Expedition to Corsica Walking the GR20 route August 1998

Foreword

The following is my personal journal from Corsica, written over three arduous and challenging weeks on the "Grand Randonee 20". Covering almost the whole length of the island and renown as one of the hardest of the "GR" routes, it follows a rugged and innaccessable line accross the highest peaks, never descending below 3000ft and reaching over 9000ft. Spectacular views and some awsome situations made it a must do on My wish list.

Resuply on route is difficult without support and we didn't know what stocks the refuges would have, so each member of the four man team carried all food, clothing, shelter and necessities for the three week trip on their backs.

Food took up a large part of the room (and the weight), leaving us with little in the way of luxury. 1 Tshirt, 2 pairs socks, 2 pairs pants, 1 pair shorts and a pair of trousers to last 3 weeks, was a logistical challenge on it's own!

London to Calvi - 28 August 1998

Stayed at Robs last night, getting picked up early by the Robinson clan. Dropped motorbike off at Paddington, then flew from Heathrow to Paris (C.D.G.). A 45min bus ride to Paris (Orly) and 1.5hr flight to Corsica (Calvi).

Tiny airport in the middle of valley, surrounded by mountains, with only one plane, ours! Taxi to Calvi town. It's a pretty place, small market streets, a citadel on top of a large central hill, big harbour with expensive looking boats.

This is the main base for the French foreign legion on Corsica and there are lots of smartly uniformed soldiers around as well as a fairly strong contingent of police.

First a visit to the tourist office. Lee reccy's a hostel on the sea front. 120ff per day including petit d'ejuner. We pay for 2 nights, then head off to find dinner and the rest of our supplies.

Everything gets divided into what we need for the first and second legs of our journey. Seven day's food and some unneeded kit is secured in a bag and posted, by train, to Vizzavona station, left luggage (10th day of journey and the first place we can re-supply). Seemed the best thing to do!

Dinner is in a lovely restaurant over looking the harbour, beneath the citadel. Then Mick, Lee & I enjoy beers till 2.00 am in bar next door, whilst Rob goes to bed! (a very sensible decision it would later transpire)

Calvi to refuge Piobbu - 29 August 1998 (day 1)

Up, breakfast (continental). We realised we had completed our preparations, purchased our supplies and we're rearing to go so we donned sacks, which were feeling rather heavy (10 day's food and all that), retrieved the money for the next nights stay we had already paid for at the hostel in Calvi (with some difficulty. In fact Lee just stood next to the guy on reception until he relented and reimbursed us.), Jumped in a taxi to Calenzana (GR20 start) and set off. One day early and very pleased with ourselves.

I was aware that we had a long day ahead of us, but was not prepared for the level of physical exertion required. From the moment the route starts it goes up! I mean UP, UP, UP!! I thought I was going to die. Perhaps I should have taken a lead from Rob and gone to bed early last night lol.

At one point, about 3 hours after the start, there was a particularly steep section of smooth granite slabs. Attached to the rock on the right was a cable, placed there for use as a handrail or safety line. I pulled on this and one of its securing pitons popped out. Oho not a sign of things to come I hoped, climbing up not bothering to touch the cable again.

We all rested several times today. There were loads of small lizards, about 8 inches long, scurrying under bushes and rocks, trying to avoid our footsteps, they were cute little things, no bother at all. Some of them would even take small pieces of food from your hand.

Finally, over a crest we caught our first sight of the refuge Piobbu, approx. 1km away along a fairly level path on a steep wooded mountainside. I for one was very pleased to see it!!

8 hours after we started, 9000ft total ascent, day one over, only 15 more to go!

The hut is full when we arrive so we bivvy nearby. Lee's basher is erected as shelter. I head off for a douche (shower). It's better than I expected, a small wooden hut and barn door effort (private). A hose pipe hangs from the roof with a shower head on the end of it. The water, being directly piped from the mountain stream above, isn't at all warm!! The shock however brings welcome relief to my aching body (and hangover).

