Sunday, 28 February 2016

Over the Hills and Far Away

Almond blossom and deserted roads
Our time in the Ariège is winding down, we need to head back to the UK in about a week, though only for a few days - just enough time to get sorted before heading to Kalymnos for the glorious spring season.
 We decide on a quick 'slider' trip and so drove back over the Pyrenees to visit Colin and Jane at Santa Egracia above Tremp in Catalunya.
We climbed on a variety of cliffs, several of which were new to me, which is always nice. The contrast between the Spanish and French sides of the mountains is always interesting with it being so much quieter on the Spanish side. The almond blossoms were especially spectacular at this time of year.

Sunset at Sant Egracia - above it all
I have continued working on Lofoten Rock - due out towards the end of the year -  and that is going pretty well. We are looking forward to getting back to the Magic Islands and the Land of the Midnight Sun in June and spending a couple of months up there working on the book. I started getting my State Pension back in October which is a bit of a depressing thought - but it is more funds to put in the 'travelling pot' - maybe getting older but there is no time to stop just yet!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Away From It All

Crowds - Yeuk
Two week back from Lourdes and back into the groove - working, climbing, wandering, wondering. We only have a couple of weeks left then we need to find a way to get us and the car back to the UK (nothing booked as yet)  - albeit briefly before travelling back to Kalymnos to catch the best of the spring - before the hoards arrive.
And there's the problem, we like nice places but hate crowds, noise, queues - people in general really. Sadly you can't expect to have Paradise to yourself!
Sweet Solitude.
The photographs illustrate the issue, and a solution - the Plateau de Beille is a superb area of high land at around 6000' and only a 30 minute drive from Chez Arran. Head up there on a good day in the French winter holiday season - which is most of February - and you will find it rammed - I reckon there were 500+ cars up there a couple of days ago.
We drove back down the hill about  a kilometre, bumped off the road and headed into the wilderness, pristine snow with a few animal tracks and total silence - perfection really!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

A Change is as Good as a Rest

Cirque de Gavanie
Pont d'Espagne
 We fancied a break for a few days - the seaside was one possibility but in the end we headed over the small town of Pierrefitte-Nestalas which is tucked in close to the Pyrenees to the south of Lourdes, where the roads to Cauterets and Gavarni split.
It is an area we visited briefly over 10 years ago and never made it back - a return was long overdue. The weather was a bit 'mucky' on the first couple of days but we managed a days climbing and a visit to the magnificent Cirque de Gavarni - the place was atmospheric and deserted, just how we like it.
The third day was clear and cold: -3C in the car park at the Ponte d'Espagne but climbing was possible on the small granite cliffs that pepper the valley-side.
On the final day we visited another small granite/gneiss crag in glorious weather before making the steady drive back to the Ariège - almost 20 routes ticked, I think it will be a lot less than 10 years before we are in the area again.
Now there is the small matter of a guidebook to Lofoten that needs addressing!

Still Here, Still Waiting

Graham on a 6b+ at Sit Down Buttress  Four weeks ago today we hopped aboard the Zeebrugge to Hull ferry - four weeks back in Sheffield t...