WHAT IS IT WITH THE CHURCHBELLS?? Someone French please explain to me why you need these to start at 5am?? I don’t know what’s worse, incessant crowing from the farmyard cockerel or incessant campanology. So while I had some lovely peaceful nights sleep at the start of the trip, this was not one of them.
Still we awoke to what felt like the first ‘proper’ day of the holiday. As in we did not have a significant amount of driving to do. We had a long (ish) walk planned, 10km that would take us up to Cascade d’Ars. It was a little cooler today, supposedly only reaching 25 degrees but my phone warned of the clouds coming down and afternoon thunderstorms. We had a few speedy croissants and then left wanting to make sure we didn’t walk in the hottest part of the day, or miss the views.
We went into the tourist information shop to see if they had a map of the walk. A friendly guy sold us one and also explained the route which for the most part followed the GR10 trail.
The walk started about 200m up the road from where we slept. Taking a trail that heads off the road at the first hairpin. The first section heads up through woods on a clear, wide track like this.
With glimpses of the mountains through the trees.
After heading up next to the river you then cross over it. You can now hear the roar of the waterfall up ahead.
First glimpse of the waterfall, or part of it anyway.
And here a proper look.
Climbing up we were soon alongside the first section.
Here we deviated slightly and went out the admire the views of both the valley and the water up close.
We then headed back on the path which continues to the left of the waterfall. The humidity up here is ridiculous with clouds starting to form on the peaks. It’s around 1pm and the dew is still on the ground. Down in the valley last night was around 85%, but it must be more up here.
After a good 2.5hrs of up, some of which was pretty steep. We rather sweaty, but we have reached the top. The bridge here crosses the river before it plunges down the valley. The only other people are wisely drinking wine on a nearby hillock.
The signpost shows 1hr to the lake, the next stop on our route.
This is clearly a popular trail, with us passing quite a few people on the way up. However once you go past the waterfall it seems a little less so. The path is slightly hard to follow at times, and the waymarking a little less enthusiastic. We pause for a few breathers, turns out there is more up.
It is a nice experience to do a walk that is so luscious with greenery as we normally walk in Scotland that is barely barren or Greece, hot and fairly barren. Here there are wildflowers everywhere, they’re just not in focus in the photograph.
We are truly in the cloud at this point. Hoping it clears as needless to say the views are now gone but considering the humidity up here who knows.
After sometime we emerge from the forest and the weather is looking up. The path heads over the ridge to the right and along it we meet some people. Running.
A view back into the valley we had just left.
Crossing over the edge the path now drops down to Etang de Guzet, where we stopped for lunch.
The conditions up here are perfect for mushrooms, and I wish I knew enough to be ale to pick and eat some of them. Needless to say, did not risk it.
We now start the descent. Soon we turn off the GR10 on another path which has been recently cleared and we start down the zig zag trial in the forest. After a while the village comes back into view.
The trail keeps descending on a clear path, through a pretty standard looking woodland for some time. At this point I must say I’m getting pretty tired, I’d love it see anyone do this in the stated 3hrs as in total it took us 5hrs and we normally come in under timings. So we are back around 3pm.
Having decided we wouldn’t leave in the cloud again because we didn’t want to miss the view and because it wasn’t nice to drive in we decided to make a break as the weather looked ok. The over the mountain passes is shown below. Very steep, very hairpinny and much hotter than yesterday.
Ruby did pretty good, I pulled over around halfway up the first section to let the engine cool slightly and then we pottered across the rest at about 20pmh, either to use the engine for braking or to avoid overheating! The views were much better on the way out, we also passed people paragliding inbetween the two passes.
Our destination was Lac de Montbel, a large inland lake that looked like it would be pretty good for a relaxing beach day after our long walk. On arrival we decided to pay the 13 euros for the campsite, a chance to have decent showers and stock up on water properly.
It wasn’t til later and we were discussing the drive in and out of the valley, I was being super careful not to brake more than necessary or ride the brake pedal after yesterday, that I realised the brakes hadn’t failed. Or more correctly experienced brake fade caused by too much heat build up which reduces braking friction. I mentionned that the main engine fuse had blown, therefore the engine was off. Ergo – no brake servo. Brakes were fine, but you would have needed one hell of a lot of foot pedal to stop what must be at least 2 tons of van on a steep hill. Doh.