Well…where do I begin!! I have to tell you, I have just had the most amazing day!! So many challenges to start…o mi god…. which then morphed into the most beautiful vistas and scenery, followed by two events which I can honestly say to you, were pure fate and were laid magically in my path by the powers that be… those special guides that look over me: )
My day started early. I was up and ready to go before 7 am, as I knew today was a day that I had to be super organised, as I was going to be alone. I went down stairs, in the delightful Hotel Les Chevaliers, only to find that breakfast began at 7.30.. so I took the opportunity to wander around the beautiful old town of Laon, and to take some photos…as I had promised : )
Laon is such a beautiful city! The architecture and history are awe inspiring. I can’t begin to describe the majestic prowess of the Gothic built, Notre Dame Cathedral. My photos in no way do it justice but here are a few to give you all an idea.
I returned to the hotel and had breakfast with Jo….Jill was making the most of her much needed rest day and was still languishing in bed : )
I farewelled the girls at about 8.30 am…and this is when my day of surprises began!
I made my way out of the streets of Laon, with no problems..the guide was succinct and encouraging : ) I felt self assured and happy to be setting out on the walk to Corbeny,confident that I would be at my destination 26 kms away in roughly 6-7 hours…stops included. The morning was cool and grey but the conditions were perfect for walking.
All was well…until I took a wrong turn between the villages of Leuilly and Vorges : ( I must say it was totally my own wrong doing..I simply read the guide and thought to myself, ‘ that couldn’t possibly be right’ ..then proceeded to head off in completely the opposite direction!! How arrogant can one be!!
Before long I was bush bashing through un chartered forest, fording streams…at one stage I had to remove my boots and socks and also roll up my pants to get across and then wade through muddy puddles almost up to my calves! Through all this though, I remained positive and focused…sure that I would eventually come across the small minor road that was spoken of in my guide. Five and a half kms later,starting to feel just a tiny bit anxious by this stage, I stumbled upon the local garbage head quarters!
The folk at the garbage headquarters were kind of helpful…when they saw my eyes watering a teeny bit…giving me a photocopied map of how to arrive in Vorges correctly. Unfortunately, my animated hand signals pointing to them and me, then wildly imitating a steering wheel, we’re to no avail…and on my way I was sent : (
The most infuriating thing was, I walked 100 metres to the end of the Garbage Headquarters street and I was directly back where I had initially taken a wrong turning! I had, in effect, scrambled through 51/2 kms of terrain, completely unnecessarily : (
I then continued on my way, frustrated that I now had extra kms to cover but indeed very relieved that I was now on track : ) Despite being the correct route, the path to Vorges was still very, very wet and muddy. Alison Raju, in her guide, mentions that this is a problem, so I was expecting this…however I was incredibly relieved to arrive in Vorges…what a morning!
The next part of my day was lovely. I walked through some really special countryside, seemingly climbing for a good part of the day but in return, I was treated to some beautiful vistas.
Now for my guardian angel experiences : )
The last supposed 10 kms of my walk this afternoon, were testing. I retreated into that pilgrims vacuum..that many of us know about : ) that state of being that protects and let’s the hours pass unnoticed. I was tired from the mornings mal function : ) and the prospect of walking 32 kms, rather than 26, psychologically was making its presence felt.
I arrived in Bouconville-vauclair, 5 1/2 kms from Corbeny, looking out for the only bar..planning to have a reviving coffee and head off on the last leg……sadly it was closed for renovation : (
I kept on through this little village, resigned to the fact that I would be walking without a break, when a man called to me from his driveway. Instead of waving and calling out one of my very basic pleasantries, I stopped, pulled my head phones from my ears and attempted to have a conversation. He was delightful, his wife also joining him but alas, not a word did I understand : ( Their nephew emerged from the house, who had basic English and he acted as interrupter. They were incredibly interested in my descriptions of the VF and in a flash, they had pushed me into their little car and drove me directly to the door of my hotel in Corbeny…spooky as it may sound, exactly the kms that I had wasted, thrashing around in the bush just out of Laon : )
You may think that this was coincidence and so it may have been but when returning to my hotel from the little supermarket in Corbeny, after a much needed shower, as I was COVERED in mud, a man called to me, as I was entering the hotel and asked if I was a pilgrim on the VF. Now, there’s not many of us at all, so I totally stood out! I think my boots might have given it away. I stopped and chatted and it turned out he was the president of the VF association in France! We later met for coffee and he gave me so much help in the form of accommodation and names of people who could assist us on our journey through France.
Today has been a big day for me and now I think I might head off to bed….so much to think about..
Love Netia XX