BLACK AS CHARCOAL
Itineray type : Foot
Huge circular burnt areas are some of the landmarks of this little jaunt (“Petite vadrouille”). They are NOT fairy rings, just signs of intense forest exploitation in former times.
Your guide: the mule
Descriptif détaillé :
From the stone stele onward, walk down to the bridge over the Orbieu river (1). High up on its limestone hill, the village was built sheltered from the Cers wind. In the riverbed, a square dovecote, intact, can be seen.
Walking alongside the Orbieu, you’ll take the ancient cart track, then go upstream along the Clauzes stream, a path lined with low walls and enclosed plots.
There are the remains of a small barn or Bordette (2) that used to accommodate some goats and sheep, which ran around on the patus, the vast communal area destined to the use of all.
Coming out of the woods, crossed by a rocky ridge which looks like a dinosaur’s backbone, you’re under the impression you’re in the Far West! A half open landscape, with soils deeply coloured by the iron oxide and other fertilizing bases mounting to the surface, called Terra Rossa: the Red Earth (3) on which broom, junipers and honey plants grow.
You’ll meet up with a forest track for the first time here, then walk alongside the Fount de l’Espéren stream, dominated by woody pechs, the Candélièros (4). It is the Aleppo pine that has taken over the landscape here, replacing the oak trees after periods of pasture and forest fire.
Coming out of a lovely pine forest, you’ll meet up with the forest track again, at the place called ‘Las Coutreillados’ (5), named after the Occitan ‘cotre’, a special kind of knife that was used to harvest the local riches: wood, tannins, resin, etc.
Follow the Bouet stream and go into the Bois Grand (Big Wood), where box trees and oaks are engaged in a constant struggle for the rays of sunlight on offer, here in the secret domain of the charcoal burner!
At the Lauza site (6), the flat flagstones used as flooring or roofing are extracted.
The charcoal burner’s cottage (7) is always situated near a watercourse, allowing the men to put out sudden fires and provide the animals and the mule with water. The forest is profoundly marked by the presence of former charcoal kilns: overgrown domes (8) and circular burnt areas (9) are vestiges of the charcoal burning activity of yore.
From an ancient and vast estate, make a roundtrip towards the ‘Soulasses’, a slope facing the sunny side, from where you’ll see Durfort (10) high up on its rocky spur nestled in the arms of the Orbieu river.
Take the forest track again at the foot of the Mont Saint-Jean. In the distance, you’ll see the Château de Termes (11), high up on its promontory (461 m high), seemingly still ready to brave the attacks it underwent 800 years before during the Albigensian Crusade.
The downhill part of the hike takes place on an ancient mule track with beautiful views over the village and the Orbieu valley (12), its agricultural activity visibly on the decline.
To finish your hike, take a stroll in the narrow streets and covered passageways of the village.
The pink marble, hailing from the nearby Pic de Berlès, enriches the communal heritage considerably: the fountain (13) built in 1897 and the baptismal font in the Romanesque Sainte-Eulalie church being two examples of its use.
N° d'urgence depuis un portable : 112
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