Chris Maylor, who runs a Saddleworth Discovery Walks blog and Facebook page, reflects on a walk in the French Alps.
WHILE SKKING in the French Alps recently, I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon walking in the snow covered mountains.
Setting out from the charming little mountain village of Venosc, I followed ancient route-ways that have been used for centuries by shepherds to reach the high-altitude, summer, pastures of Les Deux Alpes.
At times I crossed the course of a downhill Mountain Biking track along which, in the summer months, Kamikaze riders throw themselves down the steep mountainside on their off road velocipedes.
Half way up the almost vertical slopes, I came across the entrance to an old mine shaft and spent time exploring the surrounding derelict buildings and now defunct machinery.
Continuing on, the snow became much deeper as I gained altitude and soon I was wading through soft, knee-deep snow before eventually reaching the busy ski town of Les Deux Alpes.
At 1,650 metres, the busy ski resort provides access to the largest skiable glacier in Europe, located at 3600m above sea level.
With the light rapidly fading, I sought a new route and began my descent to lower altitudes.
Further on, I came across an old chapel perched upon some solitary crags; burning candles around the altar were evidence of recent worship, even this high up on the edge of the mountain.
Donning my headtorch, I continued the rest of the way in total darkness; the beam of my torch picking out a safe route back to the warmth of my log cabin.