It was meant to be a short walk followed by lunch and then, if we felt up to it, the rest of the walk.
It didn’t happen like that.
Firstly, the meteo told us it was going to be the hottest day of the year so far. Hmm, just the first part of the walk then. Secondly, when we arrived in Lissac, the departure point for this walk around the commune of Lissac et Mouret, there was no sign of ‘our’ walk on the information board outside the mairie.
There were four other walks, one of which bore the same name as the walk on the ‘fiche’ I was holding in my hand. No matter. The le fraysse walk on the notice board said it was facile, 6.5 km long and would take one hour and thirty-five minutes. Perfect. Just the right amount of walking to bring us back for lunch before the real heat of the day kicked in.
You can tell my nature tends to the optimistic! We got ourselves sorted, lots of water, sticks (thank heaven) and the copies of the map I had made. But I left the route of ‘my’ fraysse in the car. Bad move.
The blue balise was easy to find and we started to trudge up a steep hill away from the crossroads. Halfway up there was an expletive from the other half and back he went for his camera, forgotten and still in the car. I continued and dallied at the top taking photos of wayside flowers and a pretty view with a cross.
Up here we were amongst the older houses of the commune and there were lots of picturesque barns and drystone walls. We were to become well acquainted with them over the next ten minutes or so. The blue balises were still evident but kept sending us into front gardens or down grassy tracks to wire fences.
As we found ourselves having gone in a complete circle I made an executive decision. That trudge up the hill was also the first part of ‘my’ yellow route. Let’s follow that one and hope for more success. A fabulous kite flew low overhead and it seemed a good omen.
So off we went, comforted by the sight of a yellow balise painted on a telegraph pole. The track led down and I could remember the first bit of the instructions telling me that the road would become a grassy track and then a road again. And it did, so I was reassured that these yellow balises were ‘my’ yellow balises.
At the end of this first part we came back to the main road and were directed across it to a narrow low bridge crossing the Drauzou river.
I was amused by a ‘no swimming’ sign. The depth was just about sufficient for a paddle.
A young chap with his shoes off, deep in a book with headphones on, was sitting on the bank. There was a nice shady place just past him that might do for our lunch spot.
We turned right under the trees and I began to look out for the moulin de la fraysse but it was completely hidden although we could hear water tumbling over something, either a weir or the remains of its waterwheel. The path led us to our left and up between two fields. Up being the operative word. We had walked up, down and along one side of the river and the river was in a valley so common sense told us the other side of the valley would have to be climbed too. And climb we did
Looking back down…there was a lot more climbing to be done!
The path was easy to follow but upwards all the time. As we got to the edge of the woodland above the fields I pleaded for a stop to catch my breath.
Now the path ran along to our right. I was glad of our sticks which could hold back the brambles that tried to catch us and steady myself as we crossed large slabs of stone. This would be treacherous after rain, I decided, especially as the ground was littered with squashed wild plums. We came to a troop of sheep all huddled together in the shade of a tree. ‘I bet the ones in the middle are hot’, said Lou and laughed as he pointed out some more shade further along with not a sheep taking advantage of it. Sheep being sheep? I replied
Further on, still going up, we passed a tinkling ‘font’ on our right and a hamlet on our left. We were coming to Labadie, according to our map copies.
We left the brambles and squashed plums and walked (puffed) up a grassy slope towards a beautifully restored old house. From there we took the track on our left that linked the hamlet to le Causse St Denis. The clue is in the name. All our local causses are reached by climbing steep hills!
The road was still climbing but eventually it began to flatten. There was a turning on our right which, happily, our yellow balise ignored. The Pech de Saubie. I have never found a satisfactory translation for pech but peak seems about right!
Now the track was obviously going down gently through woodland. It was very pleasant and I was glad of my overly large floppy sunhat with its deep brim as the sun was hot and I was wondering if ‘Mr Mcgregor’s stomach was rumbling as it was well past one o’clock by now and he is franglofied enough to eat at midday normally.
Where the track joined the main road he was all for turning left and following it to Lissac but the yellow sign was saying go right. I suggested that, maybe, we had followed the yellow this far so why not give it a chance as it was sure to turn left soon and, hopefully, be more pleasant that walking beside the traffic in the sun. Sure enough, after a few metres there was the yellow bar on the back of a stop sign for a turning on our left. Further on at a fork between two roads in front of us there was a track leading away down the hillside. This isn’t on the map. I’ve looked. But there was a yellow sign on a telegraph pole! By now I had decided that ‘my’ le fraysse route was not a commune inspired walk. I had found it on the Figeac tourist site. Curious that the commune hadn’t thought to add it to their notice board though. Fit of pique?
Before plunging us back into woodland we had a lovely view across the Drauzou valley we had just crossed. It looks shallow but my knees could tell you different.
There goes Lou. He is shouting plums! The path got narrower and steeper and there were squashed plums again. We passed a couple of clusters of lovely old buildings where lanes came up from the main road and one had a magnificent covered well.
A dog behind a wire fence growled at me while I took pictures of a pretty wall.
As we slithered down the slope to the main road I noticed a portion of dry stone wall. Put there to hold the hillside back from the road below many years ago?
Once on the main road it was a only a short walk across the Drauzou again, not such a pretty bridge, and into the town. a left turn, up another steep slope(!), past the church and behind the mairie and back to the car parked next to the cemetery.
The car temperature read 47 degrees! And that hour and a half of walking had been two and half hours of walking. I needed my coffee! After drinking tepid water off we went to see if we could park in the shade by the pretty bridge. Sadly, the young lad was now stretched out asleep in ‘our’ spot.
Undeterred we turned for home. We knew of a couple of shady laybys set back from the road. So that’s where we ate lunch and i finally got my capuccino, in the shade of ‘les tilleuls’. We scorned the grass below the grove of lime trees, just in case, and set up our table and chairs behind the car. A little later a van pulled up in front of our car and let out a dog. The dog promptly used the grass. We were glad to be sat where we were. We were too knackered to move anyway!