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Capel Curig Camping

Bad weather is guaranteed when I book time off. It’s well known amongst my work colleagues, it’s well known amongst the flying club, but 2020 really is a strange year. I had fantastic weather for my first camp since lock down eased and the weather looked just as nice for the three days I had booked off in September.
This was another trip for my new favourite tent, the MSR Elixir 1.

Therm-a-rest compressible and Exped inflatable pillows

Something new to try on this trip too. I normally use an Exped inflatable pillow. It weighs virtually nothing, packs down tiny and can be inflated with the same inflation tool as my Exped mattress.
It’s a great design but, for me, a front sleeper who likes a squishy pillow, it just doesn’t quite work. On this trip, I also packed a Therm-A-Rest compressible pillow.
The difference in size is quite obvious in the photo, but there’s little difference in weight. Would I pack a bulkier item for a better night’s sleep?
I packed both pillows and headed off down the A5 towards Capel Curig.

There is another site a short distance from mine. A nice looking site but just a field, my site had plenty of little nooks and crannies. Places to pitch that felt a little wilder.

MSR Elixir tent pitched near Capel Curig, Snowdonia

I left the car near the facilities block, grabbed my rucksack and made my way to the far end of the site. I found a lovely little spot next to a stream. As there was no wind at all and none forecast, I could position the tent whichever way I wanted. I turned my back on the rest of the campers and pointed the door to the stream.
Beautiful.

I wandered back to the car to pick up my day sack containing a flask, digital SLR camera and a few lenses (a benefit of car camping, multiple rucksacks!) I then headed out for a bimble.
A path runs from the back of the campsite towards Capel Curig. I followed it to the first turn off to the left which led me to the A5.
The path continued on the opposite side of the road. It was initially easy to follow, heading up towards a building then crossing a stream. The path soon became less well defined and the surface was quite boggy.
At one point I got knee deep in mud. Typical! I had no spare pants. Knew I should have packed the gaiters.

Once I’d reached another stream, The Leat, I took a right and followed it before taking the path up to Llyn Cowlyd reservoir.
This was social distancing!

Llyn Cowlyd reservoir.

I sat on a rock for a while. The sun was hot and the sky clear. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The only thing which could have improved the day was some plane spotting. I could hear what I assumed to be Hawks from RAF Valley but nothing came into view.

Bridges on route back to A5, Capel Curig, Snowdonia

I returned back to The Leat, turning off to follow the path back down to the A5.
There were a few little wooden bridges over some patches but these only served to prove I was on the right route, the boggu ground surrounding them was full of mud and large puddles.

Back at the road, I crossed to walk on the the narrow pavement heading towards Capel Curig.
Around the back of the Joe Brown’s shop is a footpath which led straight back to the campsite.

This route is available to download as a GPX file.

After a cup of coffee by the tent, I returned to the path towards Ogwen Lake. A wander around the lake was very tempting but my stomach had other ideas. It was definitely getting close to dinner time!
After a few photos around the lake I headed back to camp. I’d timed it so I’d be on my walk during sunset. I sat on a rock and watched as the day light came to an end.

Sunset over Snowdonia
Campsite meal

Dinner was a Wayfayrer Pasta Bolognese. It was surprisingly tasty, but I was glad I had a couple of slices of home made bread to fill me up.
Maybe I’m just greedy!
Another benefit of car camping is the ‘luxury’ extras you can take. My little folding camping table proved very useful although my dining chair was a rock!

I sat on a rock by the stream for a while, drinking a beer looking at the stars. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than this.

When it came to settling down for the night, I unrolled the Therm-A-Rest pillow. It so comfortable. It also reduced the ‘electric shock’ hair I often had in the morning.
Snug in the tent, I soon fell asleep.
Sorry old inflatable pillow, you’re relegated. Maybe it’ll make a good cushion for next time I’m sat on a rock.

I woke around 6.30 and popped my head out of the door. The sun was rising over the misty fields. It looked as if it was going to be fine weather again.

Sunrise Gwern Gof Isaf campsite near Capel Curig

I sat by the stream, brewed a coffee in the Wacaco (my little camping luxury) and make an Oat So Simple porridge.
I definitely had brought my appetite with me. Deciding that one porridge just wasn’t enough, I made another espresso coffee and a second pot of porridge.

After breakfast(s!), I packed the camping gear away. The outside of the tent was wet, I assume the rain they had back home in the day reached me overnight. Inside the tent was bone dry though. The tent has two vents each end and they obviously did the trick at eliminating condensation.

Everything packed up, I drove to Capel Curig. From the car park, I headed over the road and took the path next to the church. The route soon changed from fields of sheep to woodland. The path was fairly easy to follow and not challenging, some times, that’s exactly what you want!
The views were both beautiful and varied; mountains, lakes, streams.
A lot of the return leg is along a road but this is a quiet road, only two vehicles passed me during the walk.
This route is also available for download.

Capel curig walk

I returned to the car full of mud, sheep poo and other unmentionables but happy. A fantastic couple of days and just what was needed. To round the trip off the roof went down on the Abarth 124 for a very enjoyable blast around the Welsh roads.

A night away in the MSR Elixir 1

Perhaps I am being overly cautious.
Since Covid lock down was announced in March, I’ve only left Wirral twice and I’ve managed to avoid anyone who isn’t immediate family.
I had made plans, lots of plans but they had all been cancelled so, when I booked some time off work in August I was determined to do something as safe but as fun as possible.
A night in the new tent!

When I booked the annual leave, the forecast was for warm sunny weather. The sort of weather you’d expect in August. Unfortunately, as time progressed, the forecast got worse and worse.
I was determined to use the MSR Elixir 1 tent I’d received for my birthday in June which still hand’t made it beyond the back garden.

The tent pitches inner first, not ideal in wet weather. It is possible to put the outer up first, it’s just a bit more of a faff so I spent a lunch hour in the garden practising. I can now see the benefit of leaving the inner detached, using the whole tent as a kitchen diner before attaching the bedroom at night.

All packed Lowe Alpine rucksack. MSR tent

I drew up a little check list and got my stuff sorted the day before.
To be fair, I don’t need much for an over-night trip but it’s good to be prepared!

I woke at 7 am on Tuesday to the sound of heavy rain. Not a good start to the day but hopefully it would pass through.
I checked the weather forecasts;
MetOffice dry all day,
Yr.no wet all day,
XCWeather a mix of sunshine and showers.
I checked that my waterproofs at the top of my rucksack and headed out.

I parked up in the village of Bryneglwys, a new part of the world for me.
After changing in to my boots, I headed towards the Lantysilio mountain range and was very soon following the well marked path alongside the purple heather.
There are a lot of paths in this area. My route took me up to the peaks of Moel Yr Gaer and Moel Morfydd.
I’d really struck it lucky with the warm, sunny weather. I could make out Jubilee Tower on the top of Moel Famau in the distance and he rest of the Clwydian Range stretching on beyond

Bryneglwys Lantysilio mountain range


I stopped for a can of pop at the trig point. Here I was miles away from everyone. This was how to socially distance!

It was still early in the day so I took a bimble around, taking plenty of photos before getting out the pan and gas bottle to cook up some food.
Dinner was a Wayfarer chicken tikka, the last of a home baked loaf of bread and a Brew Dog Hazy Jane beer. A very welcome drink, it was still quite muggy and warm.

