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

Sunday, 21 August 2011

La Grande Rocade............

This is the next walk in my attempt to get all the way around the Lac de Serre-Poncon which is an artificial lake, some say one of the largest in Western Europe. It was created in a valley, subject, over the centuries, to devastating floods, particularly in spring time when the snow from the mountains around it melted. The original plan was to be able to control the amount of water throughout the year, especially further south into the River Rhone.

The lake flooded the valley and some small settlements, although most of those were built away from the valley bottom to avoid the seasonal mud slides and high water levels. Apart from controlling the water levels and also making electricity, the lake has become a magical, watery playground. Along with the winter sports industry, it is the key to the tourist attraction of the area, and much of its income.

John came with me for the first few kilometres of the walk and then returned to the van. He would pick me up later at Boscodon. We set off under the shade of the trees and passed a couple of good strong waterfalls on our way.

{John watching the water fall - you might notice his shoes - also Keen McKenzie - purchased at a reduced price in one of the local sport shops!}

Today's walk would take me through the thick forests from les Orres to the Abbey of Boscodon. The forest road is called 'la Grande Rocade' and contours round the steep wooded slopes of the valley. Then after a short section past a village I would be dropping down through the Boscodon Forest.

I had hoped to catch many glimpses of the lake as I walked but the density of the woodland prevented that. I saw the lake clearly only once, by leaving the track and climbing up to a small viewpoint. I had planned to have my lunch there but it was fully occupied by some quad bikers who had passed me earlier, leaving a huge pall of dust and exhaust fumes with me.

{Belvedere de Plat Aiguille - a view of the lake - just!}

I noticed at this point that my gps had gone quite berserk, so the readings at the end of the walk would be a little suspect. The path at times did go quite near to some large rocks and with the cover of the trees too it was making connections with the satellites rather difficult.

At the next picnic site, also occupied but a lot larger, I finally stopped for my lunch at a wooden bench. Not the calm peaceful atmosphere I was looking for but a local family get-together including a roaring barbecue and a game of boules. They politely shouted 'bonjour' and 'bon appetit' as I opened my sandwich box.

{Approaching the picnic site - I will not be alone!}

Once I was on my way again, the track began to descend towards the Gite at la Draye. There were signs along the way which indicated the cross-country ski tracks that were available during winter. This is an area I have had in mind for an excursion on my skis but the snow has never been as good here, near the lake, as it has been higher in the mountains.

{The Gite at la Draye}

After la Draye, where I was tempted to stop for a cold drink but didn't, I carried on to the outskirts of the village of la Montagne. There were cows, many chickens, including a fine cockerel, and some dogs to greet me. One dog even followed me for a while and then nudged me with his nose! I was just giving him a piece of my mind when the farmer appeared on his tractor, so the dog followed him instead. The path soon left the road and began to wind down through the trees, finally arriving at the Abbey of Boscodon. I was early, again, so I wandered about and took a few photos of the Abbey.

{Abbey of Boscodon}

John arrived, we found a suitable quiet layby where we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing under the trees, in the shade. The temperature reached 35 degrees down beside the lake, but here it was a little cooler with a pleasant breeze.

Viewranger says (although take this with a pinch of salt) that I walked 18 kms, climbed 1375 m (??) and managed a maximum speed of 41 kph. And all that in 4 hrs 25 mins. Mmmmmm!


Louise said...

Just out of curiosity, were you giving the dog a piece of your mind in French or English? He might not have understood you...;-)

Laura said...

Hi Louise - well, that's a good question - it was probably in English but my body language was international!