Saturday, 13 November 2010

Walking in Corsica - l’Oriu de Monaccia d’Auddè

Todays excursion was a victory for common sense and willingness to wander off into the maquis with no compass, no phone signal and not much of an idea where we were going, over the stupid guide book which was no help at all!

We’d decided to hunt out the Oriu de Monaccia d’Auddè which is one of the Orii Satenais’. An oriu (plural Orii) is shelter/cave under the rocks which have been sculpted by the wind, and whose entrance has walled up with dry stones. They generally look like the witch’s house in ‘Hansel and Gretle’, or even Gargamel’s house from the smurfs!

What is most fascinating about these shelters is that no one really knows what they are for or why they are there. They could have been ancient troglodytic dwellings, but in that case you’d expect to find more than the odd one scattered here and there. They could be ‘bergeries’ or shepherds shelters for when they are moving flocks from the coastal planes to the mountains in the summer, but most of them exist in places that are not really suited to animal grazing so that doesn’t make sense.

The book told us that the path started from a hairpin benda few hundred metres from the village of Serraghja. In fact, after a fruitless hike up to the relais, we discovered that it was actually 2.3km from the cemetery to an unmarked dirt track! The views from up here are spectacular, but we could have done without having to don our Miss Marple hats to find the way.

Fortunately, once we found the little path, there were cairns to show us that we were on the right track if you’ll pardon the pun. It took us up through the maquis to woodland where we came across all kinds of mushrooms which we thought might come in handy if we couldn’t find the way back!

We eventually came out at a mass of rocks, and a quick squint at the guide book told us ‘go towards the nearest rock pile and the Oriu faces east so you can’t see it until the last minute’ – yeah, that was really helpful since a) we didn’t have a compass and b) it was cloudy so we couldn’t tell where the sun was!

Eventually through trial and error and a spot of seriously dangerous rock climbing even in proper grippy walking shoes, we spotted some brick like bits amongst the rocks and came across the Oriu. What a truly stunning place.

As we rounded the structure, the come came out, so we amused ourselves taking photos of the views over the l’Omu di Cagna (a very famous huge rock balancing on the top of a mountain at about 1200m) and the village of Monaccia d’Aullène below.

We sat in the sunshine and ate our picnic and all that was missing were two flasks; one cold with G&T for our aperitif and the other full of hot strong coffee to fortify us for the descent.

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