Thursday, 29 July 2010

Gorges de l'Asco

No matter how beautiful the place you live, sometimes you just need to escape from day to day life, so this week we decided to take a road trip up to Haute Asco, Thelma and Louise style (but with less murders obviously!).

In the winter, Asco is better known as a ski station rising from 1400m-2000m altitude, but in the summer, the high peaks and gorges take on an altogether different feel, with glistening emerald green rock pools and pebble ‘beaches’ where you can soak up the sun before a refreshing dip (and I do mean refreshing even in the height of summer!).

Unfortunately for tourists and those not used to driving in Corsica, there is no indication that the narrow access road down to the Genoese bridge is basically a dead end, so the parking is a bit of a free-for-all, but the upside is that there are hours of entertainment to be had watching smug looking 4x4 drivers realise that they’ll either have to attempt a 53 point turn on a windy mountain road, or reverse all the way back up again – a victory for the little people!

After picking our way down the track and wading over the river, we decided to settle ourselves on one of the pebble beaches so that I could take photos while the others swam through the rock gorges to the next set of interlinked pools. It wasn’t long before we were joined by a random dog.

This always seems to happen in Corsica, and they generally attach themselves to small children who will play with them (or me!) until they have worn themselves out. This one wanted to catch stones as we were skimming them across the water. She was surprisingly successful, so I was slightly concerned that we might have to mount a daring river rescue if she ate too many and sank!

Further along the gorge is the ancient Genoese bridge for those who don’t fancy wading across the river as we’d done. This is a fabulous example, and my imagination soon ran away with me so that I could almost see the mules and old woman shrouded in black crossing back and forth. A big ‘plouf’ brought me back to the present day and I realised that people were jumping off the other side – how exciting!

So there I was with my camera, ready to take my action shot of either a jumper or alternatively a nasty broken leg. I could hear the conversations between the jumpers which worryingly were going something like this;

‘Is it deep enough to jump from here?’
‘Hang on, I’ll check … I can’t touch the bottom so I guess it’s maybe 2m deep’
‘OK then I’ll try, should be OK’

EEK! I must be getting old because all I could see was the accident waiting to happen, but fortunately my worst fears proved to be unfounded. PHEW!

We’d had lunch at the Auberge E Cime which is just a few minutes from the gorge. The view from the terrace over the high peaks of Asco is absolutely stunning, and I blame the altitude rather than the wine for the giggly afternoon that followed.

The food was ok but a bit ‘interesting’ if you know what I mean. I’d chosen the Civet de Sanglier as it is one of my absolute favourite dishes, but I strongly suspect that the ‘Plat du Jour’ might have been lasagne or Spaghetti Bolognese as I pretty much got the stock sauce with some lumps of wild boar in. Not quite what I was expecting, but tasty nonetheless!

The afternoon’s refreshments were from the café opposite the Tortoise sanctuary at Moltifao. It turned out that this it was actually a campsite with a pool, pretty stone buildings and all sorts of amenities – amazing as we were basically in the back of beyond!

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