Our itinerary and all our accommodation was arranged by Sherpa Walking Holidays.
I woke at 6 again. I hadn’t had the best of nights, and I honestly cannot blame Bob, though his snoring was epic. Basically I was nursing a hangover. No matter breakfast was excellent and the pain chocolat and pain raisins were as good as I have ever had.
We were on the road at 8. A beautiful morning but really cold and with a heavy ground frost.
This family of cats were warming themselves.
Within 10 minutes of leaving Saugues we were walking in a forest of pines with beautiful glades of frosted grasses.
The woods were stunning with the sun streaming though and near silent.
It is difficult to describe how peaceful it felt, but this was to be the thing we kept remarking on for much of the day.
There were occasional hamlets but they were almost as quiet as the woods. Here at La Clauze we had a coffee from my flask near this remnant of a C14th castle, perched on a massive granite boulder.
There were no steep climbs or sharp descents. Just miles of undulating open meadows and deeply shaded woods.
But overall we were climbing and near Domaine Du Sauvage where we lunched on the edge of a wood we had reached 4,200 feet.
This massive stone farm has accommodation and appeared to offer refreshment but we pressed on.
The day had become hot and our stops more frequent. At Chapelle Saint Roch I lit a candle and shed some tears for our friend Ray Billington who died a couple of weeks ago. I think he described himself as a heretic. I could picture him with a wry smile on his face at the context for my remembrance.
It was great to sit there in the cool for a while.
(just for John’s benefit, and I make no promises regarding further references, but there are toilets sited rather too prominently by the chapel)
We approached Les Faux, through another pine wood.
In a field a little later I saw something I had never seen before. These sheep were working together to make and share shade with their bodies, circulating as penguins huddle together for warmth in the deepest winter.
We arrived at our accommodation, L’Oustal de Parent, at 3. My GPS said we had walked 17.3 miles in the 7 hours since leaving Saugues. We were glad to stop and gladder still of the cold beer, but it had been a wonderful day. And so, so peaceful.
Supper was a veg soup, beef stew with pasta and a serve yourself cheeseboard. Some horrors here, but I am cheese conservative when it comes to stink.
This was a good accompaniment. Full and fruity.