Apart from a handful of walks and a couple of camping trips, I’ve hardly left the Wirral peninsula since early 2020, but, to quote Half Man Half Biscuit, “Everything I want is here, and everything I need is here”. I’ve become content with walks on the Oblong of Dreams.
Although still remaining on the peninsula for this walk, I was venturing across the border in to Cheshire. It is less than 15 minutes drive from my house to the starting point from where I’d planned a 12 ish mile route from the Hadlow Road car park further in to Cheshire, towards Burton.
It was a walk of firsts; * I was finally getting to try out the Scarpa Crux approach shoes I got at Christmas. Lack of annual leave and several storms meant little opportunity to get them out of their box. * Now that ViewRanger had finally been turned off, it was time to see what Outdoor Active could do. * I was covering a number of new footpaths for me on this route.
I’d already planned the route on my laptop using the Outdoor Active website. It was easy to do and the ‘snap to’ function worked reasonably well for most of the walk, however, when I picked a path it didn’t recognise, I was sent on a long detour. An easy fix is to click on the magnet button on the bottom tool bar (see image on left) After setting this to be ‘route’ and not just a ‘plan’, it appeared on the phone app and I was ready to go (a plan being an initial ‘rough sketch’ of the walk) .
After getting the car in the last parking spot, I changed in to the Scarpas. I’d owned the Scarpa Epic shoes previously. They had lasted well but were not as grippy as other footwear I’ve owned. The Crux were so comfy as soon as I put them on. They share a similar design to the Epic. The Epic shoes are very blue with bright yellow bits. whereas the Crux are a more subtle dark grey with sky blue trim and laces. Sorry, ‘shark and blue radiance.’ The ‘Vibram Megagrip’ sole design was slightly different too and, I soon discovered, worked well in the slippery muddy conditions.
I fired up the walking route on my phone and clicked ‘Start’. The tracking started automatically. So far so good, although I still had the OS Map app running in the background, a paper map in my sack and tracking running on my watch, just in case.
I started down the easy to follow Wirral Way, past Leahurst Veterinary School then took a left on to Cuckoo Lane. The route briefly took me to the side of a housing estate before passing a playground on the path down to the Dee Marshes.
Once at the marshes, the path became slightly busier. It was a Friday morning in February so I expect it could get very busy on a summer weekend. I was soon turning off though, taking Station Road up to Burton, a lovely village filled with thatched cottages, an old church and woodland area. It gets a mention in the Doomsday book and apparently, back in the day was a rest stop on the journey between Birkenhead and London.
The Outdoor Active app was also behaving itself. On previous tests it would often display a black screen with no information on it. No such problems today. The tracking was accurate and the OS mapping clear. Maybe it was finally winning me over! *
Looking at the map, I’d noticed “Burton Point”, the site of an Iron Age fort. While I was here, it made sense to go and check it out. There were paths just off the road out of Burton. Entering the woods near Puddington Lane, I passed a ‘Welcome to the RSPB Reserve’ sign and continued on through to the car park. From there I headed towards a building. Three people were sat outside. “Hello” calls one, “Are you just here for a wander round?” I was, and was charged £6 to do so. I was rather taken aback, I was literally passing through and hadn’t noticed any other signs mentioning an entry fee, although it is mentioned on their website.
Everyone else here had binoculars, large camera lenses, tripoded monoculars or a combination of all three. They’d stop dead in the middle of the path and turn their gaze to a dot in the sky. Three men were discussing a particular ‘spot’, “I saw it first!”, “Yes, but I identified it”. I felt like an away fan in the home end.
The views over to Wales were lovely although there’s little to see of the fort now. I noticed another footpath out of the reserve but that was padlocked. I may have climbed over if it wasn’t for the older couple sat next to it. So, I turned and went back the way I came.
To be fair, if you go to look for wildlife it is worth the entrance but I wouldn’t recommend it for the walk to the fort. ** I retraced my steps to the village but took Mudhouse Lane to the A540. After crossing, it was footpaths right the way through to the Wirral Way and back to the car.
I was swearing at my Satnav.
There was several gig worth of unused SD card sitting in the slot but it refused to use it and refused to accept the car park I’d selected on my laptop route planner.
I muttered to myself as I scrolled through the settings on the satnav and typed in the ridiculously long Welsh road name. There were three potential car parks, the one I wanted, one quite close to the one I wanted and one quite a distance away. The latter was easier to enter in to the satnav as it sat in the middle of a distinctive junction.
Press the screen. Navigate to here. Sorted.
I headed down the same familiar route, down the A55 towards Conwy, however, I experienced my first drive through the centre of town and on to the parking spot in the hills just off Sychnant Pass Road.
The weather was lovely as I got out the car, perused the walking route and left the car park. It was about a mile to the car park I planned to start the walk from. In retrospect it would have been easy to find if I’d have persevered driving down the road. Oh well, hindsight and all that.
When I reached the third car park, just past a large country house, I crossed to the left hand side of the road, walked through the gate posts and on to the footpath.
The path was very easy to follow and plenty of signs along the way ensured I was heading in the right direction, South (ish) initially.
The views over the bay towards Anglesey and Puffin Island were beautiful.
As usual in this part of the world, there’s always plenty of sheep but I also had a bit of a Rolling Stones moment passing several wild Carneddau horses.
The path changed direction, crossing a stream to my right before hitting a crossroads where a number of paths joined. I took the path to my left.
The map below may provide some useful inspiration for other walks in the future!
As I stopped to take a swig from my water bottle I began to wonder if I should change my route as I was not parked where I’d planned the walks started and ended. I dug out the map and decided to take the next (and only) path to my left. This should eventually bring my out right at the car park I was using.
Unlike the paths previously, this was not signed and not easy to follow. It was difficult to stay on the right path across the wet, muddy terrain. I knew I wanted to be heading South East so using a combination of GPS and compass, I headed in roughly the right direction.
At one point the ground dropped away steeply to a stream below, but despite a jiggle to take the less steep slope, I stayed on course and it wasn’t too long before I’d rejoined a more obvious path. Again, the views were great and I saw a great opportunity to get the Jetboil out for a coffee break. I’ve marked the point with a beer glass on my downloadable route (well, it’s the best icon I could find!)
