Hiking the Lech River trail – mountains, rivers, cowbells, trout and strudel

Seven days walking from the Lech River source, a spring above Lech and just below Lake Formarinsee at 1870 metres through the Austrian Laps and across the German border to Fussen.

Racing thunderstorms.

One day ahead of snow showers.

Two hot days and finishing just before a deluge.

The beauty of the alps, the rivers and lakes.

The silence of the forests (though I do miss the noise of Australian birds).

The solitude.

The hours of rocks and tree roots up and down, up and down.

The tiny villages and the friendly people.

Did I mention the local trout and strudel? And the beer? I’m no food porn fan so you’ll just have to believe me.

Some photos that cannot do justice.

Oh and I nearly forgot the views of King Ludwig’s fantastic Neuschwanstein Castle across Lake Alpsee.

Formarinsee day one

The River begins and so do I.

Local cowbell ringers

Lech as thunderstorms grumble

The path to Varth

Light above the village church as I leave for Holzgau

Now truly a River

And next the frankly scary Holzgau suspension bridge, 210 metres long and 100 metres above the valley. An early morning Adrenalin fix.

one of many signs of avalanches and massive rockfalls.

A perfect snack spot after a long climb and another hour of ascending to go, high in the forest and nobody in sight.

Tight security at the Austria- Germany border

The stunning colours of Alpsee and across the lake to Neuchwanstein.

Yours truly gazing back to where I’d walked.

Yours truly again at Lechfall, the official end of the trail. The River continues and flows into the Danube.

Happy to have reached the end after a long and hard final day. Sorry it’s over.

Where to next?

Walking the Cotswold Way

Sometimes the path was spacious

And sometimes it was not.

But always it was beautiful and joyfully quiet, perhaps six days of 30 Celsius kept other walkers away so that most of the time it was me alone in the fields except for cows and sheep and in the forest me and deer, foxes(heard but unseen), birds and unknown small animals foraging in the undergrowth.

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Equally beautiful were the little villages,colours changing from the honey brown hues of the north to the lighter more austere colours heading south as I walked from Chipping Campden to Bath.

Not forgetting the Millenium Folly and my destination of Bath Abbey and the plaque celebrating the Cotswold Way.

And of course one sign post for the path.

So, seven wonderful days of solitude and contemplation, plus miles under the boots in July summer days. Oh and let’s not forget much thinking about the final draft revisions of my novel. Walking and thinking go together like – well, you can add your own pairing!

Recommended to one and all.

It’s a long way to the top if you want to write a novel

2018-03-22 12.10.51

After two years of writing, drafting and re-drafting, I sent my ‘university’ novel to a commissioning editor for feedback. The highlight of her response? Being told my manuscript has ‘great promise’ and is written in a style reminiscent of one of my favourite writers, John le Carré. Not intentional, never occurred to me but I’ll take the comparison, thank you.

Yes, she had criticisms and suggestions, all of them valid and I need one final draft before sending to a publisher. But there is a way forward, just as there is a path between the cliff face and the boulder in the photo above, taken on my recent hike in the Grampians.

Much encouraged, I shall push on, as I did through the mist of another day in the Grampians – 2018-03-24 10.48.47until reaching the beauty of dawn on the final work in maybe 3-6 months. We’ll see.

2018-03-27 07.32.25Writing is like hiking. A journey where we discover much and find ourselves in places and experiences we never foresaw.

 

A different kind of beauty

After completing the West Highland Way and ‘doing’ Ben Nevis on my rest day in Fort William, I walked the Great Glen Way to Inverness. A lovely walk of 6 days, easier than the West Highland Way and far fewer walkers on the trail (to my surprise). A pretty walk along the lochs, including Loch Ness of course and with its fair share of ‘Scottish mist’. 

Though lacking the grandeur of the first walk, it had a couple of high route days and the isolation I love when hiking.

Highlights?

Loch Ness in the moonlight

Following the Caledonian Canal and watching the boats manoeuvre through the series of locks.

The high routes to Invermoriston and Drannadochit.

Coming upon the Abriachan Eco-campsite and cafe in the middle of the wonderful Abriachan Forest. A haven.

The people, always.

The lowlights?

The );$@&/midges!

The shock of the tour bus crowds in Fort Augustus after 11 days of walking in relative isolation/peace.

What next? Japan has been calling for a few years and the Scottish National Trail appeals now I’ve had a taste. First, there is writing to be finished.


Romance and grandeur – walking the West Highland Way

Since I lack words adequate to the task, here are some photos from my wonderful experience walking this path solo two weeks ago.

The highlights? 

Rannoch Moor

Rock scrambling on the low route along Loch Lomond

Kinlocheven to Fort William on the last day, bitter wind and rain and marvellous isolation on the high plateau

The friendliness of all

The lowlight?

Scottish midges  – horrible little bloodsuckers! 

Three long years since last we talked

Yes, back at the British Library contemplating life with Isaac Newton after three years of the good, the bad and the downright awful. Illness and operations, death of close friends, love, family, friendships lost and gained, writing successful and failed and soles worn through by bushwalking. It has been three years of turmoil in which the good outweighs the bad and best of all, I’m here to tell the tale. Three years older and possibly, just possibly, at long last a little wiser. Probably not.

Last time Isaac and I contemplated life together, I was on my way to do the Coast to Coast walk across England [with two broken bones in my foot though I didn’t know that at the time]. This time it is Scotland, the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way taking me from Glasgow to Inverness. And maybe somewhere beyond that, we shall see.

For now, the path beckons. This one is from the Larapinta Trail in central Australia a few weeks ago – trust me, there is a track in this beautiful solitude. There is always a path if we but look.

2017-05-23 11.14.54

 

Outback Australia, one step at a time

2017-05-26 09.49.20The trail never ends, last week was 8 days walking around Uluru, through Kata Tjuta and along sections of the Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges in central Australia. Sleeping in tents or in a swag under starlit skies impossible to comprehend or describe. Campfires at night with wonderful food, drink and company.

2017-05-23 18.33.08

2017-05-18 10.41.27 HDR
and beauty wherever one looks – rock or water, harsh or gentle in nature.
2017-05-21 13.37.33Sunsets and sunrises
2017-05-25 07.09.40and the iconic, sacred rock
2017-05-17 18.01.46in ever changing colours, especially the red we all know and love.
2017-05-18 07.25.13and looking down from the summit of Mount Sonder, a 3 hour night time ascent with head lamps.
2017-05-25 07.18.35
A wonderful time of reflection in desert silence, no phones, no distractions.
and an ever-growing appreciation of the 40,000 year old civilization which inhabited and managed this land.
Where next? Scotland in July, for ‘something completely different’, but where next
in Australia? That path is unknown.