Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 18 July 2008

Thursday 17 July 2008 - An Italian Border Route (IBR) - Day 23 - Some Good Decisions

Here we are, on Colle Seilliere

Plan: Day 24 - Refuge Baillif-Viso to Bobbio Pellice - 23 km, 600 metres ascent, 6.5 hours.

Actual: As planned, then bus to Torre Pellice, and the hotel Foresteria Valdese di Torre Pellice, 545 metres:
21 km, 500 metres ascent / 2300 metres descent, 8 hours including 1.7 hours breaks.

Best bit: View of Mont Blanc / the selection of cheeses at dinner.

It was, as predicted, a gloriously quiet night. We woke to blue sky with high cloud, and cloud in the valley.

After an efficient breakfast in the refuge we waved off our mountain biking friends and set off up the path to Colle Seilliere - 2854 metres. A backpacking Dutch couple had set up camp at a path junction. As we chatted with them others passed on their way to Passo delle Traversette as they circumnavigated Monte Viso. We had already pointed some people this way after they had stumbled upon our tent. They had left the refuge in completely the wrong direction. Perhaps they hadn't noticed the signs.

We headed on up to our col, completely alone. It is not on the Tour of Monte Viso.

From the col, stretched across the horizon in a line about 100 miles away were the distinctive bulge of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn (looking like Schiehallion on an inconsequential day) and Monte Rosa. They will surely get closer in days to come whilst Monte Viso will slide into history.
We had 'phone reception, and sent this message home; we were ready to gloat!

Border Stone 46/1 - erected in 1992 - graced Colle Seilliere. This is perhaps the last border stone we will see for a while, or even on this trip, as our route now heads north well inside Italy, by-passing Sestriere and the vast areas of ski pistes that serve the needs of nearby Turin.

Two Germans arrived on the col from the north, as we studied the lovely purple saxifrage that graces such places.

As we descended we noticed from the Nature Reserve signs that we have moved from Cuneo Province to Turin Province. Both cities enjoy wide views of the mountains that top valleys that flow towards the cities like the spokes of a wheel. They must be brilliant homes for outdoors enthusiasts.

Alpenrose returned with a vengeance as we strolled into the cloud filled Pellice valley.

Lago Lungo housed small trout, swimming alongside which were 'black fish with legs' - about 9-12 inches long. These were rare salamanders, Salamandra Lanzai. What a treat!

At 2100 metres we entered the pink world of the mountain houseleek, and passed the wreckage and memorial to a USAF plane crash in 1957.

On we went by campers (rising very late in a lovely meadow) and past busy ants and nodding harebells, to reach a wide plateau at 1800 metres. Huge beds and massive chutes of rubble indicated that it is not always so benign just here. (Perhaps there is a huge pipe, and the water is being stolen by the residents of Turin.)

Hamlets accessible only by 4WD advertised local cheese and honey (miele) and showed off proudly their roofing skills using massive chunks of local slate.

Big dogs are used to protect the sheep around here, as in the Vanoise and elsewhere. They lazed next to the dozy flocks today, not a wolf in sight. Cuckoos and skylarks flitted away when they saw us.

The wide plateau was overlooked by a large Tyrolean house with a sundial. This turned out to be Rifugio Jervis, doing a good lunch time trade with walkers from the valley for whom this was their high point, albeit 400 metres below the ceiling of today's thin veil of cloud, and over 1000 metres below the wonderful views to Mont Blanc.

We passed by, pausing briefly to chat to a caged cockatoo (in Notchy's silence he passed on some world news - 'no change' he said) before heading down into a steep sided valley with huge waterfalls for our own luxurious alfresco lunch.

From Rif Jervis we were back on the GTA route for the hour or so down a lovely old mule track, full of small blue butterflies, to Villanova. On the opposite side of the valley were huge caves under massive overhanging boulders.

Villanova has just a Posto Tappa and a few ruined buildings and we prefer more interesting places for our rest days. So we continued on down the Pellice valley. We missed a path, but it was probably an unsigned jungle traverse that we escaped from, and as compensation we had a huge raspberry tree all to ourselves along the quiet lane.

A path eventually arrived, contouring stubbornly above Bobbio Pellice before suddenly dropping into the town. All the way down the valley information boards had punctuated our progress, giving graphic details of the flora and fauna, as well as roof building, cheese and honey making, and lots more. They were great.

A quick look around Bobbio revealed - well, not a great deal - and almost certainly no supplier of camping gas.

A bus stood in the square.

Decision time.

We hopped on for the 10 km ride to Torre Pellice down the valley.

A Good Decision.

Tourist Information, closed in Bobbio, was open and helpful.

Next decision - camp site or hotel.

We opted for the Foresteria Valdese, a Hotel recommended by Tourist Info.

Another Good Decision.

We have a nice room and enjoyed dinner with an elderly French couple and an Italian lady. The local red wine went down very well, and as we are on holiday tomorrow there is no pressure to write this.

There is a coach party from the US, on a 'Reformation Tour' staying here. The first native English speakers we have seen for over three weeks. Hello Beverley, hello Cindy, hello All!

Highlight of the evening was the cheese course, with local cheeses not even available in Turin on the platter, which was trolleyed around by an enthusiastic rotund chef who wanted everyone to try everything. He likes people like us with good appetites. We will eat here again tomorrow!

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