Saturday 11 October.
We thought the weather was dry when we set off after breakfast but had to return and get our rain jacket and trousers on when it was spitting a little. It was mostly a wet mist and the cloud was low, fortunately when the sun got up it cleared and the rain stopped.
I wrote out the route last night and we found that it followed the VF waymarks, so I just had to make sure they both agreed as we went along. It was on minor roads and lanes initially and well away from the main roads and motorway though we could hear the sound of traffic most of the day. The first place on the route was the Chapelle des Martyrs near Verollier. This church holds mass on the 22nd of each month the date of the martyrdom of Saint Maurice. The unusual thing is that when the date falls on a Sunday then the mass is performed on the 21st. There is no mass on a Sunday ? After leaving the church it was a steady climb to the village of Les Emonets then on a gravel path through the woods before we turned on a minor road going downhill.
As we headed down we were passed by a steady stream of runners. At the hotel last night a large group arrived while we were having dinner. One of the others at the table said they were here to run a race commemorating the 1500th anniversary of the abbey. When we reached Evionnaz there was a watering point. Moira asked the distance of the race, there were two races; a 60 km and a 70 km. I said we were doing better, 1900 km to Rome and did it deserve something from the goodies table. They were impressed and said yes, we both helped ourselves to a few squares of chocolate.
Refreshed by the chocolate we strode on to the village of La Balmaz on gravel tracks and lanes.The race appear to be following the same route as we were taking, most of the runners had overtaken us but there were still a few stragglers who had given up running and were walking. At La Balmaz there was a bench outside the church and we had our coffee break there. It was on minor roads for a while when we started again but soon we picked up a track beside a canal that took us to a magnificent waterfall that we had seen from a distance but was now in front of us.
It was the Cascade de Pissevache and the water did cascade from high above over the rocky cliff to fall into the channel of the canal below. It was through the woods to the next village of Vernayaz where the feature was the Gorges de Triente. We could see the huge cleft in the road face and a footbridge heading in but there was a fee to visit.
We were making excellent time and had only 5 km to go and it wasn't mid-day yet. The route was now off-road through lovely woodland and when that cleared beside orchards. I looked for some fruit on the trees to sample but it had all been picked, there wasn't even a trace of dropped or rotted fruit on the ground. We found a picnic table in a clearing and decided to have lunch before getting to Martigny. Moira had bought bread this morning before we left Saint-Maurice, it was nice and crunchy and better than the doughy stuff we had yesterday.
After lunch it was only a couple of kilometres to our destination for the day. Going into town we crossed over the railway by a covered bridge, like the kind in the film 'Bridges of Madison County'.
The guide took us right into the centre of Martigny and our accommodation at the Protestant church was nearby. Out instructions were to climb the stairs from the courtyard behind the church and knock on the door. There were three doors and Moira rapped on each one, we were ready to give up when one of the doors opened. The woman realised who we were and showed us to a room downstairs. It was a small room with a double bed and a shower but it also had a cooker where we could make our own meal. The toilet was down the hall. It was a bargain by Swiss standards, 20 Swiss francs each.
As we had cooking facilities Moira immediately headed for a supermarket we passed on the way and got some thing for a nice dinner. When she came back, I had been relaxing doing the crossword in today's paper which we downloaded this morning before leaving the hotel, we showered. Once changed and freshened up we went for a walk into town. I was particularly interested in the stained glass windows in the Hotel de Ville, the town hall. They were reportedly the largest decorated windows in Switzerland. I didn't hold out much hope of the place being open on a Saturday afternoon but we were lucky. The town hall facilities were themselves closed but the foyer and staircase was open, presumably for visitors to view the windows. It was well worth the visit, the windows covered one wall over three floors. The windows depicted the history of the town. They were very impressive and again depicted the story in the same vivid colours that we had seen in the churches.
Leaving there we headed down to a fun fair. I had seen as we walked along something going down a cable towards the fair. When we got nearer it was people riding on the cable. It stretched from up in the mountains all the way down over the town. It looked like good fun but I don't know how they got all the way up to the mountain for the start, to come down in under a minute. We made our way back via the ice rink and paid a visit to the church before going to our room. It had some very modern stained glass windows, dated 2012. They were very beautiful but we couldn't figure out what they depicted, the themes didn't seem to be religious.
For dinner Moira made a chicken curry. It was the first curry we have had in ages and was worth waiting for, it was delicious. After washing up I started to write up tomorrow's route, this is when the real climbing begins. I didn't get it finished as I wanted to preserve the battery life in my iPad. We couldn't charge anything as our plugs wouldn't fit into the sockets here. Before getting to sleep we made sure we had at least 20% power left in both iPads.