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

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
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

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits