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

Septemes to St Marcel - 22.3 km - Monday 11th April 2011

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The first half was a nature reserve in the hills. The second was urban Marseille.

Garmin Altitude Plot Garmin Mapsource Google Earth Land Fill Land Fill Blue Stumpy Irises Blue Stumpy Irises Terrain Domaine de L Etoile Domaine de L Etoile Judas Tree Judas Tree Domaine de L Etoile Very Dark Tall Irises Antenna Domaine de L Etoile Quercus Coccifera Quercus Coccifera FM Radio Transmitter Terrain Sentier Botanique de la Batarelle Soft Broom Soft Broom Soft Broom Soft Broom Gorse Gorse Gorse River at St Marcel River at St Marcel River at St Marcel River at St Marcel River at St Marcel Station at St Marcel Station at St Marcel Station at St Marcel River at St Marcel River at St Marcel

Diary - Top

It was another early start. The 06:05 from Marseille to Septèmes arrived well before sun rise. The first half hour was dark enough to need the GPS backlight. The route was on street lit roads with pavements so there was no risk. After a short leg on fairly quiet roads, there was a steep climb up a very un-promising road. Without Google Earth planning no one would think this could be the route but it worked perfectly.

A short mountain path led to a bigger road leading to a huge land-fill / ex quarry site. This passed derelict houses which were of modern concrete construction but obviously never finished. Details were missing like the steps on the 45 degree slopes up to the front doors. It could have been a pretty little settlement.

Near the quarry it was unclear what the rights of way were so Neil hid in the woods to get past the security guard on the gate. This diversion led to a very nice mountain track leading in slightly the wrong direction. Later a gas pipeline returned the walk to its correct track. There seem to be lots of paths kept open by mountain bikers and so far it has always been possible to get through.

The walk was now on high ground with excellent but hazy views over Marseille. The drop down to St Marcel alternated between fairly busy roads and very pretty and narrow lanes whenever possible. There was a lot more Google Earth planning to avoid the worst roads and find crossings of the autoroutes.

At St Marcel there was an unexpected river with a nice wier. The station was semi derelict but there was a brand new set of steps and lifts to make the platforms accessible. Not all the lifts worked so the whole edifice was a bit useless. All the locals crossed the lines at ground level using gaps in the new fence. There was a long wait because the 13:14 train did not run. It was not clear if this was a timetable change or due to engineering works. The 16:42 was 20 minutes late. There may have been a replacement bus service for the 13:14 but this was not indicated in any way and I only found out a few days later.

The red nose is even redder and still running like a tap. You'd think there would be a cure for the common cold by now. The next stage is blocked sinuses. Already the sounds of the world are fading into the dull throb of congestion. Fortunately this cold, unlike some, seems not to harm the energy pathways. The 200 metre climb early in the walk was not a problem.

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