After the excitement and hardwork of the Cirque de Solitude we assumed that the hardest part of the route was behind us. In terms of technicality we didn’t come across anything quite as difficult, but the pace was to pick up and the distances lengthen, tricky to maintain over bare rock, loose scree and still scrambling for the majority of the day.
Day 5 – Vallone to Castel di Vergio 8 hour 45
Distance 15km approx with 850m ascent and 870m descent
The pop up tent and thin mattress didn’t provide a good nights sleep on the bare ground at Auberge de Vallone. So I was almost glad breakfast was at 6.30am, and it was a nice surprise to find that this morning’s bread and jam was much nicer than we’d had so far at the refuges.
We set off on the trail at 7.15am heading through the woodland and contouring around the hillside gently ascending. Eventually as we left the trees behind the path steepened to ascend to the high pass of Bocca di Foggaile, thankfully scrambling up rock was limited to near the top.
At the top of the pass you can see the route onwards. There is a short cut path now descending straight from the pass down to the river below but we stuck to the trail and contoured around the top of the Golo valley to Refuge de Ciottulu (the highest refuge on the GR20) for a well earned drink.
The route on from the Refuge down the Golo valley is pretty easy walking until it reaches the river, but in the scorching heat we couldn’t resist having lunch by the river and dipping our feet.
From the river the path becomes rocky and hard on the knees until we eventually reached the woodland and crossed two bridges and reached the Bergeries de Radule where it would have been rude to not stop for another drink, so we stopped.
The path extended onwards through the woodland and the views become limited but there are plenty of opportunities to see the wild pigs common in Corsica. In the woodland the GR20 also crosses the Mare a Mare Nord route (sea to sea north).
We were all very relieved to reach Castel di Vergio as it is a fantastic hotel with private balconies, white fluffy towels, great views and ice cream!
Day 6 – To Manganu 6hr 45
Distance 17km and 670m ascent and 475m descent
It felt like a treat to lie in a real bed until 6.30am and have a breakfast that wasn’t rushed in 30 minutes. We left Vergio at 8am and headed at a fast pace through the woodland on a really easy track which was virtually flat. An odd walking sensation after days of scrambling over boulders. We reached the Bocca San Pedru in an hour and a half and had great views back to Vergio and the previous day’s walk.
The path continues to be easy as it ascends and then descends gradually to the Lac du Ninu and a perfect spot for a very long lunch. As we sunbathed we could almost pretend we were on holiday! Especially with the visiting wild ponies.
As we continued on, the path remains level through scrubland and woodland until it reaches the Bergerie de Vaccaghja where we stopped for a drink. From here we could see across the valley to Manganu, across the plateau.
Whilst the route continues to be relatively flat across the valley there is a short ascent to reach the refuge at Manganu. There is dormitory accommodation here but we were staying in tents, which were much more roomy than those at Vallone, with super thick mattresses. Food here was plentiful but similar to the other refuges, this time pasta and soup.
Whilst we had a girly moment having discovered an earwig under the mattresses which had been there a while, that was to be the least of our problems at the site in terms of wildlife. Here’s our visitor who we named Betty. Despite our tents being tucked in the undergrowth this didn’t stop Betty coming to say hi. Thankfully as the sun set she moved on.