The Vault Regulars

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Walk to Frigiliana

 It was all Sheila's idea.
 We had had a sunbed day and a Nerja town day, so she suggested that we walk to Frigiliana.  This route is popular with able walkers staying in Nerja and surrounding areas and ends in the once Moorish village high in the Sierra De Tejeda. Most people get the bus to Frigiliana and walk back.

 We set off at 10.00am following the Rio Chillar right from the beach. A path on both sides of the river makes for a rapid start but when the main road is reached, the N340, the path and onward route is unclear. We looked for an obvious path but we only saw the river bed. Crossing the road bridge we decided to head for a large car park and there we took the chance that a minor road would lead us in the right direction. I had previously looked on Google Earth, which showed a track on the left bank of the river but this was all private and padlocked.

 The river was low and as it happened this driveable track was where we needed to be. It was also quite surprising considering the urbanisation and agricultural properties on either side, that the river was so clean. Also sugar cane was in abundance too.

I remembered that, when we passed the new motorway bridge that the river split in two. I couldn't remember which branch we needed to take.
I decided to stay with the main river which we learned later was a mistake. We should have taken the left fork, the Rio Higueron, which on this day was dried up. So we continued on the Rio Chillar. It was a good track most of the way and then we came to an access post into the National Park. Mmm, i thought!
This doesn't seem right.
 We walked on for about 5 minutes and then turned back looking for another way. Just as we retraced our way to the access post a Spanish walker was heading our way. Sheila asked him for directions and i just about understood that we needed to go uphill for quite a way, then down to the river bed then up again. He drew a line in the dust emphasizing the distance was still quite far. We thanked him and we went up hill on the minor road/landrover track.
 Entrance to the National Park.
Processional Pine Caterpillars.
 On the track we came across this spectacle. I had never seen this before. They are Processional Pine Caterpillars. Harmful to adults if touched, causing irritation/nausea. Serious illness's to children and can be fatal to animals such as dogs or cats.
 The track went up and up and then we saw the river bed with the path descending.
  Heading wrongly into the National Park, following the Rio Chillar
 The correct river, Higueron
 This was the Rio Higueron that we should have taken when we passed the motorway bridge almost an hour ago. We gave ourselves an unnecessary hill climb to get back into this valley.
In the last 2 photo's you can see the track heading up again. We called this cardiac hill, it just was relentless. On the way up we passed two ladies struggling with the gradient and one said that we must be used to hills as we were not out of breath. We didn't tell them we had just done one hill by mistake.

 Once at the top of the track the main road is joined for a short section which took us into the village.
Walking down the main street i was a bit disappointed, all that effort and is this it! We sat down outside a cafe and had a coffee. After about 15 minutes we were joined by the two ladies we had met on the hill. All they said was "We are going to the pharmacy for Panadol". And off they went.

 I said to Sheila that there must be more than this and thankfully we carried on walking. Around the corner and covering the hillside was Frigiliana proper. Absolutely breathtaking.

 Frigiliana or Friginhilli as Sheila now calls it, is a maze of quaint narrow winding streets, brimming with shops, bars, cafes and of course, tourists. It's a beautiful place to spend time here. You need a day to do the place justice or stay longer in the numerous hotels.

 There is also a walk from here to the caves that we passed on our first walk in Nerja. It says 14.6km. Going further into the park and completing this walk we would need to take it more seriously and come prepared with a map, boots or trail shoes and waterproofs. None of these we had today.

 We had a lovely walk round and we were pleased we made it to the village after our errors of navigation earlier. The bus back to Nerja is every hour and costs 1 euro. Great value for money.
 It took us a little over 2 hours to do the walk but if we had known or been better prepared for the route we could probably take 30 or 40 minutes off that time.

 About 2 hours after we left Frigiliana and returned to Nerja, it went very dark in the hills. We couldn't believe just how fast the weather was changing. It was so dark we couldn't see the hills any more. From being bathed in sun and blue skies there was a big storm coming in.
When we got up this morning the hill tops are snow covered again. Increadable.

 We will do this walk again sometime, on another trip, and do a circular walk. The area is stunning and many options.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A waddle sort of day. Nerja pt3

 We had a really nice evening in the company of some Dutch folk who were impressed with our venture  into the hills.
Today however we are stiff as boards and waddling around as though we have had hip replacements. I don't know, you would think we never walk anywhere.
It started with a waddle into the old town to find some socks which would stop my feet thinking they were walking on egg shells.
 That job done and with the sun now strong in the azure sky (Thanks Martin), we decided we had better take full advantage of the free vitamin D on offer and hypothetically plug ourselves into an English speaking sunbed.  I set the timer to go off when both sides were medium to well done.

