Sunday, 9 July 2017

Some Mountain Railways of the Bernese Oberland

I have just returned from a fortnight in Switzerland, my annual summer holidays. I now find myself faced with a mountain of photos and difficulty in choosing a subject for Five on Friday.

The Jungfraubahn

This is the railway that serves the highest station in Europe. Here one of their new trains sets off from Kleine Scheidegg. It will climb using the cog railway system through a tunnel through the Eiger, the north face of which is pictured behind the train, to a station at Jungfraujoch at 3,454 metres above sea level. In 2015 this fleet of trains took over 1 million of visitors to the station which is at "At The Top of Europe".

The Wengernalpbahn

This is another wholly cog railway which has 2 lines which both run into Kleine Scheidegg to serve the trains taking tourists to the Jungfraubahn. One line runs from Grindlewald. This is photo is taken on the other line at Wengeneralp station. This is on the line from Lauterbrunnen which ascends through Wengen. Here the single tack has a "loop" where the up trains wait for the down trains to pass on a short section of double track. The view from the seats on the open station platform is quite stunning.

The Berner Oberland-Bahn

This is the third of the 3 linked mountain railways. It takes passengers from its lower terminus at Interlaken Ost to the two lower termini of the Wengernalpbahn at Lauterbrunnen and Grindlewald. Here at Zweilutschinen Junction the trains to and from Interlaken are coupled and uncoupled to serve the two valleys of the Lutschinen River. Here the new train (on the right) to Lauterbrunnen has just been separated from the older train running to Grindlewald. It is able to run at a faster speed because it is not entirely cog driven. The train slows noticeably to engage the cog for a few short sections.

The Schynige Platte Bahn

This railway is particularly steep and runs out of Wilderswil (between Interlaken and Zweilutschinen) to Schynige Platte which is 1,967 metres above sea level. Here it serves the famous Alpine Garden and a Mountain Restaurant. The rolling stock is all much older, or has been made to keep the vintage appearance. Like most of these mountain railways it was built solely to serve the tourist market.

Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Murren

This railway is now 125 years old and here a train waits in the goods terminus at Murren to be loaded. The goods capacity is all in the very small truck visible at the back of the train. This is because the line runs to the cable car at Grutschalp about 3 miles away and all the goods have to be transferred into a carrier under the cable car to be transported to Lauterbrunnen. Until a direct cable-way was built into Murren village in the late 1960's this was the only method of transporting goods to the mountain village of Murren. The railway is almost level and has no need of cog drive. The single rail cars shuttle all day long passing each other at the intermediate station of Winteregg.

These railways together with four related cable-ways are owned by a single company which drives much of the economy of the the region. They provide employment for over 500 individuals, they provide most of the transport into the tourist villages of Murren and Wengen (which are not accessible by car) and to Grindlewald (which is also accessible by car). They drive the local skiing economy by operating ski-lifts. They generated some 36 million Swiss Francs of earnings (before interest and tax) for the Swiss economy. Without them this part of Switzerland would be very different today.

My thanks to Tricky and Carly at FAST for hosting Five On Friday.

Hope you having a great weekend.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

A Walk along the Wharfe

Friday turned out to be the best day for me to go walking this week. So I decided to walk along the River Wharfe from Tadcaster to Wetherby. By the paths it was just over 9 miles.

This is the bridge at Tadcaster which collapsed into the river on 28 December 2015 splitting the town in two. You can see the new stonework on the middle two arches. The bridge took 13 months to rebuild reopening in February this year. The bridge was first built around 1700 so was just over 300 years old when it collapsed. In the rebuilding the bridge has been widened by cantilevering the footpath out over the river.

The river meanders through meadows between Tadcaster and Newton Kyme. Here some Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus ) growing in the slow running waters at the river's edge.

Newton Kyme Church stands in a field next door to the Hall. It is only accessible on foot from the field, it must be fairly unpleasant walking through the grass on a wet Sunday. St. Andrew's Church is built in local stone and is believed to date from the 12th Century. Some features are dated to 1220. Sadly the church has been kept locked since the brass eagle lectern and an oak sanctuary chair were stolen some years ago.

