ALMA

Nov 25, 2011 in Atacama 2011

ALMA

Paranal

Nov 01, 2011 in Chile

Paranal

Part of my job here in Chile is to assist in the running of the world’s premier visible light observatory, the Very Large Telescope. A couple of days ago I made my first journey here from Santiago, flying up to Antofagasta and getting a bus from there up into the savagely dry Atacama desert, to the observatory at Cerro Paranal.

What a place Paranal is. I’ve been to several observatories but none have been anything like this. The residencia is an awesome piece of architecture, the scale of the operation is immense, the level of activity is impressive, and the unbelievably harsh desert is terrifyingly beautiful. I will be coming here about once a month for the next three years so perhaps I will get bored of it. But on this first visit, I’m feeling impressed.

Cerro San Cristóbal

Oct 02, 2011 in Chile

Cerro San Cristóbal

Cerro San Cristóbal is the highest point inside Santiago and it’s always nice to go up there and see the views of the city surround by the mountains. I went up again, late on a Sunday evening, taking the lazy route to the top on the funicular railway. The place is always crawling with cyclists, and as soon as my bike arrives from Europe I can’t wait to tackle this hill. It’s about 300m from street level to the peak, a bit more of a challenge than my cycle up Highgate Hill used to be.

I like the atmosphere at the top of San Cristóbal. You can hear the noise of the sprawling city but it feels very calm and tranquil. I sat and watched the sun set and the lights of the city come on, then headed back down to the streets.

Ice climbing

Sep 25, 2011 in Chile

Ice climbing

I got a night bus to Pucón. One of the things I want to see a lot of while I’m in Chile is erupting volcanoes, and so I thought I might as well start with one of the most reliable, Villarrica. I’d been here before, in 2005, climbed to the crater rim and watched fountains of lava jetting up, so close that I could feel the heat from them. I was hoping for the same this time.

It was a warm night in Santiago when I got the bus, but in the morning, 400 miles further south, it was raining heavily. I was shivering as I walked from the bus station into town, and unless conditions got dramatically better, going to be climbing any mountains.

But I went to various climbing agencies, and found out that the weather for the next day was going to be perfect. So I signed up for a climb, and at 6.45am the next morning I was kitting up with a group of 12 other travellers, from Chile, Brazil, Australia, the US and Denmark. As we drove out of Pucón I caught sight of the perfect cone of the volcano, dark against the dawn light.

At the base of the climb, our guides briefed us. They told us that in all likelihood, the rain of the last few days would have made the upper slopes extremely icy, perhaps too icy to safely climb. We were offered the chance to back out now, because we wouldn’t get our money back if we didn’t make the summit. But we all felt lucky, and we headed into the snows.

We set a good pace up the mountain. My two worries were firstly that I was still slightly suffering from a trapped nerve in my back which made my left leg ache constantly, and secondly that I had had no coffee yet. I ignored both problems with grim determination as we ascended.

We passed some places that I recognised, and it didn’t seem to take very long before we were at the base of the summit cone. It was beginning to get treacherous, and we crossed some tricky sheets of ice. I could see that the guides were getting a bit unenthusiastic, and I wasn’t very surprised when we stopped for a break and they told us they really didn’t think we should carry on. Volcanic gases were pouring out of the mountain just a few hundred metres away from us, but it was a few hundred metres up a 45 degree slope, from which one slip would result in a very unpleasant slide over rough ice. The group consulted, and we decided to take the guides’ advice. Reluctantly we turned around.

Going down was at first much harder than going up. Re-crossing the ice sheets was extremely precarious, but luckily we soon got to the snowy slopes, on which we could take the favoured Villarrica descent method of sitting down, lifting your feet up, and sliding. Before very long we were back at the ski-lift, where the cafe had opened, and I got a life-saving coffee which helped to ease the disappointment of not making the summit.

That evening, back in Pucón, I went down to the lake. Last time, I’d seen occasional flickers of red on the summit of the mountain but this time I was amazed to see a bright red glow constantly shining from the peak. Clearly there was a lot of lava up there. I’ll be back before long to try and see it up close again.

