Child Friendly Walks In Briancon, Alps

If you are thinking of going walking with your kids in Briancon then hopefully this short guide will help you.  I tried to find some child friendly walks on other website but it was quite hard.  If you find others yourself then please let me know and I’ll pop them up on here too.  A couple of things that I’ve found useful.  1) To plan routes, I use two apps based on OpenStreetMaps – one called PocketEarth which has an optional upgrade which gives you contour line.  The second called Map3D which has a great route planner and also shows the route in 3D which is helpful for the kids of understand the route.  2) I have found having loads of snacks keeps the kids going!

 

Walk To Refuge de Buffere

This is a beautiful family friendly walk up to a fantastic mountain hut which is lovely place to eat.  It’s easy to achieve with children because the paths are straight forward and mostly tree covered.  The tree lined section is the steepest section but our 4 and 6 year old managed without any problems.  At the start of the walk, you need to park in the Navache car park and take the shuttle bus up the valley (6 euros for adults and free for kids).  It’s worth asking the driver to stop at the right place because most people on the bus will be travelling further up the valley.   On the way back, you can either retrace your steps to the same bus stop or walk down the valkley to Nevache which add 2.5km onto the day.   It’s a lovely walk down along the river with beautiful waterfalls.

 

The stats are 380m assent, 548m decent and 6.4km distance.

 

The shuttle buses go from right next to the carpark.

 

Here is where you end up.  The food is great and you can get beer too.  Main courses are 9-12 euros.  Ice creams 2 euros.  The kids enjoyed omlettes and I enjoyed the pasta carbonara.  But the prize went to my wife, who ordered the assiette vegetariane.

 

This is the steepest section to the walk.  It’s not actually hard and there are plenty of places to stop for a snack.

 

You arrive back into Navache where there is a lovely bakery and ice creams.

 

Walk around Lac de L’Orceyrette

This gourgous family frienly walk takes you into a quiet nature reserve about 35 minutes outside Briancon.  You have to drive towards Ayes on roads which aren’t always tarmaced and you feel like you’re driving into the back of beyond.  However, as you arrive, you are greeted by a massive car park and it suddenly become okay.  It’s a fantastic circular walk which kids will love.  You should go around clockwise because this gives you best views of the lake as you come down and a nice rest by the side of the lake at the end. The first part of the walk is the hardest work as you climb up through the woods and then you can stop of a picnic in a meadow full of butterflies. You then traverse through woods, finally popping out onto a gravel road which takes you down to the lake.  I left my kids (with wife) at the lake to rest and then walked the final part and brought the car up to the lake to pick them up.

 

The stats – the whole thing circular route is around 9km.  It’s around 7km just to the lake.  There is 360m of ascent.  It took around 4 hours for us at a leasurely pace.  You go around clock wise.

 

You park in a large carpark next to the river.   We walked the route on a Saturday and it was filled with families playing in the river and camping.

 

Here is a photo of then entrance of the walk.  It’s a little unassuming and so you can easily walk passed it. This photo is taken looking back on it.  I.e you will have walked up from the carpark below.

 

Heading up between the trees.   It’s interesting walking and perfect for keeping the kids going,

 

The traverse is stunning with great views of a typical Ecrin skyline around you.

 

You get some lovely views of the lake.

 

Walking along the lake at the end.

 

Vallouise River Walk

Vallouise is pretty little villiage about 35 minutes drive from Briancon.  This family friendly walk is excellent for children.  It starts from the centre of the Vallouise.  You walk up one side of the river to a bridge and then down the otherside.   The first part of the walk is a flat gravel track and would be suitable for a buggy.  The second half of the walk has some reasonable exposed walking along a narrow path – so it’s sometimes worth holding kids hands.

The stats:  It’s only 3km long, with just 70m assent and took us roughly 2 hours.   Go around counter clockwise.

 

The walk starts at the bridge in the centre:

 

The best views are on the way back.

 

The path is quite thin but totally manageable for kids.

 

A High Walk In Montgenèvre

Montgenèvre is small ski resort about 30 minutes east of Briancon.   This is a great child friendly walk to do with your family because you can use the lifts to get up high – saving lots of time and energy    You need to get the lift pass which allows you to take both lifts right to the top.  It costs €12 adult, €8 child and children under 4 are free.  The only annoying thing about this walk is the mountain bikers who also use the lifts in the summer to race down.  It only affects the first section when you walk from the top of the first cable car to the second.

The walk is mostly in meadows.  You walk down the ridge towards a col.  You then talk through an undulating meadow to reach a beautiful lake which is perfect for a picnic lunch.  You than walk back up the col and then almost in a straight line through meadows back to the top of the first lift.  The meadows will be brimming with crickets, marmots and butterflys.  It’s a real treat.

The stats: 6km (not including the lifts), 490m decend and 130m ascent.  It took us 3hr.

The view from the top of the lift looking back at Montgenèvre.

