Shortly before Aubrac I changed departments again, crossing from Lozère into Aveyron, and just beyond the village turned off the main road to descend a stony path for 7 km as far as Saint-Chély, which nestles idyllically in the valley of the Boralde. A sheep dog guided me all the way, disappearing in Saint-Chély — a canine trail angel, perhaps? From here it's a further 16 km to Saint-Côme, then a final 6 km to Espalion. Both towns are situated on the magnificent river Lot, of which the Boralde is a tributary.
I spoiled myself in Espalion, spending a night in the Hôtel Moderne on the northern bank of the river. Despite its unpromising, rusted street sign, and an absolute dearth of customers, this was a comfortable, reasonably priced hotel, and in its old-fashioned restaurant I enjoyed one of the best meals I'd had so far along the trail.