Cavillore - Col de Rougiès - walk - hike
Today's walk showed us signs that spring is on its way and was welcome. It also reminded us that we should practice what we preach when it comes to safety whilst walking. This was a timely reminder as we have just published our recommendations for safety and this sanctimonious bubble was popped with little ceremony. The weather did not look promising as we drove up to Gourdon, grey looming cloud all the way. We started late so mingled briefly with the "Sunday Best" heading for their Sunday "repas" in the village, but were soon off in the opposite direction off up the Col de Cavillore. You need to cross the main road at the bar on the roundabout and follow the road to Caussols. There is a signpost on the right, take the direction "Circuit de Cavillore", this leads you behind some houses and emerges on road that services a housing estate. Take a right following the signpost "Circuit de Cavillore".
The path is well marked, with the local yellow markers and you climb through some houses before breaking out on to the hill, with some great views of Gourdon. At this point I put the camera away as we started to climb into cloud and was even thinking that we may have to shorten the walk. The visibility was still ok as we approached the Col; it is very pretty with a few trees and stacks as you get to the rise. When we were on the plateau there is a little bit of blue sky breaking through the cloud, visibility was 20m but there is a sign post there (Col Est de Cavillore) and the yellow markers are evident. The markers take you in a north westerly direction across a rocky plateau and you come to a "T"- junction, and a signpost, to the left is back to Gordon via the "Col Ouest de Cavillore" or right to Colle de Rougiès, we take a right. Here we walked out of the cloud and it was a beautiful day, no wind just that enveloping warmth and a hint of thyme in the air. The path takes you through an oak wood as you cross the Plateau de Cavillore and you come to sign post number 163 - (well it has been vandalised and some kind soul has tried to mark it with felt tip but got the number wrong (162)), here we take a left to Colle de Rougiès. The signpost would be hard to miss as there is a rusting hulk next to it, the questions why? and how? did someone leave it there to rot - beggars belief really.
This area is very popular for walkers or it did seem so this Sunday, so we made our way up to the Colle de Rougiès and stopped for lunch at an "Aven" or "sinkhole" on last stretch to the summit. There was meant to be a signpost here 113 but we did not find it. The views were fantastic from here with Martins (unsure here could have been swifts) swooping around the cliff face. It was here we realised packing some sun cream would have been a good idea or at least a sun hat, we just didn't check this morning and oh we had brought the wrong map, it did not cover the whole walk. I suppose we would call ourselves experienced walkers not the 20 miles a day and cold showers types but we can look after ourselves and can get up and down without too much difficulty. As well as map reading I do use a GPS and had pre loaded it with the waypoints - and hey the sun was shining it was a glorious day, I even had my shorts on - so no problem!.
We were in the snow line by now and walking in snow slows you down a bit as the path markers aren't so obvious and your foot holds not so sure. It is such a contrast with the warm air in your face & the cold snow under foot, the landscape takes on a whole new aspect.
It is a straight forward climb to the Colles de Rougies (1395m) and then we started the descent to find the path to take us off the escarpment. There is meant to be a signpost here 114 to show where the path drops off the escarpment, there are some small cairns and we had to rely on the GPS to help us find the point. It is marked on the map but on the ground it was not easy to find, there is a small grey Observatoire dome on the slope below which you can use as a reference point. The path from here is very confusing as it is a scramble, there are yellow markers but they are old and easy to miss, study the map and watch your position in relation to the Observatoire dome. Follow the track down from the Observatoire dome and you come to the rear of a pink house. Here the path is lost so we took the wide track past the house on the left and went past a new Observatoire building below, I believe the real path goes behind the house to the right and cuts off the road. Your target is the road to the valley floor and a "T" junction with the D12, at the "T" junction take a right cross the road and there is another signpost 111 on the left showing "Voie Romaine". This is an ancient track of stone, with stone borders and steps - an inspiring piece of engineering, approximately 2000 years old not as straight as you may have been led to believe but a wonder none the less. It takes you through a forest across a minor road and to the entrance gates of radar station of Le Haut Montet. Keep going straight on and you come to a hang-gliding point there are some sign posts, take the direction for Gourdon. Here the road has been concreted and sweeps down the side of the valley. This is where we started dropping back into the cloud and it was about 4:30 and the light was starting to fade - we were also off map .
Cavillore - Col de Rougiès - walk - hike
There is a signpost 108 that takes you off the road but the path runs parallel to it, this was not obvious to us as visibility was about 20m and we were walking using the GPS for directions. The path is marked with orange markers and takes you to some farm buildings then does a 90 degree turn to the left and the path is marked like the earlier roman road with a stone border. The orange markers are still evident and you wind through fields and past a pond - we heard the frogs before seeing it. Beware the track forks and it is easy to go sailing on blindly, as we almost did if it was not for the GPS. There are some small cairns that split off to the left about 200m after the pond, follow them down the hill side. What is confusing is that the path then crosses back to the other side of the valley so you are tempted to descend but you need to keep to a northerly direction. Then the path becomes more distinct and takes down the northern side of the "Vallon de Carbonnière". If it was not for the GPS, with the poor visibility we would have been in difficulty and maybe the "gods" were mocking us because just before we found a sure path the batteries started to die on the GPS and we came across the bleached bones of some miss fortunate animal .
Ok we were now only 2 km from Gourdon it was down hill and it was not dark yet, we were warm in good shape had a torch etc so not threatening just a little poignant after publishing the safety guide on the web site .
The path takes you down past a ruined house and eventually to some cordoned off fields and some farm buildings to the right - you come to a ford. The track is now a small road and your faced with a do not trespass sign. If you check the map the path follows the road, you do not pass any buildings so chance your arm it is only for a 300m stretch. After that you follow the road back to Gourdon, including the short cut behind the houses.
Flat distance 15925.71 m
Total height ascended 834 m
Actual distance 16088.12 m
Minimum height 742 m
Maximum height 1326 m
Trail : Waypoints
SP2 East: 32:337285.99 North: 32:4843908.87 Height: 1016 m
SP1 East: 32:337255.83 North: 32:4843944.54 Height: 1024 m
163 East: 32:337074.61 North: 32:4845106.46 Height: 1075 m
drop East: 32:334128.56 North: 32:4846260.99 Height: 1291 m
SP111 East: 32:334037.26 North: 32:4845406.88 Height: 1104 m
SP115 East: 32:334712.00 North: 32:4843487.78 Height: 1096 m
SP108 East: 32:334532.47 North: 32:4842926.10 Height: 1030 m
Co-ordinates system : UTM (Zones 30,31,32), WGS84
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The walk outline is in Red you can zoom on to it