The day we set out to climb the Plomb du Cantal – the high point of Cantal – we drove the short distance over the wooded col from Thiezac to Super Lioran and walked through the town towards the cable car station – again Jacqui and Josh would ride up and we’d all walk down. Super Lioran is a typical ski resort which we hadn’t liked the look of much on passing – but now we were here it wasn’t so bad – not being very big being a good start.
The place was the first that had any alpine feel to it though we were quickly reminded that we were not in the Alps – well not Switzerland at any rate – when it transpired that the people who operated the cable car were on a lunch break of indeterminate length and would – possibly – be returning to work at some point within the next 2 hours or so. The charms of Super Lioran did not stretch to this length of stay and a change of plan was called for. Jacqui in her pregnant state had recently made the descent of the Gorner Gorge in the shadow of the Matterhorn above Zermatt – an exploit you can read all about in A Long Walk in the Alps so she decided – a month on – to have a go at the 1855 metre Plomb du Cantal. Besides – the ascent’s actually more like 800m from here anyway.
The track led steadily upwards through the trees behind Super Lioran which was soon left behind for a steep forest trail which turned out to be quite a pleasant walk. Above, the forest gave way to open grassy slopes which the path continued over at an easier angle. Here the ski town was lost from view with a line of shapely summits now rising across the valley to the North, their tops lost from time to time in grey cloud.
As on the Puy de Sancy we now began to follow what appeared to be a ski run though it appeared that this was put to yet another summer use as a couple of people on mountain bikes came careering down to leave the ground at a ramp just below us – another more sensible biker followed them and rode around the ramp. I am of the opinion that bikes are land going machines as opposed to aircraft and accordingly should be kept firmly on the ground.
We crossed the bike trail when it was free from low flying cyclists and started up a path or ski run which led more steeply up below a rocky slope to a col – the Pas des Alpins – from which the view opened out to a vast empty landscape on the mountain’s far side. The path we were on is actually part of the long distance footpath the GR4 the GR standing for Grande Randonee which make up a network of footpaths throughout France. From the col it was a short and easy walk to the second peak of the Massif Central though unfortunately the crowds appeared once we approached the upper gondola station. The attendants must have finished their lunch.
The summit view was intermittent and though it stayed dry, mist had now gathered around us. Through holes in the mist the mountains we’d seen earlier appeared intriguingly to the north topped by Puy Mary and the amusingly named spike of Puy de Peyre Arse which made up the range to the North of the valley of the Cere in which we were camped.
Continued from part 1 >>> the Puy de Sancy
and here’s the last one>>> Mont Mezenc in Haute Loire