Sunday, 3 July 2005
Distance 20 km
Duration 4 hours 15 minutes
Ascent 207 m, descent 361 m
Map 48 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
The day started well, with the luxury of apricots in our muesli (we usually forget to buy fruit), and deteriorated from then on. Our mistake was to leave the GR half-way through and try to make our own way.
According to our hostess, we could connect with the GR coming up from the town by going through the back gate and past a fitness circuit. We did that but could not find the red-and-white marks until we had gone most of the way back to Sarlat.
There were various people and dogs out for a Sunday walk and we strode along pleasantly through fields and woods, meeting again the horrid weaselly biting flies that lurk in damp forests.
We slapped our way through as quickly as possible and emerged at a sweet little hamlet called Maison Neuve. By this time we had left the GR6 and were on the GR64A, but not for long, as we intended to take a small road directly to Rouffillac.
Because I was not wearing my glasses, I did not notice a tiny white road on the map and the result was that we walked along it for a couple of kilometres, thinking it was the D704, although it did seem rather quiet for a D road. There was a ruined château that should not have been where it was, and then we came to GR marks again – the GR6 continuing its way to Carlux. All this was confirmed by a woman who came past in a car.
Looking back, we would have done better to take the GR6, but our minds were fixed on our previous plan, and no doubt addled by the heat, so we turned back to Maison Neuve.
By this time we were short of water but Keith scouted around and found a tap and we had a brief lunch stop.
The D704 was unpleasantly busy but we soon turned off on a pretty little side road that went most of the way to Rouffillac.
We had left it too late to enjoy the walk, however. The tar was melting in bubbles under our shoes, enough to resole them if they had needed it.
On and on we went, soaked in sweat, and finally had to cross a ploughed field and slither down an embankment into a bed of nettles, to reach the D road for the last kilometre round a rocky promontory, with the river on our right.
The first sight of Rouffillac revealed it as only a couple of buildings on the highway, but one of them was a hotel-bar-restaurant, so we were happy. Across the road was a sign “Camping 20m”.
We sank down under a big awning, ordered coffee and cold water and began to feel good.
Our little tent was soon adorning the bank of the Dordogne, our washing was strung up after a lovely hot shower and we collapsed for a luxurious sleep on the grass. Over the river we could see another camping ground and there were people on both sides wading in the water.
It was very shallow, so shallow that the canoe-hire companies were having trouble finding a channel deep enough for their boats, but the water was as clean as glass and swiftly flowing. We tottered in over the big round stones and floated down a bit, bumping over the bottom. It was delightful on such a baking hot afternoon.
The only other features of Rouffillac were a truckies café on the Carlux road, a Renaissance château high up in the forest (now a hotel) and a memorial to the dozen or so villagers killed by the Germans in the summer of 1944, probably on a warm sunny day like this one.
At 7:30 we went over to the hotel and had a glass of cold rosé, then a fine €10 menu, consisting of soup, then a Basque terrine, then cassoulet (which for Keith was his third in four days, but the first for me), and finally icecream and coffee.
The whole family (chef, waiter, mother, kids) came out for a chat, as we were the only diners. The tourist rush seems to be taking a while to begin in Périgord.