Actual: Balsiglia to Camping Serre Marie at Fenestrelle, 1100 metres, - based on GTA stage 21:
19 km, 1400 metres ascent, 7.8 hours including 1.3 hours breaks.
Best bit: The cascades on the ascent from Balsiglia.
It's the Italian Holiday Season.
We spent today walking in the sunshine over a fine mountain pass - Colle dell'Albergian, 2713 metres - totally alone apart from the presence of a shepherd and his dog for a few minutes.
Fenestrelle is the home of the most extensive military fort in Europe. It occupies 1.3 million square metres. We decided to eat out here, together with any other tourists. It took us 30 minutes to find a restaurant that was open. We were the only diners. Nobody else arrived.
And we have been walking on a named route - the GTA, but it seems that this particular route attracts just a thin trickle of Germans - there were none on today's section. Nor anybody seen out walking yesterday, for that matter.
We are less than an hour away from Turin.
I don't quite know what this all means, but we did have Notchy's News Service to confirm that the English are useless at cricket.
One thing we know has affected tourism in this area is the bad weather they had shortly before we arrived. It seems that whilst we were cavorting across Scotland in the sun on the TGO Challenge, parts of the Alps had severe weather. We know a landslide at Villar Pellice washed away a house, killing 4 people, and today we have seen evidence of the destruction caused by that weather. For example there is a nice stroll up to the picture postcard village of Laux from here, but a bridge has been washed away, leaving a river crossing that some may find awkward.
Romina, at Ghigo, put the fact that the area is having a bad year for tourism down to this bad weather.
Anyway, today is summarised below:
• Tea and cake for breakfast.
• 'Goodbye Volker'. 'Goodbye Eva-Maria'.
• Leave Balsiglia at 7.45 on a shady, cool morning.
• Soon hit the sun. Fleeces off.
• Waterfalls cascade down from all sides as we ascend the ancient paved path.
• It's a long ascent - around 1350 metres.
• We pass shepherds' huts below an area where the huge local roofing slates were quarried.
• A shepherd is encountered on his way to a sleeping spot above his lazy cows.
• Tiny grasshoppers and wheatears hop alongside us.
• High cloud and a SE breeze keep us cool.
• Plenty of camping spots - we would have been ok yesterday despite the cows.
• Pass derelict military buildings to reach the high col at 11.30.
• Fine views to Monte Rosa, closer now.
• Descend to an excellent lunch spot through floods of yellow, pink and blue flowers.
• Huge fort comes into view across the valley, blighted by ugly new hotel complex beside it.
• A view through binoculars - reveals the fort site to be completely deserted.
• It must be siesta time.
• Much evidence of May's severe weather - boulder strewn gullies, etc.
• Lots of heads carved into trees by a local artisan.
• Large yellow foxgloves and great yellow gentians dominate the lower slopes.
• Nutcrackers flit over deserted woods.
• Reach pretty village of Laux at 3pm.
• Leave GTA route to descend by pleasant ancient paved path past recently destroyed bridge and other debris, to the small town of Fenestrelle.
• Finish walking at 3.30.
• Book in to camp site. Extortionate at €30 a night for the two of us!
• Explore, catch up with Notchy's News, eventually find a restaurant that's open...