Sunday 11th September
Distance: 15km Time: 4.5 hours
We set off late this morning, probably because of the bottle of wine last night, but also because there is less pressure on us today as we don’t have as far to walk. We head to the local tourist office and get our accommodation booked for tonight before heading out of town and onto the easiest section of the Tour du Mont Blanc.
We start with an easy amble along the valley floor next to the river, with some hilarious signs warning of the dangers of sudden floods which are a regular occurrence and caused by a nearby hydroelectric power plant. The easiness changes when we join a rather vertigenous path, complete with a chain to hold onto for those with a fear of heights. Next we walk on an unusual ridge of earth which heads into the valley in the most inexplicable direction. This wooded ridge is actually an old pile of debris left from an ancient glacier, but no sign of the debris remains as it has been taken over by trees.
We soon descend to the valley bottom, a beautiful meadowed area with manicured lawns and in places, wild flowers. This area must be trully exceptional in the Spring! We have a lazy lunch on the grass and Jo becomes so relaxed, someone has to tickle her to get her moving again!
The path continues past several small towns, and we stop by a shop in one for refreshments. A garden full of gnomes also attracts our attention.
The last section of the days walk is uphill, mainly through woods, but despite what it sounds, this section is in fact rather interesting. A small cave is the first point of interest, but not much further in to the woods we find ourselves spotting lots of carved animals, mushrooms, and some pretty dodgy looking phallic-shaped sculptures. Someone has spent a great deal of time carving all the stumps around here making for an interesting walk. It helps take our minds of the increasingly steep climb up to Champex.
It’s quite a shock after all the climbing uphill to come to a lake, but the lake is there with the small town of Champex next to it. We ask direction for, and find a local shop for some food shopping for the next couple of days, but exit with far less food than we had hoped due to the extortionate prices of Switzerland.
As we leave Champex for the short walk to our gite for the night, it starts raining, and we find ourselves in a bit of a race to get our accommodation before getting soaked. It’s a short walk along the road, but there is some confusion as to where we go as the place is along an overgrown path leading off the road. Once settled in we do some cooking under the marquis in the garden with cats for company. This ends up being late night cooking for Jo and Jen, who have to wait well over an hour for Alan and Fish to cook their food on an almost empty gas canister. The rain turns into a thunder storm before we get to bed.