Tuesday 24th May Fraisse-sur-Agout to Castenet le Haut

Had a really nice meal in the Auberge Spinouse where I stayed last night, mega salad, the local variant on black pudding and three different types of dessert all for 13 euros with wine. Things definitely looking up on the food front and the weather continues to be excellent.

The main problem today was that the route of the GR 71, which is what the E4 is supposed to be on at the moment, has been changed. Seems like my route which I down loaded from the GR-info web site and the digital maps are out of date. I think it must be some sort of official re-routing because the GR signs have been carefully removed. I was still able to navigate using the GPS but had no on-the-ground clues to support my efforts and until I got to the last third of the route I just wasn't on the official trail.

Can understand why they might have changed the route because while the beginning and end of the walk were nice the middle bit was dull - essentially through a never ending commercial pine plantation.

The first stretch involved a steady climb up to the Col de Fontfroide, where there was an interesting war memorial, and then a really nice walk through open countryside with good views south and east. To the south, through the distant clouds you could see a ghostly Canigou, it's now haunting me.

War Memorial at Col de Fontfroide

Montagne de L'Espinouse

After that it was walking along forest access trails through regimented pine trees, it was starting to get hot and progressively less and less enjoyable. Eventually the trail disappeared altogether and I had to bushwhack down a very overgrown firebreak and then the GR signs re-emerged. The joy was short-lived however when I got to a junction and there was a cross and a scallop shell, not the GR 71 but the St James Way and heading towards Spain. Was starting to think that a route just didn't exist, retraced my steps a couple of times when I saw a sign down a fairly overgrown route in what was almost the right direction. It got better and better, after about half a hour a sign actually said the GR 71.

Really nice walk for the last few kilometres, lots of those tree tunnels, saw a eagle flying overhead and disturbed a deer.

Shady Tunnel

Deer in the broom

Staying in the Auberge de Fau which is completely in the middle of nowhere and about a kilometre to the south of the route. Two other people staying here and we will be eating in a very grand dining room with a massive fire place containing a suitably massive log fire, not cold but a great display.

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