Evisa to Col de Vergio

Corsica: Northern Highlands, France

William Mackesy’s account of this walk

We of course walked this gorgeous route the other way from the usual MMN direction, as part of our cross-Corsica walk. We began at the Castellu di Vergio hotel, on the east of the high watershed ridge, and traversed north delightfully on the GR20 through sparkling early morning forest for a km or so, turning left to plod up to the Vergio col. 

We then took ourselves off-piste, and headed due north on a small path, round the hill above the col to get the best possible views back down the broad Niellu valley and north into the western reaches of the Monte Cinto massif, Corsica's highest area. A wonderful quarter-hour, just admiring the wonders before us.

Then we were back on the Mare a Mare Nord, traversing briefly on a beautiful meadow towards magnificent twisted old Corsican pines, then dropping below the tree line into the magnificent Aitone forest, mixed pine, birch and beech, for a long and at times rough descent on a path which at times doubles as shallow stream bed.

 A good track then traverses you for a pleasing half hour to the disappointing Pont de Casterica (no Genoese bridge here), although it has very pretty pools below it.

Walkopedia then made a side walk, which we highly recommend, especially if, like us, you want to bulk out what looked like a slightly short day. We took the track due west from the bridge, which climbs steadily across a steep hillside, with tremendous views, to the Bocca a u Saltu pass, out on harsh granite highlands sprinkled with hard-struggling pines, a rather remarkable area.  You can then scramble up some (or all) of the nearby minor peak, a great heap of bare granite into which extravagantly twisted pines support themselves on absurdly long and twisted roots. We had the huge luck to see a lammergeier (bearded vulture – 4 breeding pairs left as of 2017) swing round several times below us on its grand wingspan, working its way up the valley towards the highlands. 1.5hr upward.

Back to the MMN, we drop quite steeply, then wind through attractive forest before making another shortish but steep descent to the river, which we parallel delightfully for a few 100m, then turns uphill for another climb to a ridgetop with good views up the valley. A rough and steep descent gets to a little suspension bridge across the river, from which we climb (passing a trail down to a famous bathing pool) to join a track high above the now deep and dramatic gorge of the d'Aitone river.

We soon drop onto an atmospheric, winding, walled track which descends through overrun groves to a stream, then winds through interesting old farmland, much of it old chestnut groves now sadly afflicted with beetles and canker which also serves as grazing, to the edge of the still cheerful town of Evisa, “pearl of the mountains”, perched above the deep Tavulella river valley, which itself debouchs through a tremendous gorge back into the Spelunca Canyon (see below), the lower version of the Aitone valley we have been walking in today.

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