Saturday, 25 November 2017

23 November 2017 – Carrascal Ridge

Today’s walk is very local, in fact we see it every day from our balcony.   We climb the Carrascal Ridge on the right and walk along to the Col de Rates on the left.

This is the most difficult walk we have offered to the Thursday Explorers, and we were very pleased that 17 joined us for it.  This despite my warning that it was the hardest climb yet.

We were particularly pleased that Dave and Sue joined us.  This walk is very significant for us as it was the first one we did together.   In May 2006 we four joined the annual Parcent Town Carrascal Ridge Walk.   If you select 2006 under My Blog List on the right, and then label 05 you will see some photos of that walk.
We met at the Piscina in Parcent.  But before we started the walk, we left cars at the Col de Rates so that we could finish the walk there.
The walk downhill, and then along the river, from the Col de Rates to the Piscina is not difficult, but it does add about 90 minutes to the walk. 
Once more we were fortunate with the weather.   The forecast was a sunny 24c, which if anything is a little hot.  Usually it is too cold to sit around for long, but we would not have that problem today.
By the time we reached the font everyone was down to shirtsleeves, but all had managed the first part of the climb without any problems.   Unlike our 2006 walk when were all four shattered due to the fast pace set by the very young, and very fit, Parcent group.
Our aim today was to enjoy the walk, so we took a very moderate pace.  We also had frequent water stops to allow everyone to recover.
I could hear that everyone was talking as we walked, so I was confident that the pace was about right.  The time to worry is when they all go quiet!
Dave and Sue run walking holidays, and take out paying groups five times a week throughout the walking season.  So it always surprises me that when they have a rare break they want to walk for enjoyment.
It took us about 90 minutes to reach the iconic banana stop.   There are the most fantastic views of the valley from this rocky outcrop.   We have tried to identify it from the house, but have never managed to do so.  We must raise a flag next time so we can spot it from below.
After a 20 minute rest we set out on the most difficult part of the walk, the climb to the ridge.   This part is very steep and unrelenting.  It is one of those walks where you just have to keep going with one step at a time, and try not to look up and see how far you are from the top.
There are a couple of level sections between the climb, and again we had a water break to allow everyone to catch up and recover
It is a great relief to reach the top and amble along to our lunch stop
We often have to find shelter from a cold wind to have our picnic, but not today.   The warm sun and cool breeze meant we could take advantage of good seating and a great view to eat our sandwiches.
At this time of year there is often a thick haze, which softens the view.  I love the effect, but it does not make for clear or sharp photographs

Some had an even better picnic site to enjoy the views
The walk along the ridge is on a quite good path, but not one that is always easy to find.   It is signed with yellow and white, but they seem to be positioned for walking the other way.  
This is a walk where you have to watch where you put your feet.  But we had frequent water stops to enjoy the views.
The observations towers and aerials mark the end of the ridge, and the start of the long winding road down to the Col de Rates

It is nice to be able to step out on a good road, and to be able to enjoy the views.   But it does go on for a long time, and weary feet start to complain
A very welcome cold drink at the Piscina bar was a fitting end to our challenging, but very enjoyable walk.   A group of squirrels in the surrounding trees also provided us with an unexpected floor show.

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