Stormy weather

Apr 26, 2011 in Canada 2011

Stormy weather

Rainy day at Dundas Square

Niagara

Apr 25, 2011 in Canada 2011

Niagara

Luxembourg

Jan 08, 2011 in Luxembourg 2011

Luxembourg

View over the valley of the Alzette river.

La Laguna

Oct 27, 2010 in Tenerife 2010

La Laguna

Terminal 3

Oct 23, 2010 in Tenerife 2010

Terminal 3

Early morning departure from Heathrow

A Coruña

Sep 13, 2010 in Santiago de Compostela 2010

A Coruña

Río Ulla

Sep 11, 2010 in Santiago de Compostela 2010

Río Ulla

Ready for a white water rafting adventure on the Río Ulla.

Santiago de Compostela

Sep 10, 2010 in Santiago de Compostela 2010

Santiago de Compostela

Millau

Sep 03, 2010 in France 2010

Millau

Crossing the Tarn on the way from Durban-Corbières to Calais

By the harbour

Aug 23, 2010 in Microstates 2010

By the harbour

Nearing the end of a lap of the circuit

Monaco

Aug 23, 2010 in Microstates 2010

Monaco

Loewes Hairpin, seen during my obligatory lap of the grand prix circuit.

Vaduz

Aug 21, 2010 in Microstates 2010

Vaduz

Looking down on Vaduz from near the castle

Liechtenstein

Aug 21, 2010 in Microstates 2010

Liechtenstein

A view towards Switzerland from near Schaan

Danube

Aug 18, 2010 in Vienna 2010

Danube

Vienna

Aug 16, 2010 in Vienna 2010

Vienna

Fløya

Jul 11, 2010 in Norway 2010

Fløya

Storsteinen

Jul 11, 2010 in Norway 2010

Storsteinen

New furthest north

Jul 09, 2010 in Norway 2010

New furthest north

70 degrees and 5 minutes of arc north of the equator at Skjervøy

Journey to Skjervøy

Jul 09, 2010 in Norway 2010

Journey to Skjervøy

A view from a ferry from Olderdalen to Lyngseidet, en route between Tromsø and Skjervøy

Back to Norway

Jul 08, 2010 in Norway 2010

Back to Norway

Return to Oslo, eight years after my first trip to Norway

Villette Sonique

May 31, 2010 in Paris 2010

Villette Sonique

Pompidou centre

May 31, 2010 in Paris 2010

Pompidou centre

Notre Dame

May 31, 2010 in Paris 2010

Notre Dame

Back to the mainland

Apr 17, 2010 in Scotland 2010

Back to the mainland

Boat journey from Brodick to Ardrossan

Down the valley

Apr 17, 2010 in Scotland 2010

Down the valley

Goat Fell

Apr 17, 2010 in Scotland 2010

Goat Fell

Bute Hall

Apr 16, 2010 in Scotland 2010

Bute Hall

Glacier convoy

Apr 11, 2010 in Iceland 2010

Glacier convoy

We passed Seljalandsfoss, and after a couple of hours we reached Hvolsvöllur. Seven vehicles were attempting the trip, and tiny Hvolsvöllur was briefly overrun by volcano tourists. I bought a coffee and weirdly spotted someone who I’d met in Greenland last year. I didn’t have time to say hello before we were back in the jeep and heading onwards. We reached a turning where a rough dirt track disappeared into the mist. Somewhere up in the clouds were the Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull glaciers, and in between the two, a split in the Earth’s crust from which molten rock was spurting. It hardly seemed possible.

We stopped to reduce the tyre pressures and coordinate the convoy, and then we headed uphill. Our route would take us high up onto the Myrdalsjökull, and then down into the pass.

A sudden return

Apr 11, 2010 in Iceland 2010

A sudden return

Eight months ago, I’d stood outside Keflavík airport and seen the snow-capped cone of Snæfell, 70 miles away across Faxaflói. It was a clear sign, telling me that I would certainly return to Iceland. I felt that very strongly but I never expected to come back so soon. While I was in Belgrade I’d heard that a volcano had started erupting in the Fimmvörðuháls pass, close to where I’d been hiking. It was an impressive and easily accessible eruption. I couldn’t believe it had happened so soon after I was there and I felt annoyed that I wouldn’t see it. But then, the thought occurred to me that there was no reason why I shouldn’t go and see it. One Monday morning, with the eruption still going on, I decided to go back. I booked a flight for the Friday, and then spent an agonising four days hoping that the eruption wouldn’t stop, that the weather would be OK, and that I’d be able to see the eruption.