Lee douche's later and overhears 2 American guy's discussing the toilet system.

"What I gotta squat like a bitch!"

The night is clear. Stars are out like a blanket of white snowflakes hanging in the air, so Mick and Lee sleep outside the basher in their bivvy bags on the ground. I leave the door to my bivvy tent open, so I can fall asleep staring up at the spectacle. A great night's kip, despite the Saturday night party going on near the hut, involving many people who didn't appear to have walked up the GR20 (there must be another path!).

 

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They couldn't quite believe how badly I fared today, weak legs, breathing heavy, sweating buckets, but that all went away in the evening when we stopped. The scenery during the day and the stars at night were amazing. This was going to be a fantastic adventure.

Piobbu to Spasimata - 30 August 1998 (day 2)

Up first, make tea for everyone. Breakfast at bivvy site looking down a huge valley in the shade of steep surrounding cliffs (would be nice to have climbing gear, loads of opportunities, not so nice to have to carry that as well though!).

Set off, steep uphill for about an hour to a sharp ridge, which was long and technical in places, involving some hands on scrambling. Especially when I went off on the GR21 (NB: GR21 a term we came to use to describe going off route by mistake) and ended up scaling down a moderate 100ft cliff in the mist.

Mick and Lee waited for me at the bottom, on the real path, to make sure I was safe. Very considerate I thought.

On one scrambley hands on section of the ridge there were numerous tissues and a handkerchief strewn about the floor. All were soaked in fresh blood. Somebody must have been injured. The guide book says from the ridge a steep knee killer decent leads to the refuge Spasimata. I wait at the top for the others before heading down. Micky counts at least 5 people in front of us in the distance. So I head down as fast as possible overtaking them to try to secure beds for the four of us for the night. Successful four beds together.

Nice hut with veranda, set amongst large boulders and pine trees, with craggy cliffy outlook. We sit on the veranda for dinner(dehydrated) and some vin.

The injured person who bled on the ridge, it transpires, was a French middle aged man in a party of 3. He had several large gashes in his head bleeding profusely. Luckily for him a Dutch couple (Mirella & Kees) are on hand, she is a doctor. So, whilst we eat our scoff Mirella cleans him up, shaves his head, and stitches his wounds,at the end of our dinner table with blood pouring on to the floor. Still it doesn't put us off eating one bit we're all starving.

When Mirella is finished fixing the mans head he poses for a photo with his stupid looking bandage. Tthe Dutch couple and the injured man receive a round of applause.

Another douche, this time not private, just a bit of hose pipe attached to a branch amongst the trees. Still covered with sweat and salt crystals. I strip off and spray the freezing water all over me soap up and rinse off quickly. Ahh much better!

Meet our fist English people, Amanda and Annette, barrister and merchant banker (2 English girls doing the trip on their own). They go to bed at 7.30pm. They have walked the low level GR20 variant path, a 7.00 hour journey! The high level route which we have walked, takes 2 long day's. Still we're all pleased to have done it and wouldn't swap. The four of us stay up drinking wine and chatting with Mirella and Kees, who turn out to be from Amsterdam (great fun) bed about 10pm.

Not much sleep, hut is noisy and smells of crammed in sweaty breathing bodies. People start getting up at dawn, setting off early, to make sure of a place in the next refuge. We lay in and leave after brekky about 9.00am, not caring about the smelly noisy huts anymore, preferring to sleep outside!

Spasimata to Haute Asco 31st August 1998 (day 3)

Little descent through woods then steep uphill climb for about 3 hours. Starting across technical slabs to what was supposed to be a suspension bridge across the river, but it was broken. So we climbed down and across instead.

Then followed a long 2 hour slog up to the ridge above. Occasionally crossing exposed slabs, steeply slanted with long potential drops over edges.

