Everest Trek Get Together No 11

The latest in our bi-annual Pembrokeshire-get-togethers-with-a-walk.

Friday

The usual Paddington rendezvous with Hazel and Charles then out on an earlier than usual GWR train service to Newport where Dave was waiting for us. Two hours later, we drew up outside Mayhem. G&T in the new summer house (aka Winterfell) segued into refills with curry dinner. Uh oh.

No onward journey to the caravan – spare beds were available and the Saturday walk was on the southern section of the coast path – made for a boozy evening and a late night, finished off with a slice of Charles’ home made and aptly-named Decadent Chocolate and Banana Pie (as seen on David Rocco’s Dolce India).

Saturday

…. dawned grey and wet, as the tail ends of Hurricanes Lee and Maria made their way across the UK. Still, “it’s never to wet to walk”, so Dave drove us over to Freshwater East and the start of a new section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path: Freshwater East Beach to Manorbier (and back).

Pembroke Coast Path, towards Manorbier
Pembroke Coast Path, towards Manorbier

The rain eased off for our outward walk … returning just as the church came into sight. So we dripped into the Beach Break Tea Rooms (and Gift Shop).

Restored by an excellent round of Welsh Caul / Haddock Chowder / Baked Potato followed by cups of tea / coffee / hot chocolate, we headed back out again under still cloudy skies – but thankfully the rain held off for the whole of our walk back to Freshwater East and its magnificent beach. Windy though.

Back at Freshwater East Beach
Back at Freshwater East Beach

The Freshwater East cafe / bar didn’t appeal, but The Cake Shop on Pembroke’s Main Street proved an excellent alternative. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a vast array of home made cakes and biscuits (their Facebook photos don’t lie!) …. extremely hard to choose what to have! After a lot of deliberating, (Christmas Fruit) Cake won out (and the rain resumed).

Back at Minwear Wood I had a nap while the others chatted over a glass or two of Prosecco. Then dinner – super tasty roast veg and ginger soup made by Steffi accompanied by Cardigan Bakery bread and a selection of Caws Cenarth Cheeses.

Early to bed. Despite the nap.

Sunday

No rain … well, not until we’d breakfasted and started to think about a stroll in the woods.

Plan B (really, Plan A!) was put into action: A tour round the Aisles of Aldi. On the shopping list for this visitation, this week’s special offer electric log stove to go into the Not-Just-Summer House (Steffi) and wine (everyone else). Some Christmas treats also made it into my basket; it’s never the wrong time of year for Christmas Cake and / or Stollen in my book.

The rain had clearly settled in for the day so once back at base we lent our selves to putting the stove together and helping Maurice and Charles prepare our Mexican lunch extravaganza. With a small glass of wine to set the mood and to help tidy up the left over nachos….

A leisurely lunch, lingering until 2.30pm before setting off on the journey home. “Dave’s Taxi” to Newport, GWR to Paddington and then negotiating the weekend engineering works on the tube.

Home by 8pm.

Where next: Highlights of the GR10, French Pyrenees

Trip No. 2 of 2018 is, as yet, unbooked. Hazel and I are waiting for Exodus to run a special offer 🙂

Destination: The French Pyrenees.

When: June 2018.

What: Highlights of the GR10, with Hazel.

How: On Exodus’ Pyrenees: The GR10 trip (no link – they don’t like me doing that!)

Why: More mountains! Europe! Summertime!

Plus we both had a fab time on the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), aka Exodus’ TWB, back in 2012.

The GR10 is the Grande Randonnée, long distance path, that runs along the French side of the Pyrenees, providing la grande traversée des Pyrénées. It’s been on my trekking radar for a while, but work and more far flung destinations mean I won’t be able to tackle all 538 miles any time soon.  This trip seems a good way to get a feel for how it “works” and only needs a week off work.

