Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A new start and a new friend !

Tuesday / Wednesday 21/22 July 2015

Today I arrived where I left off in Pontalier, hopefully feet rested, bag lighter and now raring to go. Once again it was the usual routine, find somewhere for coffee and then head to the International hostel to wait for it to open at 5.30pm.

Looking towards La Cluse village and the valley beyond.
This time things were going to be much different. Fate had a pleasant surprise in store for me this time. After being quenched with good strong coffee I made my way to the hostel and sat in the sun to read my book and wait for it to open. It was at that point that fate was to deal its hand. I was again engrossed in another crime thriller and just reaching another exciting twist to the story when a man with a rucksack made his way towards me and sat down. I was to later on find out his name was Bert from Breda in Holland!

After sitting down he politely said, Bonjour and asked if I spoke French, Bonjour and no I only speak a little French. Agh you are English he replied easily and it was from that point onwards that fate arrived! It transpired as the conversations unfolded that we were both Pilgrims heading in the same direction although Bert planned on finishing in Aosta before returning to work and I was heading to Vercelli. We continued throughout the evening swapping stories about walking and generally getting to know each other.

The following morning although we were finishing in Jougne we were taking two separate routes. My day was a pleasant twenty kilometre walk after stocking up with supplies for the day at the Boulongerie. With rations purchased I continued out of Pontalier and was soon in the countryside following the train line to Switzerland. Train lines were to be a continuing theme for the day. 

My route soon took me away from the current railway line into a beautiful sunny valley and then up to the ancient monument of Chateaux Fort de Joux. After descending down a very steep and narrow path I arrived in Oye et Pallet. Once again to follow a railway line but this time one that had not seen a train for a long time. As I made my way along the ravaged, scarred and eroded surface it eventually transformed into a scenic railway line and to my surprise with two former Orient Express carriages being restored to carry passengers once more. 

Orient Express carriage being restored.

My route continued alongside the track which was not being used. By now it was early afternoon and the forecasted storm looked imminent with brooding black skies and a light breeze that was starting to increase in strength. My route was to leave the track but before that occurred the weather turned, the rain started to fall and the skies started to rumble and flicker with lightening. Now last year I was caught in a violent storm in the middle of a field as it passed over my head. Not wishing to experience that again I changed my route and continued along the line to the next village.

As I neared the village the rain was increasing in strength and despite the humid air I put my waterproof jacket on. Not long after that a motorway bridge came to my rescue and as the forces of nature literally fell out of the sky, I jumped onto the concrete barrier, put my feet up and replenished my energy, gleefully watching the torrents of water run down the road. Little did I know that this was going to be repeated twice before the end of the day!

After a well deserved break, some food and drink the weather eventually turned to one of very light drizzle and time to set off again on the last few kilometres to my Chambre de Hote for the night. I passed through the village, ignoring the numerous opportunities to quaff more of the dark nectar of French coffee. As I left I was soon to realise the error of my ways as the heavens once more emptied heavy rain down on me. I spied a pub not too far away in the direction I was travelling and with the thoughts of a coffee made a beeline following the shortest possible line.......Ferme (closed) it 
announced. Not being one to be defeated I hunkered down in the doorway, rucksack on the floor, feet elevated and 
watched the rain fall and the thunder and lightening bounce around the sky once more.

I checked my location in relation to my end point and realised that I was probably only 1km away, so as the rain eased off to a fine missel I set off on my third attempt to reach my destination dry. The route took me off the road and down to an underpass, unfortunately due to the heavy rain this now resembled a river and without a lightweight portable boat on hand I decided to do an about turn and follow the road. 

Formidable....... As I turned round the heavens opened again, I briefly hesitated under the smelly ugly underpass wondering what my step was going to be and spying a garage across the road I made my way there. Fortunately a jet 
wash canopy came to my rescue and a took shelter under it. I am sure the locals using the garage were quiet amused at the sight I presented, loitering without intent under there.

After another thirty minutes the clouds started to turn blue and the dark skies moved on and within about ten minutes I was finally walking through the door of the Hotel de Poste, my refuge for the night and a very welcome and very cold beer! They even had a welcome sign and Union Jack poster on the reception desk......just for me.

Distance - 19.3 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 116.3 kilometres

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