Said farewell to my good Samaritan Xavier at 08:30 this morning and headed off leaving Nevers to Chapelle-Hugon following the traditional route blue and yellow markers. After a couple of kilometers, it dawned on me that today I am supposed to be walking a Northern variant of the route and following the GR654 red and white markers, oops. Found a farm track leading back to the Loire river and took that to join up with the GR654.
The traditional route is very similar to the GR654 but not identical. It managed by the Amis de Saint Jacques, a religious organisation and is marked with blue and yellow markers
A 2+km morning warm up out of the way it is a pleasant shady walk along the Loire River. Then a thunderstorm shows up! Tried to speed up to get to the next village of Gimouille for shelter but then felt the cold downdraft and first spots of rain.
I had no idea just how difficult it is to get this sea to summit poncho tarp over your head and the backpack. Over the head I can do, years of practice at that, but over a backpack behind you.
An experiment – try reaching behind you, about a foot out from the centre of the top of your shoulder blades. Now imagine you have a poncho stuck on top of your backpack with a thunderstorm about to hit. You get the idea. A technique I am going to have to perfect!
At Gimouille the path leaves the Loire river and joins the towpath of the Canal Lateral a la Loire. Here there is the Le Guétin stone aqueduct (334m) that carries the canal over the river Allier. Crossing using the aqueduct and watching a boat cross and use the locks was a great experience.
The Le Guétin Canal Bridge is an aqueduct which carries the Loire Lateral Canal over the river Allier. The viaduct is 343 metres long and 9.33 metres wide, and carried on 18 arches built in 1838 to replace a dangerous crossing which involved a series of locks down from canal level, across a sometimes very fast flowing river, and up the other bank. It is difficult to convey in a photo how big it is.
Treated myself to a light lunch of Guillett? At Apremont-sur-Allier next to the Allier river. One of the prettiest French towns I have ever seen.
The final 9km to Chapelle-Hugon was a just need to get this done section. Very hot and humid after the storms and 34 deg in bright sunshine. Thank goodness for one of my other essential pieces of hiking equipment. A reflective trekking umbrella. Never go long distance walking without it!
My accommodation at La Chapelle-Hugon is at the Marie (town mayor’s office). I am the only one here. I have deliberately gone 8km north of the marked route to find accommodation. I will rejoin the GR654 sometime late tomorrow.
Photo Gallery of Nevers to Chapelle-Hugon.