Summer travels part 3

On Thursday morning we started our long journey from Oslo over to Stavanger. It is somewhat 485km, so we better start driving. We got off to a good start with nice motorways and fine roads. I was the designated driver for the day, so that himself could relax and have a look around at the landscape and other things that we were driving by. One thing that we noticed is, that there is a lot of tunnels in Norway. Why you may wonder, and the reason is that there are quite a lot of hills and rocky mountains. And rather than driving up and down these hills/mountains, they have built tunnels that goes through instead. The first 250 km or so went smooth, but then when we were getting closer to Kristiansand, there were roadworks (of course), and the traffic slowed down to 50-60 km/h. So, that made our travel time a little bit longer, that Google maps hadn’t taking in to consideration giving the total travel time LOL!

We were driving quite a long time before we came onto better roads again. But, the speed limit was pendling between 50 to 80 km/h due to very bendy roads and at some places narrow. And the tunnels!!! Gosh, I completely lost counting of them all. Beside me himself were doing a lot of oh’s and ah’s and snapping like mad with his camera. The truth is that driving through Norway has that effect on you. Because no matter where you go, there’s always something spectacular showing up. You can drive through a tunnel, and when you come out on the other side you are greeted by a view that simply take your breath away. I have said it many times, and will say it again – Norway is one of my favourite countries, the landscape is fabulous! With all the hills, mountains and the fjords!! Absolutely AWESOME!

Anyway, when we had been driving for a good while and still had some two hours left til our destination Stavanger. This view came into play, we simply had to stop to take some snap, I did not care about the driving time. At this stage we had been on the roads for some 7 hours. But close to 9PM we finally arrived to our destination and the hotel we would be staying at for some nights.

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Stavanger is the capital of oil and is located on the south west coast of Norway. It is a typical harbour town, with beautiful buildings as you see in this photo. And, most of the houses were made in wood and the design was very interesting. I can say that I fell in love with this town, and it is here all the seriously gorgeous fjords starts. On our second day we went out on a boat trip up to Lysefjorden which was an hour away by boat. Lysefjorden is 42 km long but we would only travel 15 km in.

Norway is a big Viking country, many viking kings were from here and lived here. And you can get the idea when looking at the pictures above, there is a lot of water and those high cliffs are just amazing. All along the fjord the cliff raised some 1000m, it was absolutely fantastic. The landscape is very dramatic, and if you look into the horizon, there are layers upon layers of mountains, and they sort of differ in colour. From being darker in the foreground, and becoming more shady/smokey as further you see. The boat took us all into the cliff walls, and they played (at a few places) beautiful music by Edvard Grieg, he has written some beautiful classical music. And the music made the places even more dramatic, and there was an echo going around the high walls.

We made an interesting visit to some friends that were standing at the shore waiting for us, there were a few goats being at the green hills that were close to the water. We drove all the way in to say hello, and the crew threw some carrots to them which they happily accepted. The boat took us some 15 km in the fjord itself until we reached a waterfall that were cascading water out from the cliffs and the sound was defening but so beautiful. The boat drove us all the way into it, and it was just aaaaaa….so beautiful! We eventually arrived back into the harbour again to continue our sightseeing through the town.

One thing though, in Norway everything is ferosiously expensive, but it was worth it.  In my next post I will write about our journey back to the east coast again, it was the journey of our lives, so stay tuned…!

~A happy traveller~

 

Summer travels part II

So…we have arrived in Fredrikstad and this is a town where neither himself or I have been before. It’s a nice town by the sea, we have sort of based this trip on sea cities/towns. That is the whole idea with this journey. And to get the most out of these places July is really the best time to go. Everything will be open and the quays and streets will be buzzing of life. 


We were so lucky with the weather too, we only had one day that was a bit cloudy but the rest has been sunny and hot. Yes we do get hot summers in Scandinavia, well for us 20-25C is quite hot. But it is really a good place to be when the weather is good in the summer, to sit outside a restaurant and just watch the life go by, having a nice meal or just some cool drinks. 


On Wednesday morning we went for a walk along the quay and ended up at an older part of the town called Gamlebyen, it has old wooden buildings and houses, cobble stones on the streets, interesting restaurants and beer gardens. And the sun was beaming with its heat, but it was so nice just walking around here. 


The Norwegians are very nice and laid back people. In this town they had ferries taking you around the area and you could just hop on and off where you needed to go, and the service is free. Now that is great. 


