Deans in Austria – Our Summer Holiday

What with saving to try and buy a house for most of our married life so far, holidays have taken a bit of a back seat. We went to Madeira in 2008 for our honeymoon and then to Crete in 2011. I chose both of these places and so when we started to discuss going away this year, Simon felt it was his turn to choose where. After I dismissed such suggestions as Siberia and Norway he settled on Austria. I really wasn’t sure at first as I thought it would be hard to plan, what with it not being your typical tourist destination. I looked online at package deals through Thomson and other providers but they were really expensive. However my online research paid off as I got to see how stunningly beautiful Austria is and absolutely decided it was somewhere we should go.

Fortunately I stumbled upon the Zell am See Kaprun tourist office website. There was so much information about all the local attractions and activities as well as the option to ask for an “offer”. This is where you give them details of the dates you want to travel and they give you a list of all the hotels and B&B’s which are available. All their hotels offer the Summer Card which was what swung it for us. It gets you in to lots of places for free or at discounted rates. We only paid for one activity in the whole week we were there – 8 Euros for mini golf!

Anyway, enough rambling and more pictures.

On our first full day we took the Schmittenhöhe City Xpress cable car up to 1302m and planned to walk up to the summit (2000m) from there. About a 10 min walk from the cable car station where we got off was a very pretty reservoir with stunning views over Lake Zell and the Kitzsetinhorn.

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After spending time admiring the views (and playing with the jet spray) we started our climb to the top. And what a climb it was. We knew it would take around 2 hours and having done lots of longer walks at home we thought it was well within our capability. Within about 5 minuets of setting off we both realised we had massively underestimated just how steep it was. We were on the verge of giving up a couple of times but like the persevering (or silly?) Deans we are, we carried on. Up. Up. Up. And more up. It was pretty relentless but we both decided that in hindsight the views were worth it.

When we got back home to Devon we decided that it was actually pretty flat and swore never to complain about walking up its hills again.


We made it to the summit (above) in 1 hour and 55 mins and were pretty proud of ourselves. There was a cable car down which stopped right outside our B&B. All the cable cars were free with the Summer Card.

It was a warm day and slightly overcast so we were both a bit surprised by how much we had caught the sun. We decided to go to the outdoor lido to cool off before dinner. Simon was much braver than me and actually had a swim in the lake.



That night we found a great restaurant serving very tasty pizzas and were tucked up in bed, absolutely shattered, by 9pm!

The next day was a little bit rainy in the morning and we decided to take things a bit easier after the hard walk the day before. We used our Summer Card to take a free boat trip around the lake.









We spent the rest of the day pottering round the shops and eating more pizza! On that riveting note I’ll end part 1! A snowy peak, a thundering gorge and some stunning mountain reservoirs to follow in part 2.

Deans in Wales – Climbing Cnicht

Back in the middle of May (yes, I’m still behind) we went to see Josh Groban in concert in Cardiff. We decided to take in a couple of mountains whilst we were there. Unfortunately the week before I had a tooth removed and the thing didn’t heal properly. I was in a lot of pain but thanks to some strong painkillers I made it through the concert. Boy, Josh Groban can sing.

The next day we were supposed to be heading to Snowdonia to  do our first mountain, my first mountain ever – Cnicht. I was feeling so poorly with my wretched tooth (or tooth hole ;p)  that we were on the verge of going home. However, I managed to get an appointment at an emergency dentist. He managed to cover the tooth hole to protect it and within a couple of hours the paid had reduced by around 75%! We drove up to Snowdonia and I don’t remember much about it as I slept pretty much all the way. It did me good though as the next day I was refreshed, almost completely out of pain and ready for some walking!

We had stayed at the YHA Pen-y-Pass that night. Having never stayed in a hostel before we were a bit surprised to find ourselves in a tiny room with bunk-beds but it was clean and in a stunning location. Below are a couple of shots in the vicinity of the hostel taken the night we arrived.

Pen y Pass YHA
Looking up at the mighty Snowdon was pretty spectacular. Continue reading

Sourton Tours & The Granite Way

I am a bit behind with our blog posts at the moment. We did this Sourton Tors walk nearly a month ago and have done two Dartmoor walks and a mountain in Wales since! I have a bit of a cold this weekend and so am snuggled in bed writing this whilst Simon cooks tonight’s dinner (step by step instructions on how to make roast potatoes have had to be given).

Anyway, back to what was our longest walk to date – Sourton Tors to Meldon Reservoir and back along the Granite Way.

It was a beautifully sunny afternoon when we did this walk. We parked in the free car park opposite “the most unusual pub in Britain” (the Highway Man).


There is a path that runs down the right hand side of the parish church and on to the moor.


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Belston, Higher Tor and The Nine Maidens

They said it would be hotter than Spain last weekend. At times it was and we certainly tried to make the most of it. Simon’s parents came to stay for the weekend and his dad, being a super keen walker, decided to come with us on our Saturday ramble. As the weather was promising to be bright and clear we decided to do a proper ‘moor’ walk starting from the highest village in Dartmoor – Belston. And yes, this is the walk we originally planned to do on the day that Simon forgot his shoes a couple of weeks ago.

We arrived in Belston at 9am and, as per our instructions, parked in the free car park opposite the Village Hall. We walked by the old stocks and stray dog pound and came out next to the common where several ponies were nibbling the grass.

