Archive for October 2016

Weekend with the Junior Sherpa – Moel Siabod (with special guest appearance)   10 comments

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After the efforts from the day before my knee was still very painful the next morning and I was struggling put any real weight on it. Sensible decision would have been to go home but the Hard Man had arranged to meet us for the day so I felt we couldn’t let him down. I thought I might manage a relatively short day and see how it went. The obvious choice is Moel Siabod. A cracking mountain in its own right and a relatively short day by Snowdonia standards. We managed to get the last parking spot in the lay by by Pont Cyfyng.

The weather had looked similar to the previous day with just a hint of blue. We hoped that it would clear and indeed by the time we set off and started the walk the blue patches were becoming more expansive and it turned into an absolute stormer of a day

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Moel Siabod sits out on its own away from the rest of the main Snowdonia massif. Its quite distinctive from the NE with the ridge end on giving kit a pyramidal aspect. Its a very pleasant steady climb to reach it and uphill at least my knee wasn’t giving me too much discomfort

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The route passes through old quarry workings and a very attractive lake

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The path levels out at the delectable tarn of Llyn y Foel. It always looks like a perfect spot for a wild camp but there is precious little grass up here. Its just at the wrong height, right in the middle of the heather/bog/rock/tussock combo.

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Its still a mighty fine spot fro rest though and in the case of the Hard Man, a snooze

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Our route from here was along the edge of the corrie holding Llyn y Foel, the ridge of Daear Ddu. Its not really a ridge in the true sense as the SW side is just an open slope with an easy path. If you stick right next to edge however its a very easy and entertaining scramble with a real sense of exposure, safe in the knowledge that retreat to the path is always easy. With skies clearing by the minute it was a superb ascent to the summit with views opening out to the south all the way and a wonderful aerial view of the lake below.

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On arrival at the summit the main Snowdonia ranges are suddenly and dramatically revealed. The Glyders with Tryfan showing its teeth above the moorland foreground

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The Snowdon range

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The Carneddau where we walked the day before

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We had a long stop for lunch, probably too long as it was colder than we thought!

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The weather was now glorious. To the north and west was an expansive clear patch of clear blue and the views were magnificent. It was a joy to walk down the long NE ridge

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Well it would have been had I not been significant pain from my knee. Going up had been ok but as soon as I started down it came back with a vengeance. Every step was excruciating. In truth I’ve no idea how I made it down. The views and some company kept me going

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I reached the bottom of the steep section with some relief. The walk back down the track was considerably less painful but the views made it worthwhile. I was glad when we reached the car though!

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A sensational day and the icing on the cake of a grand weekend away. Thanks to the Hard Man for making the effort to join us. First time he’d done the peak so he picked a perfect day

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No idea how long it will be before I can tackle a similar mountain day. 😦

Posted October 30, 2016 by surfnslide in Snowdonia, Wales, Walking

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Weekend with The Junior Sherpa – Carneddau   6 comments

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Whilst the Funster cats were away the Sherpa mice did play! Left to our own devices while TBF went along to a choral singing event we decided on a weekend of relative luxury (Premier Inn, Conwy) to get some walking in. Forecast was ok if a little bland so we hoped to pick off some longer routes. TJS has now paid a visit to the Snowdon and Glyders range so this time it was the third of the main Snowdonia ranges, the Carneddau. A round of Cwm Eigiau seemed appropriate from our northern base and we were up at the car park just after nine. Just in time as it turns out. A large group had pretty much filled the car park and were making a bit of nuisance about setting off (one bloke who loved his own voice and a woman putting on her boots in the middle of the road being the prime culprits). I paused to see where they were heading and went in the other direction

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The weather had looked grey when we set off and rather than clearing like we’d hoped seemed to be getting greyer as we headed into Cwm Eigiau

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We were taking in the two bonus Carneddau of Pen Llithrig y Wrach and Pen yr Helgi Du. They are well worth the extra effort with fine views and much quieter than the higher summits in the Carneddau on the Welsh 3’s list

