Friday, 1 July 2011
Jenny, we do remember that night fondly, and it's true that Notchy and I got less inebriated than the rest of you. ...I didn't have my dancing shoes then!
This year we stayed in the posh hotel opposite the currently shut 'Touring' where we laid our heads two years ago. It was excellent, but we did miss out on the delights of La Diligenza as (like many of Limone's restaurants) it wasn't open. The holiday season hasn't yet started. We did however find very good value food at Pizzeria La Crubarsela.
Today has been another lovely day, with less afternoon cloud than yesterday. Sue and I enjoyed a 5.5 hour, 11km stroll with about 1000 metres ascent, by way of a warm up. We had left a large bag at Albergo Nazionale in Vernante, so my load was lighter than it will be for the next few days.
We started out at 10.30 on a route under a bridge and up past a mediaeval tower to the east of the town, soon leaving the tarmac and progressing to dirt track and then a mountain path through beech woods. These provided good shade but didn't stop us from dripping in the heat.
Paths thick with leaf litter led eventually to a small col where we turned left down an indistinct contouring path. After a while we found ourselves drifting gently down through the woods to a point about 150 metres below where we should have been.
There was only one thing to do. Regaining that 150 metres was a bit of a thrutch up the leafy slopes of the beech wood, but it was hardly a jungle. We were however surprised to emerge onto the crest of the hill by a signpost. We must have been just to the north west of Rocco Baila, as surmised in the previous posting.
We rewarded ourselves with a long lunch blessed with formidable views from this final outpost of the Ligurian Alps, to the Maritime Alps across the valley. It was perfectly quiet here, apart from the call of a cuckoo, other random chirpings, and the occasional rumble of a train in the valley some 800 metres below us.
Dragonflies flitted around us, whilst a bird of prey floated on the air currents high above us. Just for fun, or marking its territory?
A right turn took us slightly to the east of the crest and to a fine viewpoint that looks across to Bec Rosso and a line of high mountains to the east, with Cuneo and the plains that lead shortly to Turin to the north east.
Heading along the crest of the ridge on a path not revealed by our 1:25,000 map No 2, we made it to Passo Ceresole at 1620 metres. Hereabouts were the unmistakable rootings of wild boar hunting for truffles. On the way we had passed lovely wild flower meadows flaunting orchids, lilies, broomrapes, houseleeks and many other striking plants, and the pleasant aroma of thyme accompanied us as our boots smothered the small plants.
A steep descent from the col led to a contouring path and the welcome shade of the trees in the beech woods.
There were several more open sections where the views could be admired, before the dense cover that marks the domain of mushroom hunters in these 'private
A visit to the mediaeval tower concluded our little jaunt at around 4pm. Despite our proximity to Cuneo and Turin, we had seen just two people low down on the walk, which had proved to be an excellent choice for the day.
Reunited with Susan, who in turn had been reunited with her jacket, we booked into the hotel and then pottered around Vernante, where hundreds of paintings on the walls of the houses depict the story of Pinnochio.
'Half Board' was a good choice tonight. Lots of tasty morsels have contrived to bloat us into submission!
Tomorrow we plan to start a six day 'hut to hut' trek in the Maritime Alps, based on walk 12 in Gillian Price's excellent book 'Walks and Treks in the Maritime Alps', published by Cicerone. Thanks for your advice and encouragement, Gillian.
There may be some transmission delays as we'll be in a relatively remote mountain area.
Should be fun though...
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