Author Topic: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France  (Read 1533 times)

gunwharfman

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!2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« on: 10:58:12, 17/05/17 »
I'm just back from hiking the GR4 route, I started at Grasse and finished at Manosque. My basic memories are of rocky paths, steep as you may like it, sunny days but cold nights, beautiful villages, great food, wine, cake and coffee. What more can a human being ask for?

I flew to Nice, then caught a bus to Grasse, the busfares are up this year from 1 Euro to 1.5 Euro's! Arrive at 2, had a meal and just started hiking. This time I wanted to try Tarp and wild camping! Well that did'nt work out, I will not be repeating Tarp camping (too basic for me) and only wild camped 5 times.

I met an English bloke on the bus to Grasse who lives there permanently, he looked and spoke like Allan Sugar but it wasn't him, told me he was into 'Finance'? The first advice he gave me was to watch out for the Wild Boar and the Wolves! Yea, right!

I had a meal and at about 2.00pm I started hiking. At near dusk I reached a small hamlet, St. Lambert, no one around, just a grassy area between the V of two roads with a couple of three seater benches.

I walked on up towards the top of a hill, lots of boulders, narrow rocky path and I zig zagged to the top. Just about to pitch my Tarp when I saw below me mooching under a tree, was four boar, two adults and two young ones! As I looked they started slowly moving towards me. I decided to head back down the footpath and then saw a small grassy area, I quickly pitched my Tarp. I then crept back up the hill to see where the boar were, they were still coming towards me. In single file shuffling along the footpath.

Well, I did the only thing a hero could do, I lost my nerve, gathered up everything and retreated back to the two benches area in the hamlet. It was now dark, the air was still, no clouds and silence! I decided to lay my groundsheet on a bench, blew up my Thermarest matress and got into my sleeping quilt. I slept until about one in the morning and then woke up cold. It fact it was bitterly cold so I put a layer of warm clothing on and went back to sleep.

At dawn I realised I was covered in frost, a really white crispy kind of frost. I didn't want to hang around so quickly packed, went back up the hill, not a boar to be seen and I walked until about 9am. The terrain was flatter at the top and aparts from the boulders there were many areas of nice dense grass. I lay down my groundsheet, hung my sleeping quilt over a rock to properly dry, had a shave a breakfast. By now the sun was fully out, it was hot so I thought I would have a short sleep. I woke up two hours later!


Jac

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #1 on: 11:24:26, 17/05/17 »
to be continued.............................................?
Most walks start by finding the way out of the car park

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #2 on: 13:44:52, 17/05/17 »
I'd like to but I'm still in a return from holiday muddle at the moment.

I did see this today - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39937822

vizzavona

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #3 on: 09:39:26, 18/05/17 »
Hello,
It would be good to hear more of your journey on the GR4....does it head out West towards the Verdon Gorge?
Just a wee question if I may.  We are heading out on a walk close to the French/Italian border and too have to catch a bus in Nice.
The gare routiere as we have seen on the web has been demolished.  We were familiar with this starting place for a bus to the airport after several visits to Corsica. Is it easy to find out now from where the buses leave from? and  did you have any problems with locating your bus to Grasse.   
« Last Edit: 13:16:28, 18/05/17 by vizzavona »

Rather be walking

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #4 on: 12:20:29, 18/05/17 »
Quote
The first advice he gave me was to watch out for the Wild Boar and the Wolves! Yea, right!


We saw a few on the Camino de Santiago back in April this year (boars not wolves) ;).
I saw a couple on the Hangers Way in Hampshire last year.
This link is interesting or worrying http://www.wild-boar.co.uk/index.html


LDP Done:SWCP,SDW,IOWCP,HadriansWallPath,NDW,ClarendonWay,HangersWay,C2C,CaminoDeSantiago.

adalard

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Re: 2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #5 on: 09:21:12, 19/05/17 »
to be continued.............................................?


I'd like to but I'm still in a return from holiday muddle at the moment.


I'd definitely like to hear more if you have the time and when you've un-muddled. It sounds like your trip was quite the adventure!

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #6 on: 09:36:15, 19/05/17 »
To answer Vizzavona. I walked out of the airport main doors, crossed a car park (nearly demolished by a taxi, my fault, looking the wrong way) crossed the main road and caught a direct bus to Grasse. The only problem is being able to understand the displayed bus routes, never my greatest of skills. Sorry no idea about the trains in the area, I'm sure there is a direct bus shuttle to the Gare, in my case I just wasn't looking for it. I mean a long scenic bus ride for 1.5 Euros, who would even think of using a train?

I'll finish my little tale beginning today. I actually took photos and this time I want to see if I can master the art of putting them on the screen. Always failed before.

gunwharfman

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Re: 12 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #7 on: 18:07:50, 19/05/17 »
Sorry still not worked out how to show a photo? Anyway I carried on walking, absolutely beautiful day. Eventually got to Cipieres about 1.00pm, a small village with a few restaurants so I decided to have a meal, a salad this time, it was excellant and I broke my rule not to drink during the day and ended up drinking two large glasses of red, 4 Euros, great! As I was leaving I heard two English blokes talking so I wandered over and said hello. Within a couple of minutes, one of the men who lives permanently in the village told me to beware of the Wild Boar and the Wolves, "lots of incidents" etc. Well this wasn't helpful to my confidence at all.

I set off again, I could see another village about a mile away, Greolieres, as the crow flies so near, but to get there I had to descend into a deep wooded valley, cross a small bridge and ascend a steep, steep trail to get there. Took me two hours, at the top I was so hot and exhaustive. It was the wine that done me in!