The summit of PLYW was swarthed in cloud and things did not look promising. Rather than one of the UK’s classic rounds it seemed more likely we’d press on until we got bored walking in fog and head down. As we reached the col before the climb to PYHD we came out of the cloud and things looked a little more promising

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I fully expected to climb straight back into the cloud but it lifted as we climbed and we were almost out of the cloud on PYHD

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We stopped for a short break and things improved dramatically. Blue sky and some watery sunshine appeared and most of the tops cleared from cloud. It was all very impressive and moody

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The views across to Craig yr Ysfa were especially fine

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We descended the steep and narrow ridge from PYHD and climbed the short scramble over the rock of Craig yr Ysfa without incident and found an excellent grassy perch complete with a rock back-rest for lunch. Combined with some dramatic views that’s a measure of a good day in my book

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The climb to Carnedd Llewelyn is longer and further than it looks and by the time we reached the summit I was pretty knackered. There were loads of people on the summit, looked like some kind of organised challenge walk – you can always tell by the large numbers of seriously unhappy looking people with a face that says “this is much harder than you said it would be”

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The cloud had lifted off the summits but it was overcast with a few bright patches. It made for some dark and atmospheric views

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We were planning on bagging the outlier of Yr Elen but after looking down at the low col and realising we’d have climb back up again we thought better of it and headed off to bag Foel Grach

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We paused on the summit for more snacks and considered taking in the smaller Foel Fras but it was getting late, we were both pretty tired and my left knee was causing me some severe discomfort. After a cursory look at the dark and depressing emergency shelter on the summit we headed down. Very slowly in my case

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We caught some decent views on the way down and its a very enjoyable walk down over Craig Eigau. The little dragons back of rock is an entertaining scramble but I had no will or energy for it today

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I was hobbling badly by the last stretch down the track and TJS reached the car several minutes before me. Still it had been a grand day out. I was just worried about the price I’d have to pay for it as I could barely walk when we finished

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12 miles and 3300 feet of ascent is pretty big day for both of us. A classic of North Wales

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More Snowdonia adventures to follow

Life on the Edge   8 comments

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Im catching up on my outings and we are now into October so at least I’m posting in the same month as activity that created it. A cracking forecast and a plan to meet a few of the gang for a mid-Wales walk in the hills to the north of Llangollen. In the end it was just me TJS, TBF and Uncle Fester from Manchester. A hearty breakfast in the Ponderosa cafe atop the Horseshoe Pass started a stunning day, all clear blue skies and fog filled valleys

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A short drive to the rather splendidly named World’s End for a walk along the Limestone edges of Eglwyseg Mountain

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A superb clear morning perfect for this easy although long ramble in this secretive corner of Wales. The Horseshoe Pass itself is famous but tucked away to the east, almost unseen is a long limestone escarpment with some cliffs to rival anywhere else in the UK. There are no actual paths or rights of way marked along the edges but its open access land and thin paths are there if you seek them out. The views from the rim of the precipice across green valleys to the dark and contrasting brown and heather clad Llantysilio Mountain are fantastic. We’d only been walking half an hour before we stopped for a brief rest to take it all in on the edge of Craig Arthur

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The walk along the edges is easy and superb with wide ranging vistas and a real sense of air. The edges are sheer and dramatic

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We weaved around amongst the various terraces and eventually the hilltop Castell Dina Bran came into view. We dropped down a very narrow and steep gully to reach the the terraces of long abandoned quarries (you can see them on the left of the photo below)

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This lower terrace was equally superb, an easy stroll on a grassy path with views of the castle always focusing the gaze

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On a warm, clear, sunny autumn day it was an absolute delight

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Lunch was planned for the castle although its a short steep pull to the top

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The views from the castle on its very steep and isolated summit are unsurprisingly superb

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It was busy as you’d expect but we found a quiet sheltered spot and spent a very happy hour enjoying the warm sunshine and admiring the views.