After my brew, I continued to Craigyfedwen and on towards the road where I’d left the car, however, rather than head straight back, I looped around Crow’s Nest Hall and Farm, meeting a couple of llamas along the way.
All in all and enjoyable 8 mile walk with some great views…..I even forgave the satnav….but how do you move content to the SD card….hmmmmm….
A week later, another Monday off work and another walk.
Again, I was planning to try somewhere new. I had two ideas, both were in North Wales, one 40 minutes drive, the other 70 minutes away.
Looking at the weather forecast, rain was due to hit the furthest location at around 3 pm, the closer location would be dry all day, so, a 40 minute drive it was!
I’d driven through the village of Trelawnyd on my way to Dyserth on previous walks so no swearing at the satnav today!
I left the car in the free car park near the church at the centre of the village. I changed in to my boots and walked back to the main road, crossed over and down the one way road opposite.
This soon became slightly muddy path through field, the theme for the day.
Initially I was following the North Wales Pilgrims Way, a 130 mile route which links ancient churches dedicated to saints of the 6th century. I had followed part of this route on the walk 30 miles down the road the week before.
As I wandered through farm land towards I started to sense I was being followed.
One sheep initially, then two, three…
….eventually there were about 20 sheep extremely close to me, following me across the field bleating very loudly.
It was like a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’…..if ‘The Walking Dead’ featured zombie sheep.
At Graig Arthur, I left my woolly tormentors and headed South towards Glanllyn.
Here, I joined the Offas Dyke path, following a road.
The path left the road to the right, passing through a hedge and over more fields towards Marian Cwm.
I remained on the very easy to follow Offas Dyke path until I reached a junction at Marian Mill Farm.
Here I took a right and found a great spot to pick some wild garlic.
It’s quite easy to spot with it’s wide green leaves, however, you will smell it before you see it!
I love this stuff, it makes a particularly good pesto when whizzed up with olive oil and Parmesan cheese
It’s a shame the growing season is quite short. It is really worth tracking some down in the Spring months.
After filling my now rather garlicy rucksack, I continued to Cwm Road (stop sniggering!) then back to the main road then over to the car park It was still early afternoon, I still hadn’t made a coffee and I still had a lot of energy left so I passed the car park and went on the path up Gop Hill.
The views from the peak were pleasant. I found a decent, sheltered spot to get the Jetboil going and make a cuppa.
Two very nice walks, but, if I’m honest, I preferred the first and suspect I will be back around there very soon.
Saturday 16th September
Another trip to Slovenia started with long delays. At the time we were due to depart from Manchester I fired up FlightRadar, the Adria Airways A319 I should now be sitting on was still making its way over Belgium.
Once the aircraft arrived, we were delayed further, apparently due to Manchester being short staffed.
Things on board improved. I had all three seats to myself and the row in front of me was empty.
It was a very pleasant flight with mostly clear, turbulence free skies, however, over Slovenia things became very cloudy and very wet!
I got in to my hotel at around 20:00 and went straight to dinner. An all you can eat buffet. I went for the beef soup, croquettes, pork ribs and a bowl full from the salad bar. The food was alll very nice, as was my room at the Hotel Kompas The single room was a good size and had a balcony over looking the hills.
After dinner, the rain had stopped so I took a short stroll around town, passing just one person walking their dog.
Typical Saturday night in Kranjska Gora!
Sunday 17th September
After a very good night’s sleep, I went down to breakfast which included apricot dumplings and carrot souffle! Sufficiently fed, I wandered to the local Mercator for some supplies before heading back to pack my waterproof gear.
One word to describe today….wet!
Leaving the hotel I joined the D2 bike path West towards the start of route 9. All well signed posted easy paths so far.
As I ventured further in to the woods I hadn’t seen a sign for a while and the path was climbing. My golden rule when walking in Slovenia; if you’ve not seen a sign or a painted red and while ‘blob’ for a while, your probably going the wrong way. I headed back, yes, there was the sign but I shouldn’t be going up hill and my GPS said I was way off course. At least I was heading in the right general direction towards Planica so continued until I reached a hut at across roads. There were no signs or painted marks here but I knew a right should get me in the right direction and loose the excess height I’d gained. Sure enough, it brought me out where I expected on the track I had originally planned to walk on.
Last time I was here, there were a number of ski jumps and a ‘mountain hut’ to the side of them. There is now a hotel, indoor skydiving centre, indoor cross country, a cafe and toilets. Good for escaping the rain!
Leaving the centre, I continued on towards the Nadiza waterfall, I had to cross the river at one point, just in case I wasn’t wet enough already already!
Nadiza waterfall is impressive although you can’t get very close to it. Luckily it had stopped raining long enough for me to get some photos from the best vantage point I could find.
From the waterfall, I crossed a field to take shelter in a church and take a look at the map.
I took same path back to Planica then continued along the road to Ratece.
The weather had become worse, along with the rain was plenty of thunder and occasional lightning
At Ratece, I rejoined D2 stopping to take a look at the Labarinti. I assumed this to be a maze for kids, however, after reading in to it online, the labyrinth is somewhere you go to find your inner well being….or something like that!
Deciding my being was well enough, I continued on my way, towards Zelenci, a nature reserve just outside Kranjska Gora. As it had finally stopped raining I thought I’d extend the walk a little!
This route is available to download as a GPX file
Back at the hotel I took a quick shower then down for dinner at the ‘help yourself buffet’. Garlic soup to start followed by veal. I put a bit of shark on the plate too, just to try something different!
The weather got worse in the evening so I stayed in the room and watched Slovenia beat Serbia in the Eurobasket basketball tournament. I’d later discover this was big news in Slovenia!
Monday 18th September After breakfast I once again headed out in more rain and again I took the D2 cycle path, this time towards Gozd Martuljek., taking a right on the track just south of the village.
Just past the information boards and a clearing where a charcoal pile was being ‘cooked’, the path split in two. I took the left hand fork up what was described as ‘the difficult path’.
I like a challenge!
Initially this was a lovely route along the gorge. The paths were well marked following the cascading water.
The path climbed and, with the help of steps and bridges, crosses the river. Then, came the awkward part…. passing over and climbing up the torrent!
