Deal or no Deal. It was time to visit the supermarket to get the shopping in. I traded this unenviable holiday task for a chance to go for a solo walk. Plan was to head out early, complete the walk before the day got too hot, do the shopping and be back at the house for lunch and a lazy afternoon by the pool. Up before 6am and walking by 7am in the first of daylight as the sun came up. Plan sorted.
The map showed a ridge on the frontier between France and Spain above the town of Ceret, up at around 1400m. The high-point is the Roc de France but its crowned by a rather ugly TV mast so I picked the nearby Pic de les Salines. Main advantage was being able to park up at 1000m at the Col de Fontfreda leaving a short climb to the summit. As I set off the sun was just peeking over the horizon and I had the entire route to myself.
I’m a lazy git by nature and early starts are not big in my repertoire but when you do make the effort there is nothing better than watching the sun come up and strolling through a broad-leafed sun-dappled forest at dawn. The path was easy to follow and for France relatively clear of overgrowth!
As I climbed the trees thinned revealing glimpses of the mountains of the Canigou massif, the coastal Alberes mountains and the northern hills of Spain across the Costa Brava.
I was on the summit in little over an hour and had the place to myself. The plan to be out before it got too hot backfired a little as it was actually pretty cool on the summit. I wandered about taking in the clear morning views, snapping photos and feeling pretty damn fine if a little chilly. The views from up here were superb. The Med on one side and the Pyrenees on the other
I found a sheltered rock and sat down for an hours contemplative reflection with a cuppa and some fresh croissants and fruit bought from the bakery that morning. Say what you like about the French but boy do they know how to bake bread and pastries.
I toyed with idea of trying to pick a route to the Roc de France but there wasn’t a path marked up from the col (in France you take your chances as it is, with marked paths. I could have made a round trip from the col but that would have meant a return through dark sunless forests, ideal at the end of a hot day but in the warm morning I just chose to replace my steps back down the ridge to my car.
There were now several people on their way up so I felt pretty smug at my decision for an early start and in getting a deserted summit stay. I was back at the car by 10am my fix for walking satisfied
The shopping? I didn’t take any photos figuring that no-one who reads my blog would be much interested but I can say that the cooked chicken and roast potatoes for lunch was splendid
As always on our summer holidays we have to find time for some tree-climbing adventures.
It’s a firm favorite with the family and always one of the highlights. From our holiday home it’s just a short drive to Montoz Arbres in Prats de Mollo for a half a day of arboreal antics. You can check out my post from last year here for a few more words, but here a few choice photos from this years fun
This year we were also able to take on the the small Via Ferrata course they have. It looks reasonably easy from the ground and the start is certainly good fun as you wind you way down through a small rocky ravine crossing wire bridges as you go.
But then you traverse out onto a vertical wall of rock and the difficulty increases dramatically. I’ve done a little rock climbing myself and I found it really tough going. TJS decided it wasn’t for him but TJF is pretty much fearless and gave it a good go. She found it hard as well, more physically than anything and with a little help from the instructor she conquered it. I was really proud as there were moments when I wished I’d given it a miss.
TBF then went back and gave it go giving me the chance for some action photos (it wasn’t really in my head to take any when I was clinging to rock!)
Finishing off with the major zip wire from the top of the cliffs is a fine way to conclude the fun before a rushed picnic lunch under dark skies with the rumble of thunder
Cracking day of family fun – go on – give it a try
Our holiday home in France is nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees and the local forested hills look promising for walks. TJS and me spied a small hill called La Souque a short distance from home that had a path marked to the top. Nuff said, and after a lazy day by the pool we headed out for a late afternoon walk.
After a drive along a forest road that caused several wince-inducing scrapes of the car chassis we headed off into the woods
We’ve made something of a habit this year of overgrown paths (check out our walks in North Wales and Mynydd Llangorse) and this one lived up to those challenges. After a 15 minutes of grass overgrown forest track the path plunged into a dark jungle of wild raspberry and blackberry bushes. The path was just about distinguishable but with shorts it was a painful ascent from which I still bear the scars (although the tiny wild rasperries and strawberries were nice). TJS was giving me the look again that I hadn’t told about these sorts of paths.
After 30 minutes of struggle we started to emerge onto the higher slopes with a clear path and sunny Alpine style glades. It was suddenly rather enchanting
We were soon on the summit at 1635m, a broad and grassy sway with expansive views over the local hills, down to the sea and back across to cloud-shrouded Canigou Massif that I’d climbed last year.
It was a perfect afternoon, warm enough to laze on the summit in the sun without being too hot for walking.
We wandered down the west ridge through grassy meadows, steep slopes and past rock tors and smelly sheep.