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I’m a fan of views from up high over towns and cities so I was particularly impressed with the view over Llangollen, as well as westwards towards Llantysilio Mountain and beyond

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The ruins are scant but very evocative and I believe its one of the many, many places linked to the legend of King Arthur, he did get about that fella’.

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The trees were in autumn berry cloaks and the gorse was still flowering – some real colour contrasts to enjoy

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We returned via some linked paths and roads that follow the base of the cliffs. Equally impressive and quite staggeringly deserted

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The path follows the indents of the various gullies that scythe the face of the limestone, perched below the cliffs and screes and above the farmland. It was an exceptionally enjoyable stretch of walking as fine as any in the UK and as i said its seems very little known

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It finished with a long rising traverse across the slopes to reach the edges near Craig Arthur where we sat for a few minutes to enjoy the last of views before the short walk back to the car

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A memorable day, and a long one at 12 miles, finished off in the appropriate style with a slap up meal at the rather excellent Corn Mill in Llangollen. Early start and late home but justly rewarded

R & R in Silverdale   4 comments

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A short post based on the few photos I took over this weekend back in September. More in tribute and thanks to Mark and his family for inviting the usual collection of kids young and now getting older and adults already old and trying to be younger, to their home and allowing us to eat their food, untidy their rooms and generally interrupt their busy life. Its a weekend we now always look forward to as a kind of last hurrah before the dark days of winter set in

We did a pretty long on the Saturday. Leighton Moss & Hall and down to Warton (where we met the Yorkshire contingent for a pint and a bowl of chips in a local pub) and then back to Silverdale via Warton Crag. It was an excellent day but as it was a little grey and overcast I took no pictures. It was more a day for catching up and chatting and none the worse for that.

Sunday was day of bright sunny intervals and though there were heavy showers we missed almost all of them on a walk down to Jack Scout and Jenny Brown’s Point. Its one of my favourites and this time took a few snaps to capture the day.

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En route we came across a rope swing that the kids had a great time with (and some adults who should know better)

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The tide was out and the views across Morecambe Bay, the wet sand reflecting the sun, were very fetching

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The kids gathered for a cheery team photo in the very strong and blustery wind, before we went back for yet more food. Eating is a big part of this weekend 🙂

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We enjoyed one final walk between late afternoon lunch and early tea – yet more food – up through Eaves Wood to the Pepperpot. The views across the village and the bay from here are superb and I’m always jealous of the fact that this view is no more than a 15-20 minute stroll from Mark’s front door.

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A fine way to finish another excellent weekend away – big thanks again to the Silverdale crew!

Paddling over Mynydd Llangatwg   6 comments

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A repeat walk with TJS of a short hike I did last summer on a very similar day. The edges of of the Craig y Cilau escarpment are very fetching in summer when they catch the sun (the are in permanent shadow in winter). The autumn colours were again superb and the views across the Usk valley to the Sugar Loaf are always especially good from up here

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Scrambling to the top of the eroded and now grassed over mine remnants is great fun, gives a certain miniature mountain arete sort of vibe

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The old tramway beneath the limestone cliffs gives a wonderful level stroll. Despite its majestic appearance it seems to be completely off the radar and we rarely see more than a handful of people up here

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I’m especially fond of this grassy (and boggy) meadow with its views back to the escarpment. Its certainly better than trying to tackle the wooded slopes higher up from my last visit

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Time for the contrasting second half of the walk. Up above the edges and on to the expansive grassland behind the escarpment

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There is a summit of sorts where we paused for a snack before heading into the wilderness

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Being Limestone scenery there are a couple of seriously big sink holes up here

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We headed over to the lake of Pwll Gwy Rhoc. Last year the area was a little boggy but bearable. This year it was a lake everywhere. Trail shoes were a bad idea. By the time we reached the lake shore my footwear was at maximum saturation point

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I had my swimming stuff with me but TJS had a look that said he didn’t want to hang around in a cold breeze in the middle of an expansive bog waiting for his dad to take a dip. We just pressed on through more bog and sat on the edges for a late lunch so I could wring the brown water out of my socks before heading back to the car

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Solo traverse of Hergest Ridge North Face and Hanter Hill South Ridge   4 comments

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Well I had to do something to make these hills sound exciting.

