30K Challenge

--- Walk or cycle 30km before the end of lockdown ---

Four weeks of lockdown! What are we going to do? 

Well why not take part in the Vermeille Internationale  30K Challenge?

What is it?

The lockdown regulations here limit you to travel within ten kilometres (as the crow flies) of your house. If you measure ten km south of the Port of Port Vendres you come to Cerbere and the border with Spain. If you travel 10km north you arrive at the Mas Larrieu reserve and the river Tech. The challenge is simply to walk or cycle the whole of the coast before the end of lockdown. You can do this in as many stages as you like - it does not have to be done in one go.

How far is it?

The entire route is on the Collioure web site divided into 19 stages which they say is 32km but it is probably more - it depends which route you choose. Click here to view. 

Clearly you are not going to ride your bike on a sandy beach, and if you are not a regular walker you might choose to bypass some of the hillier clifftop sections. You can choose to travel in whichever direction you want and to vary your exact route according to what you can manage.

What if I am not on the Cote Vermeille?

The same challenge applies, walk or cycle (or ski, or row etc ) at least 30km between two interesting points, and send your details, stories and photos to us at vermeilleinternationale@free.fr 

News and photos will appear on this page so you can see what others are doing and encourage them.

What about those who cannot walk or cycle that far?

There are many other ways you can join in. It would help to have some volunteers to help drivers get back to their cars, for example, or to appear at a car park on the way with water and refreshment. You can still join in on the photo competition. 

What Photo Competition?
There will be prizes for a the best groups of 3 photos on a theme taken on the route. Themes could include historic buildings, flowers, wildlife, beaches, waves etc.

 Send your photos to vermeilleinternationale@free.fr 

Why do this?

As always we want to keep our association active and involved, and contribute a little to the communities in which we live. Taking a few walks will help our physical and mental health I hope, and if each participant pays 5€ to take part, it will allow us to help those who are finding lockdown even more difficult to bear.

So dig out your walking boots , register your participation and off you go. More route details and advice will arrive once you register. Remember that you can meet in groups of up to six outdoors so you can share transport and walk with others.

Whatever you do, observe social distancing rules, don't undertake walks you might find difficult and stay safe.

Please pay your 5€ here...

Some images of the Cote Vermeille by David & Linda Cadwallader...


From Deborah Marquardt...

I have chosen two urban trails adjacent to my condo community in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. 1) The Elizabeth River Trail (ERT)is an iconic urban waterfront trail that runs 17K following the Elizabeth River, connecting businesses, historic attractions, three universities, a major medical center and 28 neighborhoods. The Elizabeth River is a working tributary of the Chesapeake Bay and hosts the world's largest naval installation and the Port of Hampton Roads. Trail development is part of a larger effort to clean the river from centuries of industrial waste and neglect; it's working! 2) The Cannonball Trail is a walking tour highlighting 400 years of architectural history in downtown Norfolk. The two trails overlap at several points.

ERT Leg 1: 5K Roundtrip

a) From condo, enter the "secret" Pagoda Garden, a gift from Taiwan in 1989 to honor trading ties with Norfolk.

b) Cross footbridge to discover the U.S.S. Battleship Wisonsin, now a Naval Museum, anchored on the downtown waterfront.

c) Continue through Town Point park, a green buffer between the River and Norfolk's financial district to see marinas, ship works and more. The park hosted hundreds of outdoor events and live music pre-Covid.

d) End at Harbor Park baseball stadium, home of the Norfolk Tides, a AAA "farm team" for the Baltimore Orioles. Stadium will reopen to limited capacity in late May. Return to condo, same route.

ERT Leg 2: Alternate Sentara Loop 5K

a) From condo, cross Light Rail tracks and busy thoroughfare to footbridge across "The Hague," a small waterway created from filled marshland by two Dutch men at the end of the 19th century. The idea was to create waterfront property for new Norfolk "suburbs" just a short distance from the more industrial Elizabeth River.

b) Loop around The Chrysler Museum, home to world-class glass, photography, and painting collections, as well as a working Glass Studio. Current exhibition: "Americans in Spain: 1820-1920."

c) Proceed along The Hague with its stately homes.

d) Cross into the Sentara Medical Campus, also home to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters and Eastern Virginia Medical School. As I approached, the "Nightengale" regional air ambulance helicopter was just taking off from the roof of the hospital. This always makes me sad, because I realize someone is in trouble.

e) Depart medical campus and cross into West Ghent neighborhood. Finish at my husband Jim's urban vegetable garden, sandwiched between Norfolk Southern Railroad repair yard and some small businesses. Feed the feral cats at the "Cat House," and ride home with Jim.

