Sunday 12 October.
It was a beautiful day when we left the church this morning at 7:30 am. The sky was clear and cloudless, promising to be a continuation of the warm weather from yesterday afternoon. As we got higher today the clouds did start to gather and over some of the very high peaks dark ominous ones were beginning to form. We are hoping they are only bringing rain and not snow. It was quiet and the streets were deserted as we made our way along the main road into an adjoining village, Bourg Martigny.
The route from Cicerone didn't tie-in with the waymarks today. It was all right at first but after leaving Bourg Martigny it was 5 km to Bovernier climbing all the time on a narrow track. We came to a forked junction the signs said that to the right was the VF route but to the left it indicated Bovernier and Orsieres. We met at that point Carlos who was from Barcelona also scratching his head about which fork to take. Between us we decided left and it immediately began to climb steeply. It wound up the hill but no,waymarks now. Through the trees I could see the town of Bovernier on the other side of the river. Carlos also had the Cicerone guide, the actual book and I checked the maps in it. I saw that we should have crossed the river somewhere to reach the town, we backtracked , took the other fork which led to a bridge over the river. The signs all began again, it was a long walk along a quiet road to Bovernier, none of this road walking was in the Cicerone directions.
We caught up with Carlos before getting to the village, he had gone on confident that this was now the correct way. He was on a month's holiday from work and had started in Besancon. He was hoping to reach Pavia in Italy then flying back to Barcelona from Milan. We stopped in the village at a fountain where we had a break and our morning coffee. From Bovernier the waymarks and Cicerone again agreed but there was only one way to go anyway. After a few hundred metres along the main road we headed up into the woods. The path was narrow most of the time and at others disappeared as we had to find our route over boulders.
The waymarking was by yellow diamond shaped symbols or lozenge and we had to stop every now and then to find the next one and where to go. It was a very nice walk with the road and river far below at times then at others close by. Both Cicerone and another book we are reading by an Australian pair described it as very difficult and hair-raising with terrifying drops down one side from an inches wide path. It was nothing of the sort, just a pleasant normal fell walk. I don't know what these people would think about Striding Edge on Helvelyn or Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe. It was just 3.5 km long and then we were on a nice wide gravel track into Sembrancher. This was another large town with more houses scattered out with over the valley and hillside. We stopped in the square by a fountain and had a rest for 5 minutes, it was too early for lunch which we planned to have at the next village.
We thought the route would take us straight up the valley where a lot of houses were scattered but it turned left and straight uphill. This was the toughest climb of the day and ascended for about 2 km. We met Carlos halfway up the hill and when we got to La Garde at the top he joined us for lunch. This was a tiny village and we ended up sitting on the ground next to a fountain. The water took a while to boil now that it was for three cups of coffee. Carlos didn't have a cup and we made his coffee in a water bottle, a bit difficult to pour boiling water into. He was a pleasnat guy and after the break we walked with us to the finish in Orsieres. He didn't know where he was staying, his normal procedure was to contact the local church and they arranged a place for him to sleep. He had only been let down once, in Orbe, and had to walk to the next place where he ended up in a hotel. The track now for the final 4 km was wide and flat but we took a wrong turn once when we were too busy chatting and had to backtrack when it led to the path into a house. We left Carlos at the church in Orsieres to find his accomodation while we looked for our hotel.
It was about 2:15 pm when we arrived at the Hotel de l'Union ready for a hot shower and a lie down. Moira said we had a reservation but the receptionist said we couldn't book in until 3pm. I did a lot of moaning and made it clear that I wasn't happy. The woman went away and said the room would be ready in 10 minutes so I said could we get on with the form filling in and pay. She didn't seem very happy but did it anyway. When the room costs about €100 you expect better service than that, we had booked two days ago through booking.com so they surely knew we were coming and could have a room ready for us. The room was all right but nothing special and we had a delayed shower and cup of coffee.
Moira checked out the shops and restaurants I town while I read the paper in the room. She reported back that all the shops were closed and the only restaurant open was charging €150 for the menu. Our hotel had pizza at a reasonable price so we decided to eat there and have a salad as well to share. When we went down at 6:30 pm the front door of the hotel was locked and the bar and restaurant shut as well, luckily our room key also opened the front door.
We had a walk about, first of all to check-out getting money from the bank. It didn't have a machine and opened in the morning at 8:30 am. I noticed a sign saying they had a machine at the railway station. As the route began at the station in the morning we could find where to start as well as get money. It was back down the hill and up the other side of the cemetery. The machine was opposite the station where all the route signs were as well. While Moira was drawing out the cash
I looked around and found a pizza restaurant, it was closed but opened in 15 minutes. We sat in the waiting room at the station which was warm until it opened.
We had a mixed salad and a pizza, a beer for me and a red wine for Moira. It was very good and the service was prompt. While were eating the place began to fill up, well it was the only eating place open in the town. It cost €32, reasonable for Switzerland. When we walked back it was lucky that it was still dry with some dark clouds about, but it was getting cold. When we got in it was straight to bed with a cup of coffee. It was warm there. The WiFi was good and we listened to the radio.