Day 4 Friday 19 August Champex to Le Chable

I slept much better last night. There were only four other people in the dorm and we had the window open. When I awoke it was raining. Fortunately I only had a short valley walk today. I would leave the Tour du Mont Blanc behind and head deeper into Switzerland. Once I had put my wet weather gear on my first task was to walk uphill to Champex Lac. This was only a 10 minute stroll. Even in the rain the lake is beautiful.

I walked alongside the lake to its south east end. From there I took a minor road that led to three hotels, one of which was aptly named the Splendide. It looks like is should have come straight out of a French movie.

From here I took a track down the hill. A sign, in French, suggested that this was the old road from Champex to the valley. It was steep and I would not have felt safe in a horse drawn vehicle. Perhaps that is why, at the bottom of the steep section, there was a shrine

These are common in Catholic Europe and, particularly, in the Alps. I presume they were for travellers to say a prayer for a safe journey. It is thought that the medieval crosses in England had a similar purpose.

At intervals there were good views across the valley and down to Sembrancher but the tops were covered in cloud. I walked through a few villages,all of which were pretty. The wooden chalets were often decorated with flowers, as this one was which I passed in La Garde

The walking was easy at a gentle gradient and I arrived in Sembrancher in time for a leisurely lunch. By the time I had finished the rain had stopped and I set off across fields along the Bagne valley There were steep cliffs up to the left, the ski resort of Verbier lies at the top, and it was hard to see how a path would find its way up there.

The path then entered the forest you can see on the right. It gently undulated through the wood. Unlike pine forests in the UK there is plenty of room between the trees for undergrowth so it is very restful wandering though the different shades of green. Suddenly I was disturbed by two gunshots that seemed to be very close to me. Then a picture of an animal went past me above my head on a pulley. Then two more shots rang out. I assume I was next to a shooting range. I hoped they aimed high and i passed through unscathed.

The path dropped down to the river but just outside Le Châble it detoured around a quarry and a gravel pit which was not so pleasant.

I wandered round the centre of La Châble looking for my B and B. Even with Google Maps I was struggling as it didn’t seem to be on a road. Then the penny dropped, it was under a shopping precinct extending into a hill. It was a nuclear bunker. About 20 000 were built in Switzerland during the Cold War. It had a fairly solid door

It was actually quite comfortable but I do not think I would want to sit out a nuclear war in one.

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