Tony, Tim, Betsy & Ray's (not forgetting Geoff) 2014 Camino

GR65 (France), GR11 & Camino del Norte (Spain)


28.05.14 Wednesday. Montreal to Eause. A good night sleep for all including the 3 frenchmen sharing our dormitory we hope. General opinion was we were marginally ahead on the ronflement. We are on the road at 8.15 down the zig zag path at the back of the church. The paths are drying afyer no rain in the night and the walking is easy compared with the last few days. A disused railway track and we are cruising after zig zaging again though rows of vines scattered across the fertile countryside. We heard no cuckoo yesterday and only one in the distance today. With the end of May the old rhyme seems to be correct. However we have heard occasional hoppoes poop pooping away. We arrive in Eause via the flood exit from the campsite it seems a bit deserted but there is more or less hot water in the toilet block so we make or selves at home after an easy three and a half hours walk.Tony takes his new soap bought by Ray and Tim two days ago to the toilet block for a shower, remarks about exfoliation and bits of stuff in the soap are largely ignored, he needed soap it was the only single bar available the rest were triple packs and not to be carried or two thrown away. He will be really clean for the next 400km. Some serious planning for stops and food over the next two days takes place and we are of to find out what the centre of Eause is like. Quite nice, though may be not up to the claims on the sign on the railway track into town. It starts to rain there is a bar at hand in a 15th C building previously owned by Jeanne d' Albrecht we may find out who she was later. The Leclerc supermarche on the way back alows us to spend more time indoors and we get back to our tents laden with food for the next two days. The campsite is nomonally open, painting and cleaning are in progress we wonder if anyone will bother to come out in the rain to collect our euros. Clothes are festoonef about our small tents and cooking tonight will be in the toilet block. Tim's lamb and two beans with the rosemary pickef yestetday from outside the church in Montreal. 16km 300 m up and down


27.05.14 Tuesday Condom to Montreal en Gers.. A quiet afternoon inn the campsite free of rain allows somw removal of mud from hear and general dryimg out. Rain threatens so someone is aeays on watch while others sjhop 10mins away in a large supermarket. Rain faild to materialise so with a short etape (stage) we start off late through rolling countryside which is still a little moist from yesterdays rain. We csn not get into the gite booked by Betsy yesterday until 1400 but a beer in the main square an arcaded bastide in the sun allows drying off of the dew on tents. On the way we hear a hoopoe but fail to spot him and see a green woodpecker take off. There is also a bridge built for pilgrims probably originally in 12th C but redone a couple of times. The gite de compostela in Montreal is owned by a German lady who will be off on her own Camino on the North coastal route like us but in the autumn when trade falls off. We are coming up to a part of the route with less recognised campsites and a few blank spots but the lady in the tourist office confirms that the sports stadium and gite comunale in Nogarro do allow pilgrim camping this is just as well, although the national holiday in two days when we expect to be there still may make things interesting. 16.5km 300m up and down.


26.05.15 Monday La Romieu to Condom. It started to rain as we went to bed last night it rained on and off all night and continued until 1600 today. Thus a short 15km walk became a bit of a struggle through wet and slippy mud. Good deed for the day was the pointing in the correct direction by Ray and Tim of a French couple who going the wrong way back up the GR65. We never did discover why but they were grateful when we met them outside the cathedral in Condom. While this was going on Betsy and Tony were ensconced in a delightful donativo gite having a very good cup of coffee. The others were summoned by text and joined them having just been correcting a minor navigational error themselves. In fainess to all concerned the usual very high standard of route marking had deteriorated temporarily and theads down in the rain did not help. Eventually we arrived in Condom, 3/4 shut of course it being Monday but find an excellent meal opposite the cathedral of salmon tarte salad and cassoulet. Condom cathedral quiet impressive high vaulted ceilings and lots of stonework. The other high point on a fairly dismal day was the finding by Ray in a sink on the campsite of an Emperor moth. Who was rescued and put in a quiet place by Betsy. Currently we are trying to dry tents and washing before the next downpour is due.


