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Thread: GR20 The Rong Way Round- A question for Paddy

  1. #21
    Widdler
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    Aha ! A trip to Corte ! More to think about then, will have to go back and look at my schedule....

  2. #22
    Widdler
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    I planned to have a day off when I reached Vizzavona if I manage to do Col de Verde to Vizzavona in one day. Sounds like a trip to Corte will be worth it as well.

  3. #23
    Ultra King Matt C's Avatar
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    I'd recommend Corte too, although I suppose it's equally possible to catch the train in the other direction from Vizzavona and go sample the "fleshpots" of Ajaccio! ;-)

  4. #24
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Verdi to Vizzavona in a day is quite achievable. Those two stages are probably the easiest to double-up into a longer day. I've come across quite a few people who've done it that way. (I haven't, since I've always stopped at Capanelle and taken another day to add Monte Renosu to my itinerary.) Apart from a couple of steep climbs, most of the time you do little more than contour across the slopes. You don't need to carry much water, if any, since there are streams along the way, and if you want a proper full meal break, then take it at Capanelle. At the end of the day you zigzag nice 'n' easy down a long, forested slope to Vizzavona. Much better than climbing from the village!

  5. #25
    Ultra King Matt C's Avatar
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    Btw, you can get at the train times here...
    http://www.ter-sncf.com/corse/V2/index.asp

    (The full timetable doesn't seem to be available for download (yet) but at least you can query specific days...)

  6. #26
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Matt - the trouble with the train company is that they change their timetable twice within the summer season, so for the period that the GR20 is open to 'normal' walkers, you'd actually find three sets of timetables are needed to cover you for the whole season!

    I recommend getting hold of the current timetable from one of the stations, on arrival in Corsica. It makes sense to check the expiry date of the timetable, or you could later find yourself at a station when a new timetable was in force!

  7. #27
    Goon
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    Corte is lovely, I stayed there for 2 nights in 2002 chilling out after the northern half of GR20. And it had a good gear shop!

  8. #28
    Widdler
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    Thanks everyone for all the useful advice on this thread. I am planning a trip to Corsica and would welcome advice on campsites.

    We walked the GR 20 in 1987 and carried every bit of food - it sounds like things have changed! Our return in August will be a bit different as we return to Corsica with three children in tow for a mixed beach and walking holiday.

    We are flying to Pisa,hiring a car and arriving in Bastia by ferry. The plan is for separate camps in or near to Calvi, Corte and Porto Vecchio. Any views on campsites in these areas would be appreciated.

  9. #29
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Bear in mind that August is the peak holiday period, and you'll have serious competition for camping spaces.

    There are campsites near Calvi and I can count nine on the map that are actually within easy walking distance of the town centre. The one that's caught my attention more than the rest is La Pinede, no doubt named because it's among pine trees, right next to the main road south-east of town.

    There are a couple of campsites south of the river at Corte, again only mere minutes from the town centre. I know that the gite d'etape near the river has a small campsite too. A friendly cat at the gite mounted guard over my tent for a whole day while I was up the mountains!

    Fraid I can't offer any concrete advice about camping near Porto Vecchio, but I'm sure there will be something. It's always worth bearing in mind that a lot of gites d'etape allow camping for a lot less than you might pay at a regular campsite, and for the price you may well be allowed to used some of the indoor facilities.

    Things have certainly changed on the GR20 since 1987. I dare say you wouldn't even recognise the route, since you were probably bent double under the weight of food and so couldn't see much beyond your feet! These days, all the food you can eat is already up there in the mountains, so you can travel lightweight, stand upright, and enjoy the scenery a whole lot more.

  10. #30
    Widdler
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    We intend to do the GR20 next June but I am not a meat eater. (I do eat fish). Does this pose a problem re meals at the refuges?

  11. #31
    Widdler
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    Emily
    I am doing the trek in September with a vegi-vore so will be able to tell you how we get on.

  12. #32
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Emily - all I can tell you is that the meals provided at each refuge vary enormously. At one refuge, the 'main' meal was nothing more than a heap of rice with some grated cheese on top. At another refuge, a heap of lentils (very veggie) but with great lumps of figatellu (pork liver sausage) floating around in it. Some refuges do an a la carte menu, so you can pick and choose. If you want to make your own meals, then you'll find veggie supplies on sale at every refuge, but the choice might be very limited. If all you want is a full belly, then you'll never go hungry, but as I said, the choice might be limited.

  13. #33
    Widdler
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    Thanks Paddy. A full belly is all that is required so choice being limited is not a problem.

