Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Late summer, the perfect time of year for exploring the higher peaks of the Majella.  Today's summits were Monte Focalone (2767m) and Monte Acquaviva (2737m).  

The plan was also to do the Cima delle Murelle (2598m) and descend via Monte Ugni (1350m), but time was getting on.  On hold for another day. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

As Abruzzo scorches...

So what shall we do today? 

It's not yet 10am and 35 celsius already (and rising fast). 

Cool & rain are but a distant memory, as are shoes & sleeves. 

We've done beaches, rivers, gorge walking & waterfalls.  We've even prayed to the rain gods.

I'm not one to complain, but a little cool breeze every now & then, and even a drop of rain or two, would be rather nice... 

Tomato Beach

Praying to the rain gods (Alento gorge, Serramonacesca)

Cascata della Cisterna, Bolognano

Fiume Orta, Bolognano

Orta Valley, St Tomasso

Orta Valley

Fishing Trabocco, San Vito

Alento river, Serramonacesca

Or we could have a walk in the cool woods and an afternoon snooze in a cave... 

I feel an afternoon snooze coming on... 

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Micro-Escape to the Sea

Yesterday evening, he said let's go and camp at the seaside.  Within an hour we had packed a few bits, delegated the task of campsite monitor to one of our trustworthy campers, scooped up Finn the Dog and were trundling our way down from the Mother Mountain and along the valley that joins mountain to sea.

You can do that in Abruzzo, you see.  The land of fairy tales where you can be on the high, snow-clad peaks one minute and swimming in the sea the next.  Well, not quite that quickly but you know what I mean.

We arrived and set up camp in time to get our chairs out at the top of the cliff and watch the sun sink slowly into the sea, a crisp and cold pecorino (the wine, not the cheese) the perfect accompaniment.

A fish supper in the cove below at the one and only restaurant, and then we were ready to snuggle up in the tent for the night.  Not too late to bed as we knew dawn would be calling all too soon.  

And so it was.  Up at 5am marvelling at the fresh air and bird song and the changing colours of the sky.  Breakfast on the beach was a must, as was a quick swim, before returning home once more.

Home and back to work by 9am, a micro-adventure it may not have been (not a bivvy sack or motorway in sight), but a micro-escape it certainly was.  

Eating sea food and watching the sky change from red
to a deep, deep inky blue scattered with a million stars

Slowly awakening before the sun has risen

The joy of just sitting and waiting for dawn

As the sun climbed higher, so the sky became redder
and the ships slowly crossed the horizon

Can there be a better way to take your morning coffee?

Almost light and sunrise almost over, so nearly time to go home

...but not before a quick swim before breakfast

Time to go home Finn.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A weekend of hiking, food, sheep dogs and a classical concert

For the first time we have joined forces with a restauranteur, a shepherd, a wedding planner and a B&B, yes really.  There is, however, a common denominator:  our passion for showcasing this our combined lands of Serramonacesca and Roccamontepiano. 

Serramonacesca "The Land of the Monks"

Both are steeped in history, immersed in nature and perfectly positioned for exploring this exciting wilderness area of the Majella.  

One of the many waterfalls along the Alento river of Serramonacesca

Over the weekend of 30/31 May, along with Abruzzo Parks, we will take you through some hidden trails recently cleared and uncovered, we will cross rivers, climb hills, walk ridges, visit a castle, a tower, an abbey and a hermitage.  The views from all, and the sights you will see, will take your breath away.

Overlooking the gorge and valley of the Torre Polegra

Furthermore, there will also be an opportunity to taste the award winning cheeses of Ennio di Francesco, produced here on these hills of Serramonacesca in La Tua Fattoria, and also to meet the traditional Abruzzese pastore dogs of his son and shepherd, Mirko.  

One of Mirko's beautiful & proud dogs, with the flock below

There will be a chance to visit the Abbey of San Liberatore a Maiella and listen to a classical concert "Napoli in Concerto".  To round off your evening, why not have supper cooked by first class chef, Stefano Tomassetti, at Ristorante Villa dei Monaci, which sits enticingly above the Abbey?

