Although today was planned to be our shortest walk, we were scrubbed up and at breakfast soon after 7.30. We were meeting Julia’s brother, Chris, for lunch in Limeuil. And although eleven kilometres may sound like a hop, skip and a jump to you rambling types, it would still take us the best part of three hours to complete. At such an hour, the breakfast room was all but deserted. Clean; functional; gloomy. Even the adjacent river could not lift the fug of despond. On the other hand, the buffet went beyond the continental to offer scrambled eggs and frankfurters!
But before we set off from The Royal Vézère, a quick word about their staff: they were friendly and helpful. For instance, as we were settling our bill, the receptionist was calmly reassuring a North American lady. Although her tablet was showing French time, the alarm to wake her had obdurately stuck to British time, and had aroused her an hour too early! The receptionist listened intently, tried her best to rectify the problem before informing her guest that the barman would presently arrive for work; his expertise went way beyond cocktails, and he was apparently a dab hand with IT. Politeness, dedication and teamwork – you really cannot ask for more.
It wasn’t too many minutes from the hotel, sidestepping through Le Bugue’s mini-rush hour, before we were climbing steeply out of the town – passing the posh houses to a ridge with woodland and pasture…. And that was how we proceeded – woodland and pasture for the next ten kilometres. We passed the occasional homestead, many of which appeared to be unoccupied or derelict. We walked through a farm, but we didn’t meet what we could even call a hamlet until we reached Limeuil. Our path was mainly up on the ridges above the Vézère valley; we only dropped down into one valley, so we didn’t have much climbing to moan about.
The weather was bright rather than sunny. There was a little desultory drizzle mid-morning, but before noon we could see patches of blue sky, and feel the sun breaking through.
The last kilomètre or two were on tarmac, running straight to our destination. Limeuil is a village on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Vézère and the mighty Dordogne. Our little road brought us to the top of the village, through the grandly named Porte de Marquisat. As it was still some minutes before noon, we wandered into L’église de Ste Catherine in the upper part of the village. It is unusual in that it hosts Church of England worship and indeed the services are in English. There has been a church on this site since the eleventh century, but the Anglicans have been in residence for only the last fourteen of those years.
On leaving the church, Chris was parking up. Perfect timing! We had booked a table at Au Bon Accueil, which has a great location at the top of the village, with a courtyard shaded by a gnarled wisteria. Inside, there was an air of rustic elegance, and the service was efficient and unobtrusive. But unfortunately, the meal was nowt to write home about. Ah well!
Julia and I finished off the last few hundred metres of our six-day walk. All downhill through the old village to the parkland adjacent to the confluence which marks the end for the Vézère. And we could stop walking. We climbed into Chris’ car and we were whisked away. An abrupt end to our sojourn – we normally seek out a ‘bus or a train; the inevitable waiting creates time for reflection. But on the upside, we were back in Sergeac in next to no time! And that was with a brief stop at Lidl in Le Bugue to purchase a slow-cooker, which had caught our eye on the previous evening. A reminder that one should never pass up an opportunity to shop; not even on a good walk.
It was another day of discovering more wild flowers (see below). The granwell and orchids were spotted on the grassy byways as we climbed out of Le Bugue; the sanicle and common cow-wheat were found in more wooded terrain. We had been looking for a bee orchid; it really is a spectacular little thing. When we tried our best to confirm its identity, it would seem that this variety carries our surname! How weird is that!