Wednesday, 13 October 2010

End of trip

Closing entry...and apologies for the long gap for anyone following this blog! Unfortunately did not get much further than Bellinzona in the greater scheme of things....foot too painful. After indeciveness and backwards and forwards-ing (not wanting to admit what I had realised...probably same reason as delay in putting this entry on) therefore ultimately stopped walking. Have therefore looked around for alternatives that involved less bending of the toes and done a long cycle trip from the north coast of scotland down and around england (foot seemed fine for this in wlaking boots). Have therefore done my remaining 1,500 miles or so, although not quite as originally intended!

So...I can't complain as was a great trip as far as it went and also a good cycle trip. Is a shame though as was going very well until then and obviously lots of effort going into to it as well, also was starting to approach the higher alps just as the snow was melting off and allowing higher passes to be crossed. On the other hand was good to get to the level of fitness and enjoyment needed to do the trip (and to have been on track to do it) even if only for part of the intended route. Won't be an immediate return, but we shall see at some point - trips like this are probably both a good way and a good incentive for a long term high level of fitness...its added to the future projects list!

Anyway, if anyone needs recommendations for long distance hikes in the eastern alps in the early season then let me know!

Bye for now,


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Back to the Alps

Slightly longer break than hoped for, but am back out to the Alps tomorrow to continue. Foot still not perefect, but improved, and besides we have eaten all the strawberies. A visit to a podiatrist suggested that the probelem was with the second metatarsal (either a hairline fracture or other inflammation) due to likely putting too much weight on it due to defective big toe joint. Best way to avoid problems with it seems to reduce the amount of bending, and in the circumstances his recommendation to do this was just to wear stiff boots. Discussed what I am planning but it seems that if I can carry on without it hurting then shouldn't be making it worse. So, am headed back out tomorrow, with plan to walk in heavy walking boots. Much less suitable for wlaking long distances on paths, but we will see!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Visit home

Unfortunately foot not improved so rather than make it worse am back home to Aberdeen for a visit to a podiatrist - hopefully back on trail soon! Anyway, a good time to visit...went out and picked almost 10 lb of strawberries from our back garden today.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Tirano to Bellinzona

Am in Venice for a long weekend with Gill, having headed out from Bellinzona on the train yesterday...was quite satidfying to head across italy on the intercity at speed for several hours...seemed a long way back across the country!

Varied section again. Despite the weather forecast of grim weather returning, this did not happen (hooray!) and weather was uniformly good, a very welcome change compared to the previous week! Still evidence of the bad weather however in the form of a significant amount of fresh snow around the Bernina area, down to not much over 2000m in places. Therefore again, more devising my own route...after starting on the Via Alpina from Tirano, headed further north to go over trails south of the Bernina pass, and then followed along above the north side of the valley system, opposite the Piz Bernina and Piz Badille. This was now in Switzerland, which you could tell by the comprehensive signposts, it took half an hour sometimes just to read all the destinations, couldnt possibly get lost...awesome! Fortunately (hurray again!) the new snow was pretty much confined to the area around the Bernina itself, so was able to still follow a good route...very good views from the balcony trail above St Moritz, and subsequently (after passing the Maloja pass) ver the Val da Cam (almost 2,500m, the highest point on the route so far in fact).

Unfortunately after this things slowed down a bit, due to a sore right foot. I think I have been too successful in accustomising the muscles in my feet to walking over uneven ground in light footwear, and the other parts were therefore a bit bruised after some big days. Various shorter and longer days followed...past Chiavenna and over the Passo della Forcola (very fine but very hot...7,000 feet of ascent with a starting temperature of 30degC in the valley...once more the umbrella invaluable for sun as well as rain. very fine bivvy spot also at Alpe de Quarnei). However, the foot was definitely objecting, so have had a copule of rest days in Bellinzona, linking into the long weekend planned with Gill in Venice. Foot definitely better than it was, but slightly concerned that it might end up requiring the simple, effective and easily available remedy I dont want to give it i.e. spend a while not walking long distances on it. Have my boots (thanks to Gill, with many other small but critical requests for assorted materials) for the next section so will see how it goes with a bit more prtoection.

