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The first explanation I heard was that the waymarks are based on symbols used on the Way of Saint James. The pilgrims used chalk for the white upper stripe and blood for the red lower one. In their minds this symbolised the clouds above – the heaven at the end of the pilgrimage – and the bloody feet – the suffering – involved in getting there.
I recently read a book which tells a different tale. According to Antoine de Baecque the waymarks were invented in 1946. Jean Loiseau, the ‘father’ of the French GR network was influenced by the red used by foresters to delineate areas of woodland, adding the white to make them more visible at night.
I prefer the blood and chalk version. It’s nearer to the truth.
Source: La traversée des Alpes, Antoine de Baecque, Gallimard 2014, p 138.This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 2:54 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment below, or trackback from your own site.