Archive for the ‘News about the Walks’ Category

Path marking Part 1

June 13, 2016

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We have recently been enrolled as official markers or baliseurs of the hiking network around St Félicien.  If a walker has got lost or confused on a particular route they notify the Office de Tourisme and an email alert is sent out to the team of markers.  Whoever is nearest and has the time responds and undertakes to resolve the issue.  Not quite SOS Médecins, but pretty efficient nonetheless!

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Whilst setting up our personalised Walksweeks routes, which broadly follow the white and yellow Petite Randonnée trails, we have occasionally done our own marking or remarking, where we felt it was necessary.  Now, however we have been supplied with the regulation paint, specially formulated to resist all winds and weathers, and a set of brushes.

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We have checked which way up the colours should go, how to indicate turnings and dead ends and we are ready to get stuck in.

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Sometimes it can be a bit acrobatic ….

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and a trusty Opinel knife comes in handy to prepare the support.

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To help walkers find their way over the wide open spaces, Markus occasionally needed to knock in a stake.

The paint got a bit claggy after a while . . .

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but all in all we were pleased with the job and enjoyed walking well-known paths and making them just a little bit easier for other hikers to follow.

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Tout bouge à Arlebosc

April 27, 2016

The village

On Sunday we were asked to join a group of Arlebossiens and others, who don’t know the village, to test out the new parcous d’interprétation, ahead of its official inauguration in the summer.  We are thrilled that Arlebosc is to have its very own discovery route, which has been put together by our friends Elena, who wrote the texts, and Helène at Cairn Interprétation.  As you can see from their website, Cairn have created some stunning and original routes, one of our favourites is the Daronne Gorge, not far from here.

Everyone gathered at the Mairie on an unfortunately cold and drizzly afternoon to be given our instructions and divided into groups to test different parts of the route.  With our neighbours Brice and Lisa we set off for the hamlets of St Just and les Fauries and were rewarded with stunning views of the spring countryside.

Brice et Lisa

Although we know the area so well and have written our own hiking routes for Walksweeks, it’s fun to get another angle and there is always something new to discover.

les Défendus

The parcours works like a treasure hunt, giving you clues to find illustrated cards (temporarily housed in Tupperware boxes but later in specially designed letter boxes accessible by secret code or in geocaches).  Each card fills you in on the history, culture and environment of the village using three major themes: agriculture, religion and the different châteaux.

at St Just

On our return to base we were asked to complete a questionnaire covering everything from our general impressions of the route to typos and the quality of the information and graphics.  It was a very convivial event and there was a great deal of enthusiasm and praise for all the hard work which has gone into the project over the past three years.

The other big news is the re opening of the village café/restaurant after a complete renovation and under new management.

Cafe du chateau

We dropped in for lunch on Monday, having totally run out of provisions, and were very impressed.  The menu du jour was crudités followed by local specialities: caillette, served with artisan ravioles.  There was then a choice of cheese, (either a selection or fromage blanc à la crème or with fruit coulis) or to go for one of the home made desserts: chocolate mousse, tiramisù or a royal or tropézienne cake.

The quality of both the ingredients and preparation was really excellent: the caillette was cooked in a marchand de vin sauce – a novel idea and very successful, and the chocolate mousse was utterly delicious. With a carafe of wine the bill came to 15 euros per person.  Pretty unbeatable value!

We and all the village wish the best of luck to Olivier and Sandrine in their new venture and we shall be back soon for sure.

 

Walksweeks Your Way

June 3, 2015

Some contrasting images from a recent Walksweek with three guests from Minnesota and Oklahoma.

We set off on a blustery morning for our first walk together above the little village of St Basile.

Our first glimpse of the Château of Maisonseule

Our first glimpse of the Château of Maisonseule.

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We were invited to take a private tour of the castle, with Kate acting as interpreter.  It is truly impressive . . . .

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IMG_7992 (800x600)From the Renaissance West facade . . .

to the powerful Medieval defensive towers.

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Inside there were welcoming fires and we heard fascinating stories about the castle and its history.

A few days later we were in the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhone.

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Our hiking route took us through the famed Crozes Hermitage and Hermitage parcels, with frequent stops at information panels.  There was a quiz at the end and our Walksweekers scored highly and won a little prize!

The weather had definitely warmed up and after a good day’s walking, winetasting, shopping and sampling delicious Valrhona chocolate, we rounded things off with a glass of bubbly at a spectacular viewpoint.

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On another excursion our intrepid guests set out from les Sarziers towards Boucieu le Roi with instructions to “Hunt the Hamper” for their special picnic lunch.  They found it in a shady spot by the river and after a restorative break continued to the station, where they boarded their vélorail pedal car for an exhilirating ride down the Doux Gorge which turned out to be full of thrills and surprises!

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With a visit to the market in Lamastre, convivial dinners at les Sarziers and a varied choice of hikes and activities each day, it was a great week.  Our guests had chosen a Walksweeks Your Way and we have decided to concentrate exclusively on this formula for the future as it gives great flexibility to plan the week and enjoy the very best of our very special area …. your way!

