Half-term Happenings: Back to Little Salkeld

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Addingham Church.

We were all keen to get out for a family walk, none more so than my dad, but he struggles with the cold these days and I wanted to find a route which had both the potential for a good walk, but also the option to cut the walk short if need be. After a bit of deliberation, I hit upon the idea of two shorter walks based around Little Salkeld in the Eden valley. We parked initially by Addingham Church near the village of Glassonby (curiously, the village of Addingham no longer exists).

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This walk, or variations on it, have become a firm favourite of ours. Here’s A beside the Saxon Cross in the churchyard…

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And here she is posing for a similar photo back in 2011….

A with Anglo-Saxon cross

In the intervening years the cross seems to have shrunk!

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I can rarely resist the temptation to have a peek inside any churches I pass and Addingham certainly repays the effort. The lady on the right here is St. Cecilia, an early Christian martyr. I thought that the instrument she’s shown playing seemed entirely unlikely, but apparently she is often depicted playing it and it’s a real instrument – a portative organ or organetto. My lazy internet research also revealed that St. Cecilia appeared on the reverse of the old Edward Elgar £20 note.

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There she is bottom left, beneath Worcester Cathedral. Presumably because she is the patron saint of musician’s. I can’t say that I’ve ever realised that she was there. How many times I have handled notes like this one, over the years, without ever really looking at them?

Then again, I didn’t know that King David is traditionally associated with the harp either, a fact which appears in the Book of Samuel, just before the more familiar story of David and Goliath.

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Talking of familiar stories, here’s Saint George and the unfortunate dragon in my favourite window at Addingham.

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Addingham also has two hogback gravestones, which, I’ve learned, were unique to the Viking settlers in Britain and haven’t been found in Scandinavia. The best preserved example is at St. Peters in Heysham, which I’ve walked past many times, but never been inside – an omission I must rectify soon.

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It’s a short downhill stroll from Addingham Church to the huge stone circle of Long Meg and her Daughters.

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I didn’t take many photos on this occasion, just these of my mum and Dad and my brother, but the stones have appeared on the blog many times before.

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Winter Aconites on a roadside verge.

Another short stroll brings you to Little Salkeld, where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch in the cafe at the Watermill….

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Steve and I then walked briskly back up to collect the cars and park them in Little Salkeld, whilst the rest set-off for a wander along the River Eden to Lacy’s Caves…

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We managed to catch them up at the caves themselves.

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By the time we had turned to walk back to Little Salkeld, an already cold day had become even colder, but that didn’t detract from a marvellous family outing.

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Half-term Happenings: Back to Little Salkeld

Whitbarrow with JS.

Mill Side – Whitbarrow Scar – Fell Edge – Cowmire Hall – St. Anthony’s Cartmel Fell – Pool Bank – Park Wood – Witherslack Hall – Beck Head – Mill Side.

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This is my friend JS, stood by the summit cairn on Whitbarrow Scar. He’s appeared on the blog a few times before, most recently two years ago, when B and I joined him for an ascent of Haystacks, the last top in his round of the Wainwrights. Thinking about it now, he has to be my oldest friend, I can’t think of anyone else who I’ve kept in touch with since we were knee-high to a grasshopper and started school together.

JS was back in the Lakes for a week’s holiday and, since another parent had kindly offered to pick up B from his rugby camp, I was able to join him for a walk. He was keen to try something new and, after a long drive the day before, wanted something relatively straightforward to ease him into the holiday. A walk on Whitbarrow and through the wonderful Winster valley seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

The weather was a bit mixed, even when I took this photo…

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Fell Edge, looking across the Winster Valley to Cartmell Fell.

…with a bit of blue sky in it, it was actually still raining on us. This was after, rather embarrassingly, we’d wandered around on the plateau looking for one or other of the descent routes, my ‘local knowledge’ proving to be a bit less impressive than I had hoped.

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Cowmire Hall, a late Sixteenth Century Tower House. Yet another of the Winster valley’s listed buildings.

