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 20 July 2015

Day 9 - 1 hr before Lescun to Borce

The children staying at the refuge were taken off to bed at 10pm last night and the chap who had been eyeing up the fire ring and breaking up branches didn't come back to start a fire next to our pitch, so the only minor disturbance to our night on our very comfortable pitch was the loudest donkey in the world. The cow bells were continuous, but that made them easier to ignore.

Not knowing the opening hours of the shop in Lescun, and not wanting to arrive too early, a lie-in was had followed by a leisurely walk down, including a bit of an out-and-back detour when we both managed to miss a very obvious 'turn here' waymark.

Proving once again our inability to arrive in a town or village that has facilities and to leave again within the hour, a while was spent deciding what to buy in the shop (whilst Mick drank coffee down the road), then eating croissant so as to lighten our loads and ... well, I'm not quite sure where the rest of the time went but it was 10 by the time we continued on our way with heavier and bulkier bags than we'd been carrying on arrival.

That meant that we hit the biggest climb just as the day started to get really warm, which wouldn't have been a problem if we could have taken it slowly. Alas, we had to almost trot up much of the 600m of ascent because of the swarms of horse flies. At the point where there were hundreds of the bastards, and I really wanted to stop to apply DEET, I couldn't even break stride for fear of being eaten alive. As it was, five got me within the space of a couple of minutes (cue repeated shouts of "you bastard" followed immediately by a sharp slapping sound). And I had been so pleased to have got through yesterday with only one extra bite added to the substantial collection (although Mick is doing worse than me; he must be extra tasty).

Having passed a family, complete with a load-bearing donkey, in the final 20m of the climb and having come out on the other side of the pass to a stunning view, lunch time was declared. Extra care was taken with my tomato today, although the main danger wasn't rolling off down the slope but being scoffed by the donkey whose head kept appearing (complete with a million flies) over our shoulders (the family was also lunching nearby; they did retrieve the beast each time before it made too much of a nuisance of itself).

It was (literally) all downhill from there to the village of Borce and for once I found myself glad to be descending not ascending (usually on a killer descent I think it would be easier going up). It must have been the humidity that was making it seem so hard, as the thermometer told me it wasn't that warm today (the highest it read, in the sun, was 33 degrees).

A couple of cooling off breaks eventually saw us down to Borce where there is no campsite. It's possible that we could have found a pitch if we had carried on a while further, but so overheated was I feeling that I couldn't face another climb, so we asked the owner of the bar (in which we were supping cold drinks) whether there was a Chambre d'Hote nearby. There was, and he offered to call them, but found that his battery was flat, so he nipped outside (ignoring his other customers) to borrow a friend's phone, but found that one had no reception. He disappeared for a longer period (whilst his other customers patiently waited some more) and eventually came back with the news that they did have a room available - it turned out that he'd abandoned his bar and run up the road to ask in person!

So, we are now in a basement room (we chose it ourselves for its coolness) in a very interesting old building. In fact the whole village is very interesting, as we found when we went for a wander around earlier.


  1. Wonderfully helpful and friendly!

    1. Above and beyond. If he'd just given us directions, I would have happily trotted (or, maybe ambled) up there to ask myself.

  2. Yes, you'll find the locals friendly. I don't recall horse flies at this point (we were earlier in the season and forced along a different route due to snow) which could be a bit ominous. Stay high!
    Well done Gayle for your entertaining narrative - I know it's more than you at one time intended, and I know it's hard work after a long day.

  3. You've even managed to photograph the hot rays of sunshine - well done! My reaction with horse flies is just the same - including the expletive! Hope they get less frequent.. or less hungry!

    1. They did get less frequent, although that itself had the downside that when I wasn't constantly checking my arms and legs for them, they had much more of a chance to get a sneaky bite in.

  4. Bars & basement bedrooms.
    Horse flies? An Aussie corked hat, a long sleeved white shirt and thick cricket trousers. You're already dealing with cooling off-breaks.

    1. Thick cricket trousers? I'm really not sure they'd suit me (and, of course, I am a fashion leader on the hills [ahem]).