It was like a bus but on the water. We used these several times during our two days in this town. 


On our last day visiting we came across a museum with model trains where they had built up huge villages and trains and buses where driving around, everything was controlled by a computer program, it was really cool. 

But every good thing has its end, it was time to drive north up to the capital of Norway, Oslo. I have visited this city before so here I knew my way around the streets. We had a little longer stay here to enjoy the city and have a good look at it. 


We arrived to a tremendous heat, the city was litterly boiling, but we got to a restaurant off Karl Johan’s Gate (the famous pedestrian street) to have a bite to eat and chill. Norway is a very expensive country, my goodness, but still love every time I visit. 


On Friday we visited the old fort in the middle of the city centre. We had a little wander around here to bask in some of its history, before we headed down to Akers Brygge that is located just beside the fort. 


When you travel to places you tend to find restaurants that you just like, and go back to several times. On Karl Johan’s Gate there is a cafe called Café Cathedral, and really enjoyed it there. Good food and staff. 


At our last day we went on a guided cruise along the Oslo fjord to take a good look at Oslo from the sea side and the surrounding islands and coast. 


During this cruise we saw some really nice things and areas. There was one light house that looks like a church, but it is actually a light house and it is still in operation. And also some small huts by the sea front and got to know that these are actually bath houses that belongs to the surrounding summer houses. Each owner has their own bath hut. It’s really cool. 

In the morning we will make a longer journey over to Stavanger which is more on the south west coast of Norway. 

Summer travels part I

Himself and I decided to make a little bit different journey for our holiday this year, instead of going to Greece as we usually do, we decided to go to Sweden and from there rent a car and drive up along the west coast in to Norway. 


On Friday 14th of July we drove to our first destination Alingsås where my son and his family lives. It was so nice to see them again and to see Jack and Stella (the two grandchildren). They are now 3 and 11 months. 

On Saturday we went to a park where they also have a pet farm. The kids loved it and it was nice to spend some quality time with them. 


We had a lovely day there and in the evening himself and I took the train in to Gothenburg city to walk around a little. Gothenburg is a beautiful city at the west coast. 

On Sunday it was time to leave and start our journey up further north along the coast. And we drove by the island where I grew up to stop by my dads grave. It felt good. 


We arrived at our destination in Lysekil in the afternoon where we would stay for a couple nights before heading up to Norway. It is not really a long drive going up to Oslo from there but we will break up our journey in several bits, to make the most of it. 


Lysekil is a nice town by the sea, it was very windy during our stay, but the sun was shining so it wasn’t too bad. I have spent lots of time here previously so knew a lot of places here. But on Tuesday morning we headed north to the Norwegian town Fredrikstad…and will tell you more about that in my next post so stay tuned. 

Lugnaquilla part 3

This day it was a sunny and very hot day, and to trek up Lugnaquilla was on my agenda for this day. And how do you prepare yourself for a day on the hills, and a very hot day? 

You have to think it through carefully, what to pack in your backpack, in terms of gear, food etc. The hills can be super enjoyable, but if you’re not prepared it can turn out to be a nightmare. 


We were going to climb up from the south side starting at Fenton’s pub in Seskin. And to take this route it is gradually getting steeper, once getting over Camara Hill, then the real climb starts. On this day we took frequent breaks and water/nibble breaks. We were quite a large group and people with various hiking experiences and we had to keep the speed at a moderate pace. 


When we finally reached the summit of 925 m we were not alone on a day like this. The sheep were calmly eating away at the side of our path and did not give us much attention. I think they are quite use to mad hikers climbing up and down these hills. 

It is always a good feeling arriving at the summit and Lugnaquilla ain’t no different. As it is located at the south part of the Wicklow mountains and standing at the top and looking around, you see all the other peaks and hills all around. It is a gorgeous view. 


This day we were doin the ‘horse shoe loop’ from the summit of Lug we continued our path towards Cannow, then across towards Table Mountain, where we turned left down to the forest track which would take us back down to the Fenton’s Pub where our cars were parked. 


Every we’re in good spirits, a bit tired but the mission was accomplished. We saw a few deers on our walk down the hills. That is always a fantastic sight. 

I enjoy taking people around on the hills, as a guide you need to be observant of the participants so that they are doing ok. At this walk there were three walkers that decided to turn around at the beginning of our walk, where I had to advice them not to take on this walk as it is a tough one and it was really hot. 

