Where: Corsica near France, Mediterranean Sea
Best Season: June – September to avoid the ice
Best Sights: Steep granite peaks and luscious green valleys
Remember to Bring: Water, good boots and travel insurance
Watch out for: Poorly signposted roots
Mountains cover a third of Corsica and hikers flock to the peaks and gorges in the valley of Restonica – one of the most impressive sights in Corsica. The best walks are through the black pine forests to Monte Ritonde, ten miles from Corte. It’s something of a hikers haven, and you can meet a lot of traffic – coaches, mountain bikes and hikers streaming up and down its peaks. You can enjoy a pleasant evening hiking or cycling in the valley then head back to the nearby town of Corte.
The trails are not signed so you can get really lost easily. It can be dangerous with mist or fog, so if you’re not experienced, you may need a guide for serious day hikes around Corte. If you want to reach the higher peaks you must be equipped for real climbing. Restonica is a very developed area of Corsica, with a concentration of traditional mountain routes and modern bolt protected routes for rock climbing. Expect plenty of friction – the Restonica is hard duty climbing on solid granite.
Where to stay
You can only camp in the mountains at authorised camp sites or you can stay at the mountain refuge, but you need to bring your own food and bedding.
When to go
The mountains in the valley of Restonica rise to seven thousand feet and the lakes are frozen eight months of the year so come in the summer months between June and September.
– Even on a hot summers day mist and fog can quickly close in so stick to the marked routes, and wear proper hiking clothes, because accidents can happen at any time, leaving you stranded.
– Get insurance – Corsican mountain rescue teams are well organised and efficient, but if you’re not insured for hiking helicopter evacuation costs $2,000, and that’s without hospital bills.
– Always carry plenty of bottled water – don’t let dehydration curtail your climb.
– Make sure you carry waterproofs – storms are infrequent, but can be severe so check the forecast before you leave.
The Restonica river has one of the steepest gradients in Corsica making it good for kayakingwhich can mainly be assessed from the road to see if water levels are good. Be careful – the river contains many steep drops and narrow pools so don’t bring your most expensive equipment as it’s likely to be bashed around. It’s quite a dare devil ride for an experienced kayaker, grader between 4 – from Cortes to Tavignano, going up to grade 7 in places.
– Visit the mountainside villages, steeped in history which have changed little in the last three centuries. Marvel at the scale of the tall churches lying deep in the valley.
Climbing in Corsica: the granite isle
Detailed technical guide as to the best rock climbs and how to go them in the valley.