It’s a simple formula; drive to Dover, catch the ferry, sleep somewhere cheap and enjoy the Alps in glorious sunshine. But it rained, heavily and our remote village near Le Desert on the GR54 offered bread twice per week…and little else. We contented ourselves with a wet walk, a wet bike ride and a dry sit in a café watching the thunder storm, before we got wet on the bikes again. Cooking over a wood fire added to the entertainment – along with the wine.

When the clouds lifted we noticed fresh snow just a couple of hundred metres above us and understood the 8 degrees of cold that had us wearing Scottish winter gear most of the time. Enough was` enough and we activated plan B – off to Provence.

It worked a treat – 30 degrees of heat, bright sunshine, a friendly site with free use of a fridge in the town of Vacqueyras. A short distance away there was excellent bolted limestone climbing on the Dentelles de Montmirail. These great fins of rock provided routes from 3+ up to very hard. A guide book I had purchased last year “Escalade Loisir en Haute Provence” (Giffon P. Edisud, Aix en Provence 2007 €15) selected lots of climbing up to 6a / b which offered us plenty of do-able leading. So we belayed in the shade and climbed in the sun after a 10 minute walk – in. Fantastic – and so was the local wine!

The mountains still called and we returned to the Alps to walk a couple of sections of the GR54 taking in some magnificent bivouacs at about 2500 metres. Great views, great solitude and couscous never tasted so good. Our base camp was just below the Col de Lauteret. The site offered a local via Ferrata and some friendly crags. It was also the starting point for some mountain bike trips. Not too tough but enough for me to bust the chain (again) forcing a trail-side repair in the middle of no-where.

It was a great trip – and we’ll be happy to lend books maps and via ferrata tackle to anyone who fancies getting out there.

Mike & Caroline.

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Comment by Derek Kenyon on September 4, 2010 at 15:31
Hi Mike Can you put it on as a Word attachment as its black on black and I can't read it? Anyone else having the same difficulty?


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