It turned out that we were strangely reluctant to lose the habit of walking up steep hills, and with a convenient afternoon bus back to St Etienne de Tinee, we continued on the GR5 to Auron. The path went steeply through forest for the best part of 2000ft of ascent, and was not particularly interesting. The bus back down takes a much longer and windier route. It was good to walk without big packs though- we didn’t even need stuff for lunch. According to our own rules, this is not cheating. As long as we walk the whole way it’s fine. Crawling is also allowed (see ‘Plampinet to Briançon’).
Auron is a ski resort, not as brash as some, and quite busy in the summer- people escaping the heat perhaps. It will be a good place to start from next year, and relatively easy to get to.
It isn’t all modern ski development. There is a medieval church and with the key borrowed from the tourist office we were able to have a look at the very interesting murals.
This has been a great walk this year, sometimes hard, but always worth it. It settled into a pattern of a daily climb out of the valley to a col and then back down the other side. With lots of deep valleys running east to west, travelling north to south isn’t the most efficient way of travelling. But each valley, each climb, each col was different and the scenery was stunning.
We met a number of interesting people doing long distance walks, often meeting for several evenings in a row, including one young couple who had left Rotterdam on 15th April and walked all way here. Their daily mileage (kilometreage?) dropped rather when they reached the Alps.
We saw lots of marmots but no wolves (there are some here). We managed to avoid being attacked by pastous. These are large white dogs which live full time with the tightly huddled flocks of sheep. As paths leave the valleys there are usually signs warning that if they think you are a threat to the sheep they will attack you. We were resolutely unthreatening.
Tomorrow we catch an early bus to Nice airport and come home. There is a bit of a question mark over whether I’ll have time to shave off my holiday beard before church on Sunday.
And so, all being well, we’ll be back here next year to finish our walk.