I didn’t take many photos, partly, perhaps, because of the weather, but mainly because I was much too busy catching up with JS. We talked about family, finance, mutual friends, board games, introversion – and the book on that subject ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain which JS had read and was very eloquently recommending – wild-camping, our respective ailments, walking, facebook and it’s pros and cons, the tremendous fungi we kept spotting and almost certainly a whole host of other things, whilst also, no doubt, revisiting some shared memories of days long past.

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I didn’t even take any photos of St. Anthony’s Church, where we huddled in the porch for a late lunch. (You can see pictures from a visit this spring here.)

I’m happy to report, after the gloomy news from my last visit, that ‘The Hiker’s Rest’ self-service cafe near Beck Head is once again open for business. I had my stove with me, but was very happy to stop for a comfortable brew. Even more so when we discovered that the previous entry in the visitor’s book was by members of Fleckney Walking Club, Fleckney being a village almost two hundred miles from Beck Head, but only a couple down the road from Kibworth where JS and I grew up.

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Whitbarrow with JS.

How Barrow and Ellerside from Cartmel

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Looking to Morecambe Bay and the mouth of the Leven from How Barrow trig pillar.

The first weekend after my return to work. B’s rugby team had an early season training camp, staying in the scout hut in Cartmel.  They’ve had weekends there before and seem to always have a good time. I’ve stayed there myself – it was the salubrious venue for my stag do, back in 2001. But that’s a different story.

Since B had to be dropped off at around lunch time, I decided to make the most of the opportunity and, after I’d helped to prep the veg for the boys evening meal, set out for an afternoon walk in the Cartmel area. Unusually, the scout hut is in the grounds of Cartmel’s racecourse and I first walked through the grounds and then beside the diminutive River Eea and into a conifer plantation, before skirting around the western flank of Mount Barnard.

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The Leven estuary, Roudsea Mosses and the Coniston Fells from How Barrow.

The right-of-way slightly misses the summit of How Barrow (170m trig point on the map below), but a little discrete trespass is definitely called for here, because, even on a damp and overcast day, this top provides a great view for such a modest height.

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How Barrow pano (click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger version on flickr)

The view takes in the Leven estuary, the Coniston Fells and the extensive wetlands of the Roudsea Wood and Mosses National Nature Reserve – which is high on my list of places due for a revisit.

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Mistle Thrushes.

Walking along the Ellerside ridge I seemed to be continually following small flocks of Mistle Thrushes.

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The Coniston Fells again – now clear of cloud.

Further along the ridge, just before I turned eastward away from the views, I watched two large raptors flying above the wetlands below. They were flying high, at quite some distance, and looked very dark against the sky, but they had a highly distinctive silhouette with their wings bowed, giving an obvious ‘elbow’ and then a second curve near the tips. Although my photos are pretty useless, they show enough to confirm the suspicion I had at the time that I was watching Ospreys. Ospreys have returned to this area of the lakes, nesting at Foulshaw Moss, but I suppose that these may also have been migrating birds on their return journey from Scotland to Africa.

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Once again, lots of large toadstools to be seen.

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Collkield Wood.

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Presumably, these are farmed deer, later to be venison. Certainly, a lot of effort and expense had been put into erecting tall, new fencing.

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Guelder Rose hedge.

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Pincushion Gall.

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Green islands with sandy beaches on a turning oak leaf.

My walk finished by crossing the racecourse again. A cricket match was just finishing on a pitch in the middle of the track and, judging by the exuberant cheering, the local team had just won an important victory.

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Cartmel Racecourse.

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Market Cross Cartmel.

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Cartmel Priory.

I’d promised myself that, being in Cartmel, I would take the opportunity to revisit the impressive priory, but it closes to the public at 5pm each day and my walk had lasted too long for me to fit that in on this occasion. Next time.

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How Barrow and Ellerside from Cartmel

An Excursion to the Jonte Valley.

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We didn’t travel away from the campsite often when we were in the Cévennes, but we did have one grand day out. The journey itself was interesting, giving us another opportunity to look down into the Tarn Gorge.

And also to enjoy some more roadside entomology.