Restaurant "Villa dei Monaci" above the Abbey of San Liberatore a Maiella

Programme of Events

Saturday 30 May

2pm:   Registration at the Abbey of San Liberatore

3pm:        Commence walk:  from the Abbey through woods & across the river, climbing up to the ancient hamlet of Garifoli.  From Garifoli climb up to the montepiano of Roccamontepiano, walk the ridge before descending down to the Torre Polegra.  From the Torre, continue descending to the Alento river, cross the river and return to the Abbey via the deer sanctuary.

6-7pm:       Return from walk, relaxing aperitivo of tastings of local produce, cheese & wine and a chance to meet the Pastore dogs of Mirko di Francesco (more info: Mirko di Francesco).

(Supper at Villa dei Monaci)


Walk only:  €7 per head
Walk & aperitivo:  €10
Ristorante Villa dei Monaci:  to be booked & paid for separately, more info here:  Villa dei Monaci 

For more info & how to book:  email me at jaqs@kokopellicamping.co.uk or phone: +39 333 4636075

Where to sleep

Kokopelli Camping:  "Glamping" bell tents for hire, space for your own tent and two self-catering rooms available, more info here: www.kokopellicamping.co.uk

B&B La Pietre Ricce: Beautiful Majella stone B&B perfectly positioned in Roccamontepiano for hiking into the Majella, more info here:  http://nuke.lepietrericce.it/

Ostello San Liberatore:  hostel style accommodation in the heart of Serramonacesca, more info here:  www.ostellosanliberatore.com

Sunday 31 May

9.30am:  Meet Serramonacesca to commence hike taking in the Abbey of San Liberatore, the Alento river and waterfalls, the Castel Menardo and the hermitage of San Onofrio.  The hike is with Abruzzo Parks, more information and booking here: www.abruzzoparks.it/serramonacesca

5.30pm:  Return to San Liberatore in time for the classical concert "Napoli in Concerto"


Excursion:  €15 a head (or €10 for guests of Kokopelli Camping and the Ostello San Liberatore).  Booking via Abruzzo Parks

Concert:  Free

A few pictures of the team hard at work clearing the trails:

Come & join us

Weekend of 30/31 May

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Absolutely yes! #microadventure

We had our weekend planned.  Saturday working, Sunday skiing. 

All things considered, not a bad weekend by normal standards.  The working Saturday involved grass cutting, seed sowing, weeding, finishing the new kit room.  The Sunday skiing was to be ski hiking back country.  But, mid kit room organising, late in the afternoon, he said "let's go on a micro-adventure".

So, instead of stacking the kit on the shelves, we shoved it into the rucksacks, the freezer was raided for a pre-prepared ready meal, the cupboards were sought for wooly hats, gloves and extra layers, and the thermals were put on under our jeans.  We scooped up Finn the dog along the way.

We camped no more than 3 miles away from home, somewhere we pass so many times each week, either walking the dog or out running, but we arrived in a different world.  

Our tent was pitched in the woods that was a stones throw from a path we know so well, yet a million miles from our normal world.  This is the surreal world of the Microadventure.  And this is a pictorial account of how a very average weekend suddenly became the best weekend ever, and one that we'll remember forever. 

A walk up a very familiar hill, with a very unfamiliar objective

Quite a climb, but here's our secret spot in the woods

Ready for anything the night may throw at me.

Plastic beaker of wine in hand and time to watch to sun go down

The joy of just sitting and watching.

No hurry at all.  Just enjoy.

But we needed to get warm and fed,
and eventually the fire was burning nicely

Fed and warmed, think it's time for bed

Oh joy of joys.  To be up for sunrise.  It may have been too cloudy
to watch the run rise over the sea, but to emerge from a tent, bleary, sleepy eyed,
on a crisp misty morning, listening to the bird song, makes your heart
just want to lift and soar and sing.

Feeling the warmth of the rising sun

Slowly the black & white world of the night became the
technicolour world of the day

A sleepy world, slowly awakens

And breakfast calls!  But what is a #microadventure
without a bubbling coffee pot first thing in the morning?

...and what is a #microadventure without a good old fashioned English breakfast

of ham & fresh free range eggs cooked
in the great outdoors with cold noses & rosy cheeks

Someone is a little exhausted by his impromptu expedition

...so maybe it's time to go home
and finish the jobs we'd put on hold