TRA MARE-E-MONTE NORD – CORSICA

Excellent website with many links to relevant blogs, photo galleries and websites: http://corsica.forhikers.com/mare-monti-nord  

(Note – we finished the route at Porto)

After a day exploring the beautiful coastal town of Calvi

Calvi - Harbour and Citadel

Calvi – Harbour and Citadel

we transferred to Calenzana to begin the trek. The first day’s walk was to Bonifatu – a distance of 14km, 800m of ascent and 540m of descent – the climb out of Calenzana gave us fantastic views of Calvi and the plains surrounding it –

Climbing from Calenzana

Climbing from Calenzana

– as well as our first introduction to maquis – very scratchy if wearing shorts! Some of the route was through the Foret du Sambuca, crossing the lovely river Figarelle and its’ many rocky pools, then a climb up to the Bocca Rezza and on to the night’s Gite.  In the afternoon some of us took the opportunity to go on a walk in the woods – offering us excellent views of snow capped Monte Cinto (Corsica’s highest peak at 2706m), as we climbed out of them.

 

Views of Monte Cinto 2706m

Views of Monte Cinto 2706m

Day Two took us 18km to Tuarelli, with 1100m of ascent and 1400m of descent – several long climbs through the Foret du Bonifatu to Bocca bi l’Erbeghiolo (1200m) and Bocca de Bonassa (1153m) and its’ superb views.

Bocca de Bonassa 1153m

Bocca de Bonassa 1153m

The day ended at Gite Tuarelli – not quite what we had expected in that we had our meal on the terrace and were frozen to death as night came!  Nevertheless a superb spot.

The third day to Galeria was of similar length to the previous day – 13.5km – with 500m of ascent and 600m of descent – the first part of the trek followed the beautiful river Fango with its’ many deep and clear rocky pools –

River Fango

River Fango

and onto the small fishing village of Galeria, anticipating the next two days, which are, in my opinion, easily the best of the trip.

Day Four is therefore from Galeria to Girolata – about 13km and involving 900m of ascent and 900m of descent.  The route from the village takes you amongst really beautiful chestnut and oak forests, climbing steadily upwards – with constant views back towards the Gulfe de Galeria –

Gulf de Galeria

Gulf de Galeria

– eventually reaching the plateau in glorious weather, fantastic views in every direction and time for lunch.

 

Galeria to Girolata - Plateau and Views

Galeria to Girolata – Plateau and Views

 

Views of Gulf de Galeria

Views of Gulf de Galeria

Wandering down through ancient oak trees (see picture below) the Gulf de Girolata came into view and the start of a long but wonderful descent into this magical village – only accessible on foot or by boat.  Although busy with day visitors when we arrived, by about 5pm we were virtually alone -time to relax and have a cool beer (or two). A beachfront restaurant and rather quaint wooden huts for bedrooms (though they did the job perfectly)

Descending to Girolata

Descending to Girolata

Girolata

Girolata

Next morning the route was from Girolata to Curzu – as we later found out, in many books, the official route misses a lot of this day out in a shorter and far easier variant. This was quite a tough and long day in the heat – however, it was a fantastic walk which I really enjoyed and I would recommend that you do it if you feel up to it.  Keep your wits about you – some of the path is overgrown and route markers sometimes difficult to locate.  It is an 18km walk with a stiff 1300m ascent and 1200m descent. The morning starts with a pretty relentless climb from sea level to 900m but what a fantastic walk – with constant views back to the Gulfe de Girolata, over to the next headland at Cap Senino and across to the Gulfe de Porto.  There are also stunning view to the east of many Corsican mountains.

Climbing from Girolata - stunning views back to the Gulfe de Girolata

Climbing from Girolata – stunning views back to the Gulfe de Girolata

 

Capu Cadamalzi 698m

Capu Cadamalzi 698m

Descending to Curzu

Descending to Curzu

Then a long descent (for some time it seems as though you are heading down to the coast again) to Curzo.

Our final day was a short 8km to Serriera – arriving mid morning in the village. Although a very different day scenically it had its compensations especially the gite d’etape in Serriera – a conveted mill – full of character, friendly owners and superb Corsican food (brilliant breakfast too).  I walked to Porto in the afternoon and enjoyed exploring this scenic port.

The final days of the route we didn’t have time for, look good on the map and if you have the time, I would certainly recommend doing them.

 

For more pictures, click on the following link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt-in-the-mountains/sets/72157646358083734/

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