of way with footpath across the fields. At the end of the field there was a very big timber operation going on with several tractors and saws. They seemed to be cutting up a huge tree of about a metre and a half in diameter. Although the official footpath went right through this lot, I sensibly decided to aim straight for the open gateway so as not to get in their way.

A hi viz man came towards me and suggested that as I was heading to the gate he would “let me off” for straying from the footpath. I said I was trying not to interfere with their wood cutting operations. What a bloody jobsworth. It was far more sensible to keep right away from the vehicles and chainsaws than to stick rigidly to the path and I had made a considered decision. I knew I wasn’t on access land and I knew where the path went but this seemed to be picky for no good reason.

Holme Hall, Holme Chapel
Holme Hall, Holme Chapel
Dean Scout
Dean Scout
Rocks on Dean Scout
Rocks on Dean Scout

So thoroughly disgruntled, I headed on up through Buckley Wood and Thieveley Wood. When I got to an open spot to eat my lunch, the rain really came on. I plodded on up to the top of Thieveley Pike. This is on access land and you can get to the beacon which is a little way from the trig point but it was so wet and cold and windy that I decided to cut short my walk and return back the same way to my lunch spot and then take a different tack to avoid the wood cutters. I went through Fish Pond Plantation and down to the fish pond itself, only passed one man who was chopping bits of wood in the plantation. Very quickly back at the car.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Gorple circuit May 6th 2013

Carol and I did a very similar route to one I did not long ago with Cath, except we made it a bit shorter today.

We walked on bits of the Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway, sometimes both at the same time. It was a lovely sunny day and I had to put the factor 50 on for the first time this year.

Started at the car park for the Walshaw Dean reservoirs, dropped down to Graining Water, crossed the 2 footbridges and then up to Gorple Cottages, then to Reap’s Cross still marked as “rems of” on the map but actually “restored by the people of this hillside” a few years ago.

That was the end of the good paths, from the cross it’s a hike across the very dry moor. All the bogs have dried up. We listened to curlews and peewits and wrens and managed to make a goose very cross. Then we came upon another pair of geese so we did a bit of a detour so as not to upset them too. This took us to Raistrick Greave which is a large ruin.

From there to the old scout hut. At this point we stopped for Carol to have her lunch, half of mine had gone at Reap’s Cross and half at Raistrick Greave. Whilst there I investigated a second footbridge and some steps leading up to a good path, none of which are marked on the map. It looks like they give access to a set of grouse butts.

From the scout hut we started back taking in Gorple Lower reservoir. A lovely day out in the sun.

Gorple Lower reservoir
Gorple Lower reservoir
Graining Water
Graining Water
From Raistrick Greave
From Raistrick Greave
Blackbird for Carol
Blackbird for Carol

P1010849 P1010853 P1010863 P1010866

 Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Pennine Bridleway May 5th 2013

IMG_1294 IMG_1290 IMG_1291 IMG_1292 IMG_1293Chris and I did about 20k from her house. I only started measuring the distance when we’d already gone quite a way.
We went up to Mankinholes on the road and then along the bridleway which at that part is called London Road, decided not to go all the way to London today. It’s been refurbished and is now quite good to cycle on, less boggy but actually everywhere is very dry. We just followed the PB (blue markers) along packhorse roads and then dropped down to Callis Wood. Stopped for a late lunch by the river and then down through the wood to the canal. We took the canal back to Tod as far as Woodhouse Road, watched some men getting a barge through a lock. We had to carry the bikes up some extremely steep steps to get onto Woodhouse Road, they would be hard without a bike. Then up and up what used to be a lovely pretty lane and is now foully marred by the dumping of detritus. Up some more to the Shepherd’s Rest. Then down all the way back to Chris’ house for a welcome cup of tea.
I managed to get oil all over my clothes trying to get the bike back up on the car which was a struggle because it was at a bit of an angle. Then when I got home found I had a four inch scratch down my calf. No idea where that came from.
We were celebrating Karl Marx’ birthday: http://imperialsenate.wordpress.com/tag/karl-marx/

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Water board ways 4th May 2013

I did a quick walk from Spa Clough reservoir near Junction 22 of the M62. I’ve seen what looks like a good track every time I’ve driven home from J22 and now I’ve finally got to walk it. To be honest it’s not very exciting. There are various water board things to control the water and lots of inlets but that’s about it. The M62 is very near although mostly I hardly noticed it apart from when it was in actual sight. It was sunny and windy.

