Via Francigena: Martigny, Switzerland.
After a filling breakfast we donned our packs and walked out into the wet, overcast weather which was rather pleasant after the past few hot days. We arrived at a park where there was a fork in the track. Decisions. Decisions. One track zig-zagged up a huge ridge, the other along the base of the ridge. The map suggested following the lower track.
We asked a group of walkers the best way to Sembrancher and they told us that the lower track had been washed out by a flood two weeks ago and the best way would be to take the overland alternative. This meant walking up and over the huge ridge.
Ugh! OK, don’t argue with the locals. We began the ascent of the steep ridge. Not all walking was pleasurable, especially up such inclines with a full pack. I felt the strain of the slope and the weight of my pack, angry at this unexpected effort.
After considerable effort we reached the top of the mist-shrouded ridge and rested for a while. With our breathing now less laboured, it was satisfying to watch the swirling mists enveloping and releasing the tall green pines.
Then down again, making our way through steep vineyards to the village of Bovaniers (altitude 615m), taking care not to slip on the loose gravel. According to our timetable, the next bus to Sembrancher and Orsieres was due in an hour.
So, time for lunch. A man in a van drove past. I asked him where the bus stop was.
“In front of the post office,” he replied.
After we had finished eating, we stood in front of the post office to make sure the bus would stop for us.
It did. We were soon whizzing past small villages and gradually climbed up a wild narrow valley to Sembrancher (altitude 717m.) Six kilometers further south and higher up the valley was Orsieres.
The bus journey from Bovaniers had taken twenty minutes, a distance which would have taken us half a day to walk.