Tuesday, 30 June 2015

I took the bus !

Monday 29th June 2015

I had decided to throw caution to the wind and get the bus to Portarlier where I was to base myself until Thursday, hopefully by then I would be able to continue walking the planned route to Rome. My choice of getting the bus meant that I had be up just after six to ensure I took full advantage of the all you could eat breakfast buffet again. Both targets were met and just before 8am I checked out of the hotel.

At 8.30 prompt the bus arrived and now feeling confident with speaking a Yorkshire dialect French I asked for my bus ticket and was very surprised to be only asked for only three Euros. Now this must be either a child or pensioners fare surely……non. By now I was feeling even more chuffed with myself because if I had taken the train it would have taken me thirty minutes longer, involved two station changes and cost an additional thirteen Euros. Well at last something was starting to go right.

The journey from Besancon to Pontarlier is the same direction I would take if I had been walking and I will have to return to Besancon if my journey is to be completed properly. With that in mind I gazed in awe at the landscape that rolled out before me. A steady climb out of the valley from Bescancon that seemed to go on for ever. With high granite cliff faces swathed in lush green canopies of trees that stretched as far as the eye could see, I knew that walking through this I would be faced with an interesting journey. Thinking that we had reached the top we rounded a corner only to be faced with more of the same. The bus confidently swept round the corners with a huge drop to the valley floor on the side that I had chosen to sit. I confess I did take a few large deep breaths as the rear tyre scuffed the kerb stone and on occasions with just a very low stone wall from certain doom, I prayed the driver would not suddenly sneeze or decide to answer his phone. From one valley we progressed through a tunnel in the cliff into the next valley before we left it behind as we had reached the summit over 800 metres high.

The landscape changed and now continued to be a rich verdant green with lush meadows being grazed by happy,  lazy doleful cows in the sun. Soon we were approaching Pontarlier station and the end of my journey. 

With my rucsac once more on my back I stepped off the bus in search of my accommodation. As promised, I found it close by and checked in. I was greeted with some surprise though when I asked if it was open all day so I could rest my feet. It transpired that it is closed between 10am and 2pm when I could then sneak in using my keycard on the night door at the back of the building. I wandered to my room, a four bedded one rather than the eight I had expected, and with a balcony which I will take great advantage of. As there were no secure storage lockers in the room I removed items from my rucsac I didn’t mind losing and with the rest remaining where they were I went into town for my second coffee of the day and a mooch around.

Wee Man even managed to jump in the fountain for a cool down........

Pontarlier had a history with Absinthe, since the early 19th century it was forbidden to be distilled. I believe this tradition has been resurrected more recently and aside from that it is not a very big town and only a small heart to it. I am sure with my limited movements, as I am forced to vacate my abode, I will get round the centre a few times.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Enforced rest and recuperation

Saturday 27th - Sunday 28th June 2015

500 metres completed

Well now for a weekend of nothingness. It was good to arrive last night to a place I am familiar with and I have always had a good experiences with the Ibis chain. To walk into the room for the first time and see a bath albeit a tad small, well absolute heaven. The joy was almost cut short when I realised that there was no plug for the bath or the sink. But like a true boy Scout I soon improvised with a travel flannel and a full 1 litre Sig bottle. The effect was so good that when my skin started to resemble a dried prune I knew it was time to get out and pamper my feet.

I had spied a pizza restaurant two minutes away from the hotel and with the thoughts of fresh pizza dough and mozzarella stringy cheese hanging off my face I was soon beetling my way there. The thoughts of a taxi did cross my mind, but, well I needed the exercise. As someone who tries to keep to a healthy diet I was soon tucking into a tuna pizza with fries and half a litre of red wine, well that must be my five a day at least there. With no washing up to do, the sun beating down and all the time in the world I even pushed the boat out and had a coffee as I immersed myself once more into the latest Karin Slaughter book - Cop Town.

