Sunday, 18 June 2006
Distance 17 km
Duration 3 hours 50 minutes
Ascent 421 m, descent 319 m
Map 36 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
By morning the weather was fine again but our washing was saturated. We picked our way over to the gravel courtyard with all our gear and packed up there, ate our muesli and set off at 8 am.
We were about to enter the great forests of the Morvan. We took the road along the upper edge of the château, rising through ever-thickening trees until we reached the tiny grey and white village of Besbe, where the road petered out.
Beyond the last house we followed a forestry track, red raw and sticky after the rain, steeply up to the ridge and just as steeply down, all in thick pines.
Rejoining the bitumen at Vignerux, we followed it down to the left, then sharp right past la Chaume and les Billons.
At this point some locals told us about a short-cut – a wheel track through the forest – which brought us out to the fields behind Montcimet at the top of the range, a village with possibly the smallest church in Christendom.
All these little Morvan villages had an air of prosperity about them, although the area had been impoverished until recently.
This was apparently a consequence of the injection of central government money to the region. (The fact that the president at the time, Mitterand, was born and bred in the Morvan may have had something to do with this).
Tourism was becoming important to the economy, which was fine by us if it meant more cafés and restaurants.
From Montcimet, we ignored the wildly twisting road and plunged directly down a marked GRP track (red and yellow markings) through forest, thicker than ever, to Anost on the river. It was 11:30 when we emerged, right next to the church.
The boulangerie and Casino were still open although it was Sunday, and so was the Sherlock Holmes Bar. It was closing at 12 but we had enough time for a grateful coffee on the verandah.
The camping was conveniently placed just beyond the houses at the foot of the town. Spreading trees, soft grass and the murmur of the river nearby made it an agreeable spot for a camp. It was almost empty of visitors.
During the afternoon we managed to follow the Socceroos’ misfortunes against Brazil, thanks to our sweet-faced hostess who lent us a radio.
Our evening meal was taken at the local pizzeria. As it was Sunday, it was the only place open, and it was doing a brisk trade.
The terrace was full of animated family groups, many of them alarmingly fat. The French paradox did not seem to prevail in these parts, possibly because most of them seemed to be dining on chips and Coke.