Col de Vergio to Lac de Nino

Corsica: Northern Highlands, France

William Mackesy’s account of this walk

Today should have been the best of the entire week, a wonderful ridge walk to the stunning high Lac de Nino. But snow intervened.

We set out on the famously infamous GR20 trail southward, dropping from the hotel then traversing delightfully though beautiful forest, then climbing to the Bocca San Pedru col on the watershed central ridge to gain fantabulous views in all directions. All marvellous so far.

We start a steady climb up the ridge, enjoying extravagantly distorted trees, blown by the prevailing gales so they lean insanely and flatly to the east. Snow patches appear, which we avoid as they are slippery and can have depths beneath, then we are confined to the path as the snow deepens. We are now traversing behind the ridge on what would be a superb walk, then we start a haul back to the ridge. The only people before us today have evidently donned snow shoes. We feel under-equipped, and have to walk with increasing care although the snow is firmer up here.

We regain the ridge at around 1,750m, and sit on the snow-free south-western side to enjoy wonder-views down the long, hazily green ridges and valleys towards the sea.

We would have continued this magnificent walk on along the high ridges and slopes to a col at 1,883m before dropping to admire the lovely Lac de Nino in its damp high bowl. You can then retrace your steps, or head due north and cross to drop down the wildly beautiful Rau de Colga valley to the road back to the Col di Vergio - only take this route if you have transport from the roadhead. But we have maxed out in these conditions, and gingerly retrace our steps to the Bocca San Pedru, then drop to the woodland traverse path, where we eat out charcuterie and cheese lunch.

We are in luck, as this traverse continues eastward as the Sentier de Ronde de Valdu Niellu, a beautiful and interesting – and delightfully level – path through the mountainside forests to the deep, dramatic Rau de Colga gorge, which I descend to the roadhead – the others started earlier down the Crete d’Orsu Longu crest walk, a comfortably wide crest between steep slopes above the trees, so possessing huge views across the Niellu bowl to Corsica’s highest mountains the whole way down.

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