The distance ended up at 20,5 km and it took us about seven hours in total including frequent stops. But this is what I do and on the hills is where I spend most of my free time these days. 

And my advice before you head out for a day on the hills, be prepared, check the weather forecast before hand, inform people around you where you’re going and when you’ll be expected back, bring enough energy producing food, water, and extra food/snacks in case you’d be delayed.  Map & compass, fully charged phone. Wear a good pair of boots that are sturdy enough and comfortable, extra warm clothes (be aware that he temperature drops 1 degree for every 100m your ascending up the mountains) the weather can change very quickly. Waterproof jacket and over trousers should be one of you essential things to pack. 

The hills should be enjoyable, but heading out not being prepared can cause unnecessary problems. If you do find yourself in trouble don’t hesitate to call 999/112 and request Mountain Rescue. 

Enjoy the hills! 

Lugnaquilla walks

Since my last posts I have been walking up to the summit of Lugnaquilla twice, entering from two different directions. It’s a very interesting mountain to get up to, and sometimes it can be a hit and miss in regards to the weather, but that’s just how it is here in IRELAND. Lugnaquilla is 931 m and the climb up is a lung buster, like today we took a route starting from Baravore in Glenmalure valley, which is a tough climb uphill. The forecast was not too bad and we were prepared for quick changes in the weather. The forecast showed a mix basket really. 

When we were almost half way up the first climb it got all boggy and rough terrain emerged, and of course the rain came over us so had to graciously jump into our over trousers and jackets, to cover up from the rain and very strong winds. It was really cold too, really rough. 

But it’s worth all the efforts seeing these views. 


Once we arrived at the summit we searched for a sheltered place to have our lunch. The wind was roaring up there, coming from SW. I can tell you that coffee tasted so good and enjoyed my lunch big time. We sat there admiring the view and discussed what route to take going back down. 


We decided to walk back down at the same side as we came up, but chose a slightly different path. Walking along a steep ridge, the path was a bit wet in places so we had to be careful. You don’t really want to have a fall here at this place.  


And walking that steep track down brought us down to arts lough, a little lake situated at the bottom. But our journey was far from over, beyond this lake we had another steep path to venture at, it was so steep that the best way was to zig zag your way down. In doing that is less hard on your knees. And also using the waking sticks helps tremendously. 


We walked in total 15 km and took it slow, 5,5 hours. We started out at nine in the morning. 


These are pictures from my first visit to this summit. This was a few months ago and the weather was much cooler, and it was very foggy while climbing up on the SW side. But once at the summit after having walked a short while, the clouds lifted, and showed us the most magnificent views over the Wicklow mountains. This walk ended up being much longer but it was too dangerous to go back from where we came due to the strong winds and fog on that side. We had a few not so experienced walkers with us so had to choose a safe alternative to get back down to Glenmalure. 

Lugnaquilla has become one of my favourite high spots in Wicklow. I never get tired of the surrounding views, the feeling of total freedom comes over me while I’m out there exploring those places. 

Once you have the suitable gear before heading out, and to be prepared for rapid weather changes and wind chill. Good water proof and insulating clothes, hat and gloves, good pair of hiking boots, compass and map, a storm shelter should you need to take shelter, survival bag, change of warm clothes, water and hot drinks, food and snacks to sustain you during your walk. 

These are things you should always consider bringing in your hill kit. Them you can add other things you consider be needing, first aid kit, whistle and a fully charged phone. At times the connection on the hills are poor, so we cannot rely on it to a 100% for navigation, the best is to use your map and compass and knowing how to read/use them. 

  • I have done some other interesting walks and will post about them at a later stage. 

Saturday hill walk, Maulin Co. Wicklow

Saturday’s has become my “hill walking” day and after a week in the office, it feels really good getting out and about on the hills. It is a great catalyst to get out in nature, and take in all the beauty that is out there. We are approaching a very nice time of the year, Spring is lurking out there, but at the moment the “bad” and cold weather we’ve had have sort of kept spring from arriving properly. But, I’d say in a couple of weeks the weather will be much warmer and we will be able to enjoy sitting out in the sun again.

Me myself, am a sun lover and my best moment is an early morning, bringing my newly brewed strong coffee out in our garden and just sit out there taking in the scent of everything, listening to the birds chirping away in the trees and bushes, hearing the traffic humming in the distance. I love getting out early before life around us gets busy, before the neighbours wake up and starting their day. There is also a different scent outdoors at this time of year, not sure about you, but I certainly smell it.