After a restful night I woke up once more (that’s always a good thing to do……wake up that is) with the sun streaming through the windows. The sun never ceases to lift my spirits, even when faced with a situation I currently find myself in. Virtual enforced imprisonment.

Now I know that does sound harsh but I am trying to get my feet repaired as soon as possible. So after a very healthy breakfast, where I had consumed as much as I could possible eat to last me the whole day, it was back to my room to rest. I really was not surprised to see other guests look at me as walked around like I was treading on red hot coals, wincing at every step.

Once in my room it was just a case of keeping entertained, Facebook, e-mails, book and a nap…..well it’s hard work doing nothing. Late in the afternoon of Saturday I felt the urge for some fresh air and so I embarked on the painful and long journey across the road to the train station cafe and a large fresh coffee. It was nice to sit outside in the sun for a while and watch the world pass me by.  After a while my feet were starting to tell me they were not happy not being up and rested, so with no opportunity to elevate my feet it was back to my room.

By now the routine was starting to kick in, Facebook, mail, surfing the net, reading and dozing. It is amazing that the world is now such a small place! I received a Skype video call from my Grandson Alex aged 7 and my daughter and it was good to hear what they had been getting up to since I last saw them. Alex excitedly told me all about the fun he had at a Beaver activity day and his eyes lit up when I showed him the view from my hotel window and how sunny it was. All too soon we said goodbye promising another video chat in the future.

By 7pm I was getting peckish so once again I headed back to the restaurant. I had viewed the menu on-line and where I was unsure of a French word used Google translate, so by the time I got seated, once again outside, I knew what I wanted to eat. I stayed as long as I dare, enjoying the buzz of people around me and then headed back.

Sunday morning and my right foot was definitely feeling a bit more normal, but again enforced imprisonment was looming ahead. Once again I gorged myself on the all you can eat breakfast buffet, one of my favourite foods is the pureed apple yogurts you get here. It’s just like baby food, so tasty and part of the five a day diet. So five of them would be all my five a day completed, no I didn’t eat five…..although I am sure I could have, they’re that good!

With my routine in full swing I retired to my room but today was going to be different as in the middle of the morning I had a visitor. I was so excited when there was a knock at the door, Monsieur - Bonjour…….I called excitedly wee, wee entree! And in walked the maid to clean the room, well it was so nice to see someone else it really made my day.

Just after lunch, once again I plucked up courage and paddled over to the train station shop for a coffee, this time sitting outside in the shade for a couple of hours as i was starting to get fed up of being stuck in my room. In no time at all I was back there.

Now my time has expired here in the hotel and due to the increased room rates I am forced to move on. I will be sad to leave here as in some ways it is a luxury to have your own room, be able to spread things around you and have a huge double bed all to yourself. Tomorrow a new adventure looms, an early bus journey to Pontarlier and the International Youth Hostel there. The room rate is very favourable for my enforced sedentary period and there will be other like minded people around me hopefully. The downside is it will be a single bed in an eight bed dormitory with very little privacy, but then that’s life and one mustn't grumble.........much!

Saturday, 27 June 2015


Friday 26th June 2015

Well it was with a very heavy heart that I felt relieved to escape Abbaye d’Acey. During the course of my Pilgrim trail from the North of England I have stayed in a number of religious places that have offered accommodation, all have been superb, the most memorable being Sister Lucy. The Abbaye d’Acey was not in that category and that is a real shame because as I mentioned in my previous blog, it truly is a special tranquil place.

My escape was planned with military precision:-

Did I have enough change to leave a small donation ……check, yes

Was my alarm set………..check, 5am yes

Was all my gear laid out ready for a quick pack………check, yes

Was I ready to go to sleep at 8pm……….check, o yes

So with eye mask on I was soon in the land of nod.  The alarm clock went off and I quickly packed and tidied my room to leave it as I had found it. I had not planned to have any breakfast but I took advantage of having a yogurt left over from the supplies I had been given the night before. This included picking up the now semi stale piece of bread too. I left a message to give the Hotelier some feedback expressing my sincere disappointment on my reception and put the key where he could find it and walked out of the door.

