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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Wild Women Walking 2021

Il y a 3 ans, mon amie, Maddy Cooper, et plusieurs de ses amies ont fait la première randonnée de Wild Women Walking (« WWW ») en Ecosse. L’année dernière, à cause du Covid, ce sont seulement Maddy et Jo Smith qui ont fait la randonnée. Cette fois en Bretagne, près de chez moi. Donc j’ai la chance d’eux accompagner pendant 2 jours de la randonnée. C’était en juillet et il faisait très beau, avec beaucoup du soleil.

Three years ago, my friend Maddy Cooper and several of her friends embarked on a multi-day hike along the coast of Scotland, covering close to 120 kilometers. They called themselves Wild Women Walking (“WWW”) and, in addition to the pleasure of walking along the glorious Scottish coast with good friends, they also raised funds for a charity that supports and empowers women. Last year, because of Covid, only Maddy and her good friend Jo Smith were able to walk. They chose to walk in Brittany, basing themselves at Maddy’s house in les Côtes d’Armor. As you know, I too have a house there and so was able to join them for a day and a half. It was July, with lots of sun and warm breezes along the GR-34.

Maddy, Jo and me in Brittany last July 2020

Cette année, Maddy et Jo avaient prévu une randonnée dans l’est de la France, autour de chez Jo à Abreschviller, une village du sud-mosellan dans le massif vosgien du Donon.

La randonnée suivrait la GR-5 (Grande Randonnée) du Assenoncourt à le Mont Sainte Odile. La durée est 7 jours, marchant vers 20K par jour.

This year, Maddy and Jo planned a hike in eastern France, where Jo lives. Based at Jo’s house in Abreschviller (Moselle), the hike would follow the GR-5, a footpath which runs from Schengen (in Luxembourg) down to Nice on the Mediterranean. The plan was to walk from Assenoncourt to Mont Saint Odile over 7 days, walking about 20K a day.

Comme vous le savez, j’aime beaucoup marcher, mais quand je marche, c’est habituellement pour 1-3 heurs, pas pendant toute une journée. Toutefois, j’ai décidé de réjoindre Maddy, Jo et 2 autres Wild Women (Nancy et Kirsty) cette année. Et aussi notre mascot, Lottie, la chienne de Jo.

As you know, I love to walk and do a lot of it, both in Paris and Brittany. However, I usually walk no more than 1-3 hours a day, and rarely all day. Nonetheless, I decided to join Maddy, Jo and 2 other friends, Nancy Brune and Kirsty Ross (we all sing together in the Paris Choral Society), for WWW21. And our mascot, Lottie, Jo’s adorable and indominable dog, who made sure we all stayed together!

Disclaimer: I embarked on this trek knowing that I might not be able to complete it. I am the eldest WW by 6 years and Kirsty is 27 years my junior. I also have back issues (who doesn’t at my age). However, I was game to try.

You will see that I am covering only the first 3 days of WWW21. That’s because, my body revolted at the end of day 3 (we had covered over 70K (43.5 miles), and said “no more!” I’m now back in Paris, cheering on my fellow WWW from afar, and even though I didn’t make it to the end, I’m pleased that I survived for 3 days, 23 hours, 70K and 108,000 steps….not bad for an old lady!

Ask: WWW is raising funds this year for Migrateful, a UK charity, whose mission is to empower and celebrate refugees and vulnerable migrants on their journey to integration, by supporting them to run their own cookery classes. So even though I didn’t complete all 120K, I’d much appreciate it if you could make a donation to Migrateful. You can donate here. We are immensely grateful to all our friends who have already donated….thank you.

Day 1 : starting in the village of Assenoncourt in the Moselle, 4 of the WWW set off through villages, across fields, through woods, alongside canals and lakes. We made a few navigational mistakes which resulted in walking 6K more than we had originally planned but we made it!

Kate, Nancy, Maddy, Jo in Assenoncourt - starting off

Maddy, Jo (with mascot Lottie) and Nancy walking through the fields outside Assenoncourt

Curious and friendly cows outside Desseling

Consulting the map....after 2 wrong turns, Nancy assumed the title of "Map Woman" and nary another wrong turn was made!

Jo, Nancy and Maddy in Desseling

Tree outside Fribourg

Stork nest across from bus shelter in Fribourg where we took refuge from the rain

On the road again.....leaving Fribourg

Unmarked cross on the way to Fribourg

Lottie doing her back scratching thing.....

How we all felt around hour 5!

More cows and gorgeous golden colza (rapeseed)

Final long stretch along Canal des Houillères de la Sarre, built in the 1860's to transport, among other things, coal and Villeroy & Boch ceramics.

Nancy, Maddy and Kate celebrating the end of day 1 and the sun, which came out just as we

finished (of course!)

Day 1: 8 hours, 28K (17.4 miles), 42,000 steps

Day 2: from Landange to Abreschviller, we walked along country roads with views of rolling hills, through vibrant green forests and charming villages, sheltering from the rain in the beautiful church of Saint-Quirin, where the church organist turned on the lights, spoke of the church’s history, showed us plans for renovation of the Baroque organ and, most importantly, led us to the church toilette!

Road from Landange

Entering Fraquelfing

Through the forest.....towards the charming village of Saint-Quirin

Here the path was well-marked.....not always the case however!

Haute Chapelle of Saint-Quirin

Unusual onion-dome-like towers of Elise Saint-Quirin built in the 18th century by an unknown architect

Seeking shelter from the thunderstorm that arrived just as we entered this jewel of a Baroque church

Alter of Eglise Saint-Quirin

Crystal chandelier and organ built by the highly regarded organ builder, Jean-André Silbermann

Eglise Saint-Quirin

Couldn't resist these lovely windows in a building as we were leaving Saint-Quirin

Blue skies as we approach home-base Abreschviller....end of day 2!

Day 2: 7 hours, 20K (12.4 miles), 30,000 steps

Day 3: We were five wild women today, as Kirsty arrived last night. Today took us into the Vosges, starting with an hour’s ascent up to the plateau of Mont Donon (altitude 1,000m), the highest peak in the region with lovely views across the Vosges as well as a curious 19th century copy of a Roman temple. The descent was gentle and long, through lush green forests and valleys.

Starting ascent to plateau of Mont Donon

Rock sculptures along the way.....

Relaxing before final push to the top....

At the summit: Temple of Donon built in the 19th century

Summit view from the temple

View through the temple

Admiring the specular view from the summit

Descent down the other side of the summit, through the forests

Les Vosges

Following the train tracks to home-base in Abreschviller

Abreschviller house folly!

Day 3: 7.5 hours, 25K (15.5), 36,000 steps

5 wild, wonderful, wacky women and 1 indomitable dog, Lottie!

Kirstie, Nancy, Kate, Maddy, Jo you!

.....and you too Lottie..XXOOXX

If you wish to support Migrateful, you can do so here, and thank you!

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