Rhoscolyn

Rhoscolyn

We’ve been to Rhoscolyn a few times before, but never before have we bothered to look beyond the direct approach to Rhoscolyn’s Llawder crag from the parking near the church. However, a few minutes down a narrow lane is the most beautiful sandy beach. Surely it’s the coastal scenery, often with Snowdonia’s mountains as a backdrop, that make North Wales one of Britain’s most amazing destinations!

The beach at Rhoscolyn, what an amazing place this must be to have a holiday cottage!
The beach at Rhoscolyn, what an amazing place this must be to have a holiday cottage!
The Anglesey Costal Path, perhaps one of the best crag approach paths in Britain?
The Anglesey Costal Path, perhaps one of the best crag approach paths in Britain?
Rhoscolyn Beacon
Rhoscolyn Beacon
The view back across to Snowdonia from Anglesey.  With heavy summer rain clouds over the mountains!
The view back across to Snowdonia from Anglesey.
With heavy rain clouds building over the mountains!

We enjoyed several of the steep routes, thankfully with surprisingly helpful and positive holds, at Llawder. It was lovely and sunny, but it was very windy – on top of the crag is was almost cold!

Pete on The Wild Rover
Pete on The Wild Rover
Laetitia following The Wild Rover
Laetitia following The Wild Rover
Pete and Laetitia enjoying the sun between routes at Rhoscolyn
Pete and Laetitia enjoying the sun between routes at Rhoscolyn

Cemlyn Bay

On Sunday in an attempt to discover more of Anglesey than we’d ever previously bothered to look at, having a single-minded climber’s point of view (and with a forecast for rain showers) we made a trip to Cemlyn Bay. There’s a lovely nature reserve here, with the interesting shingle drift beach (Esgair Gemlyn), the weird Bryn Aber, and a stunning colony of Sandwich Terns. Although it is a bit strange to have Wylfa Nuclear Power Station sitting on the headland to the north.

Pete builds a pile of stones on Cemlyn beach
Pete builds a pile of stones on Cemlyn beach
A Sandwich Tern returns to Cemlyn Bay with a freshly caught fish
A Sandwich Tern returns to Cemlyn Bay with a freshly caught fish
Another Sandwich Tern returning with fresh fish, flying over Bryn Aber
Another Sandwich Tern returning with fresh fish, flying over Bryn Aber at Cemlyn Nature Reserve

A Wonderful Birdwatching Day at the Hungarian „Seaside”

News about bird guests arriving to Lake Balaton spread around fast among birdwatchers.

I didn’t want to miss the occasion. More “A Wonderful Birdwatching Day at the Hungarian „Seaside””

Home Sweet Home!

After having spent 9 months in beautiful Romania I finally arrived home a month ago to start in a new position with my old company. The original plan was I would stay a year but there were some changes and I was offered this new position and asked to come home earlier. No matter how much I loved Romania and Bucharest I was happy to return to my family and the doggy friends!!!

So after settling in and arranging this and that I’m finally back to “normal”, the time spent in Romania seems like a wonderful dream now. Sometimes I have the feeling that I never left home.

It was wonderful to spend the holidays with my family and be out again in the Hungarian Puszta and hills. We didn’t make too big fuss about it this year as the kids had to study hard for their exams. So we had a quiet Christmas time and an even quieter New Year’s Eve. But we had a wonderful guest!!! As we knew we couldn’t travel anywhere because of the exams, we took care of a baby Border Collie, Skipper, whose owners had left for a 3 weeks holiday. Though he is only 6 months old, he is already bigger than our two old doggy friends!

He has enormous energy so we took him along to our Christmas and New Year’s walks. Our Christmas Walk took us into the Hungarian Puszta in wonderful weather. Everyone enjoyed the walk but I think it was Skipper who enjoyed it the most! He was running up and down and I could hardly catch him with the camera, he was moving so fast! The Puszta was beautiful, fortunately we had some leftover of snow, I just love when it’s white, which was only part of the case now.

On our way I spotted a huge black bird sitting on the top of a tree in the distance. I just couldn’t believe how the thin branches could hold this huge bird!!! This picture was taken with full zoom.

Then at home I enlarged the picture and I realized it was not one but two birds!! One of them I could recognize myself, it was a magpie. For the other one, I had to ask for the help of Istvan: he told me it was a common buzzard! They are really common in Hungary, a lot of them can be seen sitting on poles along motorways.

But it wasn’t only Skipper who was a happy boy during the walk, Gulyas enjoyed it as well, only in a different way!

 

We took another walk to end the year in a nice way: we went to our favourite mountain area called Börzsöny to take a wonderful ridge walk in an equally wonderful weather. It was kind of hard for me in the beginning to get back into shape, I had to realize I got lazy in Romania! So while the kids and the dogs were having a great time, I was trying to keep up the pace, huffing like a steam engine! But it was worth it, I let the pictures tell the rest!

 

Autumn Sunshine

Trowbarrow Quarry

Despite the wonderful autumn sunshine it was easy to tell that the weather has consisted of pretty much endless rain for the past several months – the cracks of the main wall of Trowbarrow Quarry were running with water! So we decided to start off with the normally easier proposition of Jean Jeanie… This was a wise choice, for even this moderately graded line, with it’s occasionally polished holds, was greasy and the depths of the major crack that it follows were wet. A good work out on a classic and sustained pitch.

The super classic and sustained Jean Jeanie

We also climbed a great pitch we hadn’t done before, Hollow Earth. This route had a wild move from the initial corner out on to the face. Thinking that would be the crux I was then shocked to find the real crux, a long section of strenuous jamming!

