Sunny Day on Barden Moor Above Embsay

There is something calming and quietly reassuring about the peace and solitude of a lonesome meander across a remote moor.

I can thoroughly recommend Barden Moor on a fresh spring day with barely a cloud in the sky for just such an experience. Your heart rate rising as you climb up to the rim of this natural bowl. Once inside, you are sheltered from all but the strongest of winds. The pheasants having a hearty chuckle to themselves and occasionally making you jump as they take flight immediately AFTER you’ve walked past them. Stupid birds!!!

Upper Barden Reservoir

The two reservoirs, although man made obviously, add to the scenery rather than detract from it. The route can be as easy or as difficult as you choose, depending on where you start from, i.e. park, and how far you’d like to walk. Much of it is on established tracks but there are sections of soft boggy ground where sturdy walking boots would be more suitable.  The section between the cross on Rylstone Fell and Rolling Gate Crags is tricky and can be very wet. However, I think the views are well worth the effort!

Cross Cracoe

And at the end of it all, there’s a warm welcome waiting for you at the Cavendish Arms in Embsay.

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Les Gets

Les Gets

Les Gets is a small town in the Portes du Soleil area of France. The transfer from Geneva airport only takes about 40 minutes. The town is situated at 1,200 metres above sea level and is a bustling ski resort in the winter. In conjunction with neighbouring Morzine, there are approximately 50 ski lifts dotted around. However, Les Gets in summer caters more for mountain biking.

Col du Ranfolly Panorama

We were in the area to do some walking. Using Les Gets as a base, there are loads of significant peaks within easy reach. From most if not all, there is a fine view of Mont Blanc with its permanent snow cap as it towers above everything else.  I’ve never seen so many grasshoppers and cicadas ever.  Good mountain weather is not guaranteed and it can get quite chilly if you’re not in direct sunshine but when it does settle down, it is really good.  We tackled the Adventure Park when it didn’t look too promising up high.  For those after something a little less energetic, there’s a golf course (which has fantastic views) and a swimming lake.

For getting around, make sure you look at acquiring a Multi-Pass.  It makes getting around so easy, you don’t really need a car.

Rally

While we were there, the 62nd Morzine – Avoriaz rally was on so we got some spot-on roadside seats to the action.  On our way there (you can either go over or around a mountain), we saw these guys paraponting.

Takeoff

We booked with Pure Mountain Holidays through the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), flying with Jet2 from Leeds Bradford Airport.

Lake Garda, Italy

Lake Garda came highly recommended from a number of people. It seemed that there was something there for everybody. We weren’t disappointed! I’d also been told that it was an expensive place to visit but I think it depends on your tastes and where you stay. We had some really nice food and wine for a lot less than you’d pay in the UK.

We arrived at Verona Airport at about 11am with the temperature already in the low 90s. The transfer to the hotel took about 90 minutes even with several drop-off points along the way. The tour rep did his thing en-route to the hotel which I thought was a good idea – saves time having to turn up to an orientation meeting the following day. However, I’m not sure everyone appreciated it so soon after the flight.

The family-run hotel was really comfortable. The room didn’t have air-conditioning but it was still quite cool with the wooden blinds kept shut. The en-suite bathroom was tiny and a bit cramped but it served it’s purpose well. I thought that being next to the main road around the lake was going to be a problem. The road can get very busy during the day but I can’t say I really noticed any traffic noise from the room. The restaurant had some really nice food albeit very simple. Overall, it gets a thumbs-up!

The cable car from Malcesine is the easiest way to get to the top of Monte Baldo. At over 2,200 meters, there is a path you can walk up/down but I wouldn’t recommend it; the heat would zap the energy from all but the toughest walkers. From the top of the cable car, it’s an easy walk to a platform where the views are spectacular. From there, you can see for miles and miles in every direction. Not far from the platform, there’s a cafe where you can sit and take in the view. Even in full sunshine, it can still be cold if the wind picks up.

We decided to be a little more energetic and do some hill walking along the ridge. We’d bought a walkers map of the mountain range which showed a path further along the top that leads back down to Malcesine. We walked for about 3 hours, covered 2 peaks and still didn’t find it. We didn’t want to get caught out on the mountain in the dark so we turned back in the end and got a cable-car back down instead.

To get to the lake from the hotel, all you have to do is cross the road and you’re there. I tried to do a few early morning swims but failed miserably for 2 reasons:

  • the water’s freezing first thing in the morning ; &
  • the lake is taken over by wind-surfing and 1 or 2 kitesurfers

Both sports are very popular around the lake shore in the morning. On the eastern shore, the sun doesn’t rise above the surrounding mountains until after 9am. As a result, the early morning is fairly breezy. Once the sun does rise, the wind dies down completely but it means the wind-surfers have the beach to themselves for most of the early morning.

Fishing on the lake doesn’t seem to be very popular around Malcesine. There are fish in the lake; some of the restaurants have a speciality fish dish. It’s main ingredient is a cross between salmon and trout and it’s very tasty!

There’s a lot of boating as you would expect. Boats are continually zig-zagging the lake with a number of car and passenger ferries crossing the lake at various points.

There are a number of organised tours of the lake, visiting places like Tòrbole – the most northern point of the lake – and Sirmione on the south shore.

Malcesine itself is quite a nice little town. I don’t know how busy it is in the winter months but in the summer, it’s packed. Lake Garda is close to the Swiss/Austrian border and it would seem that people from these countries ( and Germany ) get away to Lake Garda in the same way as people in the UK go to Blackpool for the weekend. However, the nightlife in Malcesine isn’t quite the same. There is a nightclub but it’s nothing like those of the UK or other Mediterranean resorts.