Secret Pagoda Garden & USS Battleship Wisconsin, served in Pacific theater during WW2 + downtown waterfront with marinas and shipworks. Dolphins often spotted here.

Chrysler Museum and The Hague

Elizabeth River Trail, Leg: 5K Roundtrip

a) From condo, follow Light Rail tracks west, past headquarters for National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration research vessels, through outer edge of Medical Campus.

b) Enter Plum Point Park, adjacent to historic Fort Norfolk of importance during the War of 1812. This park is reclaimed from formerly despoiled industrial projects, and now provides a program to restore wetlands adjacent to an existing shoreline marsh. It supports wetland vegetation, estuarine wildlife and an open meadow with native plants.

c) Pass workout stations and kayak launch along the trail route.

d) Cross over Midtown Tunnel.

e) Enter the Chelsea neighborhood, home to various small businesses, including two craft breweries.

a) End at the "Cat House" and return to condo, same path, without stopping for a beer!

Elizabeth River Trail, Leg 4: 5K

Chelsea Neighborhood to Old Dominion University Campus

a) From the "Cat House," walk north through an allée of pine trees in the West Ghent neighborhood. Enter Weyanoke Bird and Wildflower Sanctuary, overseen by the Cape Henry Audubon Society and maintained by volunteers whose mission it is to protect and enhance native habitat within its boundaries. Native plant species thrive in this safe environment.

b) Depart Weyanoke and West Ghent without seeing a snake! Continue north, passing through the Lambert's Point neighborhood, past the community micro-farm, maintained by residents.

c) Enter the campus of Old Dominion University: founded 1930; 335 acres, 148 buildings; 24,176 students and some surprising garden oases and ponds for reflection and study.

d) Stop for refreshment at neighborhood "Sunset Grill," where owner treated us to some freshly shucked fried oysters from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to accompany a glass of white wine. This is civilized hiking?

Elizabeth River Trail, Leg 5, 5K: 

Lochaven Neighborhood and Virginia International Terminals

a) Park in Larchmont neighborhood and cross Hampton Boulevard Bridge, where the Lafayette River meets the Elizabeth River. The Lafayette drains only within Norfolk, while the Elizabeth touches several cities in the metropolis. Restoration of both rivers, showing measured results, is critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

b) Enter Lochaven neighborhood, home of the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. This 1908 Arts & Crafts home now houses an art collection, and its grounds host visiting artists in several outbuildings.

c) The trail meanders through 12 acres of the Hermitage's formal gardens, natural woodlands and educational wetlands to discover in a delightful loop.

d) Exit the Hermitage, continue west through the neighborhood and arrive at the final trail marker, Norfolk International Terminals, the Virginia Port Authority's largest terminal, welcoming goods from around the world.

Cannonball Trail, Leg 6, 5K

Yesterday I left the Elizabeth River Trail for my final leg on another trail just a few steps from my door. It is called the Cannonball Trail and it is a walk past 400 years of architectural history in downtown Norfolk, with significant buildings identified by explanatory plaques. Parts of the Cannonball overlap the downtown leg of the Elizabeth River Trail. Norfolk was settled in 1636 and incorporated as a city in 1736. It remains the hub of a seven-city region known as Hampton Roads.

a) Depart condo and walk east on West Freemason, where multiple historic homes, surrounded by museum-quality wrought-iron fences. populate this cobblestone street. The original Norfolk Public Library, now offices, is on this street as well.

b) Enter downtown and walk Granby Street, location of early commerce to support the active port and a growing city. Several of these buildings currently are being renovated and their elaborate façades restored to support 21st-century enterprise.

c) Pass Freemason Baptist Church, c. 1848. Its Gothic Revival sanctuary was designed by Thomas U. Walter, who designed the dome of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places

d) Enter grounds of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and cemetery, c. 1739, one of few surviving examples of Colonial architecture. Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia burned the city as he left in 1776 (Revolutionary War). A cannonball fired from his departing vessel remains lodged in the church wall, one of the few buildings to survive the fire.