Panoramic views from the top lift.

Looking down at the lake.

Having a picnic 🙂

 

Walk To Refuge des Drayères

This is very easy child friendly walk in the Claree valley.   The walk starts in the same way as the walk to Refuge Buffere.  You park in the Navache carpark and catch the shuttle bus to Laval which is the final stop of the bus.  The walk follows a river and there you can either follow the track to the right of the river or a much smaller and more interesting foot path to the left.   You should be aware that sometimes the footpath can flood in the spring.   The Refuge des Drayeres is a very friendly and welcoming refuge.  The food is reasonably priced. For example: omlettes – €9, beef bourguignon – €12.50 and coffee – €1.80.  If the weather is poor there is plenty of space to eat inside.  It’s also worth noting that the Refuse de Laval is at the start of the walk (about 2 minutes from the bus stop) and so you can get a pre-start coffee.

I recommend going around clockwise.  The stats are: 5.5km and 190m ascent.

 

Here is where you will end up. There are tables outside and inside.  The staff are very friendly.

 

Here is the walk up on the footpath.  The views are spectacular.  This is the steepest section.   Small sections of the path have drops off the side and so worth holding hands for.

 

There was a delightfull little girl in the hut.  She had some colouring which she kindly shared with our kids.  They loved it.  We are planning to come back to this hut and spend the night with the girls!

 

Walk To Lac de L’Oule

This walk is perhaps the highest of all the walks.  It’s about 45 minutes drive from Briancon up a narrow winding road.  You arrive at the Col de Granon which has a cafe, lots of old millitary baracks and a large car park.  It is perhaps the most popular walk of all the walks that we did.  It is full of families walking up the large paths.  It’s an easy walk because you can’t get lost and it has minimal height gain.  You can vary the lenght of the walk by either going down to the lake or turning around at the col.   The only down side in my opinion is that it is too popular.  In the other walks, we found peace and lots of nature.  This walk is all about the views though.

The stats:  6.5km and 290m ascent (assuming that you go all the way down to the lake).

There are two lakes.

The walking is really easy and path really clear.

 

I hope this post was useful to someone.  Please leave me a comment if you like it.

Wild Camping in the Brecon Beacons – Black Mountain

I’ve been trying to find places to wild camp in the Brecon Beacons. I found this lovely wild camping blog post which was really inspiring. There are a number of good places to wild camp on the Black Mountain which is on the west side of the Brecon Beacons. The Black Mountains are quite wild and don’t have very many visitors – so it feels like a nice place to camp.


I got some beautiful light in the morning.

The Route

I parked here – outside the Church just down from the Tefarn-Y-Garreg pub. It is just a short walk up the road to join the path. The weather forecast showed that it was going to be clear and dry on the first day but was going to be cloudy and raining the second day. I choose a route which involved doing most of the walk on the first day.

On the first day (shown in red), I walked the ridge, down to the second lake and then back under the escapement back to the first lake. The walk is really stunning. Here is a photo looking back along the ridge while over the second lake.

It took me about 5 hours. The following day, I climbed back onto the ridge from the first lake and then walked down the other side of the ridge.

Camping Location

I found a pretty flat spot perhaps just 10 metres from the lake (51.88460/-3.70052). It was out of the wind because was just below a hillock.

What I took with me

I tried to pack as light as possible. I have brought a Wild Country Zephyros 1. It worked really well. It’s fast to put up. The only thing that I didn’t like is the door which can’t be clipped back. The sleeping bag was only rated 10’c comfort and 5’c limit. I have found that sleeping on an inflatable mattress and wearing a t-shirt while sleeping allows me to stretch this. It was around 3’c and I felt pretty warm.

  • Tent – Wild Country Zephyros 1
  • Sleeping Bag – Decathlon Down Sleeping Bag
  • Inflatable Sleeping Mat
  • Silk SLeeping Bag Liner
  • Trangia Stove + Swedish Steels
  • 3 litres of water
  • Hat + Gloves
  • Socks x 2
  • Walking top x 2
  • Walking Trousers
  • Waterproof trousers and jacket
  • Light fleece
  • Puffer
  • Cuttlery
  • Map + Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Toothbrush + Toothpaste
  • Wet wipes


The view from the tent.

I hope post inspires someone else to wild camp here. Let me know if you do :).

p.s. I left my rucksack in the tent porch. I had taken my dog Pip with me and accidentally left some dog food on the porch. I was woken in the night by a fox which wanted the dog food and was rifling around. It had a beautiful bushy tail with a white end bit. I watched it for a while from the tent and then it finally rang off into the night.

Short Canoe Camping Trip Along Thames

Here are the notes for my first overnight canoeing trip down the Thames. I thought it might be useful for someone else doing a similar trip.

Day 1: Bablock Hythe To Pinkhill Campsite – 3.7km

We launched on the east side of the river opposite the Ferryman Inn at Bablock Hythe (51.735252, -1.371328).  It took an hour to prepare the boats and we set off at 3:30pm. There is a carpark where we could leave a car overnight. It was about 4km from the launch site to Pinkhill lock. This is about an hours paddling at a comfortable speed.

It’s a beautiful stretch of the Thames with very little traffic and noise.  It feels really peaceful.

Pinkhill lock has a totally beautiful campsite. It is situated on an island with a lock on one side and a wier on the other. It is really quite and relaxed. There is plenty of space but it has a really intimate feel because the campsite is limited to five tents only (although frankly you fit 10 tents on the site). You can have open fires and the trees provide plenty of kindling. There is a toilet with a shower around the back of the lockmasters’ house. Our kids (5 and 8 years old) loved it. It felt very safe and was a perfect enviroment for them. You can get your boats out of the water to the left of the moorings and carry them to the campsite.

Day 2 – Pinkhill Lock To Wolvercote

The journey from Pinkhill Lock to Wolvercote is around 9km depending on the route that you take.  For example, you can go via Kings Lock or further north.   The river is straighter than day 1. This is the view from the Pinkhill lock down the Thames towards Oxford.

We left the Pinkhill campsite around 11am and arrived at Wolvercote around 2pm.  We stopped for lunch along the way by mooring up by the side of the river a short way from the Kings Lock.

We greatly enjoyed the trip and can highly recommend it as an easy overnight route for canoeing on the Thames.

Campsites on the Thames river

I’ve started to research campsites which I can visit with a canoe or kayak along the Thames. I haven’t found a good website with a map and list. I thought it might interest other people and so I’m putting it on this blog. I’ve started a new category called microadventures. I’m based in Oxford and so have only research the campsites around this area.

Going from upstream to downstream.

Rushey Lock Campsite

01367 870218

Shifford Lock Campsite

01367 870247

Barefoot Campsite

Badswell Ln, Appleton, Abingdon OX13 5JN

Pinkhill Lock

01865 881 452

Eynsham Lock Campsite

01865 881324

Kings Lock

https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path/accommodation/kings-lock
It’s basically wild camping and has no facilities. No toilets etc.
01865 553403

Bridge House Caravan Park

01865 407725

Days Lock

01865 407768

Bridge House Campsite

bridge-house.org.uk
01865 858540

Riverside Campsite

better.org.uk
01491 835232

Hurley

01628 824334

Cookham

01628 520752

Places to kayak / canoe In Oxford

I have an inflatable canoe which I love to take the kids out on. There doesn’t seem to be very much information on locations to canoe in Oxford. Most of the places to kayak around Oxford are commercial -i.e. kayaks for hire etc.,. If you want to use your own boat is hard to find locations that are easy to get in and out of the water. So, here is my list of places that I kayak.

 

 

The Cherwell – North Summertown

You can canoe/kayak down the Cherwell river from North Summertown / Cutterslow. You drive to the park just off Water Eaton Rd, Oxford. You can park for free. The river is just 100m away. If I have another adult with me then I inflate the boat and carry to the river. There are two entrance points at the river. The right hand one is easiest. You can paddle down to the Victoria arms or left upstream (although this is sometimes blocked). There aren’t many spots to easily climb out for the picnic.


Paddling down with gourgeous tree either side.

 

The Thames – Wolvercote

You can kayak and canoe on the Thames on Port Meadow. You drive and park at Port Meadow Godstow Car Park. It is very easy to enter the water in the corner of the carpark next to the bridge. You can paddle down towards port meadow. The water is calm and you can stay out of the wind by keeping close to the bank. You can make a circular route by paddling down to the lock and then around back to the start. You may need to carry your boat around the lock. The water is generally quite shallow and it is very easy to quickly land and have a picnic.

This photo is taken down passed the lock towards the perch. There are lots of blackberry bushes and the girls loved having a picnic canoeing down the Thames.

If you go through the lock then you can do a circular route like this.

 

Thrupp Canal

This is an excellent spot for some gentle canoeing. There is actually a place to hire canoes from here. If you are bringing you own canoe then park at the back of Annie’s Tea Room. You can then carry all your gear up to next to the canal.

Here is where you enter the water. The carpark is at the back on the right. There is plenty of space by the benches to sort out gear and inflate your boat etc. The cafe is really close.

If you head north then you will have some lovely stretches of the canal lined with boats. The kids love finding out their names. You can also paddle south and you will go passed the pub.

Clifton Hampden

You can paddle along the river Thames very easierly from Clifton Hampden.  You can easily park next to the wooden walk ways and then carry your boat to the river which is about 5-10 meters across a field.

 

 

Bablockhythe

The best place to enter the water at Bablockhythe is on the opersite side to the Ferryman Inn and caravan park. You basically can’t park on this site because it is private land. However, you can park on the other side of the river.

You can then enter than water on either the bank or the slipway.