Coire Odhar & Rannoch Moor

This video and words will seem familiar for a great deal of you: It’s shite being Scottish!

Coire Odhar, the highest railway station in the UK, a station situated near Loch Ossian and Loch Treig, surrounded by the loneliness. Far from human settlements and services, only brings at his visitors a restaurant and the remotest youth hostel.

Although the role character of this post is Rannoch Moor. I think the word that best fits itself is bleakness despite not being the most isolated valley of the world. It may be its apparently lack of life: there aren’t dense woodlands nor settlements nor roads, and the brown of its brushwoods is at least disturbing.

In my Scottish adventure last autumn I wasn’t able to visit Rannoch Moor and now I feel anger. In the next chance I must take a walk trough it. I admit that I feel an extremely attraction with these kind of landscapes and I don’t know why. Daily I’ m more confident that I must have to born above the Arctic Circle.

To conclude, a short but excellent video that shows the solitude of the Moor. Enjoy it!

I’m still alive…!

Yes, I am…

I’ve been disappeared for over 2 months since my last entry in the end of May. I’m so sorry because in this 2 months I’ve been still receiving new followers, likes and comments, in a few days I’ll get all up to date.

The Economic Crisis is affecting me more than I’ve never expected. I’ve been busy reorganising my day-to-day, my projects and in short, my life. However, not everything along this time has been awful.

From now, however, I’ll continue to look for the Far-off World!

The Spring is still shy

Today a different post…

panoramica

This afternoon, after getting my little sister to school, I’ve lost myself in one of the top far-off places near my home, El Collet de les Barraques. It’s a mountain pass surrounded by high mountains and breathtaking alpine grasslands.

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It takes me only 15km from my home through the narrow road you can see above that ascends until 1900m (6400ft). There you are surrounded by a dense Black Pine (Pinus uncinata) woodland characteristic of the subalpine level of vegetation, in fact it equals to the Taiga vegetation of Scandinavia, Russia, N of USA and rough regions of Canada.

Although leaving only one month to summer, last weekend and Monday kept snowing: at hills and high valleys accumulate over 1.5 m of snow. I’ve taken a walk without skis nor boots nor snowshoeing, just walking, only wetting my slippers and trousers…

When you reach 2000m the woodlands give way to alpine grasslands, covered by snow and ice from october-november to may-june.

I love this shy spring with huge contrasts between 2 worlds: the valleys and forests green and plenty of life, whilst hills and mountains still keep lethargic. Also I like the contrast between the warm of the sunshine, which heats a lot, and the chilly of ice and snow: you can take a walk in a t-shirt without freezing yourself.

Sometimes I’ve felt envy of your posts on your blogs about your trips throughout the planet, but I realise that often is not necessary to go so faraway to get what are you looking for, in my case a far-off place to get a wee bit of peace…

Hokkaidō

I’m not a proficient in Japan and Japanese culture but a few weeks ago, thanks to a spectacular video about mountain skiing produced by the well-known Canadian Arc’teryx company, I’ve discovered the northernmost Japanese prefecture, the isle of Hokkaidō.

Hokkaidō on the map

Hokkaidō on the map

As I’ve said previously I’m not a freaky of Japanese culture, and sincerely I’ve never paid attention to these wee bit of land. However, I’ve the impression that, like the entire Japan, Hokkaidō is plenty of contrast between big cities and mountains, between the deafening noise of the biggest cities and the rest and silence of the Buddhist temples, between the all-colours lights in the centre of Sapporo and the darkness of the dense woodlands…

One of the most interesting points about Hokkaidō is their huge snowfalls. In fact is one of the places in the world where more snow: the snow can raise 10m high in some parts of the island!

Due to the greatness and magnificence of Hokkaidō, I’ll spend 2 or 3 posts more to explore this amazing piece of land.

It’s all for the moment. I let you the video responsible of my craziness with Hokkaidō. I think is the most inspiring video I’ve never seen. (The best part of the video starts at minute 5:30 and play it with fullscreen). Enjoy it!

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are probably the loneliest place I’ve posted for the moment. This archipelago are situated halfway between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica, but it belongs to UK. There isn’t native population, the only inhabitants are the British Government Officer, Deputy Postmaster, and some staff.

South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands

There is only one settlement, The King Edward Point, with an extremely gloomy air.

