Monday, March 20, 2017

An Optimistic Hike

For the third time in a row, the winter has been dry and mild in St Andre. I normally only start hiking in the higher mountains in May, but I guess I got carried away with the summery weather today. I did a standard 5 hour hike around the Col de Vachiere, but the north faces were out of sight from the bottom. They were a lot snowier than I expected and it took more like 7 hours. I had a bit of a diversion to avoid one snow slope and this resulted in my having to cross a river at the end of the day, when it was nicely swollen by melting snow. 

Some pics

Friday, March 17, 2017

South West France Visit

We had a short visit to Pau and Biarritz in SW France. Pau is a very attractive town just north of the Pyrenees; it used to be a fashionable place for wealthy Brits to spend the winter. Biarritz is known for surfing and some obliging young men were in the water so we could get some photos. Some pics of Pau and Biarritz

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nice Day Trip

We left freezing temperatures behind in St Andre for a day trip down to Nice by train. After exploring the market we strolled along the beach; the day was lovely, with several people in swimming. We had a nice lunch in the Vieux Nice before heading up a long hill to the Musee Matisse and took in some culture before the train back home. Some pics

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Schiehallion in the Clag

Schiehallion, as seen from Glencoe, is a lovely mountain - a great white triangle rising above Rannoch Moor. Today, I got to climb it but the weather didn't exactly cooperate. Pretty much as soon as I left the car I was in the clouds and it was quite windy; fortunately, the rain was never really heavy. I didn't see anyone else all day - I was the only one daft enough to be out on such a day - and the only break was a quick lunch on the summit. Sometimes, that's what a day on the hill is like in Scotland...

Friday, December 2, 2016

A 5 Munro Day on Ben Lawers!

Ben Lawers is a complex mountain - it's more like a set of mountains - and I hoped to 'bag' 3 munros (Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers and An Stuc). But the days are very short in December in the Scottish Highlands and I had left the house later than I intended. There were quite a lot of clouds around at the start and I was wary of finishing the day in the dark and in the clouds, so I set myself a "turn-around time" of 1.30 on the last peak.  

The clouds slowly burned off as the day progressed, and there were lovely views in every direction. Just 3 minutes before my turn-around time I arrived on An Stuc's summit and met three young lads. They intended to take a different route back and to climb a couple more hills (Meall a' Coire Leith and Meall Corranaich) on the way. 

They set off as I ate my lunch and pondered. I didn't feel at all tired, the weather had improved and the descent from the last hill was pretty easy (and could be done by head-torch). So I headed after them and we climbed the last two summits in the gathering gloom. We got back to the cars at 5.00 pm using torches for the last little bit. Quite a day!

Some pics.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Superior Mirage

The forecast was mega-inverted, but for clear skies; great for a hike somewhere and maybe even a flight back down. I packed my wing in the car but in the end I just had a nice walk along the Campsies, a line of lowish (500 m or so) hills to the north of Glasgow. It was frosty down in the valleys, but up on the tops it was glorious sunshine and shirt sleeve weather, with great views of snowy mountains in every direction. But then I realized I was seeing a chain of high, snowy mountains out to the SE. Strange, there are no mountains there! To say the least, it was unsettling; I didn't have a camera, but I took some grainy pics on my phone.
Over in that direction, the only hills are the Pentlands, some low hills just SW of Edinburgh. That's what I was seeing and the image was distorted by the huge inversion. As I walked along the hills got even bigger until they looked like the front range of the Rockies in Colorado. When I got home I checked on the internet; I saw a superior mirage, which is quite unusual.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ben Lomond - Three Vertical Layers

Ben Lomond is a Munro (3000 + ft mountain) near Glasgow on the east side of Loch Lomond. It was a Sunday with a lovely forecast, featuring fresh snow and sun. All the ingredients for lots of people to head to the mountain, so I knew the hike up was going to be busy!

There were 3 distinct vertical layers; below the cloud (no snow and a bit damp), in the cloud (a bit of snow) and above the cloud (lots of snow and sun, with great views). So I followed the path up, seeing lots of walkers, a couple of fell-runs, a few dogs and even a group of mountain bikers!

Lots of people on the summit, with great views in all directions, before heading back through the cloud layer and - via a short drive - Glasgow. The pics.