Sentier Du Cep à la Cime, Valais, Switzerland

Warning: Routes on maps and weather forecasts can be misleading…

Regarding the first point – when I looked at the map, this appeared to be just a ‘simple’ circular walk through the vineyards from and to St-Pierre-de-Clages. (Don’t ask me why they have the hyphens in there, but they do). The Swiss mobile app said it was ‘only’ 10km (6 miles) long, with 420m (1,378 ft) of ascent. But, in the event, it turned out to be an extremely varied walk with quite a stiff climb out of the valley.

On the second point – it was supposed to be wall to wall sunshine… Ever the optimist, I hoped the clouds would clear as the day progressed, but I was sadly disappointed. 🙁 My apologies therefore for the poor quality of the images below.

The walk did start through the vineyards, heading towards the huge rockface which looms over the valley. There I met a lady who asked me if I’d come to spot the birds. (Well, we were standing next to an information board showing the birds that we might see in the area). After explaining that I was just there to do this walk, she told me she was on the look out for a ‘bruant fou’ or rock bunting. There were 4 or 5 other ‘twitchers’ around too, with their long lenses and binoculars, (see pic 7). Though I couldn’t quite see why they were getting so excited about this little bird, which is quite common I’m sure. E.g. Jude and I saw them just a few weeks ago on our walk along the Bisse de Clavau. (The information board also suggested that they might be there all year round, however…)

After a short detour to explore the ‘tunnel’ seen in pics 3-7, the track/path began to rise up and above the village of Chamoson. Eventually it levelled off and I had an unexpected surprise when I discovered that the path ran alongside the Bisse de Poteu. (So that’s another bisse ticked off my list!)

From there the route dropped down to run alongside the River Losentse. Now I’d like to say that Swiss rivers are very pretty, but that is not often the case (in the Valais anyway). Indeed, following huge storms and mudslides in both 2018 and, especially, 2019, the Losentse has gouged out the hillside, creating what can only be described as a huge, grey mess. So it came as no surprise when the bridge, which I was supposed to cross, had disappeared completely. (See pic 20). There was an easy alternative down the left hand side of the river, but I was still half-heartedly wondering if I could get across to follow the official route, when I noticed the makeshift plank. (Again, see pic 20 if you haven’t already spotted it).

Once back on track, the route meandered down through Chamoson, where I took a quick peak inside the church, before descending through the vineyards to St-Pierre-de-Clages. All things considered it was an interesting walk, which I’ll have to repeat in the summer or autumn when the vines are fully grown and, preferably when the sun is shining!

In case you’ve been wondering, Du Cep à la Cime translates as From Vine to the Peak and is one of the official ‘local’ routes, no. 177 (more info. found here). There are information boards all the way along the route, giving details of e.g. the geology, the birds and, of course, wine production in the area.

6 thoughts on “Sentier Du Cep à la Cime, Valais, Switzerland

    • Yes, I was in search of terra firma… (i.e. no slippery snow). And it looked inviting on the Swissmobile app which I use to plot my routes. (You can see that it covers the whole of Switzerland and you can select Walking, Biking, Inline Skating and even Canoeing routes here: https://map.schweizmobil.ch/?lang=en) It was just a shame about the grey skies which made everything look very flat. As mentioned, I’ll repeat it in the summer and try to replicate some of the images. 😊 By French (and probably US) standards, the vineyards are tiny and mostly managed by hand – due to the small terraces. It must be a back-breaking job. I did see one lady attaching the stems of the vines to the wires which run horizontally between the metal posts. I thought she was twisting the thin connecting wires by hand, but she had a small hand-held ‘clipping’ machine. (There were 2 ‘twists’ for each vine!) A labour of love for sure!

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  1. Interesting landscape. I look forward to seeing those views in the summer on your return visit. Re your comment about tending the vines by hand being a labour of love and back-breaking, I can vouch for the back-breaking bit. And it’s also not without risk. I spent a week or two doing the vendange near Bezier in the South of France when I was twenty. The pickers were given a row each to pick so there was a bit of pressure to keep up with everyone else. Picking more quickly than you were quite comfortable with meant you were more likely to cut yourself with the secateurs. Something that happened quite frequently. And when it did, we all gathered round to see the damage and comment on the severity of it before the sticking plaster carrier administered first aid. And then it was back to picking. And a strange thing happened as your back ached more and more through the day: you found yourself hoping for somebody to cut their fingers again so you could straighten your back and have a rest for a bit. And of course also hoping it wouldn’t be you. I only did one day picking, and spent the rest of the time as a porteur – either pushing the loaded wheel barrow through thick mud to the tractor and trailer or carrying the picked grapes in a large plastic bucket that was strapped to your back. I remember climbing up ladders leant against the trailer to tip the contents into it over a shoulder. I preferred carrying to picking, but I can say carrying was easily the toughest physical labour I’ve ever experienced. The free wine at the end of the day helped, but I remember being so thoroughly knackered I was in bed too early to really enjoy it.

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    • Wow – that sounds like a great experience – despite all the obvious effort. I hope you still don’t bear the scars!! In my youth/Uni hols, I filled pie machines in Poole and ‘knocked out’ frozen fish in Hull. Happy days! 😊

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