Explorer Belt Day 9 – La Coucourde to Livron

Photo 1 - Hydroelectric Station
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 21st August 1984

Got up at 7am as usual. Had ryvita and jam. Cat was the usual menace. Got stuff packed and asked family questions on school. Made notes. Left and we soon reached the hydro-electric station on river Rhone. After photos we walked about 10km to Le Pouzin. Bought yoghurt, bread and coke at shop. Drew maps etc.

Walked onto Loriol and Livron where we got police notes. Camped in a park. Mash peas and ravioli for food plus lemonade. Did yet more maps and stuck postcards onto paper. Got to bed at 10:30.

On this day:
In fact I can’t find reference to anything significant that happened on this exact day, but here are a couple of notable events from August 1984…

  • President Ronald Reagan, during a voice check for a radio broadcast remarks, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes”.
  • The Discovery space shuttle launches for the first time

If you didn’t grow up with Ronald Reagan it’s hard to appreciate just how valuable he was to satirists of the time.

Looking back…

How, I wonder, would the diary of our generous host read?

Took sympathy on two pale English boys. They looked malnourished and limped due to blisters. Provided first aid and fruit, which they wolfed down like savages. In the morning they asked about our local schools. Strange creatures these English

The 8 mile walk to the HEP station ran alongside the river through a forested area. The route was deserted and a mangy looking dog trailed behind us for miles raising concern because it was clearly not right and there were signs warning of rabies. I picked up a stick in case it got too close but it stopped trailing us near to La Coucourde.

I captured a picture of the hydro-electric station at Saulce-sur-Rhone…

Photo 1 - Hydroelectric Station
Photo 1 – Hydroelectric Station
…another easy image to trace in the present day…
Modern re-creation in street view

The walking today was easy as we followed the flat banks of the Rhone. The power station sticks in my mind and is one of a number of distinctive buildings I photographed on our journey that has been relatively simple to trace on latter day google street view.

Photo 2 - The Rhone
Photo 2 – The Rhone

My attempts to photograph rivers are almost always a waste of time. I was probably attempting to capture the sun falling in the west over the far bank of the river.

At the outset of our walk the notion of pitching our tent in a park would have seemed adventurous. It’s a measure of our increasing confidence that we did so. Did we gain permission? It was a public space after all. Andy was more laid back than I was and may have persuaded me that it would be OK!

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

Distance walked: 14.4 miles (23.0 km)

 Key:
Start La Coucourde
Via Le Pouzin
Via Loriol-sur-Drôme
End Livron-sur-Drôme
Photo 1 Street view of Photo 1 – Hydroelectric Station
Overnight Camping location

Explorer Belt Day 8 – Donzère to La Coucourde

Andy tending to feet in La Concourde
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

Monday 20th August 1984

Left Donzère after a wash in warm water and no food. By sheer fluke we met up with Shaun Ince and James Outram who were also doing their Explorer Belt. They were also going to Montelimar. We walked the 13km to Montelimar and got information on police and town plan from Tourist Info centre. Bought crisps and wrote more on projects.

Left and walked north. Stopped by cops who wanted to see passports to check we weren’t crooks! Completed the 10.5km to La Concourde and found house to stay at. Pitched tent and only ate 3 peaches and 1½ melons provided by family. Mischievous cat kept going under the tent. Wrote log, drew maps and I revised route. Got to bed at 10:19.

PS: Visited nougat factory

On this day:

  • The miners strike: A single miner is escorted to work by 1000 police at Gascoigne Wood
  • Donkey Kong 3 released on Nintendo
  • The class 47 diesel/electric locomotive number 47264 was renumbered to 47619

Everyone remembers where they were when that class 47 loco was re-numbered! Heady days…

Looking back…

Our northerly route closely followed the river Rhône for much of the way. This meant easy level walking at the cost of much of the dramatic scenery we had encountered so far. If I remember correctly we came across Shaun and James walking ahead of us. Did we then walk together to Montelimar?

Why I took this street photo in Montelimar is unclear as it’s rather featureless. I have unsurprisingly been unable to find a Google street view match.

Street in Montelimar
Street in Montelimar

I had heard of Montelimar due to its nougat associations. The long road into the town was lined with hoardings advertising the sugary treat and there were many kiosks selling nougat nearer the town centre.

The nougat factory visit mentioned in my diary is beyond my recall. Was this in association with our project work? It could well have been opportunistic.

Modern re-creation in street view

In my diaries I keep referring to the completion of project work. This was investigative activity that was to be completed as the cultural aspect of the Explorer Belt challenge. I don’t recall the precise subject matter but believe it involved finding out about towns, schools and churches. It’s a surprise to learn that we were doing this en-route as I had assumed we did pretty much nothing on this until the last day or so. Either way it’s likely that Andy took on the bulk of the work (sorry Andy!)

A kind lady let us camp in her field and we were delighted when she offered us her freshly harvested fruit. The melon tasted like nectar after our long hot trek and was mightily appreciated. In the photo Andy is attending to serious blisters while the pesty cat looks on.

Andy tending to feet in La Coucourde
Andy tending to feet in La Coucourde

After we had pitched the tent the damn thing kept burrowing its way under the ground sheet while we were inside. The moving bump was amusing for a while but it wouldn’t stop and in the end I had to peg down every part of the inner tent to prevent access.

The comment about the revised route is interesting. Maybe I was plotting a new shorter route in light of time lost to blisters.

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

Distance walked: 16.3 miles (26.0 km)

 Key:
Start Donzère
Via Montélimar
End La Coucourde
Location Street view of typical Nougat shop