Saturday, 10 October 2015

Late Summer in the UK, Preparing for Europe

Autumn changing colours

More than a week has passed since our last entry and, in that time, the season has gently eased into autumn. The leaves on the trees are changing to yellows and reds, crops in the fields have been harvested and stored, the shorter daylight hours have been relatively clear and still sunny, but cold now with much cooler nights, approaching freezing in some places and we’ve seen squirrels running around gathering nuts and running off to store them for winter.

The Wye Valley from the top of Wintours Leap
We’re now in our last couple of weeks in the UK before heading off to Europe for the winter, having spent nearly seven months here. In that time we’ve felt very lucky to have met Richard and Judith and stayed in their house in Redmarley for over two months, Abi in Hall Green, where we stayed looking after Sooty for a couple of months, Angela and Ken in Anglesey, where we looked after dogs, cats and a parrot, not to mention Helen’s house with Phil and Maggie cat while they went off to climb ‘The Nose’ on El Capitan in Yosemite, Tim and Jill’s house in Derby looking after TC the cat and two weeks holiday in Scotland with Helen and Ian, including nearly a week at Tony and Nicky’s helping them on their massive building project. It’s been eventful and we’ve had a great time travelling around seeing different places and looking at Britain with fresh eyes.

Jackie disappearing over the edge on 'Easy Way Down'
In the last week we’ve been cycling, walking and climbing in the locality, both to enjoy the scenery and glorious weather and to train and prepare for our forthcoming ski season in the Alps. 

Our climbing day was at the very scenic Wintours Leap, a 300 feet (100m) high crag etched by a little bit of quarrying, but a lot of erosion by the river Wye as it meanders through the immensely scenic Wye Valley. It is approached from the top in the village of Woodcroft, with fantastic views over the dramatic cliffs, to the winding Wye, woodland and the hills and rolling hills of South Wales in the distance. 
Halfway down 'Easy Way Down'
To get down, the access is off the main road in the village into a little ‘pull in’, where suddenly the edge drops away to sheer 300 foot cliffs and fabulous scenery, with no safety barrier. A small path to the left (actually the long distance walking path Offa’s Dyke) leads to the ‘Easy Way Down’, which is a moderate scramble down a very exposed edge. It is not that hard, but is definitely not for the faint of heart as there are huge drops and needs a good head for heights sure footedness and good route finding as the route isn’t obvious. 

Walking across 'The Broadway', where we stopped for lunch
We’ve done it many times before, enjoyed the views and the exposure whilst carrying our ropes all our climbing gear, stopping on the way for lunch with a view, before getting down, locating our climbing route and then spending a pleasant couple of hours climbing back up again! We chose a four pitch V.Diff route up, which turned into five pitches as Brian stopped short thinking he’d finished his pitch, but then realising he’d only done half of it, so had to set off again. We watched a Chinook helicopter pass below us, following the river Wye at one point and the whole day was punctuated with those vast views of the beautiful Wye Valley. A great day out.

The Chinook helicopter passes by below us as we sat on a belay
Jackie tackles pitch 3 of our climb
Last weekend we hoped to entertain our friends, Iain and Bev, but they had to call off as Bev who has ME, was completely wiped out and couldn’t make it, so we raised a glass in their absence, tucked in to some of the food we’d bought for the occasion and sat down to watch the BBC ballroom dancing show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ with cats snuggling on our laps.

Some of the back gardens of houses back straight onto the 300' cliffs
This week Pauline, Jackie’s mum, came to stay for a few days and, on one of them, we went to Ledbury to meet up with her friend Richard. He is great fun and the four of us had a fabulous day walking round the old town, stopping for lunch and then afternoon tea all punctuated with liberal amounts of laughter and fun, can’t wait for the next time we’re in the UK and we can do it again. 
Safely back to the car unloading the climbing gear
The next day the three of us did a walking tour of Ross-On-Wye, which has much more to offer that just shops, which is all we’ve used it for in our trips, it’s a medieval town with many old buildings, all situated along the scenic river Wye. Punctuated by some shopping where Pauline managed to buy a new outfit, we had a varied and enjoyable day out, followed by tea and cakes back in the conservatory in Redmarley, followed by some time spent of a 3D jigsaw puzzle we’d bought. Very tricky these 3D puzzles, it’s not finished yet but it is addictive!

Richard, Jackie and Pauline in a traditional sweetshop in Ledbury
In between we’ve been back to the Midlands on several occasions, once for a Solihull Mountaineering Club evening for a talk on Alex and John’s ascent of the Eiger and for Helen and Phil’s climb of ‘The Nose’.  Another evening was to meet up in Moseley with our friends Bill, Mark and Tim (the Tim we house sat for in Derby) for a beer in the ‘Old Mo’, followed by an excellent curry in Diwans, ably handled by owner Jay, who looked after us very well. 

We'd only buy sweets if the owner would twirl the bag closed, as they did when we were children
A signwriter working in Ledbury
During that visit back we spent the day in Alvechurch at Pauline’s house, up in her loft sorting our all our winter ski gear and summer rock climbing gear that we’ll need for our ski season in France and the month we’ll spend at Jackie’s dads on the Costa Blanca in Spain, where we hope to be doing bolted rock climbing, ridge walking/scrambling and gorge (canyon) scrambling in, what for us will be warm summer temperatures. While we were doing that the local garage was servicing our car, putting on winter tyres and generally getting it ready to take to the sub-zero temperatures with ice and snow that we’ll see over the winter in the Alps while skiing.

The walk through Ross-On-Wye with Jackie and Pauline
All of a sudden we’re feeling that our time here is fast running out and we need to get organised. This weekend our friend Rob and Alex (the same Alex that climbed the Eiger) are coming to stay, next week Simon and Diane (a couple we met in Vietnam last year and have kept in touch with since) are coming to stay, then we’re meeting up with Helen and Ian and Monty dog on Sunday next, then we only have a couple of days before Richard and Judith return and we head off to France. 

The 16th century Market House in Ross-On-Wye
We’re fitting in a visit to the hospital next Monday as well for Jackie to have her achilles heel problem looked at by a consultant. Hopefully it’ll be nothing too serious and won’t stop her skiing, but we’re not booking a ferry to France until after the appointment, just in case she needs further treatment.

It’s become a busy time!

Ross-On-Wye from the balcony on the old Market House in Ross-On-Wye

Ancient Almshouses in Ross-On-Wye. The plaque said they were repaired in 1575, it didn't say when they were built!

St Marys Parish church Ross-On-Wye

A squirrel runs away with a chestnut for his winter food

Progress so far with the 3D jigsaw of the Taj Mahal!

Up in Paulines loft sorting out our winter ski gear. Our 'lives' are stored up here. Climbing, walking, skiing, diving, cycling, camping gear, smart and casual clothes plus household stuff we might need one day when we settle back down again

Our winter ski and summer rock climbing gear. This is only a part of what we have got to cram into our car and take to France and Spain in less than 2 weeks!

1 comment:

  1. How on earth are you going to get it all in!?
    See you Sunday to explain...... Xxx