And so for the third time I got a late flight from Heathrow to Keflavík. I saw the northern lights from the plane window, the first time I’d seen them since my first trip to Iceland, and then I got a sudden, breathtaking glimpse of something red and pulsating far below. It could surely only be the volcano. By the time I’d grabbed my camera it had disappeared from view. I became furiously impatient as we slowly descended into Keflavík.

I got the usual bus into town, and felt an extreme sense of deja vu as I walked towards the city hostel. Last summer it had still been light and warm as I walked in to the city at midnight; this time the bus broke down on the way and we had to transfer to another one in a howling gale in the darkness. I got to the hostel and booked myself some transport to the volcano for the next afternoon.

The next day I walked around the city again. It was grim and rainy, and the signs didn’t look good. My trip for the afternoon was uncertain, and I couldn’t even book a trip for the Sunday. The forecast was for severe weather, and no-one was planning on making any trips. Eventually, I found one company who said they would consider doing a trip and I left them my number. I revisited a few of my favourite Reykjavík sights, and then spent the afternoon in a cafe where I ordered so many espressos that eventually they let me make my own. I was properly blazing when I heard the bad news that the trip to the volcano for the afternoon was cancelled. All my hopes were now on Sunday.

Tarragona

Apr 03, 2010 in Barcelona 2010

Tarragona

Parc de la Ciutadella

Apr 01, 2010 in Barcelona 2010

Parc de la Ciutadella

St. Sava

Mar 20, 2010 in Balkans 2010

St. Sava

Novi Beograd

Mar 20, 2010 in Balkans 2010

Novi Beograd

Zagreb

Mar 18, 2010 in Balkans 2010

Zagreb

Return to Zagreb, seven years after my first visit

Lago Chungará

Jan 05, 2010 in Chile and Peru 2009

Lago Chungará

Poconchile cemetary

Jan 05, 2010 in Chile and Peru 2009

Poconchile cemetary

El Morro

Jan 03, 2010 in Chile and Peru 2009

El Morro

A view over the Pacific from Arica

Iquique

Dec 31, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

Iquique

El Tatio

Dec 29, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

El Tatio

Dessication

Dec 28, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

Dessication

Vicuña

Dec 26, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

Vicuña

Christmas Day at La Serena

Dec 24, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

Christmas Day at La Serena

Control room

Dec 21, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

Control room

La Silla

Dec 19, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

La Silla

Santiago

Dec 14, 2009 in Chile and Peru 2009

Santiago

Belém

Nov 08, 2009 in Portugal 2009

Belém

Þingvellir

Jul 12, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Þingvellir

I got a bus to Þingvellir. I’d wanted to go here last time but we hadn’t had time. I’d always thought it sounded like a pretty awesome place so I was looking forward to finally seeing it. It was a hot sunny day again, and Iceland was in a fantastic summery mood. We stopped in Laugarvatn and I bought an ice cream.

At Þingvellir the bus normally stops at the Hotel Valhöll, but startlingly the Hotel Valhöll had burned down the previous night. Emergency service cordons blocked the road. We took a detour and stopped at the national park service centre.

I went for a walk. The summery weather had changed a bit, and it was overcast. This was good. I’d always imagined that Þingvellir would be forbidding and atmospheric, and the hot sun didn’t really work for me. Under grey skies I liked the place a lot. I walked down huge chasms, finally reaching the site of the Alþingi. There was a sense of history. Here was where Iceland defined its nationality. Here was where the first settlers met each year to pass laws. And here was where two continents drifting apart were slowly tearing the country into two. Great chasms flanked either side of the sunken plain, across which a river flowed calmly.

The next day it was blazing sunshine again. I hiked back down the chasms but it wasn’t quite the same. I scaled a large rock face to get up onto the North American plate, and I looked across to Europe on the other side of the plains. The Öxará river fell into the gap, diverted into the plains by the early Norse to provide water for their assemblies. I relaxed in the sun until it was time to head, for the last time, back to Reykjavík.

