Ascending Arboreal Cliffs in Val de Creuse
Yesterday was my first hike in a long time where I didn’t pay much attention to the distance I had yet to cover. It was one of those sought-after moments where the journey absorbs your mind and body, and you hardly notice your feet on the ground. I covered about 25 km, from Gargilesse-Dampierre to Crozant.
Before leaving the lodge, I was treated to hands-down the best free breakfast of my life. When I arrived, Willem told me that it was included with the bill, so I figured that I would be getting a croissant and hopefully a cup of coffee to go. Instead, I had this entire smorgasbord to myself! Needless to say, I was stuffed, but Angela was kind enough to lend me a small bag to take the leftovers with me, and so I didn’t have to worry about lunch. I have nothing but good things to say about Le Haut Verger and if you happen to be in the neighborhood make sure you stay the night over here—it’s definitely one of the best values for your money.
On the way out of Gargilesse I stopped by the Romanesque chapel; what with the cloudy skies and moldy interior, it was hard to get any decent shots of the intricate capitals inside. However, I did manage to get a picture of this delightful face—one only a mother could love, don’t you think?
As luck would have it, yesterday was the first day that it rained while I was on the trail, but I was fortunate to spend most of it on footpaths in the woods and avoided getting drenched. And although it was steep in parts, only about an hour into my walk and I made it to the top of Val de Creuse. The view was absolutely stunning:
I stopped here for a little while to catch my breath, take a self-portrait, and admire the scenery. To my great amusement—and to the annoyance of people on the other side of the gorge—my vantage point was at the peak of a natural echo chamber, and I spent about 15 minutes whistling, making loud fart noises, and generally being a nuisance. Nature seldom affords the chance to be a complete ass without any repercussions, and I’m glad I took full advantage of the opportunity.
After many ups and downs I came to a small clearing near the river and took these shots. Someone had recently clipped the overhanging trees, and the fresh cuts made for some fantastic geometry. Of course, Nature Herself is more than capable of creating some really cool forms:
By early afternoon I exited the steepest section of the valley and began my descent into Lac d’Eguzon, with Crozant on the southern tip of the lake.
The weather finally cleared up, and I made good time around the lake. Crozant is only a few km beyond the lake’s shores, and on the way there you pass by a tiny village
There was a small orchard next to the path and I picked a couple pears for my early dinner—as hearty as my breakfast was, it had been hours ago and I was starving!
Crozant isn’t much bigger than the village I passed through—there are ruins of a 12th century castle, and at the top of the town, with a panorama stretching for miles, you understand why someone would go to the trouble of putting one here. My only problem yesterday was finding a place to sleep—the hostel was full, and after spending 30 Euro the night before I didn’t want to stretch my budget out again on a hotel. So I found a quiet garden tucked into the back of some homes off the town square and waited for the owners to show up. The husband, an older man of about 65, seemed a bit miffed, but when I explained to them that I was a pilgrim and didn’t have a place to spend the night, his wife took pity on me and let me sleep in their garden. Now I’m off to La Souterraine, about 25 km south of here, and if the trail is half as beautiful as yesterday I will be a happy man.
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