 Lunch was taken after another short waddle across the road to a tapas bar.
Spanish omelette, Garlic Prawns, Meatballs, Beef steak, Chicken wings, Croquette potatoes, Salad, bread, 1 wine, 1 beer, 2 coffee's.  All for 10 euro 40 cents whilst sat out in delightful 17 degrees C.

 We get asked quite a bit if we are cold as we are in the minority here in shorts and tee shirts. Most of the locals and those on holiday seem to be dressed for winter. Gloves, scarfs and hats in abundance.

Honestly, the weather this last couple of days has been as good as any we had in UK last summer. Bring it on.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Unplaned Sierra Navada foothills.

 Today was a strange sort of day. I said yesterday, that we had a plan. We were going to walk to the Roman Aqueduct and then chill out.

 According to the map the aqueduct was located just on the edge of town, within an hours walk. That seemed just the ticket. I had only brought my Inov-8 sandals, no waterproofs, etc etc. This was a holiday with a bit of walking, not a walking holiday.

 So why am i sat here now, having done 25km and have a blistered foot and an aching body.
Well. After breakfast and before Nerja had realised that a new day had begun we were striding out along the narrow shadowed streets trying to find a sandwich shop and to buy a bottle of water. Just before the church of El Salvador we eventually found both.

 The only people about were the homeless and they were still stiff and lethargic after a cold night, even the ubiquitous pooch was still asleep.
We found the road we were looking for, which headed north, towards the old east/west coast road before the new motorway had been built. It was all up hill as it would be, with our hotel being at sea level. Soon we joined the N340 and turned right.

 According to the map we had, we follow the N340 for 4 roundabouts and then the aqueduct is on the left a little way up the gorge. There were no “trails” to it unfortunately but to be fair the footpath along the N340 is pleasant and the road is not that busy.

 After 4 roundabouts there was still no sign of this aqueduct but the signage for the Caves was still with us. I said to Sheila that if we pass the caves we have gone to far. So that became the marker.
At the 6th roundabout we actually saw a sign for the aqueduct. We can only assume that extra roundabouts have been installed since the new motorway came into existence.

 Just before reaching our goal and on the right, we passed a small but well built aqueduct. We guess it was the same period as the one we were hoping to find.

Eventually the N340 crossed a dried up river and behold stood the Roman Aqueduct. It was disappointing that we couldn't get to it. To touch it or see where the water ran.  All we could do was photograph it.
 We was going to have lunch here and admire the location but it wasn't to be. The caves were just a short distance further and so the plan changed to get to them instead.
 Another roundabout and then a short uphill walk brought us to the very grand entrance to the caves.
At this point we noticed off to our left a notice board with walking routes. It seems we were at the start point for the GR242. It seems that this is a 4 day walk over 64km of high country. I will find out more on getting back home.

 So we gave the caves a miss. The day was lovely. No wind and temperatures around 16 degrees C.
Shall we do 5km up the track, knowing we had to return the same route? Like i mentioned earlier, we were not prepared for walking trails. We had 500ml of water, half a sandwich and a tangerine. We set off to get as far as El Pinarillo and hoped that it didn't rain.
 El Pinarillo is a picnic spot and was just about the right distance for us considering that by the time we got back it would be 25km in total.
 The track is driveable and seems like it is very popular with the locals. For the walker in sandals it was quite painful.
The views made up for the pain and the pungent aroma of the Lavender was wonderful.
 Our onward path is just above the tree line left of centre.
 El Pinarillo
 View from El Pinarillo

 Snow on the tops
 A massive cobweb with captured prey

A good finish, Apple Strudel and a nice cold beer and G and T.
I developed a blister on the way down but it wasn't surprising considering my footwear.
Another beer and i won't feel it until morning.
A wonderful day out.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nerja - Spain

 We did well getting through Malaga airport with only an hour delay. We had no bags and so we got through very quickly. However it makes little difference as the coach taking us to Nerja still had to wait for the tail enders in the baggage queue.
 The hotel, Rui Monica is fine although the check-in procedure was laughable. Oh well, the internet connection is good.

Friday it rained most of the day and sometimes it was torrential. Lots of folks caught out and looked like drowned rats. We had a quick walk round just to get our bearings and then headed to the pub.

Today, Saturday we have done about 6 miles, all very casual like. Just along the coast. I might not have got wet yesterday but i did today. Trying to get that big wave shot, i took one step to near the waters edge and the big wave got me. Soaked, head to toe.

