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Snowdonia Peaks

Just a short video of some of the high peaks in Snowdonia National Park. Enjoy :-)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Meribel French Alps January 2017

This has got to go down as one of the best few days we've had anywhere. Everything just seemed to fall into place and could not of been any better if it was planned to precision. The relaxation, the weather, the views, our base and of course seeing our son out there. This break was all about going to see our son who is working the skiing season in MERIBEL, the major ski resort in the THREE VALLEES area of the French Alps region. We aren't skiers, in fact I have only ever been skiing the once way back when I was at school sometime in the early 1970's while Jill has never been anywhere near a ski so this was to be very new territory for us and wasn't quite sure what to expect. A lot did depend on the weather while we were there and the weeks leading up to it we were constantly checking the weather reports and the WEBCAMS around the area. Being a ski resort, they do need snow, lots of it, and a few weeks before we were due out there it did snow quite heavy for a time which made the locals and the skiers quite happy and also the organizers of the world cup skiing competition that was being held during the week that we were there. It also made the place like a Christmas card scene as the decorations seem to stay up all through the ski season making it a proper winter wonderland feel good factor. We stayed right in the heart of Meribel at a place called LE ROC and was no surprise when we went to our room that we had ear plugs, as well as towels, as this place is on top of one of the busy bars that is open till about 2am each night!!! To be fair, we weren't really disturbed by any excessive noise as our room was right above the front porch and not at the back over the music area :-) We did join in with the night life as we had no itinerary to follow so didn't have to up at the crack of dawn.  The only traveling we did was on the many ski lifts that go all over the three valley's, there is also a free bus service that runs between the villages and resorts so getting about is very easy. We were there from January 21st-26th and the weather couldn't of been any better, with blue skies and sun for the time we were there. It was also quite warm despite the snow and altitude and lazing about on deckchairs at nearly 10,000 feet, just below the summit of Mont Du Vallon will stay with me for a very long time :-)
All photo's are off my phone, GoPro and camera.

Our base in the heart of Meribel

Ear plugs!!
Meribel main street
View from our room
The ski run for the World Cup that was taking part during the week
Saulire summit @ 2,738metres
Mont Blanc takes centre stage from Saulire summit
Mont Blanc @ 4,808 m (15,774 ft)
Some of the artwork that's around some of the ski lift area's
Roc-des-Trois-Marches culminates at 2704 meters above sea level! This is one of the main summits of Meribel. In winter, you have to go by the Plattières gondola from Le Mottaret. A beautiful climb to seize a view of the glaciers of the Vanoise and the fabulous Meije.
Mont Du Vallon (The Mont du Vallon is one of the main summits of Méribel . Located at an altitude of 2950 meters, it is accessed by the gondola Mont-Vallon. Once again, it is the panorama that motivates this race, it is magnificent, a horizon of massifs.)
Mont Du Vallon rest area
Me and some old guy
Mont Du Vallon rest area
Statue at Mont Du Vallon
Mont Du Vallon ski lift platform

View across to a distant Mont Blanc
Blue sky and sun :-)
Cloud inversion going on over the village of Les Allues
The high points we managed to get to had some great vistas all round and the weather certainly played it's part. There was only one point where the wind picked up all the time we were there and that was at Plattieres. The spindrift was quite bad and stinging when it hit your face but thankfully it didn't last long. We also paid a visit to a few of the lower resorts of Les Allues, COURCHEVEL and SAINT MARTIN DE BELLEVILE
with Courchevel being the most extravagant of the lot!! A real eye opener and somewhere to stay if money is of no object with it's array of 5* chalets, hotels, restaurants and all the very best in designer clothes and jewellery. There are shops and cafes that do cater for the rest of us and it is a nice place. Les Allues was just a very quick visit to pass a bit of time while Saint Martin is quite a popular village with a lot of skiers with a good choice of accommodation and places to eat.
View down on to a mountain restaurant from the ski lift on the way to Courchevel
K2  @ Courchevel Real luxury and at a real luxury price!!
Tougnete @ 2434metres
Looking down on Saint Martin De Belleville from Tougnete