By now it was just before 6am and a pleasantly cool morning with the occasional glimpse of the sun and a nice day in store. My plan today was to take a direct route to the nearest rail station some eighteen kilometres away, considerably less than the planned thirty eight kilometres to Besancon. I was  just hoping that my feet were going to last out. 

My strategy was to take each kilometre at a time and if I needed to stop and take all day then so be it. As it turned out it was not too bad. With my stale bread in hand and a tuna and tomato quiche I had kept from the previous day for breakfast, I waddled along. I travelled through a number of villages each about 3 kilometres apart and it was those additional goals that kept me going. After a couple of hours I was still waddling along although by now my feet were starting to complain. I just told myself to get on with it and at the penultimate village, three kilometres from Orchamp I decided to take a decent break.

I sat on the village green on the outskirts of the village and dined on muesli bars I had brought from the UK, washed down with the days vintage aqua. I really did look quite a sight as several buses of school children went by. I am sure a sight many had not seen before. 

After a well deserved rest I set off, by now this was becoming the worst part, just putting the weight on the balls of my feet as I walked. Slowly I built up my speed as my feet started to become adjusted to the resolve of walking again and soon any discomfort was once again in the back of my mind. At 9.30 am and ten miles later I waddled into Orchamp and went straight to the rail station. It was with some mixed relief that the next train was not until 1pm but now I had to kill some time. 

I navigated my way through the French automatic ticket machine that gave me so many options of what type of ticket I wanted. I am sure there was one there to the North Pole to see Father Christmas! With ticket in hand I set off into the village to find somewhere for a strong black coffee. There was no obvious place so I called into an arty farty shop that sold fancy beer and other products in clear cellophane with ribbons around it. Oo la la! The madame uttered the obligatory Bonjour with which I reciprocated Bonjour. Une cafe long monsieur? Au non une cafe grande sil vois plais I begged, probably with a slight tear in my eye at the relief of finding somewhere so close.

So with over three hours to kill this was to be my home for the rest of the morning. I have never tasted such a good coffee or made one last so long. I took advantage of the time by writing up the previous days blog as I was too tired and weiry to complete it the previous night. With a touch of guilt at being sat there for so long I asked for another coffee and having noted my rather strange walking style we soon burst into conversation.

My view has and is always that if you are in another country it is only polite to try to speak that countries language even if you make a real pigs ear of it, at least you have tried. So in a mixture of gesticulating (that’s always good) and French we had and managed quite a healthy and interesting conversation. Including being shown and old book that showed what the area, the shop and square looked like in the 18th century. 

With my blog page and walk diary notes completed I waddled off back to the station. At 1pm prompt the train arrived and took me to my preferred sanctuary. Arriving at Besancon I gritted my teeth and finally set off to find my hotel and oh I can’t explain the relief I felt at finding it just across the road from the station.

Sanctuary………well Ibis budget hotel!

Total planned distance - 38 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 95 kilometres

Not a day I want to remember

Thursday 25th June 2015

Everything started off well with a pleasant breakfast and loads of strong coffee to get the brain cells buzzing. There was a retired couple who had obviously stayed the night dining to and they kept looking at me and then talking between themselves. Eventually she smiled and asked me if I was a Pelerin (A Pilgrim) ……Compostella La Puy en Valey? she also uttered. Now La Puy en Valey is one of the starting points for the Santiago De Compostela routes. I replied that yes I was but my walk had started from the North of England. Well a rather interesting French / English / pointing discussion then ensued. They were both very excited at what I had accomplished and where I was planning to finish my journey …..Rome.

