This week I left Stephen to enjoy the bracing walk and scramble up to the arche perdue while I looked after the toddler at home, and beavered away on my book, but last week, as school had not quite started back, I persuaded the two older boys to join me for the weekly Monday full-day walk.
Prospects looked good for a sunny day once the mist lifted, but it was the iciest morning so far, for the walk around the hills between St Ferriol and St Just-le-Bezu.
Tomos would have loved some of the drinking water, but the spout was completely plugged with ice.
The backpack Oliver got for Christmas from his uncle and aunt came in use – but he made Tomos carry it…
The walk out of St Ferriol was hairy, the road covered in thick frost. On the square where we parked, the black ice was treacherous. At least you could see and avoid this lot.
The sun was just grazing the tops of the trees as we made our way up through the woods.
Horses had preceded us on the track through the woods out of town.
On our way to the roc de la dent (tooth rock), we took a short detour to a viewing point and the supposed site of ruins of a former watch tower. There was some dissent about whether it was ruins, or just rocks.
In any case, the view was worth the extra walk.
Finally, the much anticipated tooth rock (or rocks), which do look rather like molars, I admit. Claudine and John are obviously in deep discussion here about which teeth these are…
Nearby we spied, and some tried out a hunter’s hide for size.
Then, not long after, and bang on midday, just as we were getting a wee bit hungry, we emerged from the shaded woods to a sunlit clearing of grassy rolling fields, frost still evident on the damp side of the valley, where they hadn’t yet seen the sun.
There are worse places to picnic.
Tomos was happy to kick back for half an hour in the warmth of the sun, and then tried out some rolls down the hill. Great fun.
If you look closely you can see four griffon vultures circling above us out of a flock of about a dozen.
In St Just-le-Bezu, an interesting little star and half moon symbol is affixed to the door of an old house. What might this represent?
There is also a house for sale. Possibly a bit remote for us, I think, but tempting.
A memorial to the village’s war dead has brought all the tombstones together in ‘garden’ form. So many from just a few village families.
From St Just we descended via hill tracks to a mill near Ste Eugenie. An idyllic spot. Inhabited.
In the valley, where a strip of land had not yet seen the sun, the heavy frost and weather conditions had combined to produce this localised ‘frost haze’. An interesting phenomenon.
On the other side of the track the remains of an old lime kiln.
St Ferriol looks pretty from below, perched on the hilltop, with a view to distant mountains.
Then it’s back up to the village to close the loop, ending at the castle, which is now in private ownership. Three years ago, we saw the owners starting on the renovations. They appear to have made significant progress, with work still to be done. The posh car is still in the garage.
Vast bushes of lavender look just right against the old stonework.
Back to the car park at the Mairie via ancient lane ways, the roads not so frosty now. Another interesting day out.