The crest provides excellent views in 3 directions and is a perfect place for lunch, very warm and sunny. Most of the other walkers stop here too, many bon jours, chats, hellos e.t.c. (a camaraderie is developing because we're all in the same boat, facing the same challenges, going to the same places. A mixture of ages, abilities, nationalities, great!!).

2 hour lunch (boots off lapping up the sun) then the long, steep, boulder strewn decent to Haute Asco. Bumped into Sabina and her mother in difficulty on a small cliff. Helped mother over the difficult bit, carrying her rucksack for her, then headed on down again. Caught up with Amanda (one of the English girls) on the way down. Her friend had gone on ahead of her. She was steadily picking her way down the large rocks. A slip on an angled rock twisted her ankle, I walked the rest of the way with her very slowly (sunburnt my head, ouch painful! )

Arrived at the refuge some time later to find it was a situated in a small ski resort (amazing in Corsica) at the foot of Monte Cinto (highest peak on Corsica approx. 9000ft). There was a hotel and two refuges. Sitting on the veranda of the first refuge were My guys, the Dutch couple, and Annette, all relaxing, chatting and drinking bottled beer. I drop my sack and sit on the floor with them. Relax, air the feet, chat, sunbathe and drink beer for a couple or hours.

Great refuge, huge dining area, a bedroom for the four of us alone. Luxury! With a spectacular outlook across the valley to the imposing Monte Cinto, which we will be climbing tomorrow. Noticeably there were still patches of snow around the top, even though we were sitting at 4000ft in 25 degrees of burning sun!!

The ski resort has not been in use for the last 5 years, due to lack of sufficient snow, so it has become a run down place with two shops made from what looked like cobbled together pieces of wood. Catering mainly for poor trekkers as opposed to high spending skiers.

After cooking the evening meals, the four of us ate them on the veranda, had a few beers and watched the sun go down before bed.

( Not as pleasant a place as the two previous refuges because there was a road which brought cars and grockels! But sufficient and very comfortable.)

Ascent of Monte Cinto 1st September 1998(day 4)

Not on the route of the GR20 so an extra day has been allotted to do this. We didn't want to miss it!

Took the lid and shoulder straps off my sack and, with a bit of para cord, made a day sack. Chucked in some water, lunch, a fleece and was ready to go. Rob did the same to make a bum bag. Today is a day trip so no need to carry heavy packs. Another stay at Haute Asco again tonight so we don't miss the Circ de la Solitude tomorrow (the crux of the GR20).

We set off together for the 5000ft, 5 hour climb to the peak. I'm feeling fit and delighted to have no heavy sack to carry. I head straight for the top I'll meet the guys there. It's a beautiful mountain covered in green lichen. Huge horizontal dark bands of rock form terraces with trees on at various levels, high and imposing. Much of the route is either very steep or hands on climbing, scrambling.

After 3 hours pushing hard, I catch up with Kees & Mirella. First time they have been caught by any of us before. Normally they leave late and come steaming past us, but today they have the heavy packs. I walk the last section up the scree slope to the ridge before the summit with them, stopping to chuck obligatory snow balls.

They laugh at my T-shirt. The guardian of the refuge at Asco, helped me cut it into a vest shape, using one of the sleeves as a hat/bandanna with a sort of pig tail. My head is still painful from it's burning yesterday, so I am keeping it completely covered for a couple of days.

Finally reaching the ridge we can see our route to the top. It's about an hour away and looks exposed and difficult, still we press on, no going back!

Sitting just under the ridge are the two English girls and a party of 4 Germans. Amanda and Annette come with Mirella Kees and myself to the summit, along with one of the German men (the rest of his party decide to stay put and wait for him. Too dangerous!). The top is quite a way with hands on scrambling and exposed slabs (long falls), still we make it. The weather is just perfect, right temperature here at 9000ft and plenty of sun.

