Many Club members, particularly those who regularly climb on Southern Sandstone, will be aware of the current situation, but for those who are unsure – those new to the sport – and those who usually climb indoors but want to try outdoors, climbing outdoors is now allowed by government guidelines but not all crags are open. The following is the situation for the major Southern Sandstone crags:
In 2016, when on a family visit to Austria, I spotted a way-marker for the Alpe-Adria Trail, near the church in Himmelberg, Carinthia . I knew then that I wanted to walk some of it.
The entire Alpe-Adria Trail (AAT) stretches 750km, from the Grossglockner, through the mountains of Carinthia, Slovenia and northern Italy, to the Adriatic Coast. It came into being 2011-2012, as part of a central european unity project.
Forward to September 2018, four of us boarded the Euro-star, en-route to a week long walking adventure. 8 hours later and one change of train brought us to Munich, where we had a pleasant over-night stop, including a visit to a bier keller, at the start of Ocktoberfest. There was certainly a very lively atmosphere. A Sunday morning stroll around the beautiful city centre, pre- pared us for further sitting and 2 more trains, down to Tarvisio, a town on the Austro-Italian border. We had opted to do a week-long circular route, taking in the delights of all 3 countries through which the trail runs.
Tarvisio Boscoverde Station makes its Ore counterpart seem positively lively. Sunday evening and it was dead. The bus time-table was only rele- vant during the ski season, and the 2 taxi numbers proved no use. After several calls to the hotel, the chef, Yes, checked trousers and white tunic, was despatched to collect us. Our pack of ‘maps’ and route description awaited us at the hotel, provided by the local tourist information.
Day 1 of The Trail was to be from Tarvisio to a mountain refuge near the Slovenian border. Could we even get out of Tarvisio? A combination of un-named streets, haphazard way-marking, vague instructions, even in the Bradt guide-book. A sign to Parcio Cervi, led us to a derelict –looking building and sports complex on the edge of a forest. Not an AAT way-marker in sight. Our rescue came in the form of a man, maybe a caretaker, who emerged from the derelict building. He spoke only Italian, which none of us did, but by pointing at where we wanted to be on the map, he knew where we were meant to be heading, and escorted us round some tennis-courts pointing us up the hill-side and through the autumnal forest. We were on the AAT at last.
No trail markers at path junctions made way-finding difficult. The provided maps were just print-offs from the Internet and lacked details of what was on the ground. This was a recurrent theme through-out the week, and the most challenging part of the walk. I did have one ‘proper’ map which covered some of the later days and managed to purchase a Slovenian map with the trail marked on it. None of these compared to dear detailed Ordinance Survey .We are so spoiled in the U.K. with our mapping.
We passed the beautiful Fusine Lakes, green and glacial in colour. Then up, following AAT markers to the rifugio, following a very long steep ridge up through forest, a brief cabled section into the most stunning mountain amphitheatre of the Mangart Group of the Karawanken. Dusk was approaching as we descended to Rifugio Zacchi, beers, dinner and bed. We’d survived our 1st day.
Day 2 took us back down below the previous day’s ridge, to the Fusine Lakes and into Slovenia. The walking was very straight forward, much of it along an old railway line, now the Ljubljana to Pontebba cycle track. We were heading to Kranjska Gora, of Ski Sunday fame. The surrounding mountain scenery was just awe-inspiring. Our accommodation for that night, a hotel in Kranjska Gora, was hosting a basket-ball training camp and populated by teams of very tall people who headed back for endless 2nd helpings of the buffet. It also boasted a swimming pool, which made for a pleasant end to the day.
Day 3. Slovenia to Carinthia. The long day. It started with a long hot walk uphill through forest. Bear warning signs. Most excit- ing. We met a young lady hiker, who was doing the whole route, who said she’d got lost and spent the previous night in the forest. No sign of bears! After several hours we emerged high up, near the border ridge and were walking just below the summits. We passed a few walkers going the other way. The path led us down a grassy gully, populated by marmots. It was the wrong way. So many mountain tops together, no AAT markers, nor anything else indicative, plus we were having to follow the guide book description backwards. After much studying of the map, compass bearings and, most helpfully, a battery-guzzling App, it was proved that a very scanty path along a cliff top would take us to the AAT. A long traverse of the border ridge path took us to our crossing point into Austria, the Jepca-Sattel. What a relief. Dusk was fast approaching. Downhill through steep forests, more bear warnings, path closed and no access to Jepca-Sattel, signs (Glad we didn’t know about that earlier), and we arrived at the Baumgartnerhof, our accommodation. Views over the valley with castles and lakes, reviving beer and schnapps, ended the day in a much needed fashion.
This years ladies weekend took a giant stride away from the usual camping escapades Ruth kindly fell down the rabbit hole of the Airbnb website and found us a delightful moored barge on the River Thames near Chertsey. This particular boat was owned by a delightful host called Giles who it turned out was rather a thespian having performed in theatres around London and on Broadway no less. A select group of five embarked on this luxury weekend away. It wasn’t so luxury that we had a butler and cook however we managed to produce a feast of a barbecue on the first evening. The weather dawned bright and fair on Saturday morning arranged especially for Ruth’s birthday. We enjoyed a delightful walk around the local nature reserve called Staines Moor, sharing it’s neighbour- hood with the runways at Heathrow and the M25. Admittedly this does not sound like an…
Booking the ferry for the Hoy trip what’s your reg no, read Darryls text; Bugger had forgot all about that. I was midway through my work season in France and sleep and reasoning were in short supply. I’m sure I volunteered myself on the basis of having a car large enough for the mountains of gear needed for the trip and not for my extensive knowledge of trad which consisted of 3 days at Swanage.
If you are new to rock climbing in the last year or two and have not yet ventured beyond climbing walls and, maybe, top rope protected climbing at Harrisons & Bowles Rocks, then our Club trip to the Peak District in the summer (see newsletter for dates) will be a perfect trip for you to come and learn about climbing with a lead climber and traditional protection techniques.
16 club members eventually made it to Tomich, just over 600 miles ooop north and over the border. We were all installed by Saturday night to some prime accommodation on the Guisachan estate (home of the golden retriever), in 5 cottages arranged around a farm courtyard, spacious, nicely appointed, dry and warm.