Belston Stocks

Dartmoor Ponies

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Okehampton – When You Forget Your Shoes

When we visited Lydford Gorge a few weeks ago we picked up a new book of Dartmoor walks in the gift shop. Last Saturday we set out to do a walk on Belston and the high moor but on the way Simon realised he had forgotten his walking shoes. It’s a bit like the time he forgot to put the pasta in a pasta bake but I’ll save that story for another time. Fortunately, on the next page of the book, we found an easy walk around Okehampton that he could do in his normal shoes. We parked just off the main street and proceeded to the start point in Simmons Park.

Simmons Park Okehampton

The park sits alongside the East Okement River and has ornamental gardens, several water fountains and a Swiss style chalet.

Crossing the river on a small footbridge towards the end of the park, we passed a children’s play area and a couple of playing fields before crossing a wooden bridge across an old mill leat. We turned right through the gate on to the Ball Hill path and walked beneath the trees for several minutes.

Ball Hill Okehampton

We emerged at the railway viaduct which crosses the river near the A30, the place where we started our very first Devon walk after we moved in the winter.

We decided to carry on and see what difference the spring was making to the area since the last time we visited. The leaves were definitely greener and the stepping stones by the side of the river were much drier.

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We doubled back on ourselves and picked up the walk route again at the viaduct. It led through a lovely open meadow and into Tramline Woods. The path then follows a set of steep steps up to Okehampton Station which has a tea room and a museum. Heading right out of the station car park, we picked up the granite way for a hundred metres or so before crossing a road and descending into a woody valley down towards Okehampton Castle. The Granite Way runs right down to the Meldon viaduct and then on to Lydford and we intend to walk it at some point.

We caught glimpses of the castle through the trees but were disappointed that there were no bluebells in the wood as the book said there would be in the spring. Perhaps it is still a bit too early.

Okehampton Castle

At the end of the wood we crossed the bridge at Lovers Meet to take a closer look at the castle which is looked after by English Heritage.

Okehampton Castle

The walk then runs from Lovers Meet along the bank of the river, passed the old work house site and back into the centre of Okehampton. There is an ornamental water pump and a ‘cell door’ from the old workhouse displayed along the way.

Overall this was a very easy walk but still very pretty pleasant none the less. In total it took us about 2 hours at a fairly slow pace.

Lydford Gorge – A Little Weekend Adventure

Last Saturday we went to Lydford Gorge just outside of Okehampton. I had wanted to go there for a while but decided to wait until the spring when all the footpaths are fully open. Saying that, when we arrived we were advised that part of one path (under the road bridge after the Devil’s Cauldron) was closed due to a tree fall.

I’m not sure what we thought we would see, we knew there was a waterfall and a few steep climbs, but it far surpassed our expectations.

The route around the gorge is one way for safety reasons but more on that later. We started on the upper path with views through the trees down to the river below.

There were a lot of steps here and we found parts of the ground underfoot quite slippery. As with many places on Dartmoor, water seemed to seep from every crevice and many trees were green and moss covered.

There were several steams which crossed the path and lots of evidence of fallen trees – the aftermath of a very stormy winter.

We eventually reached the half-way point and began to hear the roar of the White Lady waterfall.

After crossing a wooden bridge we had two route options to choose from to get down the gorge; long & easy or short & steep. Obviously we went for short & steep! This turned out to be a zigzag path that resembled a queuing rail at a theme park. We caught little glimpses of the waterfall on the way down but it only came into full view when we emerged out of the trees at the bottom.

The path underfoot became extremely interesting from here on in! The bank was mostly rock, which rose and fell as it followed the contours of the river. At times there were steps with iron hand rails on one side and a drop to the water below on the other! The narrow path on this section would make passing people coming in the other direction quite dangerous and we really began to understand why it was one way.

We then reached the Tunnel Falls – a series of large potholes caused by erosion. The path here became a wooden walkway.

After more scrambling, through a tunnel and up and down more hair-raising steps you emerge in a lovely flat ‘rest area’.

The water here is calm and the path is flat and easy. We soon realised that we didn’t have much time for a rest though. Immediately up ahead was the Devil’s Cauldron. The gorge narrows and the walls run wild with green moss.

The first part of the path to the Cauldron is metal and fenced in on the gorge side but after passing through a tiny gate you are on your own! The steps down are under a jutting out rock which has a handrail on one side and nothing but fresh air on the other. The noise is much more intense here and the air becomes wet and misty. The Devil’s Cauldron itself is a very large pool into which the river forcefully flows. The water here has the appearance of boiling which is probably what inspired the name!

We carefully climbed back up and came out near the high road bridge.

Due to the closure of this section we made our way back to the car park, stopping at the visitor centre to buy another book of local walks on the way.

We both really enjoyed this varied and interesting walk and will no doubt be spending much time here in the future.


A Day Trip to North Devon

After what felt like months of incessant rain, the weather last weekend was glorious and so we decided to make the most of it by taking a trip to North Devon. We headed up the A377 to Barnstaple and then took the A361 north over to our first stop: Woolacombe. You gain a lot of height on the road to Woolacombe from Barnstaple and it was very exciting when we turned a corner and the sea suddenly came into view. We parked in the main car-park on the beach front and paid £2 for a couple of hours.

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