Bryneglwys Lantysilio mountain sunset

After dinner, before settling down for the night, I took another wander.
I had no where in particular in mind, but I knew sunset was around 20:30. I suspected it would be worth seeing is set over the hills.
Unfortunately, the clouds slowly started to build up but it was well worth the stroll.

Luckily the weather remained dry when pitching the tent so I went for the standard, inner first approach.
It went up quickly with no hassle.
As there was little wind, I just pegged out the four corners and the vestibule area. I didn’t think I needed to worry about any extra guy lines.

Interestingly, three of the four ‘corners’ on the outer flysheet have metal holes to fit the poles in to, the fourth was just a loop of material. I asked about this on a forum and a lady replied saying all four loops were material on her Elixir.

The Elixir is palatial with plenty of room in the vestibule area for my rucksack and boots.
Even with the Exped mat inflated in the inner area, there was still plenty of space and, unlike the Coleman Cobra tent, I could sit up straight and still have room to spare.
The storage pockets were useful too. My OS map went in to one top loft pocket, the head torches in the other. At the foot end I stashed tomorrow’s breakfast and at the head end my phone and charging block.
I attached my USB light onto one of the plastic cable ties I acquired from work then threaded that through one of the roof hooks. We’ve recently had to clear out our office in preparation for a move. I regret not picking up more of these useful hooks!



Another positive is the glow in the dark zipper pulls. No fumbling about in the dark. The only minor gripe is that the outside zip often gets stuck, I put that down to user error.

I sat outside the tent for a while, watching the bats zip past my head.
As night fell, I settled down and fell asleep quickly and had a very good sleep, waking once when an owl sounded like he was getting rather irate!

I woke at sunrise, around 6 am, and what a sunrise!

The forecast wasn’t great but as long as it stayed dry for breakfast and packing my kit away I’d be happy.
I fired up the Jetboil and made an Americano coffee with my Wacaco coffee machine, my luxury camping item
Whilst supping my coffee I started on the Oat So Simple porridge, dropping in some of the black berries I’d foraged yesterday on the country lanes between the car and the hills.
Lovely.

It had rained overnight so I had to towel dry the outside of the tent. The inside was dry, no rain had come through and the ventilation had done the job of stopping the condensation.
The tent came apart very easily and getting it back in to its stuff sack was simple. Robens can learn a lot here!!

I wandered back to the car, taking the ‘scenic route’.

All in all, a fantastic trip. I posted a route similar to the one I took on Viewranger, starting and finishing at the layby near the New Inn pub.
The weather was better than imagined, the kit performed well and the views were fabulous.
Now I’m already planning the next outing for the Elixir!

Slovenia 2019

All quiet on the blog recently, WordPress has decided not to work on Chrome, it’s a little wobbly on Edge too…
….Anyway, June 2019 (yes it really has taken me that long to complete this post!). Another year, another trip to Slovenia.
This was a rather impromptu and virtually free trip using the money I’d built up via TopCashBack…..and I gained more cashback with my booking!

I set an alarm (and a backup alarm!) for 02.30. Argh!
On the bright side the roads were quiet . 
Sadly, things went downhill at the rather chaotic Manchester airport. A queue had formed just to get upstairs to the check in area! To avoid this, I went into the multi story car park and used the stairs there.
When I arrived at check-in for my TUI flight, there was the usual very, very long queue which seems common with all their flights.

Airside, I filled up my empty plastic flask with water from the fountain (saves few quid!), bought a much needed coffee and an egg & (apparently) bacon baguette for the flight.

Arriving at the gate, I was told one of the toilets on the aircraft was not working. The flight would be delayed while they attempted to fix the problem. I plugged my phone in to charge and waited…..
I was due to fly on the new Boeing 737 Max, however, following a couple of accidents, every aircraft of that type had been grounded. We were now flying on an Olympus Airways Airbus A321. This resulted in some faffing due to the changes to seat configuration once we did get onboard. 
Our Greek crew eventually got us airborne 40 minutes later than scheduled.

A couple of hours later, we arrived in Austria. From here it was a three hour trip in a minibus over the border to Kranjska Gora.

My room in Pension Milka was comfortable and a good size for a single room but the best feature was the view!!

View from balcony Pension Milka Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

After unpacking, I made my way downstairs on to the outside eating area. I was staying half board which included a three course evening meal. There was no choice, you got what you were given, but the quality was phenomenal.
The ‘amuse-bouche’ was a beetroot bread with smoked butter and hummus. All home made. Next came celery, bacon and walnut soup .
Main course was duck with beetroot reduction. A lavender panna cotta with berries rounded off this fantastic meal.

The next morning I woke at around 07:15 to the sound of grass cutting. They start early here! 
I helped myself to a selection of ham, cheese, bread and cereal while a very nice ‘proper’ Americano coffee was prepared for me.

After breakfast, I headed out, up the road to path 7 towards Vrisc. This was a very easy route to follow. Taking a left from the hotel, I followed the road up as far as the footpath to the left.
Although this was a climb, it was fairly gradual with plenty of views and things of interest, such as the Russian Chapel. I arrived there at 10:30, before the tourists descended so had a good look round.

Vrisc pass, Slovenia. Face in rock

My route took my past the ‘face in the cliffs’. Needless to say, there is a story behind this.

On reaching the part of Vrisc where the tourist coaches stop and their passengers get a photo, I continued past the dom (a large mountain hut serving food) to a much quieter peak where there was still some snow on the ground. I passed through the white stuff towards a little grey box containing a book to record my visit (for safety) and a rubber stamp. It would have been nice to mark on my map that I’d arrived but, sadly, the ink had dried up.
It was a beautifully warm and sunny day. This was a great spot to sit a while and take in the views.

View from Vrisc pass, Slovenia

The route back was similar to the route up albeit slightly quicker. The total distance being around 12.5 miles. A GPX file can be downloaded from the Viewranger website    

Italian lakes near Slovenian border

Friday 7th June and I’m the only person at breakfast. I was offered eggs cooked any way I wished to go with my coffee and cereal. 
It was another hot and sunny day. The plan was to take the path/cycle route D2 to the  Fusine lakes across the border in Italy. This was a walk I’ve done a few times but it really is beautiful and well worth a return visit.
I did a figure of eight loop stopping at a quiet spot for a quick drink and to take in the views.
I continued along D2 the far end of the village Fusine in Valromana but there was little reward in extending the walk. I’ve removed this extra part from the GPX file.

Saturday was looking to be another hot sunny day. The car park around the lake Jasna was already busy when left my room at 9am. 
My original plan was to get bus to Mojstrana but I decided to walk. This was perhaps not best idea! It was 26 degrees in relentless sun. On a previous visit, I got as far as the foot of Triglav,  today, I only reached the gallery rock formations.  Still, it was a nice if surprisingly tiring walk.
I returned to Mojstrana for the hourly bus back to Kranjska Gora. I felt quite smug. After a quick look on Alpetour website, I’d got to the stop a few minutes before the bus and had the correct change….I hadn’t spotted that the 16:12 bus didn’t run on Saturday. Could have been worse, the bus stop was closed on some days due to road works.  

