The next day I was up early again, but not as early as the day before. Yesterday had been boiling hot but the forecast was now for cooler weather, however it was still a warm sunny morning so I got my breakfast down me and set off.
I took my first few steps and was a little concerned as my legs were achy, sore and stiff, I wondered how easy or difficult I was going to find the day's walking, but such concerns disappeared like the morning dew as the warming sun beckoned me on, all thoughts of tired muscles subsided as I walked down into St. Nectaire. I didn't go far before I saw this panda in an upstairs window:
It didn't look too happy, but then again pandas always look a bit sad.
My plan for the day was to head in a roughly westerly direction, from St. Nectaire toward Murol and Lac Chambon, so I took a back road out of St. Nectaire and headed uphill. I have to say that the footpaths in this area were generally excellent and well sign-posted.
I had been walking about ten minutes when I was shocked to see a snake across my path. I have never seen a snake this big in the wild, and to be honest they're not my favourite creatures (sorry snake lovers), I was relieved, but then saddened to find that it wasn't actually alive.
I think it had been run over, but I think you'll agree it looks quite alive at first glance.
another standing stone...
Was it chance, conincidence or just good planning? I don't quite remember but just a short detour from my path there was another menhir to be investigated, you can see it here on the left. Neolithic men and women certainly left their mark in these environs. On top of the menhir there was a 2cent peice, I suppose someone had left it as an offering. There's a chance that somebody had picked it up and left it there, just like you do when you find a child's mitten in winter and mount it on the next available iron railing, but I doubt it. I think there was a sacerdotal intent behind the whole thing. Anyway I didn't want to feel left out so I upped the ante and left a 5cent piece myself. I wouldn't be surprised to go back at the end of the summer and find the stone hidden under a huge pile of money.
Well, I would actually.
I had noted the day before that some areas and vicinities I found on my trip seemed to throw up their own natural ambience, and this same phenomena occured again. After leaving the standing stone I had a further mile or so of walking through a forest, and I was struck by an amazing sense of peacefulness and calm as I made my way along the route about which can be said very little other than noting its occurence.
I came down from a hill and had to cross the main road which leads right up the valley and eventually takes you over the massif (via the Col de la Croix Morand). There was a kangaroo farm there, but unfortunately I couldn't see any, which is a shame as it would have been another unexpected animal to go with the snake and panda.
I crossed the road and found myself in the bottom of the valley with a good view of the imposing structure of the chateau at Murol. Built on a plug of rock it sticks out from the valley in a truly Kafkaesque fashion, I wasn't going to head straight toward it.
I saw some interesting rocks on the hillside and had an urge to go and check them out, after looking at the map I realised that these were the rocks I had already planned to visit.