Day 17 I Penti to Moriani Plage

Guide says 2hrs 45 mins, 9k, 40m ascent, 655m descent.

A nice clear morning for our final walk. After leaving our gite/ local bar/ community centre and boules park, we headed down the valley. This is hazel nut territory. Nice fat moist ones just waiting for us. The nuts along with figs and blackberries supplemented our rather meager breakfast.

The valley was lush and green and slightly slippery. We passed through a pig farm, forded the stream several times and finally left it behind up a steep incline to arrive at Tribullu and a view down over the coastal plain to Moriani Plage and the sea.

After a snack, including hazelnuts we set off downhill. Relatively easy walking thru countryside and villages. All the villages have old photos up somewhere in them, usually showing the same building or some of the begone residents. This one offered the opportunity for a selfie.

Lower down we missed a turning. It turned out to be fortuitous as our route back to the trail brought us right through a herbal essence farm that Colin had heard about but who’s location could not be identified. Anyway Colin spent a happy time looking at all the plants and then an anguishing time trying to decide which soaps and oils to purchase.

Then it was on down to the sea, though of course the route did take us up a bit of a hill for a nice walk through the back lanes of town. Then a brief lunch and celebratory sundae before completing the walk by walking into the sea.

We then got the bus to Bastia where we will spend a day before returning to the uk. On the way the heavens opened again and when we arrived the town was dripping wet. Again glad we weren’t in the mountains in the downpour.

Day 16 D’Alesani to I Penti

Guide 4hrs 15min, 10k, 460m ascent, 525m descent.

An interesting night last night. We were told that the manageress Patricia would be back at 7.30 to take us to a restaurant in the village. However 7.30 came and she didn’t so we set off to the local restaurant only to find it closed. We then waited with the 4 other guests and at 8 Patricia arrived carrying two large panniers of food. We ate her food on the veranda in front of the gite. Very good it was too.

Patricia had a very animated conversation with a French couple which we listened into understanding little. Afterwards we were told that the chestnut trees all over the island have, for the last 6 years, been blighted by a small beetle that eats the marron. Yields are way down and everyone is suffering. In addition there are nobody left in the villages to pollard the trees, apparently needed to maximize production.

This morning Patricia was again running late so our 7.30 breakfast happened at 8. It looked a nice morning though thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon.

After breakfast we were off for another 1000ft climb. We were accompanied by a dog who stayed with us for the next 4 hours, almost to our destination . Nice views back over the valley as we left and from the chapelle.

Then a long traverse to the Pass of the Dead Monk! Part of this traverse was thru an old burn area. Not very attractive. other parts were through bracken and wild mint which smelt great.

View back of traverse

By the time we reached the Dead Monks Pass the weather had turned distinctly threatening. It also looked as though the trail went more right than we thought and over some distinctly uninviting landscape. After triple checking the map and two gps plots we decided were on the right route and should continue. We soon found we were wrong to be worried as the path curved left instead of right, into the woods rather than across and up the mountain side. What we had seen as our track was probably only s geological feature.

Relieved we carried on and eventually came to a ridge advertised as having great views down to the sea and over to Elba. Nah. Solid grey cloud was blowing up the hill and cold damp and threatening rain. At the end of the ridge we turned inland and down into the trees just in time as the heavens opened on us. We had our lunch while we waited for it to stop, and then continued down the hill.

Half way down the hill the thunder started but the real rain did not come until we were almost at the bottom so we got to our gite not too damp at all, but very glad we had not started half an I hour later than we did. It rained more or less solidly for the next hour or two.

The view from our bedroom window

Usual shower etc then to the bar and a long chat with a couple from Oxford who we had met the previous night and were travelling in the same direction. As the sun came out I decided to explore the village only to be caught 50yds out from the gite by a recommencement of the rain.

The gite was also the local bar so it was quite lively. Dinner was satisfactory.

Day 15 Pianellu to d’Alesani

Guide says 4 hrs, 9k, 620m ascent, 743m descent. Took us 6 hours.

