I was particularly interested in your front page story as I visited the remarkable suspended gardens of Marqueyssac in the Dordogne region of France, which for its £6.50 admission also offered use of its “Via Ferrata”. Not speaking French well and having no mobile phone with me for emergencies, I was grouped with a tall athletic young French climber and his two daughters.
The 200m long route comprised of metal loop hand holds and footholds which were round 3-4in. in diameter and mostly arranged at different heights and spacing to make things interesting.
If there was a long gap between footholds, it was arranged so you were on the wrong foot to make the stride and, in one case, the gap required swinging by the hands.
To give variety, there were also places where natural rock with no real footholds had to be used and a few planks and pieces of wood.
The trip needed considerable concentration and a determination not to look down too often, as we were 100m vertically above the valley on the rock face. The safety line was not too much reassurance, as hanging in mid air until rescued would not have been pleasant!
I was obviously slower than my climber companion, who climbs most weekends, although he said he found it difficult in several places. He was wearing a CAC T-shirt, which he explained was for the English charity Climbers Against Cancer. He had bought the shirt on a trip to England.
It is a small world as I now understand the charity was started by local climber John Ellison and is based in Ribchester. It’s a charity well worth supporting – its website and donations address is: www.climbersagainstcancer.org/
You don’t have to be a climber to contribute – I’m not!