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It seems that as well as a bewildering variety of Grayling butterflies, the Continent is also home to several similar species of Ringlets. This is one of those. It looks very like a Marbled Ringlet, but online sources refer to that as an Alpine species. I remember seeing something similar when we visited the Vosges, although revisiting my post from the time I can see that it was perhaps slightly different. And also, to my surprise, a photo of what looks very like a Silver-washed Fritillary, so that I may have been wrong about never having seen one before.

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I can’t find this tiny moth, either in my field guide or online, so I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know that it’s stunningly patterned.

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This is a Red-winged Grasshopper, similar to the Blue-winged variety which featured in a recent post. You can’t see the bright red flashes which appear, to startling affect, when the insect hops into flight, but you can see the red hind-legs…

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Marbled Ringlet?

The drive over the higher ground was pleasant without being spectacular. It brought us to Meyrueis…

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In the valley of the Jonte, a tributary of the Tarn.

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Above Meyrueis, we stopped again briefly at a small hillside chapel – Notre-Dame du-Rocher…

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I enjoyed the contrasting colours of these flowers…

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And have included this second photo because of the tiny, pale Ladybird in the top left corner of the white flower.

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Gatekeeper.

We were soon underway again, heading for the excellent Grotte de Dargilan, of which more to follow…(eventually).

An Excursion to the Jonte Valley.

Cirque des Baumes.

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Whilst we were camping in the Tarn Gorge, I’d mooted the idea of a walk from the rim of the gorge back down to the campsite, hopefully, by walking downhill, mitigating the worst effects of the heat; but when most of our party completed a walk, TBH and I had driven B to the hospital in the town of Millau instead, to get a painful ear checked out. (He’s okay now, although the problems continued for quite some time after our holiday ended.) That trip was not without it’s own interest – when we drove out of the town, onto the hillside above, we saw a great host of circling Red Kites – but I was extremely disappointed to have missed out on the walk, and so was very pleased when TBH and J agreed to an early morning foray, in J’s case for a second time.

We parked at Point Sublime, with fine views into a misty gorge.

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There were plenty of distractions on hand too, with both butterflies and Wall Lizards about to keep me and my camera occupied.

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Wall Brown.

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I think that this is a Silver-washed Fritillary, you can perhaps see why its called that in the photo below.

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Five-spot Burnet Moth.

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We passed no end of these silken tents, apparently constructed by the caterpillars of the Pine Processionary Moth.

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Another Blue-winged Grasshopper. I think.

The path was steep and narrow, but well worth the effort as it descended past a series of huge rock towers and cliffs.

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J, you will notice, is wearing a shocking pink hat. She has pink Crocs too. Her children are appalled by both, which is, of course, entirely the point. She is making up for the sobriety of her youth. I’m sure she completely sympathises with Jenny Joseph’s poem ‘Warning’ which begins…

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”

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Wall Lizard.

I thought I saw a bird of prey alight on top of a distant tower and the amazing zoom on my camera helped to confirm that fact.

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It was exhilarating to watch the raptor soaring above the hillside, in and out between the karst features, eventually landing not too far above us…

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I have quite a few photos of the bird in flight, none, sadly, very sharp, but I think they show enough detail to suggest that it was a Rough-legged Buzzard, not something that I’ve seen before.

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Wall Lizard.

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Karst scenery.

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This was a terrific walk for butterfly spotting and on this steep hillside section there were a great deal of quite dark butterflies flitting through the trees. They were hard to catch in repose and generally, I think, belonged to species not found in Britain. Frankly, I’m not sure what this is; continental Europe seems to have numerous types of Grayling – I wonder whether this is one of those?

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It was J’s turn to pick out a large bird on a distant rock tower – this time on the one seen ahead in the photo above.

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A Griffon Vulture; soon joined by a companion….

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They didn’t seem to be very busy and I continued to take occasional photos as we descended past the tower.

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A Dusky Heath?

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Another Grayling of some description?

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Looking back up into the Cirque des Baumes.

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Striped Shield Bug – less prevalent , it seemed, than in the Dordogne, but still around.

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The Dryad? Love the eye-spot.

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This small butterfly led me a merry dance and I only managed to photograph it from some considerable distance. Could it be a Glanville Fritillary?

