Our stay in Camp-Anes near Venterol was damn near idyllic. We had booked a paddock for the horses, but unfortunately there was a sanglier incident the night before we arrived, all of their horses took fright, broke the electric fencing and escaped. Not wishing to risk any damage to visiting horses, Jean-Yves and Anne-Marie gave us two stables instead. This is the view the horses had :
Camp-Anes' main business is hiring donkeys to walkers - they have a total of fourteen donkeys which are used by groups of walkers (mostly families) as pack animals on hiking holidays. Jean-Yves is a mine of information on the local routes, as he is constantly sending tourists off in all directions with one of his beloved donkeys, so when he offered to advise us on routes we jumped at the chance - you can't beat local knowledge! He marked out what seemed to be the best choice on a special map - it's called an "a la carte carte", made specially for walkers in this region - you can't buy it in the shops!
We're going demi-pension in all of the gites at the moment, which means we get breakfast and dinner, and a packed lunch if we pay extra. We'd had three days of eating out in Beaumes de Venise and we all needed some good home cooking, which we certainly got! Magret de canard, risotto made with spelt, goats cheese salad and apple crumble, complete with Côtes de Rhone rosé and red wines on the table. Anne-Marie is passionate about serving locally sourced food, and it was all delicious. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and we spent ages talking about the problems faced by the local food producers and how best to use truffles - Anne is updating the recipe section accordingly.
Our best find in Camp-Anes was this - a Wanderly Wagon!
|Godmother and Judge are at the window... that must be Rory and Foxy at the back steps!|
|the stream which followed the road|
Flurry and Gigi are now accustomed to drinking regularly while we're out, so we stopped a couple of times and let them fill up.
To be honest, it was verging on boring, but there was no traffic and the scenery was very pretty, so we were happy enough.
|Pretty valley along the country road|
We continued to climb, with Mont Ventoux looming over the hills in the distance. It's funny to think that on Saturday, we were up there, having a picnic, looking over in this direction.
With goats (possibly of the horse-eating variety) to the left of us and a sheer drop to the right of us, we decided that the smart thing to do would be to dismount and lead the horses past. Much to our relief, they were fine, Gigi was very tense, but Flurry was quite happy. Shortly after we stopped for lunch at this corner of the trail :
We could see that the path dropped very steeply, so I checked it out on foot. Sure enough, it was a very steep descent with lots of big rocky steps down, but after some distance (I would have said 70M, not 50) it seemed to get a little easier and started switchbacking down the hill.
I went back to Anne, and we had a quick discussion. We'd been caught out on Friday and Saturday with following footpaths, which turned out to be unsuitable for horses, so we were reluctant to leave the trail we'd been advised to follow. We were in the middle of nowhere, so really, we felt our only option was to trust the advise we'd been given and follow the path down. So we descended somewhere along this crag :
|East end of crag|
|West end of crag|
Finally, we emerged into a field of lavender, and heaved sighs of relief. After a group hug (the horses didn't get involved, they were too busy scoffing grass) we both agreed that if we'd known what lay ahead, we wouldn't have done it. We also agreed that riding on French horse trails is confusing - you end up with vast stretches of boredom, interspersed with moments of sheer terror.
We followed a tractor trail out of the lavender field and found these little beauties!
Gigi and Flurry were turned out in a paddock, to have a nice bit of grass and some hay. The rain got heavier and heavier, so we ended up stabling them again - at least they will be dry in the morning.
And the moral of the story? Never take advice from a donkey man about horse trails!
The Everytrail map - our winding descent seems to have completely confused Everytrail, it looks like we meandered aimlessly around the side of the mountain. I swear, it was nothing like that!
Day 10 - Venterol to Teyssieres at EveryTrail