2014 Diary

Walking in France: On the way to Canet-de-Salars

On the way to Canet-de-Salars

A 31-day walk from Millau on the Tarn to St-Mathurin-sur-Loire.

This year we took a generally north-westerly route, quite at odds with our normal direction, which tends to be towards the south or south-west.

The consequence was that we crossed our previous tracks ten times, and had the pleasure of some degree of familiarity at these places. On the other hand, there was plenty of novelty in between.

The rounded hills of the Aveyron would have been delightful if we had been able to find anywhere to eat in the evenings, and if we had not fallen sick. As it was we had only one proper dinner in the first five nights, but after that things improved.

Walking in France: The wonderful boulangerie in Vouneuil

The wonderful boulangerie in Vouneuil

We had intended to have one continuous walk, but when we got to Rodez, we realised that it would be madness, as the next day required us to walk 36 kilometres along a rough, uninhabited gorge, and we were in a weakened state.

Instead we took two easy days to get to Espalion, which is on the pilgrimage from le Puy, and then went by public transport to Figeac (also on the pilgrimage), where we resumed our walk.

Having completed the Rocamadour variant of the Way of Le Puy, we struck off to the north, over the Dordogne and Vézère rivers, and eventually reached the Vienne at Aixe-sur-Vienne.

Walking in France: On an ancient trade route

On an ancient trade route

The second half of our walk was beside this beautiful river. We followed it all the way to its confluence with the Loire, passing many fine, flourishing towns that we had never heard of. The final two days were down the Loire to rejoin our earlier finishing point at St-Mathurin.

The weather was surprisingly mild and even rainy sometimes, which was a lot better than the torrid heat that we have suffered many times in the past.

For those who like statistics there is a spreadsheet that gives details of this walk.

This year we relied quite heavily on our own home-made maps for some sections of the walk, but we still carried TOP100s for the more straightforward parts. The details of how we made our maps can be found in Maps and Guides.

Our route for this year

The diary has been broken up in to the following sections:

Millau to Espalion

Figeac to Souillac

Souillac to Saint-Robert

Saint-Robert to Aixe-sur-Vienne

Aixe-sur-Vienne to Confolens

Confolens to Lussac-les-Châteaux

Lussac-les-Châteaux to Châtellerault

Châtellerault to Montsoreau

Montsoreau to Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire

To see icons for each night’s accommodation on this map, press the full screen symbol at the top right and then tick the accommodation icon box at the top left. Zoom in on a particular icon to see its precise location. These accommodation icons are also shown on all section maps.

You can also see this map using Google Earth and take a virtual flight along our route.

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