21 February 2019 – Cirque du Bout du Monde

This is a marked petite randonnée of about 9 km starting at the village of Gourgas and climbing more than 500 m. It is officially classed as Moyen Difficulté. For those who do not want to undertake such a significant climb a much shorter, flatter walk will also be possible, from the same starting point.

2015-03-05 11-09-45.JPG

This is a well-known circular walk, starting in the village of Gourgas. We have talked about doing this walk, but have never done it – it is well-marked, and a brochure is available from the tourist office.

The walk sets off west from the village, climbing continuously until it joins the GR route from Soubes, about half way up to the plateau. Some of this ascent is steep and stony – this is the most taxing part of the walk. From here we turn back towards the north-east, and then follow a long path at the same general level all the way round the bowl of hills behind the village. The path goes up and down a lot but stays half way up the hillside, below the cliffs. Finally there is a long descent back to the village, on wide forest tracks. The overall walk is about 9 km, and will take at least 3 hours.

The forecast for this week is good – sunny, not too hot and not too windy.

As usual we shall meet at the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walk will start from the signposted parking area in Gourgas, at about 10:20. We should be back in Lodeve by 15:00.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: 9 km, climb >500 m, sometimes steep
Bring: Good shoes, snack.

In addition: For those who do not want to undertake an arduous walk, there will also be a much easier walk starting from the same spot. This is a circular walk to St Etienne and back, about 5 km and climbing only 50 m, all on quiet roads. This group should be back in Lodeve by 13:00.

Leader: Martin
Distance: 5 km, climb 50 m


6 December 2018 – Pic de Vissou

This is an excellent though fairly hard circular walk of about 9 km, climbing from the vineyards of Cabrières to the top of the Pic de Vissou, more than 350 m above.

2017-03-05 15-53-49.JPGThis is a way-marked circuit that includes the whole of the ridge between the two peaks of Vissou. Starting in the valley it ascends to the north end of the ridge, from where we turn south and climb to the main peak (excellent views). We then follow the ridge south-west past the lower peak, before descending back to the valley. It is the central section of the ‘Crêtes de Vissou’ walk, for which a brochure is available from tourist offices in the area. The walk is mostly on good tracks and paths, but there are some steep, stony sections, both ascending and descending, where good shoes will be important. The walk takes about 4 hours, so we will stop for a picnic break (hot drink?) somewhere at the top.

The weather is forecast to be mostly cloudy, and perhaps a bit windy at the top, but with no rain and a comfortable temperature for walking.

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 09:50 ready to leave at 10:00. We should start the walk at about 10:40, from the walkers car park on the D15 just after the bridge over the Boyne river, before you get to the village itself. We should be back in Lodeve by 16:30.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: 9 km
Climb: 550 m
Bring: Good Shoes, Picnic

28 June 2018 – St Martin de l’Arçon

This is an all-day walk in the hills to the north of the Orb/Jaur valley, below the heights of Le Caroux and L’Espinouse, on the eastern flank of the Heric gorge. At about 8 km it is not a particularly long walk, but a hard one, with a long ascent up a steep hillside, rising over 500 m, and a long descent on a stone path.

This week we propose a fairly hard walk in the hills beyond Lamalou-les-bains. It is about 8 km long and will take about 3 hours of good walking, ascending about 500 m to a peak at about 700 m. Much of the ascent involves scaling the steep sides of the Gorges d’Heric, on a proper marked path that zig-zags up the hillside. We will stop for a picnic at the top!

The forecast is for a mostly sunny day with some wind, continuing the recent pattern. So make sure that you bring sun protection and sufficient water.

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walk itself will start from the car park at the Mairie in St Martin, at about 11:15. We should be back in Lodeve by 16:30.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: 8 km, climb ~ 500 m, hard
Bring: Water, sun protection, snack, binoculars

10 May 2018 – Mont Liausson

This week we propose the long-threatened ascent of Mont Liausson, to the south of Lake Salagou. The walk includes a steep and strenuous ascent (and descent) of about 300 m on well-worn, stony tracks, so it is important to come with good footwear and stamina!

The climb up Mont Liausson is a well-loved walk in the area. It is measured at 7 km, but feels significantly longer, involving nearly 400 m of climbing and taking at least 3 hours before breaks. The forecast is for sunny periods but strong winds, with the air temperature reaching about 20°. It will be particularly gusty at the summit.

Starting from the village of Liausson, we walk through vineyards for about 1 km, before starting 3 km of climbing, all the way to the ridge at the top of the mountain. From here there are magnificent views, to the north across Lake Salagou, and to the south across the Cirque de Mourèze towards the Pic de Vissou and Cabrières. Near the top we will pass by the the ruins of l’hermitage de St-Jean-d’Aureillan, just before the eastern end of the ridge. From here we descend by a similar path, passing the Grotte de Liausson.

