Friday, October 24, 2008

M'aider, Can-U-Help?

The Voie Verte

The other day I walked again from Mirepoix to home. Not accompanied by Gay this time. Although she is now walking erect and not feeling like an old crone, her back is still very sore and she has to be cautious. She didn’t even go to her beloved yoga this week, never mind the aerobics.

I was walking on the Voie Verte again, which is the old railway line. This section of the way covers more than two thirds of the total journey of 30 kms. In 21 kms, before I stepped off the Voie Verte at Chalabre, I saw not a single person.

This morning I was again walking the VV, this time the rest of it, from Lavelanet to Chalabre, on my way home. I saw rather more people, two teenage girls jogging, and two post-teenage women walking their dogs. The temperature of 1 degree Centigrade may have had something to do with the number of people about.

I was struck by the peacefulness of walking on tracks like this as opposed to walking on the roads, although I am committed to doing the latter during VBW for reasons previously given. As you know, I would prefer to walk the whole route through France on the Grande Randonnées, but it would take too long. It would not be possible in the timescale I have set myself.

It’s not just the peacefulness, the quiet – apart from the blasts of gunfire which I would prefer to do without. But it is much better for the body, especially the joints, to walk off-road.

This Voie Verte is known to me because I live in the area. A stranger would not know it is there. And yet it is pretty much parallel to the roads and the distance for these particular walks would not be much different if I walked on the tarmac.

I am sure that on my way North there will be many instances where I could walk on a track without adding much to my distance, if only I had the local knowledge.

Now I know that there are many people in France who log on to this blog. Surprisingly, there are also very many in North America, but it’s the French viewers, or rather those living in France, or with knowledge of France, to whom I am about to appeal for assistance.

If you know of such tracks, intended for pedestrians, cyclists or horses, you can help me.

You don’t know my exact route? Neither do I yet. But if you draw a pencil line on a map from Caen to Puivert – if you can’t find Puivert on your map, draw the line from Caen to Mirepoix (Ariege), my intention is to go through my maps, planning a route on white D-roads which run as parallel as possible to that pencil line. I am hoping they will be quiet roads but I will not know until I try it. And of course it is always a good idea to get away from the danger of traffic if possible.

So you could not only give me peace or relieve my knees, you could save my life. If you know of a track which also sticks closely to the pencil line, I would like to hear about it and would be grateful to hear from you either via a comment on the blog, or as an e-mail to me at:

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