I think today was the best day’s walk so far. Paul and I are walking in the Jura Mountains. The flat fields of wheat have gone and now we have cows, steep hills and magnificent views. And the cows have bells. We will soon be in Switzerland. On the downside, my poor ability to estimate distances is worse than ever. I thought we were about 4 kilometres from Ornans since our lunch stop and the estimate never varied, even after 10 more kilometres. It’s all because of the constant switch backs and steep gradients.
We set off at 6.30 this morning and had a coffee and croissant in Besancon while I plotted the route out of town. It was incredibly difficult because Besancon is surrounded by hills and rivers.
I plotted a route to the edge of town to try to find the GR595. We threaded our way around back gardens and along quiet suburban streets to a busy motorway interchange. The GR595 seemed to start there. There was no option but to walk along one less busy road, around the Armco barrier to the place indicated on the map. Of course there was no footpath and I felt like crying.
Paul edged along behind me probably thinking I was some satnav idiot about to drive off a cliff. “It’s meant to be right here” I said in desperation. Rather than throwing me to the next truck, Paul went into African mode, as if sniffing around for signs of lion. Amazingly he discovered the start of the GR595 just a couple of metres away from where I was crying. Down the steep embankment beyond the Armco barrier run a flight of rusty steps covered with nettles. And at the bottom, an overgrown path leading into the woods. We hurried down to get away from the precarious position and disappeared into the woods. Sadly I never thought to photograph the scene.
I still struggle to imagine how the authorities could start a GR footpath from a busy interchange. However after that dramatic start our walk was delightful. We were finally in the Jura. Ahead of us was a strenuous day of steep climbs and descents, interspersed with small villages with a bar. At last, the real France. And we arrived in Ornans in time for the 2nd half of the England qtr final.
Leaving Besancon this morning