A walk through the world between places

Latest

Beardown Man. Dartmoor.

Beardown Man.

Beardown Man.

Last weekend I revisited Dartmoor, a wild place with many leftovers from previous settlers. I walked the Lychway, an old coffin road. Where the dead were carried to the church at Lydford. More of the trip at a later date. For now a short piece about the standing stone called the Beardown Man.


Beardown Man.

Eleven feet and more and silent as the grave
and all that stands between the Devil’s Tor
and Conies Down settlement.

Sunrise to sundown and back again
four thousand years and still watching.

High stone marker to some purpose
lost on us now. We pass, like time
and are lost on the old Coffin Road.


A night out on the open moors, time spent inside the stones of a bronze age house. Sunrise and breakfast on the Devil’s Tor with the Beardown Man for quiet company. Hope you find some adventure this week.

Climbing Planai And Krahbergzinken.

On the side of Krahbergzinken.

On the side of Krahbergzinken.

The main ski area in Schladming is Planai, really a group of four mountains with Planai the tallest. Behind Planai is Krahbergzinken, which seemed like a good option to finish the climb on a high point. Then slide sideways down to the river below and an easy stroll home. Sounds good and it started well.

A walk in the woods.

A walk in the woods.

Walking through the woods, following the tracks between small hamlets, the dampness of the trees and earth, flowers and birds everywhere. It was all it could be as I left the town behind and pushed higher towards the ski station hiding up ahead somewhere. All the time, fleeting views across the surrounding valleys gave glimpses of what was waiting higher up.

Flowers

Flowers

Views from the trees.

Views from the trees.

Getting above it all.

Getting above it all.

All paths lead higher.

All paths lead higher.

Clouds over the Hoher Dachstein.

Clouds over the Hoher Dachstein.

It’s always a strange jump in perception, after climbing alone through the wooded slopes for 3 hours, to arrive a the summit station and find a bar, and lots of people, to change focus and return to normal takes a moment. The bar was a welcome break, nice cold glass of apple juice, Jane had come up in the cablecar to meet me, we had a picnic lunch watching extended families using the walk to relax and take in the late spring sun, and the children loving the play area as well. But sunbeds? Lots of people just laying out and taking in the sun, first time for me seeing that on a mountain.

Just nice flowers and mountains.  what more do you want?

Just nice flowers and mountains. what more do you want?

A watery leaf.

A watery leaf.

Reaching the station.

Reaching the station.

Just about to hit the bar, enjoying a break in the sun.

Just about to hit the bar, enjoying a break in the sun.

Jane walked with me around the well made family track, enjoying the views, lazy strolling time together we wouldn’t normally get when I go climbing big hills. She walked to the point where the paths split and I headed up a little higher.

Views to draw you in.

Views to draw you in.

Views.

Views.

A parting.  I'm heading up the slope on the left.  Jane heading back to the station and down.

A parting. I’m heading up the slope on the left. Jane heading back to the station and down.

The trees are thinner and the climb a little slower, taking time to look about at the mountains all around. Reasons for another visit in the future. I met some walkers coming down who told me about the final ten metres of the hill, metal steps bolted into the mountain. Should be interesting, I played leapfrog upwards with a Czech man, both aiming the same way but happy to walk alone. Days like these should be bottled and sold as food for life, the colours are bright, the air clear and views show you the future.

The sliver of the moon high above.

The sliver of the moon high above.

Mountains.

Mountains.

Path Marker.

Path Marker.

Close up.

Close up.

The final slope.

The final slope.

The top was a narrow strip of rock, mostly occupied by the cross and the summit book holder. I took great pleasure in filling in my details, the first summit book I have signed in the Alps. I sat for a while, looking feeling the space and place around me. The airy feel of a narrow spit with steep drops all around. I am always drawn to the edges, to look over and wonder at the flight to the bottom. Others arrived after me, so I vacated the small rock bench and headed down.

A ladder to the top.

A ladder to the top.

The Summit of Krahbergzinken.

The Summit of Krahbergzinken.

Views.

