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La Plagne (again)


Picture the scene - you're at Birmingham airport at a relatively sensible time in the morning, standing in a queue for 75 minutes for bag drop, because a certain airline who we will call SneezyWet have only got 2 check-in desks open, and one of those people keeps wandering off.
End result: despite arriving at the airport in plenty of time, there's barely time to grab a sandwich, let a lone have a pre-flight beer, before it's time to board. Oh, and then the plane gets delayed for an hour while you're sat on it, leaving you dangerously close to missing the transfer at the other end.  Grr.

A week later, you're in a Geneva airport, having arrived massively early because that's how the transfer has worked out. You watch birds flying around indoors while drinking an expensive cup of tea waiting for bag drop to open. There are about a million desks open, so the wait is only ten minutes, leaving you with plenty of time for (expensive) sandwiches and drinks after breezing though security. Oh, and then the flight is delayed, but at least you're still in the terminal at this point...

What's far more exciting, of course, is the holiday in between - my fifth week of skiing! I'm going to give up saying things like "I want to go somewhere other than France" because we ended up going to La Plagne again.

We stayed with Alpoholics in La Plagne 1800 - just up the road from the chalet we stayed in last year.  The chalet was well kitted out - sauna, hot tub, cinema room - and a professional chef to provide us with really good food.

The week started with two days of heavy snow, then two days of light snow, and two days of sunshine.  Lots of lovely powder.  I had a private lesson near the start of the week which massively helped with finally getting rid of the large hint of snowplough from my turns.  Yay, progress!  That said, I really didn't like it when I (deliberately) ended up in some off piste powder.  More learning required.

Compare these two images taken waiting for the Vanoise Express over to Les Arcs - the first from the Monday, the second from the Thursday.

different weather conditions at the Vanoise Express
Sunshine makes such a difference

Our two trips over to Les Arcs means I covered more pistes there this time than in my whole week of learning to ski there.

I think my favourite runs were probably on the Champagny side of La Plagne, and also the two red runs under the La Roche lift.  It helps that the latter were really quiet the first time we did them (at about lunchtime)

snowy alps

As many resorts do now, Paradiski has a smartphone app - called Yuge - which gives you real time info on lifts, pistes, and queues and lets you track your skiing (including tracking lifts... continue reading »

a walk around Buttermere


Cumbria is a long way to go for a weekend, especially when you get stuck in traffic jams and roadworks and general Friday evening M6 fun.

We were relatively short on time, and the weather was doing its usual thing for January/the Lakes (ie rain), so took the dog for a walk all the way around Buttermere.

It would have been nice to get up a bit higher, but it would have been rubbish with the cloud and wind.  Anyway, the scenery at lake level isn't bad:


Starting at the National Trust car park, our walk was just under 8km, and took less than two hours - leaving plenty of time (and daylight) for family stuff and a BBQ.

Haldon Forest mountain biking, and a walk on Dartmoor


It's January, so I've been for the traditional weekend of kayaking on Dartmoor.  But with one slight difference - I took my mountain bike instead of a boat.

"But you love paddling the Dart!".  Yes, I really do.  But river levels were looking like being ridiculously low, and I decided I'd get more enjoyment out of doing something else than scraping down an empty river.  Besides, I've done the Dart low plenty of times before.

Four of us took bikes, and we decided to go to Haldon Forest trail centre.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get too - just off the A38 by Exeter.

There's a green trail, two blues, and a red with small black add-on. We started with the Kiddens trail - the longer of the blues.  After that warm up and a few minutes riding around the skills area, we rode the red Ridge Ride trail.

mountain bike trail at Haldon forest
Near the end of the Ridge Ride trail

I wasn't too keen on the first section, which had quite a steep slope on one side of the narrow singletrack, but none of us fell down the hill so that was a success (did I nearly fall off at one point?  No witnesses, no proof...). We got chatting to some locals at one point, who warned me that the next section was the 'proper downhill' and to look out for a few things. It was a lovely flowy section, but not really that steep.  Perhaps I have been spoiled by riding in the Forest of Dean, which certainly has a lot more ups and downs :)

After a quick lunch stop, plus hand-warming cup of tea and a large slab of flapjack from the on site café, we went for a second lap of the blue.  I was much quicker the second time round - mostly because I now knew what to expect, I think.

Saturday evening involved the usual food, drink and silly games in the pub, though I think everyone was in bed before midnight (probably because we started at about 5pm)

It rained overnight and continued on Sunday morning, which killed off our idea of riding the bikes on actual Dartmoor.  I certainly didn't fancy dragging my bike through bogs with unsuitable clothing on (and I wasn't the one who only had shorts!)

So, walking.  We all definitely had enough waterproofs for that!  I walked on the Sunday last year, and this year's route was quite similar.

We started at Dartmeet, and headed up the East Dart to Laugher Hole.  We approached Bellever Tor from the South, where things were getting quite muddy.  It was also cold and windy and wet and generally a bit grim.  At some point I ended up knee deep in a bog, which was nice.

mud on Bellever Tor
proper Dartmoor mud

Last year's version of the walk featured one set of stepping stones, on the East Dart.  This time... continue reading »