In June, Ellis Brigham Adventure Race Team member Barbara Lonsdale made a long-time dream come true when she took her first steps along the famous 180km, GR20 in Corsica. The trek is known for being one of the hardest, most rocky, mountainous and remote 'Grand Routes' in Europe, and is on every long distance walker's bucket list.
"The route is divided up into 15 stages with refuges where you can buy basic supplies and camp/sleep in a dorm. Each night we chose to camp - I've never slept in such stunning and remote locations. Each morning I would open the tent door, snuggled up warm in my sleeping bag, and take in the view, not wanting to pack up and move on. As we carried all our gear we were ruthless with the content of our packs, taking lightweight competition gear wherever possible with no luxuries – meaning the final pack weighed a mere 8kg (plus 3kg of water!). I was surprised to find that I quickly adjusted to carrying the 'heavy' pack, and didn't find it cumbersome when clambering over rocks or yomping up hills.'
"I have to admit that I had incorrect pre conceptions about a GR route - I initially thought that technical elements would be avoided and it would be more of a walk than an adventure. How wrong could I be! The GR20 route makes no compromises –each day was filled with anticipation, adventure, stunning scenery and big big smiles. The total ascent is a matter of debate, depending if all alpine variants are taken, for our trip we guess we climbed well over 15,000m.'
"For me the highlight of our trip was the toughest, most challenging and hardest stage. This was the Cirque de la Solitude – a stage notorious for its technical and sustained scrambles. Our day in the Cirque was made even more memorable as the weather was atrocious - a full on mountain thunderstorm right above us echoing throughout the Cirque; all the grippy slaps were transformed into slippery waterfalls and we needed our katoola crampons and walking poles to safely climb a steep snow slope to exit it. Upon reflection, I'm pleased that we did the Cirque in such tough conditions, I'll never forget our day there."
Tough weather conditions made the climb from the Cirque de la Solitude treacherous but all the more rewarding.
"I thought that GR20 was so fantastic that I’m hoping that I can persuade the Ellis Brigham AR squad to do the route in 4 days next year - tough but do-able, I think, well maybe..."
Read our GR20 Kit List
You can learn more about Corsica's GR20 here.