Saturday, 16 August 2014

August Pilgrims a plenty

Monday 11 August

Today was another long walk - 20 miles and one of the longest so far. After getting up to catch an early train back to Tergnier for the start of the walk, we set off just after 8am. Rachel cycled alongside for the first five miles as we made our way out of the town along the roads and to the village of Deuillet. By this time it was getting on for mid-morning so before we parted company we refuelled on the obligatory Pane au Chocolate. Rachel then heading off on the roads and me going across country heading into the woods before we next met some four miles later on the road again.

As I walked through the village of Bertacourt-Epourdin I saw what I presumed was a French man looking in the hedges and grass for something on the opposite side of the road to me. As I walked by I bid him Bonjour and he reciprocated then asked if I was walking. A silly question if you ask me given the house that was strapped to my back. I replied Wee in my best Yorkshire French accent. He then mentioned he was Italian living in France and where was I from. I replied England - Leeds and his eyes lit up. Agh Leeds United and then proceed to extol the virtues of some Italian player who has or plays for Leeds. I bet you can tell how much I love and follow the game. We continued back and forth gesticulating and babbling away trying to get the other to understand before we said  “Chow, arividerci, goodbye etc.

I carried on heading towards our meeting point, as I reached the crest of the hill on the road I could see Rachel chatting away to two people and thought nothing of it given she speaks the lingo. As I neared I distinctly heard the utterings of a very familiar language……English. Formidabla… they were mother and daughter from the Peak District walking the Via Francigina route to Rome. Well the daughter was and the mother was only completing the first 900k due to having to go back to work.

As we were all heading in the same direction we continued as one group chatting away as the miles flew by. We passed the Abbaye de St Nicolas au Boix an 11th century Cistercian Abbey, now not inhabited. As we neared our destination of Laon we could clearly see the Cathedral perched on the hill, a very welcome site after pounding the tarmac for most of the 20 miles and didn’t my feet know it.

We parted company ( the 2 parties ) and headed for our respective accommodation for the night. For us a campsite and a night under the stars and our fellow Pilgrims - who knows where as they had nowhere booked. Their philosophy being to head to the church or the Tourist Information office, whichever was open and ask for a bed for the night.

Our campsite was a typical French one, bring your own loo roll and don't expect a seat.

Laon Cathedral

Jess, Jenny, Rachel & Tony

Distance - 20 miles
Distance since Helmsley - 709.85 miles

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