For the tourists South Georgia is only accessible by sea, normally with cruise ships. There isn’t medical facilities, nor emergency or rescue services nor accommodation. If you’d like to spent some days in the islands you must fill in an application in the South Georgia Government web.

Though the most incredible is its wild nature and its impressive falls, I’ve never seen before such an steepest relief, with a couple of peaks that raises above 2500m. Their valleys are plenty of ice, glaciers, sharp crests and loneliness.

South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands could be in my top-3 far-off places agenda. However, I know that I must need a fortune to get there. I’d like to join in a scientific group and find out about something related to oceanography, arctic ecology or glaciology; or maybe spent a couple of months exploring all the islands with my skis and a pair of colleagues, sleeping on tents, eating from the sea and being the first to climb some of their peaks…

For the moment I’ll continue training and dreaming, for the nonce it’s free…!

In this occasion there aren’t many good videos on youtube. I guess that SGSSI are not the typical crammed place… Enjoy it!

Svalbard

Today I’ll present the most special far-off place for me, Svalbard…

Svalbard on the map

Svalbard on the map

Svalbard is an archipelago situated at the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. The only island inhabited is Spitzbergen with only two permanent settlements, Longyearbyen (the main town) and Barentsburg. And why is so special? Well, Svalbard is the northernmost human permanent settlement in the world. Due to their latitude, all the islands are covered by ice and snow all the year, except the coast line. Its inland are plenty of mountains forming a rough and steep relief, the paradise for mountain skiers, alpinists, ice climbers…

Longyearbyen with a population of 2,000 inhabitants is the main town, with all the services of a big community concentrated on a small town. Also is the site where is placed the Svalbard Global Seed Vault which contains over 20 million from approximately 1/3 of the world’s most important food crop seeds variety, and the UNIS (The University Centre in Svalbard), an important Scientific research point in biology, geophysics, geology and civil engineering.

The other settlement is Barentsburg, an extremely sad and lifeless town, with only 400 inhabitants which live in poor conditions working in mining. Despite of belonging to Norway, Barentsburg is a Russian town.

However, what stand out from these islands are their incredible flora, fauna and inland landscapes…

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Being honest, Svalbard is the first in my Far-off places Agenda so I’ll be there really soon! Enjoy the videos!

Ribes Valley (or Vall de Ribes, in catalan)

Sometimes it’s not necessary to spent much time, money or energy  to find a Far-Off place.There are lucky people (like me) that live near or inside a Far-off place… Even people who live in a big city can look for and find it.

Today I’m proud to show you the Ribes Valley (Vall de Ribes in catalan), a site plenty of lonely places, where I was born and where I still live (with some interruptions during my university period). I advise you that’s impossible to show in only one post all the magical sites of this Valley and surroundings so I’ve decided to add a new category on my blog: Near-my-home Far-off places.

The Ribes Valley is situated at the Pyrinees mountains, in the border between France and Catalunya.

Vall de Ribes on the map

Vall de Ribes on the map

Vall de Ribes is a rural and low-density population valley, with only 6 little towns and about 3000 inhabitants. Characterised by its roughness and high-contrast landscapes, with a minimum altitude of 900m (2900 ft) and a maximum of 3000 m (9840 ft), including deciduous forests, conifers woodlands and alpine grasslands covered with snow all the winter.

We have long cold snowy winters (with 4 ski resorts in a 30 km radius) and fresh stormy summers.

Puigmal Peak, the guardian and the highest point of Ribes Valley)

Puigmal Peak at 3000m (9840 ft) above the sea level, the guardian and the highest point of Ribes Valley)

Last Tuesday my sister and me spent a couple of hours in these places. The idea was to collect some new flowers and plants to my personal herbarium. We moved to a little town called Campelles (150 inhabitants) at 1200m (3940 ft) which has impressive pines and fir woodlands.

However, the winter has not yet gone… Only 3 flowers had emerged from the ground (the pioneers)

Even so, we used the time to take a snack while we were enjoying the landscapes.

Before came back to home, we saw and listened some strange animal signals. We followed for a while a poop-animal-truck in silence, and then, they appeared, a mouflon herd (a kind of alpine goat).

Mouflon herd

Mouflon herd

These animals are so difficult to meet due to their shyness and shortage, so we were lucky to saw them!

I let you one video, a little ugly and old-fashioned, but interesting. Enjoy it!