Uncategorized

Bristol walks: The Three Peaks Circular

 

There are many sign-posted trails close to Bristol that deserve more attention. The Three Peaks Circular is one of them. It starts in Dundry and can be done with public transport or bike to the start.

The three peaks are Maes Knoll, Knowle Hill, and Blackberry Hill. It goes through the lovely North Somerset countryside and the trail passes through both Pensford and Chew Magna so you’re covered with great food options.

Highlights: beautiful vistas from the three peaks south of Bristol, quaint villages, pub stops, the amazing Pensford viaduct, two lakes, a few woodland reserves. You won’t believe you started at the edge of Bristol’s suburbs as the walk feels quite remote.

Stats: Full day walk. 27km/17 miles, rolling terrain, the peaks are more like hills, it was muddy in March, wore my gore-tex trail shoes and was fine (didn’t miss my boots)

Start/Finish: East Dundry Road, Whitchurch (about 15 minutes drive from the centre of Bristol); you can take the bus to Whitchurch and walk to the trail head. If driving, park at the bottom where the road turns into a lane opposite sign to Hill Farm.

Alternatives: It is also a flexible walk that can fit how much time you have:

  • You can do it over a full day or cut it short by linking up with the Community Forest Path at Norton Malreward. I’ve done this when I only have a few hours to spare and want to get outside for it. It also crosses the Two Rivers Way, which is another shortcut option.
  • I also did a half-day walk by starting at E Dundry Road and going via Pensford and finishing at Clutton. You can catch the bus back to Whitchurch from there (and about a 15 min walk from Whitchurch back to your car on East Dundry Road). The bus comes every 30 minutes from the main road through Clutton, which the trail crosses.

Signposting: pretty good, but a few patchy spots (eg, through Pensford). You’ll need a map. Or, follow my GPS tracks here.

The Long Distance Walkers’ Association has a zoomable map, which I used en-route on my phone, shown below. The Three Peaks Circular is shown in red, and the light green routes are the Community Forest Path and the Two Rivers Way — both options for shortcuts.

Food options: pack a picnic or stop in Pensford (two pubs or buy sandwiches from the post office) for lunch; afternoon tea in Chew Magna where there’s a few pubs and shops to choose from (I like the Bear and Swan and they have a beautiful beer garden). If you bring a picnic, stop at one of the lakes (both are before Clutton).

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

Gardens near Bristol: Tyntesfield

Sometimes all I want to do is live in a garden. The kitchen gardens are my favourite, with rows of edible yummy things, orchards, and bright flowers. There is beauty and practical focus of providing food. They are not just arty or creative, they are productive.

Tyntesfield did not disappoint, despite the frowney faces at the entrance when I respondeded that I wasn’t a National Trust member. 


There were a lot of people and we got there not long after opening on a cloudy Sunday. But it is August and the car park was packed. For two adults and parking, it cost £23, plus some of the fresh produce for sale on the benches in the kitchen garden. You won’t be able to resist either. Be warned there is also a used bookshop that I had to tear myself away from. Lots of the usual cafes and gift shops.

The gardens and orangery were all we needed to see. You could spend half a day easily, especially if you go a bit earlier in summer when the rose garden (not many roses) is in peak form.

The house was pretty too. I may go inside next time?! Should’ve just joined the National Trust …

Standard
Adventures, Beaches

A beachy winter holiday to Western Australia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the great south-western tip of Australia, the beaches are vast with soft white sand and clear blue bays. Most days you’ll be there on your own, especially on a weekday in early December.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Based in Denmark, WA, I spent a significant amount of time swimming in the protected natural Greenpool (like a saltwater swimming pool) and walking on the surfy Ocean Beach. Denmark had a bunch of markets and arts events on. Did you know hippies still exist? There was yoga a plenty, river kayaking in town, and coffee and cake stops throughout town. Raw chocolate cake anyone? Iced coffee with ice cream was a daily treat. A great little yarn shop and a bookshop are also there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The two long distance tracks from Perth to Albany go through Denmark: the Munda Biddi Mountain Bike Track and the Bibbulman Track, both approx 1,000km. There is also the long-distance Denmark to Nornalup track.

Despite the flies being in peak season and the snakes, I did a bit of walking. A tiger snake about as tall as me did cross my path at one point on the Bibbulman — the Denmark section has a lot of marshy reedy areas so prime habitat for this snake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The wildlife is everywhere — huge lizards, parrots, pelicans and birds everywhere, including the local Blue Wren, emus, and kangaroos. They find you as well. No need to go on a wildlife search.

There were a tonne more beaches and parks around Albany to explore. Only 30 minutes away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are more nature reserves and national parks in the Southwest than private land or so it seems. No need to go anywhere else.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Standard

image

Uncategorized

St Paul’s in the winter sun

Image
Adventures, Mountains, Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc: Day 1

TMB Day 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines

From Gite Michel Fagot to Chalet Contamines with a hot lunch stop at the restaurant in Bionassay. Six hours of walking including a few stops to wait out the rain, plus a one hour lunch stop.

