My Corsican adventure.

GR20: Northern Half. The plan is tight because of time lost in transfers. I have to get to the start after landing which is difficult on a Sunday. The 1st train leaves before landing and the only other is 5.30pm. I can only do 1 week’s worth so may not even make Vizavona. Other escape routes are available.

Transfer to start point: Wake at 02.40 for a small breakfast at home. The taxi came on-time at 3.30am. The driver was a nice guy in a white Skoda for Kwickars. Driving through the rain we got to Manchester airport early (05.20). Good man, deserves some +ve feedback.

Dave and the race across the island. Dave sat in the row behind in the jet and revealed that he was on the same quest. We agreed to travel together to the start. My anxiety vanished into elation; I clapped my hands together in delight.

Sitting in my row were two young women who nattered quietly all the way. After a while, they included me by asking about the GR20. One was a primary teacher, the other I can’t recall but has a wide breezy smile. Both were fine company. With this and Dave’s introduction. This is going to be good.

The walk up to Caruzzo. For me, Caruzzo would be my start. Problem is – how and when do I get there. I suggested to Dave that we head over to Comozzo to either get the last train, or at a push – hitch. There was a nice but basic foodie place for pasta and a sharp coffee in Comozzo. Round the corner is a suitable roundabout to try our luck with the thumb. We had hours to kill before the second train, so why not?

Then the day really started! After a full 15 minutes in hitchhiking pose a white Audi A3 pulled over. He was going to Calvi! The guy was a dude, all dressed in white, driving the two of us in his white convertible through the northern mountains then along the coast. We chatted, he was a locksmith from Paris. At times he gunned it, passing cars at over 120km/hr, at others, sitting in. Some of those cars, I remarked to Dave, were those who didn’t pick us up! All the time, hip-hop pumped out of the car stereo. The time.of our lives!

We arrived in Calvi at 16.30, a full hour before the train was due to depart Comozzo. We had time to stock up in the Super-U and get to our start points. Dave wanted Calenzana and I wanted Auberge de Bonifacio. I was back to plan A. The idea of postponing my ascent to Monday hung over like a gloomy disappointment. Goodbye disappointment, it’s all Go for the start from Auberge de Bonifacio.

A taxi took me up to the forest, after some negotiation in Calvi, first offer was €66. I pulled a face and he dropped it to €60. I mithered with Dave and then the offer of €50 if cash came. I took it and arrived at the Auberge at 19.30.

Up through the forest. A familiar route, but this time the pack was heavier. Under some pressure from the setting sun, I hoped to arrive in evening twightlight. As you proceed, eyes adjust to the failing light well after sundown. Eventually, you can’t see the marker flags so it was the to get the head-torch on.

Some buildings and a howf appeared then I knew the helipad was near. Then, voices. Outside the refuge, people were still eating, drinking and smoking by torchlight. My head was quite spaced-out which made struggling with poor french worse. But I was there. The guys who ran the place seemed to understand, perhaps my tiredness was obvious.

The only food remaining was bread and sliced boar sausage. It washed down with a half beer nicely. I don’t normally eat meat, but out of necessity…

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Green machines.

20°C, brisk SW, sunny.
Steady ride over the beach grasses and a chat with a Spanish traveller.

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19°C, wet start but brighter now.Intermittent faults are tricky to diagnose. On the off-chance, I tried my record deck today and it works perfectly. I’ve not switched it on all summer because it would not run up to speed. It’s as though the motor is running on one channel only. Chris Brookes thought the Valhalla board may be at fault, but perhaps it’s a connection that is intermittent.

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Warm wind.

21°C, strong S, strong sun

Another shortnride.

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9 mile warmup.

22°C, S breeze, full sun.
Fixed gear ride and some moderate hills via Dalton. Excellent coffee at Twin Lakes Velo., But it didn’t return all of the energy I wanted.

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12 mile warmup.

22°C, bright warm sunshine.

This photo is looking back towards Rivington where I have spent the last 5 days working on NCS

I’ve not ridden any bike for nearly a week now. This ride totalled approximately 32 miles, but it took me 12 miles to warm up. For most of my adult life, I’ve reckoned on 8 miles to warm up (or 1/2 an hour, whichever comes first). Perhaps the long warmup results from the long interval off cycling.

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NCS, week 2.

Warm and storms are promised.

Less walking this week but we’re assigned to work with a single group each. Fortunately, my group are very likable.

Day 2: walking with the delightful Team 4. They are strong and set a good pace so I took them up Rivington Pike. The pace! They motored along but our timing was unfortunate. The Pike is quite exposed to the thunderstorm that hit the summit. Within a few minutes I got them off the hill.

Tuesday nights, I go home – it’s my turn to cook supper. The cohort (Wave 6) had a rough night with heavy downpours associated with passing thunder clouds.

Wednesday (d3) was spent mostly making the camp good after the deluge. Water ran like a stream through the catering marquee (photo). We moved and cleaned tents and dried the kids’ kit. My Group 4 went out climbing.

Thursday (day 4): warm morning with some reduction in the field’s waterlogging. That was all undone in the afternoon. Several thundery showers returned the ground to it’s appalling squelchy state. At least my lovely group said they had a good day out in watersports. I wished I could be with them but useful work needed doing at camp.

The evening saw a few more showers which put me in a dilemma, should I drive home for the night? My own tent was reasonably dry, so I stayed.

Friday: packing up. Overnight, the kiddiewonks were moved to the barn to sleep. They were, however, cold. Many have awfully thin sleeping bags, some marked as one-season. Pretty much, no insulation then.
The coaches arrived early to take them home, and started boarding at 11am. My lovely group were on the 3rd coach and each came over for a parting hug! That made my day.

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Heavy washout.

18°C, heavy rain.

All day. There are met office warnings of possible flooding. We’ve been spoilt by fine days this summer, I really fancy a bike ride today. Off to the garage to skulk around mending and servicing.

Later … A respite:

The tracks were dotted with puddles, often overlapping leaving the bike splattered with mud.

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NCS week 1, the hot one.

29°C, hot humid sun and some thunder.

A week with 4 coach loads of kids from Northamptonshire doing NCS. They are divided up into teams of about a dozen, most of whom have never met before. Each team is coordinated by team leaders who are usually ex NCS ‘Young People’.

They do various outdoorsy activities like climbing, water sports and I do hiking with a team each day. We, as leaders get to see them develop confidence over the week. That’s something some kids need a break from their usual social circle in order to do.

For myself, I get to walk 8+ miles each day and the working environment is comfortable. We’ve had a hot and very humid week so I chose to sleep in my tent. For me, this is the way to get a good night’s sleep, it’s cooler than the huts..

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40 fixed miles.

22°C, grey cloud with occasional sun.
I could ride this bike all day, unless it’s windy. Though my legs are getting sore, that turgid feeling has gone. Rides like this remind me of a the way we can take several days to warm up to exercise.

The last three days adds up to 100 miles. Result.

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