Tag Archives: hiking

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.

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! 

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.

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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.
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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.

Like falling out of a window

Yes, it’s been seven months since I blogged. Shame on me, though I do have excuses. It is one year since I had a melanoma removed. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is like falling out of a window [a thousand other metaphors or similes come to mind] and ‘so far so good’ as I haven’t yet hit the ground. My quarterly check three days ago showed NED = no evidence of disease and no need to come back for four months.

You want more excuses? In July I had two related operations, nothing to do with cancer, ‘just bad luck’ consequences of the original melanoma operation. Successful, albeit with a long period of enforced inactivity.

Still not happy? Okay. This week I completed the first draft of ‘Stopping Time’, my novel about the challenges confronting modern universities; that is, the pressure to do more with less and to be more commercial, competitive and ‘relevant’ while maintaining core values of academic freedom. One hundred thousand words of pure gold. Maybe.

No more excuses.

Now it is decision time. Time to cross the river, not the Styx fortunately. The photo is one of many river crossings when I was hiking in the Flinders Ranges in September perfectly timed to coincide with a ‘once in 50 years’ weather event. Three ops and you gotta keep going through flood, storm, whatever.

Anyway, I digress. My decision, my metaphorical river to cross, is this. Which of my two manuscripts do I revise first? ‘Death on the Camino’, the one with potential but needs more work [according to an editor] and which is my first love? Or ‘Stopping Life’, the one which my mentor likes and which is probably more commercial and topical? The heart versus common sense.

Time for a walk in the rain and a spot of pondering…

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A surprising response from an editor

Six weeks ago I sent my novel ms to 3 publishers. I had low expectations of success given the small number of novels published annually in Australia and the tidal wave of unsolicited manuscript submissions washing up weekly on editors’ desks. Nor did I expect any feedback since publishers’ websites sternly enjoin ‘no feedback will be given’ and ‘silence equals rejection’. Let’s add the fact that I had no idea if my writing was good, bad or ho hum who cares?

Imagine my surprise to receive feedback from one editor . Alas, not feedback saying this is the most brilliant piece we have ever seen and we’re publishing it unchanged in a print run of 1,000,000, film rights already being auctioned. Quite the opposite. As a work of fiction it requires more work and they are not interested. So far, so depressing. I keep reading.

They love the ‘compelling sense of place’ and the ‘very strong travel narrative’ – you may recall my story is set on the Camino in Spain and France – and suggest I focus on that in the short term, perhaps placing articles in travel magazines, perhaps as a stand alone travel book. Well, knock me down with the proverbial feather. I love quality travel narrative ranging from the classics of the 19th and early 20th century to contemporary travellers/commentators/writers and am no snob who believes fiction is inherently superior to travel narratives.

Anyway, it is early days and only 3 publishers, however, it does give me food for thought [sorry for the unimaginative cliché] as this blog began life as a story of hiking and writing and maybe that will be my path again after a detour into the land of fiction. Not that I am giving up on fiction, perhaps this story needs a breather though. It is my first effort, I have learned a lot and cliché alert number two, you have to know when to hold and when to fold.

I have experienced three dramatic turns in my life in the last year and this could be number four.

Watch this space…