 We have a nice walk planned for tomorrow to a Roman Aqueduct, so i hope the weather is a bit better than today. The morning was really nice but the afternoon got quite windy and with it a drop in temperature.
 The view from where we are staying.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Silverdale Plod.

 This is just a short posting to say thanks to fellow blogger Martin for arranging his 3rd of 4 walks for the LDWA plodders.
The walk was from the car park at the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss, Silverdale, Lancashire.
A circular walk of around 18.4km and 571m of up.

 The day was chilly and breezy at times but also with a few sunny periods. Unfortunately the distant views were not as good as they could have been, for example we couldn’t see the Hills of Cumbria.
But the tide was out and the beach section was a delight.

 Numerous “Wells” had to be located along the route, which proved a bit difficult at times but others were easy.

Conrad, a fellow blogger and long distance walker also came along as part of his replacement knee recuperation exercise.
It was good to meet you Conrad. Hope to see you again. It was good to put a face to the pages.

I am off to Spain this afternoon for a holiday with a bit of walking rather than a walking holiday, if that makes sense. Hence the short posting.

So here is a slideshow of the walk. Click Here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lithium Batteries and Posting

 I was taken by surprise and unaware that the postage regulations have changed regarding Lithium batteries. 
So if you use numerous batteries for you GPS, camera, watch, and any other accessory then stand by to be shocked. The postage of even one battery is now going to cost you about £5.50 depending on whereabouts in the UK you live. If you live in the remote highlands and islands then i hate to guess what it will cost you.

 Lithium batteries have now been put on the dangerous cargo list and the Royal Mail are not accepting them any more. They have to be shipped by a courier.

 Whats really strange and doesn’t make sense to me is that this regulation only applies to the shipping of the battery as a single item. It doesn’t include the shipping of the battery if the GPS etc etc has been purchased at the same time. Royal Mail find this scenario strangely ok.

 So if you want to read more here are the rules. 

What Royal Mail will be doing.

Whilst it’s almost impossible for Royal Mail to catch every Lithium Battery posted in a Pillar Box, they will be stepping up screening, especially for shipments going by air. That includes all International shipments, but also a large number of domestic deliveries which are transported on a plane for some of their journey.
If Lithium batteries are found they will simply be destroyed, not returned to the sender. Sellers may or may not be notified and/or prosecuted, but regardless it will result in buyers not receiving their purchases.

Impact for marketplace sellers of batteries

If you sell Lithium batteries you should already be shipping them on a business account via Royal Mail tracked. Come January you won’t be able to ship them via Royal Mail unless they are being shipped (domestically and Internationally) when already installed in a device, or when shipped with a device (domestic post only).
If you sell Lithium batteries, including those to fit everything from watches to laptops and even rechargeable drills and somewhat perversely smoke alarms, then these replacement batteries will have to be shipped with an alternative carrier and you should be shipping them as hazardous goods.
I do sympathise with battery sellers, what was once a very low cost highly competitive market will now face increased costs and doubtless some sellers will either be unaware of Royal Mail’s policy changes or simply ignore them leading to uncompetitive pricing by those that do comply. Already many battery sellers are breaking the rules by shipping in stamped mail rather than through a business account.
Whilst shipping with an alternative carrier is likely to cost more, failure to comply with the legal requirements for the transport of dangerous goods puts lives at risk and is a criminal offence which may be subject to prosecution. It’s unlikely a consumer will be prosecuted for breaking the rules, but if you are a business routinely selling Lithium batteries then your marketplace seller reputation suffering from lost shipments could be the least of your worries.
I havn’t transcribed every detail here, but i hope you get the jist of what is going on and why it is now cheaper just to pop to the shops and buy your batteries rather than ordering them on line.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Inov-8 Thermal Jacket

 Later this year well known shoe maker Inov-8 will be bringing out a thermal jacket for use during and after running, belaying or for the lightweight hiker who wants warmth at the end of the day for little space and weight in the pack.
 My own current insulated jackets of which i have 2 that i use regularly are the North Face Zephyrus and the PHD Minimus. 
The Zephyrus is a great lightweight jacket at 260 grams and goes with me everywhere. The Minimus is more for when the temperatures drop below zero.
The new Inov-8 race elite jacket is similar to the Zephyrus rather than the Minimus but offers a bit more.

