Category Archives: Random

Day 4 – Alta Via 1

We headed off under the threat of rain this morning. Not that it worried us too much initially as we started the day with a 1100 m climb down through the Italian World War 1 tunnels. What a feat of engineering!

The tunnels took us too far down for our remaining route so we climbed again to the pass before having a relatively easy walk to the targetted rifugio for the day.

But we weren’t staying there. We’d organised to have a rest day in the nearby town Cortina d’Ampezzo. So we dropped down steeply all the way to the valley floor and caught a bus to cover the 30 minute ride into town. Luxury! I’m going to enjoy a good sleep after the various snorers in the dorm last night. Cortina is a beautiful little town.

Gallery

Day 1 – Alta Via 1 Walk

This gallery contains 7 photos.

First day walking and everything was as promised. The weather was stunning! Clear blue skies and temperatures in the high 20’s. The scenery was breathtaking. We are amongst the high shaly crags that create such a bold skyline in this … Continue reading

Day 12 – Offa’s Dyke Walk

What a day! Our walk into Llangollen.

We’d been excited about this day as we were revisiting the wonderful Llangollen Canal and stunning aquaduct that we’d experienced a few years ago when we hired a narrow boat to travel the canals around this area.  I love boats and boating too so I was looking forward to seeing some in action and walking the tranquil (and flat) tow paths.

We’d really enjoyed our night with Riv, the 80 year old B&B owner in his converted barn.  He and his wife had renovated the old barn nearly 30 years ago before it became trendy.  We had breakfast in his lovely old kitchen along with two Swedish young girls who were competing in the Llangollen International Choir Eisteddfod. Turns out he is the grandfather of the current Western Bulldog’s sports scientist – Jon Bartlett.

The walk was spectacular going past the Chirk Castle (the only one we’ve seen so far that was still in working order)  They happened to be running the Chirk Half Marathon at the time so it was very festive.  After a few hills we headed down to the canal side and walked the tow path to the little hill side town of Froncysyllte after which is the 120 feet high Pontcysyllte aquaduct for the boats on the Llangollen canal.  We had an enjoyable picnic lunch sitting by the canal watching new skippers panicking to miss other boats or turn their newly hired boat around.  Ah it brought back memories …

Next we headed into the hills again high above the River Dee along under big limestone cliffs before a final climb up to a ruined castle above Llangollen – the Castell Dinas Bran.  Even from here high above the town we could hear the music from the Eisteddfod festival.  Unfortunately all the choirs had finished by then as they’d been competing all week but the last day is more of a music festival with rock bands.  We were excited that we’d bought tickets to attend the final concert that night which was featuring, would you believe, UB40!  What a blast from the past!

We had a wonderful dinner in town (although the choice was severely limited as the crowds had cleaned the restaurant out over the weekend).  And then off to the concert.

Neither of us were particular fans of UB40 but I’d been aware of their hits through the 80’s. A lot of the earlier songs were unknown to me but probably some of the 50 or so chart toppers they had here in the UK.  But the last couple of songs and the entire encore were songs that made it big in Australia so we were really bopping along then.  It was a great night and a terrific finish to an outstanding day.

Day 19

What a glorious day for our penultimate day of riding! We had an easy day of mainly “downhill” coming down from the Scottish Highlands and starting our final push for the north coast. The area we rode through was particularly effected in history by the barbaric “highland clearances”. This was where the wealthy landlords decided that they could make more money by grazing sheep than from the tenant farmers (or crofters), who had farmed the land since time immemorial. So the farmers were thrown out of their houses with no notice before the houses were burnt to the ground. There was one story I read about on widow who followed her husband around the world to the places he was fighting for king and country. After he was killed in battle she returned to this area of her birth. The landlord’s guards arrived to throw her out of her house and she begged them to give her enough time to get her things out as they were all she possessed. They threatened to start straight away so she could only drag the furniture a short distance from the house. The wind that was blowing took the flames from her house across to her furniture and ended up burning the lot to ashes.

