Mountain Walks – 2015

Germany, The Ridgeway, Cornwall, Snowdonia,
Switzerland, Austria, the Dolomites and the Cinque Terre

About 18 walks scattered across 7 weeks.
They only totalled about 11km.
But then that was vertical, and both up and down.
And they included 3 of a bit more than 1000m, and another 7 of over 700m.
About 210km in distance.

Click on any image to see a larger version


Germany – Early-Mid May 2015

Roger spent a busy 6 days in central Germany, incl. 250m up the Wilhelmshöhe on the outskirts of Kassel.
He then fitted in a half-day up the Brocken. It was a brisk 3.5km each way / 500m walk up from Schierke.

The Brocken is at 1140m,
high above a plain
And sub-alpine at the top, because of the latitude
(51° –, i.e. nearer Macquarie Island than Tassie)
A train runs to the top
The forest is mixed below,
firs above
The trains swoop around
walkers and cyclists
There's a modest amount
of plant interest

The Ridgeway – Early-Mid May 2015

On Linda's first full day after arrival in Europe, we did a gentle warm-up on a white horse.

Ascending the Ridge
from Woolstone
The Ridgeway runs along
the chalky Chilterns
The views to the north
can include red kites
And the fields are
limestone-pretty
The Woolstone White Horse
is the only ancient one
Immediately adjacent
are Dragon Hill ...
... and, on the
left, The Manger
The Manger
more closely
Coming off the Ridge
towards Ashbury
Picnic Lunch,
plus pint
Being raped
on the way home
A useful map,
found only up there ...

Cornwall – Mid-May 2015

We walked for 5 days on north Cornwall coastal cliffs, northwards, basically from Padstow to Clovelly.
(The books and websites are all written assuming a north to south track, so most people walk into the sun - ??).
The photos should make clear why we're unapologetic for including walks at altitudes between 10m and 200m.

1. Rock to Port Isaac

After staying with Chris and Jen Perkins in Bude, we dropped the car at Crackington Haven,
and they picked us up and dropped us at Rock. That greatly simplified the logistics for us!
Rock is on the northern side of the Camel Estuary, opposite Padstow. Here's an area map
The highly-varied walk was c. 19km long with 890m of rise and fall. We B&B'd in Port Isaac

I thought you said
there'd be cliffs
The Camel Estuary,
Padstow opposite
The rocks becoming
more prominent ...
... once we reach
Daymer Bay
Trebetherick Point
Rock were on offer in ...
... red, green ...
... and various greys
Polzeath is an
artists' haunt
Small,
characterful coves
Varied views ...
... back to Polzeath
Towards
Pentire Point
Around the Point,
to The Rumps,
now heading East
To find familiar lines
Close to
the reverse view
Lundy Bay
(Lundy apparently means
puffin - in ancient Norse)
Very scenic
But, sorry, no puffins
OTOH, there were
fulmars (and kittiwakes)
And clefts
And campions
Trevan Point
Heading towards ...
... Port Quin
Views back ...
... westwards
Flower and
chocolate break
More rocks
A nice time of day
to look westwards ...
... back towards
The Rumps
Approaching
Port Isaac
Port Isaac,
at work
Doc Martin crew,
at work
Bedroom window
view, west to Tintagel

2. Port Isaac to Tintagel

This section was c. 15km and 790m. The first 2 hours were in the only rain that we suffered.
The latter parts are particularly scenic. We B&B'd in Tintagel. Here's a satellite image.

View back to
Pt Isaac
View ahead to
Tintagel
Typical cliff-top path
Typical cove,
and Delabole Pt
Typical gorse
Almost-islands
Typical paths, arising
from negotiations
with landowners
Bluebells,
thrift, sea
Weather improving,
at Trebarwith
Slate fence ...
... and view
Tintagel, with
its romantic ruins
Slate Quarry ...
... just south
of Tintagel ...
From further on ...
... and cliffs

3. Tintagel to Crackington Haven

This was c. 18km and a surprising 1065m (the books' figure, not ours).
The first segment, Tintagel to Boscastle, is arguably the very best of the whole coastal path.
We then picked up the car, drove back to Bude and stayed overnight with Chris.
(Without Chris' logistical help, we'd have faced a long and arduous 17km and 760m walk to Bude).