I get my boots and socks off to wait for Mick, Lee & Rob, and relax on the peak. Oh! Oh! Both of my heels have come off with the constant pounding they've received. No pain just two pieces of skin about 2 inches square and two very red raw looking heels. Still if it isn't painful it can't be bad. Annette complains that the piece of skin I've left on the floor in front of her is putting her off her lunch. Unsympathetic to my plight I thought, so I picked up the skin and ate it in front of her. It tasted foul but had the desired effect, she placed her lunch to one side for ten minutes. "Hee Hee".

The boys come up after about an hour and I sit with them eating and drinking more water. A 2 hour lunch overlooking everything, lovely. Kees and Mirella are finishing their walking today to spend the rest of their time SCUBA diving, so we shake hands and bid each other fare well.

After the obligatory photo session at the top the four of us start heading down.

I go ahead. About 3 hours down in total. A German woman shouted at me from across the mountain "have you seen my husband" I recognised her as one of the party I had met at the ridge on the way up. Her husband had lunch on top with us. I said I would look for him and tell him to wait for her (she wasn't confident on the mountain). Stopped at a stream to replenish water and bathe feet, then to bottom with a bit of scree running. No sign of the German guy so I rested on the veranda of the refuge with a couple of beers, from one of the shop/shacks, nursing my aching muscles and feet.

The guys emerged from the forest under the mountain an hour and a half later. Apparently they met the same German family minus husband and helped them down. Lee carried the wives rucksack, badly dehydrating , having used his water at the top.

Quote:- Lee to German man "can I have some water please"

German man to Lee "no thank you I have my own!"

After the German family are tearfully reunited at the bottom, the four of us head off to the dining room and sit around chatting for a bit with a cup of tea. Stuben comes in (the missing German man) thanks us deeply for today's help and insists we join him and his family for dinner in the nearby restaurant. We accept gratefully and run around getting ready.

An excellent evening, four course meal, free flowing wine, lovely. Stuben is a Captain in the German merchant navy, speaks good English and entertains us for the evening with seafaring stories. He and his wife met in the Spasimata hut 15 years previously and were repeating the GR20 as a kind of anniversary trip. How romantic. We all said, tongue in cheek "married in Spasimata, divorced at Haute Asco" after today's escapade. The couple kissed and said no way. We had to practically drag them to the bar to buy them a cognac as thanks for their hospitality!

The other German man, Peter I think, who is a bird watcher, was engaged in conversation with Lee.

Quote:- Peter to Lee "do you watch birds"

Lee to Peter "only through the sight of a gun"

Went down like a lead balloon!!

A good day, felt fit. Found out later of Lee's comment as he surmounted the crest of the huge rocky ridge, believing it to be the top, and caught his first sight of the imposing final ascent to the peak.

"Fucking bollocks!!"

Yep that about summed it up!

Haute Asco to Bergerie de Ballone (day 5)

Up, brekky, put my sack back together, pack and wait on veranda, ready to go. Speak to Sabina and her mother who have decided to end their walk here. Sabina, a physiotherapist, is worried her knee's won't stand up to the rest of the journey and her mother is finding the going a little too tough. Say goodbye and head up the ski slopes.

A long trog to the ridge alongside Monte Cinto, then into the Circ de la Solitude. This is an 800 foot climb down a cliff, of moderate climbing standard in places, followed by a similar climb up the other side. Some chains are bolted in place as hand holds. A slip here would result in falling a long way and probable death.

I wake up from my head down trogging mentality here. At last the adrenaline is flowing and I'm excited. Rob and Mick help Lee down the climb, his first, quite an introduction!! I bugger off ahead enjoying it all (Lee said later he was glad I buggered off as I was talking about death and disaster. "hee hee"). Sleep at the bottom for about 45 min's till the others arrive. We all eat lunch here in the shade, knowing the ascent is as difficult and long. Superb!!

