Mad mountains, crazy colours…

Yesterday was a washout (let’s just say that the forecast was hopelessly wrong: it was cold, showery and windy, not quite the sunny intervals leading to a clear evening they promised). Still, I got lots of things done that I wouldn’t have had it been cycling weather.

Today wasn’t ideal for cycling either – although dry (and cool), there were forecasts of winds gusting up to “87 kph” (54 mph): I quite like the accuracy of the “87” (obviously 80 or 90 would sound like a guess). So no long ride today over exposed mountain passes: this morning was a simple 42-miler to Aouste and back, and this afternoon a walk I needed to do after having turned back close to the top in January 2013.

That was during the trip when I shook hands on the house. There was plenty of snow on the tops, and I fancied a walk with my newish crampons. The valley in which Romeyer sits goes right up into the heart of the Vercors plateau, and it is a relatively easy way up. In fact, it is the route that the annual ‘Transhumance’ follows, an amazing spectacle in which all the Drôme valley sheep are taken through Die up the Meyrosse (Romeyer) valley to the high pastures for the summer. Anyway, to cut a long story short, where the sheep have no trouble, I failed. Well, despite my crampons, there is one longish slope which had become icy enough to make me decide to turn round and come back another day.

Today was the day: cool, windy, but dry and sunny, with the glories of autumn all around. In itself, it is a very satisfying walk up to Pas de Chabrinel (with some steepish gradients, and one shortish bit of scree slope to traverse). But add in dazzlingly blue sky, the rich hues of trees changing colour, and the other-worldly landscape up on the plateau, with limestone pavement and a view of the 2341m summit of Le Grand Veymont, and you have a pretty spectacular short walk.

If you do this walk yourself, the place to park is as far as you can go on the D742: it becomes pretty scrambly in places near the top, then you’ll come to a barrier, and you can park just before there on the right. Of course, as with all French mountain roads, if you go in the winter it might be closed, or open but treacherous. Probably one to do in clement weather, all in all.

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