Overview of the walk
Satellite image of
Tintagel to Boscastle
Typical path 'twixt
fields and cliffs
View ahead of the
first half of the walk
Gorge ahead
Bossiney Haven below
Scenic coastline
Foxglove, fence, view
Back to sandy cove
Rocky Valley,
upper ...
... and lower
Satellite image
of the gorge
Stepped slate stile
Stepped slate fence
and view
Back to Tintagel
Forward to Boscastle
with Meachard offshore
Boscastle Harbour
Entrance
The Outer Harbour
The Inner Harbour,
at low tide
Satellite image
Linda shooting a wave
at the harbour mouth
The result
After a gelati break ...
... back on the path
Looking back
to Boscastle
Brooding cliffs
North toward
Crackington Haven ...
... and zoomed in on
Trevigue Farm

4. Morwenstow to Hartland Quay

We dropped the car at Clovelly, and Chris's brother Anthony picked us up and dropped us at Morwenstow.
This enabled us to reduce the very long and arduous walk from Bude to Hartland Quay by about 40%.
The resulting walk was c. 14km and 750m, with some striking segments, maybe the second-best segment of our walk.

Satellite image
of the walk
Cleft, thrift
Vertical strata ...
... in many sections
A(nother) flower stop
As usual, directly
up the next headland
View North to
Welcombe Mouth
Gull Rock and
Devil's Hole
Thrift, rockshelf,
slate slabs ...
... and up the
fall-line again
Overlooking
Marsden Mouth Beach ...
... and farm above it
Up the other side
Fairly steep,
but well-made
Waterfall ...
... at Welcombe Mouth
Sheep
2 species of thrift
above rock platform ...
... and looking inland
Fields, path,
red cliffs
Path down to
Speke's Mill
The slate face
Speke's Mill Waterfall,
slate-face climber
Grazing above the fall
Hartland's Quay
Bedroom window view
Wave effects ...
... on a calm day
Rock forms
Eroded strata,
wave-tumbled boulders
Cliff face,
with cave
Australia
Assyria
Cliff face
Flower-flummoxed face
Fuzz-face and
friend (Chris)
Late shot,
north from Hartland Quay

5. Hartland Quay to Clovelly (Sun 17 May)

This was c. 17km and 726m.
The first segment to Hartland Point is excellent, whereas the eastward segment into Clovelly
is partly pretty but partly a bit boring after the extravagant cliffs of the previous 4-1/2 days.

Satellite image
of the walk
St Nectan's Hartland
through a folly
Low tide, Lundy,
Roger's view ...
... and Linda's view
Steeply up,
from Abbey River ...
... with views south
Zooming back to
Hartland Quay
Southward, flowers,
eroded strata,
cliffs, sea
Fields, cliffs, and
the top of St Nectan's
Cove,
and sheila
Looking back to
a hidden valley
Hartland Lighthouse,
on the very corner
Eastwards now,
red cliffs
Protected and with
better soil, so wooded
Clovelly harbour
Clovelly village

Snowdonia – Mid-May 2015 (Tue 19 May)

We stayed 2 nights in Beddgelert, in order to walk the Watkins Path up the eastern side of Snowdon.
Watkins was chosen, as the most interesting approach, and to ensure Roger did at least one 1000m walk after turning 65.
It features an excellent series of transitions, and mostly well-structured paths, making it highly recommended.
However, the last 700m to the peak averages 1 in 2, up a slate face, and over a lot of loose scree.
And we were very lucky that we were in the lee, and the south-westerly gale hit us for only the last 200m.
The 13km / 1015m took us a bit over 3 hours up and a bit under 3 hours back (plus 40 mins for hot chocolate at the top!).

At the car-park,
at altitude 70m
In the forest, before
returning for my hat
Still in the forest
The (working)
National Trust property
The fields and gully
(170m above sea-level)
Linda taking
the previous shot
The stream
The first shower (of
light hail) arriving
We failed to take industrial archaeology photos
of the interesting slate-quarries
and of the plaque commemorating Gladstone
(aged 83) opening the path, in 1892.
Up on the ridge
Looking northward
across the lakes
Temperature falling
The upper lake,
Llyn Llydaw,
(Excalibur's resting-place?)
Sir Edward Watkins' men
built the upper path,
but the last bit is untamed
Hillary, disappointed because
someone else got there first
Note the firm grip
on hat, and wife
German tourist blown off
top of Snowdon taking photo
Yes, I know the track back down
is here, but where's 'here'?
The easy bit, when
Linda had mindspace
to take a photo
Better visibility
once below the cloudline
Despite an ongoing
sago-snow downpour
Looking northwards
Along the ridge,
to the west
Snowdon is not only
about high-grade slate
Looking south to
Cardigan Bay / Harlech
Gloves off now,
chäppi still on
Transition back to the meadows
A schematic of the upper
levels of the various paths

