Thursday, 18 September 2014

Corsica - A Tasty Treat

Sherri and just another Corsican beach
Corsica is a place I have fancied visiting for years although it has always been a tricky spot to get too. Factoring in the rumours of crowds and roasting hot summer temperatures; these potential 'flies the ointment' have kept us away.
In the event coming with Easyjet (€20 each) and out of the main summer season season has solved the conundrum neatly.
The granite walls of central Corsica - stunning
It is warmer than we would prefer (up to 28C so far), but the island is a stunning place, and offers the easy option of a drive up into the fantastic granite mountains to escape the worst of the heat - on the Col de Bavella (4000') it has been about 8C cooler than on the coast.
The beaches are magnificent and largely deserted but it is the climbing that has been the great surprise, well bolted routes on perfect granite and with grades towards the softer end of the spectrum which is always nice. I have been over-indulging a bit - brilliant!
After a great week in the south-east we packed up and drove through the central mountains a to a new base near Calvi in the north-west corner of the island. It turns out that this area is even more spectacular, with granite mountains, superb white beaches and more excellent climbing - I think we will be back sooner rather than later.
Calvi at sunset - an amazing place



Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Autumn - Time for a Change


Graham on Nemes Pas Harry - E1 5b - Bamford


September rolls round, the leaves are starting to turn and there has even been a bit of chill in the air. Climbing on the grit has been a real pleasure, but despite this, it is time for us to think about heading off.
We didn't have anything booked until mid-October that being Santorini on the way to Kalymnos (£25 from Manchester) so we did a bit of discussing and I mentioned maybe we could fit in a 10 day slider to Corsica, a place I have always fancied visiting. Sherri admitted that after we discussed it a month ago she had already booked a couple of flights, but hadn't mentioned it as I appeared to go a bit 'cool' on the idea - at £20 each, it sounds like she made a good move. From Corsica we are headed to Chez Arran for 10 days before returning home to pack the bags for our annual visit to Kalymnos.
New wheels - Subaru Forester XT


Autumn is usually my time for car buying, a Subaru Forester this time. Not my usual style of vehicle but the price was right, it should do OK in the Ariege's snowy winter peaks, and as ever - a change is as good as a rest. It looks a bit agricultural but there is a 2.0L turbocharged power-plant under the bonnet churning out 250bhp - enough to embarrass more exotic machinery.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Peak Puntering - Same as it Ever Was

10 Days back in the UK - life goes on much as normal, a pleasant mix of jobs, climbing and work. The weather has been the usual frustrating British summer, unpredictable enough to ensure we have managed to get wet on several occasions.  The forecasters would have you believe that it has been unusual for August - but I don't think so: showery and cool much of the time, and horribly midgey out on the Grit whenever the wind dropped - just what we expect from a 'Normal British Summer'.
Above: Colin tiptoeing up Concave Wall
Climbing with the standard team has been fun, some social times, lots of banter and some great routes - on the Grit when the weather allows - and bolt clipping on the Limestone when not - at least we have managed to avoid going 'Indoors" so far.
Below: Sherri heading for Skinningrove 

In reality we are both waiting for the Autumn to arrive so we can head away south to our other life. In the mean-time we drove 'up North' for a few day, to stop in Sherri's mums flat in Saltburn. A change is always as good as a rest and we had an excellent few days including a day's climbing at the Wainstones and some great walks exploring the coastline, escaping the poor weather that everywhere else suffered. Back in Sheffield and we have booked a flight to Santorini for mid-October - winter is calling.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Normandy Wisdom

 As the summer rolls on we thought we would try somewhere different so we loaded up the car and caught the ferry to Le Havre to spend a bit of time in Normandy and possibly Brittany. In the event Hurricane Bertha had other ideas and camping proved to be a bit of a challenging, with high winds and some pretty impressive rainstorms.
We did some climbing on some interesting cliffs and explored the area around the delightful town of Domfront. We thought we might press on towards Brittany but the forecast remains very unsettled, so we have about-faced and headed back towards Calais and the UK. No rush to get 'home' - we will have to see what the weather throws in this direction.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Back to Britain and on to Brittany

Our 10 days back in the UK have been very pleasant, there has been a taste of 'real summer' which has been great, allowing be to get some cragshots of a few out of the way places. On top of that I have been out climbing with the 'usual suspects' a couple of times and we have been up north for a few days to our parents, all of whom a chugging on in the same old fashion.

Left - the Victorian water-powered funicular at Saltburn by the Sea


With the whole of the summer to go at we have decided to try somewhere a bit different so we are Brittany bound next week to sample a part of the world we have never visited. We will pack the camping/fishing/climbing gear into the big black car and head south west - someone  once said Variety is the Spice of Life - I think they had a point.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Iceland to A Hot Land

Left: Haifoss - Iceland's 2nd tallest waterfall

Iceland was really rather good, nice to be somewhere different and break out of the usual circuit, it was getting busy as July and their high season arrived so we headed south briefly. Six days in the UK and a bit of work on Eastern Grit 3 then back to the Ariège - possibly our favourite spot of all.
Colin was in tow and the plan wass to get a bit of climbing done so we started on the superb granite of Auzat - a quick half-a-dozen fitted the bill perfectly. Despite our worries it wasn't too hot though 30C is forecast for the weekend - very different from Iceland's average of around 12C!

It gradually warmed up to a steamy 36C towards the end of the trip, but we had six great days on the rock - an equal mix of limestone and granite - and did a bunch of routes that I hadn't done before which is always a bonus. We also bumped into long-time friend Andy Nicholson who was on a three week motorbiking tour of France - rather him than me!

Right: Colin steaming up a stiff F6a at Ax les Thermes 

In the event we had to move out of Chez Arran as they were full, so the four of us booked into a Gite in Les Cabannes for a couple of nights which was perfect, tales were told, we climbed, did a bit of reminiscing and drank plenty of cold beer - a good result all round.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Iceland - Two Weeks In and Counting

We rolled back around Reykjavik yesterday after a lazy two weeks circumnavigating Iceland. We appear to have been lucky with the weather, no real rain until we got back to the airport (pretty wet now though) to swap our comfy Kia C'eed for a teeny noisy bouncy Suzuki Jimny that might (and might not!) take us off-road.
As expected the scenery has been great, the locals friendly, the hostels superb and the sense of space and light quite magnificent. The tourist traps are normally packed but once you leave them behind it is rare to see another vehicle, the contrast between Iceland and the UK couldn't be more extreme.
We have been bird spotting (lots of new species), beach combing, whale watching, fishing, wandering in the wilderness and just taking it easy - one week to go then back to the crowds - Blighty that is!