Tuesday 14 June
Leaving the campsite swiftly – I hadn’t slept well – I reached Monsegur by mid morning and climbed to the top of the Cathar stronghold. At this early hour I had the place to myself as the ticket booth was closed. It was an eerie and impregnable place but I felt vindicated to see snow still on the mountains in the distance. I went down to the village and it was all closed except the butchers. I scoffed a dried sausage and a chocolate bar and then set off again.
Several muddy sections later, I met an elderly group of French ramblers and we exchanged pleasantries around the weather and mud. The route went up into the Les Gorges de la Frau (gorge of fear) which was steep but spectacular. The river and waterfalls were also muddy. I felt disheartened when a family and grandmother on sticks strode past me – Dad even had a back brace on. Obviously, I blame my rucksack.
At the top I caught them up and after a snack started the descent to the next village. Just at the entrance I came to the Silence du Midi which was a great glamping site with tents, yurts, safari tents, gîte, hotel rooms, bar and restaurant. Gunther and Ellen came over from Belgium and have worked hard to create a great place with thoughtful interiors and nice touches. Very friendly and a good breakfast, naturally with pancakes and good coffee.