It didn’t help matters that my boots were already wet due to all then rain.
After the first waterfall, Lower Martuljek , or ‘Slap 1’ as it is signed, I had a climb through the woods to the next upper waterfall.
Towards the end of the route, hand rails have been put in to the rock, along with metal ‘ladders’ to help with the climb. It’s not an easy walk but the views are fantastic!
I’ve since read websites detailing the dangers of this route.
I managed on my own and, as long as decent boots are worn and care taken, it shouldn’t pose any major problems.
I wandered back the same way before taking the left hand fork to the ‘easier’ path through the woods.
I decided it was too early to go back to the hotel and, as the rain had stopped, I followed the quiet road climbing from Gozd Martuljek to Srednji Vrh passing another waterfall on my way.
The views across to where I had walked earlier were beautiful, especially now the weather had cleared slightly
From here it was an easy walk back in to Kranjska Gora.
Tuesday 19th September Horrible weather forecast; yellow alert for rain and the temperature during the day not rising above 8 Celsius.
My phone (running the ViewRanger GPS app) and paper maps wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the persistent heavy downpour so I opted for an extremely easy to navigate route. I joined D2 and just kept on going to Mojstrana, a lovely village, shame about weather!
I concluded it was too far, too cold and too wet to continue on to the waterfall. On a nicer day I may have continued to Peričnik Falls and got the bus back but today, the prospect of standing waiting for the rather infrequent bus wasn’t something I wanted to be doing.
Instead, I popped in to the Alpine museum in Mojstana, an interesting little museum with the bonus of being warm and dry! There is a small shop in the museum offering souvenirs and maps. It is also, a good place to get information about weather conditions in the mountains, details on mountain huts etc.
Not far from the museum is the start of via ferrata trail maybe something else for me to tackle in the future!
The hotel had a themed night tonight, traditional foods and band in costume playing Slovenian folk music. The meal included beef soup, local smoked hams, pasta stuffed with potato in a cheese sauce, goulash and buckwheat.
After my evening meal, I decided I ain’t going back out there so the evening was spent planning some more walks. If the weather forecasts were to be believed, the worst of the weather was over
Wednesday 20th September Blimey blue skies!
I was up early. Buckwheat on breakfast menu along with ‘semolina tower’.
After my unusual first meal of the day, the waterproofs went in the rucksack, where they stayed for the duration!
I followed the D2 cycle path West to Ratece, the last village before the Italian border and one of the coldest places in the country. I walked North through the village to the path leading the point where the borders of three countries meet.
The route climbed steadily. It was partly path, partly track and easy to follow.
As I climbed I started to see little patches of snow, these became larger and larger patches. Before the final climb, I had a choice, track or path. I opted for the winding path. The patches of snow became bigger and nearing the peak it became a thick layer of crunchy fresh snow.
An unexpected surprise in September!
Austria, Italy and Slovenia all covered in snow… At least, they were up here!
I took a brief stroll along the Austrian hills before taking the obligatory photograph where the borders met.
Back in Slovenia, I followed the wide track from the top down, taking a right at the first fork then a took a right and descended towards Podkoren.
Annoyingly, happily wandering along I missed my path(s) into Podkoren and ended up on the road but at least the traffic was light.
From Podkoren I headed East and just before joining the main road, I took route 3 following the River Sava before dropping down back down to Kranjska Gora. Download this route as a GPX.
Thursday 21st September
Chilli peppers at breakfast! (-;
Headed out today following the river south passing the Zlatatog statue.
Initially I was following a road. A cyclist rode past singing Bohemian Rhapsody…as you do.
It was early in the morning, the roads were quiet and the mist was rolling down the hills.
I stayed on the road until I hit a bridge, here I crossed and continued up the quiet Vršič Pass. Partway along, road works were being carried out. I wouldn’t say little happens in this part of the world but I later spotted myself on local news walking past!
I left the road when I reached the Russian Chapel, a chapel built by Russian prisoners of war engaged in forced labour in the area during World War.
The climb up to Vršič was well signed as it zigzagged up towards Vršič and, once again I found snow!
This is virtually a linear route I altered it slightly by crossing on to the other side of the river on the way back.
Despite having to return the same route, this was a lovely walk with some fantastic views! This route is available to download
As I got back to Kranjska Gora, a number of interesting cars were driving through, many parking up in my hotel’s car park. All were taking part in the Ramble Rally, a 5 day rally through Europe.
Friday 22nd September Sadly, all to quickly the last day had come….and my walking boots are still saturated! It was a short walk from the hotel to Vitranc chair lift. I Paid €7 for a one way trip.
This was a new and fun experience given that this was a chair lift more usually taking skiers up the hill. It was a strange feeling looking down to see nothing below my feet.
Alighting at the top was something niggling in the back of my mind during the journey up. It was fairly simple, lift the bar and run off….well jog quick enough to be quicker than the lift! I filmed a section of the ride
From the station the walk to Vitranc was well signposted and, once again, it wasn’t long until I found the snow!
The sign below amused me, Vitranc 15 minutes or 25 minutes for tourists…needless to say I saw this as a challenge and, I’m pleased to say, got there in 15 minutes!
It was a bit of a slog to the top of Vitranc which, in the winter months, is used for down hill skiing competitions Sadly, the hut at the peak was closed so I continued towards Ciprnik.
As this was a 15 mile walk and I had packing to get back to, I decided to give the snowy route up to Ciprnik a miss and continued on.
The snow actually making my navigation easier, just follow the other set of footprints ahead!
The path slowly made its way down, through the woods towards the ski jump centre at Planica. A little hut along the path offers some great views.
At the bottom of the hill I took the road down to the D2 cycle path. From here, I could have taken a right back to Kranjska Gora but instead decided to quickly pop over the border to Italy. The walking was easy, just stay on the D2 before taking the road for the last part of the way to the lake, Lago di Fusine Inferiore. This is a lovely spot to sit and take in the last of the sunshine. There’s a bar on the side of the lake and plenty of seats offering fantastic views.
From here it was a straight walk back to Kranjska Gora, although I did go via one of the local villages to stock up on drink.
The walk, from the top chairlift station is available as a GPX file.
Saturday 23rd September Time for a quick cup of coffee and cereal before heading back to the airport for the flight back to Manchester.
