Although we did not know it at the time, this was the last section of our walk, and it was a strange, segmented section consisting of three days of walking separated by several rest days.
Because of the fierce heat, we did not follow our intended route from Argentat to Beaulieu.
Instead of going over the top of the Xaintrie Noire, we took the small riverside road, which was slightly longer but looked flatter and shadier.
It worked well until the last couple of hours, when we had to drag ourselves along an ever-climbing road in the full midday sun, arriving at Beaulieu in a state of collapse. The next day we rested, spending a lot of time in a bar which, unusually for France, was air-conditioned.
Then we set off again, only to discover that we were no match for the hideous heat. We made it to St-Céré just in time to avoid Keith’s succumbing to heatstroke.
After that experience we found ourselves unable to go on for three days, but eventually we started off again, on a shorter route than we had intended, and with only a tiny tourist map to guide us.
Once again the heat was so extreme that we arrived at Lacapelle-Marival in great disarray.
Then we had a stroke of luck when a fellow drinker at the local café offered us a lift to Figeac the next morning, and after another rest day, with no prospect of a change in the weather, we decided to abandon the whole expedition and go home.
Day 13: Argentat-sur-Dordogne to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne
Rest day: Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne
Day 14: Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne to St-Céré
Three rest days: Saint-Céré
Day 15: Saint-Céré to Lacapelle-Marival
Previous section: Saignes to Argentat-sur-Dordogne