For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The End Of The Trail

Limogne marked the end of my trek, my two-week, 300 kilometre journey south-west from Le Puy through some of France's most stunning scenery. I'd walked almost half-way to the Spanish border. Before catching the bus to the railway station in Cahors, I wandered up into the woods above Limogne in search of this dolmen. It seemed the right thing to do. I'm not sure why.  


Dolmens are burial sites of immense antiquity. Most are five to six thousand years old, though some are much older. You can find them in Europe, Asia, India and the Middle East. Interestingly, Korea has the largest concentration of dolmens in the world, probably accounting for 40% of the world's total. 


These structures — which consist of several upright stones supporting a flat, horizontal capstone — were usually covered with earth and smaller stones, but in most cases this outer covering has worn away, leaving only the 'skeleton' of the tomb behind.


Here are my backpack and walking poles at the end of the trail. I left them resting against this tree as I examined the dolmen and pondered on time and space and distance, and on how my life had brought me here to this remote spot in rural France, and on love, and the pain and the ecstasy of love, and death, and other weighty matters. Then I took a few photos, shouldered my pack, grasped my walking poles, and set off back down the path to Limogne in the dappled sunlight.  


(Dolmen: circa 3500 BC. Backpack and walking poles: circa AD 2010.)

13 comments:

Ruth said...

I almost feel a bit shy to "speak"—to observe your intimate final ponderings at the dolmen feels privileged. What a special way to end your long trail. Just beautiful.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Ruth. Not quite over yet — there are a couple of postscripts!

The blog process green-lights intimacy, i think.

George said...

Thanks for sharing this trip with us, Robert. It was the end of this part of the trail, perhaps, but the trail itself goes on, and, hopefully, I will meet you on it again someday.

I find myself wondering if you found clarity on these weighty issues as you meditated before the dolmen on your last day. I find that clarity comes and goes on these matters, but there is more clarity at the end of an exhausting physical challenge than there is in our day to day lives.

The Solitary Walker said...

After such a trek there's often a little peace, perhaps, and a little transient clarity. But it never lasts. The challenges of life, love and death are always there.

The Solitary Walker said...

I'm sure we will meet up again before long, George! A shame about Pembrokeshire.

Susan Scheid said...

Coming back to join you again on your walk, and arriving now and its conclusion, I was struck by how two seemingly conflicting things are managed at once: the solitary, meditative nature of this beautiful walk is fully realized, yet at the same time, you share it, giving the gifts you've received in solitude to all of us. Thank you.

Goat said...

If you look after that pack and those poles, they should outlive the dolmen!

It seems like you had a satisfying and drama-free journey, and you ended it nicely with some reflection and calm. You've certainly given me lots of reasons, on this and earlier threads, to explore a Camino for myself. All going well...

I knew Korea had a lot of dolmen/s but didn't know "we" were world-beaters. Go, Korea!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for walking with me, Susan... I think part solitary. part companionable, is the best of states...

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, Goat, perhaps..!

And I'm so gad I've strengthened your natural tendency to go Camino-bound, my friend...

unadara said...

Thanks for this wonderful Blog, I will go back also and read your archives, you leave me with a sense of peace as if I was there with you.And I love your references, I go off on a ramble then to read more of them too. A great resource for me to read and gain from your knowledge.

The Solitary Walker said...

Welcome to my blog, unadara, and thanks for the appreciative comment!

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Your grand finale
On this two week trek following the path of pilgrims, what I found most interesting is the fact that your last point of reference dates back to pre AD and suggests ancient scared sites like it were in the largest abundance in Korea. It leaves me wondering.
Why not one world with one faith?

The Solitary Walker said...

What an excellent and perceptive comment, Heidrun! As you picked up on, I intentionally ended the series with an ancient, pre-Christian image, an image which duplicates and resonates in many different parts of the world.