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Saturday, 4th June 2011

Posted by on 05 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Holiday

Geoff writes: I had to leave the Lakes today, to deal with some family stuff. It was windy, and a lot of cloud came in, but driving towards the motorway, I could see a lot of gliders flying Souther Fell.

So, a 400 mile round trip for one top to bottom. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow (oh, no there isn’t, the forecast is cloud and light rain at home).

Friday, 3rd June 2011

Posted by on 05 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Flying, Holiday

Geoff writes: last night I decided to go to the Lakes for the Lakes Charity Classic, and drove up part way to stay with Andy, continuing the trip this morning. We decided to go to Langdale, rather than Blease, which was where the comp was going, on the grounds that it was closer, and that it seemed it might be better conditions there. The carry up is massive, taking me well over an hour. And the conditions were very weak. Having said that, most people did get up, though some went down, including me, entirely due to my own indecision and incompetence, a feature of my flying this year. Andy and Barney got to the LCC base at Buttermere, about 15km, and said, when I met them later, it was pretty rough. Mike Cavanagh did a 155km triangle.

In a sense, it was good that I didn’t get away – though only 15km from the Langdales to Buttermere, it would be a 60 mile round trip to pick up the car. (I’m being positive here…).

Driving to Buttermere, it seemed that there were people flying everywhere, partly because the sea breeze had come in, making some more sites soarable. It’s quite possible I had the shortest flight of the day in the Lakes.

And at Corndon – maybe five miles down the road, instead of 200 – it was a good day, with David M doing his longest ever XC, 30km, and Steve Parsons doing 117km. Maybe, just maybe, it is finally starting to work down here.

Week beginning the 23rd May…

Posted by on 27 May 2011 | Tagged as: Holiday

I’ve come up to Scotland for a bit of a ramble and to see family. The weather’s mixed, but at least it allows for walks along the seaside.

Wednesday, 4th May 2011

Posted by on 05 May 2011 | Tagged as: Beach, Holiday, Walking

On our walk yesterday, we spotted the Ropes and Ladders High Activity course right next to the National Slate Museum. We’ve always wanted to do a tree top/canopy activity thing, but in France, where we have seen them most often, they are usually closed when we pass by in autumn/spring. We got there at opening time and were the only people there. Jim, our personal guide, was a lovely lad originally from Bakewell, so we had a lot of places/experiences in common.

I only got my camera out of the car nearly at the end, but we did the middle (20 feet up) and high (40 feet up) balancing, climbing, tight rope course and then the zip line. The giant swing was a bit like a fairground ride and then we had to climb up a 25 foot pole, stand on a small platform on top of it and then leap towards and grab a trapeze. It would have been less scary if the wind hadn’t been rocking the pole. We had another go at the rope course and then went off for a cup of tea. It was really good, and a long held ambition fulfilled.

We had planned to go to Bangor, Penryn Castle and then Lladdona beach. But instead Jim suggested we go to Newborough on Anglesey. There’s an amazing beach there and you can walk along to the island of Llanddwyn.

We had a read, snooze and picnic first and then set off on the walk to the  island. It’s such a huge beach that the sand density varies, so you could be walking on firm sand one minute and then be sinking down with every foot step the next. Negotiating a comfortable route made it a lot more interesting. We finally got to the little island and light houses. There are still wardens’ cottages and it’s a nature reserve, so lots of wild flowers. On our walk back the tide had gone out further, almost doubling the size of the beach.

It’s been a lovely three days away, with warm sunshine and stunning views. We spent over 14 hours walking and did over 1000 m of ascent. My knees really need a rest now. Looking at the forecast, they’re going to get it!

See photos of today.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2011

Posted by on 05 May 2011 | Tagged as: Holiday, Walking

Had I had ear plugs in, the gentle rocking of the van most of the night would have been like being in a cradle, but without them, the roars of the gusts kept me awake most of the night, despite being dog tired. We woke up stiff, but to a glorious day. Having pulled up in near darkness, we only appreciated in the morning the fantastic setting we’d camped in.

We had been a little ambitious with our walk, so decided to do something a little gentler (no mountains!) today. The gentleman in the Llanberis tourist information suggested a walk round Llyn Padarn (Lake Padarn). We’ve walked up in the slate mines high above Llanberis, but have never walked round the lake and looking at the map there seemed a lot of things to see and do on the way. It was supposed to be 5 miles and, it being round a lake, we assumed it was flat, but nothing in Snowdonia is flat!