Set off just after 8 on a lovely sunny morning with clear views back to the mountains.

View from just above the village as we left

All the others (6) at the gite were going in the opposite direction.

The first half of the morning was spent going steadily upwards. At first through woods with the occasional stream crossing and higher up across more open hillsides.

Until we reached our high point for the day, col de Pianezulla.

Then it was round into the next valley, another col and a descent to Perelli where we stopped for lunch.

Found object on the trail
Hanging brambles were a hazard on the trail again today
Decaying tree with another growing up thru it
Pretty flower

We lunched on wall just outside a church. Four french people were also eating there. It turned out they were doing restoration work in the church. They had completed the roof and were now working their way back from the altar to the main door. Three months per alcove they told us.

Then it was down hill, thru more brambles at first, then oaks again, to the valley bottom, with an interesting old house. Then up the road to here.

Day 14 Sermano to Pianellu

Guide says 4 hrs 45mins, 12k, 560m ascent, 530m descent.

A dull and slightly overcast morning that never really got any better.

Off at 8.30 after a good breakfast. Unusually a down hill start, and even more unusually two other hikers, not from our gite, going in the same direction. Down hill thru the usual maquis, oaks and chestnut trees. Cross a few streams then a long up to our first village, Alando. A nice water fountain provided a good place to rest and have a snack. While we were there the travelling baker drove into the village sounding his horn. We scored a current danish for our snack.

Then it was up the road for a small bit. The track then left the road, however it was terribly maintained, used as a garbage tip and badly eroded, so we quickly aborted and went back to the road, stopping only for some excellent blackberries.

The next short section of road walking, parallel to the track but without its ups and downs was uneventful apart from meeting about 6 hikers coming in the other direction. Obviously it was well known that that section was worth missing. Then it was back on the track, steadily uphill again thru one small village until we got to Castelluccio, just below San Pancraziu. Here we stopped for lunch looking down on the villages below.

We had brought two picnics from the gite. Mine was not a success. The bread was uneatable, how Colin managed his I don’t know. So I just had the salami filling and the apple that was also provided. This spot provided us our last look at the central mountains though the grey weather did not make them very photogenic.

Then it was a short stretch to the crest, no views on account of grown trees. Then a long gradual down thru the maquis.

Who’s path is this anyway?

Very boring until we were decamped at a sandy road with a sign saying go straight but no more waymarks as far as we explored, but my gps insisted that the route went right, but again no waymarks. In the end we decide to follow the gps. Fine at first, then it directs us to cut back, thru dense bracken towards the other track. We never actually find where the two connect, obviously there is a stream crossing involved, but suddenly we have waymarks and gps agreement that it was the right track. A final uphill stint and then we emerge on a ridge above this village, and with a view of the coastal plain and the sea in the distance.

Shortly afterwards we are down in the village and at the gite where they are having a welcoming reception, but not for us.

Day 13 Corte to Sermano

Guide says: 5hrs 30min, 17k, 950m ascent, 620m descent …… but we cheated. We got to the chapel of S. Martino, then came by road from there.

This was to have been the longest day, with the most ascent, but that short cut along a road, missing Castellare, saved us 390m of descent and 140m of ascent at the cost of 4 k of road walking. Coming at the end of the day we thought it a good deal.

Anyway back to the beginning of the day.

After a good breakfast, where we were actually offered more croissants etc. We left, brought supplies and headed for the trail.

Old bridge on edge of town
Nice flowers in town

Unfortunately I picked the wrong trail on my gps tracking/mapping app. It was a variant. Fortunately we recognized this before we left civilization. We then had to go back into town and leave in another direction, sort of 90degrees to where we were. Anyway we were quite late leaving town. Then started a very long uphill section. Very different countryside today, much more open.

We stopped for a bar close to the top, and then had energy for the final push. The view from the Bocca do Civenti was spectacular.

Then it was a traverse first across open hillside (not to my liking) and the thru chestnuts and oaks, and past some great looking goats, to Sta Lucia-di-Murcurio, a pretty well kept village with good views and a water fountain and that’s all. Here we had lunch on the steps of the church.