Views.

views.

views.

The Summit Book.

The Summit Book.

I leafed through the book, glancing across names and dates, maybe one day I’ll come back here and spend a night, I bet the stars shine so clear here.

The drop to the ridge below.  There is a track going on but you skirt this peak to reach it.

The drop to the ridge below. There is a track going on but you skirt this peak to reach it.

Looking out to the distance, blue on blue.

Looking out to the distance, blue on blue.

Blue on Blue running away to the hills. I dragged myself back to now, time to head down and back to the river for a different experience of the Alps.

A last look over the edge.

A last look over the edge.

Distance.

Distance.

Rocks, big or little they are all around.

Rocks, big or little they are all around.

The trip through the woody slopes to the valley bottom was an experience, the footpath shown on the map was overly optimistic, wildly overgrown and in places lost to the logging of the trees. I met a party climbing up, and redirected them to the next marker above. Their parting words were “Good luck going down” It was a slow, picky process. Descend, traverse, stop and examine the hillside, find small clues, and descend a bit more. It was about two hours longer than planned, but safely achieved.

Dead End.

Dead End.

Looks better over there.

Looks better over there.

A track?

A track?

Follow the valley to the heart of the mountains.

Follow the valley to the heart of the mountains.

The safe sound of a gentle river.

The safe sound of a gentle river.

Once in the valley navigation was assisted by the river leading me home, cooling the air and refreshing my water bottle. Secret views as the valley sways with the water, following the curves, drawn always towards the sea.

Secret views.

Secret views.

Picking up speed.

Picking up speed.

Heading home for the night.

Heading home for the night.

The sun dipping lower.

The sun dipping lower.

The world gets quiet as the sun drops lower, the deep valleys mean shadows earlier in the day, and the temperature cools quicker at this height, making for a pleasant end to the walking day.

Nightfall as I look out from the hotel car park, home and time for a cold beer.

Nightfall as I look out from the hotel car park, home and time for a cold beer.

A great mountain day, mixed and full of interest. Views, rough bits, exciting edges, cool woodland walking. A river to lead me home and a picnic followed by a stroll with Jane to make it perfect.

I hope you are all enjoying the late summer sun, or perhaps the cooler times, Autumn will soon be here, changing the colour of the landscape and drawing us towards winter and the turning of the year, take each moment and wring out the life from it, you only get to use it once.

Rainfall III.

Rainy Windscreen.

Rainy Windscreen.

A radical reworking of Rainfall, from NaPoWriMo. Travelling a long road requires concentration, and an idea of destination. Sometimes we get lost on the back-roads.

Rainfall.

Rain comes and goes but the story continues
with its troubles and turns a backdrop to miles we cross.
On the road ahead traffic slows to the speed of the nervous driver
and red lights flash warnings that scatter up into the windscreen.
We drive and the wind and rain push against the narrative,
working crosswise against the end and the last page.

There is no location, we could be anywhere on this road,
ahead or past. The wipe of the blades back and back, again
and again the thwap of their turn, stripes of colour repeating
a line of text over the sound of the engine.  

This wind drawn night with its closed curtain darkness
draws silence into the cab, we are lost to the world.
I listen for you breathing, for anything to prove
I am not alone in here.  

The CD player reaches the end and starts again, jumping back
through chapters when light spills into the space around us, 
two silhouettes caught looking, following the words and waiting
for the journey to be something, a place or a reason or a destination.

Going Up A Hill.

Going up a hill.

Going up a hill.

Before we left for Austria, I was online with one of my favourite stores, Stanfords. The home of maps, for anywhere. So I was able to procure a set of maps for the area around Schladming, I was also able to enjoy evenings with maps spread out across the table, looking at routes, ridges and mountains. Finger tracing footpaths and tracks with strange German names and descriptions. I picture in my mind the places I want to visit, wondering how close to reality the walks I do will be. This holiday was not a disappointment, the whole area was a feast, for the eyes and for the walking. After we arrived, regrouped, and let Mondays rain wash away the blues, on Tuesday I headed for the Guttenberg Haus. To follow a route climbing up a steep valley at the Eastern end of the Dachstein group, even from the car park the views were good back across to the other side of the valley.

Car park with a view.

Car park with a view.

The view from down here.

The view from down here.

A woodland wandering start.

A woodland wandering start.

I started out alone on the path, which rambles through a small hamlet/farm, before leading into the woods and to the first hut of the day, a restaurant for the less serious climber. I hope the pregnant woman and old man who passed me were heading there, I didn’t see them the rest of the day and I was taking my time and setting a nice slow stroll of a pace as well as plenty of stops for pictures and gazing around.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Nothing to see here, move along.

The restaurant hut entrance.

The restaurant hut entrance.

The restaurant (I wish I knew its name) provided this bench, to try to trap unwary walkers. It would be too easy to sit and relax, to enjoy a glass of the cold mountain beer and sit on the terrace to enjoy the view. So I didn’t stop, I strolled coolly past and carried on out of the trees into the pit of the valley. Following the great gouge left by the snow melt.

You can see the grey scar descending through the green.

You can see the grey scar descending through the green.

The path climbs and zigzags to the left of this massive gully all the way to a glacial moraine. Views keep expanding, the air clears as the cloud lifts, and the true size of these hills becomes apparent. South the Alps stretch away further into Austria, well worth the effort of climbing up here. Despite the popularity of the area there seems to be space for everyone, and it wasn’t till higher up that I passed a group of school children heading for the hut for lunch. They cheated and had their bags taken up on the small cable-box(? See the picture) used for ferrying supplies.

Cable-Box.  Or the easy way to the top.

Cable-Box. Or the easy way to the top.

Children watching their bags leave.

Children watching their bags leave.

Views expanding.

Views expanding.

Leading me on.

Leading me on.

Cloud lifting from the peaks.

Cloud lifting from the peaks.

As you climb the nature of the land changes, everything starts to hunker down in the shadows of the mountains. Things cling to small spaces to grow. You can see the way winter attacks the land, and then when the spring thaw arrives only the hardiest can regroup and spread into the spaces. The quiet of the track, broken by the children climbing up now from below me, glimpses of the track ahead make the world suddenly jump in to a new perspective, distances get distorted here.

Enough blue for a sailors trousers.

Enough blue for a sailors trousers.

There are people on the path ahead.

There are people on the path ahead.

More views.

More views.

Below me on the valley bottom I can just make out the hotel, the haze is lending everything down there a dreamy feel, colours are dissipated and the white of clouds and mountain tops mingles, I could sit an hour and watch the shades of the view change. Up ahead is the first glimpse of the hut, deceptively close, still a way to go. The edge of the moraine is above and still to be crossed.

First sighting of the hut.

First sighting of the hut.

A bit of a pause to admire the flatness.

A bit of a pause to admire the flatness.

I know, more mountains, and the moraine.  Left over from an old glacier.

I know, more mountains, and the moraine. Left over from an old glacier.

Getting into the nub of it now.

Getting into the nub of it now.

What can I say, I like the view.

What can I say, I like the view.

A change of perspective.

A change of perspective.

And again.

And again.

There are some big lumps of rock up here, a palette of grey, green and white, spread in front of the blue sky that drifts with clouds. The odd gust of wind to make sure you are safe, all the while the metres click away behind, this was exactly what I wanted when I was looking a the maps those months ago. Slow time climbs with lots to see, shady woods and nosy rivers below, steep edges and open places above.

Rock.

Rock.

Lead on.

Lead on.

Guttenberg Haus.

Guttenberg Haus.

The view from the hut.

The view from the hut.

It’s a good place to stop for coffee, to regroup and get some information about conditions further up the track, and to simply enjoy the feeling of being here. The children arrived as I was drinking my coffee, but were shepherded into another room for their lunch, but they weren’t being noisy or troublesome, just happy to have made it. You can sleep here, and the hut forms part of a long distance trail through the area. And the hut also celebrates its One Hundredth Year this year (2014). The terrace is the only place to be on a day like today and to drown in the spectacle of peaks all around, near and far.

