Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Walking in Corsica - Piscia di Gallo Waterfall

Our favourite walk when we’re taking the dogs is the chemin de Fozzano, but this morning there was no time as I was planning on heading up to the Lac de l’Ospedale to do the short hike to the Piscia di Gallo waterfall, so the dogs had to make do with the grounds of the residence. Luckily there is still plenty of room for them to run and stretch their legs so all was going well until I sat down to take in a few rays, and Nonym (a sturdy 38kg hunting dog) decided to sit on my lap and sunbathe. Two nearly dislocated kneecaps is probably not the best condition to start a hike!

The drive from Propriano takes you through the mountain villages of Sainte Lucie di Tallano, Levie and Zonza where you follow the direction of Porto Vecchio through the Zonza Forest to the Forêt de l’Ospedale. It’s amazing actually how obviously the scenery changes as you move from the tall parasol pines and greenery of Zonza to the rocky outcrops interspersed with pine trees of l’Ospedale. The Piscia di Gallo walk is a popular one, and well signposted. It starts off as a woodland walk heading downhill, across a little stream and then up to a plateau.

A right turn will take you down to the smaller waterfall and rock pools, and there is even a little ‘beach’ where walkers take a well earned dip in the summer.

A left turn from the plateau takes you to the Cascade de Piscia di Gallo (literally translated as the pissing cockrell waterfall – nice!). For the most part, the walk is relatively easy and well marked, passing impressive granite rock formations and trees that seem to be clinging precariously to nothingness, until you get to the waterfall descent.

Here is where it starts to get steep and should not be attempted without proper walking shoes or at the very least good sturdy trainers. You’ll also need both hands free and non-gammy knees otherwise you’ll struggle. The waterfall itself is one of the most amazing sights I’ve seen in Corsica - it was so big that it was impossible to take a photo of the whole thing in one go, and it certainly deserved its name! The water falls several hundred metres down the cliff face to a small pool at the bottom where the colour of the water was amazing.

This is not one for the little ones although I did see two German families with small children whilst I was taking photos which made it a matter of honour that I made it back up to the top without my lungs bursting or passing out!

The walk back is surprisingly tiring after the descent, but luckily there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic and enjoy the view. I was certainly glad of my marmite sandwiches even if they had been crushed at the bottom of my backpack in true English style. Yum! The whole walk should only take 30-40 minutes on the way there and about 40-50 minutes back depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop. When you get back to the car park at the top, there is a little snack shack where you can buy drinks and simple snacks. Last time I was there with Jane, Charlie and Stella in June it was open, so I suspect it's only open in the peak months as it was closed this time.

The route back took me through Zonza. The village has a friendly feel to it and was busy with visitors even thought it is relatively early in the season. I was amazed to see that there is also still snow on top of the mountains behind the village. Maybe that should be our next excursion...

The Auberge du Sanglier is a personal favourite and when we head up to the snow, we often stop here for a hot chocolate on the way. Built in a wooden chalet style, it has the feel of a ski resort. Outside there is a mounted head of a sanglier (wild boar) and I couldn’t help but admire the sheer size of it.

One of the best views of the afternoon was actually over the red tiles roofs of Sainte Lucie de Tallano as the road winds down to the village, but unfortunately there were too many cars to stop in the middle of the road and take a photo. Maybe next time!

After that, it was a leisurely drive back to Propriano in time for a couple of hours on the beach – bliss!

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