Rhône Cycle Route – 3

We are in Saint Gilles at the end of our Rhône River ride.

From Avignon we rode South to Arles, then continued South into the Camargue (the large delta where the Rhône flows into the Mediterranean Sea). We spent two nights in the Camargue in the small town of Salin de Giraud, then did a long ride through the Camargue yesterday, passing through the town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, to end our Rhône River ride here in Saint Gilles, an old pilgrimage town. Tomorrow we’ll do a short ride back to Arles where we’ll catch the TGV to Strasbourg early Monday morning.

While Arles is a tourist destination with an ancient Roman coliseum and theatre, famous as the place where Van Gogh painted, it didn’t really click for us. Busy, touristy, rough and run-down. What I found interesting is that Arles is a centre for photography—it has the national photography school plus numerous galleries and exhibits.

The Camargue did click for us. It is a vast area of lakes and marshes with salt and rice production, farming, some vineyards, and a large part of the land and water protected as fish and wildlife habitat. It is famous for wild horses (now domesticated but still running free) and birds. We enjoyed the open space and solitude, even though some of the riding was on rough and muddy gravel roads. We also enjoyed a dip in the Mediterranean Sea on a sandy beach.

Today we are loafing in Saint Gilles, a town with an abbey founded in the seventh century, a pilgrimage destination in its own right and the first stop on the pilgrimage route from Arles to Santiago. It is an odd feeling to see pilgrims, pilgrim hostels and scallop shell emblems when we are cycling, not walking.

It has been a good ride.

Bridge near Arles, the subject of several Van Gogh paintings.

 

Salt pile in the Camargue.

 

Old building in the Camargue by a salt evaporation pond.
Camargue horse.

 

At the sea.

 

Protected Camargue wetlands.

 

Flamingos in the Camargue.

 

Muddy road into the Camargue.

 

Riding atop a Camargue dike.

 

Lighthouse built in 1882, still operating.

 

Saint Iago statue in the Saint Gilles Abbey.

 

Door to the Saint Gilles Abbey. Exquisite exterior stone carvings.

Photo gallery or just a bunch of photos?

How best to present photos on our blog? Comments please!

On our last trip I went minimal and wrote the bog using a phone. With the the small screen on the phone I was limited in the tools I could use; I could only attach photos as large images below or in the text.

In the past I’ve used a gallery to display the photos for a post. You see a grid of small images in the post. It gives a quick overview. If you mouse over an image (on a computer) or tap it (phone or tablet) the caption pops up, and if you click or tap again, the image opens full screen and you can move back and forth between images in a slide show.

I thought the gallery was a good feature, but I’ve had comments that full-size photos below the post text are easier to view.

Here’s  (https://www.ingeandroy.ca/offas-dyke-path-days-7-to-12/) an example of a blog post with a gallery.

And here’s (https://www.ingeandroy.ca/days-3-to-6/) an example with the images full-size below the text.

We will be off on our next trip, cycling in France, in a few weeks. I’m taking a small iPad and can do the photos either way.

Which do you like better? Why?

WHW Days 8 & 9 Glencoe to Fort William, end of the West Highland Way

Today, Wednesday, we are enjoying a lazy day off after completing the West Highland Way.

Monday we began in rain with an amazing rainbow over the trail. Moments later we were stoped by a film crew doing a promo for Scotrail asking if they could film us setting off, walking on the trail to rainbow. We agreed, signed the model release with the ink smudging in the rain, walked ahead and back again, took a photo of them, then set off to climb the Devil’s Staircase. A good climb, but not as steep as the name suggests. It took us to the highest point of the walk and briefly into snow. The rain quit and the sun appeared. A remote and bueatiful area.

Kinlochleven, our destination for the day, is the site of one of the first aluminum smelters in Britain. The smelter is gone, but the power station still supplies eletricity to the grid.

Tuesday, our last day of the West Highland Way, also began with a climb in rain but like the previous day the rain quit after an hour and the sun returned. Again a day mostly in a remote area with only sheep about. We walked most of the morning with an English couple we had met a few days before.

It has been an excelent walk.

Tomorrow we start the Great Glen Way heading to Inverness.

Thanks to everyone for the comments on our blog posts.

 

Walking to the end of the rainbow…
Scotrail film crew
Devil’s staircase ahead in the mist
Top of the Devil’s Staircase
Snow on the trail
Stepping stones
Walking into Kinlochleven
Wet morning starting out to Fort William
Kinlochleven
Sheep and lamb crossing the trail
Friends we met on the way
Ruins of an old house
End of the walk in Fort William

    End of the walk. No one nearby to ask to take a photo of the two of us.

WHW Days 1-3: Milngavie to Rowardennan

Today we walked day 3 the official WHW and so far we’ve only had a couple of brief light showers. The skies are grey, as you can see in the photos, but the visibility is good, so we are pretty happy with the conditions.

The walking feels good. It was fun starting in Milngavie (pronounced Mull-guy). When we walked to the start of the trail we saw several other hikers appear. It reminded us of the pilgrims setting out on the Camino in St. Jean Pied de Porte. When we asked another hiker to take our picture at the obelisk it turned out he and his girl friend were Dutch. They’re doing the walk too, but are camping! Brave souls to be backpacking and camping in Scotland, but we’ve met several other (mostly 20-something) folks who are doing the same thing.

The trail has been good and the scenery is lovely, despite the grey skies, and the walking comfortable.

The first night, in Drymen, we met three other hikers at the B&B, a couple from Fairbanks, Alaska and a guy from Spain. There are also several German, Swiss, and French folks on the trail. Along the way we’ve also met several locals walking their dogs and are able to get our “dog fix” in on daily basis.

Yesterday was a cold and windy day. The temperature was around 8 degrees, but with the wind chill it felt like only 1 or 2 degrees, as you can tell from the picture of Roy. The last part of yesterday’s walking was climbing Conic Hill, near Balmaha, and I sometimes had to use my poles to not get blown over. As soon as we got to the top, we saw a crowd of day tourists walking up from the other side. Going up Conic Hill is a popular day trip from Balmaha, which is accessible by road. It was a funny contrast to go from a quiet trail with only 3 or 4 fellow hikers, to being in a swarm of tourists.

After our first day, Milngavie to Drymen, which was 20 km, we’ve had two easy days of only 12 km each. Tomorrow will be 22 km again. It’s been nice to walk at relaxed pace and to take it easy, but we are both looking forward to a longer day again, even if the guide describes the stretch as the most strenuous part of the WHW. We’ll let you know how it works out!

 

Start of the West Highland Way

 

Hikers on the trail.
Oaks
Snow on the hills.
Cute sign approaching the beech tree cafe.
It is lambing season. They are both timid and curious.
Gate—sometimes a dozen a day.
Chatting with a dog-walker
Conic Hill
“It’s cold wet and windy!”
Day hikers ascending Conic Hill
Tourists
Island, Loch Lomond
Waymarker

News.

 

We are off for a walk in Scotland in April. Here’s a screenshot from my phone of the route. We are both walking the North Highland Way, the Great Glen Way and the Speyside Way in Scotland, then I’ll walk the Offa’s Dyke trail in Wales

I’ll post on the way and more later.