Tougnete summit view
On the ski lift to Saint Martin De Belleville
Saint Martin De Belleville
Another place we visited for a laugh was the party on the piste bar, LA FOLIE DOUCE 
Quite an experience getting down with the skiers & boarders as the thumping music and Champagne showered the crowd while dancing on the tables and chairs in the sun. The things you get up to eh :-)
La Folie Douce
La Folie Douce
La Folie Douce
We did get a short walk in while we were there, in fact we did it just about every day as there is a 5km walk from MOTTARET back down the valley to Meribel. A pleasant walk that takes about an hour from the ski lifts back to our base and was always a good way to finish the day. The last ski lifts were abut 4.30ish so as long as we were down by then we had a bit of a wander. Another short walk we did was again from Mottaret that took us round LAC TUEDA, which was frozen over and covered in snow, and was another good end to the day. There are lots of walks around the area, low level where we were and of course around the high summits. We could of done a bit more high walking but as there was hundreds of skiers everywhere and not knowing where all the paths were we played it safe and stuck to the lifts :-) A walkers paradise in the summer months when its a lot more quieter but a bit of a pain to get to and stay as 90% of the place shuts down.
Walking around Lac Tueda
Walk around Lac Tueda
Frozen & snow covered Lac Tueda
Snow Angel @ Lac Tueda
Lac Tueda
The walk back to Meribel
View back to Mottaret
Frozen waterfall
Entering Meribel

Video of the views from the high area's and ski lifts

A video of fun in the sun
So there we have it, a most amazing time in a most amazing place. Of course, like most places, the weather needs to be right for what we did and boy was it just!! Absolutely superb with almost unbroken sunshine during the day and cold and clear throughout the night making this one holiday that won't be forgotten in a hurry. I'd certainly recommend doing this if you're not a skier and you love looking round the mountains. It's made so easy with the pedestrian ski pass and the free buses that run all day and evening and if the weather is kind, well, enjoy :-)

Thanks for looking :-)

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Kinder Low & Grindslow Knoll From Edale 14-1-2017

Well this was another sort of unplanned walk as I was watching the weather forecasts all week in the hope of getting up to the Cumbrian Fells at the weekend. Right up till Friday it was looking all good but undecided as where to go, then for some reason Edale in the Peak District jumped into my head and that was that! As it's been a couple of years since my last visit up here, Christmas day 2014 to be precise Read It Here, it seemed about right to go again especially as there was a good fall of snow and the forecast was for a good clear day with plenty of sunny periods. Which route and for how long to be out, well again, me being me, who knows. Arriving at Edale for about 9.30am the weather wasn't going quite as planned as I set off from the main car park and up through the village. Very overcast with a bit of light drizzle in the air wasn't on the cards and as I crossed the brook and headed up the main path to Grindsbrook, this is where the drizzle turned to sleet. It was here that I decided to head straight up Grindsbrook for a bit of scrambling over rock this way offers, as opposed to going up the bank and on to Ringing Roger as I may be coming back down that way. As it was, I didn't and ended up having a good 6 hours walking in sleet, snow, sun and a bit of wind, a typical day on the high ground in winter :-)
Route for the day
Wooden Bridge over Grindsbrook
Bit murky at the start
Bit of sleet going up Grindsbrook
Sleet turns to heavy snow
Waterproofs went on as the snow was getting heavier as I made my way up along Grindsbrook. The path was a mixture of slush, ice, snow and scree but was slowly turning more and more into a snowy, slippery walkway the further up I got. As I got to the more rocky path along Grindsbrook there was quite a bit of ice knocking about and as more of a precaution I put on the micropspikes. Maybe not totally needed but again they do add a bit more grip hoping over compact snow and ice.
Snow getting a bit heavier
Snow getting a bit heavier
Everything is blending in as one
Three quarters up Grindsbrook , there is a fork going off to the right that follows another brook up through more steep rocks and i decided to take this route. I have done it before in clear conditions and it's a little bit more exciting in the scrambling stakes. this time proved to be a bit more tougher as I ended up going straight up the grass bank following others as it became very hard to clambour over the snow and ice covered boulders and water! It was also here where the weather suddenly changed to what was in the predicted forecast, blue skies and sunny :-)
Following the right hand groove
Blue skies appear as the snow clears
Tough going through the snow covered boulders
Looking back down as the sun gets to work on the clouds
It was here that I had to go up the bank as the route ahead disappeared
Very different weather to when I set off
Blue sky and white snow, great
Looking back down Grindsbrook
I made my way round towards Crowden Tower and the Wool Packs where I found shelter amongst the oddly sculptured sandstone rock formations. The snow in places here was quite deep, knee deep and also quite boggy through all the peat. In parts the ice and rocky terrain made for good solid ground but in other parts it was hard going and you never quite knew if you'd endup getting swallowed up! all good fun though :-) The weather this time had turned again as the low cloud that was over towards the Stockport area slowly crept in and made the place a bit spooky with all the different shapes of the rocks. It was also eerily quiet as I seemed to be the only one resting here
On my way to the wool packs with a moody looking sky creeping in
Looking back with a perfect sky
Some deep snow drifts along with the moody skies
View down Crowden Clough
The sun disappearing above Crowden Tower
Anvil shaped rock
A killer Whale watching for the seals
Picture what you can
Picture what you can
Having a right old natter :-)
Bog monster got me!

