Bayard Fort – Saillon
Link to detailed route page and map click on route title
- Distance 7.55 km
- Time 1 h 53 min
- Speed 4.0 km/h
- Min altitude 464 m
- Peak 844 m
- Climb 578 m
- Descent 579 m
We have often looked at a bridge spanning the impressive Gorge between Letron and Saillon cut by the La Salentse River. We cycle past the base of this Gorge regularly on one of our favourite valley rides. Once we even tried to find our way up to the footbridge, and failed miserably. The other day on our hike up to Isérables, we looked at it again and resolved to find a way up.
Fortunately in the intervening years e-mapping has improved significantly and I was able to find an app (Outdoor Active) https://www.outdooractive.com/mobile/en/ which not only had this trail but also enabled me to download the route to ViewRanger. Success.
So although today was not the best weather, as it was dry and not too cold, we would give it a go. Our start point was in Farinet Square (see photo) at the foot of the medieval village. The romanticised tale is that Farinet was the Swiss equivalent of Robin Hood. He was an Italian master counterfeiter who distributed counterfeit coins freely in the Valais, thus gaining support from local people who hid him from the police. Eventually after many years he was cornered in the Gorge by the police and either fell or jumped to his death. The trail is named after him
The start of our hike is also the start of the Stained Glass Trail, which we followed part way. This trail is marked by 21 stained glass windows. An artwork of ‘diamonds sparkling in the sun with the Rhône Valley for the cathedral’ is how the artworks are described. The works are symbolic of mans path (and in particular that of Farinet) through life from childhood, to self discovery, to death. The route is meant to be a spiritual pilgrimage inviting visitors to reflect on the essential in life and discover the essence of happiness.
After a coffee at the Post Café in old town we headed off through the medieval streets, past the ruined castle and into the terraced vineyards lining the slopes above the village. Most of the grape harvest is complete, however, some grapes are left on the vines and it was good to taste different varieties and see how much they varied in taste. Lovely walking through the vineyards and having a different perspective of the valley.
We passed and admired the artworks before taking a steep trail up towards the bridge spanning the Gorge. Quite a few people were out enjoying the hike. Nice to see. The Gorge was truly impressive. we were lucky enough to see an intrepid group undertaking the Via Farinetta, climbing up the vertical cliff walls, under the suspended ‘Dove of Peace’ as we crossed the foot bridge.
Enjoyed a cup of tea and our peanut butter sandwich in the picnic area on the far side of the bridge before continuing our hike contouring round the side of the hill above the vineyards. A steep walk down through the vineyards followed, snacking on more grapes, leading us down to Saillon and a welcome coffee at the Nouvo Bourg which looked a very nice restaurant.
Final treat of the day for Mike was watching England beat Belgium 2:1 in the Nation’s League. I finalised our rabbit casserole which we had with one of Mike’s special bottles of wine. See below a compilation of our photos