St Martin Vesubie to Refuge de Cougourde

Today we walked North East (I know…wrong direction) to Le Boreon, where we joined the GR52 and returned to the high mountains.

We left St Martin, with last looks down unexplored alleys promising hidden courtyards.

The map indicated that there were footpaths that would take us to Le Boreon, but it looked extremely likely that they had been destroyed by the 2019 storm, so we decided the best thing to do was to walk up the road, guided by Google maps rather than the proper map. Luckily, it was a perfectly safe road to walk on. Bits of it had obviously recently been rebuilt, having been swept away by the raging torrents. It provided a very easy way of walking up 2000 feet, which put a nice big dent in the day’s ascent.

Above the small badly storm damaged hamlet of Le Boreon, we tried to join the footpath, only to discover a sign that it was closed.

There was only a moment of anxiety before a combination of map and signage revealed an alternative route and soon we were back on to mountain paths, joining back with the original GR52 route, and taking us deep into rugged Mercantour. As we gained height and the trees thinned, an impossible skyline of savage cliffs and teetering pinnacles emerged, the vastness of which is impossible to convey in words or photographs.

As we had lunch on a slab of rock we were visited by a chamois, not particularly frightened or curious about our presence.

Our stop for the night is the refuge de Cougourde, which lies a steep half hour’s walk away from the main path. It is improbably positioned in a high hanging valley, surrounded by rock and grazing chamois.

We got here in good time and we were able to leave our rucksacks and explore a little further up the valley.

We’re now in the refuge as there is an afternoon thunderstorm, although it doesn’t seem to be anything like as ferocious as yesterday’s.

There is no possibility of any internet or mobile reception, so I won’t be able to post this tonight.

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