Studying the maps back at the gite, we noticed an interesting looking long distance path that performed several large loops around the valley- the Grand Randonee of the Valley of the Creuse. This path starts at Argenton-sur-Creuse and winds its way around the river down to Crozant, so walking part of it seemed like a plan for today.

We parked at the viewpoint looking over the Boucle de Pin- a large bend in the river- before dropping steeply down to the shore. The first part of the walk followed the river closely along a narrow rocky path that rollercoastered its way along the wooded shore, stepping over tree roots and at one point utilising a wooden staircase.

The Creuse

The Creuse is quite wide at this point, running through high wooded cliffs and is obviously a popular spot for fishing. We walked through Le Confluent, where Helen tested her climbing skills on one of the huge rocks sticking out of the water.

Reaching a large dam, the Randonee leaves the river to skirt through farmland that very much reminded us of the tracks and fields of Nottinghamshire or South Derbyshire. We met a group of walkers, who asked us whether we were waking the Route de Saint Jacques. We hadn’t heard of this but later spotted scallop shell way markers for this walk which indicated that it is a pilgrimage route. A quick glance at Google later revealed it to be one of the routes to Santiago de la Compostela in Spain.

Heading back to the river we encountered the first shower of the day as we found a bench for a comfy lunch stop. The weather was very similar to yesterday- heavy showers which soon gave way to sunshine. After lunch we followed the route through gloamy, sun-dappled humid woods to a viewpoint before dropping down to cross the Creuse at the Pont de Piles, or the Bridge of Piles as we christened it.

Viewpoint

The path back along the other side of the river had a totally different feel, utilising tracks and quiet roads and keeping us high above the river. We walked through some tiny hamlets, complete with gently rusting farm machinery, patchwork fields sloping down to the wooded cleft to our left where the we could just make out the river. Our path was marked with red and yellow tape or splashes of paint- spotting this was sometimes a challenge in itself!

A French frog!!

In need of another sit down, we couldn’t believe our luck when we spotted a bench in the middle of nowhere so enjoyed a cuppa and a foot repair.

The last part of the route involved a walk downhill along quite a busy road- my fault as there was an alternative but I was convinced it was considerably longer. We had to retrace our steps back to the car so the steep climb we faced back up to the view point was on our minds the last few miles… we were compensated for our efforts with stunning evening views over the Boucle. More than two loops of the Grand Randonee completed and about 18 miles walked for today- not too shabby.

Evening light

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