Sunday 19 October.
The little map book said that today we would be climbing accumulatively 670m and dropping 854m. This was more climbing than yesterday and that was bad enough. The profile didn't look too bad on the first section to Montjoyet but after that there was two monster climbs over the Col de Nache. I examined what Cicerone had to say and it suggested an alternative along the side of the river Dora Baltea. It was flat and we had had enough of climbing up just to come down again, so that was our choice.
We left at 7:30 am and we were just in shorts with our fleeces over our t-shirts, it was very mild. The signposts said 3hours 40 minutes to Montjoyet but we thought that was a long time as the book made it only about 12km. In the end it took us over 4 hours. We seemed to be walking at our normal pace even though again there were lots of up and downs. It climbed very steeply at the beginning then levelled out. I thought we would be running along a contour path for most of the way, I was mistaken. It is a bit like a coastal path which you think would be flat but going along cliff tops you keep dropping down and coming up again due to rivers. It was the same here, at a river or gorge it was all the way down to come up again. Still it was a pleasant walk through mainly woodland but when in the open there was still large mountains enclosing us. We had turned from the Valle d'Aosta after the village of Saint-Vincent into the valley of the river Dora Baltea. It was narrower and the mountains on the other side felt more on top of us. There were lots more castles, on outcrops of rock or at the end of gorges perched on top of pinnacles, as long as there was a line of sight to warm of approaching enemies.
I had planned to have our coffee break at Montjoyet but we were longer getting there than anticipated. We stopped at a picnic area about an hour from the town for our 'elevenses'. Once we got going again it was downhill after passing Castello di Saint Germain stuck on the side of a rocky cliff. The path wound round in an arc along the side of the hill and we had a view of the town ahead of us and the church with a clock tower in the centre. It was a stony uneven path down to the main road where we found an Irish bar with a Guinness sign outside. I enquired if they did food and the woman who spoke English recited the menu. As it was Sunday and most places, especially shops, closed in the afternoon and evening we decided to have our main meal now and sandwiches tonight. We both had ravioli to start and cold ham with vegetables and fruit in batter and a beer to wash it down. It was very nice. They also had WiFi and we downloaded two days newspapers and I posted a blog. Moira also went into booking.com and got us a place to stay in Verres tonight.
When we set off again we took the alternative route suggested by Cicerone. I carried the iPad and checked it every 5 minutes or so to confirm we were on track. After a while we discovered VF waymarks, so it was option there as well. It was perfectly flat and were happy with our choice when looking across to the other side of the river we could see the climb up to the Col de Nache, it was long and very steep. When it descended the official '103' VF crossed the river and we joined it just before Issognes, it took us round the village passed a large Chateau before dropping down to go over the Dora Baltea to Verres.
Verres wasn't very far from Issognes, just over the river and to the left. Well our hotel, the Monterosa was, the town was further along the river. Moira recognised the hotel as we were crossing the bridge from the photograph in the 'booking.com' web site. When we got to the reception I got the impression the woman was going to say that they were full but stopped when Moira said we had a reservation. She then proceeded to tell us that the restaurant was closed, well it was Sunday! How can a hotel that is normally expected, no required to provide food and accommodation say that the restaurant is closed ?
We got the information about how to connect to the WiFi but we couldn't get it in the room. Moira went into the corridor and signed in but as soon as she came back to the room it was lost again. We had gone into the bar at lunch time and were online without a problem, why can't a hotel provide a similar service ?
After showering Moira went out to see if there was anything open but was disappointed though not surprised. After we had our sandwiches for 'dinner' Moira went into the hallway to get online. She looked up hotels in Pont St. Martin where we go tomorrow and booked one. I went out and sat on the stairs to try and post my blog but couldn't even get connected. Instead I went downstairs and sat in the bar, which was closed, and found the WiFi there first class. After publishing my blog I went into the BBC and downloaded a couple of podcasts. We listened to them in the room. One was Clair Balding walking the Dales Way in Yorkshire. It was a 7 day trail and we listened in amusement when they talked about the difficulties getting accustomed to a routine of rising each morning to start walking again day after day on a long distance trail. They should try the VF !
After the podcast we read for a while then got to sleep early. It had been another hard day, tomorrow promises to be easier.