Sunday, 21 August 2016

M06 Petrignano - Ferretto walking track

If you are looking at this post because you are thinking of doing this walk then I can say one thing ... don't do it!  But do read on to see why.

After last week's very challenging walk from Mongiovino we chose an easy one for this week. The M06 loop around the Petrignano - Ferretto area was listed as suitable for people in good physical condition  and the distance variously listed as 10.7 km or 12.5 km. This one had no hills just some gentle slopes.

As the walking notes suggested, we parked at a sports field  along the road between the two villages and set off following the red and white signs across the road. The notes described this woodland as a 'relict lowland forest' and it was very pleasant.

But it wasn't long before we realised that the walking notes were vague and the red and white indicators either faded or non existent. Looking at the map we were confused and often had to make judgements, and then retrace our steps. Some time later we realised that the star on the map indicating the starting point was in the wrong place! No wonder the tracks didn't look right.

We were cheered on by finding some interesting things like the juniper bushes in fruit. I have been intrigued by junipers ever since I had a sardine pasta dish with juniper berries when we were in Palermo, Sicily. Juniper berries are also used to make gin.

The tracks were very overgrown so you could never be sure that you were actually on a track. The pretty distractions continued which was good because the walking was hard going.

It seemed that every bush and tree overhanging the path was either prickly or itchy making. The blackberries were rampant and caused havoc with Kel. I made him go first in case of vipers! My trekking pole was more valuable as an arm to hold back things on the track. It was of no use on the occasions that whole trees had come down across our route.

The notes told us that we would walk through glades of heather (Calluna vulgaris) which we did. It was in shades of pink and mauve and was very pretty.

Is that a marker on that tree? We began to feel like we were bird spotting, so rare and difficult to see were the red and white signs. This track was so unlike last week's where we could tell that someone had recently ridden the track on a motor bike and repainted and repositioned the signs. We wondered if anyone ever checked the M06.

Eventually we were free of the overgrown paths and able to walk through pine or oak forests. Many of the trees had been trimmed and branches stacked, but did that mean that markers had been removed? Then we came to farming land, interestingly we were usually walking where there were private property signs.

This lovely avenue of cypress led to the abandoned house above. Past some agriturismo places, along a sealed road for a while and then we were back into the forest. After two hours of walking we stopped for a fifteen minute lunck break where we sat by a pondage and ate our onion focaccia. This gave us time to assess the map and our progress. Obviously we were not going to do this walk in the suggested time of 2 hours 40 minutes.

Quite close to our lunch stop was this magnificent tree house. It went on up higher than you can see in the photo. Alas is looked like it may have seen better days.

In the pine forests there were lots of fallen trees. This photo above is actually the crown of a pignoli, Italian stone pine or umbrella pine that had recently fallen. These trees are the source of pine nuts.

This little section was pleasing; a guard of honour and a clear sign.

We walked through many private properties with signs about trespassing, and there were several tree growing farms. They had various pines, cypress and olives, and we were amazed to see that you could buy olive trees that must have been very aged.

On this tree farm the workers were pruning and shaping the cypress trees to guarantee their iconic shape.

There were trees of all sizes from more than ten years old to newly started trees that were being irrigated. We were fascinated to think that there was a market for these thousands of fully grown trees.

By mid afternoon it was extremely hot and we were out in open farm land or on asphalt roads. We passed a pig farm, or was it turkeys ( one smell is as bad as the other!), walked beside grape vines and through corn fields, across creeks and most of the time had no idea of where we were.

There is always something new to learn. What is this tree?

By this stage I had lost all enthusiasm for photos and as I walked I practiced saying ' Posso mettere i piedi in acqua?' ( Can I put my feet in the water?), just in case the opportunity arose.

Finally we had one last scramble through the forest before we came out at the car park. It had taken us 4 hours 20 minutes, had been completely unsatisfactory, we were hot, tired and feeling the effects of too much sun.

So we would not recommend the M06 to potential trekkers, there are far more enjoyable places to walk. As for us, we are going back to the difficult routes and hope their red and white markers are clear and up to date.

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