25 May 2017 – to Canals on the Guilhaumard

This is an easy circular walk of about 6 km, on the Guilhaumard plateau between La Pezade and Canals. We have done this walk regularly in previous years. There is a good chance of seeing some of the later flowering orchids at both the beginning and the end of this walk.

The first part of this walk is along the GR from La Pezade, heading for Mas Reynal. At Canals we strike off on country tracks to return to the starting point. This is one of the best areas I know for orchids, and although the weather has been rather difficult this year, there is a good chance that we will find several varieties.

The weather forecast for Thursday is for full sun and light winds from the South, so it will be hot. Come prepared, with a hat, sun cream and water!

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to depart at 10:00. The walk should start at about 10:40 on the plateau. We should be back in Lodeve by 13:30, unless people want to spend longer looking at orchids!

For those going directly to the starting point, take the motorway to Le Caylar, and then (after negotiating your way round the diversions associated with the roadworks at the Aire) head for the D609. This is the road (alongside the motorway) signposted to La Couvertoirade, Nant and l’Hospitalet. Stay on the D609 until you get to La Pezade (don’t go toward La Couvertoirade or Nant – and beware that the road number seems to change to the D809 when you cross the department boundary). In La Pezade turn left onto the D140, towards Canals, Mas Reynal and Le Clapier. The meeting point is a bit more than 1 km along this road, at the brow of the hill, where you can park on the right.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: ~6 km
Bring: Sun protection, Orchid books

27 April 2017 – Wild flowers on the Guilhaumard

A circular walk on the Guilhaumard Plateau, near La Bastide des Fonts

It looks as though this will be a good year for wild flowers, so this week we will repeat a walk that we did at the same time last year. We should see some early orchids, pasque flowers, and fritillaires (very localised, but profuse this year).

The walk starts from a parking area near the start of the turning towards Canals, a couple of kilometers after La Bastide des Fonts. We walk for a couple of kilometers along the (very quiet) D493 to the Pas de Licous, and then follow a circuit of tracks across the plateau. The route goes up and down a bit and is sometimes stony underfoot, but is not difficult, with a total length of about 7 km.

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, for departure at 10:00. The walk should start from the parking area at about 10:40. We should be back in Lodeve by 14:00.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: 7 km

23 June 2016 – Sorgues valley

All-day walk from Mas Reynal, including a steep ascent

2016-04-16 12-52-08.JPGThis is a hard but interesting walk, from Mas Reynal on the Guilhaumard plateau down the Sorgues valley, passing the résurgence of the river and La Mouline (below Cornus), then returning by the GR through St Rome de Berlières, a total of about 15km.

About 80% of this walk is gently downhill, mostly on stony paths and tracks, but some on quiet roads. That indicates that all the uphill sections, rising over 400m in total, are very steep. Most of the climb is in one short section, of less that a kilometer, when we follow a route straight up the escarpment of the plateau. 2016-04-16 15-21-03.JPGThis is on a proper path, part of the Grand Randonnée, but it is consistently steep and some of it is not in good condition (after the storms of 2015), so it is hard work, requiring good shoes and stamina.

Some of the walk is wooded, but most is open, so come well prepared in hot weather, with a hat, sun cream and plenty of fluids. And bring a picnic for a lunch stop (after the climb). The walk takes about 5 and a half hours, depending on walking speed and duration of stops. The steep ascent takes 40 minutes if you don’t stop.

Leader: Andrew
Distance: ~15km
Climb: ~400m
Duration: ~5.5 hrs including breaks

2 June 2016 – Orchids on the Guilhaumard

This week we will do our annual orchid outing, to the Guilhaumard plateau near La Pezade. This is turning our to be a very good year for flowers, so there should be lots of orchids to spot and identify. As a result, the overall amount of walking will be quite limited, only a few kilometers.

The weather forecast is that it will be dry but quite windy.

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, for departure at 10:00.

Leader: Andrew.
Distance: 2-3 km.
Bring: Flower books, magnifying glass.

28 April 2016 – Mas Reynal

Walk on the Guilhaumard Plateau, starting at Mas Reynal

Because it has been so cold and windy this week I have decided to postpone the planned walk to see the storks at Lattes until next week. Instead I propose a brisk walk on the plateau. The forecast for Thursday is that it will be cloudy, but with very little wind, ideal for a good walk.

The walk starts at Mas Reynal, and then follows the GR route along the edge of the escarpment, giving good views down into the Sorgues valley, and across the plateau. We leave the GR at the point where it plunges down into the valley, and continue across the plateau to the road near the junction with the D493. We should see Pasque Flowers and Fritillaries and some early orchids on the walk.

This is not a circular walk, so we will need to organise cars to take drivers back to the starting point.

The walk is about 8km, on paths and tracks that are sometimes quite stony, but never really difficult. It climbs about 100m to the highest point, but goes up and down quite a lot in between. I suggest that you bring a snack to sustain yourself, warm layers (as it may be cold) and good shoes!

As usual we shall meet outside the Luteva Cinema at 9:50, ready to leave at 10:00. The walk proper will start from Mas Reynal at about 10:40, and we should be back in Lodeve soon after 14:00.

Distance: 8km

Leader: Andrew

21st May 2015 – Orchid walk from Canals

This was a circular walk from Canals on the Guihaumard plateau, similar to one we had done several times before, an easy walk of about 6km, on paths and tracks in open country. Canals trackIt included an area where many varieties of orchids can be found (as well as other flowers). On the day the wind was strong, so it was very cold in the (many) exposed areas. In addition, the vegetation was lush and a track shown clearly on the maps did not exist on the ground so we had to strike out around fields of growing crops to join two sections of the walk.

Purple OrchidSpider OrchidAt the orchid area we found many species, though some found it too cold to stop and examine them in detail. Purple and Military orchids (and their hybrids) were the most common, but we identified about 10 different varieties in all – a rewarding outcome, though in a good year you would expect to find a lot more. anemoneIn addition, we found a hillside covered with purple anemonies (Pasque flowers).

Distance: 6km

Leader and Commentary: Andrew

Pictures: Andrew and Phyl