.............not all those that wander are lost..............

Friday, 12 August 2011

Getting back on track................

{Beautiful old tree used as a marker post for GR50}

I have been following the GR50 as it wends its way along the Durance valley. From the house here I can easily access the route and have walked both to the left and to the right. To the left, I explored the track that eventually leads to Chateauroux-les-Alpes finishing in the Bar des Alpes on the main street.

So it was there I started the next leg.

{Bar des Alpes on the main street}

Of course, first there would be a quick visit to the Bar, with John, who had kindly agreed to drop me off and meet up again down by the plan d'eau in Embrun. Sitting under the big umbrellas, watching the little market stalls and their customers, while drinking coffee, was a delight. Cars parked, then left and cyclists, then joggers, went by. It was definitely the French holiday season!

I set off and climbed several back streets to reach the GR50 behind the houses. Eventually passing through an old archway, then beside some very old houses until I arrived by forest tracks at the Gite and parking for the Cascade de la Pisse (yes, that is what it means!).

{Auberge Les Pinees, secluded in the forest}

The day was beginning to warm up so I was grateful for the shadow of the trees as I continued the climb. There were a good number of butterflies around, and many wild flowers. From time to time, a timid sunbathing lizard would dive into the undergrowth, away from my feet.

After a tight hairpin turn, crossing a bridge over the river, I started alongside an old canal. It reminded me that quite a few miles of these exist in this area. The farmers built them to bring water to the little terraced fields, high up the sides of the valley. Many are still in full use, although you can also see the broken pipes and silted channels where they are no longer needed. This one loudly rushed beside the path until it eventually diverted across some fields to my left.

{Irrigation canal}

I was walking way above the valley bottom by now, and beginning to feel the heat of the day. It was about time I ate my lunch, and if possible, cooled my feet. I found a small stream descending and crossing the track, with suitably placed rocks for sitting and trees for shade. I spent a good half an hour enjoying the peace, watching butterflies come and go from the water's surface.

{A treat for my feet!}

I set off, refreshed, and before long, came across not a canal, but a whole small river, using the path as a way down the hillside. The Keen water shoes suddenly became the very thing to wear - my socks would dry off quickly - as I tiptoed across the wet stones along the track.

{Walking on water!}

By now I was getting late for my meeting time with John at the lake. I had underestimated how long this walk would take me. Partly because it was now quite hot and also as the route was more up, down and winding than it looked on the map.  Thankfully I reached the point above the hamlet of le Chateau de Caleyere where I had to walk down a deep gorge to the town of Embrun, leaving the GR50 for another day.

{First glimpse of Lac Serre-Poncon in the distance}

{Plunging down the gorge to reach Embrun}

The gorge was cooler but slower, as it was steep and at times, loose ground. Reaching the outlying areas of Embrun, it was no quicker, and eventually I arrived, hot and very late at the water's edge. John had just begun to worry slightly, I'm usually very punctual. This time I was well over an hour later than I had said.

{'The Beach' beside the lake at Embrun}

The plan d'eau at Embrun was a bit like Blackpool, with sunbathers, fairground rides, and stalls selling ice-cream and beach toys. I treated John and myself to an ice-cream!

I had now reached the start point for my next venture; to walk round the whole lake of Serre Poncon. Not all in one go, but as a section hike, completing it in a series of day hikes, perhaps about 10. Serre Poncon is a huge reservoir dammed to create water storage by EDF with a monster of an earth 'barrage' at the other end. In the summer it's used for sailing, fishing, swimming and pleasure cruises. I believe it's the largest artificial lake in France. I'll post more about its history as I walk.

Viewranger tells me I walked 19.5 kms and climbed 1204 metres in around 5 hours or so.


Louise said...

And there you go, making me feel lazy again! Sounds like (and looks) a great walk.

Laura said...

Made my legs ache though! Good for trying out the new trainers!

Anonymous said...

It looks idyllic out there! What a lovely walk :) I wish we had a bit of your weather here, as the recent fantastic sunshine has been superseded by torrential rain.

Laura said...

It is a bit unsettled this year - some heavy downpours and electric storms! But the sunny days are SUNNY!

Anonymous said...

When you get back I hope you'll think of popping down here for a weekend of lovely walking in/near the Forest of Bowland/The Dales/The Lakes :)

Laura said...

Thanks Shirley - I might just take you up on your invite....sounds a great area to live - hope you're settling in happily.

Alan R said...

Excellent walk description and what a great area for a 10 day hike especially if you great weather like that.
Luckily there seems to be plenty of water around to stave of dehydration.