Hiking to Bouchanieres 1430m, back on a GR trail

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Tuesday 29 July 2014

Hiking to Bouchanieres 1430m, back on a GR trail

We did consider breaking camp this morning (Tuesday) and moving on to another valley, however, the lure of another hike in this beautiful location was just too much too resist. Having climbed the easternside of the valley from Guillames to Sauze yesterday, we decided to climb the western slopes this morning and head to the hamlet of Bouchanieres at 1430m altitude, some 650m above our motorhome. Bouchanieres is an important agricultural community apparently famous for its ravioli and hazelnut sauce!

Climbing steeply out of Guillames we got our first close up look at the ruins of the Mediaeval fort which towers over the town, situated on a very precarious looking rocky outcrop.  Continuing on the hiking trail criss-crossed the road, meeting up and then diverging again to take the steep route directly up the ridge heading towards our destination. Although we'd got an early start and enjoyed the freshness of the mountain air as we set off, it soon started to get much warmer as the sun rose and the rocky paths reflected the suns heat back into our faces.

Looking back over our shoulders revealed a panoramic view over Guillames and into the surrounding mountains, including Sauze, Valberg and the valley towards the Col de la Cayolle where we'd spent the past few days exploring. Looking over the valleys and peaks in the sunshine, we reflected on how much we enjoy getting to know an area closely and see how the different names and places fit together rather than racing through to a new place every other night.

Reaching the final approach into Bouchanieres after a couple of hours of climbing and we were feeling very ready for our late breakfast. Finding a shady bench to rest our feet we were soon joined by an unexpected guest, Tino, the Jack Russel who ambled out of the nearby hostel and rolled on our feet looking for some fuss (and probably some breakfast as well). He didn't have to wait very long for fuss, but was less lucky on the breakfast front!

Always aware of the mountain weather, as midday approached we knew it was time to start descending as the clouds were already forming on the peaks. After a few false starts finding the right path out of Bouchanieres we finally got on our way with Tino following us out of town.  We were very happy to find ourselves following the red and white markers of GR52 for a short way, which we would have visited on our original planned tour. 

Snaking down the hillside, in and out of forest we felt like we could walk all day, given the chance. However, the weather had other ideas. After 4 hours on the trail we were back by the river and following the road back to Guillames when the clouds finally started to rumble and the rain began. Fortunately it wait just long enough for us to get back to the motorhome relatively dry and listen to the afternoon storm in comfort, having timed our walk just right (for a change).  Now it is the evening and the storm has passed and as we get our home ready to move on in the morning we feel very lucky to have enjoyed such a beautiful, peaceful spot as Guillames.

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