Yesterday, the rain stopped, so we donned our walking boots and took one of our favourite walks around what we call the “secret valley”. The River Seye is not much more than a brook, a scant 16 km in length, but it has carved out deep valleys over millions of years. Civilisation is not far away, but you can walk for hours without seeing another person.
We haven’t walked much in recent months, partly because the weather has been awful, and partly because the garden and maintenance activities like painting shutters have demanded our undivided attention.
After a damp and chilly month of May and a dismal June, July has taken up the baton. So far this month, we have had 85 mm of rain. The average rainfall for July is 40 mm. However, we can’t complain compared with the poor folk in Belgium and Germany who have had catastrophic floods this week. And I have never seen the garden so green, nor the foliage so luxuriant, in July.
We parked in a lay-by, where uncivilised people tend to dump their rubbish, despite the local déchetterie (municipal tip) being only 500 m away. We were pleased to see that the refuse had been removed, although we all pay for that in the end.
Haven for wildlife
Moving swiftly on, we walked along the main road for a few hundred metres before thankfully turning off on a track marked by this simple stone cross.
The track continues above the Seye, which we could hear rushing far below, swollen by the recent rains. The heavily wooded slopes are havens for wildlife. At one point, we startled a deer resting in a thicket. It leapt away, like a faun in a medieval Book of Hours. I just managed to get a very blurred shot of it. I rather like the ghostly effect, though.
Clouds of brown Gatekeeper butterflies rose from the abundant wild flowers as we passed. There were mushrooms a-plenty, too, popping up beside the path after the rain. Those, combined with the mild temperatures, made it seem more like autumn than mid-summer.
Château de Labro
Further on, a small and very overgrown path passes behind the ruined Château de Labro, before it descends steeply to the river. I’ve written about the château before (link at the bottom of the post), once the home of the de La Valette family. It’s one of three châteaux within the commune of Parisot, along with Cornusson and l’Astorguié. Here, we saw traces of wild boar, which had dug holes in search of roots and other food.
The path was very damp and littered with stones that had fallen from the hillside above. Brushing past the vegetation, we were glad to be wearing trousers, since sheep ticks are prevalent in our area. I found one crawling on my sock when we got home. Quickly despatched.
At the bottom of the hill, we walked along the river for a while until the road diverged, and we climbed the other side of the valley between oak woods and fields. From this side, you can just see the Château de Labro peeping above the trees. The woodland probably wasn’t there more than 100 years ago, so there was an uninterrupted view of the valley from the château.
The sleepy hamlet of Labadie was probably more populated once than it is now, as was the whole area. Another primitive cross marks the entrance to the hamlet.
Just past Labadie, the path enters dense woodland with a steep drop down to the river below. Along this path, there is plenty of evidence of former habitation and of rural depopulation. Several ruined buildings, a citerne, still filled with water, and old dry-stone walls bear witness to its agricultural past. No doubt there were fields here at one time, but it was difficult and unrewarding terrain to farm.
The IGN map (cf Ordnance Survey) shows the ruins of mills on the river and even a former mine. I haven’t been able to find out what was mined there, but it could have been coal, which was extracted not far away beside the banks of the Baye, a similar tributary of the Aveyron.
A steep descent took us down to the Seye again, running fast under this bridge. The flow was apparently sufficient at one time to operate several watermills. I love the sound of running water, and I could have stayed for hours beside the river. However, the enticing thought of a cup of tea with a chocolate biscuit fortified us as we climbed yet another steep hill to arrive back at the point of departure.
A good two-hour walk, which brushed away the cobwebs and left us feeling, once again, how lucky we are to live amid such lovely and comparatively unspoilt countryside.
You might also like:
Copyright © Life on La Lune, 2021. All rights reserved.