The first ride of 2015

As planned, this week has been focused more on walking, with Chris and Anna. I’ll admit that I’m generally of the opinion “Why walk when you can cycle?”, but I’ll also admit that there are places a road bike can’t go, and I know I’ve been missing out on the walking in these parts, which is spectacular, as you might have seen from previous posts this week.
But with a knee niggle from some considerable upping-and-downing on two feet, and a change to milder conditions, today was the day to do my first ride of the year. Nothing adventurous, as I haven’t been on a bike for almost two weeks, and some minor roads are still icy, so just an out-and-back ride to Beaurières on the D93.

A few photos (for now of poorer quality from my phone), the first one from my front door this morning, as it was beautiful, though I still can’t read the weather here. The other photos are from Luc-en-Diois and Beaurières, but as I came back close to home, the sky had definitely turned an angrier shade – not the “Ciel peu nuageux” forecast by Méteo France, though their guesses are still probably better than mine.

And tomorrow: the drive back to the other reality, and work on Monday. Ho hum.

La nouvelle année: a walk from Châtillon-en-Diois

It was going to be impossible to match yesterday’s Pic de Luc walk in terms of panoramic views, so today we plumped for something completely different. So we did a circular walk from Châtillon, with a level walk round the base of the nearby mini-mountain Piémard, up to the Col de Mard, a there-and-back diversion to the top of Piémard, and then the return to Châtillon. (The route is on the 1:25,000 Die Crest IGN map.)

The weather promised “ciel serein”, and it was just that, as you’ll see in the photos. The scenes were wonderfully varied, from the many vineyards and walnut groves in the early part of the walk, to another snowy wonderland on the path up to the top of Piémard. And, at the end, the sight of Châtillon glowing orange for just a few minutes before the sun disappeared from view. It’s a remarkable sight, but blink and you’ll miss it. We also had the sight of (I think) a solitary golden eagle riding the thermals above the ridge, but my photographic skills weren’t up to the job of getting pictorial evidence. Sorry.

A mighty fine walk: Pic de Luc

Another walk from the François Ribard book, chosen for ease of access to the start by car, and safety of walking. I’ve previously posted about Le Claps (a massive 15th Century rockfall near Luc-en-Diois), and today’s jaunt started with a quick photo-opportunity there, followed by a walk to the top of the mountain that supplied the rockfall. I reckoned that the odds of the lump of mountain we were walking on falling off in similar fashion was low enough to warrant getting the view from the top.

Well, in brief, a very pleasant walk through woods, and around and up the hill to the 1084m pic was rewarded with one of the most amazing panoramas I’ve ever seen. The views by themselves would have been enough, but there was a glistening winter scene up there straight out of a film-maker’s over-the-top imagination, enough to put silly grins on all three of our faces. Apart from one slightly ‘airy’ bit near the top (which was perfectly safe), there was nothing at all challenging, and would be a superb way for anyone to pass four or so hours … depending on how long you spend taking photos.

Incidentally, if you do this walk, keep your eyes peeled for the tiny sign on the right taking you off the main track onto the Pic de Luc path (see the fourth photo) – we missed it (which happily led us to the rather interesting rocks pictured), and only backtracked when we decided that the path we were on was going down when it should have been going up the mountain.


No cycling, more walking: Croix de Justin

I discovered quite how cold it was this morning, when I was putting out some washing, and briefly rested my wet hands on the railing, and they stuck to it. The washing froze solid too, within 15 minutes, and with icicles.

Although the forecast is for slightly warmer weather towards the end of the week, I suspect that I might stay off the bike and just enjoy walking with Chris and Anna. I’ll have covered about 3000 miles on the bike here this year, so I’m not feeling starved of French riding. (The Devon miles are a different matter!)

Today’s walk was a snowy recap of one I did last February to Col de Justin. The iciness of paths means that anything at all risky is out – even with Microspikes some of the paths round here would be ‘interesting’ (or lethal). We were going to take the GR95 up to Col de Beauvoisin, but it appears that a land dispute has led to the removal of the ’40 lacets’ path from public access, and the alternative (more direct) route to the Croix was taken, and we returned by the long forest track to Die. A great little walk at any time: the views at the top are just stunning.

Incidentally, this week I am enjoying using a new book given to me by my brother: Randonées en Diois, by François Ribard. This walk is in the book, and unfortunately was published before the 40 lacets path was closed. But it’s an excellent book, well worth getting if you’re walking in the area.