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Last Saturday started out pretty good, with some sunny spells and patches of blue skies as you can see in the above photo. Moments like these are rare here in Ireland, but they do exist and when this happens you simply catch the moment and just enjoy it. I certainly do and that’s where my hill walks comes in handy. It does not matter if it is a sunny, rainy or extremely windy day, I still love it and see the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Anyway we started our walk by meeting at the Crone Forest car park and from here we will have a zig-saggy track, and for the fun of it we are throwing in a few lung busters as well. This time we have a few relatively new hill walkers with us, quite a large group actually, the more the merrier. I started out my hill walking here in Ireland with http://mikeshikes.ie and now I am helping out at the walks guiding and keeping the group together etc. I have always been an outdoorsy person and it comes easy to me.

Here we are starting to get up on the heights a little bit, climbing up towards the summit. And as you can see the clouds are closing up on us, and the mist were coming in behind us. It’s funny though, every time I have been up this summit [Maulin] it has always been misty, and poor visibility of the surrounding area. This summit is not so bad because there are paths to follow, a bit rocky but it’s fairly easy to find your way down on the other side. We did not stay too long up there because it was very windy and cold up there, and once we got down a bit it got warmer and less windy. We had the wind in our backs. But I quite enjoy this route.

This coming Saturday I am heading out on another adventure, longer walks and also a night walk so that should be interesting and fun. but I will write about it in another post.

Wishing all a great weekend and be safe out there!

Snowy on Fananieran ridge

Today it was time for our usual hillwalk and we were going to get up towards Fananieran ridge and then continue onto Croaghainmoira down in Southern Wicklow beside the Glenmalure valley which is one of the longest glaciated valleys in Wicklow. But as it turned out we were facing some slight problems that made us change our initial plans a little bit. 


It does not seem to be a problem here, right? But, the forecast were showing snow for today, and mainly on higher grounds. So before we stared out on our trek we decided to start our ascend at the south eastern side of Fananieran, and climb up to the “call” where we then could start our walk along the ridge, heading up towards the highest point. 


It does not look to be a steep climb, but for some it was. I stayed in the back being a backsweeper looking after the slower walkers in our group. Guiding people can occasionally prove to be a challenge, and today I had to keep a close eye one one of the walkers that was struggling a little and was staying close by. 


Once we reached the call an started our climb up towards the summit, the wind was roaring behind us. Luckily we had the wind in our backs and also the snow. I can tell you that walking in snow/blizzard is not very pleasant, the flurries feels like needles when hey hit your face. 

Therefore wearing the proper gear/clothing is essential. I had my full winter gear in today, because when I left my house I was thinking that’s the only thing that will work today. 


Was feeling a little like an Eskimo in this gear, but was warm and snug and the wind, snow and cold temps did not bother me that much. And I might be crazy but I love this, there is nothing that beat getting out in the mountains to connect with the wild nature. 


Once we reached the summit we decided to take a different route back down instead of continuing up towards the second summit that we had planned to reach. But sometimes you have to make a decision out of safety of the group you’re responsible for. And there’s no point putting yourself and the group in danger if you don’t have to. We will make a new try again when the weather has calmed down. 


And we made it safely back down to Glenmalure lodge which was our starting point. Another good day done, now on to the next, but first a week filled with training awaits. 

Updates to follow. Have a good week! 

Mountaineering is fun

January has been very mixed here in Ireland, weather wise, we have had everything from frost and cold days, to strong winds, rain and milder weather. And some conditions makes it a bit rougher being up in the mountains. But, if you are well prepared before heading you, you should be fairly safe. It can be mild and warm at the lower grounds, but once you get up higher, the temperature drops and sometimes depending on the heights you’re at, you’ll notice a big difference. The temperature drops 1 degree per/100 m you are ascending.

So if you for example are going to challenge walking up to the summit of Lugnaquilla, Wicklow which is 925 m. The temperature on lower grounds are lets say +9 degrees C then the temperature at the summit of Lugnaquilla would be zero degrees, and add the wind chill on top of that. It can be really nasty up there if you’re not prepared wearing the proper clothing and having the proper gear with you.

