Day 27: Dampierre-sur-Salon

Number of kilometres today: 17.6

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 713.4

Total steps since Canterbury:  1,010,943

I slept in today, to all of 7.30am, but I lay in bed for another hour, enjoying the stillness, not needing to start walking until after 11am at the earliest.  I rolled out of bed tentatively, expecting the electric pain to shoot through my feet upon the first steps after yesterday's epic walk but there were a couple of twinges in each arch that ceased after the first few steps. My body is finally conditioning to the long distances.

I lingered over my simple breakfast, coffee, croissant and fresh baguette with butter and jam and then went to the supermarket to pick up supplies for today.  Dampierre-sur-Salon looked smaller than Champlitte on my map, so anticipating that there could very likely be no brasserie or supermarket or even bar or boulangerie, I purchased my dinner and lunch for today and tomorrow; fresh baguette, mortadella, cheese, quiche lorraine and levure de boulangerie which I discovered is not anything like butter even if it was a small rectangular bar wrapped in gold foil like little butters.

I went back to my hotel and packed, badly. For the first time, I forgot to fill my camelbak (my hydration bladder) with water and put it in my backpack first and then pack everything else in front of it. It's near impossible to fill it after the bag is already packed without taking everything out again and reception had already rung asking me to vacate the room.  I used the small plastic cup in the bathroom to pour water into it 9 times hoping that would get me through the day then tried to cram it back down which of course it wouldn't so I folded the top of it over the top of my bag and hoped it wouldn't break or flood my bag.

It was 11.30am when I finally started walking, slowly.  I promised myself after yesterday that today would be a slower walk and whilst I felt like I was walking more slowly, I wasn't really. I arrived here just after 4pm giving me my usual average speed of 4 km/h. However, it was a more enjoyable experience and not emotionally strenuous like yesterday, not because it was a far shorter walking day, 4.5 hours compared to 10 hours yesterday, but because of how I walked. I felt relaxed and I knew I would arrive when I arrived.  Yesterday I was tired and uncomfortable but I walked with a subtle essence of desperation, a silent and unconscious voice reminding me what a long walk it is and how far I have to go and this sense that I'm never going to make it. I know now to be aware of that subconcious voice and change its message.

Out here, the scenery always changes but I wouldn't blame someone for describing it as same same but different.

 Farms, mainly corn with the empty fields currently being ploughed.  The crows that congregate and scavenge them. Stretches of hilly woodlands.  Roads and gravel paths that bend and wind but go on and on and eventually lead you into the next small village with its old brick houses, brightly coloured gardens and welcoming pots of geraniums and pansies.  Even if it seems the same, there is always something new to see or a different way to see something old.

I try to walk each day open to the gifts of my surroundings. Today, I have seen at least six hawks some circling above the woodlands, majestic, others swooping into the shelter of a tree. I watched a tiny lady beetle walk silent across the dry earth at my feet.  I helped a crazy cricket to the safety of grass after it kept falling over onto its back and flailing its legs helplessly, unable to navigate the bumpy bitumen.  A fat green caterpillar hot-shoe-shufflled over the bitumen before my feet into the coolness of the grass.  Being outdoors heightens my senses.  I always look down at my feet just in time to adjust my step so that I don't step on a critter and I am always stepping over them, slugs, crickets, beetles, snails, worms and even toadstools.

Somedays are challenging and some days the walking is filled with more grace.  They are blessings either way.

Today it was a good walking day.  I am grateful to be here on this path.

Bicycle decoration at Champlitte

Rue de Bourg, Champlitte

Building facade at Place de La Gargouille, Champlitte

Donkey wasn't too sure about me

New Via Francigena signs now I am in the region of French-Comte and department of Haute-Saone

More walking between lucious green woodlands

This is not butter!

A ruined building with a tree growing inside it stands in the middle of a newly plouged field

Path towards Montot

The colours of the land changed today, more kermit green grass and yellow tinged soil

Never know what you will see when you stop to look at the wildflowers

Another arch and door to add to the collection

Street view in Montot

Loved this old street sign

Stone crucifix in the middle of a field

Fat green caterpillar crawling the hot bitumen in front of my feet

Arriving into Dampierre-sur-Salon