Seriously a very fine stroll indeed when faced with a solo walk. TBF was in London watching the Piano Man himself, TJF was at a friends and TJS too lazy to come out, struggling as the was with his first week of early starts at college.

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It was early September (I think!) and the first flush of Autumn colours were out. The forecast was pretty ordinary but it turned out to be a rather splendid day of powerful sunny intervals and dark brooding clouds

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My target was Hanter Hill, a small subsidiary top to the north of the main Hergest Ridge massif. Thinking I was being clever, I thought I could traverse around to the col. Anyone who knows my local hills also knows that they are cloaked in the deepest bracken at this time of year. It was tedious wet and slippery and I cursed my way across the slopes for a good half hour on the faintest of paths

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Thankfully I survived the jungle and arrived at the col under blue skies and swiftly climbed to the top of Hanter Hill

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The views were impressive over the various ranges of heather cloaked hills and green valleys of this little known corner of mid-Wales

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I even got an aerial view of the huge Gore quarry that seems to be completely devouring Old Radnor Hill

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After a brief rest I headed down and back up over the main summit of Hergest Ridge, joining the many families enjoying some autumnal sunshine

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Only a couple of hours but a nice walk if you stay on paths on don’t head off-piste into the wastelands of bracken!

Black Mountain Revisited   12 comments

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August Bank Holiday and sunshine forecast, who’d have thought! Me and TJS took off for the hills and my classic Black Mountain circuit. I’ve posted this walk many times so I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking

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Rather than waste time at home we had breakfast a short walk from the car. Bacon sandwiches in the open air is taste much better than in the kitchen

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The larger of the two jewelled lakes of this walk, Llyn y Fan Fawr

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The high point at Bannau Sir Gaer

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And the second lake of Llyn y Fan Fach

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We stopped for a second lunch by the tarn. Despite this being a sunny Bank Holiday these hills are always relatively quiet. Dread to think how many people would have been on Pen y Fan

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I liked the clouds in this photo

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A decent welcome back to the UK

Touring through the Tarn – Mont Lozere   6 comments

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The Last Post. As it were. Bringing our French trip to a conclusion. After our only day of rain in three weeks (other than the drive from the ferry) we headed out late in the day for quick explore of the Mont Lozere area where the Tarn river has its source. The photo below at Mas Camargue is of the infant Tarn a few miles from that source

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We’d driven up through some wonderful and peaceful rural landscapes and small hamlets of Villeneuve and L’Hopital along some narrow and rough tracks. The feel is very reminiscent of Dartmoor or Bodmin Moor. Lots of grassland, heather and granite tors and boulders

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As the storm was passing and evening rolling in the cloud effects were dramatic. I’m especially proud of this image with dark skies and sunlit buildings

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The views from every corner were awesome and we stopped many times to admire, a welcome relief after being stuck in the camper in the rain for most of the day

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We took a short stroll down to the pool at Gasbiel. It was dark and gloomy but it did look worth a visit on a sunnier day. Watch this space

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The next day was our kayak trip along the gorge but for our last day we decided to pay the area another visit. It was a stunning day of deep blue sky and unbroken sunshine. We first took a walk to see the Cascade des Ruisses. The views from the walk across the upper reaches of the Tarn valley were stunning

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The waterfall itself was equally impressive but hard to capture as its sits in deep tree filled ravine

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Onward and upward we took a stroll and lunch in the peaceful village Le Pont Montvert, also on the banks of the Tarn

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Like most of the valley the village has its own rather splendid collection of natural swimming holes

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We opted to revisit the highest part of Mont Lozere again and this time under the deep blue sky it was majestic

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We walked down to Gasbiel again to laze away the afternoon. It was transformed under a sunny day into an idyllic spot. A deep green pool backed by huge slabs of warm granite just perfect for sunbathing

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It was also quiet with just a handful of families and no-one in the water. I soon worked out why. The water was absolutely freezing! I’d swum comfortably in the river no more than 15 miles downstream the day before. Despite the cold the water was wonderfully clear and refreshing (just not the place for an extended swim). Even at this altitude (around 1300m) the sun was hot and the rocks pleasantly warm.

