Throwback Thursday: Hiking the Hill of Hermitage Part II

Last week, I wrote about our discovery of the Tours des Sentiers in Tain l’Hermitage. This week I’m back to share our adventures hiking the actual Hill of Hermitage.  Also, sadly, this will be the final instalment of Throwback Thursdays devoted to hiking on our recent vacation to France and Italy. Clearly this means we must plan our next adventure stat.

Trail: Hermit to Hermitage
Distance: 5 km (for full loop) or about 3 km to viewpoint and back
Elevation: 170 m

This trail.  This trail was something we stumbled upon by complete accident (you’re likely sensing a theme here, if you’ve read my last few vacation hiking posts). We were walking back to our hotel after a disappointing visit to the Cave de Tain (which, in our opinion, had nothing on the Chapoutier tasting room in terms of a guest experience), when I noticed a cobbled, narrow road leading up into the famed Hill of Hermitage vineyards.

Destination: Hilltop.
Destination: Hilltop.

When I see a path, I cannot be deterred from following it. Plus, the sun had come out after a morning and afternoon of grey and cold. Sun + vineyards + a path to an unknown destination? Come on, with that combination you have to explore.

Like seriously, who wouldn't follow that road?
Like seriously, who wouldn’t follow that road?

The cobbled stone road quickly turned to gravel and narrowed as it made its way up the hill. On both sides of the path were rows of vines as far as the eye could see.  It was a wine lover’s paradise.

OMG so many grapes!
OMG so many grapes!
And more grapes
And more grapes
It's sort of hypnotizing to stare at.
It’s sort of hypnotizing when you stare at it.

What I found particularly amusing about our unplanned adventure is that both of us were sort of uncertain about whether we should even be there. We had encountered zero signs up to this point. To me, an absence of no trespassing signs is pretty much an indication that you can be there. My boyfriend was a little more leery, so much so that he stopped following me at a certain point. I forged on ahead up a steep stretch of trail and finally encountered proof that we were not only allowed to be there, but also on a legitimate trail!

At last! Proof of legitimate trail!
At last! Proof of legitimate trail!

Once we had official trail status, I was dying to continue onwards and upwards. However, the sun was already starting to set, and the thought of navigating rocky gravel slopes on a still slightly sprained ankle wasn’t particularly appealing.  Instead, we took a short side trail to a lookout where we were able to watch the sun set behind the hills overlooking the Rhone which, if you must know, was pretty damn spectacular.

The sun making its way to the horizon.
The sun making its way to the horizon.
Dusk descending on the Rhone valley.
Dusk descending on the Rhone valley.

Our mini-trek, which was not the full loop but a 3 km return out-and-back, took maybe an hour and that was with countless stops for photos. This is a must-do if you are in Tain l’Hermitage. Even if you are only passing through, it is well worth an hour of your time. You will be surrounded by vineyards, silence and ever-present views of the valley floor. Really, if you think about it, one can’t ask for much more in a trail.

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