Up a 10 foot ladder to start, then a seemingly endless cliff, protected in places by bolted chains. Up and up then onto a scree slope, which is so steep I climb the rocks at the side, to avoid knocking anything down into the couloir below, where the other's are coming up. A Dutch man, Onze, is a little way below me. He disturbs a rock. I hear a deep thud and a large rock and many small ones descend over the edge into the couloir. Holding my breath, stomach in my throat, I wait to hear what happens. Thankfully the others below get out of the way and everyone is safe. Certainly a dangerous place this Circ de la Solitude!!

We all meet at the top and sit on a ledge in the cliffs, which offers a little shade, and breakout lunch. Everyone's hot and tired. Time has slipped away from us today, the Circ' taking longer than expected, so we're not going to make it to the Mori hut, our planned stop for this evening. Instead there is a refuge about an hour away, down hill. We decide to stay there. I shoot ahead, the route is strewn with large boulder's, meaning there is load's of rock hopping, great fun.

The hut arrives quickly, for a change. Normally you spy a refuge from the top of some peak and head down towards it, only to discover some bugger is moving it further away, or at least that's what it feels like! Not today though. After viewing the refuge and deciding not to reserve beds but bivvy instead, I sit underneath it, between the stilts and chat to the few people who are gathered there.

The tap water is piped from the stream about 200m away and is luke warm. The sun heats the long length of plastic pipe as it is run over ground. I head off to the stream for some cooler refreshment. A pretty place, rock pools and small waterfalls. So, boots off , a quick foot soak and bath (get rid of the salt crystal's), fill water bottle (upstream of where I washed of course), then back up to the hut to wait for the guy's, who arrive shortly, not wanting to stay in the hut either, remembering the hot, sweaty, smelly experience of before. So we push on further down the hill to the bergerie de Ballone, a small farm shack, which sells beer and let's us bivvy nearby for free, result!!

A couple of beers in the shack, dinner (Raven meals) and bed at sunset, about 8.30. A welcome early night after all the revelry with the Germans yesterday!

Begerie de Ballone to Castel de Veggio (day 6)

Awake early to find an ant crawling across my face! Although the mosquito net door is zipped up on my bivvy, the ant's manage to find a way in. They're everywhere, in the food, rucksack and about 30 or so in with me sleeping. I cruelly start killing them squish, squish, squish. All is OK they're not biters just annoying, so shaking the remainder, of the ants from the food and My sack, I set them free. It's not their fault people sleep on top of their nest's and probably just as annoying for them.

A very lazy morning, plenty of tea. Rob and Lee set off before us. Many of the walkers from the hut up the hill pass us, but Mick and I don't care. We have plenty of time, today is a fairly short day.

After our lazy morning we set off (about 9.00 am). Felt great after my huge kip and practically ran through the woods and up to the saddle before the Mori refuge. Rob was waiting here crouched under a small rock, with his sack on top to provide a little shade. This didn't look at all comfortable, let alone rest full, so I pressed on looking for a better lunch spot. After 20 min's or so I stopped under a huge boulder, a bit like one of the stone henge rocks, in the middle of a deserted valley, tranquillity itself.

A spot of lunch, no sign of the guy's so I set off for the next refuge. Met up with a German chap I've spoken to several times and walked with him for a few miles, until I came across the most attractive stream, where I stopped. Baked in sunshine, clear water flowing over huge flat slabs of granite, perfect for sunbathing. Small waterfalls feed the large rock pools. Unable to resist I lay naked on a slab 50 feet wide, just above a 10 foot deep rock pool, into which I have been diving from the surrounding rocks. Paradise, I never want to leave!!

An hour or so later Lee and Rob come along closely followed by Mick. Lee is laughing excitedly. Apparently Rob took a tumble whilst they were racing down the hill, hilarity for Lee! They also like the look of the rock pool, strip off and swim, take photo's, and sunbathe lazily for another 2 hours

Thoroughly refreshed we walk the last 2 hours to tonight's resting place the Castel de Veggio. Finishing with 20 min's walking on a road, the first and only one we'll encounter for 10 day's! A strange experience, after all the uneven steep ground so far. I feared I might fall arse over tit as soon as I hit any flat. All is well though, I even managed to find a pig to chase down the road to prevent boredom setting in.

