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of Rogniant, near to where the Buttier is crossed and the path leads into the city of Aosta. (Route 107.)
MARTIGNY TO CORMAYEUR BY THE COL DE FERRET.
At Orsières, in the Val d'Entremont (Route 108.), a path turns off on the right, enters an agreeable valley and continues on the banks of an alpine river, and, after pursuing a tolerable road to Issert, the principal village in the Val de Ferret, 3 hours distant from Martigny, ascends rapidly towards the higher hamlets of Pra le Fort, and Branche. The mountains which bound the valley towards the west are lofty, and crowned with the northern extremity of those vast glaciers of the chain of Mont Blanc, which, divided on the crest, descend towards the Val de Ferret, as the glaciers of Salena, Portalet, and Neuve; and, on the other side, towards the west, form the glaciers de Trient, du Tour, and d'Argentière. There is nothing, however, remarkable in the scenery of the Val de Ferret. The route leads up a succession of rather flat divisions of the valley, from Issert to the Châlets de Folie, distant 2 hours. On the right, the short transversal valleys, or rather crues, in the side of the mountains, are the channels for these glaciers.
Above the Châlets de Folie, the usual path to the Col de Ferret leads up through the Châlets of Ferret, by the detritus of a mountain which fell in the year 1776, burying the pasturages of Banderai. Near to these chalets the two paths separate that on the left leading over the Col de la Fenêtre to the Great St. Bernard, that on the right to the Col de Ferret.
Instead, however, of ascending by Ferret and the Châlets. of Banderai, the guides now take a shorter path directly up the pasturages on the right, above the Granges of Folie; but, without a guide, this may lead into scenes of danger, towards the deep crues and precipices which form the eastern side of the great chain of Mont Blanc-scenes of impressive grandeur, from their vastness and utter sterility.
The ascent by the shorter path is very steep and fatiguing to the Col de Ferret; but the view when near the summit well repays for the trouble of attaining it, the time required from the Châlet de Folie being about two hours.
From the ascent, the whole Val de Ferret is seen, bounded on either side by lofty mountains, and the distance is limited only by the Bernese Alps.
The woods and pasturages of part of the Val de Ferret belong to the Convent of the Great St. Bernard, and at this
distance from the hospice 4 or 5 leagues- the brethren obtain all their wood, and some hay.
From the crest of the Col de Ferret, the view along the south-eastern side of Mont Blanc, towards Piedmont, is one of the scenes celebrated by Saussure. The eye is carried through the Val d'Entrèves and the Allée Blanche to the Col de la Seigne, an extent of 40 miles. Numerous glaciers are seen on the right, streaming down into the valley from the great glaciers of Mont Blanc; but the "Monarch" himself is not seen, the enormous masses of the Grand Jorasse and the Géant conceal him in this view.
The descent is over a soft slaty soil, in which the tracks of sheep and cattle have cut deep trenches, in which if a man stand he is half concealed. Ten minutes below the Col a cross is placed on the edge of a precipice which the path passes; it serves to guide the course of the ascending traveller, though from below it seems to be placed on a pyramidal mass of rock which it would be impossible to attain. Far in the deep valley, the stream flowing into Italy appears like a thread of silver.
An hour and half of fatiguing descent brings the traveller to the Chalets of Pré de Bar, famed for being the dirtiest in Piedmont.
Near Pré de Bar the vast glacier of Triolet sweeps down from the crest which divides this glacier from the masses, which, on the other side, form the glacier of Talefre. Below the glacier of Triolet the road descends by a most fatiguing path, amidst rocks and stones and bushes, presenting a scene of alpine desolation. The valley is very narrow, and each rift on the mountain side towards Mont Blanc has its glacier hanging down from the summit. Not less than seven distinct glaciers are passed in the course of this valley, before reaching the village of Entrèves, near to Cormayeur. These chiefly descend from the masses which form the Grand Jorasse, and the remarkable peak of the Géant. A few miserable villages in the Val d'Entrèves are passed. The highest is Sagion; those below are Pré-sec and Plan-pansier. More than half the length of the valley is passed, on the descent, before Mont Blanc is seen: when its prodigious mass opens to the view, the effect is overwhelming. The ruggedness of the descent is increased by passing over the débris of a mountain fall beneath the Géant. This passed, the river, which descends through the Val d'Entrèves, is crossed, the village of Entrèves is left on the right, and, winding along a path by the side of the mountain, Cormayeur (Route 107), is reached in 15 or 16 hours from Martigny.
AOSTA TO PONTE IN VAL D'ORCA, BY COGNE, FENÊTRE DE COGNE, THE COL DE REALE, AND THE VAL SOANNA.
From Aosta (Route 109.) a road leads directly down to the river Doire, which is crossed on a wooden bridge, and a path ascends on the right bank through the rich plain of the valley, and through the villages of Gressau and Joveneau to Aimaville, about a league and a half, where one of the most fantastical offences to good taste in building, spoils one of the finest sites in the valley. A knoll jutting out into it is surmounted with a squab, square mass of masonry, a modern antique, worse than any cockney attempt to decorate a garden with a castle. At Aimaville there formerly existed an ancient pagan temple, which was succeeded by an establishment of knights templars; and within the present queer structure is an ancient armoury of the barons of Aimaville. It is now inhabited by the Contessa di Rocca.
From the château the ascent is steep to the hamlet of St. Martin. The view from the crest above it is perhaps the finest in the Val d'Aosta, in the richness of its plain, studded with villas and châteaux. The city is seen as in a glorious frame, and beyond it, towards the great chain, the peaks of the Monte Rosa close this unmatched scene of the beautiful and magnificent in nature.
