Monday, 21 April 2014

R is for Randonnée

To randonner is very popular in France. You can do it on foot, on your bicycle, in a car, on horseback even. It is the gentle art of wandering the countryside.

Around here, we are awash with footpaths and bridleways. Every day, we are spoilt for choice - coast paths, woodland walks, or hacking across country.

The other day, I took the dogs for a constitutional along the river near our house, aiming for the Chateau More-Vowels-than-Consonants in the distance. We slip-slided along the muddy banks where the high tide had recently deposited its ballast of flotsam, jetsam and tiny crabs. A rather imposing sheep eyed us from a promontory on the other side of the water, setting the dogs on edge and putting the wind up me a bit. I was jolly glad a steep muddy water course separated us.

Into the woods, we found primroses, violets, bluebells and campion smiling in the dappled sunlight. Huge flag irises were preparing for their display along the edge of a murky ditch. And most precious of all, little clusters of orchids had appeared, dotted across the path in places where the horses had blindly trampled.

In my youth, a wild orchid was a rarity indeed. Individual specimens found in a field were protected and visited by the curious. Now it seems, they have made a rip roaring comeback and are thronging the verges and woodland banks as if they had never been gone.

Just opposite the end of our drive is the start of the main coastal path for Cap Frehel. Starting off along the old railway track, the path mounts quickly to give spectacular views of our lovely bay in all its humours. Further along, round the corner and past Fort la Latte, the coastline unravels with precipitous cliffs and breathtaking bays.

Randonner is such a lovely pastime.

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