The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 27 July 2015

Day 16 - Cabane d'Aygues Cluses to Vielle Aure

Monday 27 July

I am absolutely knackered. Therefore I'm going to try to be brief. Brevity not being a forte of mine, I shall strive for it by abandoning my usual practice of full sentences, for this I apologise in advance.

Woke in our spectacular location with clear skies above and cloud below. By the time we left it was with compass in hand; that cloud had drifted up from the valley. Pockets of vis up to final pull to pass then got above cloud again. The top of the pass was a very special place for second breakfast. As we sat there a couple of chaps ran up, took a couple of minutes to stow their poles the ran down the other side. We were rather slower and were soon back in cloud.

Brief sunshine atop next pass then we passed a couple of dozen school kids toting day sacks adorned with off-balance loads of car camping gear. Most looked miserable. Some carried their tents or sleeping bags in their arms. Poor things!

Very steep descent to Lac de L'oule and sunshine whilst we had lunch there.

The next ascent wasn't steep but my legs wanted to stop. Finally it levelled out and the final 3km to the pass (along a very newly upgraded path, in place of the old eroded line) would have probably been a delight if we could have seen anything. As it was the clouds that obliterated any views found they could no longer hold their water. We were mizzled on to the point of needing jackets.

Just before the pass we picked up water for a dry camp. An hour and a half or so later we got to our intended destination.  We ate M&Ms and debated the merits of going on. All arguments pointed towards staying put. We poked around for a pitch but decided the ground was too skanky so opted for the outrageously long day after all, finishing with 800m of descent (today was a very high descent day).

Taking a cut off between switchbacks on a road wasn't wise - should have checked map - turned out it was in wrong direction. Once back on track it wasn't a bad path down for the first 600m.

Arriving exhausted at the campsite (on the far side of town) we received the worst news possible after a monster day: they were full. Aaaarrgh.

A skanky little patch of grass was found for us. We may have had to pay for this skanky option (whereas the skanky ground on the ridge would have been free) but at least we get a shower tonight and, thanks to being further on than intended, a big lie-in in the morning.

I walked back to the supermarket to buy tea; a whole roast chicken, a salad for 4 people, a big pack of olives and a pan of smash has been consumed in the tent. Now for a shower, then I'm for bed. I'll try to resume normal service of writing in full sentences tomorrow (considering I'm struggling to remember my own name right now, I don't think I've done too badly tonight!)

Other random thoughts:
1) Is it reasonable for 2 people to eat half a kilo of peanut M&Ms in 2 days? It seems outrageously piggish but my calculations suggest that it is in fact reasonable.
2) Talking of food, I forgot to mention the abundance of wild raspberries and bilberries yesterday. Very tasty even if they did slow us down considerably!
3) Alan S and Alan R - that little tractorette - it was a Ferrari. 


  1. Remarkably coherent I'd say.
    Roasting a whole chicken in a tent is impressive (giggle). The amount of M&Ms between two over two days is perfectly acceptable.
    Now, have a good sleep.

  2. What she said.
    (and jolly well done after pretty demanding day!)

  3. You are doing really well. The bit from Lac de L'oule to Luchon was sheer hell for me, couldn't see a thing and freezing cold. Doing the sort of walking you are doing it's reasonable to eat anything and in any quantity you can carry :-)

  4. Vieille-Aure. I was still walking with David. We stayed at the hotel there.

    "The evening meal here was quite an event.

    There was an elderly French guy playing a synthesiser, wearing a sort of Tahitian T shirt, and singing the usual frivolous French soppy songs whilst trying to encourage participation by the diners which we as English found quite embarrassing, but of course the French were loving it, and one middle aged exhibitionist started joining in with some castanets and hoofing it in and out of the tables. This was all quite grotesque and lasted through our meal and we observed with a sort of fascinated horror, but this was not all. The hotel owner and his wife were a couple in their early forties and they looked after the bar and helped to serve at the tables, and they were sort of public relations fanatics smiling and being excessively charming to everybody; she was quite pretty and dressed in a fairly provocative style with a mini skirt. Just as we were finishing our meal mine hostess drifted up to the microphone and started to sing; her voice was quite good and she was singing very erotic French love songs, but we had had enough by then, and rather bravely took our leave of the dining room. This “concert” went on for about two hours."

    1. Brilliant!

      I'm now wondering: a) why I don't have a copy of your GR10 book; and b) why I didn't think to take it with me in pdf (as I did Martin's book). Although, I suppose that if I had taken a copy with me, then I wouldn't have had the emails containing your comments to look forward to on a daily basis.

  5. Hardly surprising the amount of food being consumed, with the amount of mileage and ascents and descents you are both covering. Mind, I hope you shared out the chicken and salad???

  6. Oh Bliss
    Just to think - you could be sitting in a sauna (TNSC2) trying to de coagulate a gooey mixture of mushroom and fly soup whilst nursing a foot covered in pressure sores (I know about them) in clothes not washed for three days that are covered in swatted flies and mossies, wondering what brand of optimism got me to book some luxury accommodation tomorrow night. 30 km away...

  7. Thank you for all the reassurances that our peanut M&M consumption wasn't excessive. The scales when we got home told us that Mick had lost half a stone and I'd lost nothing (except a dress size), which would also suggest that our glutony wasn't out of proportion to the exersion.