The excited conversation continued at a pace between themselves and the hotel landlord who also seemed rather amazed. To my shock / horror and great amusement they even asked for a photo of me with my rucsac on…….well how could I refuse. With my pack on my back and tummy sucked in I posed like a cat walk model with a big cheesy grin on my face.

I left the hotel with a spring in my step. Auxonne is a medieval town with many remaining features including the church with a slightly twisted spire. With supplies for the days walk and plenty of water I left the town to continue on the long day ahead.

Walking in France is not always an easy thing to do, most of the paths are along minor roads or tracks through woods or fields. Even if it is a marked path it does not always mean you will be able to use it as farmers very often just close them and don’t provide a detour. I had planned todays walk using a map of the area and with modern technology, Google maps to get a satellite view of the route. This second view had shown a route through the woods to avoid the minor road, this being my preferred choice as the tarmac’d roads are always hard to walk…..no pun intended.

I turned off the road having reached the point to go into the woods and made sure there were no Privee notices to stop me. As I got into the woods it soon became clear that I was probably not going to find the track on my right due to the forest debris and overgrown ground. I checked with my GPS, a marvellous invention, to double check the location of the track I was looking for and there was no sign of it on the ground so I retraced my route back to the road. Sacré bleu

After several kilometres further on I saw an old man walking across the road towards his car with a chainsaw in hand. Now that is not a sight you see every day, hopefully he had not dragged is wife into the woods and cut up her body! I nervously passed him keeping my distance and he bid me bonjour and promptly uttered blah blah blah whilst waving his arms frantically in the air like a windmill possessed. I think his was telling me that there were lots of flies and other nasty bitey, stingy things around so be careful. I thought that was rather sweet of him to tell me that, even though I was only guessing what he was saying. I nodded my head politely, thanked him and bid him bonjour too whilst noting there was no dead body in the boot of his car or signs of blood dripping off the blade of the chainsaw.

I soon came to the village of Plieney and decided to seek shelter in the shade of the Lavoire (the village wash house). Now this turned out to be the wrong thing to do because after I had put my rucsac back on and set of walking again I soon became aware that everything was not well with my feet. I hobbled off like an old man wobbling from side to side to avoid the discomfort that was now radiating from my feet. Eventually either my feet got used to the walking again or they had been removed from my body as  the discomfort soon got less and less or so I thought.

I had decided again to take a detour off the road at the next village, as again I had found a forest track to use. As I strolled down the hill the discomfort in my feet came back to remind me that they were really not happy bunnies. Once again I chose to ignore them and like a brave wounded soldier I battled on through the woods. The route I had chosen turned out to be ok this time and in fact was actually part of a Compostela route which up until then I was unaware of.

By now it was well past midday and I took shelter under a tree in a field and had my lunch which I had successfully purchased back in Auxonne. My French is now progressing rather well even if I do say so myself. Food consumed and thirst quenched I set off, or that was my plan, my feet now were definitely not happy bunnies. I battled through the pain and once again got back into the stride to the next village. No pain no gain!

As I entered the village my right foot suddenly did something really weird. It felt like a small balloon going off and then a cold dampness followed. O dear me I uttered, or words to that effect and then went into survival mode. Right lets get to the next house, made it, now the next car, made it and so on with the final goal being the church in the distance where I would decamp and render first aid to my foot.

Mission accomplished and I will spare you the gory details but once again I had succumbed to blisters on the pad of my right foot, the second time in three weeks. The balloon popping and the cold wetness, well I will let you use your imagination. I rendered first aid to my battle worn foot, put my boot on and with some more food and water on board I waddled off like a duck again toward my final goal…the Abbaye d’Acey now only 4 kilometres away…….or so I thought!

For a minor single track road there was a lot of traffic which I had to keep dodging and diving off to avoid be squashed like a bug on a windscreen. Suddenly a pain shot through the side off my left heel. O dear me I uttered again, or words to that effect - well this blog could be being read by small children! I stopped immediately and once again render first aid. Yep you guessed another blister, now some would say that it is not a good idea to pop them but it is far more painful to walk on them without doing so. So again with the first aid complete I once again waddled off. My speed by now greatly reduced and the goal being to just get there no matter how long it took. Even if it took days!