 Sunday 9th June
After being the only person at breakfast on the previous mornings, today there was another English lady travelling alone and an Austrian family.
Later in the morning I popped in to the shopping area for some cash. Two cash machines were out of money. I assumed there had been a rush on Friday and Saturday. I had enough money for some drinks so headed to the supermarket. It was closed. Using my limited Slovenian, I’d worked out it should have opened at 8am. It was now 9.20
Giving up on that idea, I grabbed my stuff then went on walk to the Koca v Krnici hut. A nice simple walk following the river through woods. I took the track back making it fairly circular.
I’d returned to Kranjska Gora quite early in afternoon so took D2 to Gozd Martuljek, crossing the river for the walk back.
This walk can be easily split in to two separate shorter walks from Kranjska Gora.
I later discovered that today was Pentecost or Whit Sunday, a national holiday in Slovenia. Explains why everything was shut!

Monday 10th June
The plan today was to do the three borders walk but the dark clouds were gathering in that direction.
I started walking towards where the borders of Slovenia, Italy and Austria meet but took a left a Ratece towards the Planica centre.
Passing the visitor centre and ski jumps, I continued on to walk to the Nadiza waterfall.
I’d walked up the waterfall last year so today I followed one of the paths south just because it was there! I was glad I did! More snow to play in and some fantastic views.
This is a great, easy circular walk from Planica although I removed the extra bit to the south off my GPX file

Once I made my way back to Planica, I took the path beside the hotel and on to the Slanta ski lift. The path had the usual yellow signs pointing to Kranjska Gora and Ratece. Then I hit a sign saying ‘private’.
Was walking across here still possible?
There was nobody around so I carried on but no yellow footpath signs until I got over their land. According to my GPS I was still on the footpath. Had it been removed?
My route, legal or otherwise, came out near the bizarre labyrinth, from here it is an easy walk on D2 back. 

Tuesday 11th June 
Today I was going to try a new route, head towards the Martuljek waterfall. then take the path towards Spik and the bivouac
The further I went along the path, the more difficult the terrain. Not hugely difficult but rain was predicted, the clouds were getting darker and I was rapidly loosing confidence in my Scapra approach shoes.  It was enough for me to think to myself, “I’ve seen nobody since leaving D2 and the phone signal has disappearing. As much as I want to stay in Slovenia, I didn’t want to prolong my stay by being stuck up a mountain after a slip.”
There were a lot more contours on the map ahead and, looking at the map, there would not be much more in the way of views although seeing the bivouac would have been fun. 

I followed the path back down to a track which led me down to D2 opposite the memorial for cyclist Jure Robic.  From here, I followed D2 to Gozd Martuljek taking the road through the village and up past a waterfall.
Taking a left at Srednji Vrh, the route continues through pastures, woodland and past a house selling fresh yogurt.
There were some great views over to Kranjska Gora but the weather was turning so I cut the walk a shorter and headed back to the hotel the rain became very heavy.
The Pension Milka kitchen was closed today at the hotel so I headed to Kotnik’s for a takeaway pizza. I got the most expensive pizza on the menu (€10 plus 50c for box). Truffle; Mozzarella, sweet cream, truffle, deer prosciutto, Karst prosciutto, Parmesan. Fantastic!!
I made my way very quickly in the torrential rain to my balcony where I sat with my pizza and a Slovenian IPA beer watching the storms in the valleys.

A 5.30 pick up for the airport in the morning so an early night this evening. A total of 214.67km or 133.4 miles to add to the total this year.

Coleman Cobra 2 versus Robens Arch 2

Coleman Cobra 2 tent

I picked up the Coleman Cobra 2 cheaply on an Amazon Black Friday deal.
It ticked all the boxes; small enough to carry, not too heavy (2.3kg) and, being a two person tent, there should be a decent amount of room for one lanky person and their kit.

I’d taken it out on a number of trips, all in good weather…until one trip to North Wales.
I woke up, made a coffee and realised the flaws in the Cobra when the rain started…..
…..there was no porch and the lack of head room made it rather uncomfortable.

I sat in the main body of the tent to drink my coffee, curled up due to the limited head room in a way a that would have put many contortionist to shame.
I decided that breakfast would be best cooked in the small park about a mile down the road. I was dressed in waterproofs but, at least I could sit upright.

As good as the Coleman is, I needed something about the same weight but with some headroom and a little bit of shelter for eating and cooking (with plenty of ventilation, cooking inside a tent isn’t recommended!!!)
I spent a while browsing numerous different tents. I had a good idea of what I wanted and got the shortlist down to two….well three but one didn’t seem to be in stock anywhere.

Robens Arch 2 tent pitched

I purchased the Robens Arch 2 at a sale price of £110.
Robens is a Danish brand you don’t see much of in England, therefore, there were very few reviews online.
I crossed my fingers!
My one concern was how pink it looked on the photos. Perhaps keep the Coleman for more discrete camping!

The tent arrived the following evening. I didn’t have too much time, so I quickly put it up in the back garden to check all the bits where were I expected them to be. I was relived to see the tent was more a muddy brownish-red colour rather than the girly pink the website suggested.

Pitching instructions are provided in the tent’s stuff sack, they are also available on the Robens website which has some useful videos, however, it is an easy tent to put up.

Attaching Robens tent poles

First, put the two colour coded alloy poles through the corresponding sleeve, making sure the flat coloured end goes in first. A rather unusual feature of this Robens tent is that one end is sealed. Push the pole as far as it goes in to the webbing (it may need some wiggling!). The other end goes in to the eyelet on the opposite side of the tent.
Pull the tent into shape then peg out.
Simple.

So, in the battle of Coleman versus Robens, both are equally simple to pitch.
Coleman 1 – Robens 1

For it’s first trip out, I took the Robens to Hebden Bridge Camping which is part of the New Delight Inn.
I was flying a Vulcan Bomber simulator in Stacksteads, about 30 minutes drive away. This was fantastic experience and very different from anything I’ve ever flown before. We took off from RAF Finningley (now Doncaster Sheffield airport) and headed up the coast. I did a few barrel rolls over Blackpool then continued for a low level (500m) pass over Lake Windermere.
Great fun!

As my ‘flight’ took off at 10am, I had plenty of time to get the tent sorted and take a decent walk afterwards. On checking in, I was handed a wooden spoon to put in to the ground next to my tent. A novel way of proving that I had paid!
The camping area is a slightly sloping, fairly small field to the side of the pub car park. There’s two good separate ‘bathrooms’ in a portakabin, both containing a shower which is free to use.

Once again, the tent went up quickly and easily. A nice little feature in the Robens is a pocket to stuff the internal door into when opened fully, this makes it a bit easier to access the porch area.
I changed out of my ‘flying clothes’ and into my walking gear. I was grateful of the extra headroom the Robens tent offered. I can easily sit up at any part of the tent. A big extra point for the Robens.

Suitably attired, I went on a pleasant circular ish walk to Hebden Bridge. The route started at the path almost opposite the campsite then returned on the Caderdale Way which has great views over the village and beyond. The route is available to download as a GPX file from the ViewRanger website.

View over to Hebden Bridge

Back at the campsite, I had dinner at the New Delight Inn. A portion of scampi for starters followed by bacon cheese burger. All good tasty pub food.

