Eur ’19 | Cascade du Herrison – Exploring the Jura

The Jura treated us to a star studded night parked up in a forest clearing. We had a long lazy bbq dinner and an even longer evening watching the colours fade behind the jagged silhouettes of the surrounding trees. The stars seemed to multiply as the sky shifted from blue, to purple, to black. And then it was morning. The dew that was clinging to the long grass glistened as the intense summer sun crept into the pale blue sky. Shafts of light pierced through the gaps in the branches before breaking free of them completely. It was a warm morning, followed by an even warmer day.

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The drive through the Jura was great, the sweeping roads and beautiful scenery were accentuated by the glorious sunshine. We drove through a couple of the villages we normally frequent during ski season and barely recognised them without the snow. Traversing the different valleys, we zig-zagged up and down; the shade of forest giving way suddenly to sun drenched fields and mountain chalets.

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Cascade du Herrison was in the direction we were heading and, having visited once before many years before, we knew it to be a lovely woodland walk with some decent waterfalls. Water and shade – for us it seemed like a pretty perfect way to spend a hot, sunny day!

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It was a busy day, we had lost all track but it turns out it was a Sunday, which explained why there were so many people milling around. Following the River, Le Herrison, we strolled through the dappled shade. The young foliage above gave the shallow river a green hue as it rippled and bubbled over the rocky bed. A slight breeze caught the upper branches of the trees causing a smattering of bright light from outside to dance across our woodland floor. The breeze didn’t reach into the woodlands and the hot air hung between the branches with nothing to move it along. These wide gentle stretches gave way to a craggy woodland route. The path, undulating over the uneven ground was interjected by steps whenever the path drew near a waterfall.

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Much like the waterfalls themselves the footpaths and steps throughout this walk were so varied, metal grating to carved slate, concrete monstrosities to delicate wood-edged dirt tracks. The sheer variety of footpath work makes me think this area has been worked inconsistently over a long period of time, each section being done as it was needed and not before. Of course I could be wrong, but that would mean someone, somewhere was making some bizarre decisions about the aesthetics of the walk! But more interesting than the footpath work, were the waterfalls…

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Short wide cascades poured over flat rocky cliffs into the gravely bowls which lay beneath. Minute falls tumbled repeatedly over themselves along layered rocky sections of flat, the white water frothing at the bottom of each tier. Strands of liquid ribbon fell silently into deep gorges, the receiving river tumbling quietly away, calm and almost placid in its summer state. And at the bottom is the largest of them, l’Eventail. The water tumbles down the steep rocky cliff face, gathering and decanting from each tier until it reaches the river 65m below. The surrounding trees created the perfect leafy frame as the light poured through the new green leaves. All very beautiful.

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We started at the top car park, making our way down to the main waterfall before retracing our steps for the ascent. The footpath was easy to navigate and the varying terrain kept it interesting. Dotted along the walk are platforms and viewpoints which offer better outlooks of the falls and the surrounding landscape. The whole area seems to be made up of rocky cliffs, the horizontal layers of rock shifting in colour from cool greys to warmer sandy tones. The layering of the rocks offered plenty of footholds to the flora hoping to grow there. And grow it did, the views were awash with green as far as you can see, a pretty site against the pale blue sky, with just a handful of small clouds floating somewhere near the horizon.

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Geneva and the Jura signified the middle and furthest point of our trip and now, after a wonderful walk along the Le Herrison river we were back in the van heading north west, the general direction of the UK, started our long, slow, meandering route home.

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