Waiting for coffee.

Waiting for coffee.

Choices.

Choices.

Perspective.

Perspective.

I left the hut to go on a bit further, clambering under a large lump of rock, along a track that wasn’t sure about itself, sometimes a royal road, other times barely a goat track, boulders and gulleys adding to the interest. Now though I had the world to myself, to look out and down on everything I had left that morning. Jane was down there somewhere, reading or strolling in town, probably casting the odd glance my way too.

Curious.

Curious.

Mittelspitz.

Mittelspitz.

Looking down.

Looking down.

A royal road ahead.

A royal road ahead.

Looking down again.

Looking down again.

Looking up.

Looking up.

I'm heading for the notch and some lunch.

I’m heading for the notch and some lunch.

The path behind me.

The path behind me.

This looks like a good spot for a picnic.

This looks like a good spot for a picnic.

Nice spot for tea with a view.

Nice spot for tea with a view.

I sat with my lunch for about thirty minutes, silent and happy, enjoying the moment. Nobody passed me, I had the path and the pass to myself, snow and mountains all around, a stiff breeze and a bright sun hardly hindered by the clouds lingering at this height. Time to head back, and see what it was like in reverse.

Just something to remember.

Just something to remember.

Mountains.

Mountains.

Something to take home with me.

Something to take home with me.

The places I have been.

The places I have been.

Where do we go from here.

Where do we go from here.

When I got back to the hut, I once again sat for a while on the deck, looking out over the valley, drank some cold Apfelsaft, and contemplated nothing except what was in front of me. Soon I’d be back down with the life of the town, better for having made the trip.

Guttenberg-Haus.

Guttenberg-Haus.

They keep it tied down, to stop it being stolen.

They keep it tied down, to stop it being stolen.

Wildlife.

Wildlife.

I came up that!

I came up that!

Flowers.

Flowers.

A look back.

A look back.

Nearly got a picture of a bird.

Nearly got a picture of a bird.

So I returned, feeling good about life, having climbed again in the Alps, not Mont Blanc but a brilliant walk, and so many amazing sights. The hut was warm and welcoming, good coffee and apple juice. A worthy marker for the trip. I was able to take lots of pictures (sorry) and take all the time I wanted to enjoy the whole experience. I will come this way again. Perhaps to stay overnight and walk on further, make a couple of days of mountain life, to just relax and enjoy the time spent looking and walking. Hope summer is good for everyone, take some time to sit and do nothing, it’s good for your soul.

Fragments From A Journey

Lac Geneva, a pause on the road we travelled.

Lac Geneva, a pause on the road we travelled.

Sometimes there are lines, stanzas that I write, that will need something else to help them reach a conclusion. They may never become more than a fragment in a notebook, or they may just become a line somewhere else unintended. Lost and melancholy or the capturing of a moment of peace in a busy day, whatever they are to become they are more for being written. They become part of the history of a journey, perhaps one day my family down the line will find them and wonder where I was or what we were doing at the time, a mystery of the past for them to uncover.


Fragments

The scent of pine, and fresh water lake,
hour old rain and flowers on the banks.
Your quiet spreading across the table,
a waiting perhaps for it all.
And time becomes heavier than before
where we sit at the café with coffee so bad
in a plastic cup we smile and drink it anyway.

-x-

There is no location, we could be anywhere,
eyes closed and surrounded by mountains
the water is a clear blue green darkened
by fair weather clouds passing quickly.

-x-

Cloudy night, wind drawn closed curtain darkness.
I listen for you breathing, for anything
to prove I am not alone in the night.


I have finished the notebook we bought in Venice in 2011, and started a new one bought in Paris from Shakespeare and Co. Endings and a new beginning, I need to go back over the last pages and work on the notes from this our most recent trip, mountains and scenery have filled my head with images that need sorting out into something usable.

Mountain Notebook

Mountain Notebook

In the meantime, have fun with the changing world, the weather is not against you it is simply what it is, just like you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 866 other followers