As it was a nice evening, after dinner, I followed the bridleway back up to Hebden Bridge for a night cap at Drink?. I was joined on the walk back by several bats. I watched them from the porch for a while before settling down for the night.

Robens tent in Hebden Bridge Camping

First, I had to hook my lantern up.
The Coleman tent has a handy plastic hook on the roof. The Robens just has a loop made of material.
I managed to hook the lantern’s USB charger part through then back on itself which did the trick.
A slight ‘win’ for the Coleman there.
One plus for the Robens is it has two loops ….so why did I hang the lantern over my feet rather than within easy reach?!

Like the Coleman, the Robens has two mesh storage pockets. I put my mobile phone and portable charger in one and my head torch in the other. I plonked myself in the middle of the tent and promptly fell asleep…..

…..I woke up quite late on Sunday morning. The others on the site were busy preparing breakfast or even packing up by the time I surfaced. I think the lie in was partly down to the how much darker it is inside the Robens.
Another point for the Robens there!

After the usual breakfast of coffee and porridge cooked on the Jetboil, I started to put my camping kit away. The Robens is a very easy tent to take down, getting it back in it’s stuff sack, however, resulted in much swearing and cursing. Trying to put it away in rain is almost impossible. Another stuff sack will be used in future – perhaps the wide opening bag the Coleman is kept in.
A definite point for the Coleman and it’s taco stuff sack.

Ventilation and bathtub floor in Robens.

The Robens was fantastic in the horrible conditions during a camp near Castleton.
Both tents have a hydrostatic head of 3000 and taped seams. Both tents pitch the inner and fly together which saves soggy inners if pitching in the rain. Both also have a good deep bathtub inner which gives protection from any wet weather.
The Coleman kept me dry over night on a rainy trip to Wales but it was virtually impossible to keep dry and cook breakfast due to the lack of headroom.
Point to the Robens.

The two tents also have good ventilation so no problems with condensation, however, the Robens does have more vents which are easier to open and close so just wins this test.

If you’re counting, I make it 4.5 points to the Robens and 2.5 for the Coleman.
That’s not to say the Coleman is a particularly bad tent especially as it can be picked up at such a good price.
The Coleman is currently (August 2019) around £85 but can be found for as little as £70.
The Robens is more expensive at about £120.
I like the extra headroom and porch the Robens offers and for that reason it’s now my go to two person tent, but, both are very good tents.
How much is the extra height and porch space worth to you?

Half Man Half Biscuit – Castleton

As a Tranmere supporter, brought up on the Holmlands Estate, Birkenhead (about two minutes walk from Prestbury Ave) , who went to the same primary and secondary schools as Nigel Blackwell, it was impossible not to become a fan of Half Man Half Biscuit.
I’d followed them around the country, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull…… but when I spotted a gig in a cave I just had to get a ticket.

I bought the ticket in February for Devil’s Arse cave in Castleton. A month later I’d booked a spot at a campsite a few miles down the road.
The concert was in mid August.
Splendid.
Pitch up at midday, walk to nearby Ladybower reservoir, cook dinner then a nice evening stroll to the venue….
…..well, that was the plan!

There had been a rain warning in place for a few days.
I left my house at 10am for what should be about a 90 minute journey. I hit the first tailback on the M56, then another. Even on the clear bits of motorway it was not advisable to go too fast. The rain was heavy and the surface extremely damp.
It took around three hours to reach Swallowholme Campsite in Bamford. I was shown to my allocated spot on a patch of grass reserved for only for tents. I put on my waterproofs and set up ‘home’
I haven’t been too impressed with my Scarpa approach shoes, I’ve little confidence in the grip and, despite getting re-waterproofed recently, my feet were already soaked by the time I’d pitched my tent.
I sat in the doorway and made myself a coffee. I felt I’d earned it!

With my right foot squelching every time I took I step, I did not fancying too much of a walk so I took a look around Bamford. There wasn’t much to see to be honest. I went on to Hathersage.
I’m not a fan of shopping but there are a couple of good outdoor shops in the village and it got me out of the continuing monsoon.

Back at the tent, I sat in the porch area and heated up my meatballs and pasta and downed a very nice can of Thornbridge beer I’d purchased at Hathersage Spar.
At around 6pm, I headed back out in to the torrential rain for the 80 minute walk to Devil’s Arse cave. I did ask myself why I didn’t take the car.

Devils arse cave, Castleton Derbyshire

Devil’s Arse has to be one of the most impressive concert venues I’ve been to as well as being the best named!
I’d arrived in good time so I bought a drink at a stall near the entrance.
As I drunk my coffee, I said ‘hello’ to bassist Neil who was sporting a nice Appleton cricket shirt (there’s a story behind that!).

The audience area was split in to three tiers.
I took my place on a raised area to the right of the stage, leaning on the safety barrier between my level and the lower level on the left.
The support was JD Meatyard.
Not really my thing but a number of the audience seemed to enjoy his set.

At around 8pm, Half Man Half Biscuit came on stage and started their show with “She’s in Broadstairs”
I seem to remember the other songs were as follows:

  • Restless Legs
  • Renfield’s Afoot. A woman standing near me had danced her way through the previous two songs and continued through this one. A strange dance reminiscent of the of “Tales of the Unexpected” opening credits.
  • Lilac Harry Quinn
  • Harsh times in Umberstone Covert
  • Look Dad No Tunes (the theremin part really warmed the crowd up)
  • Ode To Joyce
  • What Made Colombia Famous
  • Paintball’s Coming Home With the extra verses which get added at every gig – “They say It Is What It Is and Gin O’Clock” “You OK, hun?” “They’ve got an ice cream maker and a George Foreman grill” 
  • Left Lyrics in the Practice Room
  • God Gave Us Life (“God gave us tailbacks on the M56, and God gave us tailbacks on the M60”. Nigel must have taken the same route I did)
  • Terminus (I think my favourite song at the moment)
  • Joy Division Oven Gloves
  • Running Order Squabble Fest
  • Dukla Prague Away Kit
  • Worried Man Blues
  • We Built This Village with the variation of “cavers out moshing”
  • David Wainwright’s Feet (a song originally on a kids album which is ridiculously catchy)
  • Born To Lose (a cover and totally lost on me)
  • The Unfortunate Gwatkin
  • Trumpton Riots
  • National Sh**e Day
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Time Flies By

    Then the encores
  • Fred Titmus
  • Everything’s AOR Quite possibly my favourite live song
  • Sounds of the Suburbs (another cover)
  • Every Time a Bell Rings. The crowd had been shouting for this all night.

A fantastic gig. The band sounded great.
Nigel played guitar on a few songs but for most of the time he looked like a slightly less frantic Bruce Dickinson, up on the monitors and climbing the safety rails.
As usual, he spent time chatting with the crowd but his attempt at jokes are probably not worth repeating! We did, however, learn that the river running through the cave was the Noe.

The show finished at around 10pm. The rain was still falling but was now less heavy. This was the first time I’d ever taken a head torch to a concert but was very glad of it as I walked the dark roads back to the campsite.

Back at the tent, everything was wet. I was glad to get tucked in to my sleeping bag, warm and dry. Unfortunately, the wind had got up, gusting around 35mph. I had positioned my tent in to the wind and had no doubt it was capable of withstanding wind a lot stronger. It was my pegging out I worried out about!

