This Monday the GPS was sulking. It refused to acknowledge the three villages nearest to the etang I had found. Eventually we put in a town further on and hoped we could wing it when we got closer. The etang was part of a 9km walk, one of several ‘fiches’ I had downloaded when researching online. A bit of a push for us nowadays but when I saw the route went around the etang de lachamp I realised we could probably do just that bit. Further googling showed the pond to be popular with walkers and photographers and even had a Facebook page. And there was car parking.
According to Meteo France last Monday was carrying an orange alert for ‘canicule’, heatwave, so a short walk was a sensible option and it appeared to be mostly under trees so a shady one too. The GPS took us towards Tulle which seemed to be an odd direction as too far east but maybe the roads were less twisty. The winging bit worked, mainly because I had studied Google earth to be able to identify the nearest roundabout and the turning (unobtrusive) for the etang. As we drove down the narrow lane a red squirrel ran into our path and dithered, thus giving us time to identify it and comment how few we see, sadly. A car park appeared on our right but without much shade so ‘I’m only the chauffeur’ pulled over against some overgrown hawthorn bushes just past s hidden no entry sign!
A few people were walking to and from the direction of the water as we sorted ourselves out. At the etang’s edge we read the information board and opted for an anti clockwise perambulation.
As the track ran under the trees we began to notice several people fishing and some cars drove past to a small picnic area. They knew something we didn’t or a fishermen’s perk?
A well worn path dived downwards and got narrower as it took us over tree roots close to the water. It was lovely and cool under the trees and I didn’t really need my big sunhat.
Further on, we moved away from the water and walked through a marshy clearing littered with fallen trees, some not quite fallen and resting on others still upright. Storm damage or deliberate?
At a t-junction of paths we turned left. I suspect the right turn would have taken us onto the continuation of the 9km route I had rejected. We were still walking amongst fallen trees and random logs moving away from the etang.
I was beginning to feel depressed by the apparent neglect of the woodland. Recently, our walks had taken us through beautifully managed forests. I wasn’t wanting manicured nature, just not this sometimes quite savage destruction.
Another left turn and the water began to reappear. I could hear a duck away out in the middle near some small, tree covered islands. Apart from a few small butterflies there was little wildlife and hardly any flowers. There were two girls walking with dogs ahead of us somewhere so maybe everything was hiding!
There were tree roots underfoot again to negotiate but lovely views across the water.
We caught up the girls and their dogs as they took a short cut across some duckboards. They told us the path carried on so we did too. A little further on and we had a duckboard bridge of our own to cross over another marshy place. Looking at the map there are three tiny and young streams that run into the etang from different directions.
Now the path widened out with less obvious damage to the trees. Fishing pontoons were set up along the bank and Lou pointed out a large expanse of water lilies. I noticed the leaves of flag iris near the bank. It must look lovely in the spring.
The girls and their dogs had stopped at another wide picnic area with tables but we pressed on. Soon we were back at the notice boards with their list of ‘interdictions’ and a little story about the etang being the site of a people’s revolution just after the big Parisian one. That would explain why ‘my’ randonnee was called ‘le chemin de la revolte’
Another sign told us the etang was managed naturally. So maybe all that apparent neglect and destruction is all part of some grand plan. I do hope so.
Meanwhile Lou had identified a place in the carpark that offered some shade so we quickly moved ourselves and the car to take advantage of it.
There is a pony club alongside the car park so our picnic was eaten surrounded by grazing horses. With no one else around it was very pleasant under our oak tree watching the ponies and wondering what criteria led to them being split up into several paddocks. The white mare and a delicate foal was pretty obvious!
Picnic and pause and then our choice of the way home via St Ferreole and Malemort. More reason for the gps to sulk.
postscript – just a few minutes after we arrived home some friends turned up with Blighty goodies from their recent trip. Branston pickle for him and Tick Tock redbush tea for me. Perfect end to a good day….