On turning the brow of the mountain which forms the southern side of the entrance to the Val de Cogne, a path at an elevation of at least 2000 feet above the torrent of the Cogne, leads into the valley. Soon after losing sight of Aosta; deep in the valley beneath the path, the tops of the cottages of Pont d'Ael are seen clustered with a few trees, and near it a white line which crosses the ravine. This is well worth an examination, and a path leads down to this remarkable village, where the line crossing the gulf will be found to be a road over an aqueduct, which now serves as a road. This is one of the most remarkable of the Roman structures remaining in the Val d'Aosta, from the times of the empire. This aqueduct is raised 400 feet above the torrent, which it crosses by a single arch; immediately above the arch is the ancient road or gallery, lit through slits in the wall. This gallery is 180 feet long, 14 feet high, and 3 feet wide. The vault is composed of the slabs which formed the bed of the ancient water-course. The gallery is entered by arched ports at either end; there are two, one on either side, at the village of Pont d'Ael, and at the other end the port
Opens down the valley. This singular work is in perfectly sound condition, though built, as a still legible and even sharp inscription indicates, by Caius Aimus and his son, of Padua, in the thirteenth year of Augustus. This inscription is inaccessible; it is placed on a tablet just over the arch on the lower side towards the valley of Aosta. Though it cannot be reached, to which fact it probably owes its preservation, yet it can be readily read from the brink of the precipice on the side of Pont d'Ael, and the following is the inscrip
IMP. CÆSARE AUGUSTO XIII.
COS. DESIGN. C. AVILLIUS C. F. C. AIMUS PATAVINUS
Their name is still preserved in the village and château of Aimaville.
Travellers in the Val d'Aosta should not fail to visit this interesting work of antiquity, which is placed in a situation where it is impossible to imagine that any benefit could ever have arisen commensurate with the expense of the structure. The surrounding scenery is very grand.
In ascending the valley of Cogne, it is not necessary to retrace one's steps to regain the path high upon the mountain side. A shorter cut from Pont d'Ael leads to it; the valley for a long way above Pont d'Ael is a fearful ravine, utterly impracticable in its depth, which, except at two or three points, is equally impervious to the eye. In some places the narrow path on the edge of the precipices, wretchedly guarded by poles and trees, which a child might throw over, is so obviously dangerous, that none but a practised mountain traveller could pass some places without a shudder. Opposite to one spot, where the path turns suddenly into a deep rift or crue in the mountain side, is a slide, down which trees cut in the forest above are discharged, for the chance of the. torrent bringing them down to the Val d'Aosta. Not one in ten escape being broken into splinters; these, however, serve for the usines and founderies for working the iron raised in the Val de Cogne, and which is celebrated in Piedmont.
The difficulties of constructing a road by which the productions of the valley could be brought down, is obvious on' observing its precipitous character. The valley, however, opens a little near some usines, and from where the river is. crossed to its left bank, a tolerable road leads to Cogne. This road has been made by two brothers, iron-masters, who have recorded its formation on a tablet, in a rock. There is very little cultivation in the valley, the products of the mines giving occupation to its inhabitants; every stream drives its
tilt hammer, and almost every person is employed in working, smelting, or forging the iron raised.
The hamlets of Silvenoir, Epinel, and Crela, are passed before reaching the village of Cogne, where a villanous inn is the only place of rest; either, in anticipation of an early start across the mountains from Cogne, or, after having traversed them during the long fatiguing day's journey from the Val d'Orca, for the six hours required between Cogne and Aosta, is too much to add to such a day's work either way.
On leaving Cogne for the pass, a good road continues up to the place where the iron ore is brought down from the mountain. The track by which the miners ascend and the ores lowered, is distinctly seen. In the "Journals of an Alpine Traveller;" the scene has been thus described:
"On our approach to Cogne, I was struck by the appearance of a great quantity of iron ore, heaped upon the roadside, which was here of good breadth and kept in tolerable condition. On the opposite side of the valley, in a mountain, is a mass of iron ore celebrated for its extraordinary richness: the mines are worked at a great height in the mountain side, and I was surprised at the laborious mode adopted for bringing the ore down into the valley, thence to be taken to the founderies and forges. Zigzag paths are made from the adits, upon which barrows on sledges are placed filled with the ore, and these are in succession pushed off by a conductor. When the sliding-barrow has acquired sufficient impetus down the inclined plane forming each line of the zigzag descent, the man who directs it leaps adroitly into the barrow and descends with it, and before the load has acquired an uncontrollable velocity, it is brought up by a bank at each angle of the zigzag path or slide. The conductor then gets out, turns the barrow in the direction of the next slide, pushes it forward, and again, while it is in motion, leaps in, and is taken down to the next angle; and thus, in a series of turns, at last reaches the bottom in the valley. The men have, it appears, to walk up the mountain again, and their empty slides are dragged up. I never saw power so misapplied or wasted."
On leaving the little plain of Cogne the road ascends by a steep path on the mountain side, leaving on the right the valley of Vermiana, into which descends an enormous glacier from the mountain called the Grand Paradis. The steep path passes over what appears to be a vast dike in the valley, the torrent flows round it to escape through a ravine at one extremity. On crossing the ridge, the traveller finds himself on a more wild and open ground, leading to the alps and pasturages of Chavanes. Some of the lower châlets are soon reached: further up on this fine alp, which feeds large flocks