I woke at 6am after a reasonable sleep, all pegs still in place!
I set the Jetboil up on a picnic table, made a coffee and porridge.
I finished just as the rain started again. Being wet and a little muddy, the tent really didn’t want to go back in to it’s stuff sack. As I was in the car, I flung it and the rest of my muddy kit in the boot then headed to Castleton.
Just outside the village, I parked on the side of the road. Two of the pay and display machines were covered over, the third wouldn’t take my money. Bonus – free parking!
My feet squelshed as I put my Scarpas back on. I headed towards the concert venue and followed the signs to Pervil Castle.

Wild camping near Devils Arse Cave Half Man Half Biscuit concert

I spotted a tent near the entrance to the cave. I suspect someone may have been doing some wild camping after the concert!
I followed the Cave Dale path up. I say path, there was now a river flowing down the rocky route.
I continued along the Limestone Way before taking a right and following the path back to the car.
This was only around three and a half miles in length and I had planned two loops, the second taking me up Mam Tor. As I finished the first loop, the clouds got darker. It was time to bale out and perhaps plan another camping trip in the future when it wasn’t so damn wet!

Views down valley Castleton Derbyshire

As I pulled off in the car, the rain became torrential yet again but, despite the weather, a fantastic weekend and one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time…..now to see when the next gig is…..

Take a look at the Half Man Half Biscuit Lyric Project for a lot more info, reviews and photos for this concert (and others!)

Camping, but not as we know it

As a kid, the family spent many nights under canvas until one morning we woke to find a large portion of the tent getting blown down the camping field. We chased it down  but the bright orange tent had to be dumped in to the nearest skip.
Rather than replace the tent, our UK trips were spent in static caravans.
In the evenings, Mum would prepare dinner, Dad would have the map out, planning the next hike and I would head out on adventures around the site with my brother. Climbing trees and wading through streams. Happy days!

It’s been many years since I’d last slept in a caravan but, for a a few days in August, I’d be spending a few days with the family in Lakeland Haven Leisure Park.
A few days before the trip I read the reviews on TripAdvisor. Oh dear, it didn’t look good! I didn’t build my hopes up.

The journey down there was interesting.
Being a family holiday which included three kids aged 5 and under, there was a lot of stuff to take. My little Abarth 124 wasn’t big enough so for the four days I drove Mum’s 2004 Renault Clio. That was a shock to the system, but on the bright side, I wasn’t going to be getting a speeding ticket!

20180817_160540On check in, it was nice to see Haven had listened to my brothers request for caravans close to each other. The kids loved running along the grass between the two.
Both caravans were spotlessly clean and surprisingly comfortable.
On the first night we stayed in the caravan and cooked  the food we’d brought with us. It was raining quite heavily so the night was spent curled up on the sofa watching Disney Dvds and playing cards.

After a decent night sleep, I rustled up some breakfast then the family went their separate ways.  While the others visited the miniature village down the road, I took the footpath just outside the Haven main entrance.20180818_121147
I walked along the coastal path to the West,  along the sheep filled marshes until I reached Cowpren Point. Here, the route headed North, eventually coming out on to a road at Sand Gate.  A track, just off the road to the left,  lead to the village of Cark where The Engine Inn provided a good refreshment stop!

Fully refreshed I headed West out of the village towards Cassen Wood.
I passed a “residents only” sign but decided that I was a resident for a few days so continued until I hit another sign stating “No access to Holker Park“. My OS map showed paths and the gate was  unlocked so I continued to the next gate, beyond which several dear were grazing.
After Googling the hall I discovered entry to the park and gardens was £8.50, which explains this second gate had been padlocked!
I wandered back the same way to Cark and took the B5278, Station Road, out of town and towards the entrance Holker Hall. I found a footpath to the right, just after the Hall gates.
My walk became a circular loop as I took the next path on the right back to Cark.
From the village it was  a straight route South, through the village of Flookburgh to the caravan.
Not quite the route I was planning but a decent 8 mile walk. The route without the dead-end is available to download as GPX.
20180818_143838

We headed back out up the road to Flookburgh in the evening. There is just the one road in/out of the holiday park and at the Flookburgh end is the Hope and Anchor, a large Robinsons pub serving food.
If you don’t want burger, the choice is limited to what  is on the special’s board.  Luckily I did fancy a burger, more precisely a Black and Blue Burger, a beef burger topped with blue cheese and black pudding. The black pud was slightly mushy  but not bad at all!

I woke to light rain the next morning.
The kids were spending the some time in the pool so I headed out for another walk, this time I would be heading East towards Grange over Sands.
I took the road out from the camp, taking a right down the road opposite the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding shop. Apart from crossing a field to cut a corner near Allithwaite, the route mostly followed quiet country roads until I reached the coastal path in to Grange over Sands.
The rain was off and on. It started again just at the time I purchased a coffee from a small stall and sat drinking outside.  To the left of me sat a family consuming pop, coffee and chocolate bars, to the right a young couple who were making their way through to large plates of beans on toast. In true English style, we all sat in the drizzle watching the world go by as if we were on a sunny terrace in Sicily.

To be honest, Grange-over-Sands isn’t hugely exciting on a damp August afternoon.  I did a quick loop at the end of town through some woods and past a garden I can see no mention of online!  After a stop at The Commodore Inn, I took a road to the North of the town back towards Allithwaite. From there, I retraced my steps back to the caravan park. I didn’t realise at the time, but I’d soon be back at this village.

The rest of the family were eating at the onsite bar/restaurant. I’d read bad reviews and wasn’t over keen on taking a meal there, also, I was back from my walk quite late on in the afternoon, they were already eating when I arrived to pick up the key.
Their meals ranged from ‘Okay’ to inedible, it seemed I’d made the right decision to eat elsewhere.
After a clean up and change of clothes, I once again, headed up the road to Cark to the furthest pub, the Rose and Crown, it was packed.
A few minutes down the road, I popped my head in to the Engine Inn, they’d stopped serving walk ins. Seems a bit daft only serving people who had pre-booked given how many free tables there were.
Back down to the Hope and Anchor, they stopped serving at 6, although the choice would have been either Sunday roast or another burger.
A quick look on Google revealed the Pheasant Inn in Allithwaite served food until 9, and I’m so glad I went there!
Sitting in the adult only conservator, my starter came in a brown bag, I unwrapped it to reveal a lovely black pudding.
Main was a very nice slab of pork belly with crackling.
8.2 mile round trip for food, I felt I’d earned this, especially after the 12 miles earlier in the day!
Happily fed and watered, I put on my head torch and wandered down the country lanes with bats zipping round me.

Back in the caravan, the others had settled down for the evening. I too climbed in to bed and got comfy under my duvet.
Not my usual camping but no complaints!

Feeling young in Madeira

Monday 25th March 2019
Mum had been dropping some not so subtle hints about how little she’s used her passport. I delved around online to find somewhere we could both go and drew up a short list of places to go.
Mum quickly decided on Funchal in Madeira and we settled on a well priced all-inclusive suites hotel.

Packing was easy. Four nights somewhere warm meant we were travelling light, very light. Despite having 44kg of luggage allowance, we got everything in to one rucksack weighing under 10kg.