Switzerland – Late May 2015

We spent a week in Wildhaus at the top of the Toggenburg (i.e. the upper Thur valley), immediately south of Säntis.
It was too early by a couple of weeks, with snow still lying in quantity from c. 1800m upwards.
We also had mediocre weather, with 10 degrees at 1000m, high cloud, varying visibility, and a day of heavy rain.

1. Nesslau to Wildhaus (Sun 24 May)

We parked in Wildhaus, caught the Postauto eastwards down the valley to Nesslau, then walked up the valley
back to Wildhaus, c. 16km and 450m up (maybe 50m down). Here's a contour map.

A gorge and pool
on the Thur
The stream, fields
and recent snow above
Further upstream
Another small gorge
Marsh Orchids
beside the Thur
Around the corner
into the upper valley
A bit of a
stroll really
But with portents
of walks to come

2. North-Facing Slopes above Wildhaus, as far as Thurtalerstofel (Mon 25 May)

We parked on the valley floor, 65m below Wildhaus, and walked eastwards, then curved south up the slope,
then west, along the north flank of the Churfirsten. The c.19km and 750m path is shown in this panorama, and this map.

Starting out,
eastwards
The 'Klangweg' has
c.20 instruments, incl.
a Klangschalenbaum ...
... and a Glockenbühne
(bell-stage)
Coffee at the
rack-railway station
Alp Sellamatt,
with sink-holes and
the Churfirsten as backdrop
Schibenstoll and
Zuestoll ...
... and Brisi, each
2220m (= Kosciusko)
Overlooking Wildhaus

3. South-Facing Slopes above Wildhaus, to Schafboden (Wed 27 May)

On the southern approach to Säntis, the upper sections, above 1750m, were snow-covered.
So we abandoned the plan of getting to Rotsteinpass (2150m), and targeted Schafboden (1725m).
The valley (to that point) was not as savage as we'd feared, but was well worth the effort,
with steep rock-walls on both sides, a pass above, and the valley-opening to the south.
The path we picked out was 12.5km / 750m, up over a 5km stretch, then a 7.5km loop back to Wildhaus.
Here's a map of the route, from Wildhaus, NW around the Schafberg, but back via the slopes above Unterwasser.
And here's a contour map showing the features mentioned below.

Rising above
Wildhaus
Friendly locals
The impressive Schafberg
to the NE of us
The range to the NW,
as we left the tree-line
Plus spring flowers
Looking North into
the Säntis massif
Looking South back
to the Thur valley
The highest of the
alpine cow-sheds
Up through the Oxlips
Reaching the Target
Lunch eaten,
selfies taken ...
... and visibility improving
Looking back down, to
Walk 5B in the right-side
hanging valley
Linda at work ...
... and some of the results
Säntis looming,
tantalisingly,
1000m above
Glacier-strewn erratics,
with the Churfirsten beyond
A view up to Säntis,
Schafberg on the right,
our walk between them
A be-treed
medial moraine
Above Alt St Johann,
south to the Churfirsten

4. South-Facing Slopes above Walensee (Thu 28 May)

We drove up above Walenstadt, in order to walk beneath the Churfirsten's southern side.
After a false start, checking out what turned out to be a climbing section, we walked west from Hochrugg,
then north and steeply up to Schrina-Obersäss, then eastwards along the shelf,
lunching beneath Zuestoll, and on to Tschingla beneath Schibenstoll (both seen from the other side in Walk 2).
The 430m rise in about 2km was more than Roger had bargained for that morning.
We did a total of 13km, with 650m of height. The weather was superb, the views striking.

