In 1971 the French Regional Nature Park of Corsica was formed to protect a large area of the mountains, which make up the backbone of this rugged island. Since then a network of footpaths has been designed to keep the (otherwise delightfully scented!) "Maquis" at bay and to introduce walkers to the very best of the inland scenery in such a way that it remains unspoilt. Today the most well known of these walks is the "GR20" a high level ridge walk (described as the toughest GR in France) which follows the north-south watershed of the mountains. However much less well known and yet in many respects more interesting and varied are the long distance footpaths which cross the mountains from east to west, or from "Sea to Sea" – Mare a Mare; as they are called. Based on old mule tracks and ancient routes of transhumance, these routes traditionally connected mountain villages with each other and with high level pastures. Crossing intermediate ridges and following forested valleys, they take the walker into the heart of the mountains, past tumbling rivers, mixed woodland and through attractive villages entirely missed by those doing the high ridge walk. Of course these lower walks do as well tend to be much warmer. For our 8-day walk we have chosen the best section of the "Mare a Mare" North. Starting in Sermano (transferred from Corte) at 800m/2624ft and walking west via Corte and past the lake at Calacuccia, you reach the watershed at Col de Vergio 1,477m/4845ft. and from there, start your descent to the coast at Porto via the charming old chestnut town of Evisa. Each evening you are free to relax and reminisce on the day in a comfortable inn with time to enjoy the island’s distinctive cuisine and wine. A local vehicle will carry your baggage around from hotel to hotel so that you need carry only a light day sack throughout.
Walking in the Scented Isle
The Mediterranean’s Most Mountainous Island
Historic Corte and Ajaccio
Descend the Spelunca Gorge
7 nights in 2 or 3 star hotels
6 nights are spent in 3 * hotels and 1 night in a 2 * hotel all with private facilities as standard. Most frequented hotels are described below but alternatives are used on occasion, when room availability is limited. The hotels described are our usual choice of accommodation, however if these are not available then alternatives are used and if these are of a different standard you will be informed at the time of booking. Baths/showers: Many rooms with ensuite/private facilities have a shower rather than a bath, usually because of limited space. Some hotels/guesthouses may however have a separate room in the house where a bath is available to guests.
The tour is graded Moderate (grade 3). Fitness: The trek is within the capabilities of any normally healthy and active individual who takes part in regular hill walking. The route itself is not difficult, although it is more than just a ramble - there are some fairly rough ascents, with maquis scrub to negotiate and sometimes on loose, stoney ground. Day stages: range in length from 9.5km to 26.5km. The long day of 26.5km can be shortened to 18 km. The other days are all considerably shorter.