Boarding the flight, I noticed I was quite possibly the youngest passenger on the Jet2 737-800 out of Manchester. I suspected there wouldn’t be much in the way of rowdy behaviour on this flight!

Jet2 737 over Madeira  Funchal airport

Our first attempt to land was aborted due to the wind. As we circled a while, waiting for ATC to report that the wind had dropped, I pondered where our divert would take us but, luckily, however, it was second time lucky.
I had a slight worry when bag didn’t appear, however, rather than being on the carousel, it was in a separate oversized luggage area. This rucksack hunt did mean we were the last two to board the minibus to the resort.

The Girassol hotel was better than we hoped. A big bed room with two single beds, a large separate living area and good sized balcony.

Despite the earlier wind, the weather was nice so we headed out for a stroll to get our bearings. Passing the the Lido we reached Cais do Carvão, (coal wharf) the area were a pier once stood.

Back at the hotel we grabbed a couple more drinks (Mum tasting her first strawberry daiquiri!) before heading down for dinner. The dinning room is a large space with the self service buffet in the centre. I started with the squid salad before a ‘pick and mix’ main course of scabbard fish in banana and passion fruit butter, veal flame grilled tuna steak and pork in a white wine

Tuesday 26th March

Views from hill top fort Funchal.

After breakfast we took a left out of the hotel, following the coast to the Santa Catarina park. From there we headed up hill to the Fortaleza de São João Baptista do Pico, a hilltop castle overlooking the town. This was a bit of a trek especially as it was pleasantly sunny and warm.
Entrance in to the fort was free, the views were great and, being so early in the year, we had the place to ourselves.

We wandered back down hill through the town centre, stopping for a beer flight at the Beerhouse brewery . Lovely drinks, lovely views.
This walking route available for download on ViewRanger.

Levada water channel in Funchal

Later in the afternoon, Mum went to the hotel’s outside pools for a swim. I’m no swimmer, so took a wander and found my first levada. These are channels bringing water from the north of the island to the drier south.
I took the narrow path alongside the water to a residential area. There wasn’t much space when other people walked past in the opposite direction!
My route back to the hotel took me past Estádio do Marítimo, Satdium of the sea, home of Marítimo football club .

Wednesday 27th March
Picked up our packed lunch from the hotel reception.
Blimey! We wouldn’t go hungry! Four cheese and ham sandwiches, fruit, tomato eggs, mango juice and two bottles of water each.

This morning, we walked along the shore to the cable car station. We purchased the combined return ticket and entrance to the botanical gardens for €32 then joined the queue. I can imagine these queues can get very long in the summer months.
In retrospect maybe the first garden in Monte may have been better. The botanical garden was decent but, in my mind, this package was overpriced.

Botanical gardens Funchal

If I took the trip again on my own, I would probably take the path down which followed alongside the the cable car took route to the gardens. Looking from the cable car window, it looked a pleasant albeit steep route.

Back at the hotel I grabbed on of the all inclusive coffees from the poolside bar. Unfortunately, the machine coffee is so bad I so took a couple of sachets from breakfast! (sadly only decaf)

Thursday 28th March
This morning, we followed the coast past the lido to the the promenade. I even managed a little scramble over the rocks (-;
We went as far as we thought interesting but decided against walking down the steep slope to the beach.
We followed pretty much the same route back, cutting up inland slightly to pop to the supermarket.

Coastline Funchal

After another game of table tennis, I went for another stroll along the coast towards and beyond the cable car weaving between the residential areas. It was here, at the furthest point from the hotel, it decided to rain!

At dinner time, we had Portuguese theme night…this included a rather bland piri piri chicken and black pudding….which I managed to consume for every course!

Funchal by night

After consuming all of the black pudding (chef is going to be very surprised by it’s popularity!), we took an evening stroll towards the CR7 museum.

Friday 29th March
The last day.
We were leaving for the airport at 11.45 which gave us time to have breakfast h quick stroll then another table tennis game.

Jet2 737 800 Funchal airport

It rained on the drive to the airport and continued while we were at the airport. That didn’t stop me going on the balcony to watch the planes. There are two outside areas, one before security and another airside.
I love outside space at airports!

So, what are my thoughts on Funchal?
It’s a pleasant enough place but three of four days is enough time to spend here. Maybe a trip out to the less populated areas and countryside may have been nice.
The people are as nice as the weather and everyone speaks very good English.
The hotel food was very ‘safe’ (read, rather bland)
I described it to someone has Eastbourne with cacti and I can see why it appeals to people but, I was already planning my next trip to the hills while sitting in the airport!

Slovenia Again Part 2

Wednesday 5th September
Today’s plan was to head to Tromeja,  the border of Slovenia, Austria and Italy. I had a few possible routes planned.  Route one was through Italy but not  on recognised paths. The other two routes stayed in Slovenia just north of  Rateče.
Not knowing how good the paths on the Italian side would be, I decided to stay in Slovenia. 
Tree management was taking place along the route and I concluded it would be easier to get past the workers on the wider track rather than the narrow path through the trees. Besides, I had taken the route through the woods last year, albeit in thick snow. 
Today was another lovely warm, sunny day and I was soon down to t-shirt and shorts. It was a pleasant, easy walk up to the peak.
At the top, it seemed a number of people had taken chair lift up from Austria and strolled to the border. Needless to say they were fully kitted up; “all the gear but no idea”. One of my gripes climbing Snowdon  is reaching the summit to find people swarming around after getting off the train, but I digress.
I managed to find a quiet spot off the footpaths. I dug out the lunch I acquired at breakfast and sat a while with a fantastic, endless view over Austria.

View over Austria

I  returned to the border, a place where, if you had three legs, you can stand in three different countries at the same time.  From there, I retraced my route for a while before taking a track to my right heading south.  I clambered over a stack of logs before heading south through a clearing in the trees. I hit another ‘fence of logs’ and carried on.
Hmmm, I seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. A quick check on my GPS and yes, I was heading down a dead end although, there are worse places to be ‘lost’. I was in a lovely dense pine forest. The smell was fantastic.

Beware of the bull
No translation required!

I went back to the log fence where I saw a group of English people sliding the top rows of logs across. Ah, so that’s how it works!
I pointed out to them that the track they were following was unlikely to be the one they wanted but they pressed on regardless. I do wonder what happened them.
The  actual path was hard to find. It is a track to the left  close to pylons. Once on the right route, I continued though a field of cows who were very reluctant to get out of my way!
The rest of the walk was far easier to follow and brought me out in the village of Podkoren. The path to Kranjska Gora is at the east side of the village, just before the main road and passing over a stream.
The path enters woodland just after passing a field containing ostriches. There are a few routes back to Kranjska Gora. One, lower walk, follows the river, I climbed to a higher path.
This route is available as a GPX file.

After dinner I took a stroll to the edge of town towards the petrol station for some bat spotting.

Thursday 6th September
I wanted an early start to day and woke at around 06.30. I got my bag packed and clothes ready and wandered down to breakfast which started at 7, it was already busy.
I filed myself with eggy bread,  bacon, omelette and croquettes.
After initially thinking, “tea and coffee making facilities, that’s a novelty”, I found myself getting peeved that my supplies hadn’t been replenished. I hid the last of the teabags in a drawer in the hope that would prompt housekeeping to leave me some more.

