GR20 – Corsica


I am someone with a healthy respect for heights (OK they scare me sh**less). I am useless with exposure – as the saying goes, it’s not the drop that worries me, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom.

The GR20 path which travels the length of Corsica was going to be a challenge for me.

Although the distance is short, it is considered to be a very hard trail. Days of 6 miles/10km are normal.

It has a famous (infamous?) section called the Cirque de la Solitude requiring you to descend a near vertical face using chains attached to the rock for assistance, and then a slightly less steep ascent out of the other side, with more chains.


Day 0

Uneventful trip to Bastia and a cheap hotel overnight ready for the morning train to Calvi. Met Marc on the flight over. An Air Canada pilot who was also doing the GR20.


Day 1

4 hour train journey to Calvi then a taxi to the start of the trail at Calzenzana.  Stayed overnight at the refuge.



Day 2 (7 hours)

Early start for the full day of ascent. A bit of rain to start, but then pleasant hiking weather – cool and cloudy.


Had the first bit of chained trail, but not even my wimpishness was worried by it….. Although someone did take their rucksack off and then knock it down the ravine. I reckon it went about 200 feet with the owner chasing after it. Had it gone another 50 feet there is no way would it have been retrievable.

I met “Lucky” the dog a couple of hours in. He is an ownerless dog who makes a living by following hikers between refuges and scrounging off them. He was limping a bit from an old injury, but seemed to be managing fine – dashing ahead of me and then returning and putting on his best “cute face” in return for food and water.

Unfortunately on one of his dashes there was an almighty yelp and then he slowly returned hopping and dripping blood from a front paw. I did my best by giving him some food and water to try to coax him to follow me towards the next refuge, about 3km away. After about 200 metres he gave up. I knew there were lots of other groups behind me, so hoped they would do the same and try to coax him along a bit further so he would eventually make it to shelter.

Later at the refuge “Lucky” turned up…..Unknown to me, a short while behind me were a group of 4 German lads. They were a lot better organised than I was. Having found him, they quickly rearranged packs between themselves and made a sling from a waterproof jacket. One of them (Marco) loaded Lucky into the sling and carried him down to the refuge. Marco’s reward was that Lucky peed in his coat on the way down!


At the refuge first aid kits came out and everyone descended on the dog. In no time he was bandaged and fed.

Next we know, the mountain rescue helicopter arrives. GR20_04

The refuge owner had radioed them, and they came out for “Lucky”. Everyone had to grab their tents to stop then being blown away, but no real complaints. Guess we are all dog lovers at heart!


I later found that after returning to Calvi and a visit to the vets, he was adopted by the local fire brigade. “Lucky” indeed.

Continued below…