It was such a delight to reach the sea this evening and it almost felt like we had finished even though we still hard 80 odd kms to ride the next day. Our hotel had a view from a cliff above the sea so we could see the rugged cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches in the estuaries.
The weather tomorrow is forecast to turn really bad so i hope this changes overnight.

Day 18

Day 12

Wow we are pretty happy that this day is over.  Nearly 130kms and over 1500m of climbing.  But that would have been alright if it hadn’t been for the 29km/h headwind we had to deal with as well. I’m sooooo saddle sore I couldn’t sit straight at dinner!!  Even the Papaw Ointment isn’t coping. (Too much information??) We had light rain on and off during the day too but not too concerning.

Well we’ve now “done” England.  We crossed into Scotland today.  I can’t believe it seems to have come so quickly.

Rest day in Peebles now – our one and only rest day.  Just in time for their annual Beltane festival which I believe celebrates the mid summer.  We caught a wonderful procession of children on their dressed ponies on the high street not long after we arrived yesterday and tonight we’ll have the fancy dress parade which goes for 3 hours (they go around the town twice)

Back on the track tomorrow heading further north to Kinross. Rain forecast but at least the wind is supposed to have dropped to around 13km/h.

We are having a great time.

Day 8

Coffee stop at a canal boat marina

Coffee stop at a canal boat marina

Day 5 in the saddle

We are currently in Tintern, Wales.  Home of the famous Abbey ruins.  A very pretty place.  Cycled through Cheddar this morning, but didn’t see any cheese as we had our head down into the wind as well as the huge climb out of the gorge.  Well worth a visit, but possibly best by car. Crossed over the famous bridge in Bristol and then headed into Wales by the Severn Bridge – massive!  A really gorgeous day.

Karyn is dealing with some tendonitis in her usual stoic form.  No complaints.  Just soldiers on.  She is a champion.

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey

Day 2 Lands End to John O’Groat’s

The best thing about day 2 was that it was beautiful and fine.  The rest was just tough going.

Over 90 ks and we climbed nearly 1500 metres.  The wind was all over the place, but seemed to be on the nose most of the time.  Some reprieve towards the end when we had a lovely tail wind into our night’s accommodation at a golf resort.

Karyn is a champion and managed to climb the most horrendous hills.  One at 19%.

The group is going well and our three guides are doing a wonderful job to make the ride as good as possible.  They tell us that it will get easier after today.  I will have to see it to believe it.

Rod

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We are offffff!

I’m not trying to make excuses but …. We started our walk today but due to my bout of food poisoning yesterday (which I’m still recovering from boohoo) we elected to walk up the valley to Agentiere rather than the high mountain route. It was still beautiful with lots to see (as you will see from photos below) and it allowed us a more gentle shake down for our first day. We successfully managed to interpret the track notes and got a feel for how the author likes to describe the instructions. We worked well together to reason what they were meaning by various vagueries and didn’t have to turn back once! (which I’m so grateful for as it usually means retracing your steps back up hill from my experience) 

Rod is usually the martyr who absorbs all my vitriol as I struggle up hills so I’m on my best behaviour with Letitia. Tomorrow is 1180m up and 1130m down so I’m imprinting in stone (particularly for future days that are more strenuous) the wise advice in the Cicerone Guide Book which says: “If you gaze with dread at the amount of height to be gained in order to cross a path, no doubt you will suffer in consequence. Let every day be greeted with eagerness. Find joy in the steep slope as well as the downhill slope. Draw strength from the beauty of the scenes around you. Enjoy the movement of the clouds, the wind and wildness as much as the gleam of sunshine; the raw crags and screes of desolation as well as the lush flower strewn pastures and distant snowcaps. Each is an integral part of the mountain world; a world of magic and mystery. It is a world through which it is a privilege to move in freedom. Don’t take a moment of this experience for granted.”

And after all that’s what I’ve come all the way over here for.