This is a circular walk of about 8 km starting at Les Salces and climbing up about 200 m, on small tracks and paths.
Note that this is NOT the longer and more difficult walk that was discussed last week.
This is a walk around the hillsides above St. Privat and Les Salces, where there are many wild flowers at the moment. The walk starts at Les Salces, and then proceeds West past St. Privat, before returning by a higher route, via Pioch Redon. It does involve some ascents, though generally on good tracks, and the overall distance is about 8 km.
As usual we shall meet at the Luteva Cinema at 09:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walk itself will start from the car park in Les Salces at about 10:30. We should be back in Lodeve by 14:00.
Distance: 8 km
Climb: ~200 m
All-day walk from Vendres to the Sea, beside the Etang
This week, we propose a walk that will probably take about three hours, and it’s about an hours drive away. So bring a picnic.
We drive to Vendres, which is a small town on the edge of the Etang de Vendres, just down the coast from Valras plage.
The walk starts at “Les vestiges”, at the end of the Rue du Temple de Venus, just outside the village. We walk along the edge of the Etang down to the coast, to the estuary of the river Aude. We then continue up the river about two kms to the weir that separates the freshwater from the seawater, and end the walk there.
This is not a circular walk, so before setting out, we have to leave one or more cars at the end of the walk to ferry the drivers of the other cars back to the beginning. While this is happening there will be an opportunity for the other walkers to observe birds on the Etang, or to have a coffee!
The walk is 9 or 10 kms, mainly flat, and on small lanes. There is one part where we would walk up about 25 metres to get a good view over the marshes. This area is particularly renowned for it’s bird life, so bring binoculars if you have them.
As usual, we will meet in the car park by the cinema at 9:50, ready to set off at 10:00. Anyone planning to drive directly should aim to be there by 11:00. According to Google Maps, a good route is to take the A75 to junction 63, then take the northern ring road around Beziers, which becomes the D64 and continues on to Vendres.
There were sixteen of us on this walk, and luckily it was a nice breezy day and not as hot as we had expected. We started from the car park next to “Le Mairie”, walked around the old part of the village, and then up to the church at the top, where there were magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.
Apart from being a very beautiful circular medieval village, St Pons de Mauchiens is also famous for a very rare falcon that nests in the old house roofs. This is the Lesser Kestrel, (in French, the Crecerellette), and there are now over a hundred pairs nesting there thanks to the LPO and the goodwill of the village people. This bird was extinct in the Hérault until about fifteen years ago.
From the top of the village we observed lesser kestrels flying around, to and from their nests under the roof tiles of the surrounding old houses. We must have observed several dozen birds, which is quite something when you consider that there is no other place in the whole of the Herault where you would be able to see this bird at all!
After a short walk in the surrounding countryside, observing estevating snails and shrieking cicadas, we all ended up in the local bar (built into the ramparts) for a much appreciated drink.
The highlight of this walk, for those interested in birds, was the sight of four Black Winged Stilts feeding on the marshes. These beautifully elegant birds have just arrived back from Africa to breed. We also saw a flock of Mediterranean Gulls on the estuary. These gulls, although not rare, are often confused with the very common Black Headed Gull. The former has a really velvety looking jet black head during the breeding season, whereas the head of the Black Headed Gull is actually dark brown.
Starting at La Tamerissiere, we walked along the beach to the channel cutting across into the sea just before Vias. We continued along to the Canal du Midi
A sunny spot for lunch…
After lunch we followed some rather muddy paths
returning to the Hérault river, which we followed until it got to the sea.
Distance: 8.5 km
Thanks to Ben for the comments and to Mike for the photos
Contributed by Ben
We walked up to and along the ridge that starts at Rabieux, passes by le Rocher de la Vierge and eventually up to le plateau. This is one of many migratory routes taken by raptors coming up from Africa. The views were fabulous but we only saw three birds of prey, one of which was definitely identified as a short toed eagle, or snake eagle because that’s what they eat. In French, circaete jean-le-blanc.
On the way down to St Guiraud we came across a tunnel in the hillside buried in the vegetation. Some of us, Les adventurers seen in the photo, plus Dee, decided to take the short cut back through the tunnel….. the two parties actually arrived back at Rabieux at exactly the same time! Quel talent!
There is a lime kiln and a limestone quarry, now abandoned, just near the entrance of the tunnel through the mountain. I presume this was used to transport the lime to the other side where the access was less precipitous.
Note: The ascent can be challenging, so having reached the top there are 2 options – either to return directly down the ridge or to explore the ridge and return via another track.