Ten days end to end, with 7 full days of walking (mainly point-to-point), and 4 nights in basic mountain huts and the rest in simple hotels, Exodus rate the trip as activity level 5 – “Challenging”, one notch up from their Mont Blanc Circuit, TWB version.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Fly to Toulouse; transfer to Gavarnie.
Day 2: Walk the Cirque de Gavarnie and up to the Espuguette hut.
Day 3: Follow the GR10 to Pragnères; transfer to Barèges.
Day 4: Trek along the Vallée d’Aygues-Cluses; enter Néouvielle National Nature Reserve.
Day 5: Climb to the Col d’Estoudou (2260m) and up to the Col de Portet (1069m); transfer to Saint-Lary (Ariège edition).
Day 6: Free Day in Saint-Lary.
Day 7: Morning trek up to the Col d’Azet (1580m); descend to Loudenvielle.
Day 8: Enter the Val d’Aube; climb to Couret d’Esquierry (2131m); walk to les Granges d’Asteau.
Day 9: Ascent to the Coume de Bourg Pass (2272m) via Lac d’Oô; ridge walk down to Superbagnères. Overnight in Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Day 10: Transfer to Toulouse; fly to London.

Bloodline – Conn Iggulden

Bloodline - Conn Iggulden
Bloodline – Conn Iggulden

The second battle of St Albans, the winter, snowbound mega battle of Towton and the recapture of King Henry VI by Edward IV, the victory of the House of York with the support of their Neville allies led by Warwick the Kingmaker – and the surprising rise of the Woodvilles.

Publisher page: Bloodline – Conn Iggulden

Series: Wars of the Roses, book 3.

Where next: Snowshoeing in Italy / France

We’ve booked! Deposit paid and Premier Inn (one night at) purchased. Now I just need to book the time off work….. 

Where next-ish, as Phil and I are off to Berlin first.

Destination: The Eastern Alps, crossing from Italy to France and back.

When: Winter / Spring 2018.

What: Transalpine Snowshoeing, with Steffi.

Why: Three Four reasons:

  1. I love snowy mountains.
  2. I’m still searching for a winter trip to match 2014’s superb Mt Toubkal Winter Climb.
  3. I’ve fancied having a go at snowshoeing for ages. “Everest” Dave recommended it years ago, and Steffi went for a week in Transylvania earlier this year and raved about it.
  4. Who knows what Brexit will bring!

We’ve gone for the Exodus trip because it looked the most adventurous of their Winter 2018 Snowshoe offering – it’s rated as activity level 4, moderate/challenging, and we’ve 2 nights in a mountain hut, backpacking in our essentials for those nights/days. Plus all meals are included and the price was right (especially with their Winter Trip 5% off offer and our return customer 5% discount). I am really looking forward to all those “superb views”!

How: On Exodus’ Transalpine Snowshoe Week (no link – they don’t like me doing that!).

We’re flying London Gatwick – Turin (and back) with British Airways and have gone for flight-inclusive: partly for convenience, and in particular to get the transfer to Thures (part of Cesana Torinese, which is 43 miles from Turin and on the border with France, Wikipedia tells me) at the start of the trip and back from Cervières (across the border, in Hautes-Alpes, France) at end;  and partly based on cost, flight-inclusive is only £120 more than flight (and transfer!)-exclusive.

The group flight leaves Gatwick horribly early on the way out, so we’ve booked a twin room at the Premier Inn, Gatwick for the night before, for the princely sum of £43.50.

Can’t wait!

Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Thures (part of Cesana Torinese)
Day 2: Val Thuras* & Cima del Bosco*
Day 3: Fontana del Thures – Mautino Hut*
Day 4: Explore around the Mautino Hut
Day 5: Mautino Hut –  Cervières
Day 6: Cervières south faces
Day 7: Cervières loop walk
Day 8: End Cervières

* Not much info in English, so these links are to Italian pages on Wikipedia.it, and to the website for the Capanna Mautino (aka the Mautino Hut).

Trinity – Conn Iggulden

Trinity - Conn Iggulden
Trinity – Conn Iggulden

August 1453 and the Wars of the Roses slide into violence as the two great families of the far north – the Percys and Nevilles – clash at a Neville wedding.

A mistake by the Percys.

Two years later, the House of York gains control the fate of the House of Lancaster after Richard of York wins the first Battle of St Albans, and becomes Protector of the sleep-walking Henry VI.

Fighting alongside Richard of York were his brother in law, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, head of the Neville family, and Salisbury’s son, the young Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, whose manoeuvres through the back streets of St Albans were key to the Yorkist’s success in the battle.

These three Yorkist Richards made for a powerful trinity…. but fate is fickle, as Richard of York and his allies discover at Sandal Castle – aka the Battle of Wakefield.

Publisher page: Trinity – Conn Iggulden

Series: Wars of the Roses, book 2.