Over breakfast once, in a Lake District guest house, I sat with two people who’d visited Scotland. It was many years ago and I hadn’t yet been there. It’s like the Lakes they said, only bigger. I agree with that. There’s an aesthetic and perhaps geological similarity. The Lake District is exceptionally beautiful in compact proportion. That means after a few years you’ve seen it all, which is not the case with Scotland.

Mountains have different qualities. Snowdonia hills are rougher and less shapely than you find in the Lake District. It was several years before I could enjoy them differently. The first time I walked the hills above Nant Gwynant I was thinking yes, not bad, almost like Borrowdale, but only from this viewpoint. When I climbed Cadair Idris it was the same. That view gives me the same pleasure as the Lakes, but the rest of the walk disappoints. Peak District hills are different again. Smaller, smoother, less dramatic; the area has never excited me. I’ve not camped there and probably never will. It’s a delightful place for day walks.

The Alps and Pyrenees are further distinct, also from each other. The Alps are spikier and, as the term goes, Alpine: high, technical, formidable. If you’re not a mountaineer you walk mountain hillsides not peaks. I’m not sure how I’d describe the Pyrenees, after six backpacking trips, except to say they are Pyrenean. Take a look at my photographs and you may have your own idea.

I hadn’t seen mountains such as these in Corsica. They don’t fit any other type although I decided if you had to compare, they are perhaps similar to the Italian Dolomites. The lower areas with sea views are like southern France, occasionally like Crete, but if you cut through the wilder parts on a train you find another aesthetic style.


Corsica GR20: Near Lac du Renosu

Friday November 6, 2015