Nearing Þórsmörk

Jul 07, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Nearing Þórsmörk

I didn’t go back for it. On the other side of the river was something strange and astonishing, an Icelandic forest. I’d never seen one of these before and I felt like I was in a different country as I walked through the woods. An hour or so later I reached a sign saying Þórsmörk and I was nearly done.

I walked to Langidalur. My guide book said there was a shop here. There was but it was closed, and the place was more or less deserted. A vehicle had got stuck in one of the massive glacial rivers here and was being pulled out by a tractor, but otherwise nothing much was happening. I walked to Húsadalur, home valley, and it turned out this was where everything happens at Þórsmörk. I pitched my tent and rested my weary feet. I was done.

Landmannalaugar’s hot pool is one of my favourite places on the planet, and my guide book said there was a geothermal hot pool here as well. I’d been looking forward to it. In the end, it was massively disappointing – it was hardly warm at all and far from spending hours in there recovering, I spent about five minutes in there shivering before I could take no more.

Instead, I went for a walk. In the late evening, when all was quiet, I walked to the Krossá. I sat and watched the raging glacial torrent carving its way through the Icelandic landscape. It was cloudy and gloomy and atmospheric. I’d finally made it to Þórsmörk. I’d considered pushing on over the Fimmvörðuháls pass to Skógar, another day or two’s walking, but my time was not unlimited and there were other places I wanted to see. I decided my hike was over, and in the morning I headed back to Reykjavík.

Wild parts

Jul 06, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Wild parts

When I got up the next morning it was raining hard. I spoke to the warden at the hut, and he reckoned it would start to clear in a couple of hours. So I waited before setting off. I tried to write my journal but my hands were too cold, so I wandered along the lake as the drizzle eased off.

The warden was right. After a couple of hours it was no longer raining, so I set off. The going was much easier than yesterday, and I set a furious pace again. Having started late, I found there were quite a few people on the trail in front of me. After a steep climb down to a bridge over a wild river, I found a huge dusty expanse in front of me, with five or six groups of hikers strung out across it. I like targets when I’m doing things like this, and I chased them down during the day.

The trail crossed a few more rivers. They were all brutally cold but not too difficult to cross. They were quite welcome, amid the desert-like scenery. Grey dust blew about, and there was hardly any vegetation or colour to be seen. The skies matched the ground, a uniform slate grey as far as I could see.

Later on it got less forbidding. A vivid green mountain came into view, looking to me like it could be the crazy home of some Norse god. On this part of the trek I could easily see why Icelandic folk tales have it that every other rock in the highlands is home to a spirit or goblin of some sort.

Eventually I crested a rise and found the Emstrur hut beneath me. I was two thirds of the way to the end.

Over the pass

Jul 05, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Over the pass

I cooked up some lunch on the veranda of the hut. As I ate, the clouds suddenly parted, revealing a couple of hikers heading out across a huge snowy expanse, ringed by mountains. A roar away to my right turned out to be coming from a huge steam plume jetting straight out of the ground. I finished my food, grabbed my pack and headed out.

Hiking across the snow was fairly tough going but I knew the hardest bit of the day was already behind me. I’d climbed 500 metres and now I would drop 500 metres to Álftavatn. The weather was beautiful here, and I was alone on the trail pretty much the whole way. I was in an Icelandic dream but I did not let up my pace for a second. I marched pretty much as fast as I could, somehow fearing that if I slowed down I might not make it to Þórsmörk.

Later the weather turned. I descended into a verdant gorge, and crossed my first river. It was only ankle-deep but bitingly cold, and I walked gingerly for a mile or so afterwards until my feet started to feel again. The cloud was thickening and eventually I could only see the trail and a few feet either side of it. Sometimes in the murk I could hear volcanic springs rumbling and bubbling but I couldn’t see anything. It began to rain.

Finally I reached a flat grassy plain where I could see that vehicles sometimes drove. A few minutes more walking brought me to the shores of Álftavatn. I set up camp and then walked along the shore in the midsummer gloom, listening to music. I was a third of the way to the end.

Better already

Jul 05, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Better already

Early the next morning I got up and left. The word yesterday had been the the wardens would try to stop anyone setting off who didn’t have a GPS system, the weather was that bad. I didn’t have a GPS; I just had a map, a compass, three days of supplies and a wild desire to trek. So I looked shiftily about, saw no wardens, and hurried onto the trail.