Nice easy going walking and we walked and chatted in the evening sunshine without a care in the world. A long stroll back along the forest track to the Fontaine de Brigardier (a manky stream and an equally manky shelter cum bothy) ended the day
A short walk, a simple walk, sometimes the best kind
Blimey, I’m getting further behind by the week. Still a few posts from my summer hols outstanding. Here are a few photos from a couple of beach trips.
Rather than spend a whole day on the beach where it is blisteringly hot, we took a little detour up into the Monts D’Alberes for a picnic lunch. The Lavall Valley has a very nice cool stream and we were very lucky in finding our own private spot.
The water wasn’t really deep enough to swim but there was enough to cool off and plenty of shade that made for a much more relaxed eating experience than the beach. It’s a fine spot and well worth the detour. An early morning walk on the surrounding hills and an afternoon dip is a plan I think I need to follow through next time
The beach at Le Racou is like all French beaches – crowded and noisy but it’s a kids day out.
The wind had whipped up some big waves so we had a fine time bouncing around on the inflatables and got out for some snorkelling (it was much too rough for the kids).
Like last year the skies darkened and rain looked imminent but this time it stayed dry.
We also took another day trip to El Port de la Selva in Spain.
A nice pebbly cove (complete with wrinkly nudists!) with some excellent snorkelling by Mediterranean standards and lovely views along the coast
Again the wind whipped the waves into a frenzy and the skies darkened ready for a storm. Again it never happened but the sunset was all the more impressive through the clearing clouds after a nice meal on the seafront
More photos and a nice tune…..
A photo post of our life of leisure at our home from home in the foothills of the Pyrenees. We returned to same the same superb property as last year although this time in “The Mas” rather than the Ville D’Olive
View from the terrace
Pool Fun 1
Both properties are linked together and both superbly laid out and appointed. The Mas has a much bigger pool though and a hammock so it just about wins the family vote although not by much
The Mas and the Ville D’Olive
We spend the majority of our days in the simple pleasures of eating, swimming, sunbathing and relaxing, proper detox for a busy executive
Pool Fun 2
Might as well JUMP!
The views across the mountains are just superb especially in the early morning and evening.
Sunset over Spain
The local village of Montferrer is a 10 minute walk away. It’s a peaceful, charming little village with a small, friendly cafe that provides the daily bread and pastry supplies, and overlooked by a ruined castle on the hill
Chateau de Montferrer
No finer feeling than sitting in the warm sun with a book (or a gadget magazine in my case) looking over the mountains. It’s a rare find this place with such a wonderful house with a stunning pool and garden and amazing views. I could live here
View from the Hammock
More Pool Views
More Pool fun
Eating is a serious business when in France. Freshly baked croissants and bread in the morning, salads and cold meats at lunchtime, BBQ in the evening
Breakfast in the Conservatory
Act your age!
A fabulous couple of weeks with some day trips to follow in later posts. Some more photos in the slide-show below
Time to to head for France, or at least it was a few months back – blimey, I am a long way behind
This was the first stop on our usual 3 week trip to France. We normally have a very splendid day walking the Puy de Dome Volcanoes in the Auvergne on our first day but torrential rain washed out that idea. After brief detour up into the hills and along a dead end road courtesy of the Sat Nav we managed a short stroll by the Tarn when the rain finally stopped. It was a grey and cool but great to be out of the car after 2 days crammed in its confines.
Tarn at La Malene
We had a pleasant time watching the kayakers negotiating the weir and getting wet. We had our own trip planned for the next day and were hoping for more in the way of sunshine
Weir we go…
After a night in La Canourgue we got our wish and the sun shone for the day. We took our usual trip downstream from La Malene to Pas de Soucy, the fourth time we’ve done the trip.
Entering the narrows
Its a real highlight of our holiday and it wouldn’t feel right not doing it on the way down. The scenery is magnificent, the water clear and refreshing and the sky filled with eagles and vultures.
TJS doing all the work
Anyone for a bungee jump?