I decided I’d walk the first half of the route today. 21 miles should be do-able, I’d already proved that earlier in the week, besides, I didn’t want to try and pronounce Mojstrana to the bus driver!
Two hours twenty minutes later, I reached the start to get to start of walk, by  the Alpine Museum in Mojstrana.
The Triglavska Bistrica Trail runs along the Triglavska Bistrica River  along roads and paths to the Vrata Valley and the north face of Triglav.
Once again I passed the Peričnik Fall. Further along the route was the Galerije, an impressive collection of overhanging rocks.
After stopping at Aljažev dom to use their facilities, I continued on to the majestic north face of Triglav.

view of Trigav, highest peak in Slovenia

I decided that it was just a little too much to walk back so I took the bus back from Mojstrana to Kranjska Gora. The bus arrived at 15:30. I couldn’t decide if this was the bus I planned to get running very late or the next bus running early. Either way, it was a comfortable and quick way back to the hotel.
The website https://www.alpetour.si/en/public-transport/bus-schedule-browser great for finding the times of buses, length of journey and cost.


Lake Jasna Kranjska Gora

I was knackered, but resisted temptation to go to room, instead, went to Pri Jezersk, a little bar near the lake. 
It was well worth the 2 mile round trip. I sat with a nice drink and a beautiful view of lake.
I had timed my day perfectly, getting to my room just as the thunder and torrential rain started.  In the room, my coffee supply had been replenished but only decaff….must think I need calming down!

Fri 7th September
Just went for the cereal  for breakfast today, wasn’t planning strenuous day…but what’s the saying about best laid plans?
Again, it was a nice warm day, albeit a bit cloudier.  Took D2 as far as the Zelenci nature reserve.  After wandering around for a short while, I rejoined D2 and walked to Ratece before taking the road to Planica. Work was under way on a new  cycle and footpath from Ratece.
Ski jumping was taking place in Planica, nothing new there, however, there was no snow!   The centre also has an indoor real snow cross country course, complete with snowman!

B24 memorial near Planica Slovenia

Continuing south from Planica, I started a circular walk to the waterfall  Slap Nadiža. Passing the church and Tamar mountain hut, I went to see the memorial for a B24 bomber which had crashed in the area during World War 2.
I then headed towards the waterfall.

 

 

 

Waterfall near Planica, Kranjska Gora

The path soon became a more of a hands on scramble than a walk. 
I gained height quickly over the rocky terrain and the views back down to the valley below were lovely.
Personally, I think Mojstrana is the more impressive waterfall of the two but Nadiža is well worth a visit!

I took the other path back towards Planica to make this part of the walk circular.

After dinner I popped out to see Harley Davidson events.  Sporty bar had stage set up and Harley Village near the village centre. A great AC-DC tribute band were playing and the roads were filled with motorcycles.
A great way to spend the last night!!

Friday 8th September
My last day 😢
Chips on the menu at breakfast so had to have one for novelty value!
This was likely to be my only hot meal of the day so I filled my boots.  Pancake with lemon to start, bacon (which is fantastic), two types of sausage, hard boiled egg, veg and a cheesy bread roll.
For the large part of my holiday, the football team
NK Olimpija  were staying at my hotel. I noticed a signed shirt at breakfast. I suspect it’ll be auctioned off.
The team were busy doing touristy things today, some in cafes, a couple on the Vitranc cable car, saw some more on a coach trip.

It didn’t take long to pack then I wandered downstairs, paid my €15 for the week’s drinks, left my luggage in a cupboard near reception and went for a final walk.
The weather was glorious. Such a shame to be leaving. I circled Lake Jasna before zigzagging around the village and took the D2 cycle way to Zelenci.
Everywhere was quite busy today, especially with the Harley Davidson European Bike Week event which was taking place. The main venue seems to be in Austria but it makes sense to extend it across the border over some great mountain passes.
All too soon and 10 miles later it was pick up time.
We rook road over Karavanke mountains stopping at the same services we did coming out. Had my 50 cents ready for the toilet I was realising Austria is an expensive place especially compared to Slovenia!
I sat out on the grass outside, eating my breakfast banana and chatting to a couple who sat next to me on the minibus coming out . I think most of us could have done without the long wait at the services.
Salzburg airport terrace We arrived at the airport nice and early, before check in. While the others follows the rep, I glanced at the screen and made my way to the front of the check in queue.
After checking in, I went for a wander to the control tower and for a peek at the apron. As I walked back I noticed an open roof top terrace. That’ll do!
There’s definitely more to see and do in this airport before you pass through security. As the flight has been delayed 20 minutes and there was no queue at all for security, I hung around a while. Not that there was much going on on the tarmac. It is a very quiet airport.
Needless to say there are no screens on the terrace so, just in case the inbound flight made up some time, I wandered to security 20 minutes before we were due to board.
Straight through security, I wish all were so quick and easy.

Given the time of the flight (19.35) I thought I’d grab some food to take on the flight. Ideally I’d have got a nice, cheap sandwich from the Mercator but, a baguette can be a dangerous thing to take through airport security so I bought a salami and cheese baguette at the airport for the extortionate price of €7.
Top tip, of flying with Flybe, just buy a sandwich on board. Luckily I’d noticed that rather than pay silly prices for a drink in the cafe, I could get a water for a Euro
This ‘snack’ was getting close to what I’d spent all week in Slovenia!
It always amuses me that people rush to board when its obvious that there is a bus transfer to the aircraft and you have allocated seating. I hung back and charged my phone. Paying that much for a sandwich I was going to use some of their electricity!

And so after almost 150 miles of walking, fantastic views, lovely people and an unexpected concert, I was heading back to England……. thinking about my next and 10th trip to Slovenia.

 

 

 

Slovenia Again

Saturday 1st September 2018 

Yet another trip to Slovenia, and once again, back to Kranjska Gora.

An afternoon flight seemed great initially. No bleary eyed driving to Manchester Airport in the early hours.

The motorways flowed well and I got to the Jetpark Ringway car park in good time. Check in for my FlyBe flight was quick, I’ve been in some very long queues at Manchester in the past.

As I was early, I left the terminal building and sat in a little garden between terminals 1 and 3. Just as well, I discovered a can of pop in my carry on bag from the walk earlier in the week!

Gone are the days of the package companies using Adria Airways and their Airbus aircraft. I was boarding a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8. A turboprop with a ceiling of around 25,000 feet and a top speed a little over 400mph.

I had the two seats to myself which resulted in a decent amount of leg room and a fairly comfortable flight. I was lucky, all other seats appeared to be taken.

The low altitude and decent weather resulted in some nice views as we headed over the Netherlands and Germany towards Salzburg….

…then a three hour minibus journey with a 45 stop at a service station. Argh!!  I was soon cursing the later start as we drove along the dark roads, arriving at my hotel at  around 11pm.

The Ramada Resort hotel room was lovely. Despite being a single room there was a lot of space inside and, outside the glass patio doors, I had a balcony overlooking the centre of the village.

A plate of meat, cheese and fruit was waiting for me in the room and, surprisingly, there was a kettle with a collection of tea and coffee.  A pleasant unexpected meal before I settled down for the night.

