Two hours of climbing in 25 degree heat is enough to ruin a fresh, clean shirt. Such was the walk out of Manosque this morning. It was an 11.00am start after recharging my internet connection and looking for a cybercafe.

As I climbed away from Manosque the views became spectacular. One view I had was over a deep, wide valley where I counted six mountain ranges from the far edge of the valley to the horizon. In some areas I could still see the impact of logging. Scrubland has replaced the trees. Then there are the very small lots, usually by the sides of the road, which are used to grow hay.

At my first break I looked out over a couple of these lots. I had just begun to descend the mountain I had been climbing for over two hours. What a choice it turned out to be to stop where I did looking at one lot with its bailed hay, another with its hay waiting to be bailed, and all with hills in the background. I was sitting in the shade of a tree with these fields bathed in sunlight. I felt so at peace with where I was.

Around 3.00pm a breeze picked up. It cooled me a little, but by the time I reached
the valley floor the wind seemed to have some heat in it. The countryside I saw
today was in such contrast to a couple of days ago, and in remarkable contrast to just five days ago. The changing nature of the landscape is one of the things that has made this journey so special. Now there are big, wide valleys with lines and clusters of dark green tree tops contrasting with the patchworks of maturing light green crops.

Later in the day I was shielded from the sun by rows of trees growing quite close to
the edge of the roadway. I like the way the grass grows right up to the edge of the bitumen and how some interest is taken to mow a strip of it about a metre wide.

What about the odds of this happening: I turrned off one road onto another and had about 8km to reach Cereste. Not far ahead of me I saw a man in a grassy drain. These drains are everywhere. There was no water in this one. He began to climb out as I got close to him. As I got alongside he stumbled and used me to regain his balance. Any number of reasons could have put me either 10 metres in front or behind him as he climbed from the drain, but I was in the right the when he
stumbled. Now think of this: here I am walking from Rome to Santiago and he stumbled just as I was passing. Not a coincidence.

It was such a welcoming walk into Cereste. For about 2km out of town and leading right into town there was an avenue of maple trees. They’ve been there a while with trunks more than 80cm in diameter. In Cereste I resupplied with food and water and then looked around for a spot to have dinner. There it was on the main road. A fountain with a semi-circular, knee high stone wall around one side. A perfect seat. I looked at the running water while I ate. It was a very public place but no passer by
seemed to mind.

When leaving Cereste there was a massively long and deep gorge with a sheer face to one side. What was amazing were the hundreds of very tall trees reaching from the floor of the gorge up into the sky. It was around 7.00pm when I stopped to take in this spectacle. I could hear the birdlife singing away below me.

I planned to walk another 6km after dinner and stop near La Begude but sometimes gifts just present themselves and can’t be turned down. After I’d done about 4km
there to one side of the road was a picnic areas with mowed grass, tables and rubbish bins. Perfect for the night. As I was completing writing up my notes for this blog I was sitting at one of the tables. My tent was all set up for the night. It was 9.35pm and there was just enough light to complete my writing. That’s because at that distance your eye couldn’t resolve the two headlights into two distinct sources of light