Hollow Earth

Leighton Moss Nature Reserve

After our time at Trowbarrow we made use of our proximity to the RSPB nature reserve at Leighton Moss, hoping to perhaps see part of the red deer rut. As it turned out the mega amounts of rain have had their impact here too, the paths to the various hides were flooded! At the car park a kind man warned us that without wellington boots we would get wet feet. Now, would that stop us, or would it be an open invite for extra adventure?

Laetitia getting wet and cold feet in one of the less flooded sections of path!
I think the best time to see the rutting deer is dawn. However, we did spend a few tranquil moments watching some cormorants landing in their roosting tree, and many coots browsing amongst the reed beds.

Wallowbarrow

Sunday’s weather was perhaps even more lovely than Saturday. Although our muscles were tired and our heads were even more tired after a week of extremely stressful work. So we chose a relaxed day at Wallowbarrow in the Duddon Valley to enjoy the fantastic autumn sunshine…

Laetitia on the immaculate line of Digitation

The first pitch of Digitation ends at a massive dead oak tree. When we first visited Wallowbarrow this poor and ancient tree, whose dead branches are just visible at the top of the picture above, was alive and well. Sad perhaps that a tree maybe hundreds of years old has died – but I guess it comes to everything and everyone eventually. But even in death there is life, there were masses of mushrooms at the base.

Just a few of the hundreds of mushrooms at the base of the dead old oak tree.

Land of Monasteries

As long as nice summer weather lasts I’m not wasting my time during the weekends. During my drive home from my previous weekend trip I noticed an interesting looking gorge and I decided to come back here to check it out. Then I found out that the area has several Orthodox monasteries worth visiting, one of them even part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

In fact, I’m not surprised about that as the country is full of monasteries! I don’t know how many altogether but you can look around and count if you visit this site.

The first monastery I visited is situated in the village of Polovragi, right at the entrance of the gorge that caught my interest the previous weekend: Cheile Oltetului.

Cheile Oltelului – inviting to visit from far away

The church of the monastery was unfortunately closed due to renovation works so I could see it only from the outside but it was nice. It was built in the 17th century although the original church dates back to 1505. You can find out more about it here.

The church of the Polovragi Monastery

Going into the gorge soon you get to a cave that can be visited by tourists. The cave itself is 10 km long but only an 800m part is open to visitors. Fortunately, as I can imagine the devastation that is caused by the hordes of visitors. All kinds of people, most of them in their lightest summer outfit, slippers, shorts and sleeveless shirts, carrying babies on their arms … and even the part open to the public was not that easy to walk through – sometimes really slippery surface -, not to mention how cold it was inside. From what I could see in this part, I can imagine how beautiful it can be further on.

Moon-like landscape in the Polovragi cave

There are a lot more caves in the area, some of them partly open to the public. I wanted to visit one more but when I could see the masses of people waiting for the entry already an hour before the next group I changed my mind. As rain was coming in, going for a hike was not an option either so I just drove off to see some other sights.

This is how I got to a nice road in the valley of the river Cerna (pronounced sg, like tcherna), surrounded by spectacular rocky mountains! This is the most beautiful route in Romania I’ve taken so far. I’m sure to come back here to explore it a bit more.

Cerna valley from Baile Herculane

Baile Herculane is a really old bath town founded by the Romans as they discovered its natural hot springs. After the Romans had left the town was abandoned and its miraculous healing waters were rediscovered only in the late 18th century by a Viennese doctor. After that it was a popular resort but in the communist era it was neglected again. In the 70’s modern hotels were built but some of the old baroque buildings can still be seen.
The nature here is really breathtakingly beautiful.

Cerna Valley
Inviting rock face in the Mehedinti Mountains (Cerna Valley)

On my way back to the hotel I had a nice view of the Godeanu Mountains I visited last weekend.

Time to say goodbye to the mountains for today

The next day I visited some more monasteries:

Horezu Monastery – part of the UNESCO World Heritage
Bistrita Monastery, inhabited by nuns only
Govora Monastery – less visited but equally nice

In Horezu, which is also known of its famous pottery, I met this very friendly cat.

Lazy cat in Horezu – no wonder it was above 30C at 10am!

Fortunately, these birdies (shame on me I don’t know what kind but I’m sure Istvan and Pete will know at a glance) were at a safe distance sitting on the wires. (And the cat didn’t look too active either)

And finally, I was lucky to get a nice shot of this night creature having its dinner on the balcony of my hotel room in Horezu.

Dinner time!

CC Gairloch Jubilee Meet

Thanks to the extra holiday the four day jubilee weekend made for a perfect opportunity to head a little further afield than a normal bank holiday weekend allows. More “CC Gairloch Jubilee Meet”

Faces of Bucsecs

Last weekend saw me exploring the Carpathian Mountains again. This time I went to Bucsecs, a mountain area just 2 hours drive from Bucharest, just at the border of Transylvania. This area is characteristic of its enormous rock faces but I saw some other friendly faces as well!

I planned some nice hikes, going up from the town of Busteni (at 900m) to the Babele hut (2200m) with the cable car and from there I wanted to go to the nearby Omu peak (2500m) and then down to Busteni again. Unfortunately bad weather came in and after taking some pictures of the unique sandstone formations of the Babele I quickly retreated using the cable car again.

A rock face at Babele called "The Sphynx"
Another nice sandstone formation at Babele

At the top it was raining small iceballs – I’m sure there’s an English name for it, looks like my vocabulary of rain is still not extensive enough – but when I got down it changed to rain. So instead of hiking I went to see a beautiful little monastery.

Caraiman monastery with some huge rock faces in the background

On this trip I met several other ‘faces’ as well.

This cat in the shopwindow is not willing to show its face! How impolite!
This one was bribed with some crackers so I could take a picture of its face
And this one didn't need any bribe, it was nice to me
Two donkey-faces for Rachel (well, almost horses)
And a bird face for Pete and Istvan, unfortunately a bit blurred