The path runs along the riverside in Boston Spa passing the old baths. Here a "No Fishing" sign has been carefully let into the tree trunks. However over the years the wood has grown back over the sign completely obliterating the first 4 letters of BOSTON and the word CLUB.

At Boston Spa my route crossed another bridge back to the North bank of the Wharfe into Thorp Arch, the River being the boundary between the two villages. Thorp Arch Bridge was built in 1770 and replaced a ford. It is narrow and traffic can only pass in single file.

The route ends less pleasantly when it crosses the A1M Motorway on the outskirts of Wetherby and then follows busy streets through the middle of the town to the third bridge over the river, completing my walk for the day.

My thanks to Tricky and Carly at FAST for hosting Five On Friday.

Hope you have a great weekend.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Brown Plaques

Today I was reading Lisa's York Stories Blog -
At the end is a picture of a brown plaque high up on the wall of The Former Poor Clare's Convent in York. This is no more than 2 miles from where I live and I have never noticed it. There is a quotation from Acts 4:12 followed by what appears to be the first eight lines of a hymn starting "O JESUS, Name of beauty" and finally the initials MB.

I have been noticing similar plaques for some time now. On Whitby pier:

Now when I have been looking on the internet for more information about this I found that there were very similar plaques all over the world. An identical plaque has been placed on Beachy Head. There are very similar plaques at Kynsa Heads and Drakensberg in South Africa, Waterfalls in South America and Land's End in New Zealand. Also at South Karori and at Land's End New Zealand similar, but without the MB initials.
I have also found a Psalm 93:4 plaque at Walton on the Naze but this has no additional line.
Then in the Pinewoods at Harrogate rather different, presumably because there is no sea or running water nearby.

Another quotation from Psalms and again the initials MB. I then found an identical plaque attached to a rock at Shipley Glen near Saltaire.

But apart from the English speaking world, I have found similar plaques in Switzerland and Austria. This one is on the Mannlichen above and between Wengen & Grindlewald in Switzerland.

My Swiss or German is sadly non-existent but using a Computer translation I arrive at something like "Green pastures, high tops, snow-covered paths peaks rise to sublime beauty, praise God who's great works can not be “ruhn” by people, to God give praise and awe."

And this one, with a quotation from Psalms was on the Stockhorn Gipfel in Simmental near Berne Switzerland. 

Psalm 111 verse 2 is "The works of the LORD are great, sought out by all them that have pleasure therein."

I have been unable to find who or what organisation is responsible for placing these plaques,but I just keep finding more and more of them on my travels. They are all placed in very scenic places and most of them contain quotations from the Book of Psalms. They are usually relatively small maybe 8 inches by 4 inches (200mm x 100mm). A lot of them have the initials MB and the typography tends to be similar.

Linking with Tricky and Carly at FAST for Five On Friday - thanks for hosting!
Hope you have a great weekend.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Norfolk Coast Path - Day 3 - Burnham Overy Staithe to Hunstanton

The final day, after sorting out the logistics I was in Burnham Overy Staithe ready to set off over the marshes.

The tide was coming in quite quickly it would be high tide in a couple of hours.

Burnham Windmill a landmark by the side of the main A149 in North Norfolk. It has been owned by The National Trust since 1958. In 1978 they wanted to restore it to working condition but could not get planning permission due to the inadequacy of the main road and it not being able to cope with the additional traffic it was feared this would generate. It is now converted to a holiday cottage and can be rented through:

Most of the first section of the day's walk was along the flood bank enclosing Burnham Morton Marsh and this large pool which had a lot of ducks and geese. 

In Brancaster Staithe I passed this ruined looking building where the bricks are rotting away and the brambles and ivy are taking over.

There are a few fishing boats still operating out from the Staithe so there is the usual clutter of fishing gear. There is also a large sailing club here.

The path then continues along Brancaster Marsh Side where, fortunately, there is nearly a mile of boardwalk which means you keep your boots dry

Some kind person had cut off the two pointing arms of this guide post in Brancaster. I wondered if the route had been changed, but no, this where you leave the coast and walk back south into the low hills of the Norfolk Coast. This is big arable farming country and you walk along lanes through huge fields of corn.
After 2½ miles of farm lanes you walk back down into Thornham passing this, probably the least useful finger post on the Path, there was no turn off, you could only go straight on.