I set a blazing pace. The early part of the trail was extremely familiar and I felt like I remembered every footstep as I crossed an old lava flow, to a heavenly meadow on the other side where I remembered thinking it would be awesome to camp. In 40 minutes, I was at the ignominious spot. I passed the spirits of three defeated youths, reluctantly picking up their too-heavy packs to trudge back to the hut. I gave a thought to my younger self and pushed on into unknown parts.

The trail climbed. Soon I had incredible views over ancient lava fields and hills coloured red and green and all sorts of colours that rocks normally aren’t. I passed Stórihver, a hole in the rocks which belched out jets of steaming water, and soon reached places where snow lay on the ground. Higher and higher the trail went, and eventually I reached the clouds. Cairns marked the route but occasionally I had to wait for a few minutes for a break in the thick fog to show me the way ahead. I slogged across what seemed like a huge snowy plateau, cairn by cairn, and the cloud was so thick that I almost walked into the Hrafntinnusker hut before I saw it.

Unfinished business

Jul 04, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Unfinished business

I’d been here before. Ten years ago, we planned to hike the legendary Laugavegur, a three day crossing of some of Iceland’s wildest scenery. We’d given up after a matter of a couple of hours, not through any desire of mine but because my two travelling companions didn’t fancy it. In retrospect I could see we would have had a miserable time if we’d carried on but still I left with a powerful sense of unfinished business. If there was one thing I wanted to do on this trip, it was to finish the job.

So I got an early morning bus to Landmannalaugar. Even if the hike had been a failure, Landmannalaugar had been one of my favourite places in Iceland. The weather was unremittingly foul and bleak and that only made me like it more. The sombre mountains just seemed so atmospheric and wild to me then. Wallowing in nostalgia, I listened to 7:30 by the Frank and Walters as we rumbled along the Fjallabak road to the back of beyond.

It was almost like I’d just rewound ten years. Rain was battering down on Landmannalaugar, which looked as familiar as if I’d been there yesterday. I really, really didn’t fancy camping – our night here on the gravelly campground had been horrible. So I went to see if I could get into the warm dry hut. By great good fortune I happened to reach the warden’s hut at the same time as some people who had one more reservation than they needed. I gladly took it off their hands. And then I made straight for the most heavenly location on Earth, the hot pool. Bathing in hot volcanic waters in the remote hinterlands of Iceland while it rains steadily is just too awesome to describe.

Back in Reykjavík

Jul 03, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Back in Reykjavík

I got up the next morning to find thick fog enshrouding Kulusuk. As I packed up my tent, I heard the plane from Reykjavík approaching, but I couldn’t see it. Then suddenly it passed breathtakingly low over my campsite. I saw the dark shape and heard a huge roar, but not long afterwards, I heard it again much higher.

I packed up and walked across the tundra to the airport. The fog was still thick, the plane had still not landed, and there was an air of slight tension. It had been circling for more than an hour by the time it landed, and there was relief in the airport as it finally pulled up at the terminal. The most relieved people were a huge group of Greenlandic children, who were clearly going on a big trip to Iceland. We all boarded, the Greenlanders were waved off by their families and I looked back at the snowy landscape and bade farewell to this incredible place.

Barely two hours later, we were back in Reykjavík. Coming from London, Iceland feels pretty remote. Coming from Greenland, I had the sense that I’d crossed an enormous but invisible boundary, leaving behind a place where humans lived on the brink, where there were no towns or villages, really, but just houses on a landscape, and returning to somewhere safe, serene and blessed. Greenland is closer to Iceland than London is, in terms of distance, but on a scale of human experience, Iceland is far, far closer to London than it is to Greenland.

In the evening it was sunny and warm. I walked by the harbour. Ten years ago we’d been slapped about by a violent sea wind walking along here, but today it was calm, and people cycled, ran and walked along the bayside path. As I walked, I noticed a dim grey triangle on the horizon to the north where the sun was getting low in the sky. It could only be Snæfell, 75 miles away across the bay. Seeing it from this far away seemed to me to be a good omen for the next part of my trip: to hike the Laugavegur.