Castel de Veggio is another small unused ski resort, situated in a much less rugged valley than we are used to. Quite a big place with a big front terrace where we consume a few beers before booking a room. Fantastic a room to ourselves. Rob calls it the black hole of Calcutta and we do have to put the mattresses on the floor because the bunk bed's are a little too squeaky, but hey something soft to sleep on and a roof above, this is 5 star luxury for us, so there is little moaning. Cooked dinner (Ravens) on trangia's outside the back door. Couldn't help but return to the bar.

A party of Italians we bump into occasionally, they're walking the same route, have decided to give up here and they give us the remainder of their dried food (everyone I've spoken to has found the route more challenging than expected and it's taking it's toll. The numbers are gradually dwindling). Two of them stay in the bar drinking with Micky and I until the barman, who looks like one of the mental hillbillies from the film Deliverance, can no longer stay awake and shuts up shop. Bed some unearthly hour.

4th September 1998 Castel de Veggio to Manganu (Day 7)

Shit morning, hung over. Rob and Lee set off walking, Mick and I leave very late, 1030 am, after plenty of tea and TUBBIN (NB: Tubbin stands for Thumb Up Bum Brain In Neutral). Just a 6 hour walk today, easier than previous days with only 2000 feet of ascent. More like a hard day in the hills in England, lucky really.

 

A couple of miles on the flat, then a 2 hour walk up a fairly steep hill leads to a high plateau, covered in lush green grass, with a large mixture of grazing animals. Adorning the centre of this huge plateau is the 300m long Lac de Nino.

This looks very much like somewhere in Lake District, except at an altitude of 5000 feet, it's twice as high. Rob and Lee were waiting for us on the grass by the side of the lake, under Lee's basher for shade. We eat a leisurely lunch then, as this is such an idyllic spot, we get down to some serious resting & sun bathing!

Through a strange looking valley, kind of a lost world, with knarled, twisted short trees, tiny mountain flowers, and short bright green grass. Found an excellent spot for climbing, an overhanging set of boulders 15 feet high with a soft landing. I mess around here for a bit until Lee comes along. Luckily he found one of my socks on the path and returned it. A surprise to me, I thought it was drying away merrily with it's partner on the back of my sack! Life would be a touch difficult with 10 day's to go and only 1 pairs of socks, thanks Lee.

Haute Manganu is at the base of a steep craggy Col, which I can just spy in the distance on the next mountain. A trog for a bit and we're there. A dusty bivvy site in some bushes next to the water falls of the stream. Collect some water, chat to the folks in the hut, Dinner and bed early dead tired.

5th September 1998 - Manganu to Pietra Piana (Day 8)

God did it piss down last night (stair rods). High winds and thick mist rushing past us in the morning, obscuring everything, felt a little daunting. The guide book says the horse shoe ridge, part of today's route, is exposed along it's entire length, making it a rather dodgy prospect at the moment. This is borne out by the fact that the refuge is full of wet people sheltering from the weather, many of whom have decided not to chance it and are heading off the mountain today. Stuben and his party (the Germans who treated us to dinner) are also going down, I give them a hug and wish them well (they're quite disappointed to be giving up).

The weather forecast say's high winds for a couple of days. The four of us are not in the mood to give up so we set off up the Col. Luckily the cloud rose with us but not the wind. A freezing cold thorough blasting saw us along the horseshoe ridge but we were safe and found it quite a laugh in the end, leaning into the wind, impressive photo's e.t.c. Plus we had a chance to wear the waterproof jackets that have weighed us down for day's.

