Freedom by foot

On the 9th of September 2011 we set out from England to the continent by ferry to begin our adventure in earnest. By foot we will make our way to the first destination, which is Milan, from there we will be flying over to Bangalore for an archaeological conference (as you do) and an escape from the harsh European winter.

At any and all points in our little wander we will be on the look out for interesting and exciting places and people to learn from. Our journey begins with a zeal for experiencing ancient and traditional life & new innovative ways of living for the future.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Mountains and Monaco .... Our first border

Autumn. The time of harvesting goodies, golden trees and fresh grey skies. We spend the week hunched amongst the chestnut trees rummaging around for our prize, picking through the crunching leaves for the prickly packages of starchy joy. The days bimble by with the lazy sun loitering lowly in the Autumnal skies. We swam by the river, warmed our naked bodies on the last of the days heat and picked wild grapes that grew and wound themselves high into the trees. The apples also lay on the ground, collected by a fortress of wooden crates propped on the hillside, we collect the good ones and make a huge vat of compot with nutmeg and a local man takes the sack of rotten ones to the goats. Franzeska will be moving into her yurt soon at Augustine's farm. We went there and sorted out piles of wood for the winter and after drank homemade wine in the shaded courtyard. Augustine takes the old bread and fish from the market for his sheep and pigs. So we emptied a van of bread and gladly ate the hidden pain au chocolat and brioche. Unfortunately we missed the opportunity to castrate a boar but never mind, next time.

After these days amongst the harvest we felt rested and yet aware of our eager feet,waiting for the new roads ahead. We ventured east and more south from Ales, saying our goodbyes to Franzeska and Lily.
With our travelers luck and magic thumbs we ended our day dining with a seriously cool guy, Marc, and his family from St Remy de Provence. A bed and a full belly later, we resume our wandering and enter the parc du Verdon where mountains and mists take over.
From Greoux le Bains we hike eastward along the Grand Randonee, following the river for a time, before being taken across the vast flatlands toward Moustier St. Marie. We divert and abandon this trail, preferring our own intuition- being rewarded with the Lac deVerdon. 12km of pristine fresh mountain water amidst the arid surroundings, we camp on the shore and swim in the afternoon to wash the dust from our bodies.
The following day we trek round the edge of the lake and make our way into the mountains proper, through dense oak forest to find our haven in a secluded valley, at 1400m, towering above the landscape below. We set up camp and walked up to the peaks, maybe nearer 1500 to watch the sunset over the lands below. The air and wind was getting cooler, but our valley felt like ours, like home, so we were at peace this evening. The frosty morning began by reaching the highest peak at about 1600m. We saw towering rocky ridgelines beyond and wild drops down into the gorge below. Our favourite bit of walking perhaps so far, along the crest of these mountains, perfect cold air and warm morning sun. The descent from this landscape brought upon us a big change to our walk. The big gorge was closed for walkers. We hoped to meander along the 20km path at the bottom of the deep deep canyon and meditate our minds by the crystal clear river. Alas, our saviors came in the form of a lovely couple from Germany, destined to be our angels for the next days. They took us to a nearby town and we said our goodbyes. The next morning they passed us again and took us beyond the big big cold mountains that we were ominously heading toward. They treated us with real coffee and lots of chocolate with our first view of the  Mediterranean Sea. We were both really happy that we didn't have to walk up any more vertical slopes. The weather was turning, the clouds had covered the sky and the nights, even on low ground were beginning to be really chill-some. After our real goodbyes to the Germans in their big blue beast, we walked up and beyond for the last leg across France. We could see the sea, and could see Nice. Everything seemed close by and easy. Here is where the GR took a turn on us, not in an evil way, nor dangerous, but strange. We were walking thinking about sleeping and suddenly we are walking along a water pipeline. For km's this pipe line took us, right against the edge of the mountain. Eventually we stopped where we could and managed to cook dinner in between the first torrential showers. But of course all was ok with the chocolate supplies, thank you German Christmas cookies!

This path alongside the mountain and the water line took us all day to escape from, though of course Marc loved it because we went through pitch black water logged tunnels. CAVING adventures! Head torches were appreciated for the first time. Out of the tunnels and nearing the end of France, we felt content, the sun was shining and we passed a massive group of OAP ramblers heading off into the tunnels with their head torches, giggling and marching on. The rest of the day we walked through more mountains, in fact for the next few days we did this. The sea was close, as was the Italian border, but the mountains stopped with a halt at the sea, and the urban sprawl was getting bigger.

After doing a James Bond route down the mountain into Monaco we decided our bodies were knackered and ready for a rest. Walking is wonderful, it take us to places unknown, we sleep with views that are always incredible and breathtaking. Our day's only concern is food and water. Life like this is really special. However carrying bags, is not a great long term way to walk. Our bodies, though stronger, are hurting. So we stop and rest. Catching a train for the first time, we whiz by the urban nightmare of Monte Carlo and beyond. Unfortunately the Italian side is equally urbanized nightmare and we have to stay in a hotel for lack of wild places. A shower and bed, homemade pizza and cheap Italian wine was not a so bad way to spend a special evening. Celebrating our Successful 500 + Km walk.

Now we are at Elena and Johnie's house in the hills near Piacenza. Resting before our flight to Milan. Learning how to make cheese, collecting wood, pumpkin harvest, fitting stoves, moving horses, surrounded by loads of cats, dogs and goats. Mainly also enjoying the amazing Italian food and watching the fog and mist roll by.

We'll write more about our time here, before we escape the fast approaching winter.

Disclaimer, Amiee is illiterate and we have been speaking broken English for months. Sorry readers.

See the part of the journey we are writing about:
(however this time I couldn't stop Google taking us via Corsica)


  1. Loving it! Especially the interesting work/volunteering you're getting involved in. I finished the spoon, thank you :-) Will post a photo on our blog soon... How far did the wheels make it? A day or less? Hope all continues well. Alex

  2. It all sounds utterly fantastic. Love it. Looking forward to what comes next... Hi Alex and Laura. x

  3. I love every instalment ! keep it up when you get to India!!

  4. Posted a photo of the spoon here -
    Hope that link works! Cheers, Alex