Walk the Route St Jacques – 16th June – 29th June 2011
We left Espalion soon after breakfast. Unfortunately the famous Vieux Pont (old bridge) was hidden by scaffolding:
Still, the early morning June sun was pleasant, the countryside was pretty, and group spirits seemed high.
About 4km into the day’s walk a small church started to make its presence felt:
It was located just above a stream, with a tree-covered hill behind it. Good feng shui! It turned out to be the pilgrimage church of Saint Pierre Bessuéjoules, built in the fourteenth century but with an eleventh century bell tower:
Plenty of time to explore; the less claustrophobic ramblers squeezed up the narrow stairs to the bell tower, while the rest of us examined the church monuments and posed for photos.
Then we were climbing again, staring down at stone-built villages:
Eventually, we reached a wood, and the ascent became more demanding:
Not long after this tough climb, our mid-day break.
Amazingly, I had forgotten to buy myself lunch. Luckily, one woman, who was always quietly and thoughtfully observant, noticed that I wasn’t eating and shared what she and her husband had brought for the picnic: oranges, bread, cheese and tomatoes.
When we got going again, it didn’t take long to reach a parting of the ways. Clive, our guide, pointed down the road and suggested that some people might want to walk the mile or so directly into Estaing, our next overnight stop. The rest of us would go with him on a short extension, climbing that hill over there to get good aerial views of the River Lot and the town. Thanks to that kindly act of sharing, I was able to choose the climb up to the viewing point instead of heading straight into Estaing to get something to eat.