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Christmas in the Three Valleys

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I am really not a christmas person. Partly due to the whole atheism thing, but mostly because there's too much hype and expectation and it stresses me out. Bah humbug etc. This time, I avoided it all completely by spending the week playing in the snow in Courchevel.

xmas day ski slopes

(Though actually I think that photo was taken somewhere in between VT and Meribel)

The Three Valleys is big - the biggest linked ski resort in the world, with around 600km of piste. That's a lot, and far too much for me to cover in six days.  We got area passes but mostly stayed in the Courchevel valley - went all the way to Val Thorens on one day, and to Meribel on two other days.  My favourite area for skiing was above Courchevel 1650 - some really lovely and relatively quiet red runs.  I also liked the tree lined runs down to La Tania.

The lifts are very sensibly laid out, but I can't say the same for piste signposts! I quite like having signposts/piste name signs at junctions, not slightly afterwards when you've already had to make a decision.

sculptures
animal sculptures at the top of the Biollay lift

We had plenty of fresh snow during the week, which was lovely if rather cold and cloudy. However they seem to like piste bashing everything to within an inch of its life - very hard (and fast) pistes, even the day after snow.

Courchevel 1850 - the 'main' bit - is also rather posh and expensive - designer shops (with bouncers) next to the lifts, and ski instructors sponsored by luxury yacht insurance companies.  Definitely somewhere to check prices before ordering a beer! (€12 for half a litre? no thank you)

snowy chairlift

We stayed at Chalet Barragiste in Courchevel 1550, which was a fantastic location - you could ski down to the lifts, and ski back at the end of the day as long as you didn't mind going along the luge track!  The hot tub was also very good, with views of the mountain and of people crashing their sledges.

Glevum Way, part 3

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On a rather windy afternoon (thanks to storm Brian), we finished walking the Glevum Way.

We picked up where we left it last time, with familiar paths around the golf course then across fields to the A38.  From here on the route was mostly new to me.  More fields with really easy to follow paths took us to Sandhurst, then we walked along the road for about 1km to the river.

Glevum way, through fields

The riverside path was... interesting.  Narrow, a bit overgrown, and tucked away between garden fences and the water. Oh, and a stile with the word 'DEATH' spray painted onto it. There was also far too much rubbish strewn all over the place, which only got worse as we got closer to the city.

dumped trolley and rubbish
it was jokingly suggested that this could be 'art'. No. it's rubbish dumped by idiots :(

The other thing we noticed as we approached 'civilisation' was a gradual increase in traffic noise, and the soothing sound of sirens.  Ahh...

After popping out at what google maps labels the 'Westgate leisure area', it was a little wiggle of bridges to cross the Severn, walk along the other bank, and cross back at the lock.  I'm not actually sure exactly where in the docks the official start/end point of the route is, but we decided that Tank would do and celebrated with burgers and beer :)

We walked 12km in 2.5hr, with almost no need to stop and check the map. The signposts and stickers on this section were actually pretty good, apart from at Westgate where they seemed to vanish.

The Glevum Way is certainly a varied route - very urban, but also lots of countryside.  I've really enjoyed walking a lap of Gloucester.

Hole in the Wall

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One of the many lovely things about having dogs is having a good excuse to go for nice walks with other dog-owning friends.  It had been a while since we walked with Abi, so we put a date in the diary and then spent far too long trying to decide where to go.

We eventually decided on this route, at Hole in the Wall.  Unfortunately Jon was suffering from man flu, so I left him at home with Bonnie and just took Tilly. There's nowhere to park in the village (hamlet? handful of houses?) itself, but there is a layby just up the road marked as parking on OS maps.

Speaking of OS maps, this is the first time I properly used the android app (though I did of course have a paper map in my bag).  It felt very lazy to plot the route in, then just hit a button and have my phone tell me if we were going off track.  I'm sure that's cheating somehow?

wibbly lines
so many lines

One important thing that the route description hadn't mentioned is how many stiles there were.  I lost count. Some had gaps big enough for the dogs to squeeze through, but most were not dog friendly.  Tilly doesn't mind being scooped up and carried over things, but Cai was a lot less keen!  He'd just sit down and look at Abi as if to say "oh not again, can't you just leave me be?!".

dogs
Give us your lunch please!

Another thing this walk had lots of was pheasants. At one point Tilly vanished into a wooded area and tried to flush a load out, and she ended up back on the lead a few more times later on because they were distracting her too much.  Her recall and prey drive are a lot better than Bonnie's, but she still can't be completely trusted...