Surprisingly TBF went in for a swim. She’s smiling in the last photo so she must have enjoyed it

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TJS was feeling a little under the weather so was content to simply enjoy some quiet time

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I took another swim and explored the other pools. It was another of my favourite spots of the holiday

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Me and TBF took a short stroll along the river and across the meadows

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This little abandoned dwelling caught my eye and was very photogenic

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The smell and colour of heather was everywhere, again reminding me of home, fitting as this was our last day before returning

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A wonderful last day finished off with another evening picnic by the river at the campsite.

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Happy memories of a fantastic holiday but still tinged with a little sadness that TJS wasn’t with us. Back to the real world now and time to catch up on my activities since we got home. Some pretty good one’s too

Touring through the Tarn – Downstream   5 comments

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Well if you visit the Gorges du Tarn you better spend a day floating down it. Rather than cycling back to the start, this time I took the easy way out and used the bus. Allowed a brief period to enjoy the views at La Malene

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We’ve done the down stream stretch from La Malene many times so this time we gave the upstream section a go from St Enemie, itself a very fine medieval village where we had lunch a few days before

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This stretch wasn’t as dramatic as the previous trips but it was a good deal quieter.

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An early stop for lunch was what was needed – it takes a while to drop off, drive to the far end and bus back

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It was warm and sunny but a little breezy, more than enough to deter the rather fickle Funsters from taking a dip. Water this cool and clear has to swum in my opinion so I had to take the waters alone

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I let the Funsters loose in the kayak without my guidance and they went round in circles for a few minutes before I took over control and ensured we continued our journey in the right direction

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A fine way to spend a sunny day, floating down a dramatic tree lined gorge, watching the world drift by

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One of the highlights is the village of St Chely du Tarn, perched on cliffs above the river with its own Tufa-lined waterfall

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Predictably I threatened to take the boat under the falls for a refreshing shower but thought better of it

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The Cirque de Pougnadoires is the drama highlight of this stretch but less so than Les Detroits and Cirque des Baumes on the lower stretch. Not too shabby though

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You have make time for plenty of stops to swim and soak up the sunshine. The Funsters are much better at that!

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The Chateau La Caze stands guard over the final long stretch back to La Malene

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A brief bit of fun trying to negotiate a very stony weir and a final swim at La Malene ended a superb day messing about in a boat

Touring Through the Tarn – Up in the Trees Part 2   4 comments

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Another day, another “Accrobranche” afternoon in the trees

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This one was by the far the most scenic and relaxed. No bookings taken, just show up, brief lesson and then off into the park. They even let you go around the course as many times as you like. The big draw is the fact that its right by the river Tarn making for all the better views

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The usual fun, wobbling about on planks and swinging about on ropes

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The big plus for this one was however the fact that the zip lines (of which this course had many) went right over the river which adds a certain exciting twist to things

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In fact a small and perfectly formed course. We’ve done tougher and more interesting challenges but this one is my favourite for the views and the very relaxed and friendly atmosphere created by the instructors

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Me and TBF went round twice, quite a challenge in the hot weather but it was too much fun not to

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The final zip line back over the river was especially long and fast.

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TBF seems to have taken the award for the most active of the family on these things and is in her element playing the Tarzan role (she is called Jane after all!)

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Great fun in the sun and as you can probably tell by now, a family favourite  🙂

Posted October 7, 2016 by surfnslide in France, Tarn Gorge

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