Cirque de La Baume
Swimming, gentle paddling and picnicking is the order of the day, a day filled with a little exercise and simple pleasures. I’ve written the trip up the past two years so you can read some more detail if you’re interested from our days in 2011 and 2012
Radio silence from the world of Surfnslide recently. Been busy at work and planning my winter skiing holiday. Also been planning our big Family trip to Australia next summer, 4 weeks in Queensland – very excited but having just booked the flights very financially traumatised! That means I haven’t had much time to blog so I’m further behind than I’ve ever been. The usual stuff to write-up about our trip to France in the summer and a few outings since. Posts will have to be high on photos and short on words, probably a blessing for readers. I haven’t actually been out much since I got back from France so hopefully I should be able to catch up eventually when the dark winter nights draw in. Depressing thought
Anyway this is a little post – well quite a long one actually of our annual gathering on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales in the first week of the summer holidays. I’m sure I’ve bored you before with what a cracking week this always is and why its such an important part of the year for all of us. If you have nothing better to do and want to read all that stuff then you can go back in time to previous trips on 2012 and 2011
This year we were first to arrive at the end of the hot spell in the summer (remember that!). We had a fine weekend all to ourselves, lazing on the beach, swimming and having BBQs by the tent (after a delayed start due to a puncture – in case anyone out there has a car with no spare but one of those strange repair kits, don’t bother, complete and total waste of time, just call the breakdown people. If you don’t have a spare and don’t have breakdown insurance – get some!)
Porth Towyn Beach, Lleyn Peninsula
In Deep Water
The first evening we took a post BBQ drive down to the headland at Mynydd Mawr to watch the sunset. You can drive to the top of the hill and its a fine viewpoint over Bardsey Island and back over the peninsula. The weather was still warm even at 10pm, a fine end to the day
Bardsey Island from Mynydd Mawr,
Sunset from Mynydd Mawr
Evening Sunshine on Mynydd Mawr
Coastguard Station, Mynydd Mawr,
I went home for a couple of days at work to pay for all this extravagance and returned when the rest of the gang showed up. More beach fun ensued with some nice warm weather for swimming. In one of the biggest shocks this blog has ever seen, both Beach Funsters went in the sea. Pigs do indeed have wings
Row, row, row your boat
TBF (2) – in the water!!
One of the afternoons when TBF took the kids to the circus, me, EWO and TJS went for a stroll around the headland
Unlike it’s Pembrokeshire and South West Cousins, the coast path round here is deserted. Strange as it’s just as dramatic and under a clear sky simply superb
Lleyn Peninsula from Mynydd Mawr
Mynydd Mawr from the Welsh Coastal Path
Mynydd Mawr, Welsh Coastal Path
We ambled at no particular pace, admired the views, stopped for a brew and chatted.
TJS & EWO
Lleyn Peninsula, Welsh Coastal Path
We climbed the wonderfully named Mynydd Anelog, a hill stuck firmly in the last century, from which the views were truly awesome
Mynydd Mawrm from Mynydd Anelog
Lleyn Peninsula from Mynydd Anelog
We followed a series of quiet lanes and crossed to the south side of the peninsula where the views over the water to Bardsey were enchanting. On a warm summers day there is little better than a coastal wander next to an azure sea. The time simply flew by and we actually had to rush to get back to the campsite for tea even though we’d been out since 2pm and only walked 5 miles or so
Bardsey Island from Porth Felen
Evening on the Campsite
As is the tradition we took our usual stroll up the high point of Carn Fadryn. I’ve rambled on before about what a fine hill and view-point this is so I’ll let the pictures do the talking. If you want to read more check out the post from 2011
Yr Eifl from Carn Fadryb
More days of beach fun under blue skies followed. Beach cricket is now the game of choice. Trying to play sports with energetic kids makes me feel very young and very old at the same time. I hadn’t realised I no longer know how to run!
More high quality time spent consuming vast quantities of BBQ food. You can’t beat outdoor eating on a warm summers evening by the sea
We took a fancy to climb the hills near Nefyn as they looked rocky and interesting.
We scrambled up a couple of inclines to the quarries from where it was a couple of hundred feet to the summit. There was no path and it looked a little vegetated but how hard could it be?
Deep in the undergrowth
Deeper in the undergrowth
Answer, bloody hard! It was the hardest two hundred feet of mountain I’ve ever climbed. Waist deep heather, gorse and brambles, no path and loose rocks and boulders. In shorts! Took us over an hour to reach the top with several moments when we simply had no idea which way to go
The summit was worth the effort though. Sensational views of the coast and The Rivals nearby. A brew was had to cheer the soul and ease the pain of severely scratched legs. If you can bear the pain it’s a worthwhile little mountain – but its wild – you have been warned
Nefyn from Gwylwyr
Finally at the summit
Yr Eifl from Gwylwyr
We wandered over the nearby hills (more gorse and bracken) and then back to Nefyn down a succession of green lanes (more nettles) before heading back to the campsite for another spell on the beach and another BBQ (Black Pudding sausage hot dogs – mmmmm!)
Carreglefain from Gwylwyr
Mynydd Nefyn and Carn Fadryn from Gwylwyr
Another quality holiday with fine company and a smattering of walks
The sun sets on another great holiday
Same time next year!