Sunday, 21 April 2013

A Sunday morning stroll

Well, not exactly a stroll. The other Sunday I met up with friends and neighbours in Apricale for a walk along the old mule tracks to the Agriturismo 'Terre del Mistero' for a buffet lunch. The weather lately has been wet and dull and not particularly warm. In fact this walk was postponed from two weeks previously due to the torrential rain. Even this Sunday seemed destined to be wet but we all turned up anyway - hopeful.
We started off uphill (in this area it is always uphill, or at least when it is downhill you know the next uphill will be coming soon) through the cobbled alleyways to the top of the town. Up past abandoned houses we walked which, when you looked closely, were not abandoned at all but only inhabited in certain rooms. Eventually we came to a road (la strada panoramica - the panoramic road) where we paused to catch our breath. These hills are not for the weak-hearted! From here you can see the hills behind Bordighera and Sanremo and down into the valley where the Mandancio Creek (Torrente Mandancio - also written Merdanzo) runs through the valley floor. It runs below where Apricale sits and on to Isolabona to join the Nervia river which flows though Dolceacqua and out to the Mediterranean.
After catching our breath we started off again, off-road, up a mule-track leading up the hill behind Apricale which the guys from 'A Draira' (the Apricalese association that organises social events) had recently cleared and restored. Looking back, we saw the beautiful hills in a wide panorama before us.
Some of us walkers
We continued a little further and came to Stefano's donkeys Bambi and Badoglio. He has recently rehomed these from the donkey sanctuary in Imperia. One is a pregnant female and the other a male. They were not originally a couple but seem to have fallen in love and are now inseperable. They cry for each other if seperated. They are absolutely adorable. I must take Ruby to see them soon.
The boy
The girl
Up and up we went along the mule tracks, pausing every now and again to rest and drink some water. Far from raining it turned into a glorious day. Over 20 degrees and wonderfully sunny.I had brought a little 0.5litre bottle of water - would it be enough? We could see right down the valley towards our farm.
Our farm is round that small hill on the left of the photo
We even had some four-legged company in the form of Dobbin the labrador. That's not his owner - just his adopted friend, Mike.
Dobbin and Mike
We started to walk through some woodland. It was pleasant to be cool as it was warming up, as were we. Eventually we came out on the crest of the hill. We could see the mountains in the distance, still with their snowy caps.
Snowy mountains on the crest of the hill
We had climbed up from the right of the photo above and when I looked to the left-hand side I was amazed to see the sea, just to the right of the hilltop town of Perinaldo!
A glimpse of sea to the right of the town on the hill
Not only that but we seemd to have circled behind Apricale and had a wonderful view of it from the other (West) side of the town.
Apricale - the Machu Picchu of Liguria!
As is always the way here, when you go up you must come down so off we went through the woods. Down, and down we meandered, crossing little streams as we went. I was very happy it was no wetter as the leaves were quite slippery in places and I'm not exactly a mountain goat. I wish I'd brought a stick! Finally we came to a big clearing in the bottom of the valley.

The forest opened up into a clearing

More walkers joined us
 Not only was there a big clearing but a BBQ and a big table obviously setup for picnics. A mountain biker whizzed down the mule track and asked our guides how to get onto the main road. I think he had a bit of climbing to do. Some more folks joined us including dogs and children. There was a rumour there was apetisers and wine but it proved to be wrong - thankfully.  I say thankfully because we were right in the valley bottom and this obviously meant we had to walk up again.

Little stone, humped-back bridge
First we crossed the little stone, humped-back bridge over the Foa stream. Very inviting that water looked too! Then off we went climbing up again. I was now almost out of water and my legs were feeling very tired. Up, and up we went past a small hamlet of inhabited and abandoned houses called Foa. From here there were more lovely views of the valley right to the sea. The heat was definitely having an effect and I felt quite light-headed. I was forcing my legs to move now. I didn't think I was this unfit..
Finally we were on the home stretch and I could see Paul & Ruby waiting for me. We sat down at the outdoor tables at the agriturismo and I drank a lot of water (and some wine it must be said) and felt a LOT better. Must have been dehydration because after a great buffet lunch I felt great. Even the next day - no aches and pains. That was a reliefe as I was worried I had turned into an old woman!!

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