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Routes from Pontarlier to Jounge - a question

2020 Camino Guides

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
Kia ora (greetings, good health)

Mapped Official route


This is VF F47 bis and travels La Cluse-et-Mijoux and on to Les Fourg where it tums south west. An elevation for this route shows a number of steep ascents. One is from 800 metres asl to 1,200 m asl over just a few km. This can be seen in Way Marked Trails. Select Routes in bottom right hand corner and then Via Romea Francigena - Pontarlier to Orbe.



Lightfoot Guide - Besancon to Vercelli
of 2014 at pages 48 to 57

This also mirrors the official route to La Cluse-et-Mijoux but on the west side of N57. This route then follows roads and paths after La Cluse. Eventually these are alongside the stream Ruisseau de Fontaine Ronde which in turn meanders beside the N57. After a while the route in the Lightfoot Guide has some alternatives. The maps in the Guide are at too low a resolution to discern details. And I am conscious that a route walked about 10 years ago may no longer be available.


Open Street Maps (OSM) shows this some of this route as an abandoned railway line. A while further on the line of the abandoned railway becomes a railway line restored about 2010: this is now a very popular tourist attraction with a road alongside. From there several maps indicate one can walk to Les Hopitaux-Neufs. And so on to Jounge.

But the OSM detail does not indicate whether this stretch of abandoned can be walked.

I provide the above to show what research I have done, so readers need not repeat it (unless they want to)

QUESTION

Can anyone, please, provide information about whether the Lightfoot route west of N57, and in particular the abandoned railway, can be walked in 2020?

The advantage of taking this route, if it is possible, is avoiding many significant ascents and descents.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

kiwiDavid

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - SJPP-Finisterre

roving_rufus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013-2015) Camino Portugues from Lisbon (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??)
The lightfoot route seems less used as people are increasingly using the marked route and gps/maps from official viefrancigene website. However I have it my notes as an option as I regularly took shortcuts in France and had some of my own routes. (Due to family issues I cut short at Ornans so didn't get that far this summer) but it was on someone's blog about vf in the last year or two but I can't remember which one (or even if it was a blog and not a posting on one of the vf groups)
 

Harington

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
Kia ora (greetings, good health)

Mapped Official route


This is VF F47 bis and travels La Cluse-et-Mijoux and on to Les Fourg where it tums south west. An elevation for this route shows a number of steep ascents. One is from 800 metres asl to 1,200 m asl over just a few km. This can be seen in Way Marked Trails. Select Routes in bottom right hand corner and then Via Romea Francigena - Pontarlier to Orbe.



Lightfoot Guide - Besancon to Vercelli
of 2014 at pages 48 to 57

This also mirrors the official route to La Cluse-et-Mijoux but on the west side of N57. This route then follows roads and paths after La Cluse. Eventually these are alongside the stream Ruisseau de Fontaine Ronde which in turn meanders beside the N57. After a while the route in the Lightfoot Guide has some alternatives. The maps in the Guide are at too low a resolution to discern details. And I am conscious that a route walked about 10 years ago may no longer be available.


Open Street Maps (OSM) shows this some of this route as an abandoned railway line. A while further on the line of the abandoned railway becomes a railway line restored about 2010: this is now a very popular tourist attraction with a road alongside. From there several maps indicate one can walk to Les Hopitaux-Neufs. And so on to Jounge.

But the OSM detail does not indicate whether this stretch of abandoned can be walked.

I provide the above to show what research I have done, so readers need not repeat it (unless they want to)

QUESTION

Can anyone, please, provide information about whether the Lightfoot route west of N57, and in particular the abandoned railway, can be walked in 2020?

The advantage of taking this route, if it is possible, is avoiding many significant ascents and descents.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
When you say Lightfoot guide, do you mean the new 2019 edition? One can certainly walk alongside the railway - unless anyone who did it this year knows different? Oh, and it's Jougne.
 

Slow guy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013
Le Puy 2014
Arles- Toulouse 2015
Toulouse - Pamplona 2016
VDLP 2017
CP 2018
VF 2019
I took the railway option in May, 2019. It had been quite rainy weather and the hills above were very muddy and there had been heavy vehicles stirring up the mud and making hiking difficult.
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Bonjour @AlwynWellington

…This morning I asked un ami pèlerin if he might contact L'office de tourisme de Pontarlier, mentioning your concerns and asking about the old railway track. Here's the reply:

La voie ferrée suit en partie la RU 57. L'office Tourisme dit que c'est très dangereuse et très pollues et qu'ils de conseille le chemin qui suit l'ancienne voie ferrée. OT 33 381464833

(google translate :) ) The railway follows part of RU 57. The tourist office says that [the RU57] is very dangerous and very polluted and that they advise the path that follows the old railway. Ph 33 381464833

Bon chemin et bon courage pèlerin!
-Lovingkindness
 
Last edited:

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@lovingkindness , kia ora (greetings, good health) thank you for that kindness.

I had already confirmed the road named N57 (also E23?) takes the eastern side of a gorge (which is aligned north and south) and is definitely not suitable for walking.

My interest was piqued by earlier, non-specific, reports and earlier in November of reading a five year old Lightfoot guide to Via Francigena that clearly puts the route that Archbishop Sigeric took in AD 990 through this gorge.

The abandoned railway is on the west side of the gorge and the reports above, including one of the authors of the Lightfoot guide, suggest it is walkable.

In my judgment I would rather have some wet feet than go over an exposed hill some 300 metres higher, as the currently official route and another alternative do.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)
 

Slow guy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013
Le Puy 2014
Arles- Toulouse 2015
Toulouse - Pamplona 2016
VDLP 2017
CP 2018
VF 2019
i reviewed the route that you marked in Way Marked Trails and it is the route I walked. We walked up to the Chateau du Roux and it was a steep climb but it was worth it even in bad weather. There was a small bar next to the Chateau that you can stop for coffee and snacks. There looks like a way to avoid the climb if you want. On the way down from the Chateau, I took the road rather than the trail which looked steep and slippery. I wish I had stayed on the old RR all the way to Jougne but I foolishly followed the
Lightfoot guide at 44.032 and climbed the hill into deep mud and tracks created by large vehicles. The trail improved after about an hour and a half as I approached Les Hopitaux Vieux but it was largely unmarked and difficult hiking. without my GPS on phone it would have been easy to get lost.
I would recommend that if you start on old RR track, you stay there until you reach Jougne.
 

kiwiDavid

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - SJPP-Finisterre
Your critique on what I have mapped would be appreciated.
I wish I had stayed on the old RR all the way to Jougne but I foolishly followed the
Lightfoot guide at 44.032 and climbed the hill into deep mud and tracks created by large vehicles.
Had a look on Google Earth with the Official route and Lightfoot routes together - it looks like you can follow the railway line from Lightfoot 44.030 and arrive at Les Hopitaux-Neufs at Lightfoot 44.044 without going over your hill Slow guy (as you recommend) - this puts you back on the Official route.
It is the route I hope to take.
 
Last edited:

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
There looks like a way to avoid the climb if you want. On the way down from the Chateau, I took the road rather than the trail which looked steep and slippery.
Thanks.

I am considering (unless there is a special merit in ascending about 100 metres in a very short distance and passing close to the chateau de joux) at Lighfoot (2014) 44.013, turning left over the level crossing and take the sidewalk/footpath on the (now left side of) N57. And rejoin the walking route at about Lightfoot 44.017. And so on to Le Touillon, Les Hopitaux Neufs and Jounge.

And yes, I now understand your reference to muddy paths etc.

The route I currently intend to take (including my personal variation above) in April 2020 is 850 m asl at Pontarlier, rises 150 m (with no significant falls) over the next 18 km to Les Hopitaux Neufs and further 40 m asl to the roundabout and then, over about 1 km, drops about 100 m down into Jounge!

Ki kaha katoa
 

Paul Chinn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2005) Domitia (2010), via Francigena(2006/7/9/10/11/12/16/18/19)
Just a few points on our Lightfoot Guide in Franche-Comté. This region is the last in France to nominally agree an official route. I do not know absolutely the reasons for this but guess that they include the absence of pre-established footpaths (GR) that approximate to the historic route, the at times narrow valley through which the former Roman road (now dangerous N57) runs, the competing tourism and agricultural interests of communities in the region and the inertia of the Swiss authorities in adapting their intersecting section of the trail to the current interpretation of Sigeric's route as passing through Jougne/Antifern (for which my late and good friend Francis Geere was responsible). You may have seen that there is even inconsistency in the AEVF website as to whether the Jougne or Saint Croix routes are primary or alternate.

Despite statements that the route in Franche-Comté has been homologated by the FFRP (French hiking association) as the GR145, on my last survey trip, last winter, I was unable to find consistent GR signposting other than in those segments where the VF overlaps with parts of other GR eg GR5. I also note that the route as described on the AEVF website for Franche-Comté zig-zags wildly, bypasses a a Sigeric submansione and follows significantly more tarmac than I believe is normally accepted by the FFRP. From all of this I infer that the official route is still in flux particularly in the section from Pontarlier to Jougne. The route that Francis and I proposed to the various VF and FFRP associations closely tracks the Roman road (the most likely route of Sigeric) following beside both disused and scenic railway tracks and passing by eg the Fontaine Ronde where you can still see vestiges of a probable Roman way station mid way between Orbe and Pontarlier and probably where Sigeric also would have watered his horses.

The route is well trodden/cycled and I see no reason why it should become impassable absent some act of nature.
AEVF
20191205011750-44188-profile.png
At a practical level the AEVF route adds an unnecessary 4km (much above 1000m) and considerable climbing and descending in a region where snow is present for large parts of the year.

Lightfoot
20191205013209-44188-profile.png


I would welcome feed back from any travelling this way in the near future.
 

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