Wednesday, July 04, 2007

For a better view - Take a walk up the nearest big hill! (French Alps No.2)

While on holiday near to Briancon in the French Alps I became inspired by the mountain that overlooks the campsite at Les Vigneaux. Montbrison has a collection of sub 3000m peaks that are easily walked in one day. The views over the ski resort of Puy St Vincent, The Onde Valley and the Durance Valley are superb. The might of the southern Ecrins Massif led by Mont Pelvoux, looms like an invading mountainous regiment, almost within reach northeast across the valley.

My late (11am) start did me no favours so I walked quickly along the steep paths through the woods. The steep ascent soon rewarded me with excellent glances through the trees to views up the Onde valley.

I was pleased to find a varied selection of plant life in the woods including Hostas and Orchids.

Once out above the treeline the Alpine meadows are strewn with collages of flowers and grasses patrolled and scrutinized by Buzzards and Alpine Choughs.

As I neared Tete d'Aval,which is the lowest of the peaks at 2698m the prevailing weather to the north began to look a little suspect so I quickly descended back the way I came.....

...but not before taking a couple of photos to the south down the Durance Valley towards L'Argentierre La Besse...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Chough Blog! (French Alps No. 1)

As part of our holiday to the the Ecrins National Park in the french alps, Kirstine and I headed off to have a look at the Glacier Blanc. The Walk from the car park at Pre de Madame Carle to the lower 'Refuge de Glacier Blanc' takes under 2 hours and provides some spectacular views.

When we arrived at the Refuge I discovered the rare and wild 'Alpine Chough'. These birds are members of the corvidae or crow family and a close relative of the Choughs that live around the remote coastal headlands of Wales and the Isle of Man.

I was pleased to find that they don't really seem to as shy as their coastal cousins - especially when there is food to be begged for.

It was a disapointing discovery when they began to form an orderly queue - not so wild afterall.

So I offered to share some of my lunch, "I say Monsieur Chough would you like a peice of my Croissant?"

"Hmmmm..." said Monsieur Chough, with a suspicious turn of his yellow beak, "...was it freshly baked this morning?"
"Of course!" I replied, "Fresh from La Boulangerie d'Ailfroide."

"La Boulangerie d'Ailfroide!" exclaimed Monsieur Chough, "Why didn't you say so, how can I resist. Merci!"