Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bellemotte and the Sucettes de Borne

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All the countryside around here in the Diois where we live is superb.  But then, of course, there is always somewhere that excels.  The area that lies between Glandasse and The Jocou has an intimacy rare for such splendid scenery.  The hamlet of Borne is known for The Sucettes, a rather inelegant name (lollipop) for an outstanding and astonishing geological curiosity. But there it is:

 About a week ago we chose one of the last days of 'summer' weather and decided to walk around the mountain of Bellemotte, rather than taking on the summit this time which seemed a bit much for one day.  From Borne we headed north towards Le Plainie, following the ravine and stream which bear the same name "Plainie".  The stream is one of the prettiest that we've seen in this area with multiple small waterfalls, rapids and glades but, unfortunately, so late in the year, almost no light.  We will have to go back at a better time.

We passed the ruins of an old farmstead and crossed some open ground where the first viper we have encountered in this area came rolling down a hill towards us and proved once again that, for us, snakes are best seen at a distance.  From the ruins we climbed to the Col de Plainie at about 1420m and were struck by the arrival of vivid autumn colours even before the summer seemed to have ended.

The next step was a descent to the north east on a route that took us around the back of Bellemotte, though mature forests with some splendid firs which, one day, we will get round to identifying.  Our favourite beech woods are everywhere at this altitude and very much a native species.

We came out of the forest and stopped for lunch near to a pair of the most handsome whitebeam we've ever seen.

Perfect weather for walking, sunny but not too hot.  After eating and dozing in the warmth for the best part of an hour we headed down again to the ruins of the Ferme du Désert, just below the Col de Menée, turned east again and crossed open pasture before diving into another strange, spooky forest on the way to the Col de Jiboui.
Wild and weird woods on the way to the Col de Jiboui

The Ferme du Désert

Carline Thistles, common in this area.  Their more specacular cousins seem rare.


From the Col de Jiboui, our highest point at 1620m, we turned south round the flanks of Bellemotte and started a long descent towards The Sucettes with the Jocou and La Roberche closing the view on our left
First view of the Sucettes de Borne from the north
By the time we had reached the Sucettes which were, theoretically, the main attraction, the sun had left the valley and was lighting only the tops of the mountains.   A few days later we went back to get the shots of the Sucettes that we had missed.  No doubt that summer had really passed by now as walking in shorts would have been a masochistic pleasure, we tramped through the first frost. But the sun didn't let us down.    
Proof of the arrival of autumn
We chose a long route back to Borne which gave us some splendid views of the valleys around Bellemotte.

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