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Alpine Paddling – Gorge du Verdon Tuesday and Wednesday 25-26/7/17

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On Tuesday we set of on a two day adventure to the Verdon Gorge. After doing a supermarket shop the day before, we packed up the minibus and set of bright an early for the four hour drive. We arrived about midday, unfortuntately to find that the river that usually releases on a Tuesday wasn’t to release because of the drought. This didnt dampen our spirits though, as the Verdon Gorge is one of the world’s greatest areas of ourstandng natural beauty and it was definitely worth going just to see it! We found a little stoney beach (which we marked as a good place for our wild camp that night) and settled down for lunch and a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine, swimming an reading.

Later that afternoon we headed off to swim a popular part of the gorge. Dressed in our paddling kit, we floated down rapids (feet up, bums high to miss the rocks!), swam though syphons and even jumped off rocks into the deeper water below. After a climb up the gorge and through the mountain tunnels, we set off on a scenic drive to the highest viewpoint of the Gorge, to see Europe’s Grand Canyon-an abslutely stunning spectacle.

Graham swimming through a siphon
Ciaran in the gorege

The Gorges Du Verdon (in French: Les Gorges du Verdon or Grand canyon du Verdon), in south-eastern France (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful. It is about 25 kilometres long and up to 700 meters deep. It was formed by the Verdon River, which is named for its startling turquoise-green colour, one of the location’s distinguishing characteristics. The most impressive part lies between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where the river has cut a ravine to a depth of 700 metres through the limestone mass. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon River flows into the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon (in French: Lac de Sainte-Croix).

Because of its proximity to the French Riviera, the gorge is very popular with tourists, who can drive around its rim, rent kayaks to travel on the river, or hike. The limestone walls, which are several hundreds of metres high, attract many rock climbers. It is considered an outstanding destination for multi-pitch climbing. The variety of 1,500 routes encompass cracks, pillars and seemingly endless walls, and range in distance from 20m to over 400m. The climbing is generally of a technical nature.

We stopped at a little hotel bar for a drink (and for some-steak and chips!), before heading back to the beach to cook our tea and set up camp for the night. We arranged a collection of ground sheets, mats, blankets and seeping bags and with no light pollution and zero cloud cover we slept under the stars.

Our bivi site on the banks of the Verdon

On Wednesday we had breakfast on the beach, packed up camp and drove to the lake at the end of the Gorge. It was a lovely, warm and sunny day. A few paddled into the Gorge whilst the rest of us paddled around the lake, stopping along the way to play ball games and for balance and rolling practice-some of us got wet! We then all met back on a beach by the edge of the lake and settled down for lunch and a leisurely afternoon of swimming, playboating and rolling practice in the clear water. We set off back to camp mid afternoon, and after a spermarket shop arrived back at camp to light the BBQ.

More Photos……..

Sainte Croix du Verdon lake
 This is the largest of the Verdon lakes. The stretch of water is approximately 10 km. long and 3 km. wide, making a total of 2,200 ha.