À côté de la gorge
July 20, 2012
Roger Deakin’s text on the chestnut woods in Hérault in Wildwood, was the inspiration for this outing but not exactly following in his footsteps. It proved to difficult to locate his sweet chestnut heaven. Olargues is a market town in the centre of the chestnut area. It sits on the river Jaur between the Caroux and Espinouse mountains. Very attractive from a distance and also within. Big blowsy blue hydrangeas setting off the orange trumpets of a campsis.
The railway bridge in Olargues was built in 1889 by Eiffel! To span the river and ensure that the famous fruit from this area reached the Paris markets by the next morning. Railway now defunct but bridge forms part of a Voie Verte (greenway for cyclists)
Gorges de Colombières, just nearby, and on the Orb river was our chosen chestnut heaven. Part of the Haut Languedoc Regional Park, which includes prehistoric traces of troglodytes and most likely wild boar.
Dry stone walls retaining the terraces of chestnut trees wind along the narrow paths leading eventually to 850m.
The route is shaded and circuitous – sounds of fast flowing water, the odd echo of folks calling out and some birdsong – bring another element to the magical journey . . .
. . . blechnums poke out of the stonework at eye level . . .
. . . and much lichen as little pollution!
In the open ledges, heather in flower . . .
. . . and within the wooded areas, dead limbs have crashed down – some are felled but some left to rot - and a beautiful majestic final offering.
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-
and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces. Translated by Robert Bly Rainer Maria Rilke