  14. #34
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    The following veggie items are more or less guaranteed at every stage of the GR20:

    Pasta/rice
    Packet soups
    Chocolate/sweets
    Biscuits
    Cheese
    Dried fruit/nuts
    Tea/coffee
    Water (of course)

    Meat-eaters will find every part of the pig on sale in a bewildering variety of forms.

    Anything beyond that is considered 'luxury' and some of the refuges have extensive food stores, though much depends on how many walkers have ransacked the supplies before you get there!

  15. #35
    Goon
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    Local home made soup is delicious and the Bergeries de Ballone serve very nice omelettes......

  16. #36
    Widdler
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    As noted above I'm going S>N starting 1/7 doing stahes to Vizzavona on my own and meting other 5 in my party there (or had planned). Checed the rail timtables and it looks like that I could get to Vizzavona in time to catch the last train down to Ajaccio and have my spae day there before retrning to the trail on the fist train on the 7. Can anyone advise

    1. Is this feasible
    2. Are the train timetables accurate?
    3. Can you advise a good (but reasonably cheap) hotel in Ajaccio
    4. Similarly - can anyone advise a reasonable place to eat in Ajaccio.

    Also - I plan to start early each day and walk before it gets too hot. Do the refuges have any objecion to people up and about at 5am. Do they supply breakfast at that time or do you need to do your own?

    All advice gratefully received

  17. #37
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Bill

    1. Yes - that stretch is feasible.
    2. Get the most up-to-date train timetable as soon as you get to Corsica. The times change twice during the summer season and you need to be bang up to date! Also bear in mind that while trains generally start on time, they often run late, so ask what's happening as soon as you reach Vizzavona.
    3. Ajaccio has a number of budget hotels.
    4. No shortage of "cheap eats".

    As for leaving refuges at 5am, some people do that. Just make sure your bag is packed so that you can sneak out without rustling and clumping around. You won't get breakfast so early, so buy stuff the night before and tuck into it outside the refuge.

    Hope that helps... and good luck!

  18. #38
    Widdler
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    Well - we made it, very muuch as planned. Weather was good until Coruzzo when it closed in and the Gardien alarmed us all with a 'dangerous storms' speech. When we got up in the morning - it was pouring, cloude rising up through bonifatu forest and falling down from the pass so we did the two low-level alternatives for stages 1 and 2. Observations? We did S to N as a way of walking in some fitness. However, our two hardest days overall were day 1 and day 3 - particularly the latter. Different from the GR20 Nord but just as tough. Keep pack weight down. We used refuges for sleeping/eating so no tent or evening food carrried. Basic pack was 12 kg before water and day food so a typical pack weight would be about 16 kg. Doubled-up the last two stages to Vizzavona and got the train down to Ajaccio. A day of hydrotherapy on the beach was just magic. Up at 5am and started at around 6 am on all of our big days. Maybe 60-90 mins later on the shorter rest days. Made full use of the hotel options available - decent food and a bed - great. Technically not hard compared to the harder Scottish ridges. For me (at almost 59) what made this hard was the continual hard, punishing walking which just accumulates the fatigue. No rest days on the GR20 Nord so 13 days of walking, including two days when we doubled-up stages with only 1 day's break. I'm still feeling it a week later. Great trek and delighted to have both done it and been able to do it! Padddy'S guidebook was well thumbed. The maps I used - covering the whole route on two 1:60000 maps - were very poor and not much used. I was the only one in my team to do the whole trek. The others are alrteady planning to go back and finish it. Thanks for all the advice.

  19. #39
    ‹bermensch
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    Hi
    I am thinking of a trip here next year but prefer to camp where possible and only use the refuges if the weather is bad.Is this possible and do the refuges do midday meals .I am sleep much better in my tarp then amongst the snorers .I did this on the GR5

  20. #40
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Glad it all worked out for you Bill. I bet you didn't see many trekkers who were older than you, but every so often you find someone in their 70s doing very well on the route. Obviously, you did your homework, made good plans, and most importantly, kept the pack weight down. If only everyone did that before tackling the GR20!

    I can assure you that you wouldn't have enjoyed the high-level stretch from Carozzu in lousy weather. It's all very steep, rocky and exposed, with amazing scenery, and to be deprived of the views would have made it all seem so much harder.

    I know all about 'well thumbed' guidebooks, since I've met folk on the GR20 who've sweated all over their guidebooks and have had to tear the pages apart as a result!

    I hope your mates go back and complete the route successfully. At least they've seen what it's like, so it shouldn't be a complete shock.

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