Nature never did betray the heart that loved her
I’ve been niggled by a think for a while and the think that I’ve been thinking is that I really should share more of the humungous archive of photos that I have accumulated since I arrived in France. It’s the first time in my life I have had a reasonably decent camera and, as importantly, the first time I have had the time and place to spend on taking pictures. I remain resolute in my belief that I am a leading myopic point and shoot photographer and I am happy that the approach does produce some nice pictures amongst the disasters. Having reached the conclusion that I might do something worthwhile with some of this vast catalogue, it’s a simple question of finding the right mechanism. After much navel gazing and machination with self I’ve decided on my own personal TWTWTW or TW3, (‘That Was The Week That Was’, that legendary satirical show that aired in the UK from 1962-1963 and in the US from 1964-1965 and spawned some of the greatest ever including David Frost and John Cleese). Except my TW3 is ‘Those Were The Walks That Were’ – hardly praiseworthy semantics but enough to amuse my frou-frou brain.
My Two Brained husband calculated recently that I have walked more than 3,000 km in the Cantal since arriving in the Autumn of 2013. This means that The Bean on her much shorter but markedly springier legs has also walked the same distance. She is heartily impressed with herself. With 340 PRs which stands for petits randonees – the network of waymarked paths in varying degrees of difficulty that you find throughout France to choose from, I don’t need nor want to go off-piste. Sticking to the laid paths is no hardship at all. Some are very well marked and easy to follow, some less so, some frankly, barely at all. Which adds a frisson of farce to keep complacency at bay.
One of the very first walks I did and one that has become my standby, my head-clearer, my go-to when I arrive back from England ravaged from the 1100 km drive on my own with unhelpful small dog or a 9 hour round trip to drop The Brains for a flight from Lyon or yet still an 11 hour round trip to pick up a visa in Paris, circumnavigates le Lac de la Cregut.
It’s a 15 minute drive from my village give or take a bovine hold up or two and about 350 metres (1150 feet in old money) higher. It’s a glacial lake and forms part of the hydro-electric system for the Massif Central as, in fairness does most water in our area. The marked walk (named ‘L’histoire de l’eau’) is 6km and designated blue which means it is easy. It has a déniveler of about 150 metres (that’s the difference between the lowest and highest point on the walk …. it’s quite a crude indicator without an OS map to show you the contours since it could be a single trudge uphill or several undulations – in this case it’s a single stretch that accounts for the majority of the relatively light lift). The path has a series of educational panels along the way. They tell you about the fish in the lake, the birds in the woods, the animals and the way the lake was formed. There are four devoted to the birds of prey found in the vicinity – you turn big cubes to find the information about each one. It’s aimed at children but I’m not too proud to learn and of course it’s in French so it helps with bits of language that one might not learn otherwise. Like lombric which is another word for a vers de terre or earthworm. I might never have learnt that word. And it took me a while to remember it. In the end I drove home muttering over and over to myself ‘Herbert Lom likes Bric-a-brac’ …. it worked and now lombric is in my venacular along with the very useful tattou (armadillo). You never know when you might need such words and in what combination.
I have walked here in all seasons and most weathers – in the heat of summer when a little altitude is a relief and the harsh frozen winter when it takes on a Narnia like appeal for a girl who loves snow. I’ve walked it with my husband often, two of our four daughters and a friend or two. I’ve strolled it, struggled it, marched it, rambled it depending on my state of health, wellness and fitness at any given time. I’ve shocked the cobwebs out of my musty mind and I’ve slain the anxiety that sometimes sets in when you spend too much of your life on your own.
Along the way are trees, of course – its a mixed disiduous and coniferous forest which forms part of the landscape of the lightly populated but widespread commune of Tremouille. It straddles Cantal and Puy de Dome the next departement north in the Auvergne. The trees are blanketed in mosses and laced with lichens and many sport Conks of differing flavours. Fungi are positively frenzied whenever the weather is warm and damp, flowers abound in spring and summer and for a while we are graced with the lovely lillies that float like lanterns on the water. There are deer and boar and smaller animals too, of course, and bugs and beasties and birds. I don’t necessarily, in fact rarely ever see any of them. I just know they are there and I get a sense of great harmony with my earthly companions. There is a pit along the way which we believe to be a wolf-trap having seen one identified as such before. I remember the old fellow who told me there are wolves but if I see one to please not tell for fear of man going into panic overdrive and destroying them all over again. The ultimate maligned of creatures wolves are. I find it to be the most peaceful of interludes walking under the changing canopy passing rushing water hurling itself over rocks and lacing and tracing to the lake’s edge.
