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

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tour du lac - getting started.............

Finding a map which would post on here has not been easy. My Memory Map doesn't seem to have an option to lift pictures of a map for me to use in that way. After much searching I've come up with this....

 {Biker's tour - not really my route but gives you some idea.}

This map is really produced as an outline for a VTT tour (that's mountain bikes) so doesn't really follow exactly the same route as I'm planning. But you can see that Embrun lies at the head of the lake - and that is where I start.

At this point I should say that the IGN map for the area identifies some GR walking paths and puts 'tour du lac de serre-poncon' along them. So I had two choices - I could continue on the northern side of the lake - travelling in an anti-clockwise direction on the GR50 or go south. 

Because I am not hiking every day I have to arrange to be dropped off at my start point and then picked up when I finish the day. This will cause some problems from time to time as it will impact on the length of the day's walk and my start time. I can also be a bit picky about the weather forecast which is a good thing!

My choice (taking all these things into account) was to catch a morning train to Embrun and walk south from there towards Les Orres. It's not on the diagram above but is marked as 'tour du lac' on the map. I planned to take the van down to the station at Montdauphin-Guillestre and leave it there for John to pick up later, by bike. As it happened, he was up at the same time as me so he gave me a lift.

{Waiting for the 9.42 at Montdauphin-Guillestre}

{Looking over the pile of gravel - I can see the house!}

The train arrived on time and whisked me off to Embrun, where I was soon walking away from the station. It was ten o'clock, still reasonably cool and the wander down to the river took me about half an hour (well, including some time in an outdoor shop!)  The bridge over the Durance rattled as cars moved along beside me, a bit disconcerting when you're walking on a wooden overhang!

{Bridge (le Pont Neuf) over the River Durance,which runs rapidly into the lake}

{Looking towards the lake from the bridge}

I found the path, with red and yellow striped markers, as it climbed through some woods and across fields. There were some steeper, worn parts of the path, which I negotiated with care. Eventually I arrived at Saint Sauveur, just as the midday bells were ringing in the church steeple.

{St Sauveur from the approach road}

Just behind the church were some wooden benches and the most spectacular view of the lake. Not the first glimpse I'd had as I climbed but definitely the best so far. My sandwiches were duly dispatched and after a little musing in the sunshine I carried on up the hill. I past several houses with occupants busy eating lunch outside who waved at a strange woman walking in the heat of the day! She waved back.

{Lac de Serre-Poncon}

On reaching the highest part of the village, Les Gaillards, there were a number of marker posts and reading them carefully, I chose what appeared to be the correct one for me, going to the right. I had a moment's doubt as there was a printed sheet attached to the sign saying the route was closed for forestry operations. I decided to just go on and hope to get past it if there was an obstruction. It would be a problem if I had to turn back as my lift was arranged for Les Orres at 3.30.

I walked on, mostly it seemed uphill, passing meadows full of wild flowers, and some crops. There was even a party of small children playing games at the edge of a stand of trees. It began to get very hot, so I stopped to top up my suncream and drink more water. Then I walked from shady patch to shady patch, trying to stay as cool as possible.

Finally I reached the Combe Noire, a deep fissure filled with larch trees, and then crossing that, the small road. A broken red and white tape across it indicated the road was closed beyond this point - the timber operations! This was a dusty road leading down to Les Orres, not the ski area but the original old town. It had winding streets and very interesting old buildings. But best of all a Gite, serving coffee but sadly no cake, where I sat for a while in the shade.

{Gite in Les Orres, le Jas de la Viera}

The steps from the terrace lead me directly down to the road where I had arranged to meet John, for my pick up. This time I was 45 minutes early.

Viewranger stats: Almost 13 kms, with an ascent of 1122 m in 4 and a half hours (including stops).

{Welcome to Les Orres.......}


Louise said...

Looks wonderful!

Laura said...

It was quite hard work - the sun seemed to just get hotter and hotter! I was (almost) longing for a bit of wet mist to come down.....