14 June 2018 – Portiragnes Plage

This is a circular walk of about 9 km, all at sea-level, involving the beach, a nature reserve in marsh-land, and the Canal du Midi.

The walk this week will start at Portiragnes Plage, led by Ben, with bird-watching opportunities. The first part of the walk is along the beach, then on to a path leading through a nature reserve, where there will be good chance of seeing some interesting water or wading birds. The next leg is along the Canal du Midi, with the canal on one side and marshes on the other, then back through the reserve before meeting the original path to retrace our steps to the start. It’s all flat and easy walking. Bring binoculars if you are interested in watching the birds.

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As this is a fairly long walk, and a long way away, we will stop for a snack in the middle. The weather is forecast to be warm and mostly sunny, with some wind.

Dogs are permitted on this walk but must be kept on a lead when within the nature reserve.

As usual we shall meet at the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to leave at 10:00. The walk itself will start from the Tourist Office in Portiragnes Plage at about 11:00. To get there directly take the D612 (either from the A75 or from Vias past the airport), then the D37 past Portiragnes. At Portiragnes Plages turn right at the roundabout decorated with flamingos, direction Plage Ouest. At the next junction, go straight ahead towards Plage Est. The tourist office is just along there, set back on the right, with plenty of space for parking. We should be back in Lodeve by 16:00.

Leader: Ben
Distance: 9 km
Bring: Snack, Binoculars

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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

29 March 2018 – Notre Dame des Clans at Salagou

This is a circular walk at Lake Salagou around the hamlet of Les Vailhes, starting along the lakeside then climbing to the chapel and returning by the upper road.

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A normal spring day is forecast for next Thursday, sun, cloud and some wind, and little risk of rain. We propose a moderate walk of about 5 km at the edge of Lake Salagou. The first half is along the lakeside, up and down along a marked track through the ruffe. After about 2 km it reaches the chapel of Notre Dame des Clans, set back on the hillside. From here we climb up to the road (quite steep, but not long) and then return by the road at the higher level. We last did this walk about 3 years ago.

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50 for departure at 10:00. The walk will start from the main car park beside the lake at Vailhes at about 10:20. We should be back in Lodeve by 13:00.

Leader: Ben
Distance: ~ 5 km, climb 50 m.

7 December 2017 – Portiragnes Plage

This is a circular walk of about 9 km, all at sea-level, involving the beach, a nature reserve in marsh-land, and the Canal du Midi.

The walk this week will start at Portiragnes Plage, led by Ben, with bird-watching opportunities. The first part of the walk is along the beach, then on to a path leading through a nature reserve, where there will be good chance of seeing some interesting water or wading birds. The next leg is along the Canal du Midi, with the canal on one side and marshes on the other, then along the road back to Portiragnes Plage. It’s all flat and easy walking. Bring binoculars if you are interested in watching the birds.

As this is a fairly long walk, and a long way away, we will stop for a snack in the middle. The weather is forecast to be warmer, with some sun and not much wind.

As usual we shall meet at the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to leave at 10:00. The walk itself will start from the Tourist Office in Portiragnes Plage at about 11:00. To get there directly take the D612 (either from the A75 or from Vias past the airport), then the D37 past Portiragnes. At Portiragnes Plages turn right at the roundabout with the flamingoes decorating it, direction Plage Ouest. At the next junction, go straight ahead towards Plage Est. The tourist office is just along there, set back on the right, with plenty of space for parking. We should be back in Lodeve by 15:30.

Leader: Ben
Distance: 9 km
Bring: Snack, Binoculars

4 May 2017 – Flowers around Les Salces

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.

Leader: Ben
Distance: 8 km
Climb: ~200 m

10 March 2016 – Etang de Vendres

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.

Leader: Ben

2 July 2015 – St Pons de Mauchiens

St Pons des MauchiensThere 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.2015-07-02 10-37-58 s
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. 2015-07-02 10-30-05 cThis 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. 2015-07-02 11-54-55 cWe 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 Cicadacountryside, observing estevating snails and shrieking cicadas, we all ended up in the local bar (built into the ramparts) for a much appreciated drink.

Leader: Ben

Photos: Andrew