I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Pilgrim Graves

It was Sunday 14 September. The day would prove an interesting one. First there was the village of Usclas-du-Bosc with its collection of disc-shaped steles, or grave markers, denoting pilgrim graves (of course some pilgrims never reached their goal of Compostela at all because they died at various points along the Way - some from disease, some from natural causes, some at the hands of murderers and bandits...)




The partially ruined château (at one time a pilgrim hospice) in the village displayed another scallop shell above the lintel of the doorway:




And further on in the woods I took a little detour to see the Dolmen de la Bruyère (it reminded me of the dolmen I'd photographed last year near Gréalou):




Soon - after a delightful woodland walk along the edge of a limestone escarpment - the path passed directly by the Abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Grandmont. It was open so I left my rucksack with the girl at the ticket office (a reduced rate for pilgrims!) and explored. And by early afternoon I'd come to Lodève, a small cathedral city at the confluence of the Lergue and Soulondres rivers. I liked Lodève very much. Here's one of my early views of it:



The gîte d'étape La Mégisserie in Lodève was one of the best I'd ever stayed in. The hospitalier Pierre who'd refurbished it (aided by a grant) was justifiably proud of his work. At €18 a night (€30 with evening meal) it was a little more expensive than the €10 I normally paid - but, hell, this place had a lift, en-suite rooms with power showers, and cordon bleu cuisine! Pierre was an excellent chef, and the kitchen was modern and extensively equipped. It was more like a boutique hotel than a walkers' hostel.

Later that day I met up again with American pilgrims Ralph and Susan, and the next morning Pierre put me on the right path to Joncels...

2 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

On various holidays we have occasionally come across parts of the scallop shell way - and have often thought that it would be interesting to walk to S d C. Strangely enough I know a Spaniard who lives near and who comes from there. I envy you that walk

The Solitary Walker said...

The Camino paths are wonderful journeys, quite different from any other walking I've ever done. The past 2 years I've walked nearly 2400 km along them - and they really have become part of me. They're in my blood. I feel at home there. What makes them unique? Probably the cheap, friendly 'pilgrim' accommodation available; the nice mix of solitude and companionship; the sacredness and historicity of so many sites along all the routes.