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Having reached the bottom of the valley, we climbed a little way back up to a point under the cliffs…

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Wall Lizard.

Where there was a tiny chapel…

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La Chapelle Saint-Hillaire.

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Sadly, the chapel was locked, but I managed to get an image of the interior through a small hole in the door…

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One final look back up into Cirque des Baumes.

We were down in the valley now and walking along the road, which for me was saved by the butterflies and flowers along the roadside. We passed a garden where a Buddleia was festooned with butterflies and moths, particularly fritillaries which I took to be more Silver-washed.

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Clouded Yellow.

When we were almost back at the campsite we paused by the ‘Mushroom Rock’ to take in the view and wave to friends and family below, then J and TBH rushed ahead to get out of the full glare of the sun and to get a cool drink, but I was distracted again by more butterflies and moths…

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This is a new species to me, a Jersey Tiger Moth, there had been several on the Buddleia earlier, but they were a bit too far away to be photographed very successfully. Unfortunately, you can’t see the stunning red underwings in this photo.

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When I took this shot of another Five-spot Burnet Moth I didn’t even see the two rather striking shield bugs nearby. I wish I had; the purple one in particular looks like it was stunningly patterned.

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Small Skipper.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, this striking insect is not in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’. It will have remain a mystery.

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The underside of a Jersey Tiger Moth.

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Small Skipper and Silver-washed Fritillary.

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Jersey Tiger Moth.

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When we’d been kayaking on the Tarn and had pulled our boats onto a shingle beach to jump into the river and swim, a Scarce Swallowtail landed on the end of one of the kayaks. I managed to get very close to it with my phone, but none of my photos came out well. I was really pleased, then, to get another chance for some photos.

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Large Skipper.

Only a mornings stroll, but the views and the wildlife will stick with me for a long time I suspect.

Cirque des Baumes.

Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

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With the chateau dominating the view from the campsite, it was almost inevitable that we would want to look around it during our stay, especially since many of the party are big fans of castles. Also, we had to settle an argument between TJS and his Dad about whether or not they had ever toured the chateau before. (They had. TJS had already been backtracking on his original vehement denials of that fact.)

We walked from the campsite and then up the hill, avoiding the route signposted as steep and unsuitable for pushchairs – not that we had any pushchairs, but it was extremely hot and so we wanted to take the easiest possible route.

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The castle was superb, with the added bonus of fantastic views of the Dordogne valley.

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And also of the Céou valley where we were camped…

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Much as we enjoyed our outing, we sought every opportunity to find some shade and take a rest. C, as you can tell, was very absorbed in her book….

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Inside. I told TJS I would take a photograph of him and the armoured rider. He obliged by looking away from the camera…

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…several times!

The castle had winding staircases, battlements, and quite a display of armour and armaments…

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I loved this sort of thing when I was a kid, and, well, in honesty, I still do.

TBH, J and I watched a sort of animated tableau telling the story of the siege of Castelnaud. We watched three times in fact, the first two with a commentary in french. It was clear that ‘les Anglaise’ were the villains of the piece and I assumed that they were the besiegers, but in fact, the third repeat and it’s english translation of the tale revealed that the castle at that time, 1442, was held by forces loyal to England. The castle was substantially rebuilt in 1214 by Simon de Montfort, who I associate with Leicester where I grew up, but, whilst he was Earl of Leicester, he also held lands in France and seems to have lived in France (it was his son, the VIth Simon de Montfort who had a greater role in English history).

We also watched a film about siege engines and there were a number of trebuchet on display on the ramparts.

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The chateau along the Dordogne here…

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…is Beynac, which will have to wait for or next visit before we look around it…

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It certainly looks promising.

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Dordogne panorama.

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I always like to find images of St. George. This carved example would have originally held a lance in those upraised arms, but now that his spear has gone missing it looks like George has thrown his hands up in surrender, or that he’s trying to lead the dragon in some sort of dance – YMCA perhaps?

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B was happy. C still wrapped up in her reading!

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J and TBH, in the stocks?

When we’ finished our tour of the castle we still had a wander back down through the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle to enjoy.

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We popped into the church…

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Well, most of us did…

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C was more intent on finishing her obviously very gripping book.

