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GR20

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I am planning on the GR20, starting in late September. I will start at Calenzana and head to Conca (eventually). I have a guide book and will start some research soon.

Could anyone help with the following?

1. I plan on booking the ferry tickets plus the first nights accommodation. Do I need to book huts for camping and/or food?

2. Any concerns with the weather at this time of year?

3. How do I get back to Calenzana from Conca?

4. I won't be able to carry all the food I need. Is resupply an option?

Thanks,

Lloyd

 mbh 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I did the Northern half in 2011. Most of the refuges sold basic food supplies, if I recall, at a price. We sometimes ate the set meals, but I don't recall booking that way in advance.

 Pedro50 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

We did it in June 2007 in 12 days so any advice treat with caution, some may now be nonsense.

We camped every night except one when high winds necessitated the refugio, the warden was very helpful and crammed vast numbers in and fed us with no booking.

We ate in huts 3 or 4 times again without booking.

Limited resupply at huts, some better than others. Vizzavona better resupply and an excellent restaurant plus a hot shower on the station platform.

At the Gite d'etap la Tonnelle at Conca we got a shuttle taxi into town the following morning and then a scheduled bus to Ajaccio. There you can take the train to either Bastia or Calvi a memorable journey well worth doing.

Are you planning to camp every night? There have been reports of bed bugs in refugios.

Several refugios had somewhat limited choice of decent tent pitches, get up early and arrive early.

In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

We found resupply at huts ok. Most huts on our first 5 days would do pack up lunches for the following day. It can get expensive.

Avoid staying in the refuges, the bed bugs are everywhere. We booked tents in advance but suspect you'll be fine without booking in late Sept.

 Wil Treasure 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I did it in July 2019. We booked the huts for the whole thing in advance, which felt a bit committing! We actually would have been fine without. We always stayed in the ready pitched tents, which were basic but totally adequate. The huts have had rings, and usually pots and pans too.

The huts sell food, but at a premium and often with a poor selection. We took lightweight food like dried pasta and sauce, noodles etc and supplemented it along the way. Some of the accomodation is nearer the road and better stocked, it's fairly obvious which ones on the map.

Unless you're an ultralight afficianado and desperate to be self sufficient, I wouldn't carry a tent or roll mats. We saw lots of teams having a really hard time with huge bags. The terrain is pretty challenging at times (some grade 1 scrambling, usually equipped with chains, and many difficult or steep paths) especially in the first few days. Having a bag big enough to affect your balance can't have been fun! As an illustration there is a section to the ski centre that's only 3.5 miles, but guidebook time is something like 6 hours! We met teams who had taken 12 just on that part, due to a combination of inexperience with that type of terrain and 60L bags packed to the brim.

We had one day of bad weather, but it was really bad, like the worst of Scottish summer and we got soaked through, but every other day was perfect. Obviously we were 2 months out from your trip though.

The southern half is less difficult in terms of terrain, but just as spectacular.

 65 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I did it about 20 years ago.

It should be a bit quieter by late September, I was in early September and didn't book anything, just turned up and had no issues. 

Weatherwise, that should be an ideal time as it will be cooling down a bit. Watch out for thunderstorms, if there's any forecast make sure you get an early start and off the high ground by midday. 

There's probably a Facebook page, might be worth a look.

 cacheson 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

Did this in 2018, it's a great trip.

1. In 2018 we didn't need to book to camp or for food. As others have said you can hire a tent at each campsite, but that late in the season bed bugs can be an issue in huts and shared tents.

2. Weather shouldn't be an issue in general, but be aware of thunderstorms esp. in the afternoons. Walking in the morning means it's nice and cool and reduces risk of being caught out. You should be able to get weather updates at each hut. However, I think some of the huts close at some point in September. You'd be best to check you're not planning this for after the season has ended.

3. Taxi and then bus back to Calvi, with a bit of googling it shouldn't be too hard to find.

4. Most people have dinner and breakfast at the huts, then buy whatever they can from the huts for lunch. Saucisson and petit pain are common. You can also get cheese at some of the huts. There is the option to get a good resupply halfway at the road and town which crosses the GR20. In my opinion you can choose two of three between eating well, eating cheap and carrying a light load.

Hope some of that helps, and that you have an awesome trip!

 Max factor 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I'm another that did it > 10 years ago, we went late September into October. I know it's become more popular so this may be out of date 

1st October marked an abrupt end to the tourist economy around the island. Refugios were already running down supplies in preparation for the end of the season and away from the trail a lot of campsites and restaurants shut. 

On the plus side, the refugios were not busy and it was no problem getting a place. We could easily have ditched the tent, cookware and stove and gas (the latter are not needed if you are camping either, there is cooking provision for campers). Water was no problem either, there were streams on the route. 

There was still basic provisions in the huts to cook for yourself, but it is not more than 3 days between a trailhead where you can shop for provisions and this is the maximum you will have to carry food for. 

Weather was OK. Frosty some nights, rainy some days but fewer thunderstorms than you might get at other times. A light down jacket and good waterproofs would see you right.   

 BobtheBagger 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

One point no one else has mentioned yet, is that it seemed to get very dark, very quickly, when I did it in Mid-september. 

I was 'fast-packing'  the whole route, planned on 6 days, doing basically two guide-book stages a day, but a couple of times i had to stop at about 3pm, as allowing just 3 hours til dark to reach the next hut was a bit risky. Also I had terrible rain on a couple of days and gale force winds. I was the sole occupier of a rickety wooden hut on the ridge and I was genuinely fearful that the hut would blow away. Yes, it was that strong.  Next morning it was dry and the ridge was coated in ice, which, with the continuing gale force wind made life 'interesting '.

Great route though....enjoy.

 riverz 03 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I did it two years ago so I would add that if you book online (there is 4G most of the time) for a camping spot, you will get a ~10% discount compared to just turning up. We just booked the day before once we knew our plans.

In reply to Pedro50:

This is great knowledge. Thanks. I think that I will camp every night. I enjoy it and I really do not like the sounds of bed bugs. Or snoring. 

In reply to Nick Brown - UKC:

Many thanks. Looking forward to it. The bed bug information helps me decide to 100% stay in my tent.

In reply to Wil Treasure:

Thanks. I am keen to avoid a big bag and will make sure that it is as light as I can make it. I am taking this on as part of the challenge. Food might be an issue but I guess that I can survive on noodles. I am more worried about the weather as with bad weather comes more kit and a heavier bag.

In reply to riverz:

Great information. Thanks.

In reply to cacheson:

I love the choose 2 of eating well, eating cheap and a light load. Think it helps sharpen my mind. I think that I might go for a light pack and paying for food for the first half and then look at taking on more food and a heavier pack for the second half. I'll be conditioned then and I think the terrain is more straightforward.

In reply to Max factor:

Super information! I am very excited. The information about the weather is useful also. If there is a a light frost with less rain then that would be great.

In reply to BobtheBagger:

I love an early start and I am only planning on following the guide book days as I want it to be a leisurely end to the summer. My pack should be around 10kg but hope that I can be in by 6pm each evening. Thanks for the information.

 Pedro50 04 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I just took a tent fly sheet and fortunately it never rained, one night was rather unpleasant as I was camped on an ants nest.

I have also heard of someone losing a shoe overnight probably taken by a wild boar.

 mbh 05 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

> I love an early start and I am only planning on following the guide book days as I want it to be a leisurely end to the summer. My pack should be around 10kg but hope that I can be in by 6pm each evening. Thanks for the information.

If my 2011 memory serves, we were usually at the next refuge by mid-afternoon latest, even early afternoon, having left early along with most others. My pack weighed 10 kg or so. Those of the three teenagers in our party were lighter. We were heading north, from Vizzavona. 

 Pedro50 05 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

By late September I'd hope to arrive before 6.00 p.m.  Leisurely down time is invaluable on every multi day walk I've ever done. 

 Dave Cundy 05 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

We did the top half of the GR20 from the main road to Calvi.  Got a taxi from Ajaccio to start.  Took a train from Calvi back to Ajaccio.  Did it in early June 2008, taking five days.

Did one or two stages a day, staying in the huts.  Some days were long, out at 7, arriving at 6.  Great scenery.  Didn't need axes or crampons for the Cirque de Solitude.  Was good to hit it late afternoon, after most of the punters had gone.  Plenty of scope for delays there.

Getting lunch at huts was very unreliable.  Evening meal was basic - our veggie had to live on omelettes for a week.

 ablackett 05 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

Here is my blog from 2015, it’s got a full kit list which will be useful to you if you plan to go light. Not many with a full bag made it the whole way, as we went further on the route the ‘survivors’ had noticeably smaller bags!

https://www.runlikeahaggis.com/about-me/gr20-corsica-august-2015/
 

we ate each night at the hut, carried porridge for breakfast so we could make an early start. We planned on eating Lunch at a hut each day but carried an emergency couple of meals incase the hit was shut (we used this once).

Enjoy

In reply to ablackett:

This is really helpful. Thanks. I think that a Scandinavian start may be the way to go for me. Up early, pack up and go. Coffee and porridge an hour or so down the trail. I look forward to reading your blog and kit list.

In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I walked the route in July 2016. We had intended on only doing the northern section but found we were fitter or it was easier than expected so did the whole lot.

Hotels at either end and in the middle at vizavona. Otherwise we used huts. Some of our additional stays we used the pre erected tents, these were preferable to staying in the huts, fewer snorers disturbing us. We stayed dinner, bed and breakfast picking up bits and pieces for lunch.

It is costly, the huts are supplied by helicopter or mule train. We were paying 7eu for a can of beer in the more remote huts, wine was cheaper we learned.

Travel light and take a full wallet, it is a great walk.

We flew to the north of the island and flew home from the south. I can't recall the names of the airports.

In reply to Ennerdaleblonde:

Thanks for the information. I am traveling as light as I can and will definitely stay in a tent. I cant abide a snorer! 

 streapadair 06 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I did it in mid-September 2000, flight from Nice to Calvi and bus to Calenzana, flight back from Figari to Paris.

I camped all the way, some nights outside a hut, some wild.

The weather was fine, apart from one night of storm, which had blown itself out by morning.

Top tip, start walking early; afternoons are for festering.

https://www.streapadair.com/Travel/Corsica-GR20

 Max factor 06 Jun 2024
In reply to Lloyd Entwistle:

I saw you comment your pack would be 10kg. I have just found the photos of us weighing our packed bags, 10kg and 7.5kg including camping and cookware. For the time of year you are going when hut places are assured, i'd be very tempted to use the option and go much lighter. 

 Enty 07 Jun 2024
In reply to all:

Can anyone recommend a super light sleeping bag for the GR20 in August?

Cheers,

E

 ablackett 07 Jun 2024
In reply to Enty:

We got a couple of these for the kids spring/summer camping.

https://amzn.eu/d/6PjuTge

I’ve been incredibly impressed with the quality and warmth/weight. 

 Wil Treasure 08 Jun 2024
In reply to Enty:

I used a £10 bag from Aldi.

In reply to streapadair:

Worth noting that wild camping is prohibited and that this is policed.

The probability of getting caught may be small but it would spoil your trip.

 Enty 09 Jun 2024
In reply to ablackett:

Looks good. Impressive for the cost.

E

 streapadair 09 Jun 2024
In reply to Ennerdaleblonde:

Policed??? By whom?


In reply to streapadair:

The police and the network of hut wardens and those who service the huts. Wild campers are easily spotted and "dobbed in".

The Corse really, really like money. Anything that stops them from making it is dealt with quite harshly. I am pleased that you got away with it but I would not recommend that others try. 

Corsica is not too far from Sicily and their cultures have similarities, capiche?

 Tom Valentine 09 Jun 2024
In reply to Ennerdaleblonde:

Hence the road signs peppered with shotgun pellets, perhaps. 

 mbh 09 Jun 2024
In reply to Ennerdaleblonde:

Don't know about Sicily, but Ciottulu di I mori did remind me of Asterix in Corsica. Nice coffee, but service definitely with a scowl.

 Tom Valentine 09 Jun 2024
In reply to mbh:

If you want to see a Corsican scowl, just visit Sartene for half a day.


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