25.05.14 Sunday Castet Arouy to La Romieu. The tiny village of Castet has a gite communale in the old school and housed about 17 pelerin last night, evening meal is in the restaurant 25m away and breakfast in the extensive kitchen in the gite. We wake early make coffee and eat and are off by 7.15 we have 30 +km to go to La Romieu the town of the cats, there is a chance of a Double Geoffrey but it is not to be, a near miss after a valiant attempt by the whole party we arrive gasping in the town square by the colleigium of cannons at 15.15. We count stone cats and can see 9 from the bar. The town had in the medieval past a lot of cats and decided to be rid of them apart from the one hidden by a young girl. This resulted in a plague of rats and the town begging for the girl's cat to save them. They are thus immortalised in stone all over the town. Ray and Betsy visit the colleigium cloisters and climb the tower Tony and Tim shift to the campsite and claim pilgrim rates for the nights stay. As those following this blog may have realised there was a break of service for a couple of days repaired and replaced by Jane at home in Somerset, many thanks for that Jane. All the usual flora and fauna including what were probably some largecarp splashing in a plan d'eau we passed and some more of the conical purple orchids mixed with ox eye daisies in a meadow. 31km 700m up 600m down.


24.05.14 Saturday Valence to Castet Arrouy. The rain holds off while we cook and eat it rains in the night but the tents are fine snd its not raining in the morning and a grand morning passing through several lovely old towns and a lot of cherry grovese several selling cherries at the path side. Coffee appears in an old town called Auvillar and later beer and we arrive early at at the gite which has a washing machine that we take full advantage of the weather is kind and most of the washing is dry by evening. We find out we could have camped at the gite for less and who knows what the snores will be like tonight we may have slept better. 26.5km 600m up 550m down. A Geoffry was recorded.

24.05.14 Sn Average Day

24.05.14 05 Friday Mouissac to Valence. It is a clear night the blackbirds stop talking at dark and very occasional trains pass about 1km away, so a good night is had by all. The tents sre slightly moist with the dew from the Tarn that is about 10m away.We have coffee and get our breakfast in a patisserie that claims to be famous for the towns macaroons, a bench just outside town provides space for us to eat it. Tim is looking forward to an Average day (as defined by Tony when Ray rather plaintively asked having dealt with his blisters, 20km) and flat along the canal. The others have a different agenda, a variante takes us up the nearest steep hill before rolling up and down over some lovely countyside. We are descending for the final time back to the canal now by the Garonne, it having joined the Tarn about 4km below Moissac when we are over flown by a flight of French army helicopters on their way to a mock (we hope) battle we can hear in the distance. As if to reject military intervention it starts to rain but not for long. We come back down to the canal at Malause and get coffee but find the route back to the towpath on the opposite bank is blocked, a bridge is in the throes of replacement. An extra kilometer and the Average day is looking a bit stressed and it seems Tony a bit like certain UK Education ministers would like to see no days below average! But after a few more km and lunch at a lock gate that operates to allow a boat past with no human intervention. The team decides the locks are operated by a man in Dusseldof over the internet, Ray finds this unacceptable for many reasons and would like to reconvene the age of the horse. Or the donkey! It starts to rain again as we arrive at the municipal campsite outside Valance, which is of course on the opposite bank of the canal. Rapid erection of tents occurs and a wait for better weather while showering and the doing of minimal washing takes place. Now time to think about food Again. 22.5km 500m ascent 510m descent


21.05.15 Wednesday. Gamel to Lauserte. Really a very nice gite/chambre d'hote a good meal quiche sausage and lentils, the lentils with cumin and herbs. Cheese and fresh cherries from the garden. Plenty of local vino malbec and merlot. A dark quiet night with petit dejuner at 7am gets us ready for the off and soon we are racing the wind, or being blown around by it ad it gradually strengthens over the morning. We know there is a cold wet frontal system quietly drowning Bordeaux but the meteo men seem unable to send it our way. We march acrossthe limestone scenery that is necoming lower and more farmland, unfortunately the rain lsdt night has left the hround in a clingy state and it builds up to a certain level and then drops off. Tony snd Tim teminoss about a similar day on their first camino when Geof joined them for an awful fsy when he hot bitten by mossies and exaggerated tales of the depth pf mud prevoously adhering to boots are told. We pass a restored chapel with 13 th C friezes on the ceiling and and Betsy spots a butterfly just hatching from a cocoon later thought to be a Cream spot tiger moth. Eventually we arrive in a warm moist gale at the campsite below Lauserte ....... to find it closed apparently recently and in a hurry Perhaps this is just as well we rise up the syeep hillside to the top of this very defensible town and find the tourist office who are surprisingly helpful and book us in to the gite communal only a street away. The rain is aproaching so we go out to find food and have just bought wine nuts and tomorrows lunch the skies open we dive into the bar opposite result!!!! its still raining and set for a few hours. 23km 640m up 700m down