Accidental trip to Sermiligaaq

Jul 01, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Accidental trip to Sermiligaaq

My time on Ammassalik was over. Before I’d left London I’d booked a ticket for the ferry back to Kulusuk. The helicopter ride over had been fun but I really fancied a little sea voyage off East Greenland. It was the first scheduled ferry journey of the year – the sea ice had only recently melted enough to allow easy sailing. I packed up my things and wandered down to the port under gloomy skies.

The boat was supposed to leave at 9am, but there was little sign of any activity. I hung around on the dock until 9.30 and then vaguely wandered on board. I showed someone my ticket, and then watched dark shoals of large fish speeding around in the water. At 11.15, we chugged away from the dock, and set off for Kulusuk. The only passengers were me and five Danes. I stood on deck in the chilly breeze, swaying with the boat and watching icebergs drift by. The seas were mostly clear. The boat didn’t even need to avoid most of the icebergs – it was quite happy to ride over them.

After a couple of hours I imagined we were not too far from Kulusuk, and I started to think about what I would do there for two days. Suddenly, a crew member asked to see my ticket again. He looked a bit worried and I wondered why. I soon found out. The boat was not two hours late but two days late. Its weekly run took it all around the settlements of Ammassalik district, and today it was not actually going to Kulusuk, but to Sermiligaaq, the most remote village on the schedule. My journey was not nearly over – it had barely begun.

I sometimes have crazy dreams about accidentally getting boats or trains to completely the wrong place. This was the first time it had ever happened to me. I felt a slight sense of panic for about 10 seconds, and then realised that this was in no way a bad thing. I would have to spend another 90 pounds on a helicopter back to Kulusuk in the morning, but on the plus side I was in for a 12 hour round trip up the savage coast of East Greenland, to a remote village that I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to. The crew and the Danes couldn’t understand why I was smiling so much.

We sailed up Ammassalik Fjord. It was nothing like as ice-choked as Sermilik Fjord. It was a dull grey day and the seas and mountains looked gloomy. I lost track of time as we gently rolled along, rising and falling with the swell. I chatted to the Danes, who had travelled a lot in Nordic parts, and I chatted to one of the crew who could speak English. A couple of the other crew had simply said “Kulusuk!” and laughed as I passed them on the deck. It was all meant in a good spirit.

After almost six hours we reached Sermiligaaq. It was a slice of Greenland life that I was incredibly happy to have had this chance to see. The tiny ragged village was the first sign of human life that there had been in all the miles of fjord since Tasiilaq. It seemed unbelievable that people could live here. The arrival of the boat was quite an event – our main mission here was to deliver supplies. The Danes and I left the boat crew to their work. We had an hour to kill before heading back and I wandered around the village. The only activity was at the dock – everywhere else was deserted. In the cold drizzle it didn’t look like a very inviting place.

The boat finished its delivery, and we headed back. I watched Sermiligaaq recede into the forbidding mountains, and we sailed back into the endlessness. It was 5pm, and it was getting colder. I spent most of the return journey indoors, sheltering from icy winds. I’d brought no food with me, naturally, having expected to be on Kulusuk by lunchtime. But the Danes took pity on me, sharing biscuits and sandwiches, and the crew even offered me a share of their cooked dinner. It was very kind but I had to refuse on the grounds of vegetarianism. I probably offended them greatly. I felt bad.

Eventually, at 11pm, we chugged back into Kong Oskars Havn, and the familiar sights of Tasiilaq drifted back into view. The heavy cloud made the Greenlandic evening almost feel like it might turn into a night. I got off the boat and walked unsteadily back up to the Red House, where luckily they had room to put me up again. That night, and for days after, I felt the rocking of the boat as I lay in bed, and I saw icebergs and mountains and stern grey seas when I closed my eyes.

Sømandsfjeldet

Jun 29, 2009 in Greenland and Iceland 2009

Sømandsfjeldet

I’d bought a small map of Ammassalik Island for the staggering price of 17 pounds, and I was determined to use it. My target this day was to climb Sømandsfjeldet, a vicious-looking mountain behind town. It was only 800m high but the word was it was no easy climb.

