Quite a day this one!
It started with the inevitable climb out of the valley that held Conques. (I had already adopted the mantra 'to every descent there is an equal and opposite ascent'.) I had heard that the ascent was a hard one, but though the climb was steepish in parts, it was not as hard as I had feared, and reminded me of the Gorge walk. It passed through beautiful bush and reached the chapel of Sainte Foy, an old place of pilgrimage that had a great view back to Conques.
At this stage it was only 'spitting'.
I decided to take the Noaihac variant along the road as great views were promised of the Lot valley.
But the weather gods soon began to laugh at my hopes, and the whole valley soon became shrouded in mist. And oh dear, I became immersed in a thunderstorm, high up above the valley along this road, with no shelter in view. Have you ever walked in the countryside looking at forked lightning in the sky all around you? 'Kind of scary' would be quite an understatement!
But a low point of a different kind was about to overshadow this day. I got diarrhoea! (Too many lentils??!!) I was able to change once when I came to a public toilet in a village, but later it was just too wet to change again and I had to put up with it. Not nice at all!
There was a huge descent to make, and another huge, steep ascent through the industrial city of Decazeville. Under ordinary circumstances I would have opted to stop here and change my plans, but I knew the holiday of May 1st was looming
and I didn't like my chances of making new gite reservations... so I carried on... It was too wet to stop and attempt to clean myself up anywhere else along the path, and in any case, I didn't have much more to change into!
Somewhere up on the high road, there was a beautiful village church with a friendly man inside keen to display its details, like a scallop shell frieze, but I reluctantly left as I didn't want to get cold by stopping, and my French wasn't quite up to explaining to a kind old man that I had a problem and really needed to change my clothes again.... Arrrghhhhh!
It was a muddy tricky descent to Livinhac and I didn't realise I could have taken an alternative road route. That was not the only alternative I missed: it was too wet to examine the Miam Miam Dodo maps properly, and I missed the whole high-level route that avoided the huge descent/ascent into Decazeville! I could only groan when I realised that several days later!!
However, the day was about to get better. There was a warm welcome in the gite, La Magnanerie, where I slept in the historic tower that used to house silk worms. I showered, all my dirty clothes were washed, and ample drying racks were out for everyone's wet things. The trials of the day slipped away as I relaxed in the warm welcome of the gite.
And it turned out there was a warm welcome for pelerins in this parish and they were just getting underway for the season. There were drinks, something to eat and a pin to place on the map to show where I came from, Kiwis as always a novelty. Two priests from Conques had also come here for the afternoon, a quick trip in the car for them; a long hard day's walk in the rain for me!
We reserved to go to the camping ground for dinner and given the weather, they came to collect us in the car! I sat with good company on one side, people from my own gite, but on the other side was a rigid, critical German lady who expressed indignation at how much longer I had taken than her to walk the distance from Le Puy. (She had the good grace to look somewhat ashamed next day when I walked into her coming from a strange direction- they had 'cheated' !!!!) Fortunately she was not the 'normal' person you met along the Chemin and in any case, I was in for the 'long haul' and had deliberately walked slowly to start with to walk myself in, then had two lovely rest days, one for blisters and one to enjoy Conques. Speed is not all.
Ahhhh so you have had to read a long post this day, with complaints and not much in the way of photos because my camera spent most of the day buried safely away from the wet in the depths of my pack! But not every day can be heaven along the Chemin!!
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