Last of the summer in the mountains

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What a summer it has been! I have managed to get long walks in almost every weekend! Having shin splints for almost a year and half now has been a big mental challenge for me but over time and partly in thanks to my plans to reach some nice long distance goals with very gradual progress over the past few months I have come to settle to what I think is a much healthier state if mind. The shin splints haven’t gone away, I am still not running but I have been able to do and see so much this summer without feeling much pain at all, have discovered that hiking poles are great and am looking forward to see what I can achieve next spring!

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I also used the bike a bit to travel further distances away from home. Almost all of the early journeys had a mountain pasture as the end destination though. I would eventually start making some mountain tops in the early autumn but the time spent exploring the old huts and surrounding landscape of these historic places was very interesting and inspiring. There are so many of them around in the uplands of this part of Sogn and I expect I will be drawn to explore more of them next season and perhaps even reach a few on skis this winter too!

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Now the hunting season has arrived and I am adapting my time outdoors to fit in with the new challenges this brings. It’s not something I have ever had to think about before! The forest around our home is particular suited for deer hunting. It has very good access for quads and tractors as well as many flat places the deer like to sleep in. Hunting is normal across the whole of Norway but this area is much more busy than is normal elsewhere. This makes it particular important to take care in these areas after 15:30 and it is usually best to avoid them altogether at this time.

So far I have started thinking about doing some uphill running in the middle of the day as well as the possibility of cycling further afield from the hunting, while carrying the gear to do a short mountain walk. This might be something I start considering for the season but I will just have to see how the weather plays out. I don’t really  enjoy cycling in persistent rain (compared to walking when I am quite happy if I have my rain gear on) and the last month has been so wet almost every day. I am very aware of how much I will be limited in my route choices once the snow falls proper so if the weather improves over the next week I will hopefully have good motivation to seize any free time and to do as much as I can now!

Søndagstur in St Ives

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It’s been quite a while since I took and edited the photos from this trip but I thought that I would post them today anyway as a memory of long weekend days with Ragnhild,  exploring the Cornish coast, to counter the much shorter and dark winter days of December.

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St Ives was as busy as I always remember it but here and there we snatched little pockets of peace we turned down a wee ope or rounded a corner. I was on the hunt for good photos on this trip and although the weather wasn’t quite what I had in mind when we planned our visit, I am still very happy with some of the little detail shots I managed to capture in the end.

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So far we have barely dinted the coastal path directly out of St Ives so I am excited to be back there again after Christmas and maybe we can venture a bit further down the coast and maybe catch that funny green bus back to the town in time for the train home.

A Cornish Søndagstur

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We are now living in sunny Cornwall! We have arrived as late summer is coming in and have been blessed with some amazing weather. So on our first weekend we decided to head out into some coastal nature to keep up one of our favourite cosy Norwegian traditions – Søndagstur!

In Norway pretty much everybody heads out into their local woods, mountains or lakes on a Sunday. This is Søndagstur! People are kitted out for all weather and bring plenty of treats and usually a flask or 2 of hot chocolate or coffee. (The snacks are perhaps my favourite part!)

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So we very excited to be adapting this tradition to our new home in the South West of England! Unlike most Sundays in Norway, we didn’t need so much rain gear on this particular walk but we did bring our towels and went for a peaceful dip in the sea, where we were surrounded by a huge shoal of sand eels (slightly surreal!) adding an interesting flavour of nature to our trip.

Already we are noticing the days are growing shorter and how fast darkness seems to set in this part if the world. It is going to be very interesting adjusting to the change in landscape and climate but I am already looking forward to it and Søndagstur is the perfect way to settle in!

Jæren Coastal Walk

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I have been really taken recently with the Norwegian tradition of a Sunday family walk or ‘Søndagstur’. I like how enjoying nature seems so normal here in Norway and how young children are often part of the walk, so people are often dandering around at a very relaxed pace which means plenty of time for chatting and resting.

I am also really enjoying researching the Jæren coast here in Rogaland and looking for interesting walks along the shore. So when my girlfriend’s mum was visiting one misty Sunday this spring, we got together and headed out for a slow family walk by the sea!

