Rocca Sparviera 22/02/18

Last day. Mountain drive up some more interesting roads with either no barrier or such a small one that it seems pointless. To Col de Lobe then Rocca Sparviera mediaeval village and chapel. Saw lots of wolf droppings also those of wild boar. The wolf had been eating the boar as some droppings were mainly boar hair. Golden eagle. We wore the ice grippers for a bit. It had been hot when we did this walk last year, this time started off in 3 layers and increased to 5. We walked about 15km.

Back down to the bar in Lantosque for St. Thomas beer. Then home to pack up.

Dinner chez Liz and Mel. Chili popcorn, tomato and mozzarella type cheese called burrata and basil, couscous with veg and meatballs in sauce, cheeses, chocolate and ginger mousse. All excellent.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

From the fire of 2003

First cowslips
Wolf tracks
Rocca Sparviera
Bathtime
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La Colmiane and Rimplas 21/02/18

We collected Suzanne and David and the bread from St. Martin. Drove to La Colmiane and parked a short way from the centre. It was amazingly cold, Mel reckoned -10 with wind chill. We walked for a good way until we reached the remains of an avalanche and then turned back as it was not safe to continue.

We had our usual fine lunch of salads and bread and tomatoes.

Back to the van and on to Rimplas. There is a Maginot line fort here. Up above the village quite a way. Bridget and I had walked this path last year. Back down and to Serena cafe in La Colmiane for the very seriously good hot chocolate.

Dinner: cheese straws, soufflé, butter beans in tomato sauce with salad and bread, tiramisu.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

Le Boreon and Refuge de Cougorde 20/02/18

We picked up David and Suzanne in St. Martin. Up to Le Boreon. Onto snow shoes and then up and up for 500m of ascent.

The refuge was open this time so we sat inside to eat our lunch. Salads, nuts, bread, ham, cheese. All lovely. We got drinks but my hot chocolate was horrible. The coffees also looked a bit lumpy.

A lovely day with good weather. Back down to St. Martin. Into the Pirate cafe! Nice hot chocolate and a biere de Conte, also very good, nearly as nice as my home made lager!

Bought biscuits for my friends at work, Julie don’t tell the boys!

Dinner: beetroot with feta cheese, celeriac soup, very hot noodles, we all went red, had to open the door, blue cheese and fab home made oatcakes, so good I’ll be having a go, they were quite thick and very tasty.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

La Cougourde

Henk, Margreet, David, Suzanne, Mel, Mike, Bridget
David and Suzanne
Margreet and Henk

Roya 19/02/18

Slept badly, too hot. We’re turning the heaters down. Breakfast and then out by 9. To St. Martin then Valdeblore then the Tinee valley. Up a scary road to Roya, the sort of road you don’t want to meet anything coming down. So we met the snow plough. Luckily just at a slightly wider section. Mel is also a very good driver.

Started off from Roya village at 1500m on snow shoes but soon took them off and put on Pogu ice grippers, these were perfect for the conditions. Walked up through the forest.

Beautiful walk in the sun. Snow mostly nice and firm. I managed to lose a walking pole to the mountain.

Lunch of bread, pasta salad, olives at about 1850m.

Returned the same way. Stopped at La Colmiane for beers and hot chocolates.

Thick fog and graupel.

Dinner: sort of samosa things with balsamic sauce, big roasted cheese, tagliatelle with creamy walnut sauce, pastries with honey and nuts. Liz is a fabulous cook.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

Bridget or as I like to call her Brigitte
Henk leading the way

La Gordolasque 18/02/18

View from my window

The hut where they filmed Belle and Sebastien

Out by 9. Through Belvedere to the Gordolasque valley. Parked at 1600m and snow shoed up to nearly 2000m. Cold and hot and sunny and windy. Our party is Bridget who was here last year, Mike from Herefordshire, Henk and Margreet from near Rotterdam and Mel of course.

Chilly picnic, bulgur wheat salad, bread, cheese, speck, and olive pate, can’t remember proper name.

This valley is close to the Vallee des Merveilles and the very ancient rock carvings.

Back down hoping a pub would be open but Sunday and they are missing a trick. Back to long cold orange juice and water.

Some me time being quiet, so so good.

Dinner: arancini (wow!), Oeuf en cocotte with salad, chicken and chick pea spicy thing in a wrap, cassis and berries and home made ice cream. And beer and wine. Stuffed!

Nice chats.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

St. Dalmas 17/02/18

Room warm with extra heater. Slept well. Woke in night and thought about putting my hat on. Croissant, coffee, toast.

To St. Martin Vesubie in the rain. Bimbled about and then coffee in the cafe. To St. Dalmas. We walked in the Black Forest without snow shoes for a couple of hours. Mostly it rained. Lunch in a nice shed with seats. Potato salad with nuts, baba ganoush, cheese, bread. Hot grape juice.

St. Dalmas is home to a very old Templar church.

Back to mulled wine and pretzels.

Dinner: pea pate, yum and bread, chestnut soup, pumpkin pie with salad and roast potatoes, ginger cake trifle with meringue. Yum yum.

The power cut. I went outside, the whole valley in darkness, my eyes adjusted quickly, owl hooting, just fab.

Holiday is courtesy of Liz and Mel of Spacebetween.