A real mix of weather, torrential rain, snow and warm sunshine but another fantastic trip and I know I will be back and I’m sure visit number 10 won’t be too far off!
Yep, there is nothing like a rather rude sounding village to get me giggling like a stupid child but (surprisingly) walking through Cwm was a humorous coincidence. I was wondering where to walk, I opened the OS mapping on ViewRanger, found a place with some walks, check for car parking on Google Maps. Dyserth ticked all the boxes, plenty of paths and free parking. It was an easy drive there, M53, A55 then not far from the A5151. First impressions, Dyserth is a very hilly town!
I parked up in the waterfall car park. I had arrived early and there was only one other vehicle but I can imagine it can get very busy here.
After paying a visit to ‘Loo of the year 2009’, I left the car park, took a left and headed up hill. Following the road up to the traffic lights, I went straight across and joined Cwm Road (cue some giggles), a pleasant, hilly residential road. As I climbed up, I got some great views across to the coast below.
Shortly after taking a left on to Lower Foel road, I got on to the path through Foel woods. At the end of the woods I crossed a small road over to the farmland opposite, following the signs to Cwm.
Cwm itself is a small village containing a church and a nice looking pub, The Blue Lion The pub has extremely limited opening times (Thursday to Sunday from 18:00 to 24:00) and needless to say, was closed when I got there.
Leaving Cwm, I took a footpath towards Mynydd y Cwm, one of the hills of the Clwydian Range I skirted the base of the hill then joined the Offa’s Dyke path. This is a trail which is on my ‘Bucket List’. I’ve walked small sections of it many times but I’d love to do more of the 177 mile route. Today, I’d only be following the Acorn signs for a short distance initially to Marian Ffrith where, on this lovely summers day, the views were fantastic. As with many of the hills in the area, this was once home to a hill fort.
Dropping back down the hill, I crossed the road and headed towards Marian Mill farm. Continuing on the Offa’s Dyke path, I crossed the A5151 road.
I left Offa’s Dyke when I reached the wide, tarmac North Wales Path. Initially I mistook it for a road given how wide and well surfaced it was. As it was school summer holiday, there were a large number of families walking and cycling. I felt rather over dressed in approach shoes, walking trousers and rucksack! As I got closer to Dyserth, I left the North Wales Path and took the path over the bridge through Maes Hiraddug nature reserve and down towards the impressive 70 foot high waterfall at Dyserth.
After popping my 50p ‘entrance fee’ (Aug 2017 price) in to the honesty box it was a short walk back to the car park.
This post should have the subheading, ‘I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to’
I had some time off work, no time constraints and the weather forecast was good. I had a number of routes planned and I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere new.
I opened up the OS map, looking for places with plenty of paths then looked on Google Maps to see if there was anywhere to park up.
Llanfair Talhaiarn seemed to tick the boxes. A pleasant little village 5 miles south of Abergele, it has a good size car park with toilets, a couple of pubs for refreshments and it is easy to get to, just off the A548.
After leaving the car at the School Lane car park, I headed to the river Elwy, taking the bridge on the A544 to get to the footpath on the other side.
This was a pleasant start to the day.
Easy to follow, well maintained footpaths, a nice river, a waterfall and a little ‘beach’ which if I’d come across it later in the walk, would have made a great spot to brew up a coffee.
The route followed the river, along the edges of a field and through woodland…
then came the overgrowth.
The path seemed to go on forever through this mass of wet plants. I’m quite tall but plants where taller. It was difficult to see the path on many occasions.
Despite being a warm, summer day with no clouds to be seen, I was drenched.
My trousers stuck to me and my feet squelched with every footstep.
Just when I thought I’d reached the end, there was more. These plants were almost goading me.
No mater how well you plan a walk, there are somethings you don’t expect and this was one such thing.
Sadly, I suspect that unless something is done to clear this path it may well become unwalkable soon
There was eventually a light at the end of this fern covered tunnel…..it came in the way of a muddy track covered in cow manure.
At the end of the track, through a gate I hit a road. This would give me a chance to dry off if nothing else. I followed the road south for a while, crossing over a bridge. At a second bridge I had a choice, assume that that the track to the right of the cottage with the barking dogs was the way to a path on my planned route or continue to the signposted bridle way. Not wanting to argue with the dogs, I took the second option.
This was more like it, a good path and nice views.
I carried on until I reached a farm house. According to the maps, there was a footpath running behind the house. I couldn’t see it. There were a number of signs, none pointing to where the path should be so I continued along the bridleway which brought me out on to a road.
I spotted another track on the map which would lead me back the route I had planned, however, the ‘access forbidden’ signs on the gate made it clear this was no footpath! Once more I went back to the road and continued up hill.
Not to worry, there were another two footpaths up by a farm, one of those would lead back on track. I walked up the farm track and opened the gate. According to my GPS I was right where the path should but there was nothing. No path, no signs. I really didn’t want to go trudging through the farmers land looking for the route so, again, I returned to the road.
To be fair, the walk along the road wasn’t too bad, I’d only seen the one car and the views were good. I’d come to the conclusion that if all else failed, I had an ‘escape route’ . I could follow this road to the main road then back to where I had parked the car.
There was one last route I could take, crossing over the sheep fields towards Llyn Du. The path was easy to find from the road and the lake was a good reference point. A little voice in my head kept telling me that this part may be easily navigable but at any point the path and signs could disappear and I wouldn’t have the road to fall back on. I put these thoughts to the back of my mind, I wasn’t to be defeated!
Things were going well until I reached the farm at Cefn-treflech. There were a number of signs between the road and the farm then nothing. Well, not quite nothing, a post lay on the floor in front of the gate. I wondered if this once had the route labelled on it. To make matters worse, the owner of the property had come outside. I didn’t want to go marching through his property, he might get angry, he might have a shotgun or worse, he may ask if I needed directions! Once I was through the rusty gate, walked round the back of the house and on past another farm, I started to enjoy the views.
This seemed like a good spot to fire up the JetBoil and make myself a coffee.
I consulted my map. Perhaps I should have braved looking for the path at the side of the house near the second bridge. Not too worry, this coffee stop was enjoyable and I could see clearly where to head next. I confirmed the route on my map and with my GPS – all was good!