I finally arrived at my destination and announced my arrival to the Monk sat on the reception desk. After five minutes of silence the Hotelier arrived, another Monk but this time dressed in his work overalls. Not much really was said and he did not seem interested in me at all. He asked if I had something to eat, I replied no, “so you want a meal” he replied. By now I was definitely feeling that I was not welcome. He told me he could bring some bread and cheese later on which I would had been very grateful for. 

After being shown to my room I thought a nice hot shower would do the trick, wash all the troubles, trials and tribulations away and everything would be rosy afterwards. Wrong! As I was the only guest in the accommodation the hot water had not been turned on, so with a brave smile and hoping nothing too much would disappear I braved and icy cold shower.

Once dried and with clean clothes I visited the church. Now the Abbaye d’Acey is one of the most well known Cistercian Abbey’s in the area. It has been on the site since the 12th Century with the church being one of the main survivors from that time. It really is a beautiful if not sparse building. I attended the Vespers evening prayer with fifteen Cistercian Nuns and eighteen Cistercian Monks. It really was a spiritually enlightening experience.

I had been pre-warned by my host Monk that he would bring a basket of food after Vespers. Eventually the basket arrived together with a strange metal contraption that held two metal bowl type vessels with a carrying handle, a bit like a bucket. Once I had waddled back to my abode I viewed what delights I had been provided with, clearly not just the bread and cheese I had been told to expect. Now not having been given the most warmest of welcomes and clearly not feeling as those I was even welcome I had dared not mention that I do not eat anything with a face on it. Fearing that if I had I would have been ex-communicated on the spot and made to walk in sack cloth and ashes all the way to Rome.

My greatest fears were soon realised. I had been provided with what look like two soups, one with lots of dead animal things floating in it and the second that looked like dish water. Now I am not ungrateful for the the kindness that I was shown with the food , but I am sorry some things I just can’t do. I chose to ignore the soups and went for the luke warm overheated, congealed macaroni cheese and a yogurt. Feeling decidedly sad, tired and definitely that I did not want to be there myself. I went to bed at 8pm. Every now and then getting up to see if I could see a taxi outside to take me away………….

Total distance - 28.5 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 57 kilometres

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

And now I am on my way!

Wednesday 24th June 2015

After a banquet of pasta, tinned vegetable and tuna for protein all washed down with half a carafe of red wine, I slept like a baby last night. Another early start as its a 28.5km walk today. After breakfast which was a veritable feast of cold toast I found in a tin, warmed up in the toaster with blackcurrant jam. Soon I was on my way and quickly got into a steady stride as I headed to the various villages I would pass through today.

I am off piste now and had plotted a course hoping that I would not come across any Prive notice that would mean a long detour. The kilometres rolled by and in Brazey-en-Plaine I came across a cafe so I took advantage of taking the weight of my feet and grabbing a coffee. Now as some people know I do like a good coffee, strong and black. But here in France I was soon to be reminded that over here in Le France it’s different. Why do they serve it in such small cups that really belong in a dolls house? One gulp and it’s gone! All the pleasure, all the fun of savouring and smelling the roasted beans …..poof, disappeared before you know it!

Well I hovered around a bit longer and eventually paid and left to go next door to the Boulongerie and my next adventure. With no real food for lunch except emergency muesli bars carried over from England I was hoping to get a sandwich and some other delights for lunch in the sun. O dear, they did not do sandwiches and with three Madams gazing at me with mouths virtually open with what was on my back, I rapidly pointed to something and said Der soil voice plais. 

