Explorer Belt Day 2 – Marignac to Beaufort

Photo 1 - View from Col de Marignac
In 1984 as a 15 year old Venture Scout I embarked on a 10 day Explorer Belt hike around the alpine region of South France. In this series of blog posts I revisit my diaries and retrace those footsteps…
My diary entry

Tuesday 14th August 1984

What a day! Got up at 7:45am, had ryvita, coffee and packed everything by 9:40. Filled water bottles and left. Kept up a good pace and reached St Julien after walking through much picturesque countryside. Stopped there 11:55 to 12:20 and had expensive cake. Walked in hot sun to a footpath that was hard to find. Eventually joined up with road again and walked for many many miles through very hot open landscape on long twisting roads until we got to l’Escoulin. After a short rest we pushed on at record pace to Beaufort. Had lemonade there. Took photo of restaurant and we bought orange juice and water.

Very nice family let us camp in their field. The aided Andy’s sore feet and let us cook on their land. Were very friendly and kind. Four adults and 2 girls (12 and 16) a boy and a girl (about 4 and 5 respectively). Andy’s foot is bad so we are spending tomorrow here as well. Got to bed at 10:42 after girls helped us to put tent up.

On this day:

  • IBM releases PC DOS v3.0
  • Indian cricket team complete 5-0 test whitewash against England

…well, some things don’t change.

Looking back…

A regular feature of our walk was to be filling our water bottles from fountains in villages and towns on the way. The mountain spring water was refreshingly cool and arguably superior to anything you could buy.

The views were getting better and better. Back then I was an idiot in charge of a camera but for once I pointed it at worthy subject matter, even if the composure was poor.

Photo 1 - View from Col de Marignac
Photo 1 – View from Col de Marignac
And that same view today…
Modern re-creation in street view

On reflection this was our first “proper” day of walking, fully laden in the heat over 16 miles. Andy’s feet were in a bad way with some serious blisters. Mine were faring a little better and I had to use one or two plasters to reduce friction.

We were taken in by such a friendly family. They provided medication for Andy’s feet and may even have persuaded us to take a day off for recovery. Neither of us wanted to fail any aspect of our walk but blisters can stop the most accomplished walker dead in their tracks.

Our boots were traditional leather beasts – hot and heavy compared to modern lightweight breathable ones. Were they properly worn in? Also consider that we were walking mostly on surfaced roads and that’s always harder on the body than walking off-road.

Here is the photo of that restaurant as mentioned in my diary…

Photo 2 - Beaufort Cafe
Photo 2 – Beaufort Cafe
The scene hasn’t changed much and what I described as a restaurant is now a bar.
Modern re-creation in street view

It says a lot about the mindset of a 15 year old that I hardly ever commented on the dramatic scenery and when I did the adjective “picturesque” was hardly a worthy metaphor for this stretch of the Massif Central.

The sort of scenery I was describing as picturesque (© Ton Peters)

Also my obsession with timings is increasingly evident. I knew I always used to note the time I went to bed each night but my diaries reveal an even more obsessive streak with time keeping throughout the day. Around this age I was a night owl, often awake until 1 or 2 in the morning so in this context getting to bed before 11pm suggests we were feeling the strain.

Map
In the absence of our original maps I have deduced the following route…

Distance walked: 16.6 miles (26.5 km)

 Key:
Start Marignac en-Diois
Via Saint-Julien-en-Quint
Via L’Escoulin
End Beaufort sur-Gervanne
Photo 1 Street view of Photo 1 at Col de Marignac
Photo 2 Street view of Photo 2 of Beaufort Cafe
Overnight Suspected camping location

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