Langstrath, Lake District National Park

Seathwaite, Lake District National Park

Hike from Stonethwaite following the Langstrath Beck upstream to this long wide valley which has survived with minimal buildings and habitation. Plenty of grass so a challenge from the Hay Fever point of view. We were told that there is relatively little farm stock (sheep etc) this year because of a change in the tenant farmer at Seathwaite. So, as well as the hikers on the Cumbrian Way and the wild swimmers in the cool water of Blackmoss Pot, we were happy to spot a grey heron, some lapwings and a glimpse of a stoat as well as the twinkle of the skylarks calling.

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Skiddaw summit - Lake District National Park

Skiddaw - Lake District National Park

The climb up Skiddaw (931 m.) from Latrigg Saddle (290 m.) is known for its unremitting slog, including a set of zig-zags that can be seen from the A66 below. It’s a straightforward walk-up, nothing technical about the climb except the slog: there’s no babbling beck alongside and you’re above the tree line on one of the bleakest fells in the Lake District. The satisfaction is the climb, keeping going as the view back to Derwent Water and the Lakeland Peaks grows as you gain height. It’s good fitness training, would-be Mt. Everest mountaineers have used it as a training session: the view is better than three hours on a machine in a gym, but it’s a bit of a wonder why the stomp up Skiddaw is so popular with a more general public.

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Valgaudémar, Parc National des Écrins

Valgaudémar, Parc National des Écrins

More snow on the glaciers than we’ve ever seen on our hikes in the Valgaudémar valley of the Écrins, the massif in the Alpes-de-Haut-Provence. There was little traffic in the high valley of the river Séveraisse as the road from La-Chapelle-en-Valgaudémar was strewn with debris and the Chalet-Hôtel du Gioberney at 1650 m. was still closed from this harsh winter.
We hiked up the path towards the Réfuge du Pigeonnier, enjoying magnificent views of the Cirque Glaciare de Gioberney and the peaks above it around Les Rouies (3589 m.), though we were too close to see the famous peak, L’Olan (3564 m.).

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SRT familiarisation in Eskdale

SRT familiarisation in Eskdale

A day hanging on a rope in Eskdale practising descending and ascending using Single Rope Technique. SRT was developed for mines and caving because it reduces the amount (and weight) of gear. Easier to concentrate on SRT out in the open rather than underground in a yellow suit and the dark, but we didn’t dismount the head lights.

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Dentelles de Montmirail
Dentelles de Montmirail with Mont Ventoux (1910 m) in the distance

Dentelles de Montmirail
Scramble just below the crest of the Dentelles Sarrasines (627 m.)

Hiking the Dentelles, the teeth-like limestone crags above the vineyards of Gigondas and other villages of the Côtes du Rhône appellation. The climate and rocks are similar to Corsica with pines and oaks over fragrant Mediterranean flowers and herbs including thyme, chervil and savory.
The views are of Mont Ventoux (1910 m.) to one side and on the other, the far-reaching panorama of the valley of the Rhône over to the Ardèche and Cévennes ranges. We set off early-ish from the village of Gigondas, leaving behind the old stone buildings with restaurants setting up for lunchtime clients to eat and quaff under the plane trees. A brisk climb to take advantage of the morning cool, the tracks passed fields of vines terraced on the hillsides. We took the scramble up from the Col d’Alsau (445 m) to the Dentelles Sarrasines (627 m.). There was a fierce Mistral keeping the air clear but a bit of fun keeping hold of the wide-brimmed hats advised against the strong sun. Back via the Col du Cayron (195 m.).

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