In Thornham I stopped on a bench overlooking a rough field to have a coffee and this Muntjac Deer wandered round the field. Quite a few people stopped to look at it and the deer seemed to be unconcerned.

This barn is on the Staithe at Thornham and is the subject of many paintings of the Norfolk Marshes.

I was now moving into sand dunes as I passed through Holme Dunes Nature Reserve. This is where the path begins to turn southwards as the coast turns into the wash at Hunstanton.
 It is a wild and windy place.

I now reached the point at which The Peddars Way Path Leaves the Norfolk Coast Path and heads on down 46 miles across Norfolk on the old road to the Suffolk border

 Fortunately for me I only had the 2½ miles to Hunstanton to finish my walk.

 Hunstanton lighthouse, getting there would be most of the rest of the walk.

Old Hunstanton is popular with kite surfers and even on this workday evening there were a dozen or so out on the sea, as the tide was now quite low they faced a long walk to and from the sea.
I left the beach at Old Hunstanton to walk on the cliff top passing between the 2 lifeboat houses.

Inside one of the houses I was surprised to see a hovercraft. I did not realise that the RNLI used hovercraft. This one is H-003 one of seven on the RNLI fleet, 4 are on station and 3 are held in reserve. The others stations with operating hovercraft are Morecambe, Hoylake and Southend-on-Sea.

 I emerged from bushes to suddenly arrive on the north end of Hunstanton's Cliff Parade by the old coastguard lookout.

Hunstanton was the creation of the local landowner, Hamon Le Strange, and the plaque on this shelter says that he opened these cliffs to the public 1879. Hunstanton is in the midst of a makeover at present and most of these old shelters are getting a significant restoration as are many of the gardens and paths.
 Newly arrived Wheatear in the gardens

Journey's End, the marker post showing 47 miles to walk back to Cromer. So that completed my 15.75 miles for the day, and the whole walk done in 3 days. I'm not sure that I will be rash enough to attempt 47 miles in 3 days again. The wonderful Norfolk Coasthopper bus service made it all possible, providing transport links all the way along the Coast Path from Cromer to Hunstanton.
I was now heading off for a celebratory curry in the bright lights of Hunstanton.

May 2017 - Norfolk Coast Path - Day 2 - Blakeney to Burnham Overy Staithe

Day 2 of the walk and after breakfast I could put my boots on and walk straight out of the cottage and straight back on to the Coast Path.
51, High Street, Blakeney, home for the week.

1¼ miles later and I reach Morston Harbour, the departure point for boat trips to see the Seals on Blakeney Point. The first 5 miles of today's walk runs along the edge of National Trust land with farmland on the left and the salt marshes on the right with only occasional creeks coming close to the path.

 Avocets were plentiful on the creaks and pools along the walk.

 It seemed early to me for Poppies to be in flower.

All along this section of coast there were plentiful webs of the Brown Tail caterpillars each marked with two orange dots. These are one of the hairy caterpillars that are said to cause rashes if handled. They have lived through the winter in their webs and will soon be pupating, the moths will be on the wing in July.

Thrift, one of the plants of the coast, both on cliffs and on the edges of the marshland. I think this has always given me pleasure possibly dating from the old three-penny bits which had a representation of the plant on the tails side.

Six miles into the walk and I arrive at the only town on the walk, Wells-next-the-Sea, Wells is a busy little port and had a lot of visitors. I walked out along the flood embankment nearly a mile long and running dead straight to the north. I stopped for my lunch at the Pinewoods Cafe. Which was bright and welcoming and out of the wind!

Not much trade today for the colourful buckets and spades, but the cafe was doing great business with the dog-walkers.

After walking through Holkham Pines and Dunes it was good to come into Burnham Overy Staithe where I would be catching my bus back to Blakeney (change at Wells). The walk was easier today being only just over 14 milles long and I had found the route easier to navigate.

This new house in Burnham Overy Staithe had a large sundial on the wall dated 2015, it's nice to see that there are some new sundials being created, we rather seem to have stopped placing public time pieces now that most people carry a watch or a phone.