Post image for Day 9: The Way of St James from Estaing to Golinhac (about 10 miles)

Day 9: The Way of St James from Estaing to Golinhac (about 10 miles)

September 26, 2012 · 11 comments

Our itinerary for the walk and all accommodation was made by Sherpa Walking Holidays.

Our walking notes warned us firmly that we had to have our bags ready for collection at 8, so we breakfasted in the gloomy early morning light at 7.30.

The range of what we had been offered for breakfast had been a subject of considerable conversation for us. We rated this for the freshness of the croissants and pain chocolat (two of consumed by moi). Coffee was served in bowls (only the second time so far that it had been so served).

The gloomy early morning continued for much of this short day. The skies were leaden and there was a light drizzle as we followed the river Lot for a couple of miles.

Our route followed the very quiet D100. The wide river hardly seemed to be flowing at all – a couple of miles upstream is a dam and this has altered its character.

Near La Rouquette we turned left to cross the tributary of the Lot called Ruissaeau de Luzanne. For the next couple of miles we climbed steeply up the sides of the densely wooded valley. The trees were mostly chestnut and beech.

Throughout the walk, crosses regularly appear next to the path. This particular day had more than usual, with 20 in the space of its ten miles.

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

One of the many crosses on The way of St James, France, photographed by Charles Hawes between Estaing and Golinhac

My reaction to them is somewhat detached. Certainly unmoved, curious yes. Especially if a note or photograph of a saint is lodged between the stones that are inevitably piled around the bases. I wonder what true pilgrims, do at such points. And whether this has changed.

The heavy oppressive skies gave us rather restricted views.

The countryside on The Way of St James between Estaing and Golinhac, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was a little frustrating to be deprived of the grand panoramas, but we had had a pretty good run of the weather so far, so i just enjoyed the rhythm of our march and the quiet peace of the place.

Ruined cottage on The Way of St James between Estaing and Golinhac, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in France

We came across very few habitations and some of those were ruined or apparently abandoned. The stone above this doorway read 1824. Not a long life for the effort of the making. Such ruins are always evocative, raising questions about how life and economic activity has changed in such a short space of time.

I couldn’t resist an explore of this sweet little place.

Abandoned bakery next to The way of St James between Estaing and Golinac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

It sat next to a much larger ruin. What was it for? The door was open. I couldn’t see in the darkness but my camera revealed what I take to be a bread oven.

Bread oven in abandoned bakery on The way of St James in France bewtween Estaing and Golinhac, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in France.

We had passed a few fellow walkers first thing, but after that we had only come across one other couple during the morning. In the previous 8 days of walking I had seen hardly any litter. With one exception. Tissues.

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Carelessly tucked into sleeves they and the footprints of those that have gone before are the main reminders of the thousands of feet that have been before. The tissues have a longer life than the footprints.

As we arrived at Golinhac, one view did give me a glimpse of my beloved Aubrac cattle.

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We saw little of domesticated creatures today. I suspected these rabbits were destined for the pot. I remembered a similar arrangement when I had briefly worked picking apples in the Loire in my 20’s at the house of the father of the man I had stayed with.

Caged rabbits on The way of St James between Estaing and Golinhac photographed by Charles Hawes

Golinhac was as sleepy as every other little village we had walked through, though was doing a reasonable trade from locals. We had arrived in time for their set lunch.

I was somewhat chilled and glad of a hot shower, a coffee and then some cooked food. I don’t think Bob realised our main course was veal’s head.

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It was a bit fatty, but ok, but these slices of a pork pie that preceded it were delicious as was a creamy pot laced with amaretto that followed. The accompanying couple of glasses of wine brought on a great tiredness.

The rain had set in, so what nicer thing to do but return, at 2pm, to bed.

Post bed was very nice. Managed to write and upload this without trauma. A few beers at the bar and some cribbage ( Bob is reading Dickens biography and has just told me that he played, too). Supper was super. Veg soup (Ok), a plate of dressed French beans as a salad, spiced chicken joint and mash, a little baked apple.

We drank

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After dinner a stroll around the village.

Last day tomorrow. Bit sad about that.

Bon Nuit.

Golinhac at night on The Way of St James, france, photographed by Charles Hawes

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham September 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Better having the words!
Though there are no pics of you…you did look very strange in those. Hope your last day has some sunshine in it – we’re drowning here. On to our 4th inch of rain in fewer days…..XXXX

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Charles September 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Had a partial shave before dinner. Is this less strange. I think I like this one better.

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Anne Wareham September 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I think I want it all gone. You still look a bit odd but I think you have taken your own self portrait? It’s the expression – no friendly, happy holiday grin. XXXX

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Paul Steer September 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Interesting comment about the crosses, I have always slightly recoiled from them, despite calling myself a Christian. The only one pictured which I identify with is the small irregular stone one, perhaps because of its irregularity, its imperfection. You know I think I would like to do this pilgrimage.

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Charles September 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm

They are very much a presence. There are explanatory boards with them. And of course we have walked by a lot of churches and chapels. Thought you might like that cross cos its short and stumpy.

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Paul Steer September 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Humph !

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Julia September 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm

The crosses- yes- guess we are so sophisticated and pc now that we can’t imagine how they read as way marks years ago. I kind of like them marking cross roads and the village boundaries. May have missed it but scallop shells? As earrings ? You’re selling this all quite well so commissions on future bookings for the travel shop?

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Charles September 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Do you think they were just way marks? Wouldn’t pilgrims have had to have done something other than just use them for direction? I’ve always been aware of crosses in France of course. How do you think think the French consider them as part of their culture? I mean do you think the average French person has a stronger sense of their Christian culture than the English?

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Julia September 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Way marks meaning points of reflection, points of thanks for arriving safely etc etc. Some might consider crosses as part of their culture but all that is fast disappearing. I do think that there is a greater respect for culture than the average UK scenario. But the Americain influence is huge with the youth as anywhere else in the world.

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Paul Steer September 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Love the last pic of night …looks like a Van Gogh painting.

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Charles September 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm

It’s lovely isn’t it. Purely the cameras creation. The sky was nothing like as blue. Who cares.

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)