Booth Wood reservoir
Booth Wood reservoir

IMG_1280 IMG_1282 IMG_1285 IMG_1289Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Norway April 2013 and Bruce

Weds 24th April

Chris arrived at our house and we set off smartly and on time.
Everything went smoothly at Manchester airport.  I was very thoroughly checked over in security, it felt as if most of what I was wearing had to come off and the scanner went up and down about 3 or 4 times. Just as well I don’t fly very often. We got a free sample of Beefeater gin so Chris bought a plastic litre bottle of it for £13 and some sunglasses and I bought a half bottle of The Balvenie.
The flight was fine and relaxed. Interesting to see frozen lakes but not much actual snow as we approached Oslo airport. We appeared to land in a field but the airport is really quite big and we had to walk a good way to collect our bags and then a big queue to get through passport control and another long walk to the train station.
At Oslo Sentrum we bought some hair dye. C to change from the strong carrot shade and me to hide the grey. Then a bus to the Hotel Anker. A nice man was keen to help by telling us it’s only 5 mins walk. Not with these shoes! (we were wearing our hiking boots to save on luggage weight when flying). Well actually not with the weight of our luggage and I’m sure I can’t be the only one to mentally add a W prefix to the name of our hotel!
However the hotel is clean and comfortable in our basic room. Just as well we like it as we are coming back here on Monday. The wireless is less than useless though.
Straight out to find dinner. The resto we look for is a building site so we wander around a lovely indoor market in a new apartments area near the river then we go to a rougher downtown area where C gets tonic water and eventually we opt for Santino’s spaghetteria. C has tagliatelle and scampi and I asked for a 4 seasons pizza but got a spicy beef one the size of a tea tray. The food was very fresh and tasty and I got half my pizza to take away in a box. Prices are eye watering.
Feel we have not yet seen the best of Oslo. It looks a bit tired after the winter, much as our garden does. It is not as clean a city as I expected.
Back to the hotel for hair dying session, nice shower and so to bed.

IMG_1145
After the gin

Thurs 25th April

Got up early. Breakfast was a bit mixed. There were some horrible looking hot things – violently yellow  eggs, fried potatoes in what looked like sweet chilli sauce but the mini frankfurters were ok. Lots of cold meats, some were fine. Also cheese and pickled gherkins and fresh tomatoes and cucumber. The muesli  and runny yoghurt in a big carton were good. The juice was weak and the fact that the coffee was hot is the only good thing to say about it. The rye bread was fab.
We ate some of the food and made up bread rolls for lunch on the train. Then we checked out and got onto the bus. Another nice man was keen to help by telling us it’s only 5 mins walk. We’ve still got the luggage to consider although the footwear is not an issue today except that some twit in the shop had their eyes shut when they laced up my new Merrell shoes so as we were early for the train to Bergen I re-laced them.
The train was comfortable and we had lots of room to spread out. We went and bought coffee from the buffet car and then found we had free drinks in our Komfort section.
As soon as we left Oslo it started to become clean and lovely. We passed iced over lakes and wooden cabins. Getting higher up there was lots more snow. We went through Geilo and saw the hotel we will be going to on Saturday. It looks a good place. Some snow there but not enough for dog sledding or snow shoeing.
Higher and higher and serious amounts of snow. Travelling through miles of whiteout across the Hardangervidda plateau and up to Finse which at 1223 is the highest station on the journey. Deep winter there for the population of 10 who work in the hotel.
The train left Oslo at 8.00 and we had our slices of pizza for elevenses and our bread rolls for lunch. The first half of the journey was dry and bright. Then we went through snow and sleet. Got to Bergen and rain.
A short hop to the Radisson Blu hotel on Ole Bulls Plas.
Our room on the 6th floor is an eclectic mix of designs but clean and comfortable.
Off for a swim and jacuzzi, both hydro therapy and air therapy, then a sauna.
Off out to Pingvinen bar which is literally just round the corner. I have some problem with the bar stools which twirl me round and nearly off at 180 degrees. Chris has a dish that is only available on Thursdays. It is salted lamb with sausage, bacon and mashed swede and potato dumplings. This was raspeball. But we don’t know why it’s only served on a Thursday.  I had meat balls (kjottkaker) with mashed peas, carrots, new potatoes and lingon berries. Great combination and very tasty. Not sure about the berries they were small and red and delicious. Could even have been red currants. Also drank Hansa beer.
We finally spotted a man in a Norwegian sweater. Then out to walk off the dinner. Found a mini market for more tonic and much cheaper. Wandered around the theatre streets and narrow pedestrian streets and the harbour but both cold so after we had looked at but not entered the only gay bar in Bergen we headed back to warm up. The hills around have now got more snow on them and the cloud is low. The funicular station at Floyen is flood lit through the mist but now the rain has stopped.
We like that there is a fold out ironing board and an iron in the room, although really this needs Carol to be fully appreciated. Chris very happy that there is an ice dispenser just outside the room.

