A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

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...


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.