Walking in the Eyrieux Valley, Ardeche

1valley d'eyrieuxI love these start as you mean to go on walks. New Year, and a new resolution to actually go walking in this beautiful landscape, rather than just gardening in it.

We did a mighty 18km walk starting in the nearby Valley d’Eyrieux.  150m above sea level, and then climbing up the corniche of the valley to the Col d’Aurelle. Up to around 680 metres.

Then shading our eyes from the fantastic sunshine blazing down on this wintry scene, we turned east and headed further around the valley.

Most of the route was on either a road through alpine prairie fields with startling views.

But once we were looping back down the mountain the landscape changed. And so did the path.

1eyrieux goatsWe turned off at the rather scrappy hippy commune of Perrier and walked through a mule track through oak forests and steep rocky outcrops.

Just at the stage I was thinking this would be easier if one were a mountain goat, lo and behold, a shepherd came by with his herd.

We first heard the lead goat with the bell and then the females ambled behind. We didn’t stay that long to chat, the goat herd was keen to get back home.

But it was fun to see some of the mountain locals.1 stfortunat

From there we dropped further down the mountain; passing some imposing stone farmhouses; and then started climbing again.

And doess’t your heart just sink when that happens? Your body and brain are ready for home, but the route takes you on a stiff walk uphill through a narrow track up and up and up, through dense woods and suddenly you are up and out and looking onto a fantastic view the Eyrieux valley.  That’s St Fortunat glinting in the distance with the river snaking through it.

We twinkled down (another four kilometres) to retrieve our car and then zipped home to tea, cake and a roaring fire. Yep, a good new year’s start.