Trail notes: gentle uphill to the col in the rain, lots of road walking, beautiful rivers and forested sections.

If rushed on time, I would recommend skipping this section — the easiest day of the Tour — and the scenery gets much better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Standard
Uncategorized

Munros accessible via public transport

Wild about Scotland

The Mamores from the Carn Mor Dearg arete The Mamores from the Carn Mor Dearg arete

Climbing Scotland’s munros by public transport is often not as difficult as you might imagine, and certainly adds to the sense of adventure.  Whether you’re keen to reduce your carbon footprint or simply don’t have a car there are many options available.

It’s estimated that 212 of the 282 munros can be climbed using public transport – that’s 75% – and I’ve found two very informative websites that catalogue the details of the access and walking routes:

Munros by public transport (Steve Rabone)

Scottish Hills by bus and train

Of course, using public transport normally takes longer – sometimes much longer.  Bus or train services may only run a few times a day or just a few a times a week.  This means you have to have time at your disposal  – not everyone does – and also need to be ultra organised so…

View original post 1,137 more words

Standard
Adventures, Europe, Mountains, Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc: my route via the mountain huts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My route (aiming to sleep up high but on the main track): my skill level for hiking is fairly moderate (I don’t do ice axes or crampons and have very little snow/ice experience) and this hike is perfect for my level. The only new thing for me were two ladder sections, but the handholds were fine, and despite my fear of heights I made it up them.

 

The trails are very well groomed (even some of the variants) and the river crossings without bridges were easy to do without getting your feet wet. There was little scrambling or using hands. I think I only really used my hands on the last day on the steep and rocky downhill section (1,500m descent!). Hiking poles may have been useful at some points, but I was fine without them.

The terrain is either uphill or downhill, pretty much the whole way. The Swiss section is relatively level and is the easiest part of the walk, which is perfect since it sits about half-way.

I’m also quite slow and stopping to take pictures all the time doesn’t help with that. My comfort level is to hike 4 1/2 to 5 hours a day (solid walking!). With food and picture stops it usually means a seven hour day. If you use the Kev Reynolds book (most popular), its times are for solid walking and we added a few hours onto a 5 hour day to account for our 1 1/2 hour hot lunches (you cannot pass up pasta in Italy for lunch!).

I wasn’t very fit for the walk with only a handful of day walks under my belt from the start of summer. It was planned only a month out so little opportunity for training. However, most summers I do about 3-4 backpacking/tramping hikes of usually only three to four days length. The first trip of the season is always the hardest!

This schedule was perfect. I started off with longer days and eased off significantly as the walk progressed. Some days I wanted to do more and others I was very grateful for a short walk.

*Walk times given below exclude lunch breaks. Any deviations from the main route are indicated.

  • Day one: Les Houches (official start location) to Chalet Contamines in the valley village, 6 hour walk
  • Day two: Les Contamines to Refuge Bonhomme (CAF) at 2,400m, 5 hour walk
  • Day three: Refuge Bonhomme to Refuge Elisabetta at 2,195m, 7 hour walk
  • Day four: Refuge Elisabetta to Refuge Bertone at 2,000m, 7 hour walk
  • Day five: Refuge Bertone to Refuge Bonatti at 2,025m, 2.5 hour walk (rest day),
  • Day six: Refuge Bonatti to Hotel Edelweiss, La Fouly, 6 hour walk
  • Day seven: La Fouly to Au Club-Alpin, Champex Lac, 4 hour walk
  • Day eight: Champex Lac to Hotel du Col de la Forclaz, 5 hour walk
  • Day nine: Col de la Forclaz to Refuge Col de Balme, 4 hour walk
  • Day ten: Col de Balme to Gite Auberge la Boerne, Tre Le Champ, (detour via Argentiere for lunch), 2 hour walk excluding the detour (rest day)
  • Day eleven: Tre le Champ to Refuge de la Flagere (via the short Lac Blanc variant for lunch), 4 hour walk excluding the variant
  • Day twelve: Refuge de la Flagere to Les Houches (Gite Michel Fagot), 7 hour walk.

This was a great route for sleeping up high. Although, if I were to walk it again, I would avoid staying at Col de Balme (terrible food, unwelcoming, hard to make reservation) and walk straight down to Tre le Champ (easy two hour walk down, although the higher-level variant did look great for good weather, which we didn’t have). I would also try to stay at Lac Blanc Refuge because the view was incredible and it would be nice to experience it when the hordes of day walkers have left. From there I would walk to Refuge de Bellachat (excellent view, small hut, make sure to reserve early as it was full a month out). This way would also break up the brutal descent on the last day.

Standard