e) Follow the trail through the downtown financial district, where numerous examples of early government buildings sit in shadows of modern high-rise offices. Some examples are the General Douglas MacArthur Museum and research library, also the final MacArthur's final resting place; the U.S. Customs House, used as a dungeon during the Civil War 1862-1865, and the historic Monticello Arcade, one of only two shopping arcades in Virginia. (Its acoustics make it a remarkable setting for acoustic choral concerts.)

f) Cross into Town Point Park, where early warehouses on piers have been converted to accommodate waterfront condominium projects, pass Pagoda Park and home. The End.

Postscript: I want to thank the VI for this challenge. There are parts of the Elizabeth River Trail that I walk nearly every day. But this event caused me to push "pause" button to explore new segments, which led to the discovery of some of the incredible natural areas. It also was important for me to feel connected to all of you, being so far away and unable to travel. I am so grateful. Now sitting down with a glass of wine to enjoy the sunset over the river from our condo garden. Hope to see you all soon!

From Christine Windle...

Main walk from Bath to Bradford on Avon along the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The walk begins with a stroll down from our home into Bath across some local fields , which are really in the heart of Bath, to take in the panoramic views over the city. 

We spent about an hour wandering round the town taking in all the fabulous buildings from the Roman Baths to the Crescent, The Abbey to Pulteney Bridge. It would be easy to spend a whole day and more just looking at the architecture and imaging the people who have lived here, they include the playwright, Sheridan, General Wolfe, William Pitt, William Pitt, and Beau Brummel to name but a few. 

From the town we head up Great Pulteney Street to pass the Holburne Museum , now made famous by Bridgerton, and onto the canal. The chimney is all that remains of an old pumping station and is now the centrepiece of a pop up coffee shop.

Cleveland House spans the canal at the beginning of a tunnel and was originally called Canal House. It was constructed in 1817-1820 by the Duke of Cleveland as the headquarters of the Canal Company, the architect was John Pinch the Elder. The house is for sale at the moment for about £3.5 million if anyone is interested!!

The canal was first opened in 1810 and has two aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliffe, it is famous for its flights of locks. In 1841 the Great Western Railway opened and the canal began to decline finally falling into disrepair. However in the 1950s a group was set up to stop the closure of such canals and from 1966 work began to restore the canal which is now a national cruise way which ensures it is maintained so that cruising craft can safely navigate the length of the waterway.

At this point we go onto banks of the Avon to look at the Dundas Aqueduct which can't really rival the Pont du Gard. There is a fabulous clump of Blackthorn and a rather un English hillside at this point.

Bradford on Avon is an old wool town and rises above the Avon in picturesque terraces ( but no photos!). It was originally the site of a ford and now has one bridge across the river and permanent congestion. The town has a Saxon church dedicated to Saint lawrence and founded in about 705.

We made the diversion to Box to be able to include, firstly, the famous Box railway tunnel built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel at 1.83 miles long it was the longest railway tunnel in the world when it was completed in 1841. Secondly to mark the place where the Reverend Audry was inspired to write the Thomas the Tank Engine books, and then to the pub.  

From Tanja and Ove Buan, Norway...

Not sure our contribution to the challenge meets the competition rules 100% as our activity consists of 10 different walks/hikes - all with different starting points. Total distance covered on the other hand is met with a clear margin.

We (Tanja and me) spend most of the summer in a small village surrounded by nature and mountains in the middle of Norway - not far from the city of Trondheim and close to the border with Sweden.

The commune is named Meraker - populated with only 2.500 lucky souls spread over an area 3 times the size of Andorra - so there is space for everyone...

Every summer the commune supports a walking activity where people are encouraged to pick up a sheet/blanket from the local shop describing 10 different starting points, marked routes and points to visit. These routes are different every year.

Arriving at a point, you make a mark (clip) on the paper that you have brought with you - and you can also write your name in a book found there, if you like.

When all ten routes are completed you can go back to the shop and collect a gift - usually a t-shirt and also have the opportunity to be included in a draw among all participants at the end of the season to win larger prices.

This year we participated for the 4th time.