Hiking in the Durdogne – Day 1 – Souillac to Carlux

I woke to thunder showers, but the rain stopped by the time I left my hotel. As is often the case when you start a walking trip, it took a surprising amount of time to leave the town of Souillac behind. I had one of those classic false starts to a day of hiking. I was following the (old, made by a random French guy) Google map for the Grande Randonnée #6 trail–part of a national network of hiking trails. I ended up stuck to a thorn bush behind a ruined church.

I returned to the road and found another spot to join the trail. It began as a rutted dirt road passed walnut orchards and corn and sunflower fields. Eventually, the trail led into the woods, where I was happy for the shade.

There were some bugs buzzing around, so I tried to apply some Off insect repellant. I’d brought an old can from our house in Argeliers and all the aerosol had leaked out. So, like a caveman, I broke it open with a rock and rubbed the inert liquid to my arms and legs.

The woods were the kind I associate with much of Western Europe: small deciduous trees and little ground cover mean that you can see a long way in all directions. They’re the sort of woods you see in every medieval film, where poorly-concealed bandits lurk behind every skinny tree. There were signs—old walls and terraces—that the woodland had once been cultivated fields.

I saw the biggest beetle I’d ever seen in my life. A male stag beetle, out for a walk. Hiking pole for scale.

Later I saw this horse, and my mediocre iPhone camera stumbled onto an unexpected exposure, like Instagram circa 2016.

I didn’t encounter a single other hiker. I was definitely the first person to use the trail today, as I destroyed the overnight work of a thousand spiders (and gave a few of them the journey of their short, arachnid lives). Being alone is big part of why I do these walks, so I was grateful that I only saw the very occasional farmer.

I stopped at a campground for more water—unfortunately, the snack bar was very much fermé. Later I detoured to go to Les Jardins de Cadiot, just outside of my destination. They were this sprawling gardens in a valley. I didn’t linger overly long, but did get some more water.

I reached Carlux at about 2pm. It’s a tiny hill town—one bakery, one hotel/restaurant, one store—with sloping, narrow streets. Its population is 627.

I scrounged in the tiny grocery store to assemble a lunch—the morning’s leftover croissants, donut peaches and La Vache qui Rit.

I’ll eat in the hotel restaurant tonight and leave at 08:00 to beat the heat. There’s a forecast of heavy rain overnight, so hopefully tomorrow’s trail section isn’t too muddy.


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