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Friday, 15 May 2009

Walk on the wild side

Having spent a week in the Abruzzo National Park, we have seen some differences with protected areas in England.  Although there are some villages, the area is mostly forest and mountain.  The forest is dense beech woodland, up to a height of 1700m, which is amazing:  For those of you in old money this is deciduous woodland much higher than Ben Nevis.  It is no surprise that Brown Bears and Wolves live in these woods; we had mixed feelings about the prospect of meeting them.  They must exist, as every café had a photograph of a bear crossing their car park.   

There is no shortage of walking routes, either up the very steep mountains or in beautiful meadows full of flowers, even we have spotted four different orchids.  The National Park status provides considerable protection for the wildlife and flora and little development appears to be allowed:  The owner of the campsite in Barrea suggested that, ‘God sculpted the rest of the world, here he used a paintbrush.’ 

There are few tourists around, although it is the beginning of the season and there is still lots of snow above 1500m, which always takes us by surprise and it was quite cool in the evenings.

We have met up with Walter and Margaret from Plymouth on two campsites in the area now.  They are travelling in their campervan and will soon be joining their boat in Greece.  They are a lively couple and we enjoyed their joy for life.  The world being such a small place, you will not be surprised to learn that Walter was very familiar with Eccles New Road in Salford.

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