Friday, July 31, 2009

Crossing France On Foot

This is another in my occasional series, reviewing books about other big walks.

Crossing France on Foot, One Man's Walk from Dieppe to the Pyrenees, by Olver Andrew, is of particular interest to me.

Mr Andrew walked from Dieppe to Goulier, in the Ariege department, a few years ago. He was not much over 60 at the time. The Ariege is the departement next to the Aude, where I live - in fact it starts about 5 kms from our house. We conduct most of our business in the Ariege, in fact we have been there this morning. Also I do most of my walking in that departement and about 10 kms after setting off on VBW, I shall be crossing it.

Mr Andrew walked first from Dieppe to Ouistreham, where I will be finishing the French leg of my walk. It took him 13 days to get to Ouistreham. Why he didn't start his walk there, I don't know. The total walk took him 76 days, so if we knock off the bit to Ouistreham and take into account that it took him 7 days from Mirepoix to home, whereas it will take me 1 day from home to Mirepoix, it took him 57 days to cover almost exactly the same ground that I will be walking in France. That's a bit alarming - it would leave me only 13 days to walk from Portsmouth to Blackpool.

He had to give up after 22 days because of a hip injury, then returned several times to complete the walk in stages. The book is curiously unsatisfying in its lack of detail about why and when he chose to walk on roads or use the Grandes Randonnees long-distance tracks.

Because of the similarities of our routes within France, and because he lives not too far away, I would very much like to meet Mr Andrew but have failed to find him in the 'phone book which covers Goulier.

If you see him, can you please tell him I am looking for him.

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