Our last day with Philip who has been great company and very easy to walk and stay with. He will catch a train in the morning to his home in Waalre, Holland, with hope that his daughter has watered the plants.
Further down this long valley, becoming narrower as the mountains became increasingly intimate, we began a gentle slope up for some time, something we hadn’t been doing for the last few days. Now it was important because the climb will become a lot steeper over the next three days.
Then it became a dolphin swim as we entered a mossy forest with its gentle winding, jumping and diving pathway. There were so many bird sounds, it was as though they hadn’t seen anyone for a while and so were excited to see us. I could understand this for we have seen only one Frenchman travelling from Paris to Rome – remember, we are now on another Camino that travels mostly through France.
Sadly our track didn’t cross with a Swiss couple, Martin and Rosmarie, who are great friends of friends of ours, but we have made an email contact so we may catch them at another time in the future.
We have now arrived in our second night in a row of church accommodation. It was the gentle Franciscans last night. Tonight it is the Catholics who have taken us below to their windowless, cavelike dungeon with curved ceilings and bare walls. I feel a bit like a pizza in a cold oven, the fire burning up above us and outside. No room/cave key was supplied and we have noticed that Swiss often don’t lock their rooms, so it is no great surprise.
The Great St Bernard Pass from Switzerland to Italy starts tomorrow over 4 days. It has opened surprisingly early so we have been lucky. It means we don’t need to look for another track to walk in the meantime. It also means we don’t have to pre-book as most walkers would have planned to reach there mid June at the earliest … and we just met the man who runs the hostel on top of the Pass.