Why this was good training for polar exploration
Why this was good training ground for polar exploration
Through train window
Through train window
View from train
View from train
View from train
View from train
On the train
On the train
A relaxing glass of champagne
A relaxing glass of champagne
Old town
Old town
Old town houses
Old town houses

IMG_1169 IMG_1168

The theatre
The theatre
I have no idea what to do with this
I have no idea what to do with this
The ironing board, but where is the Iron Man?
The ironing board, but where is the Iron Man?

Fri 26th April

Got up and Chris went for a swim and I went for a run. I went round and round the lake across from the hotel. My longest stretch was 8 mins and it felt fine.
Back for breakfast. Very good. Lots of lovely things. Nice cereals, yoghurts, bread, cheeses, cold meats, pickles, pastries and pancakes. We made up sandwiches for lunch plus cake and apples.
Out to the Floibanen funicular railway to Floyen. Then we walked up and up into the snow to the top at about 600m. Very suddenly we were in a whiteout as the snow, hail, sleet came down so we headed back the way we came as very few feet had trodden our intended path. The snow was deep and the map poor. We stopped for lunch at Blamanen, this is a lochan with a closed kiosk. I think it was closed when we came here before (Aug 2004).
Back down the zig zag paths to the town both with assorted sore and aching bits and bobs. Feet, legs, knees.
Back to hotel to change footwear and coats and out again to Bryggen to look for Norwegian jumpers. We looked in 2 or 3 shops and found some with good discounts and tax free (we will get the tax back at the airport). A nice man sold them to us. Chris bought 2 hats for her collection. We walked round the old wooden sector which was pretty much shut.
Back to hotel to rest with gin/whisky. Out again to Zupperia where we served by somewhat bossy girl who seemed to delight in moving customers from table to table. Chris had teriyaki chicken with rice and veg. I had marinated chicken with rice and salad. I had Chris’ mushrooms and she my sweet chili sauce.
Back to hotel for packing and bathing/showering. A terrible noisy racket set up outside but only lasted for about 20 mins. We’d seen lots of young people in red trousers and hats and now they were dancing badly by a bus.
Both very tired.

One of the 7 hills above Bergen
One of the 7 hills above Bergen
Jake and Elwood Blues, not Thelma and Louis!
Jake and Elwood Blues, not Thelma and Louis!
Frozen reservoir
Frozen reservoir
In the whiteout
In the whiteout
At least Chris can find me in the whiteout
At least Chris can find me in the whiteout
She is also well visible
She is also well visible

IMG_1191

Love the bear and the bear loves you
Love the bear and the bear loves you
Bergen
Bergen
Municipal statuary
Municipal statuary
Bergen, I like this because of the pedestrian
Bergen, I like this because of the pedestrian
Centre of Bergen
Centre of Bergen
Clock above building where we ate the first time we came here
Clock above building where we ate the first time we came here
The harbour
The harbour
From the Floibanen
From the Floibanen
This is the pond next to the hotel that I ran round and round and round
This is the pond next to the hotel that I ran round and round and round
It was this big! I've no idea what was!
It was this big! I’ve no idea what was!