The very first time I walked it and several times after, I happened past a farm which I silently christened ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ and briskening my step, hoisted The Bean into my arms as we were pursued by a hunting dog, it’s deep bass hoot echoing behind us in that particular combination of folorn and forceful that is peculiar to these dogs. On every mound and trailor and joining the hootathon with laudible vigour were other dogs. A pack numbering a couple of score at a guess. The farmer bellowed valiantly at his escapee to come back. To no avail as it buttoned its ears soundly and carried decisively on. It seemed an eternity before it eventually deigned to give up on us. It was, therefore with deep joy that I discovered some months later that I had no need to pass Cold Comfort Farm at all – I had missed a mark and had been moaning falsely about the length of time spent on the road since in truth you veer straight off the road almost as soon as you come on it, penetrating back into the woods above the farm. The farm itself looks so much prettier viewed from aloft with its magnificent backdrop of les Monts du Cantal and les Monts du Cezallier beyond. Turn 180 degrees, by the way, and you get les Monts d’Or just in case two handsome ranges aren’t enough for your greedy self – I’m a self confessed glutton for mountains so the third is a welcome bonus. After making this momentous discovery we had a couple unpeturbed walks before the darned dog spotted our game and hared across the road (it’s a very tiny one car a day kind of minor road so don’t panic on her behalf) to pursue us through the woods. It’s a small price to pay. We play the game whenever we do the walk. She follows us, The Bean feigns alarm, I walk resolutely onwards ignoring her and when she gets to a particular tree she slings her undercarriage downwards, takes a long and purposeful pee and goes home. The Bean nips back and over-pees the pee. We are all happy. It doesn’t take much.
PS: For the avoidance of doubt and because the seeds of uncertaintly have been sewn in me by Two Brains when I read the ongoing to him – it’s the DOGS that pees at that particular tree. Not me. I save mine til I’m safely round the bend – which is my favoured default in life.
The title is Wordsworth from ‘Tintern Abbey’. I chose it for two reasons …. that Wordsworth was of the Lake District and this area resonates with us as strikingly similar to that beauteous region of England. And the poem is written about a walk – with his sister at the magical ruins of Tintern.
Lovely descriptions and you sound to be in very similar countryside to mine – here on the Aude/Ariege border. I must get Java script and get the full benefit. Thanks.
You should be able to see some pictures now – I have put some up as a tiled gallery. I will use the rest in a new post when I am back in France where the wifi is so much better! In answer to your comment – I know your area well and it is absolutely beautiful. There are some similarities but some marked differences too. I enjoy the windows onto your A-A world very much!
As I am now well into the throws of packing, and trying to design wedding invitations/menu plans, I have ‘flagged’ this post to read at leisure – where and whenever leisure arrives – want to do it justice, as I am sure that it will be worth it xxx
Whenever you can I hope it will be worth it but I do rather think you have more important things on your mind just now! WEDDING!!!!!!! Lots of love 🙂 xx
Lovely post with great pictures. Will hope to be able to watch with java tomorrow
Hi there! I’ve taken the pictures down as they were not loading properly. Am now working to resolve the issue and will re-post so hopefully you might be able to see them some time!!
I’ve loaded a selection of pictures and hope you will enjoy them – the rest will be used in a separate post when I am back home in France with decent broadband – quite ironic that I live in middle of no-where there and the wifi is better than in Oxford!!
Wow allot of walking! Love the pictures that you are sharing! I cannot see all of the pictures but the ones I see are amazing! I guess I need another program to view some of them! You are always entertaining in your descriptions!hahaha
Luckly I love walking, Lyn! I have technical issues and that explains the irritating lack of photos but I am working to resolve it so hopefully you will be able to share them all soon. Glad you enjoyed the script at least – entertaining in one way at least!
So I’ve loaded a selection of pictures and will use the others in a new post when I am back to a decent broadband speed – my mothers is about as sprightly as she is!
Are you now in the UK? I am so glad everything is going well! 🙂
Yes – here til tomorrow and then driving back to France with husband, youngest daughter and dog! Just had lunch with eldest and third daughter 🙂 I’m back to the US at the end of the month. I feel quite globetrotting!!
You are so busy I cannot keep track of you! have a safe trip!
My dream is to settle down – hopefully next year!
I too do not have java, so was a bit isappointed that I could not see the slideshows, but your writing made it come live and I enjoyed the walk with you.
Claudette, hi and that you for taking the time to drop by and comment. It’s a wifi issue and I am working to resolve it so hopefully you will be able to see the pictures soon 🙂
That would be lovely 🙂
I’ve now resolved the issue and am loading all the pictures back into the library ready to make new galleries tomorrow …. Little steps but I WILL get there!
So – some pictures are in …. I’ll sort the rest into a new post when I get home to civilisation and decent bandwidth!
I shall go and check them out.
Delightful to join you on your rambles, dear Osyth! Thanks for showing us around (although I also had some difficulty with the slideshows!) I find with photos the really hard thing is not taking them but curating them – it can take me hours just to find and pick a couple. That’s a lovely cover pic by the way!