The Panorama
The Contour Map
The View from the West
And closer up
From centre-left to centre-right of the first photo, from left to right of the second.
The start-point at Hochrugg,
the meadow-climb to the east
The Selun and
Frümsel peaks
The odd Paxmal shrine,
and Brisi behind it
The direct route nearby
(which we decided against!)
Views expanding ...
... as we quickly rise ...
... 430m in 2km ...
... Walensee now
1200m below us,
and the car 350m
Views to the east
opening up
Still rising to ...
... 400m above the car
Eastwards from the high
point, Schrina-Obersäss
Along the Schrina shelf
A Gemse/chamois
spinning on the snow
Schibenstoll and
Hinterrugg
The steep drop
beneath the shelf
Used for photos ...
... like this ...
... and this
Alpine landscape
Lunch, with boots
And views ...
... beneath ...
... and above
The Rhine valley is in the distance, a surprising 70m above the level of the Walensee.

5. Two Last Walks (Fri 29 May)

We did two short walks, so that we'd seen all corners of the area.

5A: Voralpsee

We drove down east of Wildhaus (which is the watershed), above the Rheintal, and walked 3km / ±125m above an alpine lake c. 2kms east of Hinterrugg.
A contour map,
with the lake low-centre
Starting in forest
Rising up above Voralpsee
Looking east
into the Rheintal

5B: Gräppelensee

We then drove back to 250m above Alt St Johann, and walked 4km / ±275m up into the hanging valley of Gräppelen,
lunching (a little late) above a treasure inaccessible to summer busloads.

A general map
A more detailed
map of the walk
Above Alt St Johann ...
... looking east, down
the Thur valley
Over the lip, into
the hidden valley
A large sink-hole ...
... draining through
the ridge beneath us
Arriving at
Gräppelensee
The lake ...
... the setting ...
... and the light ...
invited too many photos
Schafberg (almost the
reverse shot of
one taken on Walk 3)
The Schafboden hut is
visible halfway up.
The original target,
Rotsteinpass, is at the top
From the ridge,
Säntis stood proud
Topping the ridge,
the view south,
to the Churfirsten
To finish cutely,
a beech-wood ...
... haymaking on
the valley-sides ...
... the Churfirsten,
for the last time ...
... and the Thur valley

Austria – End of May 2015

We spent two nights in the Sellrain, an obscure valley south of Innsbruck.

1. Sellrainertaler Höhenwanderweg (Sun 31 May)

The village of Gries is at 1190m, and a steep 750m / 2-hour walk up from the village got us onto a high-level walk,
peaking at 2250m (a bit above Koscisuko), with views all around to 2800-3300m.
The total was about 18-20km and 1250m of height. Here are a map of the area, and a map of the walk

Leaving Gries im Sellrain
Up through the forest
The Lüsener Fernerkogel
all 3300m of it
Looking southwards,
up the Lüsenertal
On up into
sub-alpine fields
The Lüsenertal
south towards Paxmar
The Roßkogl above us
Looking SE
towards the Brenner
Again towards the SE
Again SE, towards the
village of Sellrain
Later, and closer
Eastwards, looking
out over Innsbruck
Meadow flowers
along the Besinnungsweg
Stooks across
the valley
Another 'hay-ghost' ...
... worth a cuddle

The Dolomites – Early June 2015

We spent two nights in Ronzone, near Fondo in the Val de Non (SW of Bolzano), followed by three nights with Bob and Lucia, proprietors of the Dolomites Inn in Penia, near Canazei (E of Bolzano).

1. Monte Roen (Tue 2 Jun)

About 16km and 800m from Passo Mendola south along the ridge to the local high-point, Mont Roen (2116m).
The ridge separates the Val di Non from the Alto Adige, and overlooks the Kalterersee. Here's an area map
Much of the walk was in forest, but with a clear summit, improving visibility as the day wore on, and long views.

Initially a track
through forest
The Mezza Hut,
yes, about halfway
Yellow Gentians ...
... at last seen
in full bloom
The views gradually
emerging from the mist
Cyclists joining the
party, with Fondo
out to the West
View down eastwards
beside the peak
Lunch west of the peak
to avoid the throng
View east to the
Alto Adige valley
The track back
at c. 2000m
And horses as well
Back at the Pass,
by now in sunlight

2. Passo delle Cigolade (Fri 5 Jun)

From Passo di Costalunga / Karerpass (1745m) up to Passo delle Zigolade (2551m).
This provided both panoramic views and a sense of being up amongst the pinnacles.
About 13km, with 825m of height, with steep first and last sections (each 400m), and a contour walk in-between.
Here are not-very-good maps: an area map and a map covering the walk-area only (centre-bottom to top-right).
Also, on this map, out on paths 552-539-549-541, back on 541-548.