P1010664

Just hanging out
Just hanging out

P1010674 P1010675

P1010681
Bryggen
P1010684
In Bryggen

P1010677 P1010678

Sat 27th April

Up early after neither of us sleeping very well. Too hot and surprisingly noisy.
Breakfast was great and we made lovely sandwiches.
Straight to the station and onto the train. Such a lovely sunny day so the mountains and lakes are all glistening and the snow is shining. I try to speak some Norwegian but pick some Germans to try it on so it’s a dismal failure but at least I get to practice my German a little. I also chat to an Australian woman from Melbourne and learn that they do have a snow season.
The journey back to Geilo is stunning and looks so different from just 2 days ago. I like that skis are seen as normal things to carry.
We arrive in Geilo at 11.00 and walk to the Hotel Geilo. There are only 2 others staying because the ski season is over and the summer walking has not yet begun.
The hotel has nice painted wood in the public rooms. The bedroom is ok but not special unless you count the Sandtex on the ceiling!
After settling in we go in the town. Tourist Info confirms everything is shut so they give us a free buff and free pin badges.
We have coffee and carrot cake (Chris) and hot choc (me) but it’s not got much choc in it. Walk round shopping centre and buy bottles of beer from a shop selling alcohol that is very secure with a turnstile to get in and out.
Back to hotel to change and out for a walk round the lake. We don’t go all the way round as it’s hard work on slushy snow. But we do go to the Nature Park and the sound sculpture which is lots of resonant wood clanking together in an old byre. It sounds lovely and reminds me of cow bells. Then back to hotel sometimes up to our thighs in snow and sometimes just lying on it.
Absolutely beautiful sunny day. Still lots of sun at 8.00 in evening. Have drunk 2 bottles yummy beer. Soon be time for dinner.
We set off for Hallingstuene having decided to go for the best if pricey place for real Norwegian food. We go in and it looks to be lovely place with painted wood and I’m just starting to take my things off when we find the place is full for the last evening of the season so we are well buggered there then. We weren’t expecting this as the town is so quiet and empty.
We set off for best place no. 2 which is Sofia’s at Bardola Hotel. Of course I’ve come out without a map but a helpful woman, in fact the only person we meet, directs us. It is 10 mins away.
The woman’s minutes are a little ambitious. It is a good trek along a nice little road. Bardola is a big hotel. At first it seems we may not get a seat as we have not booked but then the girl changes her mind. Plenty of tables free up as we eat so this is nonsense.
We manage to work out most of the menu successfully. They then bring us English menus which is how we know we’ve got it right. Chris opts for Jim’s burger (made by her cat?!) and me for Caesar salad, all washed down with Hansa beer.
The burger comes with cheese and bacon and fried potatoes in sweet chili sauce. It is all held in place with a skewer. The Caesar has bacon bits and croutons and is very tasty.
Back along the road as the last light goes. House lights shining on the snowy slopes. Puddles starting to ice over.

Sound sculpture
Sound sculpture
Shed for sound sculpture
Shed for sound sculpture
When I'm out on the street, I walk the way I wanna walk
When I’m out on the street, I walk the way I wanna walk
Chris liked the yellow house
Chris liked the yellow house
Big snow from the train
Big snow from the train
Frozen lake at Geilo
Frozen lake at Geilo
Our German friend took this photo
Our German friend took this photo
From the train
From the train

P1010688

From our bedroom window at the Geilo Hotel
From our bedroom window at the Geilo Hotel
A storage barn in Geilo
A storage barn in Geilo

Sun 28th April

Late and lazy start to day. We were the only ones in the large dining room for breakfast. Muesli and thick yoghurt, bread with salami and cheese. Nice coffee and juice. Rye bread fab. Crisp breads fab, I’ve not  eaten them before as Ryvita is like cardboard but these were excellent and I am converted. I had them with pâté also brown cheese which is slightly sweet. I like it more than last time but Chris not keen. We make up our sandwiches.
Off out to find the path up the hill. It is a dull day and chilly. We go into Dr Holm’s Hotel to reserve a table for the evening. The hotel is very lovely and massive. We find the path behind it and zig zag our way up and often across the ski slopes. The snow is mostly hard but when it isn’t we fall over. It’s quite fun in the birch trees and I’m pleased we got the right path from the less than brilliant mapping. It must be a very pretty path in the summer. Summer starts in June and is short.
We get up quite high at 1040m but the wind is strong and bitterly cold plus there is a big steep ski slope to cross so we turn back and stop half way for me to eat half my sandwich. We went up about 230m. Much windier back in the village so we go straight back to hotel for hot chocolate by the fire. More chocolatey than yesterday’s.
Mooch about. Finished off the last beer bottle.
Dr Holm’s is quiet. Only us and a few other parties. Chris had the fixed price menu which was scallops and langoustines, lamb shank from Flam and creme brûlée. I had coq au vin and creme brûlée. All very good and washed down with Hansa beer because we struggled with £50 for a bottle of wine.

Dragon protection racket
Dragon protection racket
High on a hill was a lonely reindeer...
High on a hill was a lonely reindeer…
Geilo ski slopes in the dark
Geilo ski slopes in the dark
Where are my skis?
Where are my skis?
We decided not to attempt this hard slope
We decided not to attempt this hard slope
I think this is a lichen, have brought some home to identify
I think this is a lichen, have brought some home to identify
Snowy walk
Snowy walk

Mon 29th April

This is Bruce day

We breakfast and make sandwiches. I have taken to crisp breads in a big way. I had no idea there were so many types.
As we get ready to leave the hotel, it starts to snow and by the time we’ve walked to the station in the blizzard there is an inch on the ground.
The journey is very pretty as everything has a light dusting of snow.
The loos on the train are gruesome today. I have taken Imodium so that my evening with Bruce is not spoit by loo breaks.
We arrive back in Oslo a bit late but quickly catch the tram back to the Hotel Anker using our 24 hour pass and get ready for Bruce. We take the 31 bus from Hausmann’s Gate to Fornebu and get off at the Telenor Arena. It’s in a bit of an industrial wasteland.
There’s a bottle neck in the queue for entrance E but we squeeze past to get to D which is much more orderly although I’m told not to block the road by a rather stern G4S security guard. As we go in I think they are playing a version of This Hard Land sung by Bruce that I don’t know and we are looking for food and drink but as soon as I realise it’s Bruce himself we race to an entrance and get a great view and he’s just singing for the people in the pit and us. He plays All that Heaven will Allow, the Fever and Growin’ Up before telling us he’ll be back later. Here is the whole pre show set on YouTube.
Despite all the arena info saying there is an 800 seater restaurant all we end up with is a long hot dog sausage in a pancake and 2 glasses of beer.
Our seats are ok and we have a decent enough view. Bruce comes on at 7.40 and gives us a great show. He’s so generous with his band. Little Steven opens with a Lillehammer song during which Bruce is just backing him. Highlights for me were the River with Bruce’s extraordinary falsetto sounding like an angel, blistering guitar on Prove it All Night and For You piano solo. Chris’ star songs were For You, She’s the One, Thunder Road and Prove it All Night.  The audience actually listened during the quieter songs but also struggled to get on their feet to dance. Even after Bruce had got everyone up, our neighbours all just sat down again.
After the show we just went and got on the 31 bus which took us all the way back to the hotel.
A Bruce nerd had attached himself to us but we disentangled quickly.
We went to Sara’s Bar around the corner and drank 2 glasses each of Frydenlund dark beer.
Very late to bed.

Greasy Lake set list

From the train
From the train
9.55
9.55
10.14
10.14
Geilo station
Geilo station
Bruce, 100 people in the pit and us
Bruce, 100 people in the pit and us
Bruce, 23,000 people in the arena and us
Bruce, 23,000 people in the arena and us
I came for for you
I came for for you
Merrell shoes
Merrell shoes

Tues 30th April

Woke late but in time for breakfast and sandwich making.
Out to city hall on tram and foot. The city hall was built in 1950 and is an eclectic mix of architectural styles but quite fun and big with some great paintings of Norwegian myths. Bought Oslo 24 hour pass, this covers most museum entries, all travel and discounts in some restaurants. With it we went on the ferry to Bygdoy. Walked a way to the Norwegian folk Museum. This was excellent and included an exhibit on Sami life. The museum has reconstructed farms, houses both rural and urban. It was a great place and we lunched on a bench in the sun outside a couple of town dwellings.
Then the Viking Ship Museum. There are 3 Viking ships which are most impressive, also a carriage and other artifacts found inside the ships because they were used for burials. Lovely carving and detailed metal work. They are having serious conservation dilemmas as the fartiacts are disintegrating.
Quite a hike to the Fram museum. By then we were running out of time as it shut too early at 4.00. I would have liked a little more time there but I did get to go inside the boat and see that they were very comfortable in the cabins. They very fairly had an exhibit about Scott. The statues outside are the ones who actually did get to the South Pole first though!
We had a look round the Kon Tiki museum which shut a bit later. They had the raft and also a reed boat which Thor Heyerdahl made a lot later on.
We got the ferry back to the city hall and then waited a long time for a tram or bus at a stop where the grass was growing over the tram tracks. The electronic signage was telling us that the next tram was due but ours had not appeared so we set off but then of course the bus did come and we had to run to get on it.
A quick change and off out on the 11 tram to Kaffistova. This is a self service cafe and we got 20% off with the Oslo card. Chris had meatballs with squashed peas, fried potato, gravy and then ice cream. I had mini reindeer burgers, veg mix, fried potato wedges, gravy followed by apple cake and ice cream.
I will be buying sweet pickled gherkins and crisp breads in bulk.
We passed the London Pub, Chris very quickly identified this as a gay bar because of its rainbow flag. We observed but didn’t go in.