Once again the hiking was a dream. After a short time on recognisable trails I was out in the wilderness, just keeping my eye on the mountain top and picking my way onward and upward. I soon reached some impressive heights. The going was tough, and parts of my climb were incredibly steep, but spurring me on were some awesome views. I could see Kulusuk island in the distance, looking much colder and more forbidding than Ammassalik Island, and I could see the endless expanse of sea ice stretching way out to sea.

What I could also see was a bank of cloud in the distance. I pushed on higher, but it was becoming pretty difficult to edge my way up. The clouds seemed to be coming closer, and I still had some pretty tough climbing to do before I could reach the summit. If I got caught in cloud up here, there would be a definite possibility of death. I decided to make a strategic retreat.

Rastro

Mar 29, 2009 in Madrid 2009

Rastro

Madrid’s Sunday morning flea market

Madrid

Mar 24, 2009 in Madrid 2009

Madrid

A view of the Gran Via

Chiricahua

Mar 21, 2009 in United States 2009

Chiricahua

Sears Tower

Mar 18, 2009 in United States 2009

Sears Tower

Flight to Chicago

Mar 18, 2009 in United States 2009

Flight to Chicago

A view over southern Ireland not long after leaving Heathrow

Grenoble

Feb 28, 2009 in Grenoble 2009

Grenoble

Leuven

Feb 16, 2009 in Belgium 2009

Leuven

Teide

Jan 25, 2009 in Tenerife 2009

Teide

Tallinn

Oct 18, 2008 in Estonia 2008

Tallinn

Castle views

Sep 20, 2008 in Slovakia 2008

Castle views

Pindus National Park

Jul 23, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Pindus National Park

Vikos gorge

Jul 22, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Vikos gorge

Gjirokastra

Jul 21, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Gjirokastra

Tirana

Jul 20, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Tirana

Ohrid

Jul 18, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Ohrid

Prizren

Jul 16, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Prizren

More traces of conflict in Prizren

Peja

Jul 16, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Peja

Looking towards the Accursed Mountains from Peja

Priština

Jul 15, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Priština

Traces of conflict in newly independent Kosovo

Black Lake

Jul 13, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Black Lake

View from the path from Žabljak to Crno Jezero

Kotor

Jul 12, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Kotor

Bobsleigh run

Jul 08, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Bobsleigh run

Built for the 1984 winter olympics, this bobsleigh run was used by snipers during the Bosnian war to terrorise the inhabitants of Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Jul 07, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Sarajevo

Bus to Sarajevo

Jul 07, 2008 in Balkans 2008

Bus to Sarajevo

Somewhere in Bosnia on a bus journey from Belgrade to Sarajevo

Hauptbahnhof

May 25, 2008 in Berlin 2008

Hauptbahnhof

Holocaust memorial

May 24, 2008 in Berlin 2008

Holocaust memorial

Potsdam

May 19, 2008 in Berlin 2008

Potsdam

Sevilla vs. Almeria

Apr 19, 2008 in Sevilla 2008

Sevilla vs. Almeria

In which Almeria unexpectedly demolished Sevilla to win 4-1.

Murals on the Falls Road

Apr 04, 2008 in Northern Ireland 2008

Murals on the Falls Road

Dublin

Mar 31, 2008 in Northern Ireland 2008

Dublin

Városliget

Feb 24, 2008 in Budapest 2008

Városliget

Margaret Island

Feb 23, 2008 in Budapest 2008

Margaret Island

Underpass to the island

Castle Hill

Feb 23, 2008 in Budapest 2008

Castle Hill

Gothenburg

Jan 20, 2008 in Sweden and Denmark 2008

Gothenburg

Lund

Jan 19, 2008 in Sweden and Denmark 2008

Lund

Sliema

Dec 01, 2007 in Malta 2007

Sliema

Transylvania

Sep 14, 2007 in Eastern Europe 2007

Transylvania

St. Sofia’s Cathedral

Sep 08, 2007 in Eastern Europe 2007

St. Sofia's Cathedral

Parc Güell

Aug 04, 2007 in Barcelona 2007

Parc Güell

Porto

Jul 09, 2007 in Portugal 2007

Porto

Vila Nova de Gaia

Jul 07, 2007 in Portugal 2007

Vila Nova de Gaia

Up to the top

Jun 24, 2007 in La Palma 2007

Up to the top