And, as ever, I was interested in the stained-glass windows. This…

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…is St. Denis, patron saint of France, apparently. How did I not know that until now? A third century martyr and Bishop of Paris. So he was actually French, unlike George, our own patron saint, the Village People fan, who was Greek.

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There seem to have been two St. Henry’s: one Holy Roman Emperor and latterly King of Germany and the other an english clergyman who became a bishop in Sweden. Perhaps the crown here is a clue and this is the first of them?

One final view…

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…this is the ridge of Les Jardins de Marqueyssac, where TBH and I had spent the previous day.

Another fabulous day in the Dordogne region, but it was almost time to move on…

Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac

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Whilst the rest of the party, including our own kids, were off swinging from trees and performing similar acts of derring-do, TBH and I were left with time on our hands. How delightful! As parents of three very active children, to have an entire day to ourselves was beyond a novelty, almost unprecedented in fact. We had threatened to have a lazy day at the camp-site, reading our books. I had made a good start on Hilary Mantel’s ‘A Place of Greater Safety’, her account of some of the key figures of the French Revolution. It’s a huge and magnificent book, so a day luxuriating in its company was very tempting, but in the end we decided that a day out together was too good an opportunity to miss. We flicked through some brochures and leaflets which J had picked up about various local attractions, but in the end settled on Les Jardins de Marqueyssac both because they looked attractive and because they were within walking distance.

Our walk took us across a bridge over the Dordogne…

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Where many parties of canoeists were enjoying the same sort of trip which we had undertaken just a couple of days before.

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Chateau de Castelnaud.

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Clouded Yellow butterfly.

That’s Marqueyssac…

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…at the top of the hill. It was a short but very hot and sticky climb up a road so minor that no traffic passed us at all. As we walked, we had both the views and some sun-warmed and very sweet blackberries in the hedgerows to reward us.

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Arriving at Marqueyssac, we discovered that picnics are forbidden in the grounds, but that picnic tables were provided on a terrace by the entrance which had a lovely view over the valley below.

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Once inside the gardens, we popped into a small building which housed a curious display of stuffed animals in which the creatures had been arranged into dioramas so that predator and prey were locked eternally in pursuit. Nearby, another building had a full skeleton and also another skull of an Allosaurus. The fossils were found in Arizona and bought at auction, at great expense, by the owner of the gardens. Allosaurus are from the Jurassic period and have mostly been found in the US, although the information boards seemed to be saying that there had also been recent findings in France.

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We hadn’t explore far, but felt the need for something cooling, so sat on another terrace with a great view, where customers were sprayed with a fine mist to cool them! TBH had a glace whilst I drank a glass of beer.

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The gardens were quite unlike any I’d visited before. Long and narrow, they sit atop a limestone ridge and are mostly woodland with paths bordered with neat boxwood hedges.

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Three different paths run the length of the garden and we did our best to contrive a route which took in all three as much as possible, without doing the entire length twice. At the far end of the garden from the entrance you are close to Roque Gageac…

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This photo…

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…gives a good view of the ridge which the garden occupies.

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During the entire walk we saw butterflies galore, but very few would pose for a photo. This Wall Brown being an exception…

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Roque Gageac again…

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….on the left you can see people on the belvedere from which I took the previous views.

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This little chapel…

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…was, annoyingly, locked-up and my attempts to take a photo through the slits in the door weren’t entirely successful…

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It was possible to take a short tour of part of the Chateau…

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But I found that oddly uninspiring without some context or understanding of what I was seeing.

One final view…

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…I think that’s the Chateau de Beynac on the right in the distance. This area seems particularly rich in castles and gardens and caves and other interesting places to visit. We’ll have to go back!

On the way back to the campsite, suffering from the heat, TBH decided to dive into one of the shops set-back from the road. It was in a large building divided into two – one half selling soap and the other half, full of mannequins, was supposedly a soap museum. One mannequin was shaving another. A female mannequin was washing clothes. There was a donkey, for reasons which weren’t clear to me. Photos weren’t allowed in this amazing place – it must be seen to be believed! You’ll have to go!

But prepare to be underwhelmed.

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac