Pillar 1st April 2018

This trip had been a long time coming. In 2010 Chris and I had a Lakeland Adventure around Ennerdale Water where we wild camped then stayed in Ennerdale YH and finished up in the Castle Inn on Bassenthwaite Lake for a proper treat. We discussed climbing Pillar and how we would do it.

In 2014, we returned to Ennerdale and walked to Black Sail YH and then Chris got sick. It was very sudden and very clear that we were not going to climb Pillar that day. So we changed our plans and did some other things. She was such a tough woman that she did go up Catbells the next day albeit very very slowly but she was so determined to do it. That was the last mountain she climbed.

I went to Wasdale in 2015 and tried to ascend from the other side. I hadn’t allowed enough time and my boot lace disintegrated and although I had a good walk that day, Pillar was just a stretch too far.

Easter 2018: I booked a break on Derwent Water. I set it up so that I had a choice of 3 possible days to walk and I would just take the best of the 3 from the weather forecasts. The first day had very limited visibility on the tops, day 2 was looking good and day 3 looking very pants. I opted for the Sunday.

I drove round from Portinscale where I was staying to Wasdale Head, an hour’s drive. Parked up with no problems near the campsite. And then just walked. You have to go quite a long way in what feels like and is completely the wrong direction but that’s so as to avoid things like the screes. So it’s up to the Black Sail Pass and then basically back along and up and up, including a sort of knarly, knobbly knot which was hands on and fun. It’s a good long walk and always another bit to do but after 3 hours I got to the top and just the top plateau was snow covered, I knew it was a plateau but with the name Pillar you are expecting something else! There is Pillar Rock which is a climbing challenge and why the place is called Pillar. Fantastic 360 views of the sea, Ennerdale Water and Sellafield!

The last of Chris’s ashes are now scattered on the top of the mountain she didn’t reach in life.

I had planned to do a circuit but it looked a lot more snowy ahead so I returned via the same route because I was on my own.

Derwent Water
Derwent Water
Pillar
Ennerdale Water from Pillar

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

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CCP Aberystwyth to Borth

26th August 2017

Early breakfast in Coffee 1. Drove to and parked up in Borth. Bus back to Aber. Whilst waiting for the bus, a young lad started talking to me and I am still wondering about him, I thought he was getting on the bus but when I looked back he had disappeared. I think he wanted something but he didn’t get it whatever it was.

In Aber, I went on the Cliff Railway because the last time I went on it was with Chris about 30 years ago, it was just the same, the newer cafe looked just as rubbish as the old one did.

Then I walked to Borth. After the Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth stretch being devoid of people, this was like being on a motorway. It’s a short walk but with a lot of up and downs per kilometre. It took me a bit over 2 hours.

I just walked as far as my car. I decided to finish my CCP at Borth. Drove to Ynyslas to eat my lunch because Chris loved it there, it was pretty busy in the bank holiday weekend sun.

Had a coffee at the community cafe, started for home and then called in at the Dyfi Osprey Project that Chris also loved. I never managed to make it there with her and wanted to see it, what a brilliant place, and I saw Monty the osprey who will shortly be setting off on his travels.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Some of the ups and downs
Possibly another lime kiln, near a huge house
What a location
Sunny Borth
Accidental photo

Llanerchaeron

25th August 2017

A day off from the CCP.

Met up with Hilary and Gerry and Bobby the dog. We went to Llanerchaeron because Chris, Gerry and I had a very happy day here just over a year ago. Chris did everything she wanted to do, ice cream, shopping, raffle tickets, sitting in the sun, wheeling around the lake and the walled garden. She was very happy that day. I’d also been here with her in slightly better days the previous year.

July 2016
July 2015

This day, Bobby wasn’t allowed to go around the lake or walled gardens so we went along an old railway track including old station remnants. Lovely walk and Bobby just about managed the stiles.

Lunch beset by wasps. What is the point of a wasp?

Back to Mwnt to say goodbye to Andy and Kaye and Charlie the dog. Then to Aber, staying in the Premier Inn. Medina for more excellent calming food and another good lager.

Bobby, Hilary and Gerry
Ye olde shed
Old station at Llanerchaeron

Ceredigion Coast Path Aberaeron to Llanrhystud

23rd August 2017

Andy and I both drove to Llanrhystud and then he taxied me back to Aberaeron. We had some lunch and then I finally dragged myself onto the path away from Kaye’s temptation of ice cream!

It took me just over 3 hours to walk back to my car, a little longer than I thought because I stopped and chatted to some very pleasant folk along the way. First a man with a huge beard who was clearing the path with a brush cutter. He plans to reach Cwm Tyddu by Friday, it looked hot heavy work. Next a woman walking the path in memory of someone who had died from sarcoma, then a young woman who was great and asked if I minded dogs, she had a very well behaved youthful husky.

It was gorgeous walking weather. I didn’t like the last bit where there was about a kilometre along the road. I managed to skip under fences where a great many cows were coming, I decided not to be scared of cows. That said, once I got on the road, there was a bull behind a little fence who gave me some very leery looks.

Checked into Penybont B&B in Clarach, clean, comfortable and welcoming. Into Aber for saucy meatballs at Little Italy on North Parade. Bottle of Peroni.

I’m finishing off my CCP which is from Cardigan to Borth. It does continue to Machynlleth but I’m stopping at Borth, don’t want to do the flat bit along the bog, and then drop in at Ynyslas because Chris liked it there.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Back to Aberaeron
Forward
One of 4 lime kilns
A dingly dell

Goodbye, darling Chris 

22nd August, what would have been her 64th birthday.

We gathered at Mwnt, some travelling across the world. There were people from all parts of Chris’s big shining life. It was good to reconnect after 30 years, with Roselle. The first place that Chris and I lived together was with Roselle and Pascale in Hinton Road in Bristol and I haven’t seen her since then. Beginnings and endings.

Marc Treanor rocked up with sticks, rope and rakes. Those who wanted to, joined in with creating the sand circle. It was Chris’s tattoo with her name at the top. It was amazing watching it take shape from above.

When it was done, we formed a human circle around the circumference with Chris’s family, friends and complete strangers from the beach. I had Andy in one hand and a very small sandy hand belonging to a skinny little boy in the other. We sang happy birthday to Chris.

As the tide came in those of us left gathered around Chris’s name. Andy scattered her ashes in the lettering. The tide came in and Chris took her last swim.

A beautiful day for my beautiful soulmate. Champagne as the sun went down. Let your love lift me up.

In Antwerp for a Bruce gig

Video of the sand creation, by Marc Treanor

Music: Lift me up by Bruce Springsteen

CCP Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth 

24th August 2017

I stayed in Penybont B&B in Clarach. John kindly drove me in to Aber. I had a coffee in Coffee #1. Hopped on the T5 I think. Anyway it took me to Llanrhystud. Carol rang just as I got off the bus, great relief as had been having no response to messages for 2 days. It turned out she had been sleeping a lot.

Back on the path. I felt like an old donkey all day and did it very slowly. There were a lot of ups, seemingly more than downs! Used my poles most of the day because the grass was slippery after the early heavy shower. No rain on me, sunny and windy. I only saw 2 people on the path all the way to Aber so it felt oddly remote. It took me about 5 and a half hours to get to Aber but then I felt pretty tired so had an ice cream in Pizza 25. John came and retrieved me.

There were signs where they weren’t really needed, e.g. Straight on or in the sea and also a lack of signage when it was. The path went through a field of cows but I coped.

I ate in Medina. Good food, good service. I had 3 salads and a Hell lager. Felt calmer.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Just loved this tunnel
These were massive, dinner plate size
I think it’s a chaffinch but please correct me if I’m wrong
Gateway to the sea

Snow shoes Mercantour, February 2017

Fri 10th

It’s exactly 3 years since Chris and I took her last holiday to Finland where amongst lots of other things we went snow shoeing. She was so happy on that trip and we had a lovely quite magical time.
I’m still in bits and not really coping that well as yet.
I stayed last night in the Hilton at Liverpool airport and did actually sleep well. That’s something that’s slowly starting to improve as in I do sleep through sometimes now.
I’m writing this on the plane and just met my 3 companions for the week, Bridget, Pat and Graeme who are all in the row behind me.
A smooth painless flight with EasyJet. Only 2 hours. Arrived Nice at 10a.m. To be met by Mel who drove us to Berthemont which is an hour up the road.
Lovely to see him and Liz again. Pat and I are in the top gite and Bridget and Graeme in the bottom one.
Unpacked then baguette lunch with beer.
Mel showed us how to adjust the snow shoes to fit our boots and how to fit a Pogu mini crampon.
Bridget took us for a stroll round the village to warm us up. Nice in the sun.
Dinner with Mel and Liz. They showed us round the house.
Dinner – cheese twists with chilli, mozzarella salad, soup, daube (beef with orange) with polenta, roast spuds, broccoli and creamed mushrooms, custard and meringue pud. All amazingly good. Wine.
Sleep.

Sat 11th

My mum’s 100th birthday today.
Breakfast in the lower gite. Croissants coffee toast muesli yogurt.
Out to Le Boreon. Walked up to the Col de Salese at 2100m. Climb of about 600m. Hard work and felt v tired and out of breath as did others. Stunningly pretty and lovely.
Lunch – salad, cheese, ham, bread.
Back down with some practice at going down slopes. Dig heels in, back straight and knees bent!
About 6km or so.
Back to Berthemont. Rugby – Wales got beaten by England so Mel not a happy bunny.
Dinner – chilli popcorn, hummus, big cooked cheeses, gnocchi with fried cabbage and onion, cooked fruits with cream.

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Graeme and Pat
Graeme and Pat
Bridget and Mel
Bridget and Mel

Sun 12th

Drive south for 45 mins. Walk up to the Cime de Roccassiera then to the ruined village of Rocca-Sparviera, looked into little chapel right up the mountain which had Templar crosses inside. Back up to the col and back down to the van.
Lunch – pasta tuna salad, boiled egg, bread, cheese.
About 13 km of distance plus 1300m of up and down. I did this walk with Liz and Mel but without the old village last time I was here in 2008. Lovely walk.
Dinner – crispy pastry things with beany inside, French onion soup, couscous with meatballs and tomato fresh sauce, choc nut fruit cream dessert. Delicious.

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Pat having a little rest
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Old village high up the mountain
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From doorway of chapel
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Genuine wolf poo

Mon 13th

Out in minibus to Rimplas near Valdeblore passing ski station. Maginot line fort. Walked to La Couletta and stopped for lunch at 1400m.
Lunch – potato salad, ham, cheese, peanuts and hot apple juice in effort to reduce my post lunch heartburn. No plantar fasciitis today as on feet for much shorter time. Only 600m of up and down today. Lovely walk. Stopped in St. Martin Vesubie for Pelforth lager and small shopping.
Dinner – tapenade on crispy toast, spinach tarte, fish stew with roast potatoes, oranges with lavender. Yum.

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Maginot fort
Roof in Rimplas
Roof in Rimplas

Tues 14th

To Le Boreon. Snow shoed up to Le Refuge Cougarde at 2100m. 1200m of up and down. Lunch inside refuge which was shut. Beany artichoke salad.
Graeme lost a snow shoe on way back down however Mel located it and fixed it back on.
Got a bit better at the snow shoe shuffle and the heels down descent techniques. Used the heel lifts to go uphill and the rear clips so as not to trip on steep descent.
Saw a chamois and some wolves in the wolf park just their tales.
Songs in my head
Climie Fisher – Love Changes Everything
Be Good Tanyas – Lakes of Pontchartrain
Dinner with Liz and Mel in their house – heart shaped pastry puffs, beetroot and goats cheese, pasta and sauce with beef strips, creamy fruity pudding. All fab.

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Bridget, Graeme, JR and Pat

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The big courgette
The big courgette

Weds 15th

Mel took us to the Tinee valley, another very steep sided valley about an hour and a quarter away. Up and up and up to Col de la Couillole at 1680m. Snow shoes to Sommet de Countent at  1990m.
Saw a black squirrel.
Back down, very hot and sunny, sloppy snow.
Tip: put pole through hole in snow basket in order to keep poles joined together and easier to use when needed comme ca.
Stopped at La Colmiane ski station at Valdeblore for Leffe beer for Mel, Graeme and me and hot choc for Bridget and Pat.
Dinner – dips, chard soup, butter chicken, basmati rice, chana dhal, lentil and potato curry with pitta. Home made coconut ice cream with melon liqueur. Yum yum.
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Thurs 16th

Utelle. Gorgeous walk up to the Sanctuaire de la Madone d’Utelle. 380m up. Quite steep on last 150m to reach plateau.
Went round the church. No quality control re the art in the cloister. Heard some singing/chanting.
Stopped in Lantosque for a St. Thomas beer. Good beer.
Back at the ranch, Bridget went for a horse ride with Liz.
Final meal upstairs with Liz and Mel.
Blue cheese and walnut (their own) on toast. Pasta with truffles. Big salad with eggs, ham a la Nicoise. Pineapples with booze on. Freixenet. Stayed up late with Liz and Mel.
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Band of travellers

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Fossil
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The bells of Utelle
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Lintel in Utelle

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Door in Utelle
Door in Utelle

Fri 17th

Up at 6.30. Breakfast at 7. Left at 7.45. Had to take mountain route diversion because of landslide on main road. It was very high with vertiginous drops, OMG! Then raced along the motorway to the airport. Seemed fast after a week of pootling along.
Easy flight. Slow on motorway getting home.
How lovely it was not driving or cooking and being in a beautiful and dry place with good company!
Videos from the trip.
The holiday was run by Mel and Liz from SpaceBetween.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS