Corsica is an island that contrives to be rugged and lush at the same time, especially in spring. Fecund with flowers, insects and birdsong. My favourite Corsica day walks are just one reason why it is a perfect walking holiday destination with beaches, ancient towns and delicious food thrown into the mix – along with that unique and fiercely independent culture.
We came to the unspoilt south for our walking holiday in Corsica, to wander along moss-covered, stone-walled paths marked by stone sentinels and used for centuries by shepherds and travellers long before walking holidays became a popular pastime. Corsica is criss-crossed with such ancient pathways. Here are my top day walks in Corsica:
Corsica day walks: Zonza to Quenza
The first day walk we tackled was the Zonza to Quenza circuit, a four-and-a-half hour circuit that is full of beauty and variety. It passes through farmland and old orchards before plunging into Corsica’s ancient forests. The forest changes gradually from Mediterranean Oak to dark and mossy woods lit only by the purple cyclamen that stud the trackside.
As you approach the village of Quenza there are views of the stunning Bavella rock needles and wild lavender grows amongst the tall tree heather, which is covered in tiny white bells. Later I found some honey that was made in the Quenza area and tasted as good as the wildflowers smelt and looked.
There are several cute cafes in Quenza and then we followed a wild mind-clogged stream for a kilometre or so. We didn’t see any wild boar; only where they had been – the rutted ground beside the path.
Corsica is famous for its wildflowers in Spring and I’m known for my penchant for wildflowers so I was in seventh heaven. Yellow broom and white onion flowers carpet the last wooded stage on the climb up to Zonza. Fields are filled with apple blossom and tall flower spikes.
Corsica day walks from the Col de Bavella
After glimpsing the Aiguilles de Bavella rock needles it was essential to get a closer look so another day we headed for the Col de Bavella, a popular picnic spot that is the starting point for a number of easy walks near the Alta Rocca mountains of Corsica.
For the Tour de la Punta di l’Arghjettu follow the orange blazes from the carpark, past the grazing cows and into the trees. This walk takes you up and around the peak and back and takes about three hours.
It involves a steep climb and descent but the views over into the next valley and the sensation of getting up closer to the mountains are well worth the effort. Sturdy pines grow right up this steep ravine and we passed beneath rock faces where climbers play.
Another walk from the Col de Bavella, and a very easy and pleasant one, is the Trou de la Bombe. This walk reveals disproportionately spectacular views of the Aiguilles for the effort expended.
Stroll along a wide track through pine forest carpeted with violas and daisies. The last 15 minutes are a bit of a scramble to get to the eponymous ‘hole in the rock’. The best views of the Bavella needles are a few minutes before this and there were clouds boiling up and onward, alternatively leaving the rock formations and twisted pines in bright sunshine and then cloaked in mist.
Take a different route back via the Bavella par Chapelle route, which as the name suggests passes a pretty little chapel in the woods on a daisy-strewn lawn.
And at the end of the day there are peaceful beaches and the touristy but stunning medieval town of Bonifacio on its spectacular clifftops to visit.
Corsica trip planning:
Where to stay in southern Corsica: If you want to do a lot of walking in Corsica (or climbing) the best place to base yourself is the mountain village of Zonza. However, if you want a mix of beaches and wandering the streets of ancient towns, Propriano is only an hour’s drive away on a good road.
I used the Cicerone guide to walking in Corsica to plan the walks on this trip.
By Natasha von Geldern
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