Day 130: It gets better

August 18

Golinhac to Conques    23km Ascent 400m Descent 800m

Blue skies once again 

Yet another perfect morning walking through the forest. I happened to glance to my left and there, standing absolutely still in the shadows, was Gandalf’s horse:

It was a four church day today. As the day heats up the churches become a wonderful refuge of coolness and shadow. This was the prettiest of them:

I have no idea from the outside what lies inside any churchThis type of spire is the typical in these parts. 

I took a wrong turn today and had to retrace my steps for five minutes. These pilgrims didn’t make that stupid mistake. I had followed a red and yellow marking instead of the red and white one. Stupid of me. They do have big boots. 

There have been many roadside crossed in the last few days. Probably one every half hour. They are all shapes and sizes. In addition I spotted this one made with a stick and a rosary hanging off a random tree trunk:

The little villages have been stunning again today. I stopped for a coffee:

This was the view down the street from my chair on the terrace:

Some of the houses have oh so colourful flowers:

The small villages are so beautiful 

There is that typical spire again. 

An old farmhouse building. 

The countryside is very pretty:

Along the roads there has been an attempt to provide a sort of pavement / walking lane for the pilgrims with the ubiquitous scallop shell symbol

Drivers are warned with these signs:

Tonight I am camping and I am having a tourist day tomorrow. I am exploring –

One of the major monuments of architectural and cultural heritage that line the route to Santiago de Compostela,

Expect tomorrow’s post to be full of culture!

But first there is dinner. This campsite is by the river in the bottom of the valley. The village is 250 ft uphill. I know it’s not a problem for someone of my fitness but I thought I would make do with the little cafe on the campsite tonight. Remember that this is France!
The burgers are a local speciality called FarƧous and made with chard.  They are very nice. 
In the pot is Aligot. Potatoes, cheese, garlic. Another local dish. 
Oh well. I’ll manage I suppose. 


Day 129: More CultureĀ 

August 17

Espalion to Golinhac   25km

Someone said they liked lots of photos………

Last night in town there were a lot of people sat at benches eating and drinking. It is the consequence of travelling in a strange land and not understanding the language that I never did work out what was happening. 

This morning the mist was low

This type of weather is good walking weather. It was cool. 

The church of St Pierre de BessouƩjouls is:

One of the oldest churches on the route, 11th-century chapel of Saint-Michel on first floor of bell tower, with 9th-century altar and interesting capitals.

The ground floor:

Then up some narrow stairs in the bell tower:To this little chapel:

Just lovely. I thought this statue of the virgin was most unusual – nice to see a statue smiling. 

Just around the corner I came across this happy chap:He has a pretty substantial walking staff! (that’s the old church in the background). Somehow he reminds me of a Monty Python character. 

The local stone has changed again into something that looks like sandstone. 

The buildings in the villages have a wonderful warm feel

As I passed the church in the background there was the sound of singing coming out of the open door. It was a lovely sound. 

There was a sign in a village a few days ago asking pilgrims to be quiet whilst passing through the village. Of course I can understand that the inhabitants don’t want shouting or singing or other loud noises. It hadn’t struck me before, though, that the sound of walkers sticks could be annoying. They do make a clack, clack, clack, clack sound when used on tarmac. I can see that the constant background noise of this could quite put you off having a quiet Sunday afternoon doze. I make sure I carry mine now when going past houses. 

I tried to count Pilgrims today and the count came to 14. There are a few less now that the bank holiday weekend has ended. I was told that the section I am on now to Conques (which I reach tomorrow) is the most popular and numbers will dwindle after this. I wonder. 

The mist cleared and the sun emerged. It was really hot so I got out my trusty umbrella. One walker said to me that it seemed a really good idea. Others just smirked at it!

I was walking along the River Lot

To the lovely village of Estaingwith its chateau and old church. As I crossed the bridge I spotted this guy fishing over the wall. Can you make him out? If he ever hooks anything he will have a devil of a job landing it that distance. 

The small town was very pretty

The old church:

With some lovely stained glass: 

And the tourists in the cafes of course. 

Walking back over the bridge to continue my route – another wonderful vegetable patch. 

In the heat of the afternoon the path went up and up and up until I was on top of the world (and dripping in sweat). I noticed the sound of cicadas in the heat. I haven’t heard these for a while. 

It was sweltering but thankfully there was some forest shade

The Gite is clean and friendly. Roll on 7pm and dinner. 

Oh I forgot this pic. I think this is a new flower. I don’t remember seeing it before