Briefly in forest
After the first climb,
above Rifugio Paolina,
at c. 2140m
The contour path,
on the Southern
then Eastern flank
Linda, Travertine
and Eagle ...
... and View back
down to the Karerpass
and the car
Rock jumbles increase
approaching the main body
of Catenaccio/Rosengarten
Eastwards down to
the Fassa valley
Approaching Rifugio
Roda vi Vael
Looking up at our path
across the face of
the Croda del Lago (2806m).
Cima di Dona left (2665m)
More or less the
reverse shot,
approaching the Pass
The Sella group
(and Pordoi) to the NE
Scree slopes
on the approach
The last hundred metres
On Passo delle Cigolade
View Northwards,
to a walk in 2009 ...
... Vajolet at bottom,
Principe at the pass
On the return,
over-sized scree?
And better light ...
... on the Cima di Dona
Overlooking the
Val di Fassa

Cinque Terre, Italy – Mid June 2015

We spent three nights in Volastra, above Manarola. The stretch of steep coastline is indeed scenic, four of the five villages do have charms, and the investment in infrastructure is impressive – with a lot of repairs done since the big floods c. 2010, and more left to do.

Unfortunately, the enjoyment is badly undermined by very low-quality information and information availability. It's not their fault that a lot of the paths, and even one of the upper roads, are still closed. But they have an obligation to make information readily available, yet they failed to do so. Train and tourism staff are typically Italian casual, rude, and at best modestly competent. The problems weren't helped by a rolling [sic] train-strike.

On the basis of this sampling, we'd recommend planning on:

1. Manarola and Riomaggiore (Tue 16 Jun)

We used the Monday evening light to admire Manarola from the Volastra contour track amidst the vineyards.
Tuesday, we drove down to Manarola, strolled the village, and walked half-way back up to Volastra before we realised quite what we'd done.
Spying the walk across the valley to Riomaggiore, we went back down to the village and up over the ridge, lunched, and walked back.
The paths are very steep and rocky, and far too many people were trapped into walking them by the train-strike.
About 600m of height and maybe 6km all-up. (Much of it was 1 in 2 and some even 1 in 1).

Manarola from the
Volastra path ...
... amidst the
terraced vines
Corniglia, in
t'other direction ...
... at different
stages of the evening
Closer views
of Manarola ...
... in evening light ...
... and dying light ...
... and on a dull morning
Curious rock-forms ...
... in the cliffs of
the tiny harbour
Views back from
the path ...
... along and
up to Volastra
From near Manarola
towards Corniglia
Looking back
to Manarola
Manarola station and
beyond, from the closure
towards Riomaggiore
Many paths are closed.
See the fallen rocks
in the net?
Down to Riomaggiore
Almost the
whole village
The cliffs NW
to Monterosso
What is it
about blue boats?
Lunch ...
with blue boats
The secondary bay,
by the station
Back down to Manarole
The view up
to Volastra

2. Vernazza, Monterrossa and Corniglia (Wed 17 Jun)

We drove to above Vernazza, and walked that village and then along the 'coast' road to Monterosso. That's only 3.6km and 200m, but it took 1-1/2 hours because of the continual delays on a steep, narrow, rocky path overloaded with not-so-agile-walkers.
We picnicked, then walked around Monterosso, which is easily the least appealing village on the coast. It was hot, and Roger had twisted a knee stepping around a lumpy walker on the path. So we caught an early-afternoon train back to Vernazza, drove to Corniglia and walked around that village. A nice wind-down day.

From the road, over
vines to Corniglia
Zoom to Corniglia
The terrace vineyards
Evidence of the
devastating 2005 floods,
just above Vernazza
Vernazza Harbour
The reverse shot
Cliffs and ...
blue boats
Cliffs and
railway tunnels
Did anyone mention ...
... that Vernazza ...
... is very photogenic?
In the second shot,
note the slabs
beside the village
Are you sure
there's a path
on that hill?
Approaching
Monterosso
Closer now
Looking back
to Vernazza
Almost as limpid
as the Adriatic
Path down, with
one of the many ...
... grape 'trains',
Corniglia behind
That evening,
Manarola ...
Early morning walk,
above Corniglia ...
... Vines and Veges ...
... the well-worked terraces ...
... all from our
pre-dinner drinks spot

This is a page within the Clarke-Spinaze Photo Gallery, home-page here

Contact: Linda or Roger

Created: 24 May 2015; Last Amended: 6 Jul 2015