I was going to leave walks until W, on this A to Z, but something else has come to mind for that, and so I thought I’d write about the nice walks, that there are around us, instead.
It’s funny how there always seems to be a positive from a negative, and at the moment there are so many negatives going on, that it is hard to imagine that there could be any positive side at all.
It’s been such a strange last 12 months, and I find it strange to think that this time last year, we were about to head off to the Fete du Citron and Carnaval de Nice, where we were in the middle of huge crowds, just as the pandemic was starting to spread like wildfire. Then in the last 6 months, I have broken my collarbone, Tom has had an emergency appendectomy, University holiday dates and start dates have been changed at the last minute, that has meant both Andy and I have had to be back in the UK much more than we had planned, and a few more glitches have been thrown in for good measure.
The big positive though is that we have been doing more walking, and starting to explore areas we haven’t been to before, which has added a whole new layer of enjoyment to the area for us – something I never imagined possible after over 30 years!
We have always loved walking, and in fact it was one of the key criteria when we were looking for a house here … ‘are there good walks around the house’? It may seem a minor consideration for most people, but in fact it is a really important issue for us, and happily our little place is surrounded by woodland trails that head off in every direction, so there is no shortage of walks starting right from our front door.
Whilst Andy has been back in the UK, I have been starting the day looking at the map of the Luberon and deciding which little circular route to do that day. There was a time that I was a little uncertain of the footpaths, and worrying that I may follow signs that just disappear, leaving me stranded, with no idea of how to get back.
But by following the routes that are marked on the map, and having Google maps on my phone too, I now have the confidence that the routes are incredibly well marked and that I have nothing to worry about at all.
The regular yellow signposts, point you in the direction of the next signpost, and the route is then marked out really clearly on trees and rocks along the way. There are red and white markers that show the route of the Grand Randonnees, and yellow marking the routes between the signposts, sometimes both!
At junctions there will be crosses on trees, next to the paths that you don’t need to take, and clear markings on the one that you do need to follow. It’s like following a crumb trail, left by Hansel and Gretel, but without the scary witch being at the end.
As a result, I’ve been on some lovely walks, finding lots of new routes and going further and further each day, in fact in the last 2 months I have walked over 350 miles, and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Our mornings have been very gentle, with Millie padding alongside me as we potter along the quiet roads and empty tracks, in fact most days I don’t see another person, until I get to a village. In many respects, it’s the perfect way to maintain social distance, and I find myself hoping that even if we are locked down again, that we are allowed to walk, even up to 5km from the house, as being limited within a 1km radius would be really hard now.
We have walked up through the woodland to Caseneuve, arriving just as the mist was clearing from the valley…
Followed the paths up onto the ridge above Rustrel, finding a beautiful ‘Witches Hat’ borie on the way …. Perhaps my Hansel and Gretel analogy wasn’t as far from the truth as I thought…
Climbed up through the woodland from Joucas to Murs and back again, with incredible views through the Combe de Lourmarin towards Mont Saint Victoire and on towards Marseille
And walked through the ochres to Roussillon, a colourful walk, even in the greyest of days …
Coming back through the vineyards…
What makes me laugh though, is that by the time I take Millie out for an evening walk, she has just about had enough. I will happily amble along, chatting to her (yes I have been on my own so long now that I have started talking to the dog) and suddenly realise that she is no longer with me. When I turn round, she is standing stock-still in the distance, refusing to walk another step. It’s like a reverse game of grandmother’s footsteps, and it means that our second walks are incredibly short indeed!
The walking has helped pass the days, whilst I wait for Andy to return (hopefully in the next couple of days) and I have watched as the seasons have shifted, even in the last 7 weeks.
To begin with I was walking through magical winter wonderlands with dramatic hoar frosts and snow…
I’ve been drenched with rain, on a particularly mizzy day, on my way to Bonnieux…
And I’ve enjoyed speedwell-blue skies too, that have made my heart sing.
I have also noticed the first signs of spring start to show, from the swelling buds on the trees, the first almond blossoms, tiny wild pansies and crocuses, and most recently orchids and irises starting to flower too.
It’s no longer the flat peace of winter as the birds are now singing, and I often find myself stopped by a noise, only to see deer, startled by my arrival, skipping off into the woodland. I have also seen more red squirrels this year, than I have ever seen before too.
The walking has opened the area up to us even more, and I will now look forward to the cooler days, when we will forgo our bikes, pop on our walking shoes, and head off onto the trails instead. It’s certainly not a summer activity, as it would be far too hot, even in the shade, but in the winter and the shoulder seasons,we will continue to explore …
I’m just looking forward to Andy getting back now, and finishing his quarantine so that I can show him what nice walks I have found…..