Sunday, 19 July 2015

Way Out West

Another glorious beach way out west
We have been in Ireland for almost two weeks now and to be honest it has been a real tonic. The weather has been a bit mixed, though we only lost one full day to rain, and the best days have been simply stunning.
The magnificent rock scenery of the Burren
The main tourist destinations are usually rammed, with coach-loads of grockles milling about whilst the buses block the roads, then the load up and drive along with a huge queue behind them. The obvious key is to avoid the hot-spots - which suites us just fine.
We have walked lots of stunning deserted beaches, explore the massive Cliffs of Moher and wandered around the limestone wonderland of the Burren.
For accommodation we have used a mixture of B and Bs (usually excellent, especially the Full Irish breakfasts) and more typical Hostels which are a bit more 'down-market' but are also less expensive and super friendly.
The people are great - Irish hospitality really has to be experienced to be believed - I'm not sure why they are all so cheerful but we do like it!



Thursday, 9 July 2015

Luck of the Irish

The endless expanse of Inch Beach - Dingle Bay
So the summer rolls around and once again we are faced with the annual conundrum of what to do in July and August - much of the UK is very busy and with unsettled weather whereas the Continent is just as busy and hot too!
Many years ago we spent a great week climbing at the Burren on the west coast of Galway - a beautiful part of the world with great folks, so we thought that a reprise might fill a couple of weeks.
The ferry was £500+ return for a crossing that takes less than two hours. RyanAir were offering flights from Manchester to Shannon for £5 each - a bit of a no-brainer then - especially as car-hire was less than £110 for a couple of weeks.
Emerald woods on the Emerald Isle
Two days in and we have visited the amazing beach at Inch on Dingle Bay and spent a day wandering around the Killarney Lake District. The weather has been a little bit of what the Irish call 'soft' - but it hasn't stopped us getting stuff done. The people are exceptionally cheerful and friendly which is great and starting each day with 'Full Irish' gives us enough fuel to make it through to the evening without the need to eat again - so we haven't needed to visit an Irish pub - yet!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Back to Basics, Back to Blighty

The National Cycling Arena - Impressive!

We have been back to the UK - a week now and could best be described as an odd mixture of drab and hectic; the weather has been very un-June-like, cool grey and breezy and we have been really, really busy - the contrast to out 'normal' life is quite extreme.
I have managed just a single day out on the Grit so far - with the usual suspects and we have also squeezed in several walks in attempt to keep fit, locally or a little further afield - including a brisk evening round of the Burbage Valley.
A Burbage Round - a classic leg stretcher
I spent a day at the National Cycling Arena, attending a symposium by the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild on "the Future of Outdoor Publishing" and there was an element of 'doom and gloom' about the whole thing, though at Rockfax we seem to be bucking the trend of falling sales and shrinking markets for print editions of many of the outdoor titles  - long may it continue.
We have booked a month in northern Sweden and Norway for August - that should be a bit different from the hot and sunny south. When we checked the prices, flying into Sweden and hiring a car there was about 1/4 of the cost of the same deal in Norway - that's a no-brainer then - Lofoten here we come!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pyrenean Peace and Quiet

Plateau de Beille - 7000' and 'cool'.
So it was back to (one of) our favourite places - the Ariège. Colin has been dispatched over the mountains and we have had a very pleasant and quiet week in the mountains. It is mid-June and the place is still virtually deserted; the various camp-sites and other business here must have an incredibly short season in which to make their money which is just fine by us - we should be out of the way before the hoards arrive.


Andorra - in the mountains
It has been warm to hot and a quite thundery but we been heading up high to escape the worst of the heat. So it is homeward(?) in two weeks to catch our breath and think about what to do with the summer - Ireland and Northern Norway have been thrown into the hat so far - let's see what the weather Gods throw our way.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Corsican Reprise

Grand Dalle Rt 2 at Bavella
 We visited Corsica last September for the first time and were impressed by the great scenery, quality climbing and general quietness. A return visited was pencilled in and so a week ago we collected Colin (reinforcements) flew Toulouse > Bastia, collected the hire-car and headed back to the Residencia de Canella in the south-east corner of the island.


The Col de Bavella and its superb Corsican Pines.
One week in and it has been as excellent as hoped for though climbing at the Col de Bavella has required a bit of application - one day it was blowing a gale, one day we got soaked and the third visit was a Bank Holiday with its attendant crowds - we got routes done on each occasion so all was well.


Sherri doing a bit of 'coasteering'.
On the one(!) rest day we explored the local area, there are some great beaches and some interesting scrambles. We have one week left and are moving round to the south-east coast tomorrow - a new area so that should be great. On the way we are going to have a poke around the bouldering on the headland of Capineru. We don't really 'do' bouldering but it looks great in the photos so must be worth an hour or two of our time.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pootling around the Pelopennese

Climbing up on Didemon at 3500'
 After six weeks on Kalymnos we were ready to try somewhere a bit different so a short flight to Athens and a brief drive west found us at the impressive old Hotel Cokkinis where we spent three days exploring the area and doing a bit of climbing.
Wheat fields -
not what you expect to see in Greece
Then it was a three hour drive past the impressive gash of the Corinth Canal (thronged - it was a Bank Holiday) and onwards to Argolis - the easternmost finger of the big peninsula of the Pelopennese. We had an excellent 8 days there, exploring the ancient history, the superb deserted beaches and the rather good sport climbing. We never saw another climber; indeed the area appears to be virtually unknown to British climbers which is odd considering the high quality routes, on a good variety of cliffs in a relatively compact area and a classic Greek holiday setting. We stopped in a superb hotel (the Blue Beach) right on the seashore and for a very reasonable price - for most of the week we were the only guests which is just how we like it.
Flashy hire-car and wind-farm
Finally it was up-sticks and thee hour drive back to Athens in time for an afternoon flight to Stansted and a night in the Raddison  - time for a little bit of luxury - a bath, a TV (not that there was much on) Internet in bed and l-o-n-g bath. Sunday started with the 'meg-breakfast' then an easy flight down to Carcassonne and onwards to Chez Arran for a brief rest. It is great to be back in the mountains.
And in just over a week we are headed back to Corsica.




Monday, 27 April 2015

Kalymnos - Winding Down

Kastri Castle with Olive Press

Homeward to Telendos
 Our six weeks on Kalymnos are almost up and it is time to think about moving on as the summer season is bearing down on us. The first few weeks here were quite unsettled but we got plenty done and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place.
For the past two week we have had Colin and Andy here - a very pleasant and mellow time was had by all. We visited a good variety of crags - always chosen by seeing which venues had the least number of scooter parked there! The weather for the whole of their stay was superb, warm and sunny, often with a cooling breeze, but never too hot and no rain. I ticked my 100th route of the trip just after they left - that includes around 35 I had never done before - they get harder to find as time goes by.
Andy hanging around
Tomorrow we head to Athens and the Pelopenes area for somewhere completely different - the climbing looks pretty good so watch this space for a report. After that it is onwards back to the Ariège for a short break then  to Corsica. We were very impressed with the place last autumn and this time will have Colin in tow which should result in more routes, harder routes and hopefully some multipitch fun.

Can't wait!