Monday, January 15, 2007

One last climb


Today being my last day staying in Baulmes
, we decided to visit the Chasseron, one of the tallest parts of the great limestone outcrop that adorns the mountain top which is already another 500 metres above the village which is at 850 metres. Overnight the temperature dropped enough to usher in a chill layer of fog 200 metres above us, more typical of the weather here at this time of year. But once we'd climbed the mountain road to Ste Croix, we rose up through the fog into bright sunshine at around 1,300 metres, leaving all the mountain above clear and inviting a good walk. Well we were a bit lazy, driving out to the east of Ste Croix through the pine forest, and going as far as the tree line, before parking in order to walk from 1,400 to 1,600 metres across the windswept high grassland.

Right at the top, there is a hotel restaurant (closed on Mondays, unfortunately), and a telecom relay station (apparently also unused). The land rises steeply, and at the top, drops away in a sheer rocky cliff edge, or else very steep forested slopes. The view to the north is breathtaking, and vertiginous. A few minutes for photographs in the chill wind, and then it was necessary to move to keep warm. We only really walked for a hour and a half, but that was enough, so we had our pic-nick lunch in the shelter of the forest. Then we went for a drive on forest roads revisiting some of the terrain over which we had skiied in previous years and walked this year, and down into the Val de Travers, stopping to look at the fine Romanesque church at Môtier. It's the first church I've seen in Vaud, which has both a font and an altar, as well as a pulpit. As with other churches in the region, the liturgical layout is simple and uncluttered, in a way that I wish more Anglican churches could be.

Back to Geneva tomorrow, and an opportunity en route to call in on a couple who are friends from my time as pastor there. They live on the edge of Valdo's former parish of Céligny - in whose churchyard Richard Burton the actor is buried. His former family house is also in the village, and although no longer owned by any of his kin, it is still called 'Pays de Galles'.

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