During the past three weeks of January I have had a fairly busy schedule being out in the mountains, where two of the weekends I were undergoing training in Mountain Skills. http://www.mountainskills.ie/

If you are getting out on a hill walk in the mountains, it is essential to know how to use your compass and map, those are on of the most important skills you will need, to be safe if you get caught in bad weather or fog/mist. The visibility can be as little as 20 m and in those conditions you really need to trust your compass and stick to your bearing. This is important! During these courses this was practiced in day light as well as during night time. We were lucky to have good visibility during both weekends, but things looks very different when you’re out there when it is dark. But knowing and trusting your navigation skills will keep you safe out there, and to be careful is essential. And of course wearing the right clothing and equipment, I cannot stress this well enough!

I never get tired of being out in the mountains, and I guess when you have found your passion for it, that is the way it is! That’s why I chose to join the mountain rescue team to do what I love and at the same time something meaningful as helping others in need out there. It’s a win-win situation in my opinion.

What draws me to the mountains? Well, since I grew up on the countryside of Sweden, I have always loved being out in the nature. There is nothing like getting out walking in the forest, on the hills or just being outdoors, it always gives me a sense of freedom while I am out there and it keeps me sane, sort of. Having an office job as I do, being outdoors takes the edge of the stressful tasks I undergo on a daily basis at work. So yet again it’s a win-win situation. And not only that, being out in the nature is very therapeutic, whether you’re out riding, hill walking, running, cycling or simply just being. Nature will often have a calming effect on most of us. And to be out hill walking, you come across easy forest tracks, paths, rougher grounds, man made tracks and that makes it exiting in itself, because the terrain are changing depending on where you are.  Walking up a hill, it may feel tough, but the reward is the view you’re getting once you are up there. Take a look at the pictures i have posted above. They may not look like much, as they are very dull and showing gray and misty weather, but to me that is absolutely gorgeous. No matter the weather the mountains are fantastic!

This weekend there is resting on the agenda since I have a slight cold, and it is a good opportunity to let the body rest after all the physical hard work during the past weeks. I’ll be back at it soon enough since we have more training lined up. But so far so good and am grateful that I have the healthy and physique, so will keep at it as long as it allows me to.

February is knocking at the door, and a new month with new adventures.

A Wednesday trek ascending Maulin..

On January 4th I was out on the first hill walk in 2017, and the task was to trek from Crone forest ascending Maulin (Co. Wicklow) linking up with Wicklow way on the way back to the Crone Forest car park. http://mikeshikes.ie/

The weather looked very promising in the morning, with blue skies, a little breeze and comfortable temperatures. But as an experienced hill walker I know it would be slightly colder and breezier once getting up a bit on the hills. So, this time I layered up so that I would be nice and snug no matter weather we’d face up there.

In the pictures above we are still climbing uphill from our starting point at the Crone forest car park. There are a few lung busters on the way, but we took it nice and easy. And, as you can see it started to be quite misty once we reached the higher grounds, and the wind was picking up too. If you look closely at the first picture you will see a raven soaring in the winds, I like their characteristic sound.

While we were trekking up along the ridge as you can see on the first larger picture above, it was extremely windy, coming from West. And you could feel the chill in them, so had to wrap up and pull up the hood while walking there. And once we started to walk around the bend, heading further up hill up onto the summit the ground was a bit rough with rocks and chisel. We had to be careful and see where you put your feet, you can easily twist an ankle if you’re not paying attention to the ground. I am using trekking poles when walking on rougher ground, it helps keep the stability and you can at the same time sort of “feel” your way through the grounds. Trekking poles are also good to use when walking down hills to ease the pressure for your knees.

The descent from Maulin was not so bad, and went fairly fast, we had the wind in our backs. And once down we linked up with Wicklow way.  If you want to read more about the Wicklow way you can press the link above. The Wicklow way is a 127 km long trail, which you can take in sections. Some do the whole stretch and camp out. When we are out walking we often link onto it one way or another.

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This is the Wicklow way trail we were following.

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Beautiful view and the gorse is a lovely contrast to the dull environment. It was very misty unfortunately, but this happens ever so often here in Ireland, especially if you’re heading for the hills. Some days you can be lucky to have beautiful views, and other times it is like pea soup, you see absolutely nada.

But we had a great time and was even passed by a few mountain bikers on the way down. This was a fairly short walk (8km) but was enjoyable. Afterwards we met for a coffee down at Poppies in Enniskerry village which was our initial meeting point.

This coming weekend I have a Mountain Skill course so it will be all about navigation with map and compass. Looking forward to that very much.