We’ve seen a lot of people wearing bright red trousers. Reckon this is some national sport gear but not sure what. Seen a lot of people wearing wellies too. I can understand in the snow but it’s very dry now and seems a hot sweaty thing for poor feet. Once we found the other parts of Oslo away from what was quite a run down area, it was a lovely city to see and be in. Also much cleaner.
Back to hotel on the tram. A quick pack and back out to Bar Sara for a pint of brown lager. The handsome boy served us again. The bar is much more busy tonight because we are not there at midnight! Nice local bar. We are knackered so one drink and back to hotel. C falls asleep instantly. I fall asleep writing this account.

Oslo by night
Oslo by night
Three deer at Oslo City Hall
Three deer at Oslo City Hall
On the ferry to Bygdoy
On the ferry to Bygdoy
This is Chris' retirement abode
This is Chris’ retirement abode
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
These are Gentian, very pretty
These are Gentian, very pretty
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
Post Office at the Norwegian Folk Museum
Post Office at the Norwegian Folk Museum
Ye olde garage
Ye olde garage
Two storey privvy
Two storey privvy
Old deli was shut, they are missing a trick here
Old deli was shut, they are missing a trick here
Old kiosk
Old kiosk
Lovely stripey brick work
Lovely stripey brick work
Chris has decided to upgrade
Chris has decided to upgrade
Before Sealink
Before Sealink
Terrible image because of the glass but I loved his face
Terrible image because of the glass but I loved his face
I think this was the fancy "pleasure" boat
I think this was the fancy “pleasure” boat
My team is using dogs and we will get to the South Pole first because we are used to these conditions
My team is using dogs and we will get to the South Pole first because we are used to these conditions
I'm coming with you then
I’m coming with you then
Comfortable life on board the Fram
Comfortable life on board the Fram
The galley
The galley
The Kon-Tiki
The Kon-Tiki
Successful Norwegian Polar explorers
Successful Norwegian Polar explorers
Lovely day for a ferry
Lovely day for a ferry
This is obscenely big
This is obscenely big
On the ferry to Bygdoy
On the ferry to Bygdoy
This seemed quite big until it got dwarfed by the cruise ship
This seemed quite big until it got dwarfed by the cruise ship
Not sure what this is
Not sure what this is
Oslo by night
Oslo by night

Weds May 1st

Up early at 6.45 which translates to 5.45 in UK time. We are almost the first to breakfast and make up our sandwiches. Check out. On to tram to central station. I have loo emergency now that Imodium has worn off. We catch the local train to the airport.
First we get our tax back on our purchases although the desk is not where it says on the info we were given.
Then the check in which is entirely self service. The auto machine does not like Chris’ passport. Eventually we get it to work and it spits out boarding passes and luggage labels. We have to label up our own baggage and stick the labels to themselves which is just not very easy although everyone else manages to do it neatly. We have to scan our luggage onto the conveyer belt. Too much DIY and a bit stressful.
Into security. This time I don’t get a full work over. My jeans don’t fall down when the belt comes off as I have eaten so much that my BMI shows I am too short.
Into duty free for essential shopping. Onto our gate. We get coffee but machine breaks as we are supposed to be boarding. Coffee not nice. Always get the coffee from the percolator jug!
Onto plane. Beer!

And I liked this one, because I am actually in it!
And I liked this one, because I am actually in it!
On the plane home, Chris liked this one
On the plane home, Chris liked this one

Tips to save money in Norway

Don’t buy bottled water, the stuff in the taps tastes good. Buy travel saver tickets for the trams, buses, ferries in Oslo and use them wisely. Also the Oslo pass for museums and travel. Get up early if you are going to Bygdoy. Make up sandwiches from the generous hotel breakfasts. Take resealable sandwich bags. Buy spirits from the Duty Free in the UK.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.