Oh Mel! I’m working with horribly slow internet which explains the problems with the photos but it may be a while before I can sort it which is frustrating. Never mind – there’s always a next time! I’m so glad you enjoyed the walk and at least could see my favourite which is the one I used for the cover!
Lovely post, very descriptive. Sounds like ideal walking country. Hope you can sort out the pictures soon.
Thank you Susie! That’s very kind of you. I, on the other hand am not feeling kind towards IT today which I rather think is something you will relate to 😉
Your writing is brilliant, lyrical and descriptive! The pictures are breathtaking! Beautiful! Next best thing to being there.
Thank you so much … You are far too kind 🙂
Do you write for a living? You have a beautiful grasp of language.
It’s my occupation these days though living might be a stretch ….. Thank you for the generous compliment – it’s hugely appreciated 🙂
Wonderful photo. Glad we got that part right about the dog and peeing. What a nice wander, lyrically speaking. Cheers —
Ha! I felt crystal clarity was called for in the interests of personal dignity!
Hi Fiona, the galleries only use Java if you choose the slideshow option so I rarely use as so many people have issues with it, especially on tablets. All the other gallery options are ok. We usually use the mosaic option on our blogs, or the straight thumbnails set to large.. Get back to me via my contact page if you are still having issues.
That’s really kind! In fact part of the issue is also wifi …. I’ve been with my mum who had the speed of an anaesthetised sloth in her village!
Love the words, love the pictures, and the posts. Keep them coming.
Thank you Arby – your support is much appreciated. All the best for Christmas to you 🙂
In case you can’t hear me, I am, in a loud, but not obnoxious voice, saying ‘Bravo – Bravo!!” beautiful pictures, and it so warms my heart to share the beautiful mountains of France, which I secretly love from afar….Merci my friend for warming my heart this morning….Have a very Merry Christmas……xxkat
Thank you dearest Kat! I’m glad to cheer you any day … Merriest of Merries to you and Happiest of Happies too 🙂 xx
Absolutely gorgeous scenery around there Fiona, I am as ver kidz say “Well Jel!!” You will have to promise to take me on some of these walks when I finally make it over to see the stunning scenery for myself.
I honestly do believe that this needs a TW3 affair all over it and you are bound to make it much more interesting than my Sunday Strolls used to be….!
Go for it I say!!
I loved your Sunday Strolls as it happens. But that sounds like a challenge and I rather like the idea 😉 The scenery is a gift and yes, you will, I believe really enjoy discovering what we have to offer when you get here!
I shall be booking that ticket…. One day….!
All good things come in good time 🙂
And they will….You never know, I may even ask to bring a “special” friend… 😉
*grins quietly to self* ….. I would LOVE that – it’s the inner fairy godmother in me 😉
Me too “Beams Broadly to self…” 🙂
These are just wonderful Osyth. I shall go back and savour them over the next few days while we are away in LA for Xmas. So many paintings here 🙂 Speaking of which I hope you are watching out for the mailman. Sending you warmest wishes for the holidays and wishing you and your family the happiest of New Years
Have a fabby dabby doozly time in LA …. the pictures on this post in the end had to just be what I could get loaded. there are more and many that I prefer but the upload speed at my aged mothers house made her look like Speedy Gonzales! I’m very much looking forward to Mister Mailman bringing my special pressie and will be hooting loudly when he does. Finally – Happiest of Happy Christmas’s to you and your family and all that you wish for (even the bits you shouldn’t really but can’t resist hankering after) in the New Year 🙂
Hi dearest, I hope it is ok that I put your picture, tell me if you object, thanks for always being there, http://lynzrealcooking.com/2015/12/26/nearest-and-dearest/
Of course it is …. I’m really flattered 🙂 x
I am so glad 🙂
Hi Osyth..just ran through your blog..it is a very pleasant blog infact..I found your blog on Lynz’s features..I have to say these pictures are really very beautiful ☺
Thank you, Lina … I’m glad you like the pictures (there are more and some better which I will feature separately but I had some frustrating internet issues in the run up to Christmas which was not a happy collision!) I love Lyn’s blog so I’m doubly happy it led you to mine 🙂
*****Bonne Annee***** my French Friend…may all your dreams for the new year happen big time for you!!!!! kat
Et a vous aussi, my lovely US Friend …. I have news to share as soon as we have drunked and clunked the New Year in but in the meantime I wish you and your loved ones the happiest of Happy New Year’s and love, laughter and content aplenty in 2016 🙂 x
Wonderful, wonderful photographs. Cantal looks exquisite.
Why, thank you lovely lady!
bonne année jolie dame! <3
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yeah, I do believe que "la Nature peut tout et fait tout…"(Montaigne) – an endless source of inspiration for us all, but can it also be a vector of artistic expression?!… THAT is LA question… 🙂
And Happy New Year to you and yours, lovely lady 🙂
Thank you – it’s a lovely place 🙂