The top of the hill at the end of the ridge provided a weird surprise. A small area of bright green grass surrounded on all sides by large white rocks. Rob and I sat down in the middle and although the clouds were ripping across the top of us, it was like we were viewing them in time lapse as it was completely calm in our little oasis, no wind and very quiet. We sat there for 10 minutes. Lee came past mentioning how similar this place is to the surface of the moon (surreal!!).

We make it down to the refuge Pietra Piana, collapse on the floor and rest for a bit. There are only 2 places left in the hut, tempting for 2 of us in this weather, but we decide to stick together and bivvy. Rob goes off to look for a site, he chooses a place as far from the hut as possible, on an exposed ridge!!! Rob, Mick & Lee secure there basher with rocks, boulders, string, anything against the blasting wind.

NB:- Remind me to buy Freddy several beers as the Goretex Bivvy he lent me is ace. Ha, Ha, Ha!! (Mountain Range double hoop model)

Cooked dinner on the stove in the hut and chatted pigeon French with the hoards inside then off to our bivvies as darkness fell, too cold to stay outside. Couldn't sleep with the wind thundering all around so plugged in my ear phones and listened to Italia Radio for hours. Thanks Marg and Les great pressie (light weight radio).

Awoke in middle of night to the sound of rocks falling, thinking the wind was blowing the wall around my bivvy over. I whipped the zip open and poked my head out only to come face to face with a large wild pig menacingly snorting it's way round my site. Thankfully it trotted off merrily into the night when it saw me.

6th September 1998 - Pietra Piana to Vizzavona (Day 9)

We decided to double up the next 2 day's and complete them in 1 instead. No one wanted to go to bed at 7.30pm because of the weather like last night!

Walking mainly on huge crests and peaks, from the map it was obvious we had to walk over every mountain we could see in front of us, and knowing it was going to be a very long day I got my head down and slogged for hours. Up, Up, down, down, Up, UP. The weather became sunny and hot which made the views fantastic but difficult to see through all the sweat in my eyes. Finally reaching the last crest before the 3000ft decent to the village of Vizzavona. I decided to rest, take in the view, air my feet, have lunch and wait for the others. Micky came along first had a spot of lunch then pushed on alone. His old ankle injury is playing him up a bit particularly on rocky descent's and this could only be described as a long and uncomfortably rocky descent!

Rob and Lee took ages to come up having stopped for lunch in the hut at the bottom of the mountain. We took some pictures and waved a sad goodbye to the north end of the GR20. Standing proudly on the crest we worked out the peaks and ridges we had crossed and the huge distance we've covered so far. Suddenly a sense of achievement set in.

The descent to Vizzavona starts off with very steep rock and scrambling then follows a stream littered with rock pools and water falls, quite beautiful. There is never a flat place to put your feet only uneven rocks and boulders. Lee describes them as like walking on baby heads. This puts a lot of strain on the legs and seems to go on forever particularly after doubling up 2 days walking already. I catch up with Micky about half way down and stay with him to the village.

When I left Rob and Lee at the top I arranged to meet them in the nearest bar to the railway station in Vizzavona. I informed Micky of this and we attacked the last few miles with renewed vigour despite aching feet and blisters, concentrating excitedly on the beers we were to receive at the bottom.

After what seemed like an eternity the station loomed round a corner and there was a bar opposite. Hoorah! Collapsing into a chair we began consuming as much beer as possible. Ice cold and served in tall steiner type glasses, the perfect cure for an aching body.

We thought we would book a room for the night but there were none available so we headed to the campsite in the woods. lots of biting insects around so we went back to the bar and arranged to sleep on the dining room floor. Of course we had to wait until the dining room had closed before we could bed down, so a whole night of drinking and eating ensued.

Thank you the lovely people of Vizzavona station bar.

We had a whole day off next day and caught a train to Ajaccio for a nice salad nicoise. Helped a little with the hangover. Paid a very reasonable fee to use their washing machine and had clean clothes ready for the rest of the journey.

We continued the GR20 from Vizzavona to it's end..

To be continued...............

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