France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Bouches-du-Rhône

Rognac to Septèmes les Valons - 20.9 km - Sunday 10th April 2011

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Roads at each end. Some very nice hill and forest terrain in between. Difficult stream bed.

Garmin Altitude Plot Garmin Mapsource Google Earth TER Train Rognac Station at Dawn Radar for Marseille Airport Etang de Berre Etang de Berre Orchids gone over Leaving Vitrolles High Church High Church Plateau de Vitrolles Sign Plateau de Vitrolles Sign Plateau de Vitrolles Sign Plateau de Vitrolles Sign Last View of the Etang de Berre High Church Marseille Airport A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris A New Yellow Wild Iris Nornal Iris New Yellow Wild Iris Funnel Web Spider The Terrain Caterpillars or Spiders Caterpillars or Spiders The Terrain The Terrain The Terrain The Terrain Small River Falls Small River Falls Big Orchid Lithodora Lithodora Pine Tree Knobulism Iris Grarden Wild Tulip Bud Power Lines Septemes les Valons Septemes Station Diesel Train Diesel Train Gorse Spine Injuries

Diary - Top

The 06:36 train from Marseille St Charles to Rognac departed on time and arrived at about sun rise (7am). The first hour of the walk was in the shade of the steep cliffs east of Rognac. The route climbed this steep rise using a well engineered road, thankfully with very light Sunday traffic. At the top, after the hard work, there was cool sun and a fairly flat route across the Plateau de Vitrolles nature reserve.

One of the highlights of this walk is finding a new plant. Today there were low growing yellow irises with quite substantial flowers, unlike most wild varieties. At first there were just a few but later there were hundreds. A wild tulip in bud was spotted too. This was a lovely spot.

Later the path dropped into a fertile valley and the route was blocked by a stream in a very deep bed with dense gorse growing on the other side. Any one of these three factors might stop a less hardened walker. Getting down the bank was easy using the glassade technique. This is like a glissade but more likely to result in a muddy backside. The stream was only ankle deep and only a few steps wide. The gorse was more of a problem. Someone had beaten a path but that might have been over a year ago. The plants were so tall and thick that the beaten down track was suspended about two feet above ground level. The bent over plants mostly supported my substantial weight without falling through although one leg got stuck for a while. Gorse is much less trouble than brambles or roses which hook into you. The gorse just stabs. Getting up the far gorse bank was uncomfortable and not too safe but eventually managed with only a few trickles of blood and very few splinters to pick out. Later in the day after showering there was very little visible evidence. The following day there were hundreds of red dots where the spikes went in.

The rest of the walk was on roads and paths with one more Google Earth error. Someone had built their house across the route. In fact this was the second choice route. After a bit of back tracking there was a much nicer wild path through garrigue and woods. This leg was up hill and it was getting quite hot.

The approach to Septemes was cooler and just about bearable. There were small industrial units and out of town shopping with additional attractions like bowling. This lasted a couple of kilometres. Of course the alternative was to head through the centre of Marseilles which would have been really unpleasant. The city is fine. It's the pedestrian unfriendly approach roads that are the big problem.

And finally Neil burnt his nose. He left the UK with a sore throat and this has blossomed into a classic head cold. The continual nose blowing prevented any sun block staying in place so it's red nose day until the cold finally clears up. Lots of the locals are sneezing and spluttering so I doubt if my small contribution will spark an epidemic. And no! The Mediterranean climate is no better at clearing up a cold than damp drizzle. Of course you don't have to put up with the drizzle on top of the cold so the misery is lessened.

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