Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Clougha Pike Bouldering

Sunday is forecast to be wet, so even though today I was very tired after a crazy week I decided to head out to Clougha Pike and check out the bouldering. Its a scenic spot with views out over Morecambe Bay and the South Lakes. The bouldering turned out to be great as well, not quite Fontainebleau but close....

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Fontainebleau - le Bloc's

The final section of our trip was a few days in Font. Its over 10 years since I'd been to this magical area and I'd either forgotten how cosmopolitan the town is, or didn't notice previously. I nearly went shopping for pastel coloured trousers to enter the spirit of the place, but alas didn't have time.

Rounded pleasure....
The unique sandstone 'blocs' lie scattered in forests, in an area of 1200 square kilometres. Its thought that the area was discovered/first climbed in by the members of the French Alpine Club around 1874, and they used the boulders as training for alpine routes.

Felt high...

Abi stuck on a rock
This is why they painted/marked out a series of problems so that they could complete a circuit of say 40 boulder problems and it would equate to a much bigger climb. The painted circuits/rocks still stand today, which is very unique and for example would never be allowed in the UK.  I have to admit it was fun trying to follow a circuit, looking for the next numbered orange arrow.

Lovely problem

With classic finish...
We had a couple of sessions bouldering in the forest and it quickly became apparent how magical and unique the place and climbing is, even though I was following a circuit, you forget that and become absorbed in the beauty of the forest and rocks.

Orange 32, there you are....
I knew the grades/problems are harder/trickier than there grade may indicate and happily spent an afternoon climbing the whole orange circuit of 37 problems at Bois-Rond. The following day we went back to the same spot to climb some of the slightly harder blue problems. Abi did a great job of taking some pictures while I enjoyed the rounded sandstone, and I'm already thinking when I can return to this magical place.....

Now where is blue 23....

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The French Jura (and beyond)

Its ages since I've been to France in summer so we decided to right this wrong. I've been to the Franche Comte area before and remember being impressed so we decided to explore it further. 

My favourite picture of the week (can't explain why!)

The beauty of the Jura region lies in a 300km arc of limestone hills along the border between France and Switzerland. The western french side which we stayed in is a series of creases, or hills that totter over a 1000m with spectacular valleys, wooded hills with waterfalls, lakes and dotted with medieval towns and villages. 

Abi at a fair lick...

The vibrant rich forest covers almost half of the region and even though we didn't see any is full of lynx, wild boar and deer. 

Distressed wooden shutters and flowers - beautiful..

Some of the local lakes that we rode around
The landscape, and roads are very quiet and make it an ideal base for cycling, walking or water sports. We'd taken our bikes and spent most of the week cycling around notching up a couple of hundred kilometres.

At the top of a local cat 2 climb. 10 km all up hill, great ride

On some rides we only saw 1 or 2 cars the whole day. We based ourselves at Clairvaux-les-Lacs (the Jura's lake district), which is a vibrant town and good base having a few bars, supermarket, lakes to swim in and a particularly fine organic pizza restaurant. 

Loved the light and reflections
The quiet, winding roads made road cycling an absolute joy, and our early summer visit corresponded with endless amazing wild flowering meadows. 

Captain Abi in our hired petit bleu bateau (boat!)

Wild flower/hay meadows everywhere
After a brilliant week here we headed over to the Auvergne to catch up with Kev, Sue and the cats. They have recently moved to lower ground from the high plateau. Their new house is in the beautiful medieval village of Chalus (Puy de Dome). The village, and house sit in an amazing position on a rounded hill (volcanic plug) with almost endless views across the lower hills and vineyards. We had a great time catching up and drinking wine.... now on to Fontainebleau.....

Heading back to Chalus - Kev and Sue's house sits just below the chateau perched on top of the hill

Kev surveying the flat lands from the gallery room