Sunday 18th July 1999
This day was how I dreamed the trip would be – except for the start in the taxi! We covered a lot of ground, we didn’t get lost, the countryside was beautiful, the weather was mostly good and we didn’t argue very much. And the hotel in Saulzet was a very welcome bonus. I hope it is still going. I can’t find it on the internet – but then it is not likely that they are on the web!
After a night of tossing and turning, on my part, we decided to continue as A seemed fully recovered and very perky. Had breakfast and got the hotel to phone the taxi company to take us to Laschamp. (Both of the drivers from the taxi company performed flawlessly and can be recommended. The company is Taxi J.-C. Montmory of Villars 63870 Orcines, telephone 06 09 44 17 17). The hotel cost us 527F and the taxi 100F. We started walking at 9:15.
I don’t know whether Alasdair is typical of all kids but he can seem to compartmentalise his tiredness. When I’m tired I collapse and doze or sleep. He lies on his bed, resting his muscles, and reads a book, exercising his mind.
There was a fascinating flight of stairs in the hotel. It seemed to be carved out of a single piece of andesite.
Today has had it all – showers, cloudless skies, torrential cloudbursts, nosebleeds and a warm welcome.
We got to Laschamp and started walking at 9:15. We had been on the edge of a thunderstorm and there was an occasional light shower but as the morning wore on the clouds disappeared and we had to put on our suntan cream. The way was long but relatively flat. We diverged from Alan Castles route and went round rather than over the Puys Lassolas and de la Vache. While we were having a well earned rest below the Puy de la Vache, an exhuberant cross country cyclist went past us at high speed and showing off like mad. The excitement must have caused a rush of blood to A’s head because shortly afterwards he had a large nosebleed. Eventually I had to get the cotton wool from the first-aid and stuff that up his nose. This, at last, effected a cure.
The countryside was lovely. We were walking through woods, along well made paths, in the sunshine. The route was by no means flat but there were no big climbs to remind us of the efforts of yesterday.
There were quite a few other walkers (and cyclists), probably because it was a Sunday, the weather was nice and we were not very far from Clermont-Ferrand. But it certainly wasn’t crowded.
At about 2:30, just above La Garandie, we stopped and watched a thunderstorm over the Massif de Sancy. As we set off we realised it was coming towards us, so we diverged from the GR and went through the village. This was fortunate as we were able to shelter in a farmers machinery shed as thunder, lightning, hail and rain dinged down around us. The smell was pretty awful but we were glad to be dry.
It eventually stopped and we set off again at 3:30. The pause had not helped A’s morale and he was on a downer as we walked towards Saulzet le Froid. This was not helped by being passed by a group of a dozen or so German walkers as we approached the village. A was convinced that they were going to take all the accommodation in the village. But in the village we found a hotel, walked in past the Germans who were ordering beers and coffee, got a nice room – all smiles.
The hotel at Saulzet le Froid was a very welcome place. After writing yesterdays notes I had a snooze. We got up at 7 intending to phone home but were told the storm had cut the lines. So we toured the village and returned to the Hotel for supper. Very good especially the soup. A meal designed for walkers. Another tour of the village and bed at 9. Asleep at 10. Awake 7:30 – we had recovered our resources.
I’m thinking of making the holiday a centre – based one rather than a walking one. When we get to Le Mont Dore, stay there till Thursday, get a bus or train to Lioran, and stay there till Monday or Tuesday. We would walk each day with a light pack. We will see how we like Le Mont Dore.
We didn’t change our plans as Alasdair wouldn’t even consider them. He had determined to do the walk and climb the big peaks; and so we did the walk and climbed the big peaks.
Pig-headed to a fault.