@bradypus is walking in Switzerland!

Discussion in 'Via Francigena in Switzerland' started by Bradypus, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 24 - Pontarlier to Yverdon-les-Bains

    I had a very comfortable night's sleep in my borrowed barn. It was very misty with a little drizzle as I set off. The mist stayed with me beyond the Swiss border. I passed through a ski resort but for all I could see it might as well have been the Netherlands! The mist did part enough to see two dramatic forts guarding a valley south of Pontarlier. The other great surprise of the day was spotting a pine marten. Very rare in the UK but something of a pest in parts of Europe.

    It feels quite strange for an insular Brit of my vintage (1962) to just wander across an international frontier. First impressions of Switzerland are good: public fountains, excellent signposting of paths, clean and orderly. Pity about the prices though :)
     
  2. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 25 - Yverdon les Bains to Lausanne

    A dry night followed by a cool overcast morning. It was near 11am when the sun broke through and warmed things up. Another mixed day of woodland, small villages, farmland and finally the outskirts of a large city. After my concerns in France about finding enough water it was a real joy to find fountains in almost every village pouring water continually into vast stone basins. The very sight and sound was refreshing.

    At the Lausanne youth hostel I was offered a special pilgrim price for the evening meal - 11 CHF rather than the usual 17 CHF. Apparently this is available to pilgrims at selected hostels along the recognised routes to Santiago. A very substantial 3 courses which must be one of the best deals in this pricey country.
     
  3. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 26 - Lausanne to Montreux

    An excellent day. I set off knowing I had a bed booked, that the distance was relatively short and that drinking water would not be a problem. Navigation was simple - keep the lake on the right. It was hot but not oppressively so. Very interesting to watch the Swiss of all ages at play in and around the lake. I was astounded by the scale of the vineyard terracing and the meticulous care of the vines. A massive task. At noon I had the chance to taste some of the wine in a small "cave" where the winemaker was entertaining a group from Zurich who left school in the same class in 1961 and still meet frequently for social events. They generously invited me to join them and to chat with several English speakers. The wine and the welcome were both much appreciated.

    As a reptile fan the wildlife highlight of the day were the hundreds of lizards seen basking on rocks, walls and the footpath all through the day.
     
  4. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 27 - Montreux to Saint Maurice.

    Another very pleasant day. Partly cloudy with a thunderstorm forecast. Cooler than yesterday. The landscape a mixture. Earlier it was rich arable land in the broad valley floor. Flat as a snooker table - lake bed at one time? Later the trail led up and down the hillsides through more vineyards. I was delighted to see that one wine producer had chosen a lizard as their logo.

    Arrived in Saint Maurice at 6pm just in time for Vespers and Mass. Very hospitable Augustinian community invited me to their evening meal and found me a comfortable room in their guest house. My host at dinner has walked the entire VF. Being at the midpoint he made two journeys - one to Rome and one to Canterbury. So no need for long-winded explanations.

    An interesting encounter this afternoon. Colin - a middle-aged Englishman walking home from Crete via Italy, Switzerland, and France. He hadn't considered the canals as a possible route until he heard where I'd been. Good to swap experiences even for a few minutes in a Swiss vineyard.
     
  5. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 28 - Saint Maurice to Martigny

    A bad day. In some ways the worst so far. It started well with mass then breakfast with the community. Fr Joseph warned me that last night's storm had destroyed a footbridge and to take the road to the next village. Very impressed that the news had reached the abbey by 8am. The walk to Martigny was uneventful apart from some light showers.

    Things became difficult as I left Martigny. I misread a sign and began climbing the hill south of town rather than circling it. At the same time heavy rain began. It is still falling 5 hours later. I blundered around the woods and the labyrinth of paths and roads for several hours only tp find myself back within a couple of km of Martigny while now completely soaked. I eventually had the good luck to find an open wooden shelter for rubbish bins. Dry and concrete floored. So I have been able to change into dry clothes and with luck I can pass the night more comfortably than in my tiny tent. I now have my location clear and should be able to continue south tomorrow.
     
  6. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 29 - near Bovernier to Orsieres

    I spent a comfortable night in my bin shelter. Unfortunately it started to rain as I packed my rucksack and headed for Bovernier to rejoin the VF. By the time I reached the village I was very wet again. I waited at the railway station - warm and dry - for an hour until the monsoon turned to drizzle. Then a gentle damp plod mainly uphill through Sembrancher to Orsieres. I had meant just to stop for an hour or so to warm up then carry on to Bourg St Pierre. But the rain showed no sign of stopping and the prospect of another four hours uphill was not attractive. Instead I joined a Dutch pilgrim in the parish albergue, and we were joined an hour later by a Belgian pilgrim. Both walking from home to Rome. My first chance encounter with other VF pilgrims. Tomorrow's forecast is better. If so I hope to be at the Col tomorrow night.

    The wildlife interest today was two sightings of chamois as I descended towards Bovernier early today.
     
  7. Bradypus

    Bradypus Active Member

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    Day 30 - Orsieres to Hospice Grand St Bernard

    A very enjoyable if challenging day. I left Orsieres in mist which stayed with me until the dam above Bourg Saint Pierre. Then a little sun broke through and took the edge off the chilly weather. It stayed sunny until about 100m from the Col which was wrapped in mist and very cold: 5C when I arrived around 4.30pm. The climb was less difficult than I'd feared. No one part especially steep, just very long! I was welcomed at the hospice with a huge jug of tea while I waited for one of the canons to allocate a bed and explain prayer and meal times. Also received a free pass for the museum and kennels. So a chance to see some of the famous dogs.

    After evening prayers and dinner I took a walk down into Italy then back to the Auberge bar for a celebratory Trappist beer from their surprisingly good selection. To the border and back in under 10 minutes!

    The wildlife treat of the day was seeing marmots for the first time. Much bigger and more shaggy than I'd imagined. And with an alarm call loud as a car alarm. Delighted to see them.
     
  8. sulu

    sulu New Member

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    Thank you, I have enjoyed reading your report, albeit 2 years later! I look forward to following some of your steps but it looks like you are a strong walker and walk a lot of steps.:)
    I worked in Switzerland for a year and discovered that winter starts on August 1st so maybe you were lucky with the weather, it could have snowed !!
     

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