Sunday 2nd September

After a very good sleep, I wandered down to the large restaurant. It was quiet and I could sit where I wanted, I took a seat by the window overlooking the mountains.

Italy Slovenia borderThe weather forecast was poor so I thought I’d do a route that was easy to navigate, I didn’t want to soak my map on the first day.

I headed out on the D2 cycle path towards Italy.

The weather in the morning wasn’t too bad, I hoped it would at least stay dry at least until I reached the lakes. As I crossed the border, there were a few spots of drizzle, nothing too bad. I stopped at a picnic bench and put on my waterproof jacket and trousers.

Resembling a failed model from an Arc’teryx catalogue, I followed a small road from the cycle path towards the lakes.  The road came out at a T-junction on Via del Laghi. I took a left, initially staying on the road before joining the pleasant path following a steam.

The last time I came here was at the end of a very long walk, the sun was shining and the view was beautiful. Last time I only got as far as the cafe by the side of the lower lake but knew I would return to investigate further if I was ever in Kranjska Gora again.

Today, in the gloom, the view wasn’t as dramatic and, as I passed the cafe, the rain became torrential. I found shelter by crouching under an overhanging rock . I stayed for a few minutes but it was obvious it wasn’t going to dry up any time soon.

Italian lakesI continued around the lower lake then through the woods to the upper lake. I didn’t go completely around the second lake, maybe in retrospect I should have. Instead I went around the East shore towards the car park. After a quick visit to the toilets, I made my way back to the lower lake, through the woods.

It had stopped raining as a left the lakes and followed the stream to the road junction. As it was still quite early in the afternoon, rather than take the right hand track back to Slovenia, I stayed on the road a while longer, joining the cycle track again further West.

I pressed on for a bit but soon realised that this strip of tarmac just went on and on and on. I retraced my steps back to a sign pointing to a castle and church. I do like a good castle, so left the cycle track and took the quiet road to the village of Fusine in Valromana.

I walked as far as the church which was situated at the far end of the village but no sign of the castle. I circled a few times but no castle or any more signs so I turned around and  went the same way back to the hotel, following the cycle track to Kranjska Gora.

Download the route as a GPX.

Back at the hotel I found the village on Google maps and Street View. I could not see a castle or the signs to it. Surely I didn’t imagine it!?

Monday 3rd September

I took a stroll to the local  Mercator supermarket for supplies  With the surprise addition of tea and coffee in the room, I picked up some milk along with some other drinks, there was plenty of room to store them in hotel room’s minibar fridge.

For just over €2 I had a litre of milk and enough soft drinks for the week.

Clouds over Kranjska GoraMy waterproofs were needed straight away today. The constant rain was forecast to stay for most of the day.

I was heading north out of Kranjska Gora, following path 2 to Srednji Vrh.

I walked up the road and took shelter in some sort of building I assumed was used by  farmers. Needless to say, views were minimal as the clouds hung low over the hills.

Leaving the road, I took the path through  woods, the trees offering little protection from the rain.  Old Slovenian farm houseFrom the woods, the route continued through a farming village. I passed an old farm house with an interesting toilet!

Speaking of toilets, I knew there was a compost  toilet near Srednji Vrh. Welcome relief from the rain if nothing else!

From Gozd Martuljek I joined the D2 cycle route to the railway bridge. Here, I took a track to the right which soon became a footpath.

This was uncharted waters. The recognised walking routes in the area are extremely well marked, but there were no red and white painted blobs or big yellow arrows here. Initially the route was easy to follow with clearly defined paths, however, I reached a junction various options. I tried to keep going West as much as I could.

At one point I stumbled upon an area were new electricity pylons were being installed. I wasn’t entirely sure I should be there but pressed on regardless. In the back of my mind was the river crossing at the end of this section. On an ‘official’ path, there would be a nice, sturdy, well built bridge but here, who knows?  The map showed a crossing of some sort. There may be a bridge or I may have to wade through water or, worst case, I may have to retrace my steps.

Log bridgeI reached the river at the point I intended. There was a bridge, of sorts. Two logs  spanned the  river. My Mamut Trovat boots grip to most things…..

…..except wet logs.

To add to the problems  I have no balance what so ever.  I could risk falling in (highly likely) or find the shallowest area to wade through. Thinking wet feet is better than wet everything, I went for the second option and zig-zagged my way over the water.

I managed to cross with only my shins getting wetter, I was still quite damp after the earlier rain.

It was a short walk from here, up the track to the road in to Gozd Martuljek.

The return trip passed through the large hotel and campsite complex Spik.  The easy to follow path passed through the site and along side a stream. It was quite pleasant, apart from the  constant drizzle.

The path moved away from the water and up though  woodland before dropping back down to the side of the river Sava Dolinka.  I walked around the back of the large sport complex and in to Kranjska Gora.

The route is available on ViewRanger as a GPX

Tuesday 4th September

After a very quiet period at the hotel, a  couple of coach loads of guests had arrived overnight. Bizarrely, one of the new arrivals came to breakfast with a can of  WD40!

I had planned a long walk so smuggled a banana out of the breakfast room, that would do for lunch!

My boots were still very wet. My waterproof trousers had been on the balcony overnight and I concluded they were just cold rather than wet, I needn’t have worried, an hour in to the walk, it was t-shirt weather.

I had left the hotel early and took D2 to the east towards Mojstrana. The walking and navigation was simple which is one reason I did this route last year when the weather was bad. I decided then it was a good walk to come back and do again.

There were three plans; walk to the waterfall then get the bus back, press on to the North Face of Triglav and get the bus back or, see the waterfall and walk back. The Alpine museum  in Mojstrana had an information board describing the Triglav walk. As it was a 6 hour round trip from Mojstrana. I decided I’d come back by bus to do that walk.  Today, I would visit the Peričnik waterfall.

via Ferrata near Kranjska Gora SloveniaMojstrana has a number of via ferrata routes, I stood and watched three people making their way up Grančišče before continuing.  There is a footpath I could have taken me towards the falls but, given the distances I was covering today,  I thought I would take the easy, direct route and followed the fairly quiet road.

The views were beautiful and at one point, I got a peek at the mighty Triglav.

The waterfall itself is impressive. I viewed it from the road then noticed a path up through the trees. I decided to follow it. I was glad I did!

The fairly steep and uneven path  heads up through the trees to a flat-ish area with great views of the cascade. A rather ‘interesting’ path went behind the fall itself. It was narrow, quite slippery and very impressive! I ended up getting as wet as I had in the previous rainy days!

After a few photos,  I took the same path back down from the falls to the road. I continued up the road a bit to find a spot by the river for a drink and lunch (the smuggled banana!).

Suitably feed and watered, I took the road back down to Mojstrana and decided to walk back taking the full distance walked to 24 miles! The route was flat so I made decent progress although my legs did feel the last mile. A drink on the balcony was very welcome!

The full route is available as a GPX file but can be shortened, using the reliable buses between Kranjska Gora and Mojstrana.

After dinner ( cottage cheese souffle, roast veal and veg), I took a walk up to Lake Jasna. Just after passing the Best Western hotel, two deer crossed over the road. I’m often lucky spotting animals on holidays (although I didn’t think it lucky when I was face to face with a bear in Italy!)

That evening stroll completed my marathon for the day.

Part 2…

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