ST 10: The path of liberty

From the 1500s to the mid-1700s Protestant rebels used the forests, valleys and summits of the Cevennes to hide armies from their Catholic overlords with varying degrees of success. Part of today’s walk was called the Chemin de La Liberte to reflect some of the more successful moments.

The Protestant rebels were known as the Camisards and they are a focus of RLS’ book even though their high point was about 150 years before his walk. There’s some debate as to why he spent so much of his travelogue talking about religion. My view is that he started thinking that the donkey was the thing that would provide a story arc, but when Modestine didn’t provide enough narrative connective tissue, he swapped to religion – not knowing that donkey tales would have more longevity than church stories.

That said, we passed a sign today referring to the ‘Protestant Sect’ that would have had the Camisards, and RLS, clutching their bibles.

Today was our last long day on the Stevensons Trail and although it was long, 26km, it wasn’t too steep and was very lovely. Lots of views to distant hills, deep forests redolent with pine, and ravines alongside fast-flowing rivers.

We ended the day in Saint Etienne Vallee Francaise in mid-afternoon and, after a refreshing drink were, picked up by our hostess for the night. We are staying 6km out of the village and had looked upon this place with some trepidation. It turned tuns out we are staying in a lovely small chateau built in 1579 and now run as a mixed farm. Big old buildings with thick stone walls and a terrace looking out to a pine forest – just lovely. There’s only us and a Belgian couple here and we had a fabulous meal made from produce from the farm sitting outside on trestle tables.

That’s a menhir in the foreground

Only downside is there’s no internet to speak of though, so writing this is a bit of a challenge.

Zero useful donkey sightings today. We saw one in a field, and we heard both that one and another braying extraordinarily loudly this morning. But the count remains at 2.

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