In Saint Martin Vesubie
St. Dalmas

Snow shoes Mercantour, February 2017

Fri 10th

It’s exactly 3 years since Chris and I took her last holiday to Finland where amongst lots of other things we went snow shoeing. She was so happy on that trip and we had a lovely quite magical time.
I’m still in bits and not really coping that well as yet.
I stayed last night in the Hilton at Liverpool airport and did actually sleep well. That’s something that’s slowly starting to improve as in I do sleep through sometimes now.
I’m writing this on the plane and just met my 3 companions for the week, Bridget, Pat and Graeme who are all in the row behind me.
A smooth painless flight with EasyJet. Only 2 hours. Arrived Nice at 10a.m. To be met by Mel who drove us to Berthemont which is an hour up the road.
Lovely to see him and Liz again. Pat and I are in the top gite and Bridget and Graeme in the bottom one.
Unpacked then baguette lunch with beer.
Mel showed us how to adjust the snow shoes to fit our boots and how to fit a Pogu mini crampon.
Bridget took us for a stroll round the village to warm us up. Nice in the sun.
Dinner with Mel and Liz. They showed us round the house.
Dinner – cheese twists with chilli, mozzarella salad, soup, daube (beef with orange) with polenta, roast spuds, broccoli and creamed mushrooms, custard and meringue pud. All amazingly good. Wine.
Sleep.

Sat 11th

My mum’s 100th birthday today.
Breakfast in the lower gite. Croissants coffee toast muesli yogurt.
Out to Le Boreon. Walked up to the Col de Salese at 2100m. Climb of about 600m. Hard work and felt v tired and out of breath as did others. Stunningly pretty and lovely.
Lunch – salad, cheese, ham, bread.
Back down with some practice at going down slopes. Dig heels in, back straight and knees bent!
About 6km or so.
Back to Berthemont. Rugby – Wales got beaten by England so Mel not a happy bunny.
Dinner – chilli popcorn, hummus, big cooked cheeses, gnocchi with fried cabbage and onion, cooked fruits with cream.

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Graeme and Pat
Graeme and Pat
Bridget and Mel
Bridget and Mel

Sun 12th

Drive south for 45 mins. Walk up to the Cime de Roccassiera then to the ruined village of Rocca-Sparviera, looked into little chapel right up the mountain which had Templar crosses inside. Back up to the col and back down to the van.
Lunch – pasta tuna salad, boiled egg, bread, cheese.
About 13 km of distance plus 1300m of up and down. I did this walk with Liz and Mel but without the old village last time I was here in 2008. Lovely walk.
Dinner – crispy pastry things with beany inside, French onion soup, couscous with meatballs and tomato fresh sauce, choc nut fruit cream dessert. Delicious.

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Pat having a little rest
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Old village high up the mountain
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From doorway of chapel
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Genuine wolf poo

Mon 13th

Out in minibus to Rimplas near Valdeblore passing ski station. Maginot line fort. Walked to La Couletta and stopped for lunch at 1400m.
Lunch – potato salad, ham, cheese, peanuts and hot apple juice in effort to reduce my post lunch heartburn. No plantar fasciitis today as on feet for much shorter time. Only 600m of up and down today. Lovely walk. Stopped in St. Martin Vesubie for Pelforth lager and small shopping.
Dinner – tapenade on crispy toast, spinach tarte, fish stew with roast potatoes, oranges with lavender. Yum.

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Maginot fort
Roof in Rimplas
Roof in Rimplas

Tues 14th

To Le Boreon. Snow shoed up to Le Refuge Cougarde at 2100m. 1200m of up and down. Lunch inside refuge which was shut. Beany artichoke salad.
Graeme lost a snow shoe on way back down however Mel located it and fixed it back on.
Got a bit better at the snow shoe shuffle and the heels down descent techniques. Used the heel lifts to go uphill and the rear clips so as not to trip on steep descent.
Saw a chamois and some wolves in the wolf park just their tales.
Songs in my head
Climie Fisher – Love Changes Everything
Be Good Tanyas – Lakes of Pontchartrain
Dinner with Liz and Mel in their house – heart shaped pastry puffs, beetroot and goats cheese, pasta and sauce with beef strips, creamy fruity pudding. All fab.

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Bridget, Graeme, JR and Pat

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The big courgette
The big courgette

Weds 15th

Mel took us to the Tinee valley, another very steep sided valley about an hour and a quarter away. Up and up and up to Col de la Couillole at 1680m. Snow shoes to Sommet de Countent at  1990m.
Saw a black squirrel.
Back down, very hot and sunny, sloppy snow.
Tip: put pole through hole in snow basket in order to keep poles joined together and easier to use when needed comme ca.
Stopped at La Colmiane ski station at Valdeblore for Leffe beer for Mel, Graeme and me and hot choc for Bridget and Pat.
Dinner – dips, chard soup, butter chicken, basmati rice, chana dhal, lentil and potato curry with pitta. Home made coconut ice cream with melon liqueur. Yum yum.
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Thurs 16th

Utelle. Gorgeous walk up to the Sanctuaire de la Madone d’Utelle. 380m up. Quite steep on last 150m to reach plateau.
Went round the church. No quality control re the art in the cloister. Heard some singing/chanting.
Stopped in Lantosque for a St. Thomas beer. Good beer.
Back at the ranch, Bridget went for a horse ride with Liz.
Final meal upstairs with Liz and Mel.
Blue cheese and walnut (their own) on toast. Pasta with truffles. Big salad with eggs, ham a la Nicoise. Pineapples with booze on. Freixenet. Stayed up late with Liz and Mel.
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Band of travellers

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Fossil
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The bells of Utelle
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Lintel in Utelle

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Door in Utelle
Door in Utelle

Fri 17th

Up at 6.30. Breakfast at 7. Left at 7.45. Had to take mountain route diversion because of landslide on main road. It was very high with vertiginous drops, OMG! Then raced along the motorway to the airport. Seemed fast after a week of pootling along.
Easy flight. Slow on motorway getting home.
How lovely it was not driving or cooking and being in a beautiful and dry place with good company!
Videos from the trip.
The holiday was run by Mel and Liz from SpaceBetween.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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