20.05.14 Tuesday

20.05.14 Tuesday Cahors to Gamel. An early night and a dry dawn, we rise pack and race/stumble according to ability, down to the bus stop for the first little bus of the morning. It is driven by the same lady as yesterday who bids us a cheerful bonjour and bonne journee. We get giant pain au chocolate at a patisserie 4 for price of 3 (whats french for bogof? ) and head out across the medieval fortifief bridge spanning the Lot Charlemaine Chrissy and Patricia are already there having not had to come in from 2km out off town. These are the three ladies travelling together 2 from SA and one from Canada who we keep meeting along the way who will hence forth be known as CC&P. We are all impressed by the bridge and even more depressed by the vertical cliff up which go the steps we must follow. A bit of a climb later we are back on top of the limestone Causse thst wr stay on with the frequent orchids raptors and a charm or goldfinches feeding on seeds already starting to ripen in the dry fields up here. Some of which have already been mown for hay. We manage a couple of coffee stops along the way but have had enough by the time we arrive at our booked lodging for the night. This is a very nice converted barn with its own pool which everyone but Tony, who claims a note from his mother, goes in very briefly. It is still not very warm. With rain forecast tonight and tomorrow we are glad even at the price to have found this place wild camping in the rain with no prospect of home is not fun. 27km 740m gained 620m lost.


19.05.14 Monday La Peche to Cahors. After a meal (cassoulet) a good night for most of us in a dormitory with us four and three pleasant ladies two from SA and one Canadienne, though thete were some complaints of snoring, the walk in to Cahors is not too bad and is enlivened by a donkey party with a French family walking. The usual avians and flora sre seen as well as s good view coming down the shoulder to the bend in the Lot that protects the ancient city of Cahors. Over tje bridge with a route of bronze scallop shells and we are in the old quarter. After the usual visit to torment ladies in the tourist office who deny all knowledge of a town 50 km away but are very pleasant and helpful we find the great little free bus that wanders the back streets of Cahors narrowly missing wing mirrors snd pedestrians, this drops us about half a km from the campsite on the outskirts of town past the extensive rugby pitchs. We check in and return to town, we are early enough at 1240 for a proper French lunch. Our combined camino experiemce pays off amd Tony soon spots a Menu de jour for 12 euros. We get soup, carrots grated with a touch of horseradish, roast chicken with pasta, a great cheese board and dessert with wine complete. We are well fed by the end amd wander roud the cathedral and cloisters in a surfieted daze before shoppng for a light salad for the evening and the little bus back to the campsite. Althougj the day is a bit cloudy and not as hot as yesyerfay we are glad to wash clean and crash out by the tents hopefully there is time for drying clothes as there is rain on the way. Tomorrow there is no camping and hopefully we will be under cover for the rain. Today. 13km up 300 down 430m

18.05.14 Dolmen with a Causse.

18.05.14 Sunday Limoges en Quercy to Le Peche Labourgade. Another hot day across the Causse de Limoges sees some new orchids icluding a bee orchid spotted by Betsy. A cross roads in the shade provides a pair of donkeys to be talked to by Betsy and birdsong which may well be a nightingale. Earlier there is a dolmen at which the team worship otherwise the day warms up steadily and many more butterfies are on the wing.We find a Gite de equestre with no one with a horse staying and are made very welcome with biere on an honesty box at 1euro a pop. Tomorrow is Cahors with its dark red black Malbec based wine recomended by Peter the Great.