I eventually, after a short exploration for a bar and decided to have a coffee and cake. The young french waitress was very friendly, realised I was hiking the GR4 and immeadiatly warned me about Wild Boar and Wolves and large shepherd dogs which the farmers had imported to protect their sheep. It was getting worse, were these people just winding me up because I am a tourest or should I take them seriously?

The young woman said that an English lady owns a Gite just down the road. Before I had a chance to blink she had phone, the lady had a vacancy for 20 Euros, am I interested? At that I caved in and said Yes.

I trotted off to the Gite (lovely) and the first thing the English lady said to me was beware of the Wild Boar and Wolves! A very nice place so during the evening I had a good think about how I would proceed from the morning, this Wild Boar and Wolves thing was beginning to ruin my holiday! To follow...

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #8 on: 13:21:50, 20/05/17 »
I decided that I would stopp looking to wild camp but stay on bona fide camp sites, I was not going to spend the rest of my trip worrying about animals! I hiked on from the Gite, another beautiful morning and most impressive hiking country. By one I had hiked to a cafe near to a winter sports station, it was open but the rest of the area was closed. Just as I started to eat and drink my coffee and cake the heavens opened!

It rained and it rained torrents and became very foggy. I also discovered a new problem, I was running out of Euros and there was not one anywhere for miles and miles! So I made a decision, the route that I was supposed to follow was now in thick fog, it was raining hard and I needed money. I had already noticed signs in different places saying cash only so I decided to bow to the inevitable, I decided to walk west on the road D802.

This road, if you were a motor cyclist would be a dream, wide, very smooth surface and wonderful lazy and fast bends. If it was in the UK it would be crowded with bikes but on the road I walked it was totally empty, I saw one motor caravan in an hour! After a few kilometers I came to a roundabout, so decided to hitch. Two cars later and I was whizzing towards Castellane. I was dropped off and a few minutes later I was in another car, dropped off again and then into another car straight into Castellane and booked into their Municipal site, almost in the town centre. Even if I admit it myself I'm really good at hitchhiking.

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #9 on: 13:38:23, 20/05/17 »
My decision meant I had got ahead of myself by four days, I wasn't that pleased with this at the time but I needed cash. In fact by the next morning I realised that getting to Castellane was a blessing in disguise, after studying my map I could see that this was a good base to stay at few a couple of days and because I wanted to give the Gorge of Verdun a good going over it became central to what I wanted to do, which was to walk down into the bowels of the Gorge and to walk its length!

I started first by walking from Castellane to Rougon, again very attractive countryside and for some distance felt that great feeling of being isolated from the world. Challenging rocky footpaths at all times but on first seeing the Gorge du Verdun all I could mutter, was Wow! One minute I was in ordinary undulating rocky countryside and once around a particular bend, there it was, this huge scar on the landscape, as if someone had taken a jagged knife to the earth and ripped it apart!

It was very exhilarating at this point!

adalard

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #10 on: 14:23:15, 20/05/17 »
Even if I admit it myself I'm really good at hitchhiking.


And at cliffhangers...  ;D  I'm thoroughly enjoying your TR and I like the way you've done it in episodes (or chapters, like a novel in a Victorian periodical).


I have to head out now so I leave you poised at the head of the gorge, though I'll be wondering all afternoon what happens next.


I'm sure it didn't feel so at the time (and I would have been very uncomfortable personally) but the repeated warnings from everyone you encounter to beware wild boars and wolves begins to take on a faintly comical air, rather like something from an old B&W horror film.  :)

alewife

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #11 on: 17:57:15, 20/05/17 »
You need to put your pics on a hosting site (fb will do, noone on there needs to see them, or any other like tinypic, then copy image  from fb, or link from other hosting site). I have made it sound complex, it isn't!


Enjoyable read even without piccies O0
Alewife


...beware of the bull!

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #12 on: 12:51:20, 21/05/17 »
Your right, Adalard, in hindsite it does sound like an old B movie routine. By the time I arrive in view of the Gorge I'd put all of those warnings behind me.

I carried on walking in blazing sunshine, the Gorge was showing me all sorts of views and I was really enjoying it, I was on a nice track but dominated to my right by a panorama and numerous walking possibilities. I soon reached a small hilltop village called Rougon, which has a wonderful little eating place, I was served with others in the garden, set on what felt like the top of the mountain with views that stretched miles! I spent over an hour there luxuriating in the hot sun, scoffing cake and just watching the world around me. Very nice!

The beginning of the bottom of the gorge walk that I was aiming for lay a kilometer below me, so eventually I plodded down a winding, steep and narrow footpath to the road, that made my feet and toes tingle! I'd arrived so I just sat and had a think. It was now late afternoon so I decided to find a campsite, which I discovered was three kilometers down the road. I felt lazy so hitch hiked, the second car stopped and ten minutes later I was signing in and shortly after was pitching my tarp.

It was here that I met George and his wife, Jane, both retired, both English but had worked, lived on and owned a an industrial barge in Belgium for 25 years. Their life story was fascinating. They were now travelling around Europe in a VW motorcaravan. They plied me with tea, coffee and wine, I was most grateful!

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #13 on: 14:34:28, 21/05/17 »


This is my first attempt at posting a photo. I hope its the correct size? This is my first morning view, everything below was covered in frost and was rapidly melting as the sub rose.

gunwharfman

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Re: !2 days Hiking the GR4, France
« Reply #14 on: 14:36:20, 21/05/17 »
Well that didn't work, I'll try again