The Rando Croquis or hiking with pad and pencil

May 12, 2015

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My father always had a small pencil in his pocket – its point protected by a metallic cap to avoid stabbing his thigh or breaking off the tip.  My childhood holidays were spent hiking in the Alps and he would often take a moment and sit down on a rock or a meadow, take out his pencil to do a little drawing in his sketchbook. This inspired me and my sisters to do the same. Considering that all the art work ended in the bin, shows that if there is no talent it does not mean we did not enjoy it.

as 77 M.di LegoThis picture was taken in 1977 long after we children were interested in other stuff.

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All this I suddenly remembered when Kate and I walked the Rando Croquis of Bozas a few days ago.

 

What is a Rando Croquis?  The idea is to combine drawing and painting with a relatively short hike (a bit more than 2 miles) taking you through different landscapes, showing you different things to draw and teaching you different techniques of sketching and painting.  There are only 18 Rando Croquis circuits in the whole of France, and one  is literally just on our doorstep starting at the neighbouring village of Bozas.

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On the Bozas walk there are nine stations where you can sit down on a wooden bench which is attached to an inclined table which at the same time is the notice board with all the instructions.  To hike from one position to the other you are helped by signposts attached to big pencils that are stuck in the ground.  All you need to do is bring a pad and a pencil.

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What we did not expect is the superb craftmanship of the “furniture” and the thought that had gone into the pedagogical aspect of the walk.

IMG_7713IMG_7735When we first heard about it we imagined a walk that would be handy to motivate children who would rather stay at home and stare at a screen.  We thought it would be a good excursion for schools to teach their pupils how to observe the surrounding landscape.  But there is much more to it than that. And the walk is very enjoyable for adults who like me are constantly intrigued by the magic of transforming  the beauty of our countryside into two dimensions onto a piece of paper.

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A perfect walking day in the Ardèche Verte

June 4, 2013

After a run of very dreary wet weather the sun has finally re appeared and conditions are absolutely splendid for walking.  The broom and wild flowers are spectacular and our party of Walksweekers enjoyed an exhilarating hike from Nozières to the Col du Buisson on an upland route with sweeping views taking in both the Massif Central and the Alps.

A perfect day for a picnic lunch at the ruins of Rochebloine fortress.

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From Yellowstone Park to the Ardèche

August 30, 2012

We have been away on holiday in the United States for a few weeks and, unsurprisingly, doing a lot of walking and hiking.  We were amused to see this rather peremptory sign on one of the trails, but after a while it got us thinking. 

Whilst in this particular case, the National Forests authority had obviously decided that the trail was too narrow to be safely negotiated as a two way street, it is also true that many routes are much more rewarding if walked in one direction rather than another.

We usually put our own walking itineraries together, using a combination of different waymarked routes, sometimes reversing certain sections.  We always test out the walk in both directions to see which way offers the best views, the most comfortable gradients and so on.  As a result our guests are almost always on a unique tailor made route rather than following a well trodden tourist track.  It also means that we are able to adapt our suggested routes to groups of walkers with varying abilities and expectations.

When we created Walksweeks the idea was to offer a walking holiday without the hassle.  This is just one way in which our background research, which incidentally we love doing, takes the frustration and guesswork out of a walking week and leaves the walkers free to enjoy the stunning and ever changing landscapes in the best possible way. 

Nothing compares to the freedom you experience when you can simply follow the path and see where it takes you.

 

Walksweeks in October

October 27, 2010

Some beautiful atmospheric pictures from a recent party of Walksweekers. Thank you Marilyn!

It was a great week, with varied weather but good walking every day, and we had a barbecue picnic by the river on the Friday.

We have lots of new ideas for Walksweeks next season and are planning a re-launch of our website http://www.walksweeks.com

Chestnuts … Chestnuts!!

October 27, 2010

It certainly slows you down when you have to stop every few steps to collect even more beautiful specimens!

….or just photgraph them!

This was a wonderful autumn walk through different woodland landscapes and atmospheres, with some splendid viewpoints.

And a great “rôtie de chataignes” when we got home!

Circular walk from Nozières

September 12, 2010


With the 750km of marked paths around Arlebosc there is always a new discovery. This one is a circular walk on higher altitude (between 800 and 1000 m), which is perfect for Walks Weeks in the summer, as the temperatures are a few degrees lower than at Les Sarziers. The views are spectacular, especially across the meadows and the woods towards Pailharès and Lalouvesc. If you choose the right moment, you can find wild raspberries and – later in the season – masses of blackberries.

A full day walk on the crest

August 2, 2010


We had some very hot weather recently and decided to try out some walks at higher altitude. This one took us from the apple orchards and streams around Paiharès up to the Col du Buisson and along the spectacular ridge track, with views of all the volcanic peaks one way and the Alps to the other. This is the area which was devastated by the fire of 2003 and it is interesting to see how the vegetation is recovering. Forests of foxgloves! Although it is sad to see the skeletons of some of the burned out trees, the disaster has certainly opened up the view.


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