I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Amalfi Walks (4)

High limestone hills and crags crowd the Amalfi coastline, and Amalfi itself clusters at the mouth of a deep gorge which penetrates the mountains to the north-east. I set off up this gorge for my final walk. See how the cultivated lemon groves have carved a harmonious niche among the native woodlands and limestone bluffs...


The sinuous path climbed from Chiarito on the outskirts of Amalfi to Pontone, swinging between lemon trees and overhanging limestone outcrops...


I paused for a moment to catch my breath, gazing back towards Amalfi...


... then pressed on towards the hillside village of Minuta. The views became even more spectacular...


Here I am looking down across vines at Ravello...



After Minuta, and another steep haul of steps, I broke away from human habitation and cultivated land, and entered a high, pristine landscape of rock and scrub, wild peonies, and deep-sided chasms cut by clear mountain streams...


All this may have been good for the soul - and it certainly was - but more pressing matters were bearing down on me, becoming ever more urgent with each passing rock and steep downward scramble. Yes, truth to tell, I was lost...


The free walking map I'd picked up at Amalfi's tourist office - though alluring and colourful - was simplified, not to scale, and inadequate for the task. But it was too late now. I was following the red and white splashes of a Club Alpino Italiano route, which contoured the limestone crags in roller-coaster fashion relentlessly downhill. Turning back would have meant a huge effort of will and physical strength, and - let's face it - an admission of defeat. I carried on, hanging in space, sometimes losing the path through overgrown patches of vegetation, then rejoining it with relief several hundred metres further on. To make matters worse, the weather was closing in...




Peregrine falcons screamed from the towering cliffs above. I stopped for a drink and to take in the view. I was quite alone. No one knew where I was. If I fatally slipped here, I might not be found for days. But the scenery was unbelievable. And I felt healthy. My limbs and muscles were in good shape. The physical exertion, the landscape's wildness and its craggy beauty, the vastness of the space below my feet, the moody, ever-changing weather - suddenly all these things came together in one brief flash of realisation: wow! It was great to be here. I was privileged. It was fantastic.


After edging my way beneath more sheer walls of limestone, and negotiating deep gorges gouged by feeder streams, I scrambled down a rocky chute and soon joined a wider, more well-used path. Moments later I heard voices. I party of cheery Italian walkers were eating their lunch on a table-top rock above me. I waved to them. They waved back. The temperature grew warmer, and the sun poked through the cloud...


From there it was a simple walk back to Amalfi. It had been such a day to remember...


2 comments:

George said...

What an adventurous walk! You seem to pack more adventure into twelve hours than most people find in twelve years. I never knew there was such a variety of good walks in Amalfi.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, have you thought of putting your walks and places of interest on There and Where?