Nope, this was the calm before the next storm!
From the coffee stop, I headed towards the woods. A sign confirmed I was heading in the right direction. Splendid. I then ended up in more tall, wet foliage but, to make matters worse, there were also two meter high prickly blackberry bushes. At times the only way I could get through was to turn my back, duck down and let my rucksack push the worst of the branches out of the way. I couldn’t see the path at all but, amazingly, one I reached a crossroads with a track I was right on course. I crossed the track and followed the sign. Again, the plants made the path impossible to see so I checked the GPS and compass and headed in what seemed to be the right direction, unfortunately, although I achieved the objective of reaching the woods without being ripped to shreds, I was in the middle of a mountain bike track.
I couldn’t find any information about this track, only finding this one YouTube video. Luckily for me there were no bikes around as I weaved my way as best I could through the woods in roughly the right direction.
I could see the track I needed but a barbed wire fence stood between it and me. It seems that I’m not the only person to have made a mess of navigation, at one point the painful bits of the fence had been removed. I managed to step over and follow the track down to the road to Llanfair Talhaiarn.
In conclusion, this wasn’t one of my favourite walks! Llanfair Talhaiarn is a lovely village and a great base for walking, it’s shame the navigation is made awkward.
I can understand why landowners don’t want people trudging through their land, their home, their place of work but, put up a few signs, make the paths obvious and you won’t have people climbing over fences and being in places they shouldn’t be.
As a crude analogy, my office has signs to the training rooms, the toilets and the reception. Visitors find where they need to be and we don’t have people wandering past our desks looking lost.
I’m sure I’ll revisit Llanfair Talhaiarn in the future, perhaps trying some of the paths to the other side of the village.
In the meantime, my route is available to download as a GPX file.…good luck!
Thursday 15th September
Eek, just before I’m due to fly out to Lyon, I discover French air traffic controllers are planning a strike. Many flights from the UK were being cancelled.
The strike was mainly affecting the budget airlines flying in to Paris and, luckily for me, my Air France/FlyBe Embraer aircraft took off from Manchester pretty much on time.
After around 90 minutes in the skies, we landed at Lyon airport where I had a two hour wait for the coach to Annecy Gare Routière via Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains.
I had pre-booked my tickets online for €34.
I sat with a drink at the Premium Bar near the check-in waiting for the coach to arrive at the stops opposite.
After chucking my large rucksack in the boot space of the coach, I settled down for the two hour journey through the French countryside.
After several hours travelling from my home in Wirral, the bus station at Annecy was a very welcome sight and from here it was a short walk in pretty much straight line to the Ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville hotel.
The hotel situated in the centre of town was nice and clean with a little balcony over looking court yard. Te room, however, was very small.
After taking some time to unpack and freshen up, I took a stroll to le Munich for dinner. It was the Boudin Noir on the menu which caught my attention!
I started with Carpaccio. An Italian starter at a German themed bar/restaurant in France near the Swiss border – truly European! I love my beef as rare as possible and it doesn’t get much rarer than this. A very good start to my first meal of the trip. As for the French black pudding main course…very nice although I think the English black pudding still beats it!
After dinner I took a stroll around the picturesque old town before retiring to my room.
Friday 16th September After a decent breakfast at the hotel, I took a stroll down to the train/bus station to pick up some time tables for some days out I was thinking of taking. Today’s plan was to take good wander around Annecy’s market stall filled streets and on towards the mountain-fringed lake. Getting lost in the old, narrow streets before stopping for coffee at one of the many cafe cum bars in town.
The old town reminded me of Venice or Bruges with its canals and buildings bedecked with flowers.
A lovely place to aimlessly wander.
Saturday 17th September Horrible weather.
I made my self couple of cheeses toasties for breakfast before getting the waterproofs on and walking around the lake to the village of Talloires.
Leaving the hotel, I walked East around the ‘top’ of the lake before following the shore around.
On a nice day I imagine the views across the lake are beautiful and the water to be filled with swimmers and sailors. Today, however, I was wet enough on dry land!
For the first part of this 11 mile route, I followed the tree-lined path to the side of the lake until it ended near the village of Chavoire, here, I headed inland slightly along the D909, Route d’Annecy. In the village of Veyrier du Lac, I took the quieter road to the right of Route d’Annecy, parallel to the lake. This road took me around housing estates before dropping back down to the shores of the lake.
At the Palace De Menthon hotel, I was forced back in land and slightly up hill where there I got some nice views over to Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, the birth place of Bernard of Menthon (St Bernard), the patron saint of skiers.
The road continued round in to the ‘Reserve Naturelle du Rock de Chere‘ park. There are a number of routes around the wooded rocky outcrop. I followed the well signed path nearest to the lake towards the view point at Belvedere.
Despite the poor weather all day, it cleared up just in time to stop and take some photos.
It was a very good spot to see some Red Bull Elements which was taking place in the village!
Talloires didn’t have much to offer and the Red Bull Elements was just finishing off so there was little to keep me in the village. Luckily I had just few mins to wait for the infrequent bus service back to Annecy and bonus… it was free!
This route is available to download from the ViewRanger website.
Sunday 18th September After breakfast I donned the waterproofs again before making my way to Gorges du Fier, considered to be one of the natural wonders of the Alps.
I headed West out of Annecy on D2201 road. The route continued along roads through the town and industrial areas until reaching the woods around the river Fier with it’s ‘interesting’ footpaths consisting of seemingly randomly placed wooden planks!
The path follows the river, ending at the gorge’s pay booth. Entry at the time of writing (Sept 2016) was €5.50.
The route through is linear, ending at a La Clairière des Curieux, an information area detailing the gorge.
Keep an eye out for blue footprints on the path to see ‘faces’ in rocks.
The 6 mile route to and around the gorge is available to download as a GPX file.
Leaving the gorge, I took a different route back, following the railway line along a quiet road towards the hydro power plant.
This was a far nicer route than the one I took out to the gorge and is also available to download as a GPX.
Monday 19th September
This morning I was travelling by bus from the main bus station in Annecy to Geneva, Switzerland. Return tickets are reasonably priced and are purchased at the Annecy bus station.
I got off at Seujet. (Google maps helped to find the right stop!)
To be honest, there wasn’t too much in Geneva to hold my interest but it’s another city to tick off my ‘to see’ list. I took a wander around the town which was filled with watch shops. I passed through the park and on to Jet d’Eau.
I must admit, this jet of water is impressive. I took the jetty out to get up close to the 140 metres (460 ft) jet.
The area around the lake near the Jet is a nice spot to stop for a quick drink. Luckily for me, the shops and bars in town accept the Euro as well as the Swiss Franc, albeit at a 1-1 exchange rate.
Personally, I found a day trip was more than enough time to see the town, leaving on the 5.15 bus…bad move as we got stuck in the rush hour traffic.
Tuesday 20th September Sunshine!
Today the plan was to climb the hills on the Western side of lake.
Wandering through the town, along the waters edge, I headed right down Rue des Marquisats, taking another right at the roundabout .
Continuing up Avenue de Tresum and Boulevard de la Corniche, I turned off to the left down Ave del la Visitation towards Cathédrale de la Visitation, Catholic basilica dating from the early 20th-century.
Already there were great views back over to the town and lake. At the end of the road I entered the woodland and followed the well signed paths to the South, parallel to the lake.
There were a number of view points along the route. A rather elaborate cairn marked the point at 767 meters.
Most of the views on this part of the walk were towards the town. I was surprised how sprawling the area actually is.
There are a number of routes through the woods, I continued to the point about 5 miles in to the walk, where the path curled round, almost in a horseshoe shape. In my mind, this was the part of the walk with the far better views.
Originally the plan was to drop down in to one of the lake side villages, however, the paths down where very steep and, to be honest, I was enjoying the views from the higher path.
Eventually the path slowly made its way down to the shore at La Puya. From here it was a nice walk back through the port area back to the hotel
I think must have been my favourite walk on the holiday and is definitely recommended.
A GPX file of this 9 mile route is available to download
Wednesday 21st September
After breakfast, I wandered down to train/bus station to get a ticket for the 9am bus to Lyon, my home for the next night.
The coach had plenty of luggage space and even a coffee machine at front!
After arriving at the main bus station, I got 5 Euro 50 day ticket and boarded tram T1 to the stop near Quality suites Confluence. A very nice hotel but rather out the way from the main part of town.
The room was lovely and included a kettle, hob microwave. Oddly though the hall way separated the toilet from the sink/sower room!
After unpacking, I wandered around for some snaps in the lovely weather.
Sadly this really was just a flying visit. My time was spent zig zagging between the streets of the old town and walking along the river.
It would have been nice to see the ruins but it just wasn’t possible on this whistle stop visit.
Dinner was taken at Les Chandelles. I later discovered this restaurant had very poor reviews but I enjoyed the meal….especially the unusual dish of head of veal!
Perhaps a return visit is required to see the rest of the sites and sample some better food?
Thurs 22nd September Time to go. After a quick shower, I walked to the train station and got a coffee and baguette. It seemed suitably French and definitely filled a corner!
Back to the hotel for check out which was at 11am. Luckily I left the hotel early as the trams weren’t running. A change of plan was required! I took two metro trains to Gare part dieu. Easily done and covered by the €1.80 ticket.
From there it was on to the shuttle train to the airport.
I know, I go to the Clwydian Range a lot….a hell of a lot.
In my defence, it’s less than 40 minutes drive from home and there are so many routes. I’m still discovering new ones years after I first went.
I’ve recently started parking in Llanferres. I had parked in the same spot last week when I (finally) discovered the cave near Maeshafn (that’s one for another post!) It is usually cold, wet and cloudy whenever I visit this part of the world, today, however, the forecast was good and the skies were clear!
After parking up, I walked towards the Druid pub and followed Rectory Lane to the end where it becomes a footpath. Here it’s a bit of a climb through fields, passing through a gate which isn’t clearly marked as being part of the footpath. The path continues heading South West, ending up in a small woodland.
Not too sure about the barbed wire around the gate though!
I continued on this path, taking the next right, almost heading back on myself.
The views from around here were beautiful.
I had forgotten how good the Clwydian Range could look.
Continuing on this horseshoe, I could look down from above onto the village of Llanferres where I had left the car. I made my way to the narrow road at Pen-y-waun, taking a left where the path joins the road and another left at the road junction.
Ahead of me was the Moel Famau car park and a handy stop to the use the ‘facilities’!
Not far from the car park is a small pull-in off the road on the left. Here a path leads from the road towards the Bwlch Penbarra car park.
From the far end of the car park, I headed up Foel Fenlli, going up and over the top, around the location of the old fort before dropping down to Bwlch Crug-glas.
Passing a small woods on my left I walked through a large field of sheep and found a great sheltered spot to fire up the meths burner and make myself a cup of coffee,
After one of the nicest cups of instant coffee I’d drunk in a long while, I carried on along the path just skirting the route I had taken earlier in the day.
At the crossroads I continued straight on. The path here wasn’t too well signed. I headed roughly South East through the fields to a stile.
Once over the stile, the route became very difficult to see as I ducked under branches, stepped over fallen trees and made my way across the boggy terrain.
There was no clear path through when I reached the road, it was a case of climbing over the fence.
It was difficult to see the ‘official’ route from the road.
It was over grown and a rusty set of gates stood in front of the public footpath sign.
Crossing the road, I took a right then walked down the first road on my left. I stayed on this narrow, quiet road for a while until it became a path towards the quarry.
When reaching Burley Hill Quarry, I took the path to the left, though the woods alongside the now disused limestone quarry.
Apparently, this is a good spot for fossil hunting, I also spotted the entrance of a small ‘cave’.
At the end of the woods is the village of Maeshafn, home to the Miners Arms pub. The food here looks amazing especially considering how far off the beaten track it is!
After the pub, I followed the road to the left. Just after crossing a bridge, I took the footpath on the left back to Llanferres.
The total walk was around 9 miles and was very enjoyable, obviously the clear blue skies helped A GPX of the route can be downloaded.
And to round off such a good day….a drive home with the top down in the Abarth 124!
Saturday 4th June
For the first in a long while, I was flying out to my holiday destination at a decent time, I didn’t have to leave my house until 10 am. The traffic flowed freely and I arrived at Manchester airport before check in opened. It was interesting to see how many pairs of shiny new walking boots I saw in the check in queue, perhaps new to walking? During the course of the week it became worryingly obvious how little experience and knowledge of the outdoors some people have.
This would be my seventh time to Slovenia. The first visit was when the former Yugoslavian country was still outside the EU and my old passport has a few Brnik stamps.
I was now returning to the area where my love for the country first started, Lake Bled.
So what’s changed? Well flight wise, a lot. Slovenia’s national carrier, Adria Airways still have the traditional check in at Manchester i.e. no online check-in (although it is slowly being rolled out) The only seat choice you get is aisle or window.
I was sat by the window on seat 9A on the Airbus A319. The place between me and the aisle seat was free which allowed me to spread out a little.
Gone are the days of the free meal and drinks, the only free beverage now is water although various drinks and snacks were available to buy.
The airline’s ‘OnAir’ service is good. Connect with the WiFi on your phone or tablet to play games, read magazine articles, play games or chat with other passengers. The aviation section of the magazine is a particularly interesting read and, when the views were lost beneath clouds, the 2048 game passed the time.
It was a nice flight with a smooth landing.
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport is small enough to allow you to pass through quickly and, once outside, a number of shuttle buses to Lake Bled were parked up. .Despite the terrible weather forecast, we saw blue skies when we landed and remained as I made my way to the Hotel Jelovica in Bled.
I was told at check-in that the hotel has no single rooms so I was given a good sized double room (369) with views of the church and castle. As with most hotels in Europe, there are no drink making facilities in the room, but there is a vending machine on the second floor filled with soft drinks and a few snacks.
Dinner is an all you can eat buffet which included free drinks; wine, beer, water or pop. As I entered the restaurant, I gave my room number and was shown to my table for the week then just got up and helped myself.
My meal started with the Slovenian staple, thin beef soup with noodles. The salad came with a choice of dressing (I went for pumpkin oil), then it was steak in a porcini sauce with duchess potatoes. There was also an impressive array of deserts which were very popular with those with a sweeter tooth than I!
I took a leisurely wander to the lake after dinner, returning to room at 9.30 pm for a drink and early night. Luckily, the church which was a few feet from my balcony turns the bells off at night, however, the ringing starts again at around 6.
Sunday 5th June
Woke fairly early after a decent sleep.
After breakfast, I took a stroll to the shopping centre by Hotel Golf.
Bled hasn’t changed much over the years but the supermarket opening times certainly have! Gone are the days of the Mercator closing Saturday afternoon and staying shut until Monday morning.
One supermarket just up the road from my hotel on Presernova Cesta is open 7am – 9pm Monday to Saturday and 8am – 5pm Sundays & holidays. It even has a 24 hour vending machine offering drinks, sweets, ham, cheese and sandwiches. I think this shop also has draft wine for you to fill your own bottles, I’m not 100% sure of this but have seen something similar in Pescasseroli, Italy.
The shopping centre contains a few bars and restaurants, the supermarket, pharmacy, clothes shops and the tourist information office.
Shopping in Slovenia is cheap – although compared to England almost everywhere is! 50p buys a half litre of Cola, 40p for a can. 80p gets a half litre bottle of beer.
Not that you go to Bled for the shopping!
After stocking up on a few drinks for the walk and for the room afterwards, I headed to the lake.
It was 9.15am and still reasonably quiet as I walked along the path on the ‘road side’ of the lake. It’s worth doing the lake walk early as it can get busy later in the day.
Not far from the bottom end of the lake, there are three paths all heading to Osojnica, I took the third option.
Here came the start of the climb.
Although the path was through woodland and it was still early in the day, the temperature was already quite warm and humid. I was glad of the drinks in my rucksack!
At one point there are 88 steps to ascend and some climbing, assisted with an iron rope and footholds but the views from the top are amazing!
Staza Hill dominates the right hand side of the lake with Bled directly ahead and Mlino on the right. I could also make out the mountains of the Karavanke range which mark the border with Austria.
I continued on route 6 to Velika Osojnica. My map implied that once I got there I would need to retrace my steps a bit. The lack of markings past the view seemed to confirm that. To be honest, there are better, unobstructed views along the walk but it’s another peak ticked off (756 metres) I returned to the junction of paths and continued straight on, passing some local wild life!
The path descends through woodland back to the Lake. I carried on around the lake until reaching a path to Visce. The route around the lake was getting busy and I was keen to get off the beaten track again. (Continuing around the lake would make the walk five half miles in total)
It didn’t take long to loose the crowds…. and come across a snake doing battle with a frog!
Both went their separate ways when the sensed me coming, much to the frog’s relief! The masses on the lake path would probably have no idea of the types of wildlife just a few metres away.
I zig zagged around, passing the monument to Adolf Muhr, a merchant who once owned Bled castle.
The path eventually came out near the castle and from there I returned to the hotel to plan the next route.
This walk was 7.45 miles/12km in total (starting and finishing at Hotel Jelovica) and can be downloaded from the ViewRanger website
Given that it was early afternoon and the sun was still shining, I headed out again. I followed the single track roads through some villages to the South East of Bled.
It doesn’t take long to leave the centre of Bled and begin walking alongside fields with views of the mountains beyond.
This route took in the villages of Koritno, Bodešče and the larger village of Ribno.
Although I was walking, I imagine it would make a nice bike ride which can be easily extended to include other villages.
I was walking mostly on roads but they are so quiet that it never caused a problem. I also find the drivers in Slovenia to be extremely patient with walkers and cyclists.
This 5.8mile/9.44km route is available to download.
Dinner tonight was tomato soup, salad, garlicky cray tails, venison ragu with 3 grains and mixed vegetables. Once again, very nice!
After dinner, at around 9pm I got my head torch and went for a walk round the lake. Initially I wondered if this was the best idea, lots of midges flying around but (unusually) none bothered me (perhaps it was the garlic) so I continued on for around four miles.
Most of the path has some street lighting but it’s well worth taking a torch as it can get very dark in places particularly on the wooden walk way on the side furthest from town. It’s also worth taking a tripod, there are some lovely photo opportunities.
This brings me on to something else, safety.