Geoff doesn’t like walking in trees (“spoils the view”), so he decided that we would start our loop at Brynrefail at the northwest end of the lake, but rather than going through the woods, we’d do a short climb and join the path higher, all the while enjoying views of the mountains. So an hour later, we’d double backed, turned round, got the OS map and GPS out, had various discussions about our respective senses of direction and finally found the right path. Predictably, we should have followed the recommended route in the first place.

It’s a lovely walk, through villages, forests, fields and with a lot of archeological history too. Unfortunately the cafe and adventure park in the country park were closed, as was the quarry hospital, but this just gave us more time in the amazing National Slate Museum, at the southeast end of the lake. It houses the biggest waterwheel on mainland Britain, has an exhibition on life in the quarries as well and demonstrations on all aspects on quarry workings. It’s well worth going to, especially since the whole place is free.

By the time we were back at the car, it had been another five and a half hour walk. We stayed at Pete’s Eats, a famous cafe in Llanberis and went to the pub to plan tomorrow’s adventure.

See photos of today.

Monday, 2nd May 2011

Posted by on 04 May 2011 | Tagged as: Holiday, Walking

Geoff writes: having realised that the sunny but windy weather was going to continue, we decided to go walking for a few days in Snowdonia. Right enough, we spent an hour or so on Monday morning agonising over this – write off flying completely, or take the gliders with us; go to Snowdonia; or the Lakes; or the Dales. In the end, we took the easy option, no gliders, and the closest place, on the grounds that Monday and Tuesday were blown out almost everywhere except Scotland, and Wednesday probably would be too.

So off to Snowdonia. Being a bit unfit, and not having done any serious walking for many months, we decided to do a walk with a 700 metre height difference, and classed as strenuous mountain walking – the Glyders range – Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach. We’ve flown the Glyders a few times, but never walked them, so we set off from the other side from where we fly. It is a truly stunning walk, up the back of a cwm – two cwms in fact. Most tourists had gone home by this time (it being bank holiday Monday), so there were very few people out.

It was very, very windy, and the closer we got to the top, the windier it got, so much so that we were a little worried, especially as people coming down said how wild it was on top. We passed someone else walking up, a father and young son. The father – who had no map, no compass, no signal for his mobile – asked us if we thought it would be safe for them to continue! Though why you would trust the word of a complete stranger, I have no idea. But the son decided he wanted to go back down, so, probably wisely, they did. We carried on anyway, and really, it wasn’t that bad. We walked over the top of the bowl we normally fly up, but this way we had a lot more time to enjoy the views.

The actual walk was only eight kilometers, but because of the height difference it took us some five hours to do it, with the walk down being particularly hard on Judith’s knees. But all in all, a brilliant day out.

We found a campsite for the night, but slept in the van, as usual – the wind was still very strong, and frequently shook the van throughout the night.

See photos of today.

Sunday, 27th February 2011

Posted by on 28 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: Holiday

Geoff writes: last day in Athens, with a mid-afternoon flight.  Another cold and cloudy day. We spent an hour or two at the Roman forum, part of our 12 euro ticket which got us into five separate sites, including the Acropolis. It’s great value – each time you go somewhere, they rip off a section of the ticket, so you can’t use it again. We got to the forum, which was open, but the ticket office was empty, so we managed to sneak in without losing part of our ticket – the last part, in fact, so we thought we could later revisit another site (the Agora) we had had to rush around on Thursday, given the daft closing times they have here of 3pm.

The forum was good – big, reasonably well preserved, and, that early in the morning, empty. It was also freezing, so we decided to use the ticket to go back to the Agora, and the indoor museum there. We went to the ticket office to hand in our ticket, to the guy who ignored us for a while, before telling us it was free on Sundays. So much for sneaking into the forum. Still, we went in and did see all the things we missed on Thursday.

Then a wander around the flea market for an hour or two, lunch, and the bus back to the airport. We took the bus rather than the metro because we wanted to see the outskirts of the city. Predictably, like most modern cities, and most roads to airports, they were very drab and uninspiring.

We really liked Athens. The weather wasn’t disastrous, it only really rained on one day. The archaelogical sites are great, as is the city itself, which is really lively, interesting, and not threatening (at least, not in the central areas). And the people were really friendly. The only downside (apart from the weather, and that was just bad luck, it’s not normally like that) was the incredible amount of graffiti (though in terms of litter, the city was very clean in the centre); and the very early closing times of the archaelogical sites and museums. Oh, and not being able to flush toilet paper away, but having to put it in a wastepaper bin instead…

See photos of today.

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