While there we saw a red kite quartering the hill sides. Also a Swiss gentleman rode up up on a bike. It appeared he was going to try and ride down the path we had just come up. Well good luck to him.

After lunch it was down into the next valley, we inadvertently cheated this bit missing the turn off the road, but at the bottom it was back on the trail and heading up yet again to the chapel. I was pretty dead by the time we got there. And this is where we started our final short cut.

View down to village not visited

Lots of blackberries later we arrived at what looked like a very locked up gite. We sat outside and relaxed. After 1/2 an hour or so madam emerged from her siesta to tell us the black door was open and to let ourselves in. So we did.

Shower, laundry, drinks on the veranda, dinner.

A good life.

Diner, a great salad, pork chops and home fries (piping hot) and creme brûlée with dark chocolate ice-cream. Not losing weight today.

Day 12 A Sega to Corte

Guide says: 4 h 15min, 12k, 100m ascent, 770m descent.

A great days walk down the Tavignano river gorge.

We started by crossing the new timber bridge and then the former refuge. The trail the followed the river, at first closely, then it lets it drop dramatically through a series of steep sided ravines while the path cuts across steep slopes and charred pines high above. It turns out to an old mule track and well engineered and still in remarkably good condition in places. Great views.

View back to the ridge we descended from yesterday

Finally it drops down to the river, abridge and swimming pools. A very popular spot for Sunday hikers up from Corte. We managed a discrete dip. The water hadn’t managed to warm up much on its way down the canyon.

The path continued down the gorge with dramatic views back and forwards with occasional views of Corte at the bottom.

We were walking quite slowly, I hadn’t realized quite how slowly until a group of three youngster strolled causally by us. After that I tried to be a bit less cautious, and it was easier. Still knees and hip were aching by the end of the day. One of my toes was getting red on top, so today I put some moleskin on it and wore socks for only the second time this trip. Seemed to do the trick.

On reaching the outskirts of town we called the gite, yes they had room for us.

It was out of town but not far. We went and then left again. First the did not offer Demi pension, and then we forgot to tell them Colin was vegetarian and went back down from the rather grotty room to tell them so the grumpy guy had disappeared, so we left.

We then walked into town, which was buzzing, and thanks to Google maps found a nice 2 star hotel.

Very nice dinner in town, thanks to TripAdvisor.

Day 11 (Sept 1st.) Albertacce to A Sega

Guide says 5 hrs -15 mins,12k, 800 m ascent, 460m descent

Rather than back track thru the village we continued down the road. Windy again this morning and cool enough fore to be glad of my vest. The road led as quickly to the next village which was much more a going concern and where we were able to buy lunch materials ( bread, cheese and fruit) as well as some pasta salad for a snack when we reached the refuge.

Then we continued down the road to where it crossed the dam of a reservoir. Great views up the valley.

View down the valley from the dam
Old bridge in valley below the dam

On the other side we left the road and started up the track. As we had been told at the gite the night before it was horrible, steep, loose, and very slippery. It was going straight up while the road we had just left was doing lazy switch backs up the same slope. The second time we came to the road we said enough, and walked up the road instead. Much easier. We got up 600ft like this before we had to go back on the trail. A nice stop after an hour for a peach and then an hour later for lunch. Great views. Half an hour later we were at the top. A total rise of some 2600 ft. And apparently the high point of our whole tour at 1950m above sea level.view ahead of us.

View behind us

Then it was down the other side, into a wild wooded valley, and after 1600ft descent we got to the Refuge A Sega, a spacious, modern construction on the banks of the Tavignano river.

After checking in we went for a very cold swim in a lovely pool just up stream from the refuge. I tried Muffy’s trick of waiting 10 seconds but by that time my skin was starting to burn. Then we had our snack. Very welcome it was too.

Then we put up the tent as Colin had not seen it. Then took it down again and here we are. Colin has gone for a little explore while I write this.

A little later went joined Colin at the bridge over the river where I took this shot