Despite being a female travelling alone, I am sometimes a little blasé especially in Slovenia. I didn’t think twice about a night walk, however, Slovenia is a very safe country, the World’s 10th safest in 2016 . Yes, there is a small amount of petty crime in the larger cities but the risks can be reduced by taking the usual common sense precautions.
Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep….another walk planned for tomorrow! Part 2 >>
I had originally planned to do the Dales way in the middle of March 2016, however, after a bit of number crunching, discovered I could do a full week somewhere far warmer for around the same price and so I packed my bags and headed to Los Cancajos, La Palma.
Thursday 10th March 2016 It was a very early start for the 09:15 Thomsons 737-800 flight from Manchester to La Palma.
After landing at the the small airport, it only took about 5 mins to reach the H10 Taburiente Playa hotel.
I was allocated room 110 on the first floor. A good sized room with a balcony over looking the pool…. and the departing aircraft!
The weather was cloudy but fairly warm so after unpacking I ventured out for a stroll to one end of town then back towards the beach. Los Cancanjos is a very small town so can be covered in a very short time. There are a handful of restaurants, bars and a Spar which (unusually for La Palma) opens late on a Saturday and is also open Sundays. Sadly the town’s shopping centre has seen better days with only a few units open.
Back at the hotel for food. The buffet dinner was nice. Salad, paella, chorizo, wrinkled potatoes, mojo sauce and a banana for desert. Bananas soon became a frequent addition to most meals!
I had to take the key card to dinner to pay for any drinks. A member of staff, sat by the door, takes a copy of the room details on to a slip then the total amount is paid at end of holiday at reception. This works well and saves having to carry money to dinner. The same process is used when getting drinks from the bar.
After a 04:30 start, an early night was in order. The quietness and black out curtains in the room ensured a good night’s sleep.
Friday 11th March Huge choice at breakfast. My meal included banana smoothie, cheese balls, bacon, scrambled egg, bacon and beans (no black pudding!). Cava was also available for anyone fancying a glass of bubbly with breakfast. The freshly made omelettes were also quite tempting.
Today, I took walk to the capital city, Santa Cruz.
Taking a right from outside the hotel, I stayed on the road, avoiding a climb up several steps from the beach. The road becomes one way and runs alongside the beach. At the roundabout I took a right on Calle El Fuenrte, moving away from the shore and passing the military buildings.
The road continues past a number of car show rooms, Cupalma, a large banana distribution building and some sort of gas works. After passing these, the road becomes a more pleasant tree lined avenue with the beach to your right.
At the edge of town is the port and bus stops which can take you further out around the island. I headed up the main, mostly pedestrianised shopping street, O’Daly, containing a mix of shops; clothing, souvenir, supermarkets etc.
Around half way up is the Plaza Espana and the Church, Iglesia de El Salvador . It is also worth taking a small detour to the market on Avenue el Puente . Here, you’ll find stacks of sugar cane, local bananas and papayas. I purchased 40g of saffron for the extremely reasonable price of €4.
Returning to O’Daly, I walked to the Plaza De La Alameda.
At the road junction is the wooden replica sailing ship the Barco de la Virgen, home to a naval museum.
Just in front of the boat is the Enano statue. This character is found on a lot of the souvenirs from the island and is even celebrated during the ‘Dance of the Dwarves‘ event.
Taking a right at the road junction, I headed to the seafront and followed the road down towards the small castle, the Castillo de Santa Catalina, which was built in the 17th century to fend off pirate raids. There isn’t really much to see around the castle but it was free to enter.
I meandered my way back to Los Cancajos following the same route I took to get here. I took a break on the craggy, volcanic beaches for a spot of ‘rock pooling’. Plenty of crabs to be seen!
In total the round trip was around 9 miles. The route I took can be downloaded as a GPX file.
Saturday 12th March
After fueling up at breakfast and armed with my La Palma Walking Map, I left the hotel. Heading north along the road towards Santa Cruz, turning off to climb the steps heading up to El Cantillo restaurant. Two lines are pained on the wall, one yellow, one white, marking the path 18.1 to San Jose.
The path heads South West, over the LP2 road by the bus stop continuing towards houses. Near the car parking for the houses, the path leaves the road and rises steeply to the LP 204 road. Given that La Palma is apparently the World’s steepest island, most walks have a fair amount of climbing!
Follow the road to the entrance of Parador Nacional hotel, past the hotel’s gardens and through the car park. Round the back of the hotel, the route joins Calle San Jose, the road south to San Jose.
Most towns in La Palma have a Spar shop and San Jose is no exception. I popped in to load up on more drink then continued south to the end of town.
Take the right hand turning on LP 206 out of San Jose (with the white houses to the right) , leaving the road on the right hand side to continue on path 18.1. Away from the village, the views now consist of trees and tropical plants.
Cross another road, the LP202, towards Montana de Brena You can continue on the route south or take a detour to the viewpoint (it’s the same route up to the peak and back)
It is worth making the effort as the the 565 metre peak offers some great views over the eastern side of the island.
Also on top of Montana de Brena is the Millennium Cross which joined the cross erected to commemorate the arrival of the 20th century, in 1901.
After wandering back down and continuing south, past a bbq area with play area and toilets. 18.1 continues along a quiet road before turning off towards the pleasant but hilly town of Mazo. Luckily it was all down hill from here. It was along this road I stopped to pick some ‘wild’ oranges by abandoned building. Lovely!!
It is worth taking a short wander around the town to see the old buildings such as the town hall before heading to the church. Here the route becomes path 17 heading North East towards Playa del Hoyo passing banana plants….lots of banana plants!
Playa del Hoyo this isn’t much of a beach, just a car park with a restaurant. I stayed on the road, walking up to the airport where I popped in for a coffee and to use their free wi-fi to keep up with the Tranmere Rovers game!
Leaving the airport, I followed the road back towards Los Cancajos heading under La Palma’s runway. The route has a pedestrianised walkway to the side of the road for most of the way apart from a stretch past the tunnel but the road is fairly quiet.
About half way along I stopped at the airport viewing area, Mirador del Aeropuerto. The elevated point gives a great view across the entire runway.
Leaving the viewing area, take the right hand fork for the road back down to Los Cancajos and the hotel.