An ASCENSION SUPPORT TEAM self-publication

Copyright © reserved to David and Yvonne Brittain




Anyone who has travelled and explored the English countryside may be left with the feeling that the land has been conquered and tamed by man. From the far horizon flatness of Essex and the Wash, to the rolling graceful western counties, the firm hand of man has shaped and used the land for his own purposes. He has built cities, towns, villages, and hamlets where he will. He has enclosed as farmland or country estates, areas large and small anywhere he has chosen. The traveller only has the freedom of the roads because someone or other owns all of the land on either side of the roads.


Islands of wildness still exist, for example the Yorkshire Moors and Dartmoor and in the far south west of Cornwall but these are islands set amid and surrounded by Man's unmistakable presence. If the traveller then heads south across the English Channel, continuing south through the heart of northern France, still the hand of man clearly shows a similar controlling imprint on the land. Only when this journey to the south reaches a line marked across France by the Midi Canal , does the traveller realise that whoever does control the land, it is not Man. The Midi Canal connects the Atlantic at Bordeaux with the Gulf of Leon in the Mediterranean at Narbonne. In traversing France the Midi Canal also links the ancient cities of Toulouse, Castelnaudray, and Carcassonne. Historically Narbonne was the capital and sovereign city of a kingdom called Septimania that today is shown on the map as Languedoc/ Roussillon. As the traveller moves further south the border is reached that divides France from Spain and as our interest be in the land between the Midi and the Spanish Border, a word picture may help you to visualise it.


Back in the mists of prehistory Spain was a separate continent that as part of a Tectonic Plate, crashed with irresistible force against the immovable plate that carries France. Before that happened, what was the northern coast of Spain would have been divided from the then southernmost coast of France by a gradually narrowing sea channel from the Atlantic to the Med. The enormous forces from below the channel and the relentless pressure exerted by the drifting continent would have crushed the coastlines of both continents and the seabed in between, and also the underlying rock strata. Then because the pressure continued to mount of both drift and volcanic forces, the crushed seabed and coasts would have been forced upwards and then hurled on either side of a newly emerging range of mountains, huge fangs of rock driven upwards amid the fire and lava to a height of thousands of feet. The Pyrenees, “The Mountains of Fire” stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea.


From the Midi Canal to the foot of the Pyrenees the land resembles a heavily rumpled bedcover, twisted and convoluted, a mixture of high foothills and twisting steep valleys. Long strangely shaped ridges and sudden sheer cliffs, deep sheer gorges and steep narrow hills with tiny ancient stone villages perched on top. Time and the elements have softened the tumbled effect with a light covering of alpine type grass, Dwarf Oak trees and many others able to survive in such surroundings.

Page 1 of 15  continued on Page 2