Knee deep in places
Brew time
Now this is where it went a bit wrong as I followed the footsteps in the snow, but which ones!! I had thought about making my way up to Kinder Downfall from the top of Crowden Clough but with the weather closed in I decided against that one, plus it meant back tracking a few hundred yards which I didn't really fancy. The large group that had been in front of me had long gone and I knew they were heading in that same direction so I though I'd head towards Kinder low and then make my way down the Jacobs ladder path or back track and go down via Grindslow Knoll. A quick look at the map tells me the path follows the line of rocks towards pyms chair and as Iv'e done this before its not a problem, mmmmmmm. So off I go and there's that many footprints all seemingly heading in the right direction I pick up a pathway that after about ten minutes dosen't quite seem right as the boggy, rocky ground is now more heather and ditches but as I here voices infront of me I keep going. Plenty of footprints and looking at the map I'll pick up the Pennine way and head on to Kinder Low. After about twenty minutes I get on the Pennine way just as the cloud decides to lift again and has me looking down on Kinder Reservoir just as a few more folk appear from my same direction and also the group of people who were infront of me from near the start appear coming from the direction of Kinder Downfall. A slight diversion but nothing much to worry about.
Off into the unknown
Off into the unknown
Off into the unknown
Looking down on Kinder Reservoir
Looking down on Kinder reservoir
Kinder Low trig point
From here I decided that I would head back towards Grindslow Knoll as I wanted to stay high as long as possible, afterall I was in no rush and time was on my side and I wouldn't be retracing all of my route, just a small part of it. So off down the Pennine Way to Noe Stool and then pick up the path that goes past Pyms Chair and back through the Wool Packs and on to Grindslow Knoll as the mist cleared again.
Heading down from Kinder Low
On the approach to Noe Stool with Pyms Chair to the left
On the approach to Pyms Chair
View towards Grindslow Knoll in the distance

Through the Wool Packs
View down Crowden Clough
Crowden Tower
Snow Patterns and moody clouds
On the approach to Grindslow Knoll
It was on the summit of Grindlsow Knoll that I encountered the first bitter wind of the day and it took your breath away, quite literally!. It had been quite a pleasent winters day with mixed weather but on here the wind was biter and so I didn't hang around too much. Just a good walk down the snow covered scree path and through the slushy field back to the car park
Grindslow Knoll Summit
Looking back from the summit
Deep snow on the way down
Looking back to Grindslow Knoll and the moody sky
View down to Edale
Looking back up from the slushy field
Another a great winters day on the high ground above the small Peak District village of Edale.
Cheers :-)