Into July then...have worked out that have covered about 1400km (almost the same each month at 700km, June would have been bigger if not for slow down over last week), so assuming no long term problems with the foot am roughly on track. So far despite my constant route variatons I have roughly covered the same distance as the Via Alpina would to get to the same point. Might however be trying to take a slightly more direct route on the next parts to get to Monaco not too long after the start of August, in order to ensure plenty of time in France and Switzerland (as far as I remember from doing things like the Tour de Mont Blanc, its not quite so hot and not so many snakes, which continue to here and there consider the path a good place to go to sleep on).

Have confirmed with Nathalie at the Via Alpina that there is a bug in the height calculator in their data, so my observation that the ascent is overstated is correct. This is reassuring, both in terms of the route ahead and also in terms of the route so far, where I have done about 70% of the ascent I expected...nice to know that this is probably comparable and am not missing out (people might start thinking this is a holiday or something!). Also reassuring as I think the amount in my figures would in fact not be possible for me in the timescale, given the heat in particular.

Anyway, off for beer, concert tomorrow, sightseeing in Venice etc and then back to Bellinzona Tuesday, arriving mid afternoon for a hot walk along the valley.

Friday, 2 July 2010


No, Graham hasn't taken a wrong turn, I'm off to meet Graham in Venice today - if I recognise him under his beard. I'm sure there will be an update in the next few days. Over the last couple of weeks Graham has been crossing from Italy to Switzerland on a regular basis, and going past ski resorts like St Moritz and other places. He's catching a train over to venice. I think a few days of heavy ice cream consumption and a bit of sight seeing will make a nice change.

I'm sure there will be many new photo's next week

Monday, 21 June 2010

Bolzano to Tirano

Am in Milan for a rest and resupply day - mainly wahing and drying things! Last week has ben not ideal weather, in fact has rained most of the time. I needed to make up a route anyway to cut across from the vicinity of the yellow via alpina trail by Bolzano to the vicinity of the red trail by Tirano, so not a bad week to be putting together a not-quite-so-high-up route. The challenge is then to identify something that is suitable for the conditions but isnt just walking along the main road. (as commented previously, if I want to do the whole trip in the available time, then probably need to progress in some way most of the time, regardless of weather). This isnt helped by the Kompass Italian maps seeming rather less consistent on the trail marking than the Kompass Austrain ones - minor road / track in particlar seems to signify a wide variety of things, in one case being non-existent and in one case pretty much a high street, with everything in between. All in all have managed to put a good route togteher, with only a few very short sections of scurrying along the main road to reach the next track! There were some very satisfying bits also, managing to hit the high points at the breaks in the cloud - M Roen next to Bolzano, crossing the Passo della Forcola at the northern end of the Brenta dolomites, and also the high roads traversing the hills SE of Tirano (tarmaced and so a bit hard on the feet, but certainly no traffic and at just that right intermediate altitude to get superb views of everything).

Arriving in Tirano and in need of a night indoors to dry out, the whole town was full (tried 7 places) and no campsite. Therefore spent a wet bivvy and got the 6am train to Milan where I spent yesterday / last night snoozing and washing clothes. Off shortly for the usual map shopping, post last set of maps home, buy food, etc as always before back to Tirano. Might also look for some boots, have been doing the trip so far in lightweight walking trainers, very light and confortable and grippy but definitely limited ability to keep your feet dry in consistent wet conditions. Will also be doing more high level walking from here on (assuming the weather improves! forecast currently looking ok...) so more snow likely crossing likely.

Plan from here is to follow the red via alpina trail (weather and snow permitting) to Biasca, from there will have to see what date I arrive and work out a route on that allows me to get to a train station somewhere for meeting up with Gill for a long weekend start of July.

Languages also changing as I go of course. Was just srating to remember enough German when I crossed in Slovenia. No Slovenian but as I was only crossing the corner of the country for a few days have got by. Must get hold of an Italian phrasebook and pick up some Ialian - so far however, have been in aprts of

There is now a link to this blog also on the via alpina website...

Monday, 14 June 2010

Rest day in bolzano

Day later in Bolzano, everything washed and fixed and ready to go again, and in possession of maps, food etc for the next stage. Its quite tricky slecting the maps for a make it up yourself stage, as I'm not totally sure which way i want to go until i have the studied the large scale map plus all the ones that follow i in a prticalr direction. Have therefore been standing in shops with my european road map, folding and unfolding various maps and working out which follows which! Anyway all set, without having bought too many excess maps (although still probably the main source of unnecessary weight in my bag), next aiming point Tirano.