Now last year when I was walking with my cycling chaperone, besets friend wifie (she does not mind in the least being called that), our mid morning snack was always croissants or pain au chocolate. But one day with non available I was treated to a heavenly snack, food from the gods and I have not had one since I left last year……until now. Custard filled chelsea buns!!!!

Well there has to be some goodness in them, there are eggs so that’s protein and I am convinced there a few more of my five a day in there somewhere. With two custard filled buns purchased, I skipped out of the shop and quickly launched into one and tucked the other away for an afternoon reward for having walked so far.

Not far out of the village I arrived at Montot and while looking at my map and GPS to confirm whether I was going to stick to my planned route and a possible detour back or continue on an easy option though the village, a battered van rolled up and stopped. Bonjour….blah blah blah he said, I pointed at my map and indicated I knew where I was thank you. He looked at my map and told me to go straight ahead through the village. Well I had decided that was what I was going to do anyway.

Just out of the village he appeared again, this time getting out of his van and walked up to me….blah blah blah he said. Mmmmm I replied, it’s this way I said. Non Non it’s that way, sending me in where ever it goes direction through a field with no real path. I don’t think he was a walker or really knew what I was doing. I think he was just taking pleasure in sending what looked like a homeless person out of the village in any direction as soon as possible.

After that exciting event I then turned left to the track I wanted to take but there was a French sign at the entrance. Now it did not say Prive so I guess it was ok but to be on the safe side I texted wifie at work. Soon she replied it was something to do with agricultural vehicles but by this time I was well on my way. I did not get shot or run off the track by an angry farmer….phew!

I continued on my journey and on a small country lane I stepped to one side to let a car pass, it stopped. O no…….a pretty young lady promptly asked if I was going to the Chateau, I understood that somehow. I replied no and showed her where I was going on the my map, she politely gazed at it, a bit like looking at pictures rather than reading the words of a book, and I said….I don’t know and drove off!

It was lunch time now so I sat down and ate my cold pasta left over from the previous night but was not succumbed to the sin of my custard chelsea bun, that was for later. I continued on my journey and in the middle of the afternoon came to Pont and here it would happen, I could not wait any longer, the chelsea bun was calling me. So I sat down in the sun and slowly devoured it. My hunger suppressed and with new energy I continued the last few kilometres to Auxonne and my home for the night.
Now Auxonne looks like a very nice place with some history, but with 28.5km under my belt I was in need of a cold beer and no more walking today please.

Total distance - 28.5 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 28.5 kilometres

A leisurely stroll

Tuesday 23rd June 2015

With less than ten miles to walk today I had planned on a relaxing natural wake up, breakfast al- fresco in the sun and a peaceful gentle stroll to Citeaux Abbey where I arrived last year at the end of my long walk. Well two of those came to fruition.

I had presence of mind to check the train timetables before I went to sleep, always a good idea if you’ve never travelled from a particular station before. It transpired that there were plenty of very early or very late trains but nothing that really suited my idea of a relaxing wake up. Never mind it’s not supposed to be a holiday so I plumbed for the 8.25am train and 6.45am alarm call. Now I have become adept at the order of packing my rucsac quickly and everything has its own order in there. So I was soon on my way and chose to walk to the station rather than getting the tram.

Having been in Dijon before I knew a rather good Boulangerie so I made a bee line for it and with my very first attempt so far at French I hastened a quick and friendly Bonjour to the madam behind the counter. Bonjour she replied. I then promptly pointed at a Baguette momentarily forgetting the french word for baguette……..der! Is it not Baguette? I did manage a twa fromage, well it was written for me so that was not difficult and a tarte thon sil vous plais. Voila, I think I have got this French thing cracked. Au revoir I bid as i left, she replied Bon Journey……I just love the politeness of the French people and they can be, we Brits just don’t always seem to come across them.

I pootled off to the station to try the local lingo again now feeling full of confidence. Rachel had kindly written a few phrases I might need, so armed with that I went to the ticket office and asked ….for un billet simple a Vougeat sil vois plais, and immediately was told …..sorry it’s that counter over there you need! Now how did he guess I was English?