For those interested in birdlife we might see or hear some interesting birds, notably the Dartford warbler (la Fauvette pitchou) or the blue rock thrush (la Monticole bleu).

As usual the we will meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walk itself will start at about 10:30 from the car park opposite the mairie in Liausson. We should be back in Lodeve by about 15:00.

Leader: Ben
Distance: ~7 km, ~400 m climb
Bring: Snack, water, good shoes, binoculars, stamina

18 January 2018 – Les Fenestrettes

Les Fenestrettes is a marked walk from St Guilhem le Desert, a hard walk of about 11 km with a steep climb of over 450 m.

2017-01-15 12-02-15 s

The weather this week is ideal for walking (cold but sunny, with no rain and not much wind), so we will undertake the hard walk designated ‘Les Fenestrettes’, starting at St. Guilhem. Although not so long (about 11 km) this is a hard walk, with the first third all uphill on steep paths, eventually rising about 450 m, to the top of the steep cliffs to the south of the village. There are excellent views at various points on this climb, back down into the village and its valley, across the Herault Gorge, and eventually across to Mt St Baudile and even south to the sea. From the highest point we start a long but gentle descent which eventually emerges from between the cliffs at the far (western) end of the valley behind the village. The paths (and sometimes tracks) are all in good condition, though some may be wet after the recent rain.

2017-01-15 Fenestrettes

Les Fenestrettes

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walk itself will start at about 10:50 from the main parking area (payant) at the top of the village. The walk takes about 4 hours, and we will stop for a snack at the top of the climb. We should be back in Lodeve by 16:30.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: 11 km, 450+ m of climb
Bring: Snack, good shoes, fortitude.

12 October 2017 – Pont du Diable

This week we propose a choice of two walks, both starting from the Pont du Diable at St Jean de Fos. There will be a flat walk of about 7 km to the St Sylvestre church and back, and a much harder circular walk of about 16 km up on the plateau to the east of the Herault river. Both walks will start and end at the Pont du Diable car park. The weather is expected to be sunny, starting cool but warming up towards midday.

The first walk follows a way-marked route along a good farm track along the foot of the escarpment and beside fields and vineyards, to the small St Sylvestre church, set in trees and looking down towards Aniane. This is a good spot to have a rest and a snack. We then return by the same route. This walk should take about 2 hours,

The other walk is a hard circuit of about 16 km. It starts with one of the most difficult sections we have ever walked, a climb straight up the side of the escarpment, rising 250 m in less than 1 km. There is a proper path, but it involves clambering in places, and is rather exposed, with excellent views down steep drops to the river valley below – not for the feint-hearted! The main part of the walk on the plateau is generally easier, but there are several extended sections where we walk over loose stony scree, which can be difficult on the ankles. From the plateau there are excellent views, including a proper lookout point across the river to St Guilhem. We pass the Montcalmes hamlet before continuing on to the St Sylvestre church. The walk will take about 5 hours, including a stop for a picnic.

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walks will start from outside the visitor centre at the Pont du Diable car park, at about 10:45. Those on the flat walk should be back in Lodeve by 13:30, on the hard walk not until 16:30.

Flat walk
Leader: Jenny
Distance: 7 km, rising 50 m
Bring: snack.

Hard Walk
Leader: Andrew
Distance: 16 km, climb 300 m
Bring: Sun protection, good shoes, water, picnic.

13 July 2017 – Les Balcons de Lauroux

This is an excellent but hard, all-day walk starting at Lauroux and extending up into the Escandorgue forest. It is officially described as ‘difficile’, 16 km and taking 5 hours.

This walk is in three sections. Firstly, we walk up the valley from Lauroux, passing the Grotte de Labeil, and continuing up the escarpment to the Escandorgue forest, a rise of about 550 m. Parts of this ascent are difficult and a bit scrambly, with some intermediate descents to get past side valleys. Then we walk through the forest in the direction of the Col de Pertus, before starting the descent back to Lauroux. Some of this descent is on good tracks, but other parts are rather steep and stony, and much is rather exposed.

The forecast for Thursday is for full sun, continuing the temperatures of recent days. The walk has some shaded sections, but has other sections in full sun, particularly on the descent.

As usual we shall meet at the Luteva Cinema at 8:50 for departure at 9:00. At Lauroux we will park in the designated Walkers Car Park (just before the village), but the walk itself will start from the main bridge in the village, just after the church, at about 9:30. With a stop for lunch we should be back in Lodeve by 16:30.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: 16 km, difficult, climb ~ 800 m
Bring: Picnic, copious fluids, sun protection, strong shoes