High Mountain hiking in the Roya Valley
Cime de Corvo
Fontan – hameau de Bergue Inférieur
by Judy Churchill
Outdoor Pursuits Editor
Today’s hike will take you to the secret Vallon de la Céva. You would never stumble across this place so you need to know where to go. It belongs to the amazing Roya valley and close to the Valley of Wonders and the Mercantour national park.
The hamlet of Bergue Inférieur is at the top of a steep, narrow, winding road. This is not a road for the faint-hearted but the views make the effort worthwhile. The village itself is perched at 863m, very attractive, and totally unspoiled. You will feel as if you are the first person to discover it.
This Happy Hiker red trail is a circuit that will take you 4 hours to complete for 670 m of positive gain. This is high mountain territory so make sure you are properly equipped – especially your foot ware. This trail can be done between April and November.
Take the motorway to Ventimiglia and then follow signs to the Roya valley. Drive through the frontier at Olivetta (the RD 204 road zigzags through France and Italy) until you reach Fontan. At the north exit of the village take the D.42 on the left and climb up the long winding road to Bergue Inférieur.
Park at the entrance to the village and start at way marker 212. Take the pathway that runs alongside the houses just above the road and keep going straight up this gentle slope towards the secret Vallon de Bergue (waymarker 213).
Make your way up through the thicket, pass through the ruins of the granges de l’Ubac (1208m), and then up through the windy forest path until you reach the col de Tate (1450 – waymarker 214).
From here it’s a short final climb on the left up to the cime de Corvo (1525m). From the ‘col’ follow the waymarkers that go around the summit via the west slope down to 1200 m where you join the piste de la Céva (waymarker 215) and follow this left.
After the granges d’Amatte (waymarker 2016) cut across two bends and rejoin the pathway for 500 m and then leave it again at way marker 217 to return to Bergue Inférieur (waymarker 218) via a crossing that gently slopes down under the Corvo ridge and the barres des Brecs.
When walking, I advise taking hiking poles, as they will help you on both the ascents and descents. They also guarantee you get a full body work out. You’ll need a cap and sunglasses to keep the sun off your face (the sun is a lot stronger in the hills and mountains so don’t forget the sunscreen). Remember to take more water than you think you’ll need (at least a litre and a half per person) and enough protein bars for during and after the hike. I always have a high fibre, high protein breakfast before I set off which means that I don’t need to carry a large picnic with me as good quality protein bars are sufficient (always take a couple of extra ones). Purpose-made hiking boots/shoes, a roll-up rain jacket, first aid kit and a rucksack are a must and you will need lighter wear for the Spring/Summer season and heavier/warmer for Autumn and Winter. I have a Bogner zip-up, long-sleeved, lightweight golfing jacket from One Eagle Monaco that not only enables a full range of movement but is also great for cooler Spring/Autumn walks as it keeps you at the perfect body temperature. In the winter months, you will need extra layers of clothing, gloves, a warm hat, and thicker socks. In the summer months when doing high mountain trails, do check the temperature at your destination before setting off as you may need some extra layers. Last but not least, you will need the “Vallée de la Roya” TOP 25 n° 3841 0T map (can be purchased online or in some newsagents and sports shops) to mark out your trail before you set off.
If you are a French speaker you can also find the hike on the following link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/haute-roya/cime-de-corvo-9215.html but you will still need your IGN map as these on-line guides are only approximate. There are also hike specific apps such as Visorando, which have both free and purchasable versions and can be very useful guides and even have GPS options. https://www.visorando.com
If you have Strava you can record your walk on this app and it will give you lots of fascinating statistics at the end as well as totaling up the number of km/altitude you do in any given year.
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