I tried again and was very surprised that I even managed to pronounce the station where I wanted to get off, correctly. Well I guess the old adage is practice makes perfect and I am sure I will get the hang of the language…..one day.

The train arrived and I found my place. Most of the passengers were going to work and amongst the chatter my ears pricked up and I thought I know that accent …..yep it’s Welsh. A student from across the pond from here was expressing frustration at being caught between a political in fight between two managers in his work placement. Surprisingly the student does not speak French. I bid him good morning as he got off the train…..Yorkshire he shouted back at me…..yes I replied proudly. Now you can take a man out of Yorkshire but you can’t take the Yorkshire out of a Yorkshire man!

The walk to Citeaux was so familiar, no need for any map or GPS checking. I soon left the road and into the woods to follow the path as it meandered through. As I broke cover, the sun is shining and the sky is blue and the air is deafening with silence…..it really is heaven. I took advantage of some naturally placed seats to have a breather, well a pile of logs that were situated to give a seat and a back rest, very comfy. I stayed there for a while just soaking in the view, watching a couple of Buzzards circling and riding the thermals.

After a brief respite I was soon on my way and in no time at all I arrived a Citeaux Abbey. I checked in the shop to see if Fr Bourdiet was working but he was not so it was back outside for an early lunch, a few more pages of my book, all in the sun again. After lunch I popped into the church for the Sexpt service (midday). Now I don’t know about you, but the sound of Monks praying and chanting really does give me goose bumps in the nicest sense. Whatever ails me, as soon as I hear that sound all the burdens in the world just seem to fall off my shoulders.

With the spiritual cleansing completed I set off to my second home for the night, the abbey grange. The grange is part of the original abbey, 12th century. The sleeping area in effect was the cow shed complete with channels in the floor. It sounds exceptionally awful but surprisingly it is very comfortable and well equipped for Pilgrims, as it is on the Compostela route too. Inside there are camp beds, hot shower, cooking facilities, provisions including beer and wine, all relying on the honesty of the guests that use it. Home from home…

Monday, 22 June 2015

Monday 22nd June 2015

Here we are again - Dijon to Rome via Assise

Well a lot has happened since the last blog last year apart from the obvious of being a year older and wiser. Things have not been altogether quiet, a web site is about to be launched as we speak detailing the new Pilgrim route completed last year.  

Maps and day stage walks are freely available for everyone to follow in the footsteps of the ancient monastic Pilgrims. Walk routes can be followed as a serious of either day walks, walks from Cistercian Abbey to Cistercian Abbey, walk just through the UK to Canterbury or all the way to Citeaux Abbey in Dijon.

There is even a walk within a walk. Three of the Abbeys were described by a 12 century Augustinian Scholar as ‘the shining lights of the North’ and can be completed over a long weekend. See the website for the details. (address above)

This morning I woke to retrace my steps back to Dijon today and to Citeaux Abbey tomorrow,  albeit by train from home and a twelve hour leisurely and uneventful day.  Thankfully not having to rush for trains due to being prudent and allowing for decent gaps between each leg of the journey. 

I arrived to my host for the evening Gaelle Marchal who kindly has a sofa bed I can use to rest my head. The weather here in Dijon is warm and humid, so after a quick hello it was straight into freshening up and the start of what will be many diary pages to follow. 

For this leg of the journey my French translator, walking buddy and bestest friend in the whole wide world, my wife Rachel is home, now in full time employment but not subsidising my travels. I am still eeking out my savings until I am forced back to work myself.

I am not all alone, my green Irish friend has jumped into my rucsac again and yes ‘Wee Man’ is back on his travels and you can follow him along the way on the new Abbey Walks Face Book page. As always I welcome any comments or feedback along the way, and over the next twelve weeks to my final destination.

Wee Man sneaks through passport control unseen!