The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Day 5 - Cabane Aouen to Aunac

Sat 16 July
12 or 13 miles-ish? 500m?
Wall-to-wall sunshine. Hot by mid-morning

We've been lucky with the weather for the last three days as it has been pleasantly cool, keeping us comfortable and the flies at bay. It was cool again this morning, as the frosty grass confirmed, but with not a cloud in the sky it was clearly going to warm up.

Our first climb of the day which, due to its aspect and the early hour, was in shade, proved to be much easier than expected. Yesterday afternoon we had watched quite a few people labouring slowly up the switchbacks so I'd built it up in my mind as being a monster. In the cool of the morning and on fresh legs*, it was neither.

We therefore thought we had done the right thing by stopping at the Cabane last night - until we got to the Col de Lazies and then to l'Etang d'Ayes (a mountain lake). The latter in particular would have been worth the extra couple of hours of hot/tired walking yesterday and I think we would have found a spot there, even though it was busy with other people camping.

I ran (or, at least, walked very fast) down the hill to that lake as it was a detour to get water from the inlet stream, so I thought I may as well make that detour at speed whilst Mick made his way down. Obviously, having gone out of my way we then passed right by five springs (all running, but perhaps usually dry) within the next quarter of an hour.

The GR10 splits at the next pass with a variant going one way and the main path another. The signpost there was at odds with my maps and books as to which way was the main route, but it mattered not. We knew which path we were taking - the more direct one which avoided a descent-to-reascend (and now signed as the primary route). The books warned that option would be dangerous in bad weather, which was not an issue today.

The next col was at a road, where lots of cars were parked. From there the plan had been to go off-route into Seix to resupply but we had a niggling suspicion that, with the town's lack of accommodation, it might be booked up on this holiday weekend. Taking advantage of the first good phone signal in days I did some internet research and even resorted to a phone call (I do believe the first phone conversation I've ever carried out entirely in French; I was quite proud of myself!) which confirmed that there was no room at the inn. Then we had a rethink as we didn't really want to go to Seix without somewhere to stay and we equally didn't want to walk a mile out of town in the wrong direction to a campsite.

Aunac became our new destination, having established that we could camp at the Gite there.

Onwards we went with my mind doing constant calculations (i.e. fretting) as to how our food was going to last (see Footnote 2), particularly if we couldn't resupply on a Sunday in St Lizier, when what should we encounter around the next corner but...

...a man and a donkey coming towards us, offering for sale beer, cold drinks, bread and cheese. The trail provides!

Soon afterwards we stopped to enjoy our fresh seeded loaf with some sausage, our food worries now allayed both by the bread and with the confirmation from the man (who works at the gite when not selling his wares off the back of a donkey on the trail) that we could eat at the gite this evening.

The camping set up here is good and the facilities are quite comprehensive too (I'm typing this whilst plugged into the mains (in a polytunnel) to recharge, which is always a bonus when camping).

(*whilst the legs were feeling good today, Mick is still struggling with the digestive distress that was affecting him in Day 1, whereas I had a poorly head
Footnote 2: if Mick’s malady hadn’t killed his appetite we wouldn't have had an option but to go to Seix for more food. As it is there are quite a few odds and ends left in our food bags.)


  1. What a good day and so fortunate to meet up with the guy with the donkey.

    1. Very fortunate -it was just as if he read my thoughts and came running to assist!

  2. Poor Mick! See, I knew he didn't look well...

    1. Given how little he ate for the first week, I was right that he needed to lard up more before we set out!

  3. Just caught up with your first five days. A lot of your steep ups and downs relate to what I am doing on the SWCP, especially today. Lots of nostalgia for me from your vivid reports. Look after Mick.

  4. Ps. - just set off back up to my room and th landlord started asking me about breakfast and I nearly continued my reply in French.

    1. Oh how we giggled at the thought of you doing this. What would the landlord have thought? You'd have set yourself up with a reputation as an eccentric at the very least!

  5. Hello Both. We are back from Spain and have enjoyed catching up with your progress along the section of GR10 that I did with Graham B three years ago and Conrad did thirteen years ago. It's surprising how much our three routes vary! I like the tractors and relics, but where are the flowers?
    If you need any help with anything let me know. Eg I could provide a daily forecast by text or email - just send me a message if you'd like this service.
    I hope the horse flies stay away. Remember they don't stray much above the tree line...

    1. There are indeed many route options, particularly when one's objective is set as 'coast-to-coast' rather than 'GR10'.

      Thank you for the offer of help. WI'll give you a shout if we need anything.