After 2 days in lycra we decided it was time to get our hiking gear back on for our third day in Guillames. Having collected a raft of helpful walking route cards from the local tourist office, we settled on a combining 3 routes each close to Guillames. Although we did consider driving further up one of the other valleys to start a hike at higher altitude, neither of us was too keen on taking the motorhome up the narrow twisting roads unnecessarily either since there were so many great options right on our doorstep. Much better to roll out of bed and walk straight from our front door!
We estimated that our plan, which would involve us climbing 600m up to the small hamlet of Sauze at 1355m before traversing over a nearby col and descending into the Gorge de Daluis before heading back to Guillames, would take around 6 hours or so. With the weather forecast to be fine in the morning but showers and risk of thunder in the afternoon (standard mountain weather we have now come to plan for) we got an early start, hitting the trail just as the sun started to reach the valley floor after 8.
With the morning chill keeping us cool on the early part of the climb we reached Sauze surprisingly quickly, enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the rocky trail after 2 days on the roads. Meeting only a herd of cows and their bells to disturb the silence all morning we stopped for a late breakfast in the tiny hamlet of Sauze just outside the churchyard. After a brief rest we then pushed on over the exposed col towards Villetalle-Basse, with the sun rising higher in the sky and heating the bare rocks around us until it felt like the heat was coming at us from above and below.
Fortunately, it also wasn't long until the breeze started to pick up as well helping to keep us cool as we started our descent towards the Gorge de Daluis through the now forested hillside. Reaching the road that passes through the Gorge a few kilometres south of Guillames after some 4 ½ hours of hiking, we first turned and headed further south deeper into the Gorge tracking the road around to the impressive Pont de Mairie. This narrow bridge, which stands high above the roaring water below used to carry the main road up the valley, today offers a beautiful stopping point for passing tourists to gaze along the narrow Gorge (although most arrive by car).
After crossing the bridge we made our way along the now disused mountain road, with its series of small tunnels, back into Guillames. The increasingly threatening clouds that had gathered finally letting loose and giving us a brief soaking on our final walk in. However, we made it back to the motorhome just in time to avoid the heaviest showers and the late afternoon rain couldn't do anything to dampen our spirits and as the sun returned in the evening we reflected happily on the amazing places your feet can take you.