The Inov-8 race elite insulated jacket 
 The Elites insulation is PrimaLoft same as the Zephyrus but the outer is Pertex Quantum for optimum wind resistance, it also has a DWR applied for greater water resistance rather than a ripstop nylon on the Zephyrus 
What's neat is that the jacket is reversible and offers two temperature capabilities. It does this by one side being stitched through and the other side being stitchless, increasing wind resistance and increasing thermal values by around 10% when required.
The hem and cuffs are lycra bound and have thumb loops.
The jacket has a deep chest pocket and central zip.
 An increadable 200 grams for the Men's and the Ladies weighs 180 grams. Retail is planned for Autumn 2013. Pity it isn't Spring.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Cheshire day walk from Frodsham

 Today i set off before the sun or the birds were up. My journey started with a 6.10am bus trip to Manchester and then a tram to Timperley to meet up with fellow Blogger Martin and his good lady Sue. From there we headed off to Frodsham and the car park on Simon Lane adjacent to the communications masts.
 This walk was the 2nd of Martin's 4 routes he has put together for the LDWA plodders section whilst Reg, the usual guide, is recuperating.
 This was my first walk in Cheshire as far as i could remember so it was quite a shock when Martin handed me the map and said i could lead.  It turned out that the map was a joke following on from my last post about the age of Martin's maps.
 I'm not saying this map was old but Chester was located and it read Castra Deva.

 It was nice to see a good turnout, 10 in all  plus Maude the staffi. The forecast was for a pleasant day. Some wintery showers possible and a strong cold north wind.
Image courtesy of Postcard from Timperley blog. (Thanks Martin)

 From the car park and crossing Simon Lane we joined the Sandstone Trail. A nice walk in it's own right but today we would join and leave it on a number of occasions. Crossing a busy golf course we were warned by a notice board to be aware of golfers. Well we would wouldn't we, being on a golf course. I suppose it was the golfers balls we had to be aware off but it might not be a politically correct statement to put that,being in Cheshire. 
 The sun was low and extremely bright, it caused me a bit of a problem with photo's. Across the golf course the path followed the escarpment and gave good views across the wide plain, the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal to a Liverpool skyline and Helsby Hill with it's iron age fort. The Welsh hills being clear today.

 After a brief stop to take in the views we carried on past the hill fort at Woodhouse Hill. 
The day was warming up nicely being sheltered from the wind and we made good progress passing a number of splendid rural properties.
 Just before we joined a road, Martin called a halt for Baggin. (Tea break). The weight of carrying all those chocolate brownies must have been weighing him down. These were special brownies with very soft and sticky chocolate we were told. Yummy they were too.

We had a short spell of road walking through the lovely village of Manley where i spotted the very unusual sight of an Egyptian statue. I was expecting a beach but unfortunately that would be 25,000 miles away.

 Passing a couple of "open" tea rooms and not turning in was a bit disappointing as my stomach was starting to rumble. We walked under the railway line and then took a detour down a wrong road and had to do a reverse turn. Fortunately we hadn't gone too far out of our way. It would be another hour to the planned lunch stop.
 It was good to get back on the trail, passing Eddisbury Lodge and heading into Delamere forest. On reaching the visitor centre it was time for lunch. 
I had bought a freshly made sandwich in Manchester and put it straight into my day sack, but when i opened it up it was completely different to what i had asked for. Oh well i was too hungry to care.
 Today i had Ginger and Lemon tea in the flask and this was also a first. I have it at home but i didn't know what it would taste like after a few hours in a flask. Pleased to say it was very nice.
 Lunch over we joined the Baker Way through Delamere, the colours of the dead grass and ferns was stunning in the bright sun.

 The Baker Way is a good wide track and after crossing the railway we had to swiftly get out of the way of a couple of huge cantering horses. The riders shouting that they were going to turn  our way. 
 Unfortunately the path deteriorated to a muddy squelch for a mile or so until we hit the tarmac at Kingswood.

The cloud cover was increasing and the sun behind the clouds looked wonderful with the rays and colours.

 We joined the Delamere Way beyond Birch Hill. On our left passing the high ramparts of a reservoir at Harrol Edge. What feeds the reservoir we wondered as it was the highest point around? A mystery.
  The masts on Beacon hill were getting closer as we crossed back along the golf course.

On the opposite side of the fence lots of "lost" golf balls were to be had for the local kids. 
 With the sun now in a different direction from this morning the view across the Liverpool skyline was much clearer and better for photography.

Just one more minor hill along the road and back to the car.

What a good day, no waterproofs required and the obvious lengthening of the hours of daylight. The new boots are doing well with around 60 miles on them so far.

 Distance 21.2km with 441m ascent. 

A slideshow of the photo’s can be found with a click here

Martin’s post of the walk can be found here

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