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The walk starts at Tananger Indre Havn which is just outside Stavanger. I really want to come back to the harbour again in low evening light as there are quite a few lovely old buildings on the wharfs. From here on the rocky seashore scrambling begins!

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And what fun that scrambling is! It can be quite slow going on the sometimes slippy rocks but it is nice to slow down the pace. That way you  can enjoy the views out to sea and look out for seabirds and passing ships. Not that we could see the sea very much! (We could hear the ‘ghost ships’ though!)

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Returning to our car at the harbour we stayed a while to enjoy the first signs of spring and sip some lovely Norwegian filter coffee we had brought with us in a flask. I love this ‘Søndagstur’ tradition so much; I would love to try and do it as much as possible this year!

 

Climbing a Fell in the Lake District

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This November I finally made it back to the Kendal Mountain festival! I managed to watch some really inspirational fell running films on the big screen and I also took part in my first fell/trail race up on to Scout Scar.

Having made the long trip to get there, I didn’t want to waste the opportunity for some winter walking in the Lake District, so with the good company of my sister we headed for the fells.

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Red Screes was our goal and once we had climbed out of Ambleside I quickly remembered how refreshing it was to be high up in an upland valley, lost in our own thoughts, keeping our heads down in the rain.

We didn’t mind the poor weather as we knew it would pass by late morning, when we would be high up near the summit, looking down on the path we had arrived by, far down below us on the valley floor. 

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The descent was genuinely awe inspiring and it has been a long time since I have felt so good about a day’s climbing. However, the stand-out moment for me came when 2 fell runners flanked by their dog came bounding effortlessly down past us as we climbed towards the summit. We watched them as they ran as tiny specks of colour below us against the shadow of Fairfield, until they merged into stone wall and heather and were gone.  Maybe one day I will return and that will be me running!

Climbing Clougha Pike

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At the start of the summer, Champion Lad, of Jerome Twell fame (see previous post here) travelled all the way up to Lancashire for a few days hanging out and climbing hills.

The weather was perfect  and after some time exploring Lancaster itself we headed up into the fells with the goal of reaching Clougha Pike and then walking home down the Lune valley.

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We took a while actually getting up onto the open terrain of Bowland as we spent well over half an hour reverting to our childhood ways, with a full on dam and cairn building session in a beautiful green valley with a stream cascading down it! It still surprises me how much fun it can be to play in the outdoors, even as an adult!

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Up onto the heather and under a beating sun we spent the morning looking for lapwings and testing our bird knowledge on each other. Reaching the summit it was time to discuss the merits of the various varieties of cheese we had brought with us (we went a bit mad in the supermarket!).

We discovered that there is a really good track up there so I definitely want to bring a bike up one day to cover a bit more ground and explore more!

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I am so glad Jerome made the trip up, as it was just great to be able to share the open hills with a friend, especially when we had such a nice weather window! I am already planning how I can get down to the midlands in the new year, so we can head into the Peak District!

Exploring Svanøy

A couple of months back we travelled to the west coast of Norway to visit my girlfriend’s family who live there on the island of Svanøy. We arrived in the evening after a long but incredibly beautiful drive down the fjords and across onto the evening ferry. It was getting dark so we made plans to explore the island on foot the next morning.

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What an amazing walk it was! I had many “I am in Middle Earth right now!” moments and the wildlife and flora around the island was really exciting to explore. However, seeing 6 white tailed eagles definitely topped the day! They were all flying around together, ready for the mating season and were only about 15m away from us. Unfortunately my wildlife photography skills failed me at this point so I took a nice picture of Ragnhild looking at them instead.

Island life was very peaceful and children seemed free to fish, play and have adventures where they liked. I think the calm weather we had helped this feeling of peace, but apparently the island is much more sheltered than the more outlying islands anyway, allowing many more trees and plants to grow. Speaking of trees, here is one of those Tolkien moments!

Don’t even get me started on rock formations on the island. Needless to say there was lots of scrambling and wee bit of cheeky bouldering to be had on the last day we stayed there!

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The trip has definitely solidified my love of island life but ultimately I just feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to see those sea eagles. I have dreamt about maybe seeing one in the Hebrides for a while now but to see so many at once is a moment I won’t forget!