TRAVEL: BUSKING TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

After surviving a surreal Franco-Belgian pageant and a raging fever, our busking pilgrim rediscovers the joys of solitude ... apart from the odd chamois

25 July

Le Mont-Dore, and more Franco-Belgian friendship! Re-enactment of a (pseudo- ) historical visit by the Princess of Flanders in 1909. They're making it up. But it's an excuse for a parade. Band assembles 3pm. Met by furious "Lady-in-waiting": half an hour late. Never mind, so is everyone else. Ladies in belle-epoque dresses and parasols, Equerry in spats and Homburg, the Congolese Ambassador (leopard-skins and an assegai), the Royal Baby: a 14-stone rugby player in bonnet and nappies, on a 4x4 quad-bike disguised as a pram. With water cannon attached. It's anarchy. Lady-in-waiting shouts orders. Jean-Yves (lead trumpet) plays "You're not wearing knickers" (famous French folk-song); crowd joins in. Band marches, counter-marches, scatters as the Baby roars by. Equerry falls asleep - in the road. Jean-Yves plays "The last post".

Finally, the historic moment arrives. The Princess arrives in a litter, waves, gives Congolese Ambassador a chaste kiss. "Not like that!" shouts Lady-in-waiting, jumps on him. Non-chaste kiss! Jean-Yves plays "The stripper". "Shut him up!" shouts Equerry. Lady-in-waiting hurls herself on to Jean- Yves. Thunderous kiss. Band cheers wildly. It takes a water cannon to separate them. Now that's what I call Franco-Belgian friendship.

26-28 July

Over the Puy-de-Sancy again, in blazing sunshine. View from the top: roads, building-sites, ski-lifts, tourist hordes. I preferred the clouds. Down into beautiful countryside - Ngorongoro meets the Yorkshire Dales. Dry-stone walls, ancient villages, viaducts, crater lakes. But something's wrong. Weather, legs and rucksack all getting heavier. Passing a tiny campsite at noon on 28 July, it is suddenly all too much. Pitch tent, crash out, wake at sunset with a raging fever. Merde ... No doctor for 10 miles. Jungle medicine: aspirin and cold water. Shiver the night away. More aspirin, more water. Drop off at dawn. Wake at sunset feeling vaguely human. Better living through pharmaceuticals!

30 July-1 August

On to the best walking yet. A long, long ridge leading up into the Cantal mountains, southern massif of the Auvergne Volcanoes: Puy du Peyre-Arse, Roland's Cleft, Venus's Nipple. Names with tales to tell ...

Warm sun, scents of heather and thyme, falcons overhead, herds of horses below. Reach Buron d'Eylac: a stone bothy surrounded by sweeping 5,250ft ridges, perched above two valleys, manned by a grinning warden who goes parapenting (a cross between parachuting and hang-gliding) behind the house each evening. No sound but birdsong and cowbells. Fall asleep watching the moon.

Woken at dawn by chamois. Spend a day playing on the ridges. Then